so where do morals come into it?

November 22, 2011


I've been in the design industry for coming up 9 years now, including my time spent studying and something that has always been a point of interest for me is the idea of 'selling out'. For some designers it means going to work for a big corporation or quitting freelance work and for others it takes on a whole other idea of crossing their ethical boundaries.

As designers we are essentially trained to make things look desirable enough that people will do or buy what we promote. We learn tricks to help people feel like they aren't enough without what ever it is we are selling, not pretty enough, thin, rich, cool... the list goes on. We also help gloss over some of the nasty sides of business, like 'oh our chocolate is so tasty and pretty you don't need to consider that we use slave trade cocoa'. So at what point do you draw the line in what to promote. Do you use your skills to become the batman or the skeletor of the design world? Do you promote the 'good guys' even though they can't pay as much as the oil companies and the farming industries that use cruel farming methods?

When I was still working at a studio awhile back I was asked to help promote a casino, to find a way to make people feel like they hadn't spent enough time at one of the more financially draining tables. I mentioned to my superiors that I wasn't overly comfortable working with a casino as I don't agree with gambling and the effects of the addiction can have on individuals and families. I was asked if I liked my job and told to get back to work, so I caved under the pressure and did as I was told. I don't feel good about it, but I did it.

So if your a designer or even if your in a totally different profession, where do you draw your moral line? Would you rather walk out of a job than do something you felt was unethical or is it best in todays financial climate to just suck it up and do what your told?


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