McCarthy, S., 2010. Who’s Responsible? Eye Magazine, [online] Available at: [Accessed 19th December 2012].

Educators should be the first to address graphic design’s fuzzy disciplinary borders, and not merely treat graphic design as the job that one gets paid to do.

Steven McCarthy, lecturer at the University of Minnesota discusses several important issues in his Who’s Responsible article. Primarily he raises the issue that education in ethics is of paramount importance in today’s graphic design world. This text usefully brings together information from several educational conferences in graphic design, and reiterates education significance. This text helps to highlight flaws from designers claiming responsible practices and offers opportunities for future conferences to rise to the challenge of promoting responsibility in ethical design. The author utilises the infamous quote “Designers Stay Away From Corporations That Want You To Lie For Them” (Kalman, 1999 cited in McCarthy, 2010) to initially demonstrate the importance of ethical consideration, and then later to show that while some designers do take heed to the warnings regarding ethics of the profession, the posters, banners, campaigns of the ethically dubious are still designed.

Link to the full article:

Roberts, L., 2006b. Being Good. Eye Magazine, 62, [online] Available at: [Accessed 22nd December 2012].

Graphic design is generally a rhetorical art – its job is to persuade – so do we have a responsibility to be mindful of what we are persuading people to do? We might, for example, argue that creating desires for things that people don’t really want or need is ultimately damaging both to the people concerned and to the environment on which we all rely.

Again like Poynor (1999), Roberts questions the responsibility of the designer, emphasising the importance definition and working toward a common goal. As with the First Things First manifestos, Roberts reminds the Designer of their influence and how the profession requires a shift from its basis in consumerism.

Further Reading

Elliott, C., 1992. Where ethics comes from and what to do about it. The Hastings Center Report, vol 22 (4), July – August. pp. 28-35.

Wilson, C., 2009. And So To Bed. [online] Dot Dot Dot, 18, Available at: [Accessed 5th December 2012].


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