Just thinking lately how much power you have as an artist working in any kind of visual communication field, and how we’re taught to distort the public eye from the very beginning.
Many times when I was in my classes I’d get critique back that this character or that character shouldn’t look like this, wear that, or what have you because “it isn’t a good design choice.” That’s why you can look at a toy line and all the dolls have blue, green or purple eyes. Not a brown eye among them. Why? “Because those blue eyes will really pop with that dark skin!” So every little brown eyed girl that looks for someone that looks like her, or looks like her mother finds nothing. As a kid it used to depress me. It made me feel ugly. I wasn’t what was wanted. I keep that in mind when I design characters- especially since I work on children’s games.
We’ve got these weird cultural ideas in the States about what certain archetypes look like and we constantly reinforce them under the guise of “good design.” Look, the femme fatal doesn’t have to have bright red, platinum blonde, or jet black hair… or voluptuous at all. And the girl next door doesn’t have to be white.
I remember I had to make a sample wedding page for my work. I used, with permission, photos of my brother and his wife. My brother is a really big korean guy and his wife is a teeny tiny white woman. The photos are really great. They are both extremely photogenic, attractive people. I put the design in my portfolio. My design teacher looked at the photos and yelled out, “Who ARE these PEOPLE?” He wanted to reject them based on the fact that they’re a mixed marriage. He back peddled when I told him they’re family. They’re a real couple. They’re real people. Real people are not formulaic. If your design theory goes so far as to dip into being racist, I don’t want anything to do with it.
my job at the time, who’s business the page was actually made for, totally loved the webpage. My boss was a hispanic woman with her doctorate in anthropology and her husband was an indian man with a doctorate in science… I’m not sure what exactly in or how many doctorates he held, I have a feeling there were several.
I hate that we’re asked as designers to white wash everything we make. We control the horizontal, we control the vertical. We should be using that power responsibly, not hurting and alienating the people we’re selling to.
You know what’s good design? Curved lines vs straight lines. Contrapposto. Asymmetrical costumes.
Not propagating stereotypes.
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