Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand | Opinions

Let’s Get to Work

Poster by Jean Carlu, 1942

Many (most?) of us woke this morning to the shocking news of a Trump presidency. We feel misled by the press, unsettled by the electorate, abandoned by the audacity of our sustained, if arguably futile hope. There is much to say the morning after, and our sleeplessness and shock likely blind us to any logical predictions. (Are predictions ever logical?)     

But there is a case to be made that design is inherently an optimistic enterprise, a way of expressing confidence in the face of challenges, no matter how bleak. Designers understand this implicitly: we may not be in a position to control change, but we are its most ardent and expressive ambassadors. We may oppose an unthinkable political victory, but we remain deeply committed to seeking, and serving, real social progress. We may be down—but we’re not out.

Today, as a new administration beckons, let’s remember who we are, what we do, and how we can remain resolute in the face of what feels to so many of us like such a bruising defeat. How we can restore dignity to communication. How we can exchange hubris for humility. How we can, indeed, how we must bear in mind that democracy is about who we are, not who’s temporarily in office.

Our participation in the American political process isn’t something that happens every four years. It happens every day, at every level, through partnerships, across disciplines, beyond expectations. We may be divided as a nation, but we remain united as a community: a community of like-minded peers, passionate thinkers, and enthusiastic makers. We remain, now as ever, citizens of a world where inclusiveness will always trump ignorance. Designers often think of themselves as problem solvers: so let’s start solving some problems. The voting may be over, but the work is just beginning.

Posted in: Arts + Culture, Politics

Michael Bierut + Jessica Helfand Jessica Helfand, a founding editor of Design Observer, is an award-winning graphic designer and writer. A former contributing editor and columnist for Print, Eye and Communications Arts magazine, she is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale and a recent laureate of the Art Director’s Hall of Fame. Jessica received both her BA and MFA from Yale University where she has taught since 1994. In 2013, she won the AIGA medal.

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