This Pisses me off…


A recent post by on Abduzeedo, made me scratch my head and remind myself that I have seen this time and time again. What is it you might say? It’s the way designers are so quick to jump on a natural disaster for the sake of self-promotion. There I said it! Say what!?! (see for yourself) It’s terrible how fast these designs get cranked out, how quick we are to fire up photoshop and whip out a jpg. to get some attention. “It’s to raise self-awareness!”, you may say. We live in a world with a 24-hour news cycle! Who does not know about the devastating earthquake that happened in Japan? “It’s to raise money for the victims.” Sure it is. Then 100% of the proceeds should go to the cause, right? A lot of them don’t.

The need to be first one to design a poster to respond to this disaster, as well as others, is sad; it’s the distasteful speed of it all that really gets me. I believe we should help out causes and contribute our gifts to bringing attention to the terrible issues of the world, but sometimes you have to call it what it is.

So I pose the question is it distasteful to come up with “art” immediately after something bad has happened to raise money or awareness about it? Or should we react on our impulses and post them online as fast as possible?

 

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7 thoughts on “This Pisses me off…

  1. I have to agree with you to an extent. Raising awareness for a tragedy that ‘just’ happened can be construed as distasteful and for the sole benefit of the designer, but sometimes it’s the only way some can donate to a cause that they feel passionate about. Donating art to raise funds can usually bring in more money than if an individual was to donate money on their own. Some people won’t even donate without getting something in return! But that’s another topic for another day… This form of help only works if 100% of the proceeds go to that cause though. For those that keep some of that donated money, they’re just using the system and taking advantage of a disaster for their own benefit. As for raising awareness, you’re right on with that call. Even if you don’t watch the news, you’ve still heard of everything that has happened so jumping on the ‘designing for a cause’ bandwagon for that reason only is just plain rude, annoying and selfish.

  2. Joe, I wish you didn’t write this because I have a lot of burning tension on my chest about what I just saw on Abduzeedo so I have to speak my mind.

    First of all, I don’t find it distasteful to use your talent to show your condolences because you could make something meaningful and then give it to someone you know who’s been indirectly affected by the attack; but I also wouldn’t be the one to cheat donators out of their money in a dishonest plea to raise funds or for self-promotion. I cannot begin to imagine the perspective of those involved in the attack but I will put myself in the donators perspective. Personally, I wouldn’t buy any custom designed products or even want anything in return if I were to donate to Japan. I don’t need to be “rewarded” for helping people out. That’s ludicrous and it would make me look materialistic and greedy. I sure as hell (pardon my french) would not donate to any online charity for the simple fact I want 100% of my contributions to help Japan, not help these extorting charities profit or help promote those designers to get compensated because I know the people out there who are in turmoil and are in need of “real” help, aren’t going to a see a penny of it. Unfortunately, my perspective doesn’t justify with a lot of other people’s superficial characteristics because they feel like they never have enough money. They would rather get something in return in order to be convinced to donate and if the charities are trying to coerce donators into wiring their money or writing checks, their just criminalizing extortion. It’s a shame that a lot of people have no desire to lend a few dollars without receiving benefits. It’s also a shame that designers have to make money on the tragedy especially since understanding these people’s dilemma is a vital role of their trade. But it’s okay to design a masterpiece that communicates the turmoil of Japan that reflects its people and then turn around to sell it to other people around the world for commission? It’s not. Does people dying and starving have to always be about money? Come on now, let’s think about these people here. Some donators need to stop being so materialistic and actually help and these online graphic designers need to help Japan in the same legitimate way, not through this online fundraiser where you can profit and where you can get a damn tee-shirt! Where are people’s modesty?

    • There’s so much wrong with your post (English and grammar aside) I don’t know where to start…so let’s start at the top:

      “…I don’t find it distasteful to use your talent to show your condolences because you could make something meaningful and then give it to someone you know who’s been indirectly affected by the attack”

      Obviously way better than trying to help those ACTUALLY in need. Brilliant.

      “…but I also wouldn’t be the one to cheat donators out of their money in a dishonest plea to raise funds or for self-promotion.”

      Accusing everyone who is trying to help in whatever way they can of being thieves? Where is your proof? If you are making an accusation, you had better be able to back it up with facts.

      “Personally, I wouldn’t buy any custom designed products or even want anything in return if I were to donate to Japan.”

      Translation: You haven’t donated a dime, but instead, are lambasting those who actually are trying to help. Commendable.

      “…would make me look materialistic and greedy.”

      It is a tremendous indictment of your character that you are more concerned with how you “look” or are perceived by people, than actually doing anything that could directly help those in need.

      “…people out there who are in turmoil and are in need of “real” help, aren’t going to a see a penny of it.”

      You know this how? Again, where is your proof? You are asserting that ALL charitable organizations taking donations for tragedies keep the money for themselves and don’t send a penny to the victims…ever. Pretty strong assertion given you have NO facts to back it up.

      “…criminalizing extortion.”

      Extortion, by nature, is criminal. You cannot, therefore, criminalize something that is already criminal to begin with.

      “It’s also a shame that designers have to make money on the tragedy …”

      The designers that took the lead in this instance, have pledged to donate 100% of the proceeds to the relief efforts; they also have to shell out for printing and postage costs. They are not making any money off this, instead they are raising money for the victims. What are you doing other than complaining about your misconceptions? Nothing.

      “Does people dying and starving have to always be about money? Come on now, let’s think about these people here. ”

      The designers that are raising money for the cause are thinking about these people, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it.

      “Some donators need to stop being so materialistic and actually help and these online graphic designers need to help Japan in the same legitimate way, not through this online fundraiser where you can profit and where you can get a damn tee-shirt!”

      Where is your list of legitimate ways? You say that all charitable organizations are frauds with any evidence, now you allude to more legitimate ways to help without actually providing any examples. Your thought process, if there even is one, is incoherent at best.

      “Where are people’s modesty?”

      I’m sure the thousands of displaced people in Japan who are tired, hungry, and cold would see eye-to-eye with you. They would rather have an artist/designer hang up his/her mouse or brush and not make art to raise money for them because that may lead to a possible perception of self-promotion by someone like you. I’m sure they would much rather starve than piss you off.

      Your whole tirade, here and on Abduzeedo is nothing more than a display of deep-rooted jealousy. Perusing your portfolio, it is evident that the designers you are railing against are in a whole other stratosphere than you are talent-wise. If you’re not going to donate or do anything at all to help Japan in a positive way, your time would be better served learning and growing as a designer instead of flaming established ones.

  3. I agree with you to a certain extent. Yes, I think it can be sometimes distasteful and annoying to see art designs right after a catastrophy. Although sometimes it is useful. On Abduzeedo, some sites are shown where you can donate, of course you cannot be sure that your money goes to the right place, but at least you did something. At least you tried. I myself hate that feeling the most when I can’t do anything about something I really care. Moreover, It depends on people and how religious they are, but by art you can send a “thought” or a prayer to the victims and their families. Also by seeing these pieces of art, they make me think about what life is worth. You can’t be sure but by seeing how many people make art for this cause, even if that certain piece isn’t sold to raise money, it show that people care and this also counts alot I believe. I agree with you in that if making art for a cause has wrong intentions, it is really rude and distasteful.

  4. I think that the main issue shouldn’t be the creation of the art, but if the art was created to exploit the situation. If they are bringing attention to a certain cause or trying to direct attention to a reputable assistance effort, then I wouldn’t be so quick to protest the effort.

    There will always be people that will try to exploit a tragedy and take away from real efforts to help, so if that is the case, then I do think that it is a shame, but if someone created some visual and wanted to post it up, I wouldn’t really call that tasteless, but it is still a slippery slope.

    When the crisis in Haiti occurred, there are many posters and flyers that were in the same vein as these, but they seemed to be more focused on relief effort and not just a showcase for design talents. But who is to say that the creation of the art shouldn’t be made just because someone thinks that it is in bad taste.

    Great post. You raise a lot of good points and now my brain is moving. Maybe I’ll ask the same questions to my students today.

  5. If I am not mistaken some of you say that making a piece of art on the occasion of a catastrophy is wrong. Yet, artists usually make art from inspiration, somthing that makes their mind work, and if it’s a catastrophy, I think it is ok. In my opinion just expressing that your thoughts are with the victims by art is a right way to do.

  6. I started thinking about this a little bit more, after I let it simmer for a few days.

    I think that it’s really the design and art community as a whole along with social media. It’s not necessarily a “disaster” that brings out this type of attention seeking, we just happen to see more.

    After I thought about this more, what’s the difference between an designer making a poster for Japan and a designer making a poster for his portfolio, because in the end, it’s all about “look at me, look at me.” “go to my blog” “look at my work” “go to my website”.

    To me designers, artists, marketing and tech companies and the like, are all the same. Total over promotion. Constantly promoting their own work, constantly looking for attention.

    In the end, it’s flat out annoying. There’s no love or personality behind it, it’s just constant attention seeking attitudes. And THAT, is sad.

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