A subtopic of my research paper that I have been thinking about and exploring through some readings is the ethics of graphic design storytelling. Since the concept is not real beyond the examples I have found (quite limited and only to similar disciplines), there is the need for me to also define what the hybridization of graphic design and storytelling is for me to be able to think of the ethics of doing it in practice.
Defined in my mind: Graphic design storytelling is considering the visual and conceptual narrative of a design problem and guiding the user through the elements of the work through the storytelling format. It is taking the widely-used practice of storytelling and aiding the audience to better understand the designer and the design. There are both interpersonal and interpersonal aspects of graphic design storytelling as it can also aid the designer in very intimate ways (his/her ideation process and means of execution).
Reading the methodology books within unit 8 was a direct indicator to me of how to effectively convey a storyline throughout the process for the self and for other designers. The story is as much the exploration and deviations as what was selected to go forward.
Back to ethics, the concept of ethics for graphic design storytelling is merged from two angles in my mind so far. There is the angle of ethics in literature, in what it means to tell a story and why it is important to consider the impact (especially if the stories you are telling are true) and then there is also ethics within graphic design exclusively. Two sources that have helped me expand my understanding of ethical design storytelling is the article by Daniel Taylor, “The Ethical Implications of Storytelling” and Lucienne Roberts’ “Good: An Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design.” Taylor’s work explains how stories teach people to live, empathize, and act with a view. He warns that stories can either aid or abuse those who the stories are about and that something as metaphorical as a story can have real consequences (such as oppressing a culture) . The majority of the article examines the impact that storytelling has on oppressed individuals. Toward the end, he reiterates that stories can change the world literally. The holistic potential of this practice is directly applicable to designing. The second source, Roberts, considers ethics versus morality and what makes a designer good. I am most interested in what things designers must avoid when creating (whether it is the design or the story) and applying that as precaution in my research. Paula Scher is interviewed within the book and she asks what exactly is being asked of her within the question “Are you a good designer?” She states that she believes she is a good designer most importantly because she understands the power of her messages and her responsibility for making them and sending them out into the world .
I think that from both of these readings, I can draw that the ethics of storytelling in graphic design is the same as the ethics of storytelling and graphic design separately. It is taking ownership of the work and making damn sure that what you are producing is the truth, is doing good rather than harm (physically or mentally/emotionally) unless it is to a greater evil perhaps, and fostering a relationship with the message throughout the life of it in the world. I think the fostered relationship can be another way that GD storytelling can aid the profession and the people that associate with design as clients or practitioners.
Roberts, Lucienne. Good: An Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. 2006.
Taylor, Daniel. “The Ethical Implications of Storytelling: Giving Ear to the Literature of the Oppressed.” Mars Hill 3 Fall 1995: 58-70. Print.