You may think that pursuing a career in graphic design precludes you from working to support social change, but that’s not true. Graphic designers all over the world are working to change the world in amazing ways. Here are some of the coolest ways that graphic design can change the world, and a look at how it already is.
Design Can Change
Design Can Change is an organization of graphic designers who believe in sustainable design and want to take action. They’ve created a pledge for graphic designers to take that involves making sustainability part of their everyday professional practice educating others as part of a united community of designers. The group also offers resources, tools, and sustainability projects for designers.
IDEO is a global design firm that uses design and human-centered, design-based thinking to help organizations, especially nonprofits and NGOs, innovate and solve problems. For example, they’ve helped local organizations solve public sanitation problems in Ghana and incentivize savings programs in Kenya.
Exposure Camp, founded by graphic designer Tina Shoulders, is a creative program for 13 to 18 year olds from underserved communities in the Bronx and Mt. Vernon. The program is a place where graphic designers who volunteer to teach teens how to use digital media for design, app building, content and web creation, and programming. Its purpose is to show teens how to build their digital footprint and help them explore careers in digital media and other design and technology driven careers.
Design Action offers visual communications and graphic design services for progressive organizations, nonprofits, and other groups dedicated to social change. Their goal is to strengthen progressive causes that fight for social and economic justice by ensuring that the organizations that work on these issues have the best quality, professional web development and graphic design services at their disposal.
You may not think of the United Nations or foreign policy and graphic design working together, but you absolutely should. The UN’s many programs are heavily dependent on the skills that graphic designers bring to the table. Graphic designers working on UN projects improve the presentation of information in proposals and to the public, review document layouts, design promotional materials, help create educational materials for all ages, and much more. Look at graphic designer vacancies with the UN here.
For a huge range of volunteer projects that need graphic design skills and are working to change the world in countless ways, check out VolunteerMatch.org. There you can search for graphic design related opportunities, both virtual and in-person, that serve a variety of different social change goals. You’ll find everything from non-profits that need a logo designed to advocacy teams that need outreach materials, and for all different causes.
Center for Urban Pedagogy
The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) makes city bureaucracy easy for everyday people to understand by teaming up graphic designers and community groups to create educational posters and pamphlets. For example, they’ve created a poster to instruct street vendors about their rights so they can stay legal and earn a better living, and they’ve designed resources to help immigrant children navigate the system. Their work isn’t just useful, it’s recognized aesthetically; at least one product has been included in the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum’s triennial.
Are you ready to go out and change the world with your cutting edge design-based thinking? There are so many ways that graphic design can change the world. This underreported topic means that you can pursue your career in graphic design and work to help create the world you want to live in at the same time.