As part of our series of design in 2022, Frank William Miller Jr., design director at Matter Unlimited, offers his take on what might happen in graphics over the next year.
What do you think 2022 will hold for graphic design?
The challenge of finding the balance between reflecting the moment we’re in and sharing daring imaginations of a different world to be. Graphic design is about communication, and a great deal of optimism, fluidity, inclusivity and wistfulness has been communicated by the brightly coloured, whimsically typefaced aesthetics of campaigns over the last couple of years – from major brands to editorial publications and Instagram infographic carousels. There’s also a deep fatigue taking hold as we enter another year of this pandemic, where some of that optimism for a better, more just, more equitable, more healthy world is beginning to wane.
Threading the needle of showing the world and society and solving design problems, but also communicating and creating space for what they could be and how these problems could be addressed with urgency and a little strategy will be the sweet science this year and beyond. Aesthetics will ebb and flow depending on the audience, but centring people and their needs, dreams and struggles will persist.
What was your favorite graphic design project from the past year?
The first project that came to mind is from designer and artist Naturel. Known for his brightly colored, geometric based portraits and pop culture compositions, he’s made forays into apparel over the years. Last year, he delved into sustainable fashion with a unique design paying homage to his hometown’s favorite Maryland blue crabs. Each jacket is made upon order, using ethically and sustainably sourced materials. On the inner lining is a cheeky message playing on the “crabs in a barrel” adage; “I Will Not Pull My Brother Down”. It’s a nice reminder that you can exist and thrive in life without needing to climb over someone else to do it. Strength in solidarity and community versus existing in isolation and acrimonious competition is a concept worth holding dear, and the jacket looks nice as well.
If graphic design is about communication, what has happened to critical thinking amongst designers in these tyrannical times?
The evidence and views received during this call will help the government office inform future policy and make changes where needed.
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