I’ve always wanted to change the world, although I know that’s very idealistic of me. I’m not sure when this drive started or why I in particular have been prone to it. I think it was in middle school, when I took a class trip to Belize and saw the gross inequality between the way I lived in America and the way the people there lived. Or maybe it was shuttling back and forth between America and Russia in my childhood and witnessing the inequality that existed there. Either way, once I grew old enough to understand the world and all its injustices, I was filled with a relentless drive to fix it.
This ceaseless ability to care led me to explore many different career paths. I fixated on acting for a little bit, because it was my passion, before turning to biology as a means to cure the world’s ills. From biology I moved to political science and international relations, where I spent some time thinking about foreign diplomacy before I finally landed on design.
Graphic design presented a conundrum for me. It was something I felt an intense passion for — I understood that design was the field I wanted to go into, and a profession I could picture myself in as an adult. However, in my young, uneducated mind design seemed like an entirely frivolous career choice. I mean really, I thought, the whole profession is focused around making things look pretty. How would that solve anything? How could I spend my days with Adobe programs redesigning books or pamphlets, and tell myself that I was doing work that would make a difference?
It wasn’t until I was taught to think of design as a medium for communication that I realized synthesizing my two passions might not be as hard as I thought. The thing is, to the wrong person design can be purely about making things look good. But to me, that’s where design falls flat and loses its inspiration. The beauty of design is in the ideas that it communicates. The content matters just as much, if not more than, the format. Successful design influences the viewer and changes — or makes some steps towards changing — their point of view.
Design is visual, and the thing with visual communication is that a lot of the time it packs a lot more punch than anything written or verbal. A well-designed poster that communicates its ideas at a glance can be far more effective than anything that requires an extended amount of focus and attention, something already lacking in our day and age. I realized that I was learning methods to communicate my opinions and maybe even influence other people’s opinions as well — that I was learning methods to communicate my voice.
A designer’s voice is what focuses their work. It gives everything you put out an identity and points it back towards you. This is not to say that everything you make should look identical — it shouldn’t — but opinions hold a certain intellectual ownership that visuals don’t. You can say that you’ve made something, but can you say that you’ve put a piece of yourself into what you’ve made?
I’ve come to realize that my work is nothing without my passion. And this is where I found a connection between my drive to make a difference and my affinity towards aesthetics. I can use design as a medium to communicate my opinion, and in the process I can educate those who see my work. In that way, by influencing people’s opinions, the work I put out has the power to change the world one little step at a time.