Good : an Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design // Lucienne Roberts

“Ethics isn’t a black and white subject.”

The book takes the perspectives of people from different fields. It gives an overall perspective of the theme by introducing history on the subject followed by interviews with people inside and outside the Graphic Design field.

There is a historical contextualization in the first chapter. And a glossary that keeps up with all the book.


S2 – Approaching Good – 4 Interviews

Perspectives on Graphic Design Ethics:

  • Anthony Grayling – Philosophy
  • Jacqueline Roach – The Law
  • Richard Holloway – Theology
  • Delyth Morgan – Politics

“Graphic design is a relatively new practice — it is the response to changing needs resulting from industrialization, scientific, and technological development.

“(…) Individual freedom has increased so has individual responsibility.”

Aesthetics ↔ Ethics

Ethics is related to how we choose to live what we stand for. Aesthetics becomes part of it because of the “stereotypes” existing in the world we live in… we stand for the idea that living surrounded by pleasant things is the best way. (p.38)

“Issues Raised”:

  • Being Responsible (for the designers, clients and everything around this world);
  • Professionalism ( Moral Obligations);
  • Freedom and Ideology
  • Equality and Ideology
  • The market economy
  • Opposing Versions of good (not good/Bad, different kinds of good, how to measure the values in GD);
  • Happiness and quality of life;


S3 – Debating Good – 5 Essays about different questions:

  • Should I be nice to everyone?
  • Who should I work for?
  • Is it okay to be happy?
  • Who has the right to judge?
  • What is it worth?

Focus on points such as awareness of our impact as Designers, Plagiarism, Professionalism, Ethics, Responsibility, Freedom of Choice in the world of Graphic Design.

“We look for approval, but are understandably disdainful of what is a subjective and potentially undermining process.”

“No book can avoid the subject of judgement because terms like good or bad, and right and wrong have the notion of value embedded with them.”

“The lack of an adequate language with which to make judgement is the heart of the problem.”


S4 – Being good – Interviews & Question “Are you a good designer?”

1_ Michael Marriot – Furniture Design

→ Sustainability, Value, Media, Politics, Art vs. Design.

“Commercial and Public galleries are part of the entertainment industry now – you know the Barbican Gallery is competing with Leicester Square Odeon and Selfridges nowadays, isn’t it?”

2_ Billie Tsien – Architecture

→ The lifetime of the designs, Beliefs, Frustrations and Ethics.

3_ Simon Esterson – Editorial Design

→ Ethics ↔ Beauty, Money↔Design, Personal Fulfilment, Happiness.

4_ Chris de Bode – Photojournalism

→ Ethics, Image Manipulation, Politics, Responsibilities.

5_ Sheila Levrant de Bretteville– Graphic Design/ Public Art

→Social Responsibility, Humility, Ethics.


S5 – Doing good – Case Studies

Starts with sustainability issue mapping — Consider how designers make a practical difference.

The author and Lynne Elvins — “We usually begin the process with a map of world issues plotted against 4 agendas”

“Issues are grouped according to four agendas – financial, social, personal and environmental.”

On one hand, they categorize different fields with this 4 agendas and produced a context map with the issued raised in that subject, such as business or design. On the second hand, there are also analysis of case studies by adapting them to the same context maps.


What I’ll look next?

  • Anthony Grayling, Philosopher — “The meaning of things”, “Making Sense”.

This post is part of my MA major project bibliography.

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