Sustainable Graphic Design: The Ecologically-Friendly Graphic Design Studio
There are many definitions of sustainable design. In 1987 the World Commission on Environment and Development defined sustainability as “Development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. The book Natural Capitalism describes how businesses can use financial capital, manufacturing capital, natural capital, and human capital to enhance sustainable development. Professionals of all types can use additional ways to assess and improve the sustainability of their activities, including social, financial, and environmental criteria. These criteria may be as straightforward as asking “Is our activity (or product) socially acceptable?” or as complicated as meeting certification benchmarks set by a recognized sustainable design authority such as the U.S. Green Building Council. Development of viable criteria depends on just how sustainable, or “green” a corporation, business, group, or individual desires to achieve in their day-to-day activities. In the daily pursuit of commerce, graphic designers produce designs for a wide variety of ephemera such as posters, flyers, tickets, invitations, brochures, media kits, annual reports, banners, and so on, much of which is promptly discarded by its target audience. Due to recent educational efforts by the American Institute of Graphic Arts calling attention to the importance of sustainable design to the graphic design profession, many graphic designers have a growing awareness of sustainable design, but lack clear understanding on how to ethically incorporate it into their day-to-day studio activities. This paper will present a series of criteria that graphic designers may apply to their creative projects, as well as suggest concrete ways in which graphic designers may “green” their studio activities.
Keywords: Sustainable Design, Visual Communication, Graphic Design, Ethics, Creative Studio Practice
Lisa M. Graham
Associate Professor, Art and Art History Department, University of Texas at Arlington