Thursday, September 13, 2007

Our own brand of cultural literacy

Kirsten (Pixel) and I were talking this morning about Crit's recent topic regarding cultural literacy. We wondered how much do designers need to know about the world in order to create in it in a meaningful way? As a web designer, she needs to learn about each client's target audience in order to develop a visual language that will be engaging to them. My job requires a certain understanding about why people shop and buy the products we make and what they hope those purchases will do for them.

In both cases, it means that sometimes we have to learn what appeals to preteens and other times its about learning what is important to a specific cultural group or niche audience. As designers, I think that learning about and investigating other cultures and different types of people and lifestyles needs to be interesting or fulfilling to us or we will fail to meet the specific needs of our clients. We cannot create in a vacuum and make anything that feels relevant to other people.

I think of Cahan + Associates' book title, I Am Almost Always Hungry. It was not my favorite design book but the title has always struck a chord with me. The title speaks (to me) about designers on-going hunger to learn more. I am almost always hungry to learn more, sometimes voraciously and other times reluctantly.

How do you feel about cultural literacy as it relates to design and art?

[I'm not entirely sure what the image has to do with this topic, but its such a broad topic I thought it was the closest thing I could find.]

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