Value In Design Essay

1893 words - 8 pages

Value in graphic design can possibly be summed up with some of the following criteria; is it informative? Is it aesthetically pleasing? Is it eye-catching, clear or interesting? What makes this piece of design good, or possibly, bad? Is it valuable to society? Though there is no definitive list…
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation (PETA), a non-profit UK organisation, are notorious for their shocking and often distasteful advertising campaigns that are usually very difficult and uncomfortable to look at. Along the same lines are Amnesty International, a human rights charity, who also produce shocking advertising to stir emotions and to make the general public aware of ...view middle of the document...

There were various taglines and images but the one I want to discuss is the “To animals, all people are Nazis” photograph. On the left side of the billboard is a picture of fully grown adults, packed like sardines in a room and on the right hand side is a picture of battery chickens kept in cages. The tagline “To animals, all people are Nazis” is strikingly bright with a red background and black writing blazoned across the top of the billboard, appearing as if the pictures have been ripped away to reveal this message.
Firstly, this advert is incredibly effective in jolting the public’s consciousness for PETA, so its value is intrinsic in gaining acknowledgement and support. It turned a lot of heads and caused a lot of controversy, which heightened PETA’s status and voice. It has incredible emotional value as it instantly provokes an emotional, yet uncomfortable, reaction.
The Uses and Gratification Theory describes mass communication and it argues that we, as a public, turn to media to satisfy pre-existing needs. For example, if you like gossip, you read tabloid newspapers. Some of the reasons we enjoy arts and culture are to be amused, to see authority figures exalted/deflated, to experience the beautiful, to satisfy curiosity and to be informed, to experience empathy and to experience, in a guilt-free situation, extreme emotions, as well as to affirm moral, cultural and spiritual values, to explore taboo subjects with impunity and to experience the ugly. Taking this into account, PETA’s advertising campaign can answer some of the mentioned criteria, for example, it allows people to experience the ugly, it affirms most people’s moral values that animals should be treated better and it also explores taboo subjects, like the Holocaust and animal cruelty. However, I do not believe these aspects of the advertisement are enough. Does it stir feelings of empathy or compassion for the animals or does it only provoke the feeling of shock and disgust? That was my initial reaction to this advert.
Rather than having an aesthetic value, I would argue that the advert has negative aesthetic value – it is not pleasant to look at, nor does it evoke positive emotions. The billboard advertisement contains ugly and uncomfortable images that the general public would usually choose not to see, though they have been chosen specifically to shock the audience. I do not believe that this devalues this piece of graphic design or the point it was trying to make. A piece of art or design does not have to be aesthetically pleasing or beautiful to be valuable. W. Somerset Maugham believed that beauty was not the ultimate goal of art and that it should be moral, not aesthetically pleasing; “Art, if it is to be reckoned as one of the great values of life, must teach man humility, tolerance, wisdom and magnanimity. The value of art is not beauty, but right action” (W. Somerset Maugham) You could argue that PETA was at least trying to raise awareness of animal rights and...

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