Sustainable Graphic Design: The Ecologically-Friendly Graphic Design Studio

By Lisa M. Graham.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

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. Graphic designers, in their daily practice, can assess and improve the sustainability of their activities by considering social, financial, and environmental criteria. These criteria may be as straightforward as asking “Is our activity (or product) economically and socially acceptable?” or by meeting certification benchmarks set by third-party certification authorities such as the Forest Service Council (FSC). 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 suggest concrete ways in which graphic designers may green their studio activities, as well as present a series of suggestions that graphic designers may consider when striving to design sustainable creative projects.

Keywords: Sustainable Design, Visual Communication, Graphic Design, Ethics, Creative Studio Practice

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.7-12. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 526.448KB).

Lisa M. Graham

Associate Professor, Art and Art History Department, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX, USA

Lisa M. Graham, MFA, LEED AP, is an Associate Professor of Visual Communication at the University of Texas at Arlington. She has practiced visual communication for over 20 years, working for a variety of regional, national, and international clients. Author of three books and numerous papers and articles, her research interests include the design and programming of healthcare facilities, gestalt theory, experience design, sustainable design, interactive design, universal design, motion typography, and design ethics.


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