The Design of Dissent is a global collection of socially and politically driven graphics on issues including Black Lives Matter, Trump protests, refugee crises, and the environment.
Dissent is an essential part of keeping democratic societies healthy, and our ability as citizens to voice our opinions is not only our privilege, it is our responsibility. Most importantly, it is a human right, one which must be fervently fought for, protected, and defended.
Many of the issues and conflicts visited in the first edition of this book remain vividly present today, as simmering, sometimes throbbing reminders of how the work of democracy and pace of social change is often incremental, requiring patience, diligence, hope, and the continuing brave voices of designers whose skillful imagery emboldens, invigorates, and girds us in the face of struggle.
The 160+ new works in this edition document the Arab Spring, the Obama presidency, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the election of Donald Trump, Putin's continuing influence, the Women's March, the ongoing refugee crises, immigration, environment and humanitarian issues, and much more. This powerful collection, totaling well over 550 images, stands not only as a testament to the power of design but as an urgent call to action.
Tony Kushner is an award-winning American playwright most famous for his play Angels in America, for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He is also co-author, along with Eric Roth, of the screenplay of the 2005 film Munich, which was directed by Steven Spielberg and earned Kushner (along with Roth) an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.
I came into this book as a graphic designer, hoping for an analysis of the patterns of designs of dissent and changes over time. Instead, the analysis was focused piece by piece, with a sentence or two beside (most of) the images. I wanted to come out of this realizing how design for dissent has changed over time (are there trends?), and perhaps even comparing that to how propaganda design and marketing design have changed over the same time period.
I found the book to be poorly organized, the images presented in no order that I could discern -- pieces were mixed together from all eras, from all types of dissent, from all nations. I'd have appreciated grouping on some sort of level, and context -- a brief introduction of the conflicts that were covered, because some I'm familiar with, and some are too long ago for me to know much about (I'm in my early thirties so I know very little about soviet era conflict). There's no introduction, it just dives into the examples.
I also felt like this edition would have benefited from curation of the older works. I was most interested in the designs from the last decade (which mostly were found in the last third of the book), and would have appreciated a deeper analysis of the older designs because in general I found them either outdated or too in your face / going for the gross-out factor. I admire propaganda art and was hoping to find, essentially, anti-propaganda in this book, but the quality of much of the work was uninspiring. A trend I noticed, which I suspect is ineffective design, was to include a long quote from a politician or news article or sentence summarizing what the poster is supposed to be responding to.
I lol'd when the author included one of his own works, a black-to-green round gradient that symbolized the death of the planet, and thought that Trump would realize it was time to act on climate change if he saw a bunch of students wearing that pin. Without seeing the original poster with text, I wouldn't have realized that the pin was supposed to represent the planet.
A teally good sampling of mid-20th century-current(ish) (2017) dissent graphic design artifacts. The Forward by Tony Kushner and the Heller-Glaser interview are illuminating also. Each graphic/artifact has relevant info about the piece (title, artist, country, year, etc) and a contextualizing blurb. My only complaint is the glossy paper, which reflects lamplight & sunlight so I had to tilt the book at an angle to see & read it, but the paper is thick & the graphics are all printed perfectly - I can even feel the ink on the page. (Yes, that’s right - I’m not a graphic designer.)