Psychology & Design

Sometimes, to get a message across to a majority of people, designers feel the need to show a shocking image, a dead fetus, a dead animal, a starving child in Africa. I personally feel that there are better ways to create a design to get the message across, a more creative approach. Why do we need to disgust the viewer or ruin their day because we decided to show them something awful and just because the poster affected them negatively doesn’t mean it actually made them think about the subject or have a different view. I believe a strong, efficient concept and design is a lot more effective than a design with a typical shocking image.

In the same sense, I think emotions can be shown through design without showing your typical images, emotions like happiness, sadness, anger, fear. I will begin my research with shock design and move on from there over the next few weeks, collecting images and information that relate.

One of the first examples I can think of when bad “shock” design comes to mind is United Colors of Benetton advertisements featuring dying aid’s victims. What was the point of these ads? What does this have to do with Benetton? What does this have to do with clothes? Obviously Benetton had a deeper message to convey, but it was poorly executed, but maybe still considered successful since they received so much press coverage due to the poor nature of the adverts.

One powerful design that has stuck with me since the first moment I saw it, was a beautiful poster design by Makoto Saito for a Buddhist altar manufacturer, which uses a simple photograph of a bone and simple type, which reads “I am the ancestor of the future.” It makes you think and sticks with you without necessarily showing something shocking or distasteful. Saito doesn’t attempt to convey a simplistic¬† or clear message, its pretty complex and filled with meaning. Sadly only low resolution versions of this poster exist online, I’ll get a high res version once I’m able to scan it out of Problem Solved [Michael Johnson].


2 responses to “Psychology & Design

  1. teachthemasses

    As a consumer, I feel the United Colours of Benetton shockvertising was better than a blue bone on a white page. Everyone could relate in some way to the pregnant mother, the black mother feeding white baby, the aids victim, the multicoloured children- the ‘united colours’ of the world.
    It is regarded as being one of the best advertising of the 20th century.They tackled issues as war, aids, racism. The owner does not claim that his advertising ”sells jumpers”- he uses it as his personal platform to present issues he feels are important. When faced with criticim such as yours, he replied:

    “Nothing at all. Selling jumpers is the company’s problem, not mine.”
    he’s the millionaire, so i suppose what he says, goes.

  2. teachthemasses

    Oh by the way- I didn’t actually LIKE the advertising, but it was damned good- why? Because it got people talking.Like that twenty foot billboard in New York from Dove of the naked granny………….

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