In this next blog post, I want to talk about how my ideas of critiquing consumer culture in advertising formed. Then, I will try to explain how I convey this idea within my own work. Before getting involved with graphic design, I only saw advertising in two ways; informative or annoying. The more I learned about graphic design and technology, I slowly realized how manipulative and aggressive consumer advertising has become over the past few decades. Entire million-dollar industries are built on selling users’ personal data for targeted advertising and there is no sign of this trend slowing down. I was disgusted not only in this societal trend, but also in myself for being a part of the problem as a graphic designer. To combat this, I started researching how graphic design can be used ethically. The best way to reveal the dangers of advertising is through counter advertising. More specifically, promoting awareness of this problem through graphic design.
My first project involving this topic is my “Consume Magazine” made in 2019. This magazine was meant to be about how we consume resources; whether it be food or media. The project was fairly successful in my opinion, but due to my limited knowledge of digital graphic design at the time, it now looks a bit mediocre. Nonetheless, I believe that this project helped me start thinking about art and design in ways which provide some sort of information to a viewer or consumer. Particularly information about how technology influences human life.
Another project dealing with this theme is my “Consume Catalog”. It is fairly similar in terms of content, but I feel it was more successful in conveying the idea of mass consumption. Pictured within the design are various dismembered cow parts or tools used in the cattle processing industry. They are advertised as if they were for sale in some high-end market and the prices listed are ridiculously high. For example, one of the images is a jar of cow eyeballs listed for $1,520. What I was hoping to convey in this was the brutality of the cattle industry and the extents that some people go to in order consume what they want, whatever it may be. In this particular work, I juxtaposed these ideas with trends which can be seen in the fashion industry of soaring prices for seemingly common items.