'Are illustrators and Surface Designers merely space fillers? Can they, should they and are they allowed to make comment on matters such as economics, social and political issues or moral and philosophical debates.'
Article told to look at: http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2012/february/where-is-the-content
As a Surface Designer I don’t think we are ‘space fillers’ and I think only people with a small mind would think so. ‘Surface Design’ is many different things, basically every surface that can have a pattern or a single design to it. Including all interiors, fashion, stationary, greeting cards etc. Obviously for these kinds of things designers aren’t going to put matters like political issues into. I think this question doesn’t apply to surface design as the article is about illustration.
For an illustrator it is different, I think it is up to them what content they put in there work. Illustrators should be allowed to produce what they like about issues they are passionate about, and as long as they are knowledgeable on the subject I don’t think it should matter, they can be as obvious or as clever as they want within pieces of design. Personally, as a practitioner, I don’t care how, what or why people produce the work they do. It doesn’t affect me, maybe because I don’t know much about the issues people bring up, I wouldn’t have a strong argument to defend myself. I think everyone has there own opinion and has a right to do, say or in this case design what they like. I strongly believe in making work that is just astatically pleasing, that has no meaning, no deep dark undertone, just looks pretty. I have no issue with that at all, being commercial, which is fine for a surface designer. Of course when making an illustration you would usually have a reason to make something weather it is for a poster, book etc. Giving work a meaning will make it more powerful which is more important for an illustration for a political poster than a pattern design for a pillow.
I believe illustrators need to make their work clear enough for the viewer to know what it is about without having to read a side note about the meaning behind it. In a way it is harder and more challenging for illustrators than someone who say does fine art, which I think you can get away with the ‘less is more’ approach and it being more acceptable.
As a conclusion I think it all depends on the designer themselves and what they like to do. I don’t think you should do what you are told. I think you should do what you think is right, what you feel you are good at and what you enjoying doing. If you enjoy including important issues of the world that you are passionate about into your work then so be it. If you don’t then that’s fine by me.