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Joumal of Visual Literacy.

Volume 27, Number 1. 139-154

Design and Art: The Aesthetic Turn

Keith Owens
University of North Texas
Dentón, TX, USA

Modern artists of all types have adopted formalist aesthetics, in
part to create autonomy for themselves and their work. While many
applaud this changing social role, others believe turns toward
the aesthetic entail turning away from social responsibility. Does
adopting an aesthetic stance lead to moraijeopardy? In order to begin
to answer this complex question, this essay examines communication
designers and their aesthetic biases in light of two correlative moral
rubrics: Cheatwood's artistic accountability and Berleant's artistic
responsibility. Insights from this examination are useful insofar as
they can add to the discourse surrounding art, design, aesthetics
and ethics.

rt and social critic Hal Foster (2002) has suggested that much
cultural autonomy has collapsed into a world where "everything
from jeans to genes seems to be regarded as so much design" (p.
17). For Foster, art and life have finally connected - but "according to the
spectacular dictates of the culture industry, not the liberatory ambitions
of the avant-garde" (p. 19). He traces this conflation to it roots in Art
Nouveau's pledge to Gesamtkunstwerk, or total work, and the Bauhaus's'
attempts to shape all of modernity by transplanting aesthetic concepts
about beauty, through fitness of form, into mass produced objects. These
two examples are not unique, however.
Throughout history artists have been called upon to tum their aesthetic
output toward larger social ends, the principal variable being the cultural milieu,
ideology, or political force pressing them into service (Carroll, 1998) - art
endowed with moral content (Armstrong, 2003), or propaganda valorizing
state imperatives (Devereaux, 1998), for instance.

In response to these long-standing social or political expectations, artists in

modem times have sought to create space in which to "[operate] according to
[their] own aesthetic laws and universals" (Weston, 1996, p. 89). In the 1920s
and 1930s many Futurist, Constructivist, Dadaist, and other artists "claimed the
right to be true to their inner selves, to ignore outmoded traditions and social
mores, [and] to transgress inhibiting academic conventions as they responded
to the exhilarating changes around them" (Weston, 1996, p. 89). Applied artists
ofthe time made similar claims. In 1927, for example, key figures shaping
pan-European graphic design formed a professional alliance - der ring 'neue
werbegestalter '(The Circle of 'New Advertising Designers') in part to create
what they hoped would be "... the foundation on which the new worW would
be built" (Moholy-Nagy, 1925, p. 38).
Clearly, in the tug-of-war between aesthetic and social concems, fine
and applied artists share common ground in their attempts to reconcile
autonomy with responsibility. Both groups stand within a larger tradition
of social involvement, while at the same time living with their more recent
antipathies toward it. Both groups continually seek new raisons d'être: for
many artists, idiosyncratic or formal self-expression; for many designers,
commercial engagement and market validation. Both groups find themselves
at the center ofthe recurrent debate over the artist's proper social role, duties,
and obligations.
In this debate, many (Beardsley, 1981; Bell, 1914; Lamarque & Olsen,
1994) believe artists should enjoy unrestricted social autonomy. Maintaining
that artwork - being an amalgam of aesthetic properties, experiences, and
attitudes - ean only reach its ñill measure when unencumbered by the world of
practical, moral affairs (BuUough, 1912). Others, including Marxists (Lukács,
1963; Marcuse, 1977), cultural conservatives (Hoekema, 1991), and feminists
(Gablick, 1984; Lippard, 1983) think otherwise. For them, artwork is pivotal
to, and should be held responsible for, shaping cultural ideals, behavior, and
This essay takes up this debate by considering it from the perspective of
one group of applied artists: graphic or communication designers^. Specifically,
it asserts that while some practitioners in this group embrace socially and
environmental aware practice and discourse (e.g.. Fraseara, 2006; Lavin, 2001 ;
Margolin, 2002; Whiteley, 1993), a significantly larger number instead ground
their practice in formal, neo-formal, and functional aesthetic sensibilities
and values, thereby adopting a professional posture that raises hard ethical
questions. For example:

• Is it morally problematic to valorize formal visual qualities

irrespective of the messages they convey?
Journal of Visual Literacy, Volume 27, Number 2

• Does applauding the relationship between content and its aesthetic

embodiment ignore the formed content's nature or the broader
effects it may induce?
• Is appreciating a design work's ability to fulfill its function merely
commending its instrumentality with little regard to the ends at
which its agency is aimed?
• Beyond informing their practice, does the primacy of aesthetics
in designers' discourse limit their ability to engage broader social
issues or concems?
With these questions in mind, the aesthetic attitudes informing many
communication designers can be considered in light of two correlative moral
rubrics: artistic accountability (Cheatwood, 1982) and social responsibility
(Berleant, 1977). This juxtaposition illuminates the ways certain forms of
aestheticism within this professional creative community can distort ideals,
limit dialogue, and promote private rather than public goods, occluding how
"graphic design [can] transcend the realm of aesthetics" (Fraseara, 2006, p.
28) and become part of "a social ethic ... a demand put upon the individual
by others" (Tisdale, 1996, p. 253).
In its closing, this essay suggests that while the debate over aesthetic
autonomy and artistic responsibility remains unsettled, insights derived from
examining the ways in which designers employ aestheticism are useful insofar
as they can be generalized across a broader artistic range and can add to the
discourse surrounding art, design, aesthetics, and social responsibility.

Good Design, Bad Design: Aesthetic Perspectives

Communication designers busy themselves with transforming mental
constructs into tangible, reproducible forms of identification, information,
and persuasion. "The vast majority of people come into contact with [these]
designs as consumers learning to discern among [their] innumerable offerings"
(Blauvelt, 2003, p. 14). For non-designers, these objects distinguish themselves
instrumentally - directing, explaining, or displaying, and rhetorically -
modifying desires, attitudes, or opinions (Fraseara, 2006, pp. 29-32).
Despite the ultimately practical nature of their artifacts, many designers
nonetheless keep score over what they believe to be their work's aesthetic
merits. These concems are both animated and limited by this group's core belief
that their artifact's value - its style or beauty or fitness - should be determined
in large part using aesthetic rather than other social, ethical, or political criteria.
In this sense, designers have adopted particular perspectives of or philosophies
about aesthetic properties, attitudes, and experiences.

Owens - Design and Art: The Aesthetic Turn


Briefly, aesthetic properties are sometimes thought of as being objective

or embodied in a thing's physical appearance, expressive nature, or formal
visual relationships. The brush strokes found in a painting or the interrelation
between elements creating a sculpture are examples. These properties may also
be considered subjective, or the result of a viewer's focused involvement. A
natural panorama or painting considered pleasing by one viewer might lack
appeal to another. These objective and subjective properties often interact,
yielding aesthetic experiences or the engagement between absorbed subject
and aesthetic object.
For designers, aesthetic attitudes often frame concerns for how well
form embodies content or fits function. The ways in which a printed brochure
embodies and delivers a particular message or a signage system effectively
informs its users. Evidence for these aesthetic biases or perspectives can be
found in the ways designers valorize their work and prioritize their public

Passing Judgment: Design Peer Review

Like other professionals, designers promote practice standards through
peer review. Unlike many professional groups, however, designers produce
tangible artifacts open to external scrutiny. As a result, peer assessments
focus more often on designed objects than on their creators and, more
often than not, such assessments occur during the many annual worldwide
design competitions^ and within the pages of national and international trade
publications'*. While each event or publication is unique in its entry procedures,
judging, and awards, many typically employ aesthetic standards to frame
admissions, review entries, and laud winners.
For example, designers entering many professional competitions routinely
submit work based on entrance requirements lacking contextualizing social,
ethical, or political criteria. Moreover, entry forms for many of these shows
rarely allow for more than the most cursory entry information - attributive,
biographical, and so forth - thereby reinforcing this bias. Clipped thematic
focus and contextual brevity neither compel entrants nor allow judges to
consider what Novitz ( 1995) terms messages found through the work: "certain
widely held beliefs and values that surround its production and display ... the
social space works occupy" (p. 85). Absent this broader contextualization,
design competition judges have little on which to base their decisions beyond
aesthetic qualities, or what Carroll (1999) calls "design appreciation."
As a result, judging often defaults to one or more of the following
aesthetic sensibilities: formal - a designed form's visual characteristics and
their relationships; neo-formal - a designed form's ability to embody content;
Journal of Visual Literacy, Volume 27, Number 2

and functional - a designed form's ability to bring about intended ends

(Carroll, 1999; Goodman, 2001). This truncated contextualization also leads
to designed artifacts being viewed as "...isolated formal esthetic expression
.. .emphasizing the esthetic sensibility of the individual designer" (Tyler, 1992,
p. 21). Moreover, design professionals viewing the published results of these
competitions do so under similar constraints. The work enfolds them within
an isolated aesthetic celebration.
The preponderance of design competitions that laud design work chiefly
for its surface visual appeal or ability to match meaning or ends with suitable
form is evidence of this creative community's marked aesthetic focus. Other
evidence of this Zeitgeist can be found in seminal design publications and on
popular design web logs.

Framing Dialogue: Design Discourse

Many professional designers in the United States and around the world
consider Communication Arts (CA)\ Print *, and Graphis' essential reading.
Collectively the three publications represent a well-established professional
public forum within which the design community expresses its values and
clarifies its standards. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that an audit
of these publications' editorial focus and content, however informal, would
nevertheless reveal viable insight into the concems of this community.
For instance, a 2007 visit to CA s official website* revealed that in May of
that year there were 54 stories spread across its main feature section and five
recurring columns (accessible via navigational links located on the site's main
page). A review of the editorial content of these stories and columns revealed
that 21 (39 percent) focused on formal, neo-formal, or functional aesthetic
sensibilities, creativity, or self-expression while only 10 (18.5 percent), centered
on social, cultural, or ethical concems. This apparent tilt towards aesthetics is
neither new nor unique to CA s online presence.
In 2000, for example, CA published 144 articles and columns in its
magazine. A review of the editorial focus from these issues (story and column
titles and accompanying brief descriptions available online through the CA
website's "Back Issues" archive) revealed that of the 144 articles, only two
(.013 percent) appeared to focus on or examine what could be construed as
social, moral, or ethical concems. The vast majority of articles that year (and
in subsequent years) instead focused on instrumental aesthetic creativity or
business best practices, by visually showcasing design work and its creators:
design firms or designers, photographers, illustrators, typographers, and
other creative professionals. Graphis and Print join CA in their consistent

Owens - Design and Art: The Aesthetic Turn


bias towards formal, neo-formal, or functional aesthetics and business

Although central to their existence, these magazines' readers do not
directly dictate their editorial content. Thus, any widespread focus on aesthetics
rather than other competing concems is as much a part of editorial perspective
and commercial realities as it is reader interest. Less so with web logs - the
interests and biases of these blogs, their authors, and readers are largely
synonymous. In this sense, an examination of two well-known blogs. Design
Observer and Speak Up is revealing.
Started in 2003 by well-known designers' Michael Bierut, William
Drenttel, and Jessica Helfand, along with design critic Rick Poynor'" the blog
Design Observer^^ characterizes itself as a forum for commentary on design
and culture. Another respected blog is Speak Up^^, founded in 2002 by Armin
Vit.'3 Shaped by Vit and other regular contributors'". Speak Up's stated mission
in part is to clarify "... our role ... as professionals endowed with the duty
of creating social, cultural, political and/or economical communications ..."
(Vit, 2007, HI).
Both blogs share a common belief in the connections between design,
culture, and society. Thus, each site's archives are illuminating insofar as their
topology frames discussions about these relationships, and their content reflects
the interest in them expressed by each site's respective authors and readers.
At the time of this paper's writing, the Design Observer's 1000+ post
archive is organized into 32 categories, of which eight have a link to broader
social concems: cities and places, culture, education, history, politics, religion,
science, and technology. Of these, however, only two could be considered
overtly normative or prescriptive in nature - politics and religion. Speak Up s
1200+ post archive is organized into 22 categories of which two reach beyond
design proper, but are neither normative nor prescriptive in nature: design
academics and intemational.
Each site's archival structure frames discussions in particular non-
prescriptive ways. Does the respective content weighting ofthe posts contained
within these archives reveal similar sentiments?
A selective keyword search'^ of each site's archive, using their respective
search features, revealed that although numerous posts residing there address
social responsibility or related themes ( 106 for Design Observer, 165 for Speak
Up), a substantially larger number of posts archived on the two blogs (713
and 828 respectively) voice aesthetically framed concems. The keywords
selected for this search were extracted from professional discourse vemacular,
the descriptive language and terminology commonly appearing either in
design publications or on design blogs. Detailed results of this search can
be seen in Table 1.
Journal of Visual Literacy, Volume 27, Number 2

Table 1
Keyword archive search results

Design Observer Speak Up

Keyword searched Posts returned Posts returned

society 61 81

responsibility 22 47
ethics 13 21
consequences 7 12
moraiity 3 4
form 386 469

style 247 226

creativity 32 75
visual expression 29 24
aesthetics 19 34

Granted, a cursory review of professional design competitions coupled

with a limited assessment of design magazines or web logs offers little
more than a glimpse into a complex belief system framed in no small part
by aesthetics. Moreover, it could be argued that even if most designers are
biased in this way, it does not necessarily follow that their aestheticism is
incommensurate with or antipathetic toward the idea of artistic responsibility.
Many early modemist designers believed that a rationally focused aestheticism
could effect positive social change (Ewen, 2003; Jobling & Crowley, 1996;
Whiteley, 1993). This sentiment continues to be found in works and writings
of contemporary design practitioners and theorists (Heller & Vienne, 2003;
Bierut, Drenttel & Heller, 2002). Prime examples of modem design coalitions,
alliances, and non-profits that have formed to effect positive social change
include: The Designers Accord, The Cactus Network, and the Humanitarian
Intemational Design Organization (HIDO)".
Nevertheless, when consideration is given to the ideals or entities to
which many designers believe they are responsible and the reasons why, it
becomes plain that, despite the efforts of an activist minority, the majority
within this creative community often privilege the aesthetic qualities of their
work while downplaying its social, ethical, and political implications, and their
corresponding artistic responsibilities.
Owens-Design and Art: The Aesthetic Turn

Good Design, Bad Design: Moral Perspectives

Evidence presented in the previous section suggests that many designers
often evaluate their work aesthetically - formally, neo-formally, and
functionally - rather than employing other social, ethical, or political criteria
or values. Can this bias diminish vital interests in social responsibilities and
thereby place this group in moral jeopardy? Very likely, in many instances. To
see why, this aestheticism is explicated through the application of Cheatwood's
(1982) five-part model of artistic accountability and Berleant's (1977) moral
framework. Cheatwood developed his model to account for "the paradox of
the [private] artist [operating] in a public world" (p. 71); Berleant crafted his
list when systematizing "the moral issues that center around the artist as an
individual" (p. 195).
Formal Aestheticism is an interest in a given object's sensuous properties
and visual relations (Goldman, 2001; Carroll, 1999). Many designers' formal
aestheticism approaches connoisseurship. They, like others possessing special
visual training or refined discrimination, recognize that certain objects,
including their own creations, can reward close aesthetic apprehension. This
attitude, however, has implications beyond rarified appreciation.
Recast in Cheatwood's (1982) third and fourth accountability models,
formal aesthetic appreciation is also one way in which designers and other
artists, wittingly or not, "place the responsibility of the artist outside any
specific social institution" (p. 78). This separation occurs because formalized
aesthetic appreciation rests in part on the modem belief that artists are
principally responsible to art (/ 'artpour I 'art) or to their own personal creative
In Cheatwood's sense, artists (or designers) are accountable to art as vessels
through which the ultimate intangible art moves itself forward through history.
"The artist is not accountable in the public realm, rather, the public realm ... is
responsible to the ultimate tmth - or beauty - of art" (p. 79). A modem artist
may also feel "... ultimately responsible only to [a] personal construction of
self, with the art produced being a reflection ofthat self (Cheatwood, 1982,
p. 79). Similarly, Berleant (1977) suggests that a doctrine of artistic laissez
faire exists in the world - a belief that the distinctive contributions art makes
require the unconstrained freedom of artists (p. 197).
These are contentious assumptions, to be sure, but even more so when
applied to the artifacts created by designers. It often is not the case that the
consumerist ends to which aesthetically pleasing designed artifacts aspire
benefit society. Nor are the environmental or social degradations often
attributed to commercial enterprise aestheticized by many design professionals.
Thus, to adopt a bounded attention to a work's formal aesthetic properties is to
minimize its agency and the corresponding responsibility for its effects.
Journal of Visual Literacy, Volume 27, Number 2

Neo-formal aestheticism recognizes content as well as form but concedes

primacy to neither. Rather, it is relational: valuing the ways in which content
and form are united in an aesthetically satisfying manner. Where content
is identifiable, a determination can be made whether it has been skillfiilly
embodied or successfully designed. Thus, neo-formal aestheticism gives design
practitioners what they believe is an objective standard against which they can
assess their work's excellence, suitability, and commercial viability. This is
critical for a profession that determines standing though peer review (Keedy,
2003; 2002) and that seeks to portray itself as a discipline filled with objective
practitioners employing rational means to effectively solve the problems in
which they are engaged (Martin, 2000).
Communication design's reliance on neo-formal aestheticism is much like
Cheatwood's (1982) second accountability model - an artist's responsibility
to artistic structures in society. In this model, "Artists are accountable not to
the agencies that sponsor [or are affected by] their work but only to the elite
structure of art within society" (p. 77). Designers claim elite status for their
profession by virtue of their reliance on the rational nature of neo-formal
aestheticism. The same aesthetic posture is employed in attempts to elevate
the profession in the eyes of external audiences and clients.
This reliance on neo-formal aestheticism places designers under Berleant's
(1977) second moral obligation: Demands made on all artists by virtue of "the
distinctive features of their profession and that which gives them a certain
significance and control..." (p. 197). Implicit in this claim is the recognition
of this group as one having a distinct social role by virtue of their unique
contributions and the effects these actions may precipitate.
However, if in this distinctive social role, designers enjoy differentiated
internal moral status, they also labor under the external moral expectations
society places on those to whom it awards specialized roles. Society grants
this dispensation believing that professionals - apart from their specific
callings - collectively promote or protect the public trust (Martin, 2000). Thus,
designers' reliance on neo-formalism to promote professional excellence and
standing'^ may diminish their ability to distinguish role-related public duties
and encourage them to promote private rather than public goods.
Functional aestheticism is generative rather than descriptive or relational.
It values aesthetic qualities that enable work to realize its intended function.
Knowing that their work is instrumentally rather than intrinsically valuable,
designers are adept at manipulating formal qualities that further their work's
point or purpose. That their work is purposeful poses no moral conundrums
for designers per 5e. After all, many creative expressions exist for some reason
- moral, political, economic, or otherwise. However, when the private ends
become aesthetic means, problems arise.

Owens - Design and Art: The Aesthetic Turn


Communication design as a business is contingent. It exists in large part

to serve the private needs of its clients and itself. Not surprisingly then, its
practitioners seek to pragmatically align their self-interests with their clients'
by creating work whose sole ñinction or purpose is to ensure both parties
respective success.
In their contingency and concomitant loyalty, commtmication designer's
actions fall within the first of Cheatwood's (1982) five accountability models:
the artist is responsible to their sponsoring agent or agency and to the degree
that the production of art is supported by any agent or individual extemal to
the artist, one may reasonability expect some accountability for the resources
expended in that sponsorship (p. 72). Artistic conflicts between accountability
to sponsors and society, and designers' loyalty to their clients and its effects
on the public good, find parallel expression in this model.
For example, Cheatwood suggests that this form of accotintability creates
antipathy between artist and mass audience. Loyal to patronage and the status
it brings, artists come to view the common man derisively. Likewise, designers
serving the private economic needs of their clients, often minimize concems
for the common man, the target audience, the consumer, the social group
ultimately affected by functionally adept designed artifacts.
In similar fashion, when artists come to identify institutions within society
as society, their work serves restricted, rather than broader, agendas. Designers
may serve their clients' (narrow) private interests by creating works that may
be aesthetically persuasive but socially irresponsible in a larger sense.
In its day-to-day practice, with little or no self-examination,
commercial design routinely aestheticizes ...hazardous ideas about
the use of environmental resources, about the nature and concentration
of power, and about the ordering of the values by which we live
(Ewen, 2003, p. 193).
Designers who privilege their own or clients' private good at the expense
of larger social imperatives also ignore Berleant's first moral claim: obligations
".. .apply to everyone as a moral being and therefore apply to artists" (p. 196).
Accordingly, all artists (including designers) stand under moral obligations
that apply to them as persons living in and impinging on sociality. Thus,
when questions arise over accountability or responsibility, designers' adopted
commercialized social role, and any claims for immunity arising out of it, are
incidental rather than central to the situation, even if their questionable actions
follow from that role.
Taken together, the functional, formal, and neo-formal aestheticism that
communication designers find so compelling appears to have a direct and,

Joumal of Visual Literacy, Volume 27, Number 2


some would say morally deleterious, bearing on the group's generally accepted
sense of social responsibility.

Closing: (Re)Turning Back to Responsibility

Both sides in the long-standing debate over artistic responsibility share
a common belief that operating in their role, artists are responsible to certain
ideals, institutions, or persons. However, the further each of these two groups
moves away from this central point, the more divergent their thoughts become
about the nature of these roles and responsibilities. For many, artists serving art
or their creative aspirations best serve human flourishing. For others, artists are
socially embedded, and therefore, commonly held morality should somehow
frame their creative free play. Although unsettled, this debate's existence and
vitality suggest that artists' cognizance and actions play out within social, as
well as aesthetic, dimensions.
If, as this essay has asserted, designers operate under particular social,
ethical, or political claims, does this group's apparent proclivity for aestheticism
offer any insight to other artists who may also be subject to these responsibilities
and obligations? Yes, in three important ways.
First, irrespective of the autonomy granted to or sought by designers
or artists through aestheticism—their work nonetheless exists in a social
dimension. Thus any designer or artist, having generated a message through
their work,
... is in 05 good a position as anyone to assess what [that message]
is. Who then should be responsible for the message in a work if not
the artist, and for the social repercussions, if any, of its reception?
(Levinson, 1995, p. 81)
Second, a complex and interconnected world poses unique ethical
challenges for both designers and artists. For designers, the question is whether
aesthetic considerations alone can or should judge the merits of works created
for multi- and trans-national corporate clients with ample ability and increasing
desire to influence govemments, degrade environments, and subsume local
cultures. For artists:
... the dissolution of widely supported social norms, and the
dominance of commercial culture and political ideologies ...
has charged an already ambiguous [artistic] domain with new
complexities (Berleant, 1977, p. 195)
In both instances, designers or artists choosing to remain aesthetically
isolated from the social morality risk losing central values predicated on the
belief that artists of every kind are not distinct for the society but rather are

Owens - Design and Art: The Aesthetic Turn


embedded in human sociality. Artistic expressions, however idiosyncratic

should account in some way for society's collective flourishing.
Finally, if design and art share common ground in their proximity to the
world, if as Foster contends, art and life have been connected "according to
the spectacular dictates ofthe culture industry" (Foster, 2002, p. 19), then care
must be taken by artists of all types. Despite their desire, and perhaps need, for
a certain level of aesthetic autonomy, designers and artists may wish to "pay
more attention to the social, political and economic constraints under which
they [create]" (Christensen, 2006, *\ 53).

1. Bauhaus is the more common name for the Staatliches Bauhaus, a seminal
German architecture and art school that operated in Weimar, Dessau, and
Berlin, from 1919 to 1933. The Bauhaus style became one ofthe most
resonant currents in Modemist architecture and the art school had a lasting
influence upon subsequent developments in art, graphic and interior design,
textiles, and typography. For more information see:
2. For the purposes of this paper, communication designers will be thought
of as individuals participating in a distinct vocation - communication or
graphic design—the practice of which yields artifacts, experiences, and
systems that identity, inform, or persuade. Because of limitations in space
and scope, this paper will neither raise nor address concems involving
individual versus collective responsibility. For the sake of readability,
it also will refer to communication or graphic design as design, and its
practitioners as designers.
3. For instance, popular design competitions include those hosted by
publications Graphis, Print, and Communication Arts. Others (to name
but a few) include: European Logo Design Annual 2007, Institute of
Design Montréal Awards 2007, Prix Arts Electrónica 2007, Hong Kong
Intemational Poster Triennial 2007, HOW Intemational Design Awards,
and the Red Dot Award: Communication Design.
4. Popular press communication design publications include:
Communication Arts, Graphis, How, Print. I.D. Magazine, Eye, and
Graphics International.

Journal of Visual Literacy, Volume 27, Number 2


5. Founded in 1959, Communication Arts is a showcase for the top work

in graphic design, advertising, illustration, photography, and interactive
design and, in 1995, was the first major design magazine to launch a web
site, according to its publisher. It currently has over 70,000 subscribers.
6. Started in 1940, Print bills itself as "a bimonthly magazine about visual
culture and design. Covering a field as broad as communication itself.
Print documents and critiques commercial, social, and environmental
design from every angle."
7. According to its website, "Graphis, The Intemational Joumai of Visual
Communication, was first published in 1944 by Walter Herdeg in Zurich,
Switzerland. In visually driven articles, Graphis beautifully presents
the best work produced intemationally in graphic design, advertising,
illustration, and photography."
8. httpV/ Accessed 23 May 2007.
9. Michael Bierut studied graphic design at the University of Cincinnati's
College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Prior to joining the
intemational design consultancy. Pentagram, in 1990 as a partner in the
firm's New York office, he worked for 10 years at Vignelli Associates,
ultimately as vice president of graphic design. William Drenttel is a
partner, with Jessica Helfand, in Winterhouse, a design studio in Northwest
Connecticut. Their work focuses on publishing and editorial development;
new media; and cultural, educational, and literary institutions.
10. 7?/cÄ:Po_y«or founded £ye magazine in London in 1990. Since then, Poynor
has written about design, media, and visual culture for Blueprint, Icon,
Frieze, Domus, I.D., Metropolis, Harvard Design Magazine, Adbusters,
The Guardian, and The Financial Times. Poynor also is the author of two
collections of essays. Design Without Boundaries (1998) and Obey the
Giant: Life in the Image World (2001).
11. Accessed 25 May 2007.
12. httpV/ Accessed 25 May 2007.
13. Armin Vit works for the intemational design consultancy Pentagram
in their New York office. In addition to Speak Upl Vit also runs Brand
New, Quipsologies, and The Design Encyclopaedia under the
UnderConsideration umbrella of sites.
14. Including: Marian Bantjes, Bryony Gomez-Palacio, Randy J. Hunt, M.
Kingsley, Jimm Lasser, Tan Le, Debbie Millman, Gunnar Swanson, Jason
A. Tselentis, and David Weinberger
15. Accessed 25 May 2007. http://www. Accessed 26 May 2007.

Owens - Design and Art: The Aesthetic Turn


16. See:,,

17. For instance see what some designers say about their aspirations for and
perspectives on professional standing at the web site for the American
Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA), the largest professional design
organization in the United States, /about-
aiga. Accessed 2 June 2007.

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