The problematic side of “neutral” graphic design


Problems with the prescriptive approach to normality in graphic design

The problematic side of “neutral” graphic design

Modern human life is not necessarily without problems. The digital forms the world has adopted are also not necessarily revolutionary, there are problems inherent with these concepts of digital modernity and the technical evolution of species populations. People. This article is intended to provide critical and in-depth feedback to the 2021 article, “There is no such thing as neutral graphic design” by Ellen Lupton and Leslie Xia. The article analyzes and then concludes how problematic aspects of graphic design have affected people and how they continue to reaffirm some age-old norms (Lupton & Xia, 2021) ).

A close study of the article “There is no neutral graphic design”, shows that there have been many problems with graphic design in the past, but the new generation is trying its best to let go of this past and understand The present as well as the future of graphic design will move away from established norms with the help of a better understanding of current and supposedly “neutral” ideals of graphic design. . The article begins with a diagram of the human body, but it is not the basic diagram that the readers have seen throughout their lives in the biology books, it is a diagram that shows the human body in its most modern form, the human body that is made up of the accepted societal norms, the human body that is supposed to be the normal, average and neutral human body, the human body that is made up of privilege, a body that has a college educated brain, English-speaking mouth, Christian beliefs, non-disabled limbs, a body that is a member of a two parent heterosexual family, which, itself is heterosexual cisgender, a body that has citizenship, a body that is white. This diagram itself makes the reader pause and ponder over the normalization of the supposed average human body that reigns the society. It gives a brief about the upcoming article, a powerful strategy, the diagram summarizes what the article aims to deliver (Pang, 2020).

The article takes a leap straight from the beginning and begins explaining what is the normal in design, about what it means to design for normal people, this gives the article a segue and helps the writers to incorporate a tone that seems aggressive yet assertive. The argument that the western civilization deems to consider the white heterosexual seemingly privileged body to be normal is absolutely correct at its place. The article states that graphic designers are in the norm business, which essentially means that graphic designers follow the set of rules which are drawn after taking in consideration the previously explained average human body. As stated in the article, gender disparities take place in every discourse, similarly, they appear in graphic designing as well (Gaztambide-Fernández & Angod, 2020).

Inclusivity And Diversity In Graphic Designing

At first, the inequalities lied only in the male and female body, and even they were not entirely comprehended by the designers as well as the market, now, as the world has started realizing the horrendous mistakes it has committed, there have been a few modifications that are taking place on a considerably slower pace, but something is better than what was almost nothing (Cook, 2015).

The current dimensions of inclusivity and diversity have led to the creation of trends where people are able to speak up when they do not feel represented, this article talks about the heteronormative hegemony and how drastically it has affected the lives of those who are not represented through this privileged bubble of the normal people (Beccari, 2018).

The assertation that graphic designers have also drowned in the discourse of this western belief of normal by using the set of distinguished templates that are considered to be the norm is quite truthful. These seemingly ‘friendly’ archetypes essentially help white-centered societies re-establish ideas about the imperialist approach to the East as their views are hardly ever seen. Now taken into account, the whole process is based on a Western approach to the subject (Kelly, 2021).

Besides gender stereotypes, another common problem with this “normal” approach is that it is framed in terms of colonialism. Some critics believe that instead of using this discourse for digital opportunity, the digital approach is slowly becoming a new form of colonialism. This process of digitization of the world has begun to bring the human population to the fore generations, as they began to use technology to assert their dominance over non-Western civilizations (Hilbig, 2021). But, one thing the article doesn’t mention is that this new generation is trying their best to change this factor. The article then quickly turns to the role of identity in conception, and not only is identity defined by sexual orientation, but identity is expressed in different parts of nationality, race, ethnicity and class. A fitting example from writer and activist Audre Lorde is provided by the writer to analyze and evaluate how the issue of identity has been repeatedly repressed, how identity oppression has continued throughout history. history and now the whole world is singing about supposed development and digitization as a form of revolution, identity and identity affirmation are once again deliberately forgotten (Ilmonen, 2017) ).

Role of identity in design

Lorde develops the concept of a “mythical norm” established by society, leading to the creation of a generalized belief that a given identity is generally human and anything else is completely ignored. . In formulating this concept, Lorde delves into the human struggle for identity, the struggle of not being able to identify with accepted social identity, of being unable to conform to established identity stereotypes. is set. Majority-based conceptualization is what Lorde aims to deconstruct, heterogeneous and white identity concepts that essentially control the thinking of the world (Grode, 2019).

The othering of women has been prevalent throughout the ages and the saddest fact that occurs in the modern world is that even though feminism is undeniably present in the world, the othering of women is still just as much prevalent (Harmer & Southern, 2019).

The difference is that while women were othered by the men in the society prior to modernism, now they are othered by their own comrades, they are constantly othered by the white women led feminism, this very fact led Alice Walker to come up with the concept of womanism in her book In search of Our Mothers Garden`, this concept is inclusive of all those who identify as women, irrespective of their race, class, ethnicity, nationality and most specifically, color (Naples, 2020).

The article takes a bold step with this, calling out the hidden and ignored harsh realities that engulf the designing world as much as they engulf the outer world, which is a small step towards, hopefully, something revolutionary. Designing has always been something artistic as well as intellectual so for most of the history, people have never taken any major step to point out the complexities and hypocrisies that live within it. The present article breaks all those shackles and aims to make the reader ponder over the concept of inclusivity in graphic designing. With the example of Lorde, once again asserting that there is nothing “neutral” in graphic design, everything works according to its pre-determined sayings. The article’s assertion that the privileged department will never be able to understand how these standards affect the recipients of all this is entirely understandable and honest, if viewed. considered in the present context or even when viewed in light of the age-old notion of non-inclusion (Ong, et al., 2021).

The article does justice to its format and also presents the other side of the story by acknowledging the existence of all the protests and protests that over the years have been an important part of the design history. graphic design. There have been artists who took the next step and dared to rebel by creating their own rules and lineups. Over the years there has been a considerable amount of change through revolution and rebellion in established standards and these artists have been credited as pioneers of change. historical progress by not conforming to art-determined forms (Ferraresi, 2020). But the article does not assert these opinions as strongly as it should. The continuous efforts made to do better have been removed in the article.

Women’s difference

Then the article covered the hot topic of the pandemic. Indeed, the 2019 pandemic turned out to be a period of serious awareness, with all its terrible brutality, this article appropriately explains how the pandemic revealed that the gowns and clothing of the sick Previously designed institutes are still manufactured to established standards for what is considered a “standard, average, or normal male body”, this popular exercise has been fatal and devastating. critical in the crisis because, contrary to established standards, not all human bodies are created equal. It is interesting to note here that the authors of this article chose a topic on which few people assert their own opinion or even have such an opinion, because they are barely affected by its size. Its interesting and important consideration of its feminist and racial aspects makes the article essential for readers. The claim that writers and graphic designers can use their tools to bring about social change is something that has been well established for many years and is completely true. In essence, the temporal and spatial aspects of design and writing are universal, which gives these practices credence to rebel against established norms of imperialism. national and superficial (Mkwesha & Huber, 2020). However, after a while, it feels like the writer is not ready to accept a gift created by thousands of people, where the notions of sexism and colonialism gradually fall apart.

At the end of the article about a book on the language of homosexuality, it is important to note that this section and the information shared here is important and important because it is about the fact that homosexuality is Sexual orientation has been used as a disguise by the privileged section for many years to alienate people who do not identify as heterosexual. The book mentioned here, “The Queer Phenomenon” by Sara Ahmed says that a body occupies physical as well as social space with its form being essentially reality and it also establishes social characteristics society of the human body, about how it tends to create a huge amount of environmental and social impact it is always ready to come and attack it with the segregation rules of established norms. its establishment and selection (Vitry, 2021).

The uprising against the norm in graphic design

The article ends with the statement that design can be prescriptive, but it can also be transformative. It is essential to understand this entire statement. This statement reveals that design has inherent problems, but that over time, steps can be taken to change that reality. Just as bodies cannot be separated or boxed, so the artistic space of a design can in fact be groundbreaking and abstract. It doesn’t have to be consistent, it doesn’t have to be specific, or work to established standards. Queer bodies have the freedom to assert themselves and they have won this freedom after years of struggle, the art of design can also free itself from the norms and free itself from these shackles.

To sum up, it can be said that the paper “There is no neutral graphic design”, has achieved what it set out to do, it explains with appropriate references how, throughout the story, it has There are inherent problems with graphic design and constantly denying the truth won’t do anything. Therefore, it is imperative for the current population to do something to change the mistakes of the past and not follow the old path that is intrinsically incompatible and alienated, the path that follows the construction of difference of more than half of the population. One problem with this article, however, is that it blatantly refuses to shed light on some of the positive pathways being created in society and mainly focuses on the negative side of it all.


Beccari, M. N., 2018. Discourse and place of speech in graphic/information design: Some philosophical considerations. Information Design Journal, 19 November, 24(1), pp. 67 – 79.

Cook, B. G., 2015. STEAM: Toward Gender Equality in Graphic Design. s.l.:Savannah College of Art and Design.

Ferraresi, M., 2020. Gender Digital Violence – Study, Design and Communication of an Awareness-Raising Campaign from University to University. HCI International 2020 – Late Breaking Papers: Interaction, Knowledge and Social Media, 27 September, Volume 12427, pp. 265-272.

Gaztambide-Fernández, R. & Angod, L., 2020. Approximating Whiteness: Race, Class, and Empire in the Making of Modern Elite/White Subjects. Educational Theory, 12 March, 69(6), pp. 719-743.

Grode, J., 2019. American Society: A Thriving Structure for Negative Responses to Difference. Episteme, 30(1), pp. 1-3.

Harmer, E. & Southern, R., 2019. Othering Political Women: Online Misogyny, Racism and Ableism Towards Women in Public Life. In: Online Othering. s.l.:Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 187-210.

Hilbig, S., 2021. Development Opportunity or Digital Colonialism?.”. s.l.:s.n.

Ilmonen, K., 2017. Identity politics revisited: On Audre Lorde, intersectionality, and mobilizing writing styles. European Journal of Women’s Studies , 8 April, 26(1), pp. 7-22.

Kelly, M., 2021. Prioritizing Design Process over Design Outcomes to Address Non-Indigenous Engagement with Indigenous Knowledge Systems in Design Practice. Journal of Design History, 19 November.

Lewis, K., 2018. Gender-Gaps, Gender-Based Social Norms, and Conditioning from the Vantage Point of Leadership Theories. International Forum of Teaching and Studies, 14(1), pp. 17-49.

Lupton, E. & Xia, L., 2021. There Is No Such Thing As Neutral Graphic Design. [Online]
Available at:
[Accessed 14 February 2022].

Mkwesha, F. & Huber, S., 2020. Rethinking Design: A Dialogue on Anti-Racism and Art Activism from a Decolonial Perspective. In: Feminisms in the Nordic Region. s.l.:Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 223-245.

Naples, N. A., 2020. Black Feminism and Womanism. In: Companion to Feminist Studies. s.l.:s.n., pp. 91-104.

Ong, F., Lewis, C. & Vorobjovas-Pintae, O., 2021. Questioning the inclusivity of events: the queer perspective. Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 21 December, 29(11-12), pp. 2044-2061.

Pang, A., 2020. Queering Heteronormative Desire through Vocality in Goes!. Mechademia: Second Arc, 1 October, 3(1), pp. 57-71.

Vitry, C., 2021. Queering space and organizing with Sara Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology. Feminist Solidarity: Practices, Politics and Possibilities, May, 28(3), pp. 935-949.

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