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Rebecca E. Blake: Design Is Professional

Rebecca Blake headshot

Rebecca E. Blake

Design Director
Optimum Design & Consulting
New York, NY

Guild member since 1990

What traits do you think a professional in the graphic art industry must have and why?

As in any other profession, a professional graphic designer or illustrator must be well educated, well versed in how to conduct run their business, and conscientious of their responsibility to their clients and colleagues. Graphic artists work with clients from a broad range of industries and with varying needs. Common traits in successful professionals is that they are naturally curious, good listeners, and good at drawing information out of their clients. Since technology and means of communication are constantly changing, a professional graphic artists must also constantly invest in learning new skills, in part to stay current (and marketable), and in part to be able to properly advise their clients.

What is ethics in graphic arts? Do you think ethical responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the artist, the client/company stakeholder or both? 

Every profession has a code of ethics, whether its formalized into standards that are propagated (often by a professional association), or commonly understand. For graphic artists, those ethics speak to the professionals responsibilities to their profession and colleagues, to their clients, and to the larger society. The ethical responsibility graphic artists have to their profession and colleagues challenges them to not engage in practices which degrade the profession, for example, by answering calls for work on speculation, by underbidding the market, or by infringing the copyrights of other graphic artists. The responsibility graphic artist have to their clients is to deliver work in accordance with the agreement they have with the client, and to guide them to make the best decisions for their projects. That leads directly to the responsibility graphic artists have to the larger society: to make conscious choices in how they conduct their professions which further a society which is more just, more environmentally sound, and more responsive to addressing societal problems.

Have you ever used your work as a tool for advocacy or to bring awareness to a specific topic negatively impacting society? 

Yes: as Advocacy Liaison for the Graphic Artists Guild, I’ve frequently used my design skills to create online and print media to support a campaign or call for action. Often that work is done with little advance warning – promoting a particular bill in Congress, for example, might require a rush job as the political landscape shifts. Fortunately the Guild has a committed group of board members who have stepped in to help, and the design work has significantly improved!

Rebecca Blake is Design Director at Optimum Design & Consulting, a small design firm in New York City, where she develops both print and Web design projects. She serves as Advocacy Liaison for the Graphic Artists Guild, where she monitors upcoming legislation on copyrights and issues relevant to graphic artists, and works with a coalition of associations on advocacy for visual artists. Previously, she served as the Guild’s New York Chapter President and Chapter Treasurer.

Photograph by Caroline Kessler. Images © Optimum Design & Consulting. Used with permission.