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Jacqueline McCarthy: Suspended in Transition IDD 2022

The theme of the International Council of Design’s International Design Day 2022 is “Suspended in Transition” – the odd place we find ourselves, caught between crises and the hope for a new normal.

We asked Graphic Artist Guild Members what role designers and illustrators play in effecting change for a better world, and how they, as a working professionals, are meeting the challenges of this new world.

“We believe in design with purpose. Design that strives to work on projects that move the needle ever so slightly towards positive outcomes for our clients and our communities…”
logo for International Design Day 2022
headshot of Jacqueline McCarthy

Jacqueline McCarthy

Founder and Principal Partner

How have you adjusted to the large-scale changes in how we work and interact with our clients and our communities?

Like everyone else on the planet we’ve had to adjust our workdays to accommodate ZOOM calls, group chats, and firing up a myriad of mobile devices and apps to communicate and organize. In some ways this is a positive development, we now seamlessly interact with clients, partners, friends and enemies across multiple time zones and continents. In other ways this hyperactive workflow is an intrusive and tiresome, causing us to be available and on call at all times, and breaks up important functions such as concentration and focus.

Has your perception of the role you play as a designer or illustrator changed in response to the various crises we’ve been experiencing? Has it affected how you work, what projects you want to work on, or how you want to engage?

There is a school of thought that goes something like this, “design can change the world.” The events of the last few years has certainly thrown cold water on that notion. The best that design, or illustration, music, or any of the arts can do is to make tiny, incremental change. We believe in design with purpose. Design that strives to work on projects that move the needle ever so slightly towards positive outcomes for our clients and our communities, whether those entities are on a corporate campus, city hall, or in our local neighborhood.

How do you believe designers and illustrators are positioned to help imagine and create a better future?

Recent societal shockwaves have forced the reconfiguration and reimagining of everything. While these traumas are of the life and death variety, the people laboring in creative spaces are well-versed in responding to long-term, slow rolling changes in the marketplace. Whether these course corrections are the result of rapid technological advances, the disappearance of traditional creative outlets, the emergence of new platforms, or short sighted strategies like pivoting to video, we have become expert at responding with fresh ideas and energy.

The deftness with which illustrators and designers have been able to navigate disturbances in the market has enabled us to develop creative new ways to work, connect and innovate. This ability to imagine better futures for our own work, to continually carve out a place in the cultural ecosystem is a valuable tool to offer in rebuilding existing structures in more sustainable, positive and inclusive ways.

All images © Jacqueline McCarthy, Vivitiv. Used with permission.