Thursday, August 12, 2010

For Money Or Morals?

As a designer, you are not always going to be working on projects you LOVE. In fact, the majority of the time, you'll probably be working on a design for something that doesn't necessarily mean anything to you...but this topic isn't about those times. It's about what to do when dealing with a client that wants you to design something that you are morally opposed to.

When this happens, you are faced with some choices. Do you abandon your morals for the almighty buck and design the material or do you pass on the job and risk losing a client? Or do you figure out a way to assist in the project, but only to an extent with which you are comfortable? There's really no easy answer. At the end of the day, it's completely a personal decision. So I will answer this as it has applied to me.

Working as a freelancer, I have only come across two situations where my morals were challenged by clients. The first situation was designing a business card for a client who had actually lied about his business, which I later found out was a cover for something that was, let's just say, less than legal. The other situation I was faced with was being asked to design a pornographic website for a client.

In the first case, I had already designed and printed the business card for the client by the time I found out that his business was not what he had led me to believe. At which point, I realized I had a decision to make and I did. I made it very clear that 1. I was not okay with being misled and 2. I did not want anything to do with promoting illegal activity. I was very strongly opposed to what this client represented and was not about to sacrifice my morals just to keep this client.

In the case of the pornographic website, the situation was a bit different. The client was working on creating his own website, with which I was assisting, but only to an extent I was comfortable. I did this by teaching him how to use Photoshop and Dreamweaver in order to use them for whatever he wished. I had no involvement with content, which was fine with me. Porn is definitely not something I care for, but I'm not going to judge others who are involved in it one way or long as everyone involved is a consenting adult.

Those were my experiences with the issue of morality in design. I'm actually surprised that you don't hear about these kinds of things more often. It's never easy to know what you should do when you are being challenged in this way, but my advice on this topic is simple:

Make sure your choice sits well with you and that you can put your head on the pillow at night and sleep comfortably. At the end of the day, you have to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and still be okay with what you see looking back.

Have you ever been faced with a project that messed with your moral compass? I'd love to hear about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment