Robert L. Peters

18 November 2019

As a man is, so he sees.

William Blake (1757-1827)


11 November 2019

The disadvantage of men not knowing the past is that they do not know the present.

— G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936)


24 October 2019

Fascism is cured by reading. Racism is cured by traveling.

— Miguel de Unamuno (1864-1936)


22 August 2019

See What I Mean?

FITC_Design-Ethics

FITC-Spotlight-Robert-L-Peters

Toronto, Canada

On 21 October 2019, I’m slated to give a talk at the #FITCSpotlight ‘Design Ethics‘ event (making this my 9th appearance at an FITC event in the past 14 years). Here’s an abstract of my presentation

See What I Mean?

We live in uncertain times on a rapidly warming, fragile, and over-stressed planet. Tumultuous political, social, ecological, and economic instability — along with information overload, an overwhelming pace of change, threatened eco-systems, and staggering social imbalances — threaten our individual sense of purpose, place, and wellbeing. For the majority of our planet’s 7.7 billion human beings, the world remains a place of inequality, injustice, and suffering; even while the privileged of our “developed world” frolic in a buffet of excess, with gluttonous over-consumption as the daily modus operandi.

It’s been said that designers and artists can see and observe differently, more acutely than others — looking deep inside issues, perceiving hidden relationships and causal patterns, possessing an innate consciousness and natural tendency to question and identify needs in “the big picture.” As today’s world has been largely shaped by designers and intentional “form-givers” of the past few generations, are our creative professions even aware of the considerable responsibility that accompanies what we do, and of the complex forces our work exerts on aesthetic, technological, social, environmental, economic, and political fronts?

 


15 June 2019

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.

— Bertrand Russell (paraphrased)


3 January 2019

“Quotable quotes”… (gone rogue).

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Design_Creates_Culture

worldbest

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Seemingly everywhere.

I first used the line “Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future…” in a conference lecture in the mid-or-late 1990s.

That simple statement has since spread through the Interwebs like some sort of memetic rogue virus, repeated relentlessly by “famous quotes” sites, “wallpaper generators” and the like — a quick Google search brings up literally thousands of graphic “treatments” of this — on sites around the planet devoted to graphic design, yes; but also fashion, interior design, poster and decor sites, product design, architecture, engineering, strategic planning, marketing, medicine, linguistics, social work, advertising campaigns, etcetera, etc…

In fact, hardly a month goes by without someone, somewhere asking me for permission to use this now-famous statement for their own purposes — and of course I grant them full permission. While being widely quoted is certainly flattering, it does carry with it the caution to always “watch what you say.” (-:

For the record, I initially stated the “quotable quote” in question along with the advisory conclusion re: the power of design (and the ensuing responsibility of designers): “Design is therefore responsible for the world our children will live in.”

The top image is my own, from a book on design published in China. The images following are a tiny sample of the many “treatments” found online… (the Mao Clinic even offers it as “downloadable wallpaper” — click image below).

Design-Creates-Culture


10 December 2018

Today is Human Rights Day… and also the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Mandela-Human-Rights-Day

Paris, France

70 years ago today, on 10 December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly at Palais de Chaillot, Paris. The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. The date of 10 December was established as Human Rights Day in 1950, and has been commemorated annually around the world on this date ever since.

These days, the advancement and promotion of worldwide human rights are confronted by growing nationalism, a widespread misinformation epidemic, and the ascendency of identity politics which draw strength from ethnic or religious conflict. All the more reason to celebrate (and disseminate) comprehensive statements of inalienable human rights, I say!

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a call to freedom and justice for people throughout the world. Many consider the Declaration to be the most important document ever written, essentially “the international Magna Carta of all mankind.” As such, it has also become the most translated document in the world.

Do you know your human rights? Read the full text of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights here, or download a PDF of the text in English here. Watch an excellent type-and-graphic rendering of the Declaration on Vimeo here.


30 November 2018

No Man is an Island

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

—John Donne (1572–1631), Meditation XVII

In 1972, I was valedictorian of my graduating high school class at Black Forest Academy. I recited this poem by John Donne as the core of my address. I still feel the piece expresses deep empathy and humanity, welcome traits in a world that seems to skew increasingly isolationist and echoes with ever-louder, exclusionary nationalism. The ‘Brexit‘ issue in particular has (almost daily) put Donne’s wise words “back on my radar”…


24 November 2018

Some positive change, in Canada…

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Wanda_sister_to_Viola

Winnipeg, Canada

At a ceremony held on 19 November at The Canadian Museum for Human Rights here in Winnipeg, Canada’s new $10 banknote was launched into circulation. The face side of the note features civil rights activist Viola Desmond, first Canadian woman to be profiled on a regularly circulating banknote, with the The Canadian Museum for Human Rights on the other.

The first vertically oriented banknote in Canada, the design includes an artistic rendering of Halifax’s north end and waterfront, where Viola Desmond lived and owned a beauty salon; also depicted is an eagle feather, which the Bank of Canada says represents the ongoing journey toward recognizing rights and freedoms for Indigenous people.

On Nov. 8, 1946, Desmond took in a movie at the Roseland Theatre in New Glasgow while her car was getting fixed. When she refused to leave the whites-only section on the main level of the theatre, Desmond, 32, was dragged out by police and jailed. Black people were only allowed to sit in the balcony of the theatre. Her defiance shone a light on the civil rights movement and helped motivate the struggle against racial segregation in Canada.

Segregation was legally ended in Nova Scotia in 1954, in part because of the publicity generated by Desmond’s case. She is often described as Canada’s Rosa Parks, even though Desmond’s act of defiance happened nine years before Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus.

Read more in a CBC news report here. Read an in-depth primer article by The Globe and Mail here. Watch a Heritage Minute (video) about Ms. Desmond here.

Images above: The new vertical Canadian $10 bill that goes into circulation in the next month; Viola Desmond’s sister Wanda Robson with the new bill (at the launch ceremony in Winnipeg).

Image below: The old/outgoing $10 bill featuring Canada’s first prime minister and “founding father,” John A. Macdonald, along with a western osprey (Pandion haliaetus) — I’m happy to see the end of Macdonald in my wallet (he’s now widely seen as responsible for horrific genocide of Indigenous People in this country) — though I did quite like the large fish hawk.

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19 November 2018

Pay us to kill you…

pay_us

 

Thanks to David Peters (and his friend David Asari)… “Dan Covert is the designer of the anti-smoking poster. He did this when he was a student at California College of the Arts for his Graphic Design 1 course taught by Mark Fox. Impressive work for a GD1 student.”


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