To Do or Not To Do?

4 | Ethical Questions for Designers

Would You:

  1. Design a package to look larger on the shelf?

Yes. I believe that is a clever and harmless form of marketing.

2. Do an ad for a slow moving, boring film to make it seem like a lighthearted comedy?

Sure. It takes real telent to do something like that.

3. Design a crest for a new vineyard to suggest that it’s been in business for a long time?

Of course. That’s how you create a good brand. If its what works successfully commercially, why not?

4. Design a jacket for a book whose sexual content you find personally repellent?

What may not be art for me could be art for someone else. As long as its just personally repellent and not socially or ethically incorrect.

5. Design an advertising campaign for a company with a known discrimination in minority hiring?

Yes. If it was known and especially wrong, the government would have taken action. The fact that they’re still running (and successfully too, judging they’re hiring designers to the likes of, well, me), shows them to be within the clean boundaries of the legal. If, however, they were to discriminate against my community, personally, affecting me or my people somehow, I would probably choose to disagree.

This is also known as hypocrisy. But I am being truthful.

6. Design a package for a cereal aimed at children, which has low nutritional value and high sugar content?

Sure. Again, the fact that it is being mass produced and marketed shows that it has got the proper approvals from the relevant organizations, and, so long as the product isn't out rightly dangerous, is good enough for me.

7. Design a t-shirt for a manufacturer who employs child labor?

Why not. As crude as it may sound, me not designing the t-shirt will have no impact on the employment of children. The manufacturer will simply move to another designer. If I can manage to put a stop to the child labour, nothing like it. If not, then my designs will make good money, ensuring the labor will atleast get their deserved wages.

8. Design a promotion for a diet product that you know doesn't work?


Here, it is the final output that is directly not working. Above, the t-shirt may be made by children but is of good quality or design. The food may have sugar but is tasty. Here, there is a product that does not fulfil its primary purpose, its very reason of existence, it is one thing to bend the truth but another to outrightly lie.

9. Design an ad for a political candidate whose policies you believe would harm the general public?

As long as he has other policies to make up for the harmful ones. If it is just singularly harmful, no way.

10. Design an ad for a product whose continued use might cause the user’s death?

Only as a last ditch option with nowhere else to go.

Working methods that appeal to me the most

Working for a socially conscious design business

Pursuing self-directly side projects

Working for a change from the inside

Issues that are close to my heart

  • Environment
  • Worker’s rights
  • Public transportation
  • Equal opportunities for education
  • Peace
  • Climate change

3 ideas for design projects

  1. Get hawkers to sell condoms on the streets. Combats poverty, unemployment as well as STDs.
  2. Design low-cost houses in places not being used; eg. under flyovers and metros.
  3. A bigger, better, education for all project. Educaton is the only way cange can come about, in every imaginable sector — poverty, hygiene, environment, social issues, and so on.

Roadblocks to achieve this

  1. Corruption in the government
  2. Not In My Backyard syndrome
  3. Lack of Time
  4. Lack of Initiative
  5. Lack of Power


  • Join Politics
  • Take a break from commercial work to work for the greater good
  • Social media campaigns
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