where two oceans meet.Posted: February 13, 2011
I love good design. Which is probably a good thing seeing as I’m spending thousands of dollars a year studying it. I’m about to start my second year in my design course actually, which I’ll admit was heavy on my mind while I was in Nepal. But not in a bad way.
My uni has a flexible degree structure, which means that I can pick two minors from whatever faculty I choose. After debating between Arts (English Literature) and Cultural Studies (the nice way of saying Pop Culture), I decided on Cultural Studies. It seems like a bit of a frivolous subject – and yes, I am doing Cinema Studies this semester – but I love it. The non-fiction I read is generally about art, music and movies. Books like The Culture Club by Craig Schuftan and The Philosophy of Andy Warhol by Andy Warhol (surprise surprise). I figured that since I’ve got the opportunity to study it, I may as well.
I was worried that going to a developing country would fill me with an overwhelming sense of guilt. That what I was studying was self indulgent (and I’m starting to realise how many blog posts I’ve spent apologizing for what I love. Interesting).
But it had the opposite effect.
The name of my course is Communication Design. Not Graphic Design. And if I were my old Typography lecturer I could wax lyrical about the important shift in direction and attitude towards design since this radical and historical change.
Unfortunately for me, this carefully thought out course title, the thing that has probably caused me to damage the muscles that assist me in rolling my eyes, was a way God spoke to me on my trip. Woo hoo God. Thank you once again for your wonderful and increasingly ironic sense of humor.
Communication design is an incredibly accurate term. That’s what we do. We organise type and image to communicate effectively. And it’s not just about communicating details or information. It’s also about communicating a feeling. An emotion. Something that I have been realising that I value rather highly in good design.
A lot of what the DEEP team I was part of learnt about in Nepal was the importance of ownership and sustainable development. Meaning that the Nepali people had to own the projects. Otherwise a sense of powerlessness and incapability would be perpetuated within the communities. This doesn’t mean that missionaries are unnecessary or unhelpful. I met some really incredible people who have dedicated their lives to journeying along side Nepali people and have participated in some really amazing growth in such a poor country.
But I realised that surprisingly God doesn’t want me to feel guilty about the things he has created me to love. Shocking, right? And what do I love? Design. Pop Culture. Music. Art. John Hughes. Fineliners. Reading. Imagining. Creating.
Instead of Nepal causing me to doubt if this is the right uni degree to be studying (which in hindsight now seems a bit silly), it confirmed it.
Communication Design. What am I communicating?
Maybe part of my role on this earth is informing the western culture, that I love and hate so much, about the problems of poverty and what can be done, in interesting and engaging ways. Informing people of the real gospel. The life of Jesus that we have all been called to follow with everything we have.
Is this how my deep gladness meet the worlds great hunger?
Following Jesus and sharing his heart for the poor doesn’t necessarily mean moving to a remote village in the hills of a developing nation. It’s different for everyone. Don’t box God in. He is so much bigger than we can ever begin to understand.