The Design of Dissent

Here’s what not to do when picking up a book: form too high an expectation. The Design of Dissent is by Milton Glaser (who created the celebrated I ❤ NY logo) and by Mirko Ilić (a former art director for the NYTimes op-ed page) so one could be forgiven for picking it up thinking you could  probably a worthy book for many aspiring protest-artists who want to acquire some key concepts for creating great visual protest art.

However, there is no real explanation of good design principles; rather the book is a large collection of images drawn from diverse recent sources (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Israel-Palestine, and the U.S. feature heavily) generally only one or two sentences explains each image in the collection. So if you are already well-versed in some tools for evaluating political messaging about Israel-Palestine, you can evaluate why Glaser and Ilić made those choices–but if you don’t, good luck. Some of the images from the U.S. were ones I found uniquely well-designed (in particular some TrueMajority pieces that illustrate the scale of U.S. military expenses and cigarette “advertisement” using cigarettes to spell the message “pay us to kill you.”

Anyway, the takeaway here is, not every book is right for every reader. There wasn’t much for me in this one, because I don’t have the right context for many of these (and already know a lot about the others). And that would have been a lot less of a problem, if I hadn’t been excited to spend time with a book I thought would help enlighten me in terms of being more effective as a communicator when I disagree with people in power. Le sigh.

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