Activity 1: First Things First Manifesto 2000 &’Ten Footnotes to a Manifesto’

The First Things First Manifesto 2000 (Emigre 51, 1999) raises many important points about the shifted view and role of the designer, such as the graphic designer, where commercial power and marketing has become the priority. I believe the First Things First manifesto (1999) draws attention to what it really means to be a designer and more significantly creates awareness and an opening for discussion and debate, as we are all contributing now. I agree that marketing and commercial work is now bigger than ever, it is all around us, and has very much become a part of our society. The manifesto (1999) describes advertisements as “dog biscuits,” (Emigre 51, 1999) which I find quite clever in the way that it depicts the usefulness of these advertisements. A dog does not need a biscuit to live, it is merely a treat, something to crave; it is a want. Designers should not be wasting their skill, their talents or their minds on designing “dog biscuits” (Emigre 51, 1999) which, according to the manifesto (1999), are short-term, “inessential” and unsustainable things that offers no real improvements to society. I understand the arguments the manifesto (1999) puts forward and appreciate the awareness it draws but commercial work is also an effective form of communication and in this day and age it is a useful and popular method used to send all kinds of messages to society.

Bierut’s (Philizot, 2007) criticisms of the manifesto I found to be quite fair and insightful, such as designers having the right to say no. However I fount Bierut’s (2007) point about designers having the right to refuse to work for a client if that does not have the same goals. People disagree with each other each day and for designers who rely on work for an income usually push their differences aside, in order to make a living. Although Bierut (2007) states that a designer should never be in a situation that leaves them making a decision purely based on money, I still think that a designer should try and work with a client, to understand the basis of their goals, instead of rejecting them; an open mind is important in the design world.


Emigre 51. (1999). First things first manifesto 2000. Retrieved from Viewed 7/07/15.

Philizot, V. (2007). Graphic design and metamorphoses: A few footnotes to ten footnotes to a manifesto, Graphisme en France. Retrieved from Viewed 7/07/15


One thought on “Activity 1: First Things First Manifesto 2000 &’Ten Footnotes to a Manifesto’

  1. I think you have a great understanding of the manifesto as a whole. I particularly agree with you on the point you raised about trying to work with a client, taking time to understand their goals, instead of immediately rejecting them. The fact that you were critical of Bieruts footnotes, his concept that a designer should never be in a situation that leaves them making a decision purely based on money – and left you own perspective shows you have articulated analytical thinking within your response.

    You have done a great job at clearly conveying your perspective on the manifesto and criticisms that followed.


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