We Get Chills: 60th Annual GDUSA People To Watch

Gordon Kaye and Sasha Kaye-Walsh are editors at gdusa.com. Comments, suggestions and letters can be sent to editorial@gdusa.com


I got chills when I read the profiles of our 2023 ‘People To Watch’.  In all fairness, I was in the throes of my first case of COVID so that may be the explanation.

But I choose to believe that the shivering was a deep-seated reaction to experiencing the collective aspirations and accomplishments, the wit and wisdom, the heart and humanity of these individuals as they tell their stories, digest profound change, and affirm that design matters.

Humility is called for at such times, and we invite you to read and draw your own conclusions except to note a few broad themes:

• This piercing moment of clarity has crystallized and amplified the power and potential of graphic design to shape commerce, culture and causes, especially when design is effective, integral and serves the values of authenticity, transparency and human connection.

• How we interact with each other and consume information, products and services has forever changed, and successful graphic designers are embracing that change.

• Graphic designers are experiencing an elevated role in business and society and many skillsets are in high demand; this is tempered by short term economic worries and longer terms fears that AI and similar technologies may prove undermining.

• Out of the pandemic crucible, a more balanced and efficient workplace and work-life balance has emerged and will continue to evolve.

• ‘Graphic design’ is (small d) democratizing. There are great designs and designers everywhere, less barriers to entry, more emphasis on individuation. With this comes, as in so much of society, less reverence for the past or appreciation for traditional community.

• Many creative professionals are refocusing their energies, at least in part, on ‘designing for good,’ which is to say, addressing culturally and politically relevant issues that refresh their mission and those of their clients.

What does it all add up to? I defer to Kim Vandrilla of The Clorox Company: “Today design lives in our society and culture and consumers have come to expect a heightened visual standard to be built into a brand’s very ethos and integrated into a company’s ‘why’… We can no longer merely layer design atop a marketing strategy — consumers won’t allow it — and instead a creative vision needs to beat in the very heart of a brand.”

This may be the anti-virals talking, but I’m feeling the best is yet to come.