I design to give people access to what they need to change their lives for the better.
When I graduated grad school, I wrote the Monstress Manifesto:
Repeat to yourself each morning you are a designer or artist:
State the (personally) obvious.
Remember the audience is my equal.
Remind everyone that we choose what we believe.
Invite evaluation and interaction.
Sell no empty dreams of Perfection.
Change the world.
BELIEVE AND BELIEVE.
I have tried to abide by this code ever since, with varying degrees of success. There have been times I had to choose between rent and my integrity, it is true, but I have slowly learned how to choose my clients better and to be much more honest about what I was willing to do. Integrity is a process, and a participatory one at that. If I work for people with bad intentions, the design usually turns out badly as well. It may be gorgeous, but it is built on dark patterns and thus is a failure from the start.
When I have been able to adhere closely to my manifesto, miracles seen to happen: the work does what it needed to and so much more. It doesn’t vault me into celebrity, it doesn’t make me rich, but it helps the people using it get what they knew they wanted and what they had no idea they needed. Design is about being of service to a larger whole, pure and simple. It has taught me humility, compassion, and diligence. It has given me the grit art school was not able to drill into me. That’s not art school’s fault, I was just not ready at the time.