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Open Manifesto

Understanding Identity.

An introduction by K.F.

{28th of August 2009}


Identity, and more specifically identity creation, is central to the graphic design profession. Well before the phenomena of integrated branding even emerged designing logos was common practice for graphic designers, and remains to be the case today. Personally, as a young designer entering the field in the mid 90s, I felt the ability to design a logo from scratch was akin to a right of passage in becoming a true design professional. A logo is a succinct summation of a company or organization and—for me—it epitomized the notion of commercial visual communication. My view as young designer was that logos are the bedrock of the graphic design profession, and I was sufficiently aware that attaining the ability to design a logo could extend to creating identities for related issues such as magazines, music groups and three-dimensional environments, among many other things. Of course, the prospect of this was very exciting.


However, in retrospect, I now realise I rarely gave much thought to what ‘Identity’ really means as a concept; how such a complex convergence of characteristics and attributes are boiled down to a singular graphic mark and what effect and cultural significance all these myriad identities—which are created by designers—might have on society, not to mention how we form our general understanding of ‘Identity’.


With an impressive selection of contributors, this issue of Open Manifesto seeks to explore specific and broader concepts around identity; how identities develop, how they are influenced and how they influence society.


(The rest of this article is available, in print, in Open Manifesto #5)

Kevin Finn is founder, editor and designer of Open manifesto. Most recently, in 2011 Finn launched his latest initiative—a series of graphic design trivia games called DESIGNerd 100+. The objective is to help further design education and awareness in a fun, social manner. For his design work, Finn has won numerous prestigious national and international awards, including a D&AD Yellow Pencil in typography and a Judges Choice award from the Type Directors Club. Finn has been profiled in numerous books, magazines and blogs internationally and is a regular speaker at design events. Finn is currently based in Brisbane and is principal of his independent design practice TheSumOf.