I am a designer and photographer by trade, and a graphics editor here at LinkedIn. This means that most of the images, designs, photos, drawings and cartoons related to our publishing platform have crossed my desk at some point. All day I look at images of people, things, places and events all over the world, some good and some bad. From terrible stock photos of “happy women eating salads alone” to powerful portraits of the most influential figures in our world, I have seen it all.
After I look at millions of potential images that exist, I then have to choose one that the whole world may see. This is the hardest part, for one wrong choice could cause a thousand problems.
What if this image is deemed “inappropriate” by the powers that be? What if too much of Kim Kardashian’s cleavage is showing in that AP shot? What if this ISN’T a free-to-use creative commons image? What if I create a collage with an incendiary symbol or reference? What if I credit someone incorrectly? Will I get chased down by the “image rights police?” Sued? Shut down? Fired?
Or, what if I create an image that makes someone so angry that they want to stop me from ever creating again?
This is what happened to my fellow graphic artists at Charlie Hebdo. Their artistic freedom, expression and design choices lead to their unfathomably tragic ends. So far, I have been incredibly lucky and my life has never been threatened because of the artistic decisions that I make, but this goes to show that it certainly could. However, this does not mean we stop.
I think any solution we can find comes down to overcoming the fear of what we do not understand. To end fear, we must educate people and to truly educate people, we must show all the sides of the story, even the ones we do not agree with. As artists and journalists we try to show people whole story – be that the other side of the coin, the opposite perspective, or the giant elephant in the room.
I am so saddened by the loss to our community of creatives and journalists, and send all the love and light I can to the families of those who were killed. They can be sure we will not be silenced, we will keep creating in their honor.
I feel words do not really suffice here, so instead I contribute this design that my friend, writer Juli Mosoff and I created together. Back to the drawing board.