Sarah Szumanski | Manifesto


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Duration: 6 weeks
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Bookmark Project

Project Brief

Merriam-Webster’s defines manifesto as “a written statement that describes the policies, goals, and opinions of a person or group.” In art, a manifesto is public declaration of an artist or group of artists intentions or views in terms of the work they create.You can read several examples of artist manifestos on Blackboard under Manifestos.

To demonstrate what you’ve learned over the course of the semester, you will create your own manifesto, specifically a manifesto about design. Like artists of the past, you will declare what you think about graphic design and what graphic design should be. You could the direction of First Things First or Bruce Mau and take a more political stance. You can just limit yourself to what type of design you think should be made. Your manifesto could be very serious or more light hearted.

1. You will want to start by defining what you think about design. Which design styles appeal to you most? What do you think design should be? What social purpose should design serve? What defines good design for you? What makes you happy about design? What
function/role does design serve? What about professional ethics?
2. I recommend you begin writing what you think about design. Don’t limit yourself at this stage. Just write anything that comes to mind.
3. Start to refine your message. Do you want a numbered list? A general paragraph? What is at the heart of your manifesto? Keep in mind that your manifesto should contain:
• a background or history
• a set of points that articulate the groups claims, or goals or defining principles
• a vision statement
• a call to action
Write with passion and attempt to inspire. Declare a vision or set of ideals and call for design, or some action to be taken. I recommend that your manifesto be approximately 500 words. You may also want to share your manifesto with your instructor at this point in order to get feedback.
4. After formally writing your manifesto, you need to put your manifesto in visual form. This visual form could be a poster, a booklet, a video, a website, anything that seems appropriate for the content of your manifesto. Allow the content of the manifesto to guide your decision as to the physical form of your manifesto.
5. Post your final manifesto project to your blog for presentation to the class on the last day of class. You should be prepared to present your manifesto along with an explanation about your process in creating your manifesto to the class. Plan on a five to ten minute presentation.

Learning Objectives

• Convey your understanding of graphic design history, its connection to/impact on individuals and cultures.
• Display understanding and comprehension of graphic design styles and timelines.
• Demonstrate an understanding of graphic design history sufficient to make comparisons between formal elements in historical and contemporary design examples.
• Describe the connection between design examples and your development as an artist or a critical appreciation of art.


The original written manifesto should be approximately 500 words. The manifesto should be presented in some visual form (poster, book,video, a website, etc.). You should post the final manifesto to your blog.
You will present your manifesto to the class on the last day of class. Plan to talk about what went into making your final manifesto as well as how you came up with your final manifesto. The presentation should be 5 to 10 minutes.


First Things First Manifesto, 1964

First Things First Manifesto, 2000

Dada Manifesto by Tristan Tzara

Futurist Manifesto by Filippo Marinetti

DeStijl Manifesto by Theo van Doesburg

Bauhaus Manifesto by Walter Gropius


The New Typography by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

Incomplete Manifesto for Growth by Bruce Mau

1000 Words: A Manifesto for Sustainability in Design by Allan Chochinov

Full website for assignment:

Ten Principles for Good Design by Dieter Rams


The project was done at a community college and not all students had the reading level or critical thinking skills for the project. If I taught it again, I would spend more in class time talking about the manifestos and discussing what the students think design is and should be.

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