10 October 2011

On Being a Graphic Designer in Haiti

Montagne Noir Haiti, mini landslide
We woke up one morning to this, part of the mountain at the back of our building fell. Luckily my car is safe, the rubble stopped at the nose of the car. ;-)

Graphic Designer, Montagne Noir, Haiti—I once asked for clean running water, continuous electric service and a bit of silence in an apartment. The landlord and the real estate agent looked at me as if I’m asking for some luxury item like Zafiro’s $100,000 razor made from meteorites (and yes, that razor is already on sale!). What’s next, they’ll say people need to pay taxes for their human rights? 

Now I believe Maslow when he said that creativity and art ranks as one of the highest human needs that could only be satisfied once you’ve fulfilled your basic needs. It’s hard to create great designs when your head is still trying to understand how the sink could spew murky water, rice and beans all over your kitchen, mmmm smell the morning air! Or when you're still dazed on how part of the mountain fell on the parking lot crushing the neighbors' cars and making the parking lot as useful as coffee to an insomniac. This is what a graphic designer has to deal with in Haiti. Life is a bit complicated here (understatement). It’s a miracle sometimes how we could produce nice designs when the mountain is literally falling over our heads. Though, I should say, when things work life's a bliss. When it doesn't... well, it's like walking into the twilight zone mixed with the worst of Dante's inferno.
Maybe Maslow is not completely right. But I like his triangle… 

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia
Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

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