Human Capital - Graphic Design Studies

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  • Human Capital
    My final project for the Graphic Design Studies course I took under Georgetown's graduate level Communication, Culture, and Technology Program
  • Overview
    The theme I have decided to explore in my design project is a term I first heard from my friend who interned at Goldman Sachs over the summer break. He told me that the human resources department at the multinational company wasn't called the usual "HR," but instead "human capital."

    How rational, economical, and ultimately dehumanizing...

    I am especially keen on "human capital" as a concept because it floats in between the hyper-rationality of economic means and the unpredictability of human nature. To use a more a formal, twenty-first century definition of the term—courtesy of the Internet's Merriam Webster, Wikipedia—

    "Human capital is the stock of competences, knowledge and personality attributes embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value."

    I have applied this idea of “human capital” to graphic design by pairing rational design with satirical and over the top content about human capital. Rational design means all the elements follow and are aligned to a grid and that a consistent san serif type face and color palette is used across all projects. The style is influenced by the propaganda style of the early modernist era. These early propagandistic messages were effectively concise orders to the general population, but utilized more abstract iconic imagery then realistic imagery used in later propaganda work. The content of the design primarily focuses on measuring one’s education as a human capital expenditure and urging people to reconsider their higher education
  • For my final project, I printed a single sided 17 x 33 inch matte paper infographic public advertisement for the twisted human capital special interest group “The Invisible Hand.” The advertisement needed to be print on a large paper size because it has to compete for public attention among a sea of other advertisements. This ad is divided into three sections of information about education’s effect on an individual’s economic productivity. One section lists the salary benefits of studying engineering. The middle section explains the importance of human capital in contemporary society and how it should affect our perspective on higher education. A bar graph made out of a graduate silhouette shows the salary advantage engineer has over liberal art studies. The three informational sections are tied together by the theme of the advertisement, “What’s the worth of your human capital,” which urges the average passerby to evaluate their personal choices on an economic level.

    A full sized version of the infographic can be found here.
  • This poster is inspired by the propogandist cubist posters of the early modernist era. I used Gotham, a san serif font, for its legibility and modernist quality. The clip art of the engineer was manipulated and reduced to simple geometric shapes to retain visual recognition but have a generality to the figure by turning the image into an icon. Finally, I looked toward the Art Deco movement for gradient inspiration, a technique utilized in the poster's background and main title. Don't you feel inspired now?
  • In addition to this advertisement is a companion flyer from “The Invisible Hand” interest group further defining human capital and its importance in today’s economic system. It is printed single sided on letter sized (8.5 by 11 inches) card stock to give it weight and portability. Our eyes find reading columned information more natural when it is on a paper size were used to handling.
  • The following are the original layout exercises for my graphic design studies class based on the “human capital” theme. The assignment was to experiment with variations in alignment, justification, word emphasis, and text wrapping. Human Capital article taken from the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics..