Identity As a Self Portrait: A Sense of Self to Ourselves, Our Students, Our Clients, Our Lovers, the World

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How does this identity affect our design, art work, teaching? Is there a difference? Is there a conflict? Which is authentic? Who gets to decide? Is our identity based on our facade, our mark, our work, our students’ successes, our personal histories, or some version of all of these? What happens if we change the color? The typography? The scale? The audience?

How does gender affect how we think of ourselves, how we project ourselves to the world? Difference, as understood in many feminist and non-western contexts, is not opposed to sameness, nor synonymous with separatism. A women’s sense of self comes not only from one’s gender, race, class and sexual preferences, but also from varying measures of familiar dualities: feminine/masculine, life/death, spiritual/sexual, struggle/surrender, manna/taboo.

If I were to create an identity mark for myself—that, as completely as possible, showed who I am—what would it look like?


Keywords: Identity, Our Design, Gender, How We Think of Ourselves
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , , Reimagining Identity in the Design Classroom


Jan Fairbairn

Professor, Graphic Design, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
South Dartmouth, MA, USA

Ms Fairbairn’s education includes receiving an MFA degree in Graphic Design from Yale University School of Art, in 1991, a BFA degree in Graphic Design from Maine College of Art in 1988 two years of study at the School of Visual Arts, two years at the University of Maine, and one summer abroad in Brissago, Switzerland. She has worked as Principal of Fairbairn & Company, a graphic design studio for the past 20 years that produces a range of print publications, identities, branding and exhibition catalogs. Ms Fairbairn concurrently holds the positions of Critic at Rhode Island School of Design and Lecturer at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth; was an Assistant Professor at SUNY Fredonia, and has taught at Rhode Island College and at Yale. Her work has been shown in numerous juried shows including: AIGA 50 Books/50 Covers, AIGA Design of Understanding 2, New York is Book Country festival, The International Platform Association, Maine Coast Artists among others. Her work includes: public installations & permanent collections in New York, Connecticut and Maine. Publications include: ‘Design Culture: An Anthology of Writing’ from the AIGA Journal, Section: Love, Money, Power, 1997; 'AIGA Journal of Graphic Design', Volume 10, Number 01, 1992, Article: Gender as Cultural Construction.

Ref: A09P0260