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Precarious Graphic Design. Analysis and exploration of fictional projects as a manifestation of precariousness in the graphic-design profession

The current times distinguish themselves for widespread economic instability and precarious work conditions, intended as a situation where work can be temporary, part-time, or unpaid.
With the growth of the Internet and the gig economy, it is becoming more common to find temporary jobs through online freelance portals, which often become the only opportunity to generate income. Precariousness and the necessity to keep up with our fast-paced society is often followed by illnesses, making workers feel insecure and perceive themselves as “not able to produce enough”.
Silvio Lorusso came up with the term of “entreprecariat” to describe a paradox of this particular situation. Many independent workers, by adopting an entrepreneurial attitude and depicting themselves as professional, successful, and positively flexible try to hide (even from themselves) the actually precarious situation they live in.

In this uncertain condition, it is possible to recognize the increase of fictional, self-initiated projects where designers becomes both commissioners and executers at the same time.
Fictional projects remain exclusively online, where the consumption of images is enormous.
Fictional projects are an investment to attract new clients and, thereby, new job opportunities.

This research project considers fictional projects as a manifestation of these precarious times.
In this context, free time is converted into working temporary in the gig economy or into working for free, by doing fictional projects to hope for a better future or, sometimes, to increase self-esteem.
It is essential to discuss fictional projects, since they are a manifestation of a widespread precarious condition in design.
A workflow based on stress, a constant need to update content, and self-exploitation is problematic.
This research is trying to reveal the context in which fictional projects are created, to make the problem more tangible.

The main question of this thesis research is: what if precariousness dominates the design process?
Hence, by taking the situation to its extreme, precariousness in graphic design is converted into an absurd process. Theoretical research becomes a concrete endeavour with the creation of the Random Project Generator, a tool for quick project development and a continuous and active online presence.
By working on crucial concepts such as identity, time, and money, the Random Project Generator provides a simple structure with filters, made to design posters and with the goal of boosting online self-promotion. Through the creation of this dystopic process, where the creative work is automated but the production still human, the Random Project Generator helps to reflect on the current working conditions in the graphic-design field.
The Random Project Generator provides a vision and a consideration of the problem of precariousness in graphic design, trying to underline and clarify its principal dynamics and mechanisms.
Basel, 2019

Full spec

Paloma Lopez; Jiri Oplatek; Aylin Tschoepe
Instagram: @alessandrapuricelli