When we selected ethics as the theme for our Autumn magazine, I couldn’t wait to start the concept designs for the cover. But after a few compositions, nothing worked out visually. I didn’t feel a reaction to the graphics on paper, nor did they stimulate my mind—or anyone else’s. I remember thinking, could this topic be that simple or is it that complex? I probably read the definition of ethics fifty times.
Ethics is a complex system of decision making in which research, time, and patience lead to decisions. Ethics often puts us up against philosophical roadblocks where we may have to reverse direction.
Ethics struck me as being too vague, too broad, and maybe too black or white—that triggered thoughts about duality: good or bad, left or right. I started to piece together this idea: people who are faced with decisions must decide which direction they will take. I reflected on what it must be like to make a decision as a child, the difficulty in making choices, of finding answers: a door, an opening, a direction. Then the concept of a maze came to mind.
The first version was very simple, large letters outlining the word ethics. After some discussion and with a bit more development and encouragement from our art director, the cover began to take shape. Over time and many revisions to the letter forms, and making sure the maze was functional, we introduced colors that helped create a complex optical effect.
We hope this illustration serves as an apt introduction to a complex, yet everyday, issue.
Jill Carrico is the senior graphic designer in the HMS Office of Communications and External Relations.
Video file: Jill Carrico