First Things First Manifesto

The first things first manifesto was released in London in 1964 by the designer Ken Garland in order to separate the design word from the commercial use of advertising to a more appropriate way of applying our talents. In my opinion, he tried to make everybody realise that there were more efficient ways of using our skills as designers and photographers, and that we do not need to apply our talents based on commercial needs and that there are better ways. For instance, designing books, street signs, catalogues, manuals, educational aids, films, television features, scientific and industrial publications of which we use to show our education, skills, talents, cultures and the greater awareness of the world.

However, throughout this manifesto, we are meant to understand that there is better usage of our talents to a more lasting and more innovative, rather fun ways to express our flairs. By means, this will not support the elimination of high-pressure consumer advertising although, the first things first manifesto will propose more useful and more lasting forms of communication throughout making it more meaningful. He proposed that designers and photographers should share their experiences and opinions, and to make them available to other people to whom may be interested.

The manifesto has opened my eyes in a way, it helped me realised how graphic design could improve the lives of others including mine and how it could have a big impact among people within the everyday life. I think to be able to inform and communicate to the world through other things rather than just marketing and more unique, creative and innovative ways it is indeed a challenge. Although it could potentially be something really influential and that something could change the world’s vision about design. I think the designers have a very strong impact on this world. When was the last time we bought a can of soup without any labelling or a magazine without any photographs and clean layout, but just a plain tin can? Designers and photographers did something to this world, that of improving the everyday life of people, making it easier for people to go around through using maps and allowing them to understand how to use different products by giving them an informed and rather illustrative on how to use it.

The first things first manifesto released in 1964 was approved and signed by 21 of Garland’s colleagues and many other visual communicators. This was later published by several publications such as the Architects ‘Journal, the SIA Journal, Ark, Modern Publicity, and The Guardian.

Later in 2000 The first things first manifesto have been renewed by some of the leading lights of the graphic design, artistic and visual arts community as an updated version of the 1964 original. It was republished by Émigré, eye and other important graphic design magazines. As it became very popular among other countries as well several other publications and artists discussed the manifesto and has stirred controversy again in graphic design.


First Things First — the original manifesto, penned by Ken Garland and published in 1964.
First Things First 2000 — the first renewal of First Things First, published in 1999 by Adbusters, Eye Magazine, Emigre, and others.
First Things First Revisited — Rick Poynor in Emigre, 1999.
Metahaven’s “White Night Before A Manifesto” — page 16, onward, addresses First Things First 2000 specifically

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