Monday, September 5, 2016

(Not too awful for something that came out of free photo-editing software and Microsoft Paint, I hope).

I made this simple image to tackle the issue of sweatshop labor, specifically the poor wages that sweatshop workers make. Since I had extremely limited resources for making this image, I approached this as a design challenge. The image overall is supposed to look bleak and depressing, generally attaching a sort of “presence” of a labor problem behind a product that consumers may normally not associate with anything outside of their own lives. I placed the “You pay…” text near the top of the image because that part of the image is slightly brighter before fading into darker colors. Placing that text in the brighter/before darkness area reflects the presumed but not actual separation between consumption and modes of production, a separation which may be imagined by the consumer. The bottom of the sweater blends with the background to indicate a “blurring together” of the product and the work environment as oppressive forces used against laborers. I placed the “She takes home…” text close to this blurring to indicate the sweatshop worker’s position in the blurring of oppressive forces. The numbers are loosely based on what I was able to recall from a documentary called Made in L.A. (if you haven’t seen it, y’all should definitely check it out). I also wanted the numbers to look similar just to get the message across. I identified the sweatshop worker as a “she” because sweatshop workers are usually poor immigrant women of color (you can read more about this labor problem in a book called Behind the Label by Bonacich and Appelbaum, if y’all are interested – it’s a little dated, but it still has some good info). Finally, I attempted to make the producer label on the sweater very bright and noticeable to draw the viewer/consumer’s attention to it. I wanted to bring the viewer’s focus to the label in the image to reflect that looking at the label is something that consumers should be doing normally. Not all clothing producers use sweatshops, so it’s important to look at the label to see what manufacturer made the product, and decide from there whether some kind of “consumer protest” should happen by not purchasing the product.

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