Design of Truth-Clarification Materials
(Minghui.org) I started practicing Falun Dafa in 2013. When the persecution first started, I received some truth-clarification materials made by practitioners. I accepted everything they gave me, thinking it was the least I could do to show my support.
As the persecution went on, practitioners became more experienced in making these materials, and the contents became more comprehensive.
However, the format was always the same, with contents printed on A4 sheets and then cut and bound according to the layout. Sometimes, it was just a piece of plain paper. Master's new articles were also bound the same way, some with a thick paper cover or thread binding.
I thought the materials could have been presented in a much better way, and I once told a practitioner bluntly, “I accept your materials because I understand you and I know Falun Dafa is good. I feel like the least I can do to help is to accept your materials unconditionally. At least I'm standing on your side. But to be honest, your materials are not nicely made compared to many other advertising flyers, and ordinary people who don't know much about Falun Gong may not accept your materials like I did.”
The practitioner was at a loss for words and only told me that it was not easy to make those materials.
Later, I began to cultivate in Dafa. There was a big demand for materials in our area and a shortage of hands, so I started to help produce materials. I was really happy and felt that all I had learned in society was for this purpose.
But over the years, the perspective from which I view the truth-clarification materials has also changed a lot.
Groups with Good Intentions
A few years ago, I told some practitioners around me that if our materials were hastily made and of cheap quality, they would be hard to hand out and would waste our resources. Even though they all agreed, there was not much we could do due to a lack of professional manpower.
Recently, I have noticed some big changes in the design work of Minghui periodicals. Shen Yun has long set an example for us all. If we want to achieve a better effect, we must become more professional in the design of our truth-clarification materials.
In addition to truth-clarification materials published on Minghui, quite a few practitioners are also willing to make materials with a local connection, including festive greeting cards to Master, truth-clarification cards, letters to local people, and so on. However, many practitioners don't know how to make them or are worried that they may not be able to make good materials.
From my observations, there are a few groups of practitioners in this regard:
* The first group has a pure heart and really want to make beautiful materials that are attractive to everyday people, but they have little knowledge or skill in material design.
* The second group is very enthusiastic and has some knowledge about software, but they lack foundational training, so their design work is of low quality.
* The third group has some ideas and know how to use design software, but they are not very skillful. As a result, the end product fails to achieve a desirable effect.
* The fourth group understands some basic design principles and are pretty skillful with software; they have some well-planned ideas and are keen to improve their skills quickly.
In fact, design work can be seen everywhere in our daily life, from packaging to containers, advertisements, signboards, books, and magazines. There are also interior decorations and architectural facades on buildings. No matter where we look, there is some design element in whatever we see.
In terms of our truth-clarification materials, we mainly use paper prints and electronic pictures adapted for display online, which both belong to the category of graphic design.
Graphic Design and Thinking of Others
Graphic design is in essence a profession that completely serves others. However, a cultivator's realm of "serving others" should go far beyond that of an ordinary person. I find that most practitioners, including those in the four groups I mentioned above, tend to focus on self-expression in their design process instead.
For example, once a fellow practitioner gave me a batch of Falun Dafa amulets. She kept saying how exquisitely beautiful they were, and she would say the same thing to people she handed them out to.
I looked at the amulets and saw some problems with the design. The characters were slightly distorted as if the ratio might not have been locked when typesetting; the color was a bit dark as well. Every amulet also had some raw edges, which might have been due to a problem with the cutting machine.
I could not earnestly say that these amulets were gorgeous. However, I knew we had limited resources and were still not up to professional standards. I also understood that the practitioners involved in the project were working very hard. So at the same time, I could not feel that these amulets were “not good,” as I was looking at them from a different perspective than everyday people.
Before handing out these amulets, I trimmed off the raw edges, and when I handed them out I did not overstate how beautiful they were. I only told people that even though these amulets might not look fancy or top quality, they are from our hearts and are hard to come by; the words on them are priceless.
Generally, we only give people amulets after we have clarified the facts to them and they have already awakened to the truth. So very few refuse them even though they may not look perfect.
However, I still feel we must not be content simply because people have accepted our amulets. When we offer something to everyday people, we must not exaggerate what we think is good from our perspective, but instead give them the opportunity to come to appreciate what we present them.
People vary from one another. For things that are truly beautiful, each person has their own way of appreciating them unless they are already beyond salvation. People resonate in one way or another with the true compassion and true beauty of the universal principles.
Considering People’s Acceptance Level
When we make truth-clarification materials, we need to consider everyday people's perspective and their level of acceptance instead of doing things with our own wishful thinking.
For example, at the beginning of the persecution, when the situation was very bad and defamation of Falun Gong was seen everywhere, many of my classmates were deceived by the lies and signed evil petitions as a result. Some even wrote libelous articles to attack Falun Gong and distributed them throughout my school. They did such things because they were young and naive.
We must not give up on them simply because they have done such things. However, because they have done these things, the evil has tight control over them, and as a result it is hard for them to learn the truth even though most of them still have room in their hearts for the universal values.
If we present people with beautifully made materials, they may accept them and look through them. If we give them something that we ourselves think is beautiful but have artwork defects, they may reject them and refuse to accept the truth.
I had come across such people in the past. Those who didn't know anything about the truth of Falun Dafa or held negative thoughts about Dafa would not accept materials that look simple and crude.
In society, people my age and younger are reluctant to read anything that is purely textual, and they are more likely to accept materials that have images. Even when they read a book, they expect it to have a nice design and beautiful binding. In other words, people nowadays have a bigger demand for visuals–it's simply what it is like in today's society. So when we design something, we need to take this tendency into consideration.
It's true that many things in society have become degenerate and we need to identify what is good from what is bad. However, if we separate ourselves from everyday people' s environment and make things completely based on our own concepts, then some of what we make may not follow market requirements or serve their intended purpose. Various resources could be wasted as a result.
Because all we do is for the sake of others, we need to put ourselves in others' shoes instead of focusing on how we feel. Skills and the use of software are less important in comparison, and they can be improved through learning and training. What is most important is our starting point and intentions.
Design is multidisciplinary. In addition to technical requirements, a good designer often has an intuitive sense for aesthetics, as well as knowledge of artistic skills and other relevant aspects. Some practitioners are indeed a bit weak in this type of thinking, but they have the desire to help.
For Dafa practitioners, I feel that nothing is impossible, but the key lies in how much one is prepared to contribute. If one just wants to do something quick or take a shortcut to achieve something, then it may be an attachment to getting quick results.
I know some practitioners in their 60s or 70s who originally had zero knowledge about Chinese painting persevered in learning and practicing and are now able to produce beautiful paintings. They have thus demonstrated the miraculous power of Dafa to people. Of course, they did not achieve this in a day or a short period of time. This principle is also applicable to design work.
Every practitioner has their own path to walk. If you think you may have the desire to work in design, it's worth taking a second thought and figuring out whether or not you are truly committed or just have a temporary interest. When the starting point is well-established, things will be a lot clearer down the track.
At the same time, we must set high standards for ourselves in terms of craftsmanship and artistry, and let go of the idea of quick success. It is necessary to acquire relevant knowledge, lay a good foundation, and have adequate hands-on practice to become good at design.
The prerequisite for making breakthroughs is that we must have a solid foundation to reach a realm far beyond that of everyday people. Only then can we achieve outcomes that are admired by everyday people. If we just want to create something new without even having a good foundation, then our chances of success may be very slim.
The true beauty lies in the magic of creation. It exists in all things and people in the world, and it resonates with all people. It's thus imperative for us to have a pure heart and adequate technical skills in design work. When the truth-clarification materials we make are closer to perfection and more professional, it will be easier for people to accept and cherish them.
The above is only my personal understanding at the current level. Please kindly point out anything improper.