Written: February 2015    |    by Casey Hawes

You know what the zombie apocalypse is all about right? Rotting corpses chasing after you to feast on your living flesh. Your friends and family dying, getting lost, eaten, or turning into zombies before your very eyes. I don’t need to explain this scenario do I?

It’s gruesome and depressing but I watch a LOT of The Walking Dead. It’s AMC’s hit show that rivals the NFL’s Sunday Night Football in TV ratings. America loves the dead and so do I.

This fascination with a post-apocalyptic world is easy to understand. We are captivated with this world that is reminiscent of the cities, communities, people, and everyday objects we are so familiar with, but is dangerously different. It puts us into a realistic setting with unrealistic circumstances. We like to imagine what we would do in these life-and-death scenarios, IF it became reality.

Funny thing about zombies; they’re not creative folk. They don’t have taste or personal preference. Designers must be the total opposite of the walking dead. I’m a designer (graphic/web) and I began to wonder…

Where are the designers in The Walking Dead?

I don’t mean there aren’t designers working on the show. I’m sure there are costume, prop, and set designers to name a few. They are amazing. I’m saying there are no characters in the story that are designers. Surely not all the designers were killed. Even though we sit at desks all day, we aren’t all weak.

What if designers lived in a real zombie apocalypse?

What skills do designers have to survive on? Well, our pixels and software might as well be fairy tales. There would be no APP that kills zombies or locates your nearest death-escaping Uber. Your iPhone is now a disposable projectile.

However, we would still design. We would still be taking photos, using an old pinhole camera perhaps. Maybe we would find the time to design a menu for our next meal. The great typography could trick us into getting excited about the night’s menu of scraps and scavenged leftovers, or humans, depending on your audience.

We would create undead deadlines for ourselves, critique each other’s help signage, and neatly stack the bodies with an even amount of spacing. Kerning the dead, if you will. Then, since we designers have egos, we’d leave a byline to let fellow survivors know; “that pile of zombies there… that was all me bro.” Then maybe you’ll follow me, and my work. Like it. Share it. Pin it?

The world would be running terrifyingly low on Moleskin notebooks. How would we properly brainstorm and wireframe all the possible zombie interactions? The zombie-user experience may even bring about an entirely new design profession. Zombie UX Design Pro?

Maybe we would eventually find the beauty in zombies. We’d draw and paint them. Sculpt them. Can you image what the post-apocalyptic artist would have to do to shock the art world? Living (or un-living) installations? Too far…

What would I do? I know I’d grab my hand-painted ax (that is currently just apartment decoration) and let the zombie heads fly. Violence was never so stylish.

Is design dead too?

This Walking Dead zombie world isn’t just missing designers; it’s missing all remnants of the designs they left behind. No advertising, branding, signage, unique product design, etc.

Where has all the fashion and color gone? Zombies and survivors alike would not just be wearing neutral shades of brown and gray. When the world is up for grabs, “looting” the best goods is high priority. No Hello Kitty shirt-wearing zombies? You would think the occasional zombie would have some style, accessories, Beats headphones, gold chains, fedora, sports jersey, SOMETHING. Imagine a zombie clad in Gucci or Prada. Is it too presumptuous to assume that SOME of those brand-driven women probably didn’t survive and became zombies? There would definitely be some fashionista zombies. Designer zombies with designer handbags…

Also, why aren’t these survivors running around in the best Nike or Under Armour gear? I know a good pair of running shoes would be the first thing I grabbed.

The only branding left that I can see is in the cars. The red Dodge Challenger from season 1 stands out the most. Fun fact: that Challenger is the same one bought by Walter White for his son in AMC’s Breaking Bad.


I know that without some of the colors and design I’m talking about, the show’s believability delves deeper into this alternate world. Without those nods to ‘the past’, things seem more distant and lost. But as a designer, that desire for visual interest is embedded in my DNA. It’s a big part of who I am and no flesh-eating freaks could take that away. In the face of death, I would continue to create. I would go on designing. It may prove to be the very thing that saves me.

So while the fun, color-loving designers were left out of the show, I’m sure we’re doing just fine holed up in an Apple store somewhere.