For several weeks, visual artists, illustrators and graphic designers the world over have been at work, donating their time and skills to help make sense of a novel virus, and to relay critical health information to the masses.
More recently, a third goal has shifted into focus: that of sharing a public message of solidarity and gratitude. Across Times Square in New York City and on the streets of London, posters designed by the likes of Edel Rodriguez and Marina Willer now act as beacons of hope, and love letters to key workers everywhere.
NYC LIGHTS UP
In one of the epicenters of the pandemic, a massive digital ad campaign has been launched across some 1,800 kiosks and electronic billboards in the city. Top artists including Milton Glaser, Paula Scher, Ola Baldych and Maira Kalman have contributed designs for the project, which was initiated by Times Square Arts, the Poster House Museum and Print Magazine. The results range from the humorous to the provocative, with many taking the opportunity to thank the city’s everyday heroes.
PSA by Maira Kalman
PSA’s by Emily Oberman, Ola Baldych
PSA’s by Paula Scher, Edel Rodriguez
SUPPORTING THE NHS
In the UK, ten leading studios including Pentagram, Koto and Studio MakGill have donated artworks to a new virtual poster campaign which aims to celebrate the country’s National Health Service. The posters appear in a set of downloadable mockups, which are available to purchase through the Layers website. All proceeds from the collection will go to NHS Charities Togethers.
Poster by Koto
Poster by Pentagram
The success of these projects suggest that those of us in the communications industry can play a valuable role in the weeks and months ahead. While it’s true that one poster alone cannot change behaviour — as Michael Johnson noted just a few weeks ago — a chorus of thousands can at least help us maintain some sanity and solidarity. In a crisis which is becoming more divisive by the day, these are two things which are harder to measure, but which we’ll need in spades. As designer Maira Kalman explained to the New York Times, “Once you get past the terror, you have to get to the love part quickly.”
Top image by Studio Makgill.