This election year design has played an instrumental role in the future of America, from the branding campaigns of our candidates, to ballot interface design, to communicating the need for us to get out and vote.
AIGA, the organization advancing design as a professional craft, developed a platform to help citizens understand the importance of casting your ballot—not just for president, but for government officials on the state and local levels. They curated designers of all levels and backgrounds to create nonpartisan posters then get them spread the message.
There is a lot one can say with a poster. It could be a quick and bold read, or it could have a story that really brings you in once the message hooks you. Either way, the most important message is to encourage voting, regardless of party.
This year I created two posters with AIGA. The first was a group event hosted with AIGA at Cards Against Humanity. 20 designers gathered at the CAH office to get down and dirty with a poster collaboration. After a talk by the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government, we were empowered with facts and gusto to make our message heard. Amy Schwartz of CAH gave us a library of elements to cut and paste, tools to draw, and a Risograph printer… a copy machine that you can layer colors to emulate screen printing.
The process of design was different than sitting at a computer. We were given the opportunity to get our hands dirty and go back to pen and paper. With about an hour to design, you had to work on the fly. A lot of the designers were precious with their creative, deeply thinking about their design and message. I encouraged those at my table to overcome the paralyzation and simply have fun—because once you started, the pieces start to come together. I roughed a quick sketch to think through my idea, then got to work. I had a copy line in mind, and anchored it with a supplied graphic in the assortment of a pointing finger. Once I had my two layers ready to go, I moved to the printing stage... making minor enhancements in line as I saw how the printer worked.
The outcome and range of all of the designers was incredible. If I had an editing phase, an improvement I would make on my poster is to repeat NOV 8 a handful of times in a row for more emphasis. I would also have highlighted my BallotReady.org call-to-action for better legibility since the printer did not align as I hoped on the gold versions. Finally, I would have preferred red paper with blue and gold ink for more oomph on the street. Alas… moving fast to simply have fun with a long line at the printer, I had to stick to my guns. Once the event was over, I armed myself with tape and hit five Chicago neighborhoods to get the message out.
My second link in the Get Out And Vote chain was designing an official AIGA poster for the gallery of hundreds already created (685 posters at the time of this post). For months I knew what I wanted to try, and the pressure of Election Day finally pushed my to explore my idea.
Since May, I have been crowdsourcing photos from across the states by people celebrating their cast ballot. From the primaries, to early voting, to asking friends and family to share photos from previous elections, they all focused on showcasing their proud selfie or snap of their “I Voted” sticker, flyer or wristband.
An experiment in design itself, I was fascinated by the variance of stickers given out across the country. The typical oval “I Voted” with a flag was the most popular. NYC had a fun sticker with interesting typography and Lady Liberty. Tennessee had a sticker die-cut into the shape of the state. Georgia brought their iconic peach into play. In my Chicago precinct I always sadly receive a plain white paper receipt. Not as fun, and I can’t proudly wear it all day.
Regardless of the medium, one thing rings true: people of all ages take pride in their vote and want to show it to the world. Social media gives us that platform to easily share and encourage others to exercise their right. Because it does make a difference.
Tomorrow, November 8, 2016 is Election Day. If you are not registered, Illinois law says you can register at your polling place the day of the election. Get the voter registration form at your State Board of Elections’ office, County Clerk’s office, or Board of Election Commissioner’s office. You still have a chance to make your voice heard and TAKE PRIDE IN YOUR VOTE. When you do, post it to social with #GetOutTheVote!
Here’s to a new tomorrow. Hopefully made better by the influence of good design.