Confronted with irrefutable video evidence that an unarmed black man in Minneapolis was violently killed by police, George Floyd’s death has touched off an outpouring of grief, rage, protests, and calls for an end to police brutality. It has also produced some incredibly powerful graphic posters and street murals, mostly done by unknown artists. Interestingly, these images do not depict the shockingly cruel manner in which Floyd died, but afforded him the dignity of a portrait that presented him as a martyr for social justice – justice that is centuries overdue.
April 22nd marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which most years focuses on how mankind is endangering the environment and the creatures that inhabit the earth. This year illustrator Craig Frazier created a poignant reminder that humans are also an interconnected part of this ecosystem. With the coronavirus pandemic threatening our very existence, it behooves us to remember that we are all part of one earth. Explaining how he arrived at this year’s Earth Day theme, Craig said, “At this time, we need to take care of those who are taking care of us all over the world. I designed this poster to honor the health care workers who are doing the heavy lifting.” Indeed.
“Keep Calm and Carry On” is the most famous British World War II poster that few people knew about until a half century later. Virtually all of the 2.5 million copies printed in anticipation of plastering the UK with them when war broke out, never saw the light of day.
It all started in the spring of 1939, as England braced itself for a German invasion. To prepare citizens for that inevitability, the UK Ministry of Information (MOI) formed a Home Publicity Committee made up of civil servants, volunteer academics, publicists and publishers to plan a campaign urging citizens to keep a “stiff upper lip.” The committee met weekly over lunch hour and suggested various slogans — e.g, “England Is Prepared” and “We’re Going to See This Through.” The committee proposed a series of seven or more morale-boosting posters, which the Treasury vetoed due to cost, giving them less than half of their requested budget. Ultimately, the MOI settled on three poster messages: “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory”; “Freedom Is In Peril, Defend It With All Your Might,” and “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Someone suggested “Keep Calm, Don’t Panic,” but that was nixed.
For centuries, wall posters have been a favorite means to publicize events, products, causes, political movements and the like. It is a sad commentary on the 21st century that we need to use this public vehicle to draw attention to an idea as basic as Tolerance. Unfortunately, we do.
“Tolerance” is the name and theme of a traveling poster show that is now circling the globe. Organized by Bosnian-born and now New York-based, Mirko Ilic, the Tolerance Traveling Poster Show features the contributions of renowned designers including Milton Glaser (USA), Chaz Maviyana-Davies (Zimbabwe), Yuko Shimizu (Japan), Manuel Estrada (Spain), Tarek Atrissi (Lebanon), Jianping Ha (China), and some two dozen others.
To keep the exhibition accessible to a broad audience, the posters are shown in public plazas, shopping malls, parks, and other open venues instead of in art galleries and art museums. Conceived to be electronically produced and hung anywhere in the world within a week, the Tolerance posters show is expected to run for two years. To date, it has been shown on nearly every continent, with illustrators and designers from exhibiting countries contributing their own Tolerance poster to the show.
Six internationally recognized artists contributed original works for this year’s NatureBridge gala fund-raising auction in San Francisco. A nonprofit educational organization, NatureBridge provides hands-on environmental science experiences to some 30,000 students and teachers annually. Their “classrooms” are six of the most magnificent national parks on earth.