The AIGA wages a war against complacency with its "Get Out the Vote" campaign.
The freedoms we're af-forded in the United States are unparalleled by any other democracy in the world, and being an American means many things to many people.
Our nation is based on fundamental rights: freedom of speech, freedom to practice the religion you choose and freedom to exercise your constitutional right to vote. Unfortunately, many Americans take a complacent stance when it comes to casting their ballots come election time. This presidential campaign year, the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) hopes to make converts out of voting slackers.
The start of the campaign trail
In months leading up to the November election, the AIGA will blanket the country with vibrant, poignant and, hopefully, inspirational posters all espousing the message, "Get Out the Vote."
"The design profession has not been actively involved in the political process since the 1960s," notes Deb Aldrich, AIGA's director of corporate partnerships. "We want this grass-roots campaign to stimulate thinking about issues that define our world."
Inspiring people to "think" may seem an undaunting task, but with the average American bombarded with print propaganda and in-your-face advertising every day, creating an attention-demanding poster campaign re-quired cutting-edge design, crisp copy and a trusty medium.
The AIGA's organization is 15,000 strong, with 44 chapters spread across the land. When the group's board initiated the campaign, they turned to their members—and to their members' suppliers—to put the wheels in motion. Each of the 44 chapters was charged with selecting a local designer, each of whom would design a 2x3-ft. poster that best represented the campaign's theme. Graphic artists Robin Raye, Seattle; Jennifer Sterling, San Francisco; Steve Liska, Chicago; Charles Spenser Anderson, Minneapolis; D.J. Stout, Austin, TX; and Stephen Doyle, New York City, signed on to lend a hand to the cause.
The local association chapters were also asked to select a local commercial printer for production and manufacturing services. They included: CRW Graphics, Pennsauken, NJ; Winthrop Printing, Boston; Holm Graphic Services, Des Moines, IA; Harris Lithographers, Stone Mountain, GA; Walbern Press, New York City; Active Graphics, Chicago; Tech-nigrafiks, Houston; Consolidated Press, Elk Grove Village, IL; and Daily Printing, Plymouth, MN.
While the designers booted their G4s, limbered their fingers and started to create, the AIGA's media buyers began their search for suitable substrates. "The posters will be stapled, tacked and taped all over America," explains Aldrich, "and exposed to the elements for up to four months." Indeed, they would have to stand the test of time and elemental abuse, but the paper stock would also have to be affordable and adhere to the AIGA's expectations for aesthetic excellence.
The group chose a 78-lb. synthetic text paper from Yupo, Chesapeake, VA. "Yupo is weatherproof, tear proof, and it is nice and white, so the AIGA designs could really stand out," notes Kathy Fellows, public relations representative for Yupo.
The designs turned in by the artists ranged widely—from the simplistic to the startling. And color was important to the campaign, notes Aldrich: "We think the colorful impact of our posters will help influence people to go to the polls."
The posters—23,000 in all—were produced on sheetfed presses all across the country, and Yupo stepped in to help with shipping the finished products to the local chapter facilities, where they'd be divvied out to members who'd hit the streets running, eager to spread the message. During the July 4th weekend, as the nation celebrated its liberty, the posters made their debut. They will be seen by the passing businessman on his way to work. They will be seen by mothers and their children as they swing by the local library to pick up a few new books. They'll be seen by the young man who's standing in line at the bank, poised to open his very first checking account. They'll be seen at post offices, schools and town halls.
In November, AIGA's members and the designers and vendors who donated time and materials—no matter if they're Democrats, Republicans or Independents—hope to have something to celebrate. Yes, some will be raising a toast because their candidate won. Others will hope for a quick four years. But they'll all share in the win because they've made a difference.
-Gretchen A. Kirby