Strong Statements to Save the World: This Week’s Featured Protest Posters

Activist and actress Jane Fonda once said “An active, brave, outspoken (and heard) citizenry is essential to a healthy democracy,” and this week’s entries in our Protest Posters 2 competition are making strong statements to save the world.

First up is “Stay Home” (above, left), designed by Sanja Planinic. Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Planinic studied graphic design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo and grew to be an internationally recognized, award-winning art director. She co-founded the SOS Design Festival, the first of its kind in Bosnia, to advance the development of creative industries in Southeastern Europe. She is an active participant in international projects and exhibitions, bringing an innovative perspective to the world of graphic design. Currently, Planinic is the Design Director at MA’AM, living and working in New York. She self-commissioned this poster to bring awareness and encourage people to stay at home to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The poster is eye-catching and geometric, with a red background and a large white cross, and black houses with their roofs tucked into the sides of the cross. The poster is a part of a large series that Planinic has done, more of which can be found on her website.

Next is “Save Earth” (above, right), designed by Rene V. Steiner of Steiner Graphics. Though based in Canada, Steiner designed a poster to bring awareness to a global issue. With some scientists predicting that irreversible climate change will take place in as little as five years, Steiner believes there’s nothing more urgent than this issue. “Save Planet Earth” is no longer an overused cliché, but a call to arms to save our planet. This poster, created for Earth Day, attempts to portray Earth’s fragility by splicing together natural imagery taken from Steiner’s personal Instagram feed — forests, flowers, bodies of water, and wildlife — all attesting to nature’s profound beauty, diversity, and vulnerability. Steiner received overwhelming support for his poster, particularly on online platforms, and says the responses exceeded his expectations.

Keeping with the environmental theme, “Save Oceans” (above, left) was designed by Katarzyna Zapart. The Polish designer created her poster for the Bienal Internacional del Cartel en México (BICM), a nonprofit organization dedicated to showcasing poster art. For her design, Zapart wanted to touch on the topic of plastic waste pollution. She did so by creating a hybrid creature — half-octopus, half-plastic bottle — to show that there’ll soon be more plastic than animals in the world’s oceans. The design could also be interpreted as the octopus being trapped in the bottle. To create it, she used an old drawing of an octopus and took a photo of a bottle. Zapart wanted to keep her poster clean and simple, so she only added a bit of blue to show its connection to water. To make the border, Zapart used a repeating fact: “An estimated 8 million tons of plastic waste enter the world’s oceans each year.” The poster was well-received by audiences upon its debut.

Lock him up” (above, right) was created by Douglas May of May & Co.. Located in Dallas, Texas, May & Co. is an award-winning brand development and graphic design firm. However, this poster was self-initiated by May himself. His inspiration, in May’s own words: “President Donald Trump is more susceptible to legal prosecution than any preceding U.S. president because he has allegedly engaged in multiple crimes. These include violations in New York State such as tax fraud, obstruction of justice, bribery, campaign finance violations, and other crimes. Presidential pardons are not recognized for immunity against criminal prosecution on a state level.” Using the symbolic red necktie often worn by the former president, the image predicts a convicted inmate behind bars. For the title, May also takes Trump’s chant about 2016 election opponent Hilary Clinton, “Lock her up,” and spins it back around on Trump. This project was initiated prior to the January 6 U.S. Capital riot, but only gained more meaning afterward.

Riled up and looking for more fellow “outspoken citizenry,” as Jane Fonda says? Be sure to head on over to Graphis’ main website and check out these and other submissions in our Protest Posters 2 competition.

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