With the November 2020 U.S. election looming, LSU art students are engaging potential voters through an online exhibition with an empowering message: Get Out the Vote.
Art students in Applied Topography: ART 4527 designed posters for the AIGA Get Out the Vote Campaign, which debuted as a virtual exhibition in October 2020. Taught by professor of art/graphic design Courtney Barr and graphic design instructor Meghan Saas, the course focuses on gaining an understanding of typography in terms of its history, application, and aesthetic considerations.
In fall 2020, students were tasked with the challenge to design nonpartisan posters for the Get Out the Vote campaign, exhibited in an online gallery on view to the public. The art students displayed a wide variety of design concepts to appeal to different voter demographics, incorporating themes from current events and graphic design techniques to catch the eye.
Since 2000, The American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) has activated its community of designers across the U.S. and beyond to Get Out the Vote. The campaign is part of Design for Democracy, an AIGA initiative to increase civic participation through design. This civic engagement initiative “wields the power of design to motivate the American public to register and turn out to vote in the 2020 general election, as well as local elections to come.”
Additionally, 2020 marks the centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted American women the right to vote. The Get Out the Vote: Empowering the Women’s Vote campaign, in partnership with the League of Women Voters, invites AIGA members to design nonpartisan posters to commemorate 100 years of voting.
Examples of the LSU art students’ poster design concepts include: quotes from Susan B. Anthony and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, patriotic appeals, humorous puns, and themes targeting specific voter groups such as Asian Americans, young people, and disenfranchised Americans.
“My idea for this project was to break the mold of formality that prevents a lot of onlookers from internalizing political media such as posters,” said BFA candidate Morgan Growden.
“My target demographic for this poster was punks and hardcore kids, so naturally I decided to mimic the aesthetic of flyers that one may see promoting a local hardcore show,” Growden said. “This meant Xerox art, catchy phrasing, and a call to action. This is the sort of printed media that has motivated me to get out of my house before, so I figured it may work for other people as well.”
BFA candidate Julia Lesage used a clever design concept to capture viewers. “For my poster I wanted to evoke a need for change in an unbiased manor,” she said. “I decided to make my poster appear as a consumer receipt, displaying statistics about the current status of our country, complete with a satisfaction survey at the bottom to promote action.”
“This is great student work,” said Rod Parker, director of the School of Art, upon visiting the virtual art gallery. “Some clever and effective design solutions. Great initiative.”
The poster designs employ different strategies to communicate the Get Out the Vote message, which is an important civic duty, the students agreed. “Regardless of how much anybody’s individual vote will impact the actual election, these posters are getting people to complete the simple task of going to the polls,” Growden said.
“Voting is often easily pushed aside or dismissed as unimportant,” Lesage said. “I think the Get Out the Vote campaign serves as the perfect reminder that it is our duty as citizens to use our voice and demand change.”
“A motivational message, if applied correctly, can bridge the gap between the art, the viewer, and the world in which they both exist,” Growden said. “I personally think that’s a beautiful thing.”