Japanese flag with centralized "Together As One" script

Design Rescue

The Art of Saving A National Disaster

Japanese flag with centralized "Together As One" script

Boris Pelcer, "Together As One– Help Japan"

Looking back at 2011, it may seem somewhat hazy when recalling the world crises amidst our own country’s ongoing economic woes or political uncertainties. Meanwhile, many countries continue to resolve severe sustainability issues at the onset of 2012. Japan is still recovering from a series of devastating earthquakes and tsunamis; drought, loss of land and increased food prices are widespread issues in East Africa and the affects of political turmoil and massive flooding remain evident in Pakistan.

When thinking of the components associated to disaster relief, I imagine volunteers, shelter units, medical supplies, perishable food items, bottled water and clothing (to name a few). So, how does graphic design fit into a rescue mission? It isn’t exactly a top priority for those directly involved and more importantly, for those in need. However, graphic design has become a mainstream component for effectively bridging mass communication of a global catastrophe with those willing to give.

Boris Pelcer is a Graphic Designer, Illustrator, Letterer and Typographer, based in Moscow, Idaho. He originally emigrated to the U.S. from Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina in 1998 with his family in search of a better life [1]. Pelcer’s typographic poster, “Together As One– Help Japan,” is an effective example of how to communicate a universal message that creates awareness, consumer interest and an emotional impact. The poster was produced as a limited edition, silkscreen print and generated proceeds toward The American Red Cross, Japan Disaster Effort Relief, for those affected by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake. Pelcer’s brilliant ability of crafting elegant, albeit robust, script lettering placed within the Japanese iconic symbol, resonates with the concept of sincerity, care and giving.

Oxfam Holiday Advertisement

Jessica Hische, "Oxfam Holiday" advertisement.

In 2011, Oxfam International created a global campaign, GROW, by providing food and water for countries affected by climate change, loss of land, inflated food prices, unfair trade, nonexistent crop yields, failing markets and corrupt governments. Illustrator and letterer, Jessica Hische partnered with advertising giant, BBDO, for the creation of the GROW campaign ads. The campaign was for Oxfam’s 2011 holiday season and the ads were displayed on everything from bus shelters to magazines [2].

Oxfam wanted to encourage people to buy charitable gifts on the behalf of others. “Oxfam Holiday” appears as light-hearted, typographic eye candy yet delivers an emotionally striking message about impoverishment. Hische delivers a brilliant concept using delectable, romantic type combined with playful and meaningful typographic elements. Despite her renown craft of stylizing letter forms (under the mentorship of Louise Fili), Jessica Hische’s conceptual approach to each piece differentiates her work with other typographers demonstrating a similar arts & craft style.

Looking forward to 2012, uncertain about the Mayan calendar, or the next zombiepacolypse blockbuster, everywhere you look, typographic design creates awareness, inspiration, consumer interest and emotional impact. Most importantly, graphic designers continue to uphold their role as advocates of social responsibility for when the world needs it the most.

Works Cited

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC),”East Africa Faces World’s Worst Food Security Crisis.” Accessed January 5, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13691898

Hische, Jessica. “Oxfam Holiday.” Accessed January 7, 2012. http://www.jessicahische.is

Oxfam International, “What Is GROW?” Accessed January 7, 2012. http://www.oxfam.org/en/grow/what-is-grow

Pelcer, Boris. “Together As One– Help Japan.” Accessed January 5, 2012. http://www.borispelcer.com/japanrelief.php

Reuters, “Pakistan’s Political Crisis.” Accessed January 5, 2012. http://blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/2011/01/03/pakistans-political-crisis/

United States Geological Survey (USGS), “The Great Tohoku Earthquake.” Accessed January 5, 2012. http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2011/usc0001xgp/#summary

-- Download Design Rescue as PDF --