What is Get Out the Vote?
Every four years since 2000, AIGA, the professional association for design, has been activating design communities around the country to help motivate the American public to turn out to vote in the general election. Their Get Out the Vote campaign is a widely collaborative nonpartisan effort that consists of posters, organized exhibitions, and local chapter events. It is just one part of AIGA’s Design for Democracy initiative, which aims to increase civic participation through design.
At New Kind, we view ourselves as community catalysts. So when AIGA invited us to participate in the GOTV campaign by creating a poster of our own, we didn’t hesitate.
Sending a Message
Writer Craig Carter and myself took the lead on our GOTV poster. For inspiration, we looked to work that has appeared in past GOTV exhibitions, as well as a plethora of other posters and non-print voting campaigns. We wanted to be sure that our poster had a unique voice, but that it is also well informed by what else is already out there. We set some high-level criteria for ourselves:
- Must be eye-catching
- Must be powerful
- Must be relevant to everyone
- Bonus if it makes people say, “wait, what?”
During our brainstorming phase, Craig and I considered different visual styles, messaging, and imagery that might satisfy all of our criteria, and it became clear just how difficult it can be to call people to action. Although plenty of our ideas were strong, fun, and interesting, finding one we were confident would actually move people proved to be tough.
One of our biggest struggles was: how do we tell people something they haven’t already heard a thousand times? How do we break through to people who have their propaganda shields up or have already made up their mind not to vote?
We decided to tell them the last thing they expected to hear: Don’t vote.
That would be our message in huge, bold, vibrant letters. Better yet, it would look like the only words on the poster at first glance. But underneath, in fine print, we would add tons of different reasons to vote, reinforcing the fact that if you care about literally anything, you had better get yourself to that booth.
With help from the entire New Kind team, Craig and I collected a list of polarizing issues and topics relevant to this year’s election, making sure that we had enough of an assortment to stay nonpartisan. The matter we are addressing with this poster may be dead serious, but at New Kind we’re all about letting our humanity show, so we didn’t limit ourselves to political issues. We also wanted to be clear that even those who don’t care at all about politics still have plenty of reasons to make sure to vote. With a healthy dash of wit and sarcasm, we mixed together a fine print that includes everything from human rights and the pursuit of happiness to tacos and puppies. There’s something there for everybody.
It may seem like a small side project compared to some of our larger client campaigns, but we cherish the opportunity to flex our creative muscles through impact oriented work. In this case, it happens to be for a cause that we are all very passionate about.
We want to make sure we’re doing our part to help design the future, and participating in AIGA’s GOTV campaign has been a challenging and rewarding path down that road. Our GOTV poster was hung in curated exhibitions at this year’s political conventions and was recently featured on ideas.ted.com (yes, that TED). You can also view it among all the other great poster entries over on the AIGA website.
Now make sure you’re registered and GO VOTE. There’s still time, so no excuses. If you’d like a digital copy of our poster, you can download it for free.