This pandemic has been, paradoxically, quite a “fruitful” calamity for poster designers. In fact, most catastrophic events these days are bringing out the creative in graphic designers, typographers and illustrators to do what they do best: communicate messages. Already, books and exhibitions are being discussed.
Stay Sane, Stay Safe, created by Netherlands-based graphic designers Max Lennarts and Menno de Bruijn and writer Ronald de Leeuw, is possibly the largest of the world’s poster aggregating ventures in terms of quantity and the quality collected. It started March 22 when a friend asked Studio Lennarts & de Bruijn if they had “a nice and uplifting poster laying around to hang up on the wall of the hospital he works at.” If they didn’t, he asked if they could design one. The answer was yes, of course, but the duo also quickly started thinking that this could and should be a bigger project. Both designers had a quick phone call to discuss the possibilities and how to set it up as quickly as possible. That same day they launched a website.
They also asked de Leeuw, who has a text/communication bureau called overdeschreef, if he wanted to write some copy for the Stay Sane, Stay Safe website where anyone and everyone can submit a poster for the themes of sanity or safety or both. “The three of us are working together intensively and remotely,” write Lennarts and de Bruijn, who are two meters apart at their studio, while de Leeuw works from his home office near the beach. “We only communicate digitally, mostly just WhatsApp and email. It’s not an issue at all because we all grew up online.”
Graphic Matters from Breda, Holland decided these posters belong out on the streets, and should be seen by as many people as possible. They bought 275 poster positions, the whole of Breda has 350, for three weeks. Now Graphic Matter prolonged the project with two pop up museums each has twenty three posters and one poster with an introduction story. The two installations are traveling through Breda. They are aiming for seven locations in three weeks.
In addition to the online gallery, the posters are printed and hang in public spaces on portable hoardings. As of now they have 1,688 posters (and counting) from 85 countries (and expanding). Everyone is in it together! (Thank you Mirko Ilic.) (For more on Graphic Matters go here.)
About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →