Award-Winning Poster Design: Southern Poverty Law Center

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We’re bringing you the Best of Region winners from past years of the Regional Design Annual.

Title: Our School Climate Posters

Design Firm: Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery, AL

Creative Team: Russell Estes (creative director/art director), Valerie Downes, Shannon Anderson (designers), Lincoln Agnew (illustrator)

Client: Teaching Tolerance

Teaching Tolerance, Southern Poverty Law Center’s educational program for students, helps to reduce prejudice, improve intergroup relations and support equitable school experiences for children in the U.S. With these goals, SPLC went to the drawing board for its poster campaign knowing it needed to communicate in language that was both educational and effective.

“We wanted to create something that would stand apart from the usual posters you might see hanging on school bulletin boards,” says Russell Estes, design director at SPLC. “We wanted it to be visual and edgy, focusing on the message of inclusiveness, which is at the core of our organization’s mission. [Illustrator] Lincoln Agnew was a perfect choice to work with on the project. His style is fantastic, and he’s a wonderful collaborator.”

RDA judge Alexander Isley found the winning posters to be “visually compelling—as posters must be—but the message is strong and important and a tough one to convey succinctly.” Specifically, the posters promote Teaching Tolerance’s core value of supporting students with limited English proficiency, and their families. Estes says that one of the best parts of the project was providing the posters for free to educators, who could display them and show that they’re committed to both respecting diversity and educating all students.

“The designers accomplished a difficult assignment that, in less capable hands, could have ended up looking like a creative brief blown up on a page: overwrought and effortful,” Isley says. “This was the opposite. Really inspiring work.”