Informing voters becomes art form

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Winyan Soo Hoo

Colorful posters with visual illustrations addressing issues such as homelessness and low voter turnout have been posted in locations around the Quad, the Illini Union, residence halls and Campustown in an effort to capture students’ attentions .

Debra Bolgla, visiting assistant professor in the school of Art and Design, asked students in her visual organizations class to design posters to help “get out the vote” using graphic design. Students were encouraged to illustrate issues related to the election through suggestive images.

“The posters are meant to get people informed and to provoke a response,” Bolgla said.

Bolgla, also a member of the American Institute for Graphic Arts (AIGA), said she learned about the poster project from the association’s Web site. The association started the initiative in an attempt to counter low voter turnout, Bolgla said.

“Few students in their age group voted in the last election,” Bolgla said. “We were surprised the percentage was so low.”

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The current U.S. election coincided with her class’ study on social issues. Bolgla said students involved in the project were encouraged to use design as a tool to stimulate responses, especially during election time. Bolgla referred to the 2000 election ballot mix-up in Florida as an instance where poor design had a huge


“The goal is to develop skills that can increase visual communication. The election is a good example of where design is important,” Bolgla said. “The ballots were poorly designed and were misunderstood.”

The posters Bolgla’s students designed are meant to clearly portray and display important issues. Valerie Enriquez, sophomore in LAS, saw some of the posters around Allen Hall. She said she wanted more of her fellow students to come out to vote today. She said she believes the posters are an important means for people to be mindful of

political issues.

“Not everyone reads or has time to read newspapers or look up information,” Enriquez said. “Posters and advertisements help out with that. At the least, I hope people will be a little more informed.”

Bolgla said part of the power of design is its ability to help convey a certain message. Each poster, some of which will be posted on the AIGA Web site, has a tagline that says, “Good design makes choices clear.”

Principles of design, including variation of style, uniqueness and repetition, help “clarify and define a message,” Bolgla said.

“When ideas are developed, (the artist) can help guide visual information,” Bolgla said.

Artists were asked not to define their own opinions in the poster. The artists were to remain non-partisan, but could suggest ideas in a “visual way.”

Even with the restriction, Bolgla said she was impressed by the diversity of her students’ interests and designs.

Henry Patton, sophomore in FAA, said he researched and based his poster design on stem cell research. Patton emphasized the fact that half a million stem cell sources are to be destroyed, but remained non-partisan in his portrayal of the issue. Patton said a person from either political standpoint might not have known about stem cell research.

“Unfortunately, we live in a fast-paced society, full of information. It is hard to digest everything,” Patton said. “Sometimes a well-designed poster can convey a clear and concise message in a short amount of time. Being an informed voter is just as

important as being a voter.”