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Political Project

This was an interesting project. The purpose was to create a four page spread on a political topic of our choosing. We had to write a two page paper (who would’ve thought you would have to write a fully MLA cited paper in a graphic design class?) and turn it into a layout using the style of one of the design movements we had been studying. My design won third place in Muskegon Community College’s 50th Annual Student Art and Design Exhibition (a very pleasant surprise!).

Writing the paper was the biggest challenge for me because I’m not big on sharing my political beliefs (I guess I took my mother’s advice to heart about not talking about politics or religion with people) and I hadn’t written a cited paper in decades (kinda forgot how to do that). At the time, we had no idea what we were doing with the papers, we just had to write them.

Originally, was going to write about gay marriage (it was big in news at the time), but as I started writing, it occurred to me that other groups had been facing inequality for a longer period of time. I expanded it to include blacks and women as a contrast to “all men are created equal” as stated in the Declaration of Independence. I tried to write it from a factual standpoint based on law versus an opinionated one. The paper can be read here.

Then we got the design part of the assignment where we had to pick a design movement and create a four page spread using the style of the movement. I really like Russian Constructivism. I have a greater appreciation of it after visiting the Museum of Communism in Prague. The style is simple and powerful. I’m also very influenced by popular music. I love taking bits of lyrics out of songs and using them elsewhere.

I decided to use a Communist-esque propaganda style to cover the inequalities that exist(ed) in US law. Or as I wrote in my design brief:

Concept – Symbolism – equal sign with the lines blurred, unequal scales of justice done in Soviet Constructivism Communist style superimposed over the American ideas of freedom. Communism promised an ideal life, but in reality it was the opposite…use that theme with how the US was founded on freedom, but the American legal system has held people of various groups down.

Before I get accused for being anti-American, that’s not true. While the US is a great country, it’s not a perfect country, particularly if you’re in a minority group (especially when it comes to the law). At the end of the day, I wanted the reader to think about equality instead of discrimination.

For the cover, I took the title from Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines (which I am mildly obsessed with) and took the equals sign from the marriage equality symbol (two lines to be blurred) and made one black and the other white to represent race. Lady Justice was made to look like a stylized black and white photo, shapes were added to mimic Constructivism and the American flag was added to soften the Communist look. Finally, I used a bright rainbow of colors to represent the gay pride movement.

Layout - Political Design 1
Political Design page 1

I also wanted to make the design look like it was printed in the 1930’s-40’s and had yellowed over the years. I wanted it to look old. The rainbow was a little hard to make look old, as you can see in this draft. Evenutally, with the help of my instructor and this website I found the right color palette.

For the text, I went with a traditional Constructivist grid structure. I wanted the reader to be able to skim the text, so I used significant historical years and simple figures to represent black/white, male/female, and gay (lesbian).

Layout - Political Design 2
Political Design page 2
Layout - Political Design 3
Political Design page 3

I wanted a font like Futura for the body copy, but I settled for Century Gothic since I already had it. 🙂 The other font is Molot (which I found online). I wanted it to look impersonal and unfeeling. I kept thinking of a stark office like this:

Communist Office
Office in the Museum of Communism in Prague, Czech Republic (it’s not very visible in this photo, but there are handcuffs attached to the rightmost chair)

I struggled for the design of the last page. After several revisions, I ended up carrying over the colors and American theme from the first page and adding lyrics from Blurred Lines. While the song has nothing to do with equality, I thought these lyrics fit what I was trying to convey:

If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page
Maybe I’m going deaf
Maybe I’m going blind
Maybe I’m out of my mind
I hate these Blurred Lines

Layout - Political Design 4
Political Design page 4

I’m very pleased with how the project turned out. I am also happy to say my hard work paid off (literally). My design took third place in MCC’s 50th Annual Student Art and Design Exhibition:
mcc student show 2014

WINNERS! 50th Annual Student Art and Design Exhibition – MCC The Bay Window