The two powerful images of recent political campaigns in the UK and the US are the BREXIT bus which which proclaimed across its sides that we would save £350 million a week to spend on other things and Donald Trump’s simple slogan “Make American Great Again” embroidered on huge numbers of baseball caps. No matter how wrong the BREXIT claim was, it was a powerful slogan that captured the voters’ imagination and ultimately the ballot box, as did the cap slogan which also positioned Trump as a man of the people. Two simple slogans may have changed the tide of history. Meanwhile, a simple twist to a well-known sports logo may have helped develop the image of Jeremy Corbyn into a man of young people and therefore a man leading a party for young voters.
Powerful graphical images have used in revolutions and protests through banners, posters or the tradition of cartoons which has continued in Britain since the 18th century, a major example being the underground posters by Atelier Populaire in Paris of May 1968, recently been on show at LazInc, with other examples at the Design Museum. The power of graphics continues today, though it has moved on from posters, cartoons and magazine covers to video, blow-up figures, baseball caps, t-shirts and, of course, digital media.
Whether it be Brexit, campaigns against political leaders, campaigns for political leaders, campaigns for independence, campaigns for equality and rights or campaigns against the actions of the police, governments and financial institutions, the role of graphic design is explored over the campaigns of the last decade in “Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-18″ at the Design Museum in London.
The exhibition ends with the “All-Seeing Trump machine”, a ‘mis-fortune telling’ machine from 2016 in which the automaton gave predictions of what he (Trump) would do if elected President – eerily accurate as it turns out…..
Successful political and campaign groups understand the power in this modern world of a few words supported by a strong graphical image which captures the imagination. Is that perhaps one of the reasons why the Remain campaign failed in the UK – because they no equivalent graphical image for the future?