For the 2018 Women’s March Professor Sandra Kelch collaborated with fellow artists and designers to send an impactful visual message to marchers. She shares with us photos from the March and reflects on the development and importance of visuals she designed.
Why did you feel called to create work for the Women’s March?
Many of us feel a bit powerless in our current situation. We vote, donate money, write letters, try and influence our local politicians, friends and family, but know ultimately that we are up against powerful money, old systems, an outdated constitution and other embedded forces of control. The Women’s March was such an uplifting experience last year. It renewed my faith that there existed a strong resistance of good people with good values who want the best for the people of our country (and beyond). A year later, I found that we were in a worse position, where it seemed that everything was escalating downwards, on a weekly basis. Similar to my motivation a year before, I needed to do something and get involved. I was concerned that the 2018 March wouldn’t attract as many people, and that complacency had set in. I wanted to try and influence people to be interested, enthusiastic, and get involved. Out of 50 friends I contacted about a possible collaborative project, 15 got involved with the project, but 7 ended up being the core group. Most of the 50 invitees did attend the March in the end, which was great.
What were some of the design considerations you made for your banner at the 2018 Women’s March and what were some of the reactions to the piece?
First and foremost, we wanted to have a message that could make a difference, and wanted to get noticed. Our interest in being noticed was about reaching a larger audience – both at the March, and possibly through the media. The theme of the March this year was “Hear Our Voice”. We came up with the group name and slogan, “Our Voice Matters”, which connected to the “Black Lives Matter” slogan and branded with the event theme. Our slogan developed further to be a voting initiative, to “I Vote Because Our Voice Matters”. We decided it was important to make the banners 2 sided and bilingual; both in English and Spanish.
We decided to update the banner idea from last year, using images of faces of inspirational women, as a background image. This year focused mainly on women from the past year who had made notable contributions. Our first banner promoted great women role models, and our second was to promote voting. We decided to print 2200 pink stickers that had voting info on them (Register to vote at www.vote.usa.gov) and could be filled out and worn on people or stuck on our banner. It became a metaphor for casting a ballot, which was part of the strength of the idea. The stickers gave people the chance to write in WHY they vote, further reinforcing the value and importance of voting. The stickers ended up being a big hit, went like hotcakes, and completely covered our banner to the point of camouflaging the slogan! We saw marchers everywhere wearing the stickers, which expanded our advertising. Our hope was that it would raise awareness and encourage non-voters to vote.
Why was it important for this to be completed by a community of women artists and designers?
It wasn’t at all. It’s just that they were my community to draw upon. I invited artists, designers, students, friends, and neighbors of different demographics. It ended up being mostly a group of graphic designers, which I admit, made the project come together smoothly. Designers understand brainstorming, strategic thinking, communication, iterations, planning for context, and production. It was an amazingly smooth experience, and everyone pitched in and contributed something of value to the final product. It was a such a wonderful experience that a few of us in the group are wanting to produce and display voting banners over freeway overpasses before the next election.