Throughout human history, some of the most important messages have been shared with the world through visual communication. Today is no different. Not only has 2020 come with a pandemic, but there have been several other issues on the global stage to keep in mind this year as we continue our work. In this pivotal time, as they always have, designers and artists are doing their part to keep the flow of information steady and accessible to the global community.

As a creative, I’d like to think of COVID-19 as Trampoline’s biggest client yet. It has come to challenge us not only creatively, but also as a business, and as individuals. Design has always been fundamental in connecting people on a small community level, but now, the virus has actually connected people as a worldwide community. The majority of the projects that came to us throughout the pandemic were quick, reassuring messages. Companies and brands wanting to reach out to say, “keep safe” and, “we’ll see you soon”. As designers, in the face of the greatest upheaval we’ve experienced in our time, we have a responsibility to create some sort of positivity in our visual messages. I’d like to think that one positive impact that has come from the pandemic is the realization that the world is one big community. The understanding that we are fighting together, and, in the creative world, the knowledge that we are all grappling with the same new element. Our new client, COVID-19.

One example of community building through design comes from Dutch design studios Lennarts & de Bruijn and Overdeschreef, who launched the Stay Sane / Stay Safe project.  It encourages creatives to design and submit posters with messages of appreciation for frontline workers. A large number of these posters were printed as postcards for healthcare workers at a hospital in the Netherlands—a show of support for those who are working tirelessly for us all.

Four different posters designed during COVID for Stay Safe / Stay Sane project with bright colours and supportive messaging.
Four different posters designed during COVID for Stay Safe / Stay Sane project with bright colours and supportive messaging.

So far, there have been 841 contributions from over 70 countries. The project features design from an eclectic range of creative backgrounds. From women-led creative studio Bad in Switzerland to Priscilla Camacho, a Costa Rican artist specializing in collage. Other contributions include Studio Markus Lange, a silkscreen printing workshop based in Cairo, the Gorilla Project, and many, many more.

This project has been a great inspiration for me as an art director/designer living and working in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The project reminded me that all of these issues, whether it’s a virus or systemic racism, connect on a global scale—and the way the world can respond together to make a difference. I created my own poster series to contribute to the Black Lives Matter initiative, a movement which has inspired unprecedented political action around the world. All proceeds from the poster sales went to The Black Business Association in Halifax, NS. The funds were allocated to a youth program called “Business is Jammin” which focuses on motivating and empowering Black and racially visible minority youth, while placing importance on education and personal development.

I believe visual art and design can often provide the most impactful communications and are often the most memorable. Years from now, when COVID-19 is a distant memory, the art that is created during this time will remain. The messages art and design send will serve as a time capsule for this unprecedented time, and hopefully will help us stay connected to each other, and the world, through it.