UN Poster For Peace Contest

Class 1D
Nov 17, 2015

Technical Rules – Summary

Deadline (for the class): Sunday, Nov 22, 6:00am
Format: 60cm (width) x90cm (height)
File format: PDF and JPG (see below “How To Submit”)

Concepts / Ideas

Avoid existing symbols

As we talked in class, try avoid existing symbols such as piece symbol, white dove, nuke symbol and similar. These have been used so many times in the last past decades that they lost their power – people look at these symbols and take them for granted.
Instead, we want to create pieces of work that make people think, or react emotionally. To make such a powerful work, we need to surprise the viewer by going a step beyond clichés, we need to offer them something new.
What does “peace mean? How can we illustrate it? We can think of peace as communication, understanding, respecting our differences, for example. Try finding out visual representation of these ideas.
One example of a poster that tells the story about piece in original way by telling a story:


If you DO use existing symbols, try to use them in an original way. One example that uses the “white dove” but as a “crack” in a popular “fragile” sign:


Do not express attitudes, create stories instead

This may sound confusing, but it’s actually quite simple.
Everyone in a world agrees that nuclear weapons are dangerous. Everyone will also agree that peace is more desirable state of being than war (except those who make profit in wars and most often are the ones who start them). So there’s nothing new in offering posters that say “STOP to nuclear weapons” or “Make peace”, because they merely express well known and widely adopted attitudes. As these attitudes are so familiar, this kind of work is taken for granted the same way as seeing a peace sign.
Instead of expressing common attitudes, think deeper about the subject, by asking yourself a range of questions.
For example:
WHY are nuclear weapons dangerous? Well obviosuly because they can destroy the world. Ok, that’s also very well known, but HOW exactly do they destroy the world? Well one bomb can’t destroy that much, but using one bomb once mean the opposing side will retailate and escalate the conflict. What’s the real danger of these weapons? It is highly unlikely that one country will initiate a nuclear attack as an offensive tactics. It is even unlikely that an organized terrorist organization may do that, because the cost is so high. However there is a real danger that an outlier, or a deranged person can get access to use the weapons and send entire world into downward spiral. See “Dr. Strangelove”, a dark comedy by Stanley Kubrick (and arguably the best comedy film ever made) to see a “mad man” scenario in action.
Why do nuclear weapons exist anyway? It’s a good question because everyone knows they are dangerous, and yet more and more countries want them. Nuclear weapons are in fact, almost always, a form of preventive defensive tactics that say “don’t touch us because we can make a lot of mess”. The actual reason most countries have nuclear weapons is precisely because organizations like United Nations who should be protecting international peace actually have no real leverage and power to do so. Left on their own, countries -especially the small or underdeveloped ones- can only resort to nuclear program as a defense mechanism. It’s an equivalent of a high school student carrying knife in his backpack to protect himself because the society, police and his teachers can’t protect him from constant bullying. So in order to really erradicate nuclear weapons, we must offer other kind of protection for these countres.
How do we dispose of nuclear weapons? Ok, so let’s say a very unlikely event happened and everyone agrees to stop nuclear programs and dispose of their nuclear weapons. But how? You can’t simply break these – they will explode! You can’t bury them, they can start leaking radioactive substances. You can’t just send them off to space (or can we?). Can we actually re-use these weapons for something good? For example, nuclear power is by far the most affordable way to create energy (based on technology we currently have). Can we repurpose the radioactive content of these weapons to serve as an energy source?

These are all the questions that can lead to very “meaty” powerful concepts, and that make people really think. Ask yourself more deep questions on these subjects, and see how you can convert some of those answers (or questions themselves!) into a story that can be told using an image and a couple of words.

Limit the use of text

Don’t work on concepts that heavily rely on a lot of text to convey the message – this is a design contest, not a writing contest. The text can be used to support your visual message, or even to give it a twist of irony, double meaning. But it shouldn’t be your primary message of communication, for two reasons:
– There is no language in the world that everyone speaks.
– Visual content is a “shortcut” to our brain and feelings. Text can only go so far, but pushed and supported by strong visuals, the message you deliver can be more powerful. Remember the lecture about the power of graphic design?

Avoid being misunderstood

:)In other words, do not only think about what you want to express, but how other people can understand that. In fact, focus on what OTHERS may think of your message more than on what you want to express.
This focus on others is called empathy, and it’s a most essential quality that makes a good designer. When I say empathy, I don’t simply mean crying in cinema. And when I say “focus on what other think” I don’t mean “will they like this or not, will this make me famous”?
What I mean is that whatever we do as a designer, either as an architect, a graphic designer or an industrial designer – we do it for other people who will use the product of our work – the buildings we make, posters, cars, phones… This is why the only good way to design starts with putting ourselves in the mind of our users.
In graphic design, since the entire “product” of graphic design is message, if we risk being misunderstood is equivalent of risking to make a building that may not be able to stand on its own.
And there are many ways we can get misunderstood.
Typical examples of dangerous concepts, and I’ve talked about that with many of you in class, are visuals such as “nuclear weapons broken”, “flowers coming out of the guns”, “nuclear rockets arranged in a shape of a heart”, “flowers falling off of bomber airplanes”. All these can be grossly misunderstood. For example, we can’t break a nuclear missile the way we’d break a rifle because it would explode. Nuclear rockets in a shape of a heart can come off as cute and desirable. Same things for flowers coming out of guns. Flowers falling out of bomber planes can also be interpreted that bombs are beautiful. So watch out !

Using UN Logo And Event Title?
From the rules of the competition, it is unclear whether you need to reserve space for some technical elements including the UN Logo and the text about “70th anniversary of the first UN General Assembly”. My best guess is that reserving space for this will be appreciated by the jury, but you don’t need to make it a very strong visual element. You can choose to base your concept on this anniversary which would make this text more prominent, but it’s not necessary. It would be quite enough having a relatively small line of text and a small logo in some unobtrusive part of the poster (ie. lower right corner). I can discuss this with you on an individual basis.

Tools and Techniques

You must do your work in Adobe Illustrator, with some exceptions that you can read about further below in the section “Working With Manual Techniques”.

Ideally, you should go for focused concepts that would result in a very simple, strong and iconic visuals which are a perfect to be drawn in Illustrator. Working in Illustrator, and precisely_ your lack of experience in this software may additionally force you to think of a good and simple idea.
Remember this:


With limited knowledge of Illustrator, you will surely put an extra effort into idea!

More importantly, by working on this poster, you will learn more about Illustrator and the business of graphic design than you would by doing dozens of tutorials!

Even if you chose to use photos if your design (which is perfectly ok), these photos should be a part of a visual composition done in Illustrator, and should work both symbollicaly and visually with the text.

Please refer to the details on using photos in the dedicated section below.

Important thing for your to know is that your lack of experience in Illustrator will be taken into account as a positive factor when evaluating your work. I know that this is the first time you use this software, and I don’t expect you to create technically perfect work in Illustrator. But what I do expect from you is that you give your best attempt at it, that you learn and improve.
Also note that working in Illustrator will not undermine your chances of winning the competition, because competition deadline is 24 of January. So you have a plenty of time to polish your work, and for that see the dedicated “Continuing Your Work On Poster” section below.

Using Photos

If you decide to use photos in your design, there are things you must be aware of:

Also please note that your photo must work as a part of overall composition and be in balance with other elements that you will add in Illustrator (such as text or drawings).
It is perfectly ok to take the photo (of correct size and resolution), import it to Illustrator, and then draw on top of it, or cut it using Clipping Mask.

Using Manual Techniques

:)I noticed that among you there are several students who are already very good painters, illustrators or model-makers, who could maybe do a more potent poster using these manual techniques.
Please note that I only mean the students who already have a lot of experience and success working in these mediums – of course every one of you will feel they might do a better job by hand because you never used Illustrator or Photoshop before, but this does not apply to everyone.

These students must also do their class work in a digital medium, especially because learning programs like Illustrator and Photoshop would be for these students even more beneficial than for the ones who don’t have much experience in painting or illustration. For the painters and illustrators among you – even if you chose never to draw or paint on computer ever in your life, knowing these digital techniques can greatly improve your hand-made style because it will add another way of thinking and seeing things. And I can guarantee you that surely you will find yourself in situation where knowing these things will be extremely important for you professionally. So you should take advantage of this class and learn as much as you can about these digital tools.

However, if  you strongly believe that your concept would greatly be enhanced by using a ‘hand-made’ medium (hand-made painting, illustration, photos of models) please contact me and I will look into your situation and propose you the best way to go on, and how to incorporate digital tools in your work.

Please note that this applies to the class work: the poster you submit for class must me done in a digital medium. You are free to use any technique you want for the version of the poster you will submit to the actual competition.

How To Submit The Class Work

This refer to submission for the class work, not the actual competition.
You should submit the two files – the low-resolution image of your work in JPG format that should be uploaded to the Digital Culture Club website, and the full-resolution file in PDF format that should be sent to my email via WeTransfer free service.

Version for website (JPG):

Export your poster to JPG using File >Save For Web.

Choose the following parameters in the Save For Web window:
– JPG file format
– Quality of at least 75%
– Image size: 1000 x 1500px
Please note these settings are ONLY for the image you will upload to Digital Culture Club website.
Create new post on the DCC website, in 1D category, and add this JPG file.

Version to send me (PDF):

Save the file using File > Save As… option and chose PDF as the file format. This will save your work as a vector file, which means it can be used at any resolution. If your work contains photos, they will be exported at whatever resolution you created for them in Photoshop (see above “Working With Photos”).

After you create PDF:
– Open www.wetransfer.com website. This is one of the convenient free services for sending large files. If you are offered some “PRO” version, just skip it. You should be able to send file without even creating free account.
– When you come to main We Transfer screen, here’s how to use it:


Tip: Never send large email attachments (bigger than 1.5Mb) directly via email, as these email can get rejected from server because of their size, or very likely thrown to trash by their recepient. Always use some of the services similar to WeTransfer or Dropbox to send these emails.

After This Class

Continuing Your Work On Poster

As you know, after we finish work on this poster in class, there are still about two months before the deadline for the actual competition.
You can chose to continue your work on a poster, outside of the class, so that you could give extra polish to your work. If you decide to do that, please have in mind the following:

Submitting The Competition Work

Please refer to competition website, there is a dedicated page to submit your work.


We will make an exhibition of your work, more details about the time and place will follow!

Students' Work