Power of graphics and poster-art to make political change

Women's March, Wellington, NZ. Image © Andy McArthur

This has been a politically volatile decade, ushered by the 2008 global financial crash, spread with such speed and steered in the most unpredictable of directions thanks in part to social media. A decade ago, who would have imagined the way new media has completely altered how we view news, see the image, and digest information. It is incredible to think that this was a novel idea back then, yet now traditional media, journalists, and broadcasters work alongside influencers, hashtags, and memes. New media has completely altered how graphic political messages are made and distributed, and the power of graphic design has arguably never been greater.

Hope to Nope: Graphics and Politics 2008-18 (27 March – 12 August 2018) explores the power of graphic design to make political statements and instigate change. Alongside traditional posters and banners, the latest exhibition to open at the Design Museum in London charts the rise of digital media and social networking to give graphic iconography a wider reach than ever before.

Design Museum - Hope to Nope
The basement exhibition space here, the lack of windows and natural light, adds to the feeling of being cocooned in the bubbling politics of this decade. We witness the global financial crash, enter the Arab Spring, observe Barak Obama’s vibrant presidency, sit alongside demonstrators in the Occupy movement and Deepwater Horizon oil spill, mourn the Charlie Hebdo attack and enter more recent concerns namely Brexit and the Trump presidency. We particularly enjoyed one wall dedicated entirely to Donald Trump, his trademark features caricatured across the covers of more than 50 international magazine covers – including The Economist, TIME, Der Spiegel, The New Yorker.
Corbyn swoosh © Bristol Street War
Hope to Nope is split into the categories of power, protest, and personality with a large graphic timeline dissecting the gallery space to chart the role of Facebook and Twitter in global events of the last decade. Power explores how graphic design is used by the establishment to assert national and political authority, and how that iconography can be subverted by activists and opponents. Protest displays a graphic design by activists and demonstrators. While Personality examines the graphic representation of leading political figures. For instance, grassroots support for Jeremy Corbyn is typified by an unofficial Nike t-shirt and an independently published comic book that portrays the Labour Party leader as a superhero.

Je suis Charlie banner outside Palais de Tokyo at January 10, 2015 © Paul SKG

At Spinach Branding, we work with graphic design, with image, illustration, and with words to help create brands and strengthen brand messaging. The Design Museum exhibition is an exciting snapshot of the power of graphic design – at times instigating change and always documenting and illustrating the energy, hope, and disappointments of the last decade.

Images: Women’s March, Wellington, NZ. Image © Andy McArthur; Wall of Donald Trump at the Design Museum, Hope to Nope; Corbyn swoosh © Bristol Street War; Je suis Charlie banner outside Palais de Tokyo at January 10, 2015 © Paul SKG.

Spinach Branding is a specialist branding agency based in London. We work with established businesses and start-ups around the world to build and refine their brands. See how we work and get in touch to discuss your brand.

Design Museum - Hope to Nope
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