Designers across the world unite in support of climate action on Earth Day

Mate Act Now is a “digital protest” which sees the likes of Pentagram, DesignStudio and Grafik “raise a collective middle finger” to climate change.

Designers from across the world have united to mark this year’s Earth Day (22 April) with a series of posters that highlight the need for urgent action against climate change.

The initiative, Mate Act Now, is the invention of New Zealand-based designer Chris Flack and features 100 protest posters from the likes of Pentagram’s Lorenzo Fanton, brand consultancy 23red and graphic design magazine Grafik.

Pushed into action amid the 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season, which devastated much of the country, Flack hopes Mate Act Now will raise awareness and funds to fight against the effects of climate change – especially as the world’s attention shifts toward the coronavirus crisis.

Poster by Chris and Leo Flack

“A cry all Australians and Kiwis can get behind”

The inspiration behind the movement, Flack tells Design Week, came from trying talk about the effects of climate change with his two-year old son Leo.

“I found myself trying to explain to my son why there was smoke in the air from Australia, over 2,700km away [from New Zealand],” he says.

In trying to explain it, Flack and his son created a “simple poster” – where two-year old Leo had scribbled on the design, the poster was left emblazoned with “MATE ACT NOW”. Flack identified this as “a cry all Australians and Kiwis can get behind”.

After putting the poster out on social media and receiving positive feedback, Flack says he realised the need for a more collective form of action.

Posters by Lorenzo Fanton (left) and Tina Touli (right)

Addressing the “entire world”

Attempting to source willing collaborators from across the world, Flack says he relied on getting designers to recommend other designers, as well as going through his own “black book” to find creatives he admired. Additionally, he contacted several design schools to get students on board.

Those involved with the project were approached with the same brief, which had developed over time.

“Originally the brief was to design a poster to reflect the Australian fires,” Flack says. “But then it changed to be about the entire world.”

With 100 posters in the collection, the results are diverse. Designs range from more simple handwritten messages, to photography overlain with text and more graphic designs and from solemn black and white pieces, to more colourful patterns and bold type.

Posters by Domenic Hofstede (left) and Grafik (right)

“The simplest way to start a global conversation”

By relying on creatives to spread the message, Flack hopes to raise further awareness for just how serious the issue of climate change is.

“Designers throughout history have turned to the humble poster in the time of need,” he says. “Climate change is our current biggest problem – this [project] is the simplest way to start a global conversation.”

Flack began work on the project at the beginning of the year, and the onset of the coronavirus pandemic has, understandably, caused some setbacks. However, in other ways, he says the crisis might provide an opportunity.

“We can’t take to the streets to protest; we can barely take the rubbish out in New Zealand,” he says. “Despite its huge negative impact on our lives, we believe this global pandemic could be an opportunity to open up a global conversation on how to take better care of our planet for the long-run.”

For more information on the initiative or to view the rest of the poster designs, head to the Mate Act Now website. 

Posters by 23red (left) and Carla Scotto (right)


Posters by Erin Joyce (left) and Chet Pronk (right)
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