The environmental lobby is not known for producing iconic graphic design – a fact that was particularly true in the 1990s. This was the decade that being Green went mainstream, via hemp T-shirts and tote bags emblazoned with cartoon whales pleading ‘Save me’. Two decades later and environmentalism’s message is starting to get through to global politics, while its graphic design grows increasingly sophisticated.
A new book, Green Patriot Posters, collates some of the best illustrative and graphic work made in the name of climate change. Originally a website that invites people to create and submit posters, Greenpatriotposters.com has attracted involvement from such eminent designers as Pentagram’s Michael Bierut. The website’s first print publication features 50 tear-out posters by artists and designers including Shepard Fairey, DJ Spooky, Erin Pugliese, Paul Elliman, James Victore, Lauren Perlow, Meredith Stern and Vier 5. Despite a great diversity of styles in the book, one source that has clearly influenced many of the works is World War II Allied nations’ propaganda posters, which governments used to motivate their citizens to alter their consumption habits.
This retro, 1940s style has produced some striking examples of public communications, including Brandon Schaefer’s ‘Don’t be Stuck up! Save Energy, Switch off’ poster, and Felix Sockwell’s bold and simple Step On It graphic. However, you could argue that the Green campaign needs a contemporary look to communicate without irony – look to Steve Le’s Problem Me, Solution Me, or Joe Scorsone and Alice Drueding’s Consequences of CO².