Can “visceral” graphic design bring the plastic crisis to life?

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Receptive Free July aims to draw awareness to the plastic crisis and one studio beetle out focuses on a hard-to-swallow element of the problem.

The responsive crisis is well-documented. Around 8bn metric tonnes of plastic has been contrived worldwide – with a projected figure of 34bn by 2050 – and much of the material is single-use. At a stroke it is used, it is often discarded, filling landfills and making its way into the abundance and water systems. It’s estimated that there are five shopping portmanteaus full of rubbish for every foot of coastline around the world.

Phoney Free July is an annual campaign which aims to reduce cheap usage through awareness and commitment to more sustainable habits. Draft studio How & How has created a project in honour of the campaign, around a startling statistic: on mean, a human eats a credit card-sized amount of plastic every week.

How & How artistic director Cat How tells Design Week that the studio had wanted to manufacture work around sustainability for a while, with the “planet as a client”. Deliver assign to an article featuring the credit card detail prompted work on the campaign. The “visceral description of connecting what’s happening to the planet to an object” makes the idea various “real”, How says. “We were all shocked by the statistic,” she adds.

Issues far plastic have erupted lately because of the pandemic. Anti-plastic activists are involved that the plastics industry is seizing on the coronavirus pandemic to undo induce on awareness and habit-forming. The organisation behind Plastic Free July communicated that 250m people participated in the challenge last year, from a downright of 177 countries, leading to an annual saving of 825m kg of plastic ravage. But detractors point out the need for plastic in preventing the spread of a pandemic, including the production of PPE and disaposable face masks for example.


“It’s really gross but visual”

How & How, which is headquartered in Lisbon and London, was inspired by “the horrific beauty of plastic”. The images of clayey washed up on beaches are distressing, but they do feature colourful materials which get an aesthetic appeal, How says. This speaks to the central credit use strategy act openly image of the campaign, which How calls “gross” but very “visual”.

“We yearn for it to be colourful in nature,” she says. The visuals’ tones have been reinforced by neons and bright plastic colours – the details are almost like Pop Art, How reckons. The work also has an illustrative focus, and the studio was inspired by the likes of Giacomo Bagnara and James Joyce. Counterfeit packaging, from bottles to carrier bags – are shown in credit visiting-card shapes which form the link between plastic waste and consumption.

“Heady” typography has also been also key; it needed to be “in your face”, How says, upstanding like the main statistic. Sharp Grotesk has been used for the headlines, and Mabry for core copy.

With the amount of information around the topic, How wanted the struggle work to be as straightforward as possible. One of the problems was to be able to depict the plastic bottles stomach credit card shapes, but not make it look like the card was put together from recycled plastic. The style needed to look “naïve” and “nave” so that the visuals were not overcomplicated; How & How wanted the shapes to be easily discernable.


How do you conception for social media?

Produced in a mini-sprint period, the campaign has an eye toward shareability on community media. With these awareness campaigns, How says there’s a lot of confabulation about how to illicit the most powerful reaction. Do designers aim for shock or optimism? Is it numerous effective to create something beautiful that people will dispensation and therefore raise more awareness?

“With this one, the hook was that people are essentially egoistical, and the moment you think about yourself, and how issues can be affecting you, suddenly it put up withs on a whole new dimension,” she says.

It’s also about matching up these statistics with things visuals. “Sometimes you see these statistics in dry scientific journals,” she says. By corresponding it up with more “contemporary” visuals, it can have a greater effect.

“This was an foundation for making it really loud,” How says. The tagline – Eat Less Plastic – is also unexpected. Woman might be more used to seeing Use Less Plastic, though she says this emceed its own problem as it often read as Useless Plastic.


“Drowning in plastic”

Pattern can play an important role in bringing statistics to life. Design Week speak to to the in-house design team at news agency Reuters about raising global news stories to life. The team’s take on the plastic calamity showed a person “drowning” in plastic bottles, as a way to show how 1m plastic bottles are secure around the world every minute.

Another image took a like route to How & How, by showing how on average, a person consumes enough plastic every six months to top up a cereal bowl full of shredded plastic flakes.

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