The hands rose and spread out as tree branches,thus becoming one with nature. Artist Shantanu Bankar’s poster for Treepublic Foundation’s World Theatre Day on March 27 was a result of serious brainstorming. Bankar,who volunteers with the foundation,says,We all usually sit together and figure out the root cause of any problem at hand. That is what we then depict in the posters.
In an e-mail inbox full of spam messages,subscriptions and forwards,there are gems exhorting us to sign petitions,look at the newest posters,donate or participate in the latest charitable programme. The words around these appeals dim against that one central picture or graphic. Without employing many letters,they tell you exactly what the mail is about. NGOs and organisations working for social causes have,for years,employed visual aids to communicate their beliefs. These posters,logos and photographs have some of the most effective and creative language buried in them,brief but direct,abstract but still easily relatable.
How would you visually capture the need of expression among the underprivileged women around us? “We used a photograph that showed a woman’s hand reflecting in a run down mirror. It spoke a lot about her need to reflect and also the restriction on her expression. We wanted to make a poster that would touch human emotions rather than being an abstract piece,” recalls Keith D’Silva. The head of corporate communications at a Pune firm is an occasional volunteer with Open Space and has produced posters for three of their events. “Like in the corporate sphere,visibility and brand promotion is the key. You need to stand out among the clutter. I believe in keeping the photo as the focus,like two-thirds of the poster,and keeping the text as little as possible,just enough to make people look at it and enquire about it later,” D’Silva says.
Most NGOs understand the importance of having calendars,charts,posters and greeting cards in their PR repertoire. They ensure name recall like no sermons can. “We spend a substantial amount of time on such means of communication. Last year,during an event in the aid of matrimonials for the HIV positive,we had a poster asking people – ‘Can you recognise who has HIV?’. We know we have succeeded if people get even one fact of the disease and its stigma right,” says Shirish Doshi,campaigning in-charge of Deep Griha Society and Wake Up Pune initiatives.
Commercial artist Poonam Majgaonkar feels that these posters needn’t just be warnings of impending doom. “I remember seeing a hoarding that showed buds growing out of the trunk of a tree that had been cut. The poster asked if this was the “end or the beginning?” I believe visuals can encourage a lot of positive thought too,” says Majgaonkar,who created the logo for the NGO Protecterra.