A large west Canadian printing company (they asked me not to identify them)
A series of colorful posters intended to promote safety in the client’s printing site.
A few times in 2013-14 I freelanced in-house at a large printing company in Calgary. I filled in when full-timers were sick/on vacation/otherwise absent.
During one of these stints, I was assigned to create posters intended to promote safety in their bustling printing facility. Their existing safety signage was, in their opinion, drab/ineffective. They wanted something that would “really pop.”
They gave me five slogans to design:
- “Good Housekeeping: A Straight Line to Safety”
- “The Handy Location Isn’t Always the Safe Location: Park Tools & Equipment Away From Walkways”
- “Get a Grip on Safety: Wear Your Gloves”
- “Nobody Enjoys This Sort of Trip: Keep Walkways & Stairways Clutter-Free”
- “Lifting & Carrying: There’s a Right Way and a Wrong Way”
That was the extent of the direction given. They told me to have fun with it. So I got to work…
Finding a strategy
I thought about how informational signage often uses pictograms. If you’ve ever used a public bathroom you know what a pictogram is:
Pictograms are powerful because they can communicate ideas quickly and without using written language. No wonder then that the Olympics (what’s more international?) have used pictograms for decades:
Since the posters needed to quickly put safety in the minds of people working in an industrial setting, I decided that pictograms would be a good starting point.
But if the posters were dull and preachy, people would probably ignore them. So I felt it was important to make them funny and eye-catching in order to steal the precious seconds necessary to deliver their message and ultimately raise safety awareness. “Grab their attention!” became my guiding strategy for the project.
Down to work
For each poster, I illustrated a pictogram-person in a funny scenario. My cartooning background came in handy here. Pictogram-people lack faces and hands, so their emotions have to be expressed through broad body-language.
To differentiate the posters, I gave each one a unique color scheme. But to keep them looking like a series, like a family, I used a common visual style: the way the characters look and move, the typographic effects, background “sunbursts”, and a “distressed” texture.
And of course I tried to integrate the illustration and typography as much as possible.
The final product
Unfortunately I never got a chance to see the final, real-life posters. So here are some sexy mockups!