Sophia Chryssovergis is senior getting a BFA in Graphic Design and minors in Art History and Informatics. She will be graduating in May of 2021.
To begin this project, I studied an article called “America Is Not a Democracy” from The Atlantic, written by Yascha Mounk. It discusses how the United States has lost the faith of its citizens largely because people believe that the “levers of power” of the government are not actually controlled by the people, as is called for in a democracy. At its core, democracy is about the people, and this inspired me to think about the image of the protester. In my mind, the protester can represent both the positive and negative aspects of a democracy. On one hand, people are passionate enough to fight for what they believe in; they are willing to take responsibility and campaign for better leadership. On the other hand, the need for protest demonstrates that people are obviously unsatisfied enough with the government to push for change.
At the start of my design process, I was operating under the idea of representing the protester in a literal way, with images of crowds of people chanting and holding up signs. However, the idea to use the quotation mark as a symbol came to me as I was doing paper sketches. To push myself, I wanted to move beyond the literal image of a protester and toward a more abstract representation of the act of protest. The quotation mark – though a literal marker of dialogue – symbolizes the act of people using their voices to make a difference, one of the key aspects of a democracy. I began to think of the quotation mark as a symbol and of the ways that I could manipulate it to represent different modes of communication.
I created my poster with a lot of experimentation and iteration until I felt I had just the right collection of quotation marks that were positioned in a way to mimic a dialogue between many people. I intentionally chose different styles and sizes of quotation marks with the goal of representing a diversity of voices and people. Finally, I positioned the marks in different directions to characterize the back-and-forth, shifting nature of a conversation. The marks also fit together purposefully, like a puzzle, framing the Themester lockup in the center to highlight the program.
My biggest challenge through this process was solidifying my idea. Democracy is a broad topic and I had to figure out a compelling and effective way to represent it in a single poster without falling into the trap of expected, cliché imagery. Ultimately, my conceptualization ended up becoming my favorite part of the project because I got to tell a story about democracy in an abstract way, using the symbolism of a quotation mark to represent the voice of the people.