The first step toward any solid design is to immerse yourself in your subject. When I began my research on the contemporary concept of peace, I spent a lot of time bouncing between traditional websites and social media trying to get a combination of formal and informal thoughts on the subject. "Oh, an article about foreign affairs? Let's see what Twitter has to say about it!" But with my hand on the pulse of the greatest collection of international opinion available, all I seemed to find was anger, hatred, and misunderstanding. Not very surprising... until I came across the Twitter accounts of actual terrorist organizations and the rancor became coldly serious.
Here, I found groups using the free web as their personal megaphone. Every successful conquest and execution video posted felt scary and terribly real, but as I explored deeper and deeper I remembered something that wasn't immediately apparent. Twitter (and all other social outlets) is a powerful equal platform that is typically used to only share what we feel are the best things about us. Achievements are proudly posted and failures are allowed to fade into obscurity, creating an illusion of perfection. It's all a silly little psychology, but to terrorists this same system is used as a terrible weapon as it masks vulnerability, making the fear they use seem all-powerful.
So why don't we do the obvious and turn that same weapon against them? I decided my poster should be a call-to-action, urging us to tweet out our own thoughts on peace and unity that not only start interesting and mature discussions but also counter the blind hatred on an international scale: the perfect message for an international poster competition. However, a global scale implies language barriers that must be broken, so a strictly visual approach in my design had to be employed.
I began drafting imagery that could be interpreted with as little help from text as possible, and ended up with two strong contenders: A squadron of Twitter birds launching in formation (created using simple clean vector shapes), and a distressed bird forced to broadcast messages of hate (created with ink drawings and collaged together).
Both ideas were solid, but neither was clear enough to communicate my concept without text. I added a simple hashtag to my second concept to give it a bit more clarity, and while it did bring the poster closer to its mark, I didn't think it was enough.
When I reminded myself that I wanted viewers to cut through negativity when they looked at my poster, the aha moment arrived: I had one image depicting negativity and one image depicting birds proudly in flight, so it made perfect sense to visually combine them. I printed both drafts out and literally ripped the second print in half, laying it on top of the first one. There it was: an image that hit my target perfectly. I spent some time rearranging my collaged elements and printed on different papers to try various combinations until I found the best one. Then, I carefully taped all the ripped pieces together, scanned the composition in, and polished it to perfection.
The finished poster's portrayal of clean vector art slicing through the rough collaged images reminds viewers that they have the power to remain stoic and positive. A bit of text in the bottom corner not only balances the composition, but also provides would-be web-warriors with a hashtag to speak under, encouraging action and discussion (and using only words internationally recognized). In the end, #Tweet4Peace is not only a piece of conceptual thinking and visual design, but also a shining example of solving a creative problem in a creative way.