This week I’d like to revisit a big project of mine that I first discussed on the printmaking page here; where you can read about how I actually went about carving and printing these linoleum blocks. As a visual arts major with concentrations both in Graphic Design and Print Media, I often apply both studies to my work. You’ve already read how printmaking took care of the production of the print, read on to learn how graphic design informed the design itself, and the idea!
Let’s Talk About The Design
When it comes to the combination of text and image, I had to create and underlying theme in order to tie each president together and form a collective group. The black box with straightforward text is meant to appear as normal as anything, until you actually read what it says. Each border or framing each face is inspired and modeled after their respective eras, and meant to drag you from the beginning of our history to our modern-day. Their poses and expressions were extremely curated in order for the ones who may not be as immediately recognizable to still be recognizable. For example, JFK and Obama have looser, less portrait-style images because they are so well-known. Each block works well on its own, but when placed together chronologically I hope that the viewer can see my intention with this project.
DISCLAIMER: It’s about to get political here.
I was inspired to create something that said everything I couldn’t quite voice on my own after the presidential election. I am proud to be an active voter and always strive to be connected and aware of current events, politics, and who was representing me on local, state, and federal levels. I truly found myself numb, just numb, after the election results came in because I knew what we would have to face as a nation to overcome what is happening in our government and our culture. The biggest thing that I was losing sleep over that first night after (and first week) was the fact that no matter how much we grow together and make meaningful change after this administration’s reign is over, Donald Trump will forever be on the poster of United States Presidents in every elementary school for the rest of time. Children will have to learn about his actions, his behavior, and his mark on our country, and to me that is honestly just “Sad!”
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and set of beliefs, but all of the quotes printed above are real, authentic, and not altered in any way. They each end with “-Mr. President” to drive home the fact that an actual President is quoted, but a different President’s portrait is shown so the viewer is forced to imagine them saying that. It’s preposterous to imagine the men I illustrated, past Presidents representing both parties and all time periods, saying anything similar to those statements, isn’t it? Then how did we let a man into one of the most powerful positions on the earth when this is his language?
Some Background On Each Block
George Washington is revered as the ideal President, a brave, intelligent general who fought for what he believed in and proved himself to be a capable, resilient leader; you could say he was a ‘star’. Would he have moved on women like a b*tch and grabbed them by the pussy because of his influence on others? It should be obvious that a man of esteem and respect for his nation would never treat women this way.
Abraham Lincoln; Honest Abe, The Great Emancipator, Father of the Republican Party, freed the slaves and was assassinated for it. Even at the time of the civil war he would not have come up with a sound bite like that. Here’s a great one that is actually from Lincoln himself: “If you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt served an unprecedented four terms as President, brought our country out of the depths of the Great Depression and lead us through WWII, and created Social Security, all with the significant physical disability of polio. He is the primary proof that disabled people are capable of great things and do not deserve to be reduced to ‘groveling’ and mocked on live television.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was president during the Cuban Missile Crisis. His very words could have been the light that ignited a very different outcome than what history tells us. On the brink of nuclear war, he understood the significance and intention of his speeches and used his words very carefully during those tense two weeks, and would never have bombed the shit out the Cubans.
Ronald Reagan, similar to the popularity of Washington, is a crowd favorite among a majority of Americans today. He was another respected leader who proved his worth and his resilience when he survived an assassination attempt, recovered quickly and returned to the White House less than a month later. But please don’t feel stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault!
Barack Obama, our first Black president and another exemplary example of a capable leader, incredible role model, and an educated man with a good heart. Just try to imagine the backlash and impeachment hearings if he said anything about shooting someone in New York, with this level of arrogance.
Design for Purpose
Graphic Design holds a vital place in social-cultural movements and political campaigns. Posters at rallies, candidate signs and flyers, slogans and buttons, are all artifacts that a designer created. I am extremely motivated to use my skill set and interest in design to inspire a change, a reaction, a vote. This information has to be generated and spread somehow!
I hope this week’s post has been informative and has inspired someone else to use design to prove a point. Thank you for reading!