Make Art to Drive Change: Mirko Ilic on Color, Type, and Icons | Mirko Ilic | Skillshare

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Make Art to Drive Change: Mirko Ilic on Color, Type, and Icons

teacher avatar Mirko Ilic, Artist + Designer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

12 Lessons (1h 13m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. What is Political Art

    • 3. How to Take This Class

    • 4. The Rules of Research

    • 5. How to Conduct Your Research

    • 6. Using Research in Your Work

    • 7. The Meaning of Color

    • 8. Designing with Language

    • 9. Evolving Iconography

    • 10. Putting it All Together

    • 11. Call to Action

    • 12. More Design Classes on Skillshare

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About This Class

Revolutionize your approach to art and design in this monumental class from legendary designer and School of Visual Arts professor, Mirko Ilic.

Whether you're a designer, illustrator, or fine artist, this class will transform the way you think about art. Join Mirko as he dives deep into the fundamental role of the artist in the world, exploring how creatives should approach their work, the artist's responsibility to use their skills for good, and how you can drive social change through your art. Drawing from 50+ examples of political and socially conscious works of art, Mirko will teach you to:

  • Conduct the crucial research needed to make truly original art
  • Use design tools like color, text, and iconography for greatest impact
  • Approach your work with greater weight and higher purpose

Plus, you're invited to participate in Mirko's worldwide project, joining designers like Milton Glaser, Paula Scher, and Jessica Hische to create a poster on the theme of tolerance.

From the historic studio he shares with iconic designer Milton Glaser in New York City (and where Gloria Steinem founded Ms. Magazine!), Mirko delivers a powerful call to action to designers everywhere. After taking this class, you'll be invigorated to take action for causes you care about, use your skills for good, and approach every project you take on in an entirely new way.

Whether you're new to design or an experienced artist, your voice matters. All you have to do is use it.


Please note, later lessons of this class engage with political iconography on a range of topics.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Mirko Ilic

Artist + Designer


Mirko Ilić was born in Bosnia.

In Europe, he drew comics, illustrations, and art-directed posters, books, and record covers. When he arrived in the U.S. he became the art director of Time Magazine International Edition. Later he became art director of the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times. In 1995 he established his firm Mirko Ilić Corp. His company designs for a wide range of clients, from pro bono organizations to the high luxury hospitality clients.

For his work he received numerous awards and is in collections of institutions such as Smithsonian Museum and MoMA, New York.

Mirko is the co-author of several books with Steve Heller, including Genius Moves: 100 Icons of Graphic Design, Handwritten, The Anatomy of Design, Stop Think Go Do, Lettering Large, ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Every creativity is struggle. Friction create art. Art was not supposed to be easy. Because of that, there is beauty once when you reach your goal, there is something amazingly fulfilling. My name is Mirko Illic, and I'm graphic designer living in New York. I was born in Bosnia, and I grew up in Zagreb in Croatia. At that time, that was Yugoslavia and that was a communist country. I mentioned that partly because it's my upbringing shaped me, and considering in the meantime that same country had civil wars. I cannot do decorative art. My art is always slightly political. My art always have some message or reason for existing. Now, looking backwards and looking where this country is, I think I was groomed specially for this moment. I think we are in a situation where we feel we need to say something. I'm not going to do any work in front of camera and explaining how you use this tool or that tool, but I going to try to pick some of my work, some of work of other people and try to analyze how the got there. I going to try to recommend you some articles, some books to read, some artists to revisit, and maybe pickup some little bits and pieces to create your own work, your own style, your own way of thinking. Social and political art, it's also a message from war, from screen, from whatever that you are not alone. We are designers, but we are on first place citizens of this society. We must do best what we can do inside of our possibilities and our skills to have this society. People who had that kind of feeling and that kind of urge will be maybe perfect for these classes. 2. What is Political Art: I was born in Bosnia and I grew up in Zagreb in Croatia. At that time that was Yugoslavia and that was communist country. Why I am mentioning that partly because it is my upbringing shaped me. For me, it seems like totally normal coming from that environment and considering in the meantime that same country had civil wars, bloody civil wars, I cannot do decorative art. My art is always slightly political. My art always have some kind of message or reason for existing. Now, looking backwards and looking where this country is, I think I was groomed especially for this moment. When I was younger, and at that time in Yugoslavia, I was mostly doing illustration, political illustration, comics, and some design, especially for theaters and rock and roll, doing the record covers and things like that. Then, when I came in United States, I started to do more illustration and I started for first time to do some corporate design. Most viewed things probably is movie title for You've Got Mail. I was art director for Time magazine's international editions. I was art director in Op-Ed pages of New York Times. Probably those things that are most visible. We are a very small company. There is two of us plus intern, but in meantime, we are flexible enough because of that to do things for free. In this point of time, I believe we are doing approximately 40 percent of our work for free, of course, for things which one we believed in. Decorative art can be amazing and having his own purpose. Political art actually have different requirement or social art. It's alerting people, getting their attention. I think one of the nice expressions or thoughts about political or social art is like a flare. You're in the dark, you shoot the flare in air and for split second, everybody know exactly who is where and then becomes dark. That moment of clarity is what art try to achieve. Also, social and political art, it's also message from wall, from screen, from wherever, that you are not alone. Because if you feel strongly about something and you feel you're alone, and nobody don't understand you because you're a minority, usually, those things that problem of minority, and you go down of the street, and you see a sticker, or you see poster, or you turn on your computer and you see image, and image is telling exactly your story, how you feel. You know you're not alone. There is somebody out there who think like you and probably you'll feel much, much better about yourself. In political environment, specially if you're part of the oppressed group, it's quite important. What probably we're trying to achieve here is to try to see how one can come in position. To create that kind of imagery, which won't require lots of research, a lot of different kind of skills, but mostly feelings because one single line on a paper, drawn with the right feeling can do much more than all advertising campaigns. 3. How to Take This Class: Students, they're going to learn from this is, way of thinking, way of researching, which one can be used even when you do corporate identity. Because one need to know meaning of colors, words, phrases, even material, why sometimes something must be on a glossy paper, and sometimes doesn't work being on a glossy paper because rough words on glossy paper can be message too. In my old country we had that expression, that our best ideas got stolen by old guys. Of course, it's very sarcastic, but idea is, everything is already done. What you are now in situations to do is to really be improved that, but not to invent hot water and start from real, real beginning. You need to research what is done, up to this point and then try to add something new to it. When you have that idea, how we express that idea? Which color you use. Which typeface you use. Which imagery you use? Does this thing need to be simple or complicated? Does this thing can be sold best with words or with image? Are all these things that on the table, as a tools to convey concept? If you go in a job thinking you know everything about that job, you're never going to learn anything new. The problem when one is artist of any kind, and decide to do something, is without real assignment, real deadline, real rules. One usually doesn't know what to do. Then, one go back and forth, back and forth, and very often unfortunately, people quit. I'm not doing that, that there's no deadline. Why should I do it? I hope after these series of lectures, some of you are going to get inspired to do it. I would like you to choose anything, which one is close to your heart. Maybe you have cat or dog, and you think we are not treating animals right. Maybe you're vegetarian, maybe you're vegan. Maybe you are gay, maybe you're straight. Maybe, who knows what? But, there is must be some subject about, which one you feel strong, and you think people is not being nice, or people is misusing. If none of these things is a good enough reason or you cannot find subject, maybe you can try idea of tolerance. I helped organize a Jewish film festival in Slovenia, Ljubljana. Which one is name, House of Tolerance. They told me that getting sponsorship from company, which one is producing posts for billboards and posters, and they are going to put in Main Square and next to the festival a few of those, and I figured out why I don't ask other people to do posters for those posts, and that's how, and festival is called House of Tolerance. I decide tolerance is great idea, let's do posters about tolerance and ask some major artist to contribute their posters. I wanted everybody just to write on their own language, tolerance, and do whatever they want, image, sign their name, and country from where they are. I got 24 artists to do that. From Milton Glaser, to I don't know, Paula Scher, etc., etc. Then, that small idea turned out to be, Traveling Poster of Tolerance Shows. Which one by now, we have over 60 posters. Show was probably in 15 countries. We have people from all around the world. Assignment is very simple, you need to write tolerance in your language, whatever it is, and you can put an image you want. If you check it out, those 60 posters, which one we got so far, everybody is doing something totally different. We're going to post some of these images, give you a link of images. Check it out what other people did, and then maybe you're going to find that most of them miss that one thing, which one you have in your head, and I would like to see what is that, and trust me, I'm not the only one. Lots of people would like to see your opinion, just because lots of people think like you, but they cannot express things as you can. 4. The Rules of Research: Because I'm dyslexic, I remember little stories and pictures. But I recall a little story about Picasso. They asked Picasso why he doesn't travel to see the world, and Picasso says something like, "I don't need to see the world, all world is inside of me." and he was right. But he was Picasso and he had behind him approximately, at that point of time, 50,000 pieces of art, created 50,000 pieces of art. He did everything, he was everywhere with his art. Again, in history of art, we have only one Picasso, and it will be obnoxious to assume we are Picasso. Because of that, we need to push a little bit harder. If we put in a room a 100 graphic designers and give them exactly same subject, same color, same type, same assignment, and ask them to do something in 10 minutes, I believe, at least 40 percent of them, if not more, they will do almost exact same piece of art, let's say in this case, poster. If we give them all those elements and we give them two hours, probably 30 percent will do similar. If we give them five days, will be less similarity. Why? because when you get assignment, at least, I react that way, ideas that start to come out immediately. Usually, the first few ideas, either they are amazing, rarely, or they're predictable; because of that, bigger group of people create more predictable work if they have same assignments, small amount of time, et cetera. That means if I'm vegan and I would like to create a poster promoting being vegan and I know everything about that subject, there are some other vegans out there, they also maybe create a posters. Research is needed not to learn about necessary subject being vegan, I know the subject, but to not create something similar or what is even worse, similar and lesser. You will want to create something better than them. Having something in your hand what is amazing and you are in situation to create book is pushing you to create better book or try to create a better book than what was done before you. I don't know who said, but it's quite good advice for doing research, any kind of research, studying, anything, and goes approximately. When you research something or study something, don't look left and right, look back or look up front. Try to look in past or in future, but don't look what other people next to you in same time is doing because it's just like adding water to the wine and wine is good as it is, you don't need to add water. Seems to me, younger you are, more research you need to do. Because nice thing about research, with time, you accumulate research and you remember things. Once when you hear something or see something, you are going to remember. Research is also important because it's opening you new doors. Research is giving you possibility to introduce to your art or to your way of thinking something new, something what you didn't know before. Research, that way, also allow you to surprise yourself. It's nice to surprise yourself. If you don't surprise yourself, you usually get bored. If you are bored doing art or design, whoever is looking your art or design is going to feel you're bored because you're going to produce boring art. 5. How to Conduct Your Research: I have in my computer lots of small folders. One particular is important, and that one, of course, have subgroups, it's called good. Whenever I see a piece of design, or I stumble across a piece of design on Internet, which one I think is good for whatever reason, I take that image and I just drag in a folder. Partly because we are overwhelmed with amount of images which we see, and we can really easily forget what happened three days or 10 days ago. But if I have first have this process of picking something, dragging and putting in, I've already paid three seconds more attention to that image. Second, sometimes I go through those images, and I just look at them to think, "Why did I like them?" Then, I have also separate folders for some strange things, which I start to notice there is pattern. I just put things there, and they don't have any purpose except to be visual moments of memory for me. It's funny sometimes I think of something, I see image I put in, and then when I see that image again, I can even recall what I was thinking at that time. That's like a random research. Of course, other researches is Googling, name and whatever. There is also research of just learning history. Let's say, I will recommend a few books, specially for graphic designers, all for learning history. One of them is Meggs history of graphic design. This is now, I believe over the 5th edition and it's amazing. Amazing amount of things you can learn here. It's really well done, and it's probably one of the best histories of graphic design with lots of good visuals. I just randomly open. Look at this, an old bill from Vermaak Republic, and this is an old bill for, "What is that?" two million German Marks. It is done by Ballhaus people. Look at how modern is that and the year is 1923. This money didn't worth it at all, but design was more worth it than actual money. But, if this is very frightening, and very overwhelming because of size, there is this slightly thinner book. Graphic Style by Steven Heller and Seymour Chwast, which one is really good for artist, because most of artist are dyslexic, they don't like to read or something like that. This book is more created as a picture book, less text, more pictures. It is covering chronologically by periods, graphic design and it's easy to like understand what's going on. I will highly recommend it, for any library of anybody who would like to be a designer or it is designer to have it. It's fun to flip through it. One of the books which one can teach you a lot, about basic principle of graphic design, it's Universal Principle of Design. I read this book, and I learned quite a lot of things which I did know. For example, in most of civilizations when they say nice view, or that place had nice view, it's always mean one thing, they can see horizon. If you cannot see a horizon, it is not nice view. Why? I have a feeling because, if you see horizon, you'll see enemy coming from really, really far. You have time to gather your troops, to hide your wealth and prepare for battle. Still today, nice view is, I can see an enemy from really, really far coming to me. That is in all cultures and that is in this book. One more real example, which one I really like to show you. I mention all year, when I see something and I'm really, really jealous I didn't do it, I know it's good. Sometimes lots of thinking and little change can do magic. This is catalog for show in Art Institute of Chicago, and it's published by Yale University Press, and is when you look from outside just another catalog. When you flip this way, you conclude it's just another boring text book, and you can see why Yale is in war because it's another boring textbook. But, if you by any chance flip this way, magic happen. In this direction flipping digests images, in this direction flipping is just text. How that can be? Point this is in two millimeters difference in every second page. Maybe you can see a little bit, every second page is two millimeters shorter. When you bend the book, you flip every second page, when you bend book this way, you flip every first page. To think that such a small amount of two millimeters can make such a miracle, it's just showing you how even the smallest change can introduce something new and amazing to graphic design and to everything else though. This was lots of talk and probably can be a little bit overwhelming, especially because there are many aspects of research. Not only about concepts, one need to research also history of subjects. History usually involve little graphical elements like symbols, colors which one are attached to that subject. Then one need to find the right typography for that subject. What we're going to try to do is, maybe try to makes things a little bit more simple, try to analyze each of these aspects separately. Because some of you are going to be more into typography, some of you are going to be more into color, that way maybe I can touch some of your interest with this separation of the subjects. 6. Using Research in Your Work: You are probably now a little bit surprised with the change of environment. I was telling you earlier of importance to learn and collect things. In this point of time, we are inside of my brain. This is how my head look inside, all this piles of crap and everything. Actually, you are in my back storage, which I share with Milton Glaser, and I keep some of material, and some of the posters here, and some of them, I would like to share with you. I've going to try to give you as promised, little glimpse of what you maybe can see. I'm going to start with one piece of art, which I created because that is easier for me to take apart, deconstruct for you, and explain your logic of thinking behind the piece. This is the piece which I created for gay pride parade, and theme of the piece is coming out. This relatively simple piece had few elements, which I borrow from other artists all, of course, on purpose, and with certain reason, and I'm going to try to quickly explain that. Most obvious is with SHOUT, maybe because of my bad English or whatever, but I always try to analyze words what they mean. In this word SHOUT, I figured out there is a word out over the in there. To separate them, of course, I use pink color, and to visualize that SHOUT, I made it this young lady shouting, and out of her mouth is coming this triangle, also pink. Now, let's start with that, why I decide to make pink triangle on a black background because this is for gay pride parade, and one of the most iconic posters in last 20 years related to gays is this poster called SILENCE equal DEATH. That mean, if you are silent, if we are silent, we are going to die. That's first connection between SILENCE, SHOUT. Second connection, what is really important is why this poster is black with a pink triangle, and how is that connected to SILENCE equal DEATH. Lots of people don't know, but pink triangle was Nazi symbol in concentration camps, how they mark gay people, and this is all the signages, and it's kind of pretty much half of Star of David, and that's how they mark homosexuals. In this case, ACTAP put it on purpose that symbol telling, this is a holocaust. "If we are silent, we're going to all die." That's one label on this poster. Second label which one, partly because of my East European background, and partly because of what was happening in East Europe with the gays and gay prosecution, I decide to do this triangle with the young lady yelling out. What is direct reference to this poster by Rhoda Chanko, one of the famous Russian constructivist, where this woman is yelling books, pretty much it was advertising for a bookshop in Moscow, and that's why this hand is happen, and very similar position, and also this idea of triangle. Pretty much, in this one piece, which don't look relatively simple, I tried to combine two or three references hoping that people who want to look, first, do we want to like poster. But second, here and there somebody is going to discover some of the references, and I'm going to come across like really, really smart person. Partl, why I was telling you all of this is I was able to create poster for this gay pride parade without all this knowledge. No doubt. It doesn't mean I will not come up with something interesting, but it's almost like limiting yourself to use only three buttons on a keyboard and playing song. You can do first time, you can maybe do second time, but after that is going to become quite boring. This way, knowing history, knowing how to incorporate those elements, one can use all keyboard: white and black keys. 7. The Meaning of Color: I think it's nice to learn about things on the first place. Of course, if you are painter or artist, you don't need to know much about colors, you just use them. But if you're going to work on something what is political or social, colors, they become very important symbols. As we know, pink is symbol for breast cancer or gays. As we know, red this symbol either for communism, or blood, or revolution. Black is symbol for mourning in some cultures. In other cultures, it is white. Lots of time, lots of political and social posters, stencils, any kind of expression, especially expressing things on the street urgently, it's created in black and white. For few reasons, as we know, little children they see things black and white. That's our first introduction to image. Because of that, I think we react slightly better on black and white or slightly faster, because there is no any colors to distract us. It's just shape of image and type. That's why most of type and most of books they're printed black and white because contrast is biggest and it's easier to read. Because of that, black and white imagery is most effective. Sometimes, red is competing, but black and white, if let's say, your design work in black and white is going to work in any color. But there are some little subtle things in color which are then nice to study and nice to research because we'll learn little things about them. For example, green color. When we mention green color, except nature and environment, two possible geographical locations that come to our mind: Arabic countries, because they use lots of green in their flags, and Ireland. Mostly, people think Ireland is green because of beautiful green grass in Ireland. But this may be true, but also Ireland have a few symbols, green symbols, and one of them is clover. Why green clover became symbol of Ireland? Partly because of St. Patrick, biggest Irish saint. I don't know if you know, but St. Patrick was not Irish. St. Patrick was English. But that's another long story. Turned out when St. Patrick came to spread Christianity among the Irish, he was trying to explain them Trinity, Holy Ghost, Father and Son as one. Supposedly to easier explain them that he used clover; three leaves, one plant. That clover from that like being visual aid became symbol of the country. Color became symbol of the country. That's why Irish flag had green on one side. But Irish flag also have white in the middle and orange on other side. Why will be orange color there? Orange color there is to represent Protestants. Because of Dutch King, William of Orange, orange color became symbol of Protestant. That's why in Ireland they had, for quite some time, march of orange Protestants. They will do maybe provocative or whatever is their reason, march and flash their colors. Supposedly, Irish flag look as is looking, having green on one side, orange on other side, and white in the middle, because white is peaceful color to be peace between Catholics and Protestants. But let's go a little bit back and talk about colors and William of Orange, King of Holland. Holland, for quite some time, in their flag had orange, white, and blue color. Now, how colors they can change things. Supposedly, most of orange at that time was created from carrots. But that's very unstable color and turned out that Dutch flag or Holland flag orange part will fade out. Either become too light or become too red and became technological problem how to do that. Holland quit their orange color and decide to go for red. Now, Holland flag is red, white, and blue. Just a little information about red, I don't know you know, but approximately, 70% of flags around the world contain the red color because it's call for arm, is color of the blood, it's patriotic. About orange, in Dutch flag, this is Dutch Royal flag. Dutch Royal flag still contain orange color. As you probably know, New York was not always New York. New York was once New Amsterdam because Dutch people moved in. That is why New York flag have orange stripe on the side. In middle, they have even something what look like Dutch pottery or ceramic painting even with windmill, but one side of the flag is still orange because of Dutch. It's funny to think that we kept orange in New York flag, which then doesn't exist anymore in Dutch flag. Life is strange place. Recently, I went to visit Mexico. I was at Oaxaca and I visit the gentleman who is still traditionally dyeing a wall. For a red dye, for really, really good red dye, he's using parasite bug which then is living on cactus leaves. You need pounds and pounds of bugs to create red dye. That red is called cochineal red. When Spaniards they arrive in Mexico and discovered that red, they started, of course, immediately to import in Spain. That red changed history of painting in Europe. As we speak, I think in London, I'm not so sure if it's Victoria and Albert Museum, but they have show about influence of that particular red on painting in Europe. That red color, that little bugs, made Spain rich. Spain became power, main power because of that color and that little bug. If you want learn more about different kind of bugs and different kind of colors, I will highly recommend it this book, Secret Life of Colors. I was totally fascinated reading it and it's easy to read because each color have few pages and you can just for beginning concentrate on colors you like. By the way, I don't know this author. I don't know most of authors I'm recommending you their books. But they're amazing, and worth reading, and this is not commercial. This is opinion of fact. 8. Designing with Language: We're going to talk now for a second about written word or letters used in graphic design. Happen extremely often and is really effective. Unfortunately, and I hope you hear my English. I'm not really right person with bad English and dyslexic to talk about language but I'm trying to do my best. Earlier, I showed you Posterchild. Among other things that there was little play with the word shout which I divided on as H and coloring pink out, making emphasis on coming out. That this little device which designers they use very often, and it's quite powerful. One of the things which anyone can use and almost always successful is using clever quote from somebody else, or what one need to do is find suitable typography for that quote. We're going to look a few little examples of quotes and type and letters as a shape used in graphic design. In this case of course, the social graphic design. Let's start. This is beautiful sentence by Martin Luther King, quote is, "Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war." How do you illustrate that? Which kind of image you would put there to make that better? It's such a powerful idea that doesn't need any addition to it because any addition to it, you will make that either cute or banal. Only what one needed to figure out here is, what is best type to use and to make this easy to read. For a second, we can talk here about type or typefaces. Very often, especially young people or people who are not designers by profession think, if they use both types, it's going to be easier to read, and actually it's not true. Type is a question of negative space and the bolder type it is, it's harder to read the type. Type is one of those amazing things which when you read where is not, and I know it sounds strange. But, if this is letter H, and this is letter M, and this is letter N, they're three distinctive letters. You make them bolder, they become more and more similar. You make them really bold, they're going to all four become squares. You read a letter because of negative space. This O is easy to read. This C is easy to read. The more you start to fill them in, they're going to become more similar. And when you fill them totally in, kind of they're going to not be readable almost at all. Now, it's balanced between thickness of type and negative space. There is one really nice expression, type is like a glass, why? What is the best part about glass or even this room is, where is not, because glass exists because of part where is not here. If glass is thicker and thicker and thicker, you will not have place for the water anymore. If these walls of this room that are thicker and thicker, will not be able to fit there. Balance between thickness of type and negative space inside of type is really important, and that's how you choose type. Also, what is really important in graphic design, is the relationship between different letters and that's [inaudible] That means, if you have two horizontal lines, you need to separate them more than if you have let's say O and L, Because of this little negative space here, it's easier to read that than two lines together because you need to separate this more than you need to separate this because negative space allowing you to read. One of the best ways to check it out of your type is okay is, one is, to flip pages and see or flip on the screen and see type flipped. Why? Because then you don't read letters, you just see forms and you see when forms they're touching. Another one, especially for posters is to look type through squinted eyes, and then whatever is getting blurry and merged together doesn't work because that's approximately how people quickly passing by your posters, they see type. Those are few little tricks which are useful in making decision which typeface you are going to use and how thick it's going to be. Here's another example, and this is quote of Nelson Mandela. Elizabeth Resnick designed this and I was just thinking it's amazing quote. Anybody who read this quote, first what you start to think is about your own president and presidents in the past. This minimalism, again of graphic design, it's helping readability and not obscuring message. Sometimes less is more. This is T-shirt, and I like this image which I created for Occupy Wall Street, which I'm just simply said Wall Street greed is stealing our future. And T-shirts, they are very often one of the most effective promotion of different social causes because people who wear them, they become walking billboards. It's also very cheap to print them, and it's simple device. Especially, like this picture which somebody sent it to me from Wall Street because this lady have these glasses on top of the hat, and she looked to me like a hero of the comic's pink girl. Behind her is couple of hundred policemen, and you have feeling she's just posing for this photography, and after that, she's going to turn towards policemen and scare them all away. About words and design and opportunities, which when they come by and when they come by, you need to grab them. I was sometime ago in Florida laying down on a beach in South Beach Florida and I noticed that little airplanes, they're flying back and forth with messages like Happy Birthday, whatever, happy anniversary and whatever else. Then, soon after that, there was crucial election, the presidential election in Florida. And I was thinking what can I do about that? I remembered those airplane's in the state in my mind, and I was thinking, "If you can congratulate birthday to somebody, that probably it's not that expensive," and I checked it out and it was really a small amount of money charging or paying airplane to fly from 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 in afternoon. I was trying to put message which doesn't say, vote for this group or world for that group. I just wanted them to vote, and that's why my message here is, "Fix the mistake-Vote." No microphone, just vote, and I managed to pay five or six days of airplane flying every day up and down, up and down all of beach, and then I started to run out of money. A few of my design friends heard about this concept and asked me if they can chip in and people like Stefan SagMeister, Luis Felipe added money and an airplane flew until the day of election. Funny part about the election, when you pick it or advertise somebody, they don't let you be too close to election place. You must be a certain amount of feet from election place where people are voting but there is no rule how high you must be. That way, our airplane was able to fly back and forth. Of course, you can notice this is the default type which they use for airplanes and again here it is not a question of type, here is not a question of design because every design will distract from message, here this question of just pure message. Seems like most important thing with typing text, most of the time is readability and that's very logical. Design and art is interesting profession because some time is better to not be logical and then you go on purpose into hiding type or making more obscure or doing some little tricks with that. I have a book here which I just recently published with Milton Glaser, where as you can see, most important things are on the cover. Title, it's partly hidden. Hidden with purpose to intrigue you to try to read what is behind, also to be symbolic of censorship or blackouts on a type and give a little bit more attention to it. This can be even more drastical than that. Few years ago, I did poster for the School of Visual Art, and most important thing on that poster was supposed to be school of visual art, and that is the least visible thing on the poster. If you are on the subway and there's a subway poster, and you're standing next to the poster, all what you see, its vibration of colors. But, if you move away from poster, either or if you are in car passing by, you actually can see SVA type. I wanted people to interact with poster, either to move back to see what is this or move closer to see what is this, and that is a fact which I wanted to have on purpose. Maybe this page or these images with example, where my poster is next to the Stomp poster in subway, and these are two totally different approaches to the same problem. Both posters, they are red and black, and they have totally different readability of type, but they're having two totally different purposes. I personally cannot tell you which one is doing that better or which one is functioning better. It's a question of taste. But both, they are doing their job. 9. Evolving Iconography: Let's talk about one more element, which is used quite often especially today, especially now when we have all these gadgets and they're full of little icons, and big bots, and symbols. Symbols which are sometimes they're political, sometimes they're social, sometimes they're very personal. I think good example of one of the symbol/icon will be Milton Glaser, I Love New York. Milton Glaser's, I Love New York is probably one of the most used icon in the world. Until recently, probably, was most used icon in the world, but what happened is with social media, we got quite a lot of usage of smiley face, and because of that I think smiley face became one of the most used icons or if not most used icon in the world. Why this simple logo is so successful? Partly, because, now we all know what that mean. But partly when this logo and started with just three letters, I and NY and Heart was a little puzzle for people. I believe people was first probably reading I Heart New York, but actually heart is representing love. It's I Love New York. That little puzzle after they saw that triggered people to feel better about themselves. "Look how clever I am, I figured out that one." And this is without any put down. People like to be clever. Then, what you do when that happened to you, same like what happened to me. You run to spread the news, to tell to another person, "Did you figure out that one?" That way, this kind of symbol, they spread on their own. This went viral before there was social media. Symbol that can be reused. If you're clever and you find strong symbol, you can use that either against that company, institution, or whatever, or you use to highlight or underscore what you are doing. In this case, I'm going to show example of Milton using his own symbol for something else. That is this poster, which appeared after September 11, which Milton created almost week after that. Which one is using I Love New York logo, with additional text "More than ever." Now, you read I Love New York More Than Ever. All what he did to logo, he darkened up bottom left side of the heart, damaged that heart a little bit, and it's approximately in the same place where on Manhattan will be World Trade Center. Milton did this almost immediately. School of Visual Arts printed immediately, and this was distributed by students and was appearing literally in thousands of windows of different businesses in New York. Because New York really needed more love than ever in this moment, and made people feeling a little bit warmer and a little bit better in such a hard time for this city, this country, and for the world. This is quite amazing, especially because this is created in 2012 and it's created in Russia. It's created by Ilya Tekhlikidi. Again, probably I mispronounced his name. That was making fun of social media. In this case, the tyrannical Stalin, one of the biggest butchers and dictators in Communist World. Stalin Would Like Twitter. As I said, this was created in 2012, approximately five years before we figured out that our president liked Twitter too? There is a certain amount of sarcasm about that. Another one. This one the same group, Stalin Liked Facebook, and using Facebook thumbs up. Stalin was known by smoking pipe and holding his pipe all the time. Of course, oldest posters, they have also little explanation why would Stalin like one of this social media, and it's quite interesting to see that. I'm going to end up with this work by Matthew Gordon, which he did in 2014. I think it's amazing visual explanation of difference between Obama and Trump. I pretty much don't have nothing to add to that except whenever I see this logo, I smile. I think that's biggest thing art can do to one, make you smile or make you think. In this case, it's maybe both. This is proof of how one little turn, slight change of color can change total meaning of design and pretty much change everything. Seems like very little, but is everything. 10. Putting it All Together: I'm going to try now to show you a few examples of what I consider a successful protest social design. But also, I'm going to try to a little bit analyse them, as we did before through history or through colors or through some new elements which appear at them. This poster came approximately after Tiananmen Square, which is created Fang Chan, and it's called Victory. If you remember this is kind of a symbol for victory, even original lots of people doesn't know the meaning of that. What Chan did here, he actually cut it off quite violently you can see even burns, three fingers of the hand and that massacre of fingers, left only two fingers which on their victory and its very- can be read two ways. Is this victory when you lost fingers or I lost a finger but I'm still victorious. It's fitting nicely together. As same as this Coco Carella from Argentine when he was talking about building the wall and walls around ourselves. He did this amazing wall which on is all built out of passports of different countries. Obviously his statement was, there is no borders. If you go on the border between any country there is no borders. It's imaginary border. Border is built by nationalism, border is built by political reasons. Border is built by countries. Nature, people didn't build border and that is what is beautifully represent, this poster like borders are built by humans, by power, by politics. Next one is Cedomir Kostovic from USA. He did this extremely powerful poster about racism and rendering piano keyboards or what he did, he deleted black keyboards. Can you play a piano with old black keyboards? Can you create good songs without black keyboards? Is just trying very visually to show interlocking relationship between white and black. How we must be together to have a chance to play most beautiful songs in the world. I hope you'll notice by now that little interaction, removing certain things from image which many expect to be there, can create totally different meaning and totally different image. There's another image is also created by Vladimir Sildic in Slovenia with minimal intervention. Every day objects can make you smile for a second. He photograph part of washing machine and then in one place on dial on washing machine when you choose which kind of clothing you want to wash he wrote CBS, CNN, ABC, CBC, NBC and very small type on bottom say brainwashing. This was image created in beginning of Gulf War and it's straightforward message, media brainwash us for this war and how simple and how powerful image can be. About simple and powerful image, let's end up with the Iranian artist [inaudible]. As you can see image is created out of five apples. There is many things going for this image. They're very hard to say that tactile apple, they're wet images perfectly symmetrical helping us to create something beautiful because in especially in Western civilization symmetry is also a symbol of beauty and apples they're green. Now there's something else going on here what is subtext. Apples are green and we are talking about a country where muslims they live and green represent color of religion. But also we are talking a country where females they are expected to cover most of their body and part of the face. This Iranian artist manage with five apples to create female body. Perfect female body which when you don't see immediately, but if you pay a little bit attention, you can see breast and stomach and thighs and plus one part of the apple became belly button and he put a target on that belly button, and there is something kind of not kind of but a very powerful about image and almost you can take that image, change of text and this will be something like people who is pro-life is targeting productive rights of female. You have many possibility to read this image maybe you can read that's Eve, an apple. Who knows what artist actually had on his mind. But what is nice about design and art, when one see that one read that in his own language. One read whatever one want to see there. 11. Call to Action: One will ask, what was the purpose of all this presentation of mine. Trust me, I ask myself too. But the best thing which I can achieve with this is to trigger you to maybe think, to maybe think slightly differently. To maybe approach things from slightly different side. We all like routines. We all like certain steps, logical steps, one, two, three. But when somebody put something in between and put, one, four, three, two, suddenly we are uncomfortable. Because that's not our routine. But in the same time when you're uncomfortable, you'll start to like think differently. Let me try to explain you that little improvised chart, what I think about that. We all were supposed to be professionals. These two lines, they are going to represent professionalism. If this is really bad and this is really bad and this is really good, this two lines is what make us professional. If you're high professional then those two lines they are a little bit higher. But what does that mean for you and for most of your clients especially corporate America, you are going to float somewhere here. With these two lines you guarantee quality of your work. Because of that, if you're a highly trained professional you're always here. Highly trained professional never going to end up here. And that's good for professionals but it's bad for art. If you cannot afford, I'm talking not financially but morally. If you cannot afford to sometime go here and to do total failure, you'll never going to go here. Because your professionalism the same time is stopping you, falling down and stopping you going up. Why mention that? When you float here and something change, your routine. That's the place or chance for you to either go down or to go up. And that's why it's good sometimes to change your routine because you're challenging yourself. And even if you go three times down it's worth it if you go only once up. And you'll surprise yourself and sometimes you'll surprise your client. Sometimes surprise is good, sometimes it's bad but it's always exciting. I believe this is quite a lot of information or I hope this is quite a lot of information I gave you. And now what one can do with that? I hope most of things which I told you, they are not only usable if you're creating something for social causes. There are some knowledge which are in general, I believe, general knowledge there which can help you with any kind of assignment especially in graphic design. But, we are talking here about social causes mostly and doing something good for your community. What I think will best be to do now is to choose one of those causes. One, which one is close to your heart. Whatever it is, and try to create poster to either reinforce your beliefs or similar beliefs in somebody else or maybe, and that's very hard and very rare, but it's a nice goal to change somebody mind to see things your way. Lots of people make little confusion thinking that creating something or fighting for different causes, you must be heart-bleeding liberal. It's not true. You don't need to be heart-bleeding liberal to be against threat or racism. You don't need to be or you can be heart-bleeding liberal and worry about our soldiers, worry about wounded soldiers coming back not getting enough help. All this there can be causes worth it, spending some time, creating poster, designing, helping out with best tool you have, and that is your talent. Very often, when we have this troubling show of tolerance, we ask students specially if it's happening in campus in school to create their own posters. And very often students, they'll create much more fresh and interesting posters than we professionals do. Because of that, if you don't have any other idea, I'm suggesting you take theme tolerance and create image, create poster, whatever tolerance mean to you. Only rule is, word tolerance must be vertical and must include your name and country. But whatever you do I will ask you a little favor, once when you are done and you are happy with it, can you post that on project gallery of the class? And not only for other people to see but also for me to see because I would really like to see results of my slightly uncontrollable and really hard to understand lecture. Trust me, I always look everything on the internet. Of course, I'm going to look what you posted and I'm going even to comment it. In the mean time, if you have any questions please pose them too and I'm going to do my best to answer them. And I'm sure, don't be shy. I'm sure same questions have many other people and they would like to hear that answer too but maybe they're, as most of are, is a little bit more shy than you to post them. I do this job for many years. I actually have in book published about me and this is one small fraction of work I did. In my case, telephone ring or email appear and somebody is asking me to do something. Sometimes for money, sometimes for cause, sometimes for free. Because of that, very rarely I give myself assignment. In few cases which I showed you before that still happen. I did assign myself with a friend of mine to do. Therefore I assigned myself to do that flying aeroplane and with the message etc., etc. because something important happened in that moment. And I didn't feel people react enough well to it. And I'd always think I may be can add a little bit, just a little bit to that conscious of people. For example, there was great poster showing English gentleman in the chair, and his kids playing and one or his child obviously is talking to him. And he asked him, "What did you do in the war, father?" And it was recruiting poster for second world war. But he was asking, what did you do in first world war. And the father doesn't know what to answer because he cannot answer, "No, I didn't go to fight." That poster is pretty much what is my driving force. What did you do about that? Did you sit on the sidelines and decide to quit. Did you say, "Oh what one poster is going to change. What one thing is going to change." And then you didn't do nothing. Or you can do something. Maybe that's one poster. Maybe it's even more effective to send $10 check to somebody. But at least you do something. You feel slightly better about yourself, what is important, but more important maybe you are going to help somebody out there. 12. More Design Classes on Skillshare: way.