Junior communication design students at Carnegie Mellon University's School of Design wrapped up their first project of the Fall 2020 semester—a collaboration with StudentVote.org to design a digital communication that educates, motivates, and empowers first-time voters. Studentvote.org and the Student PIRGs New Voters Project "works with Universities in over a dozen states to activate the country's largest voting segment, making sure every student has the opportunity to have their voice heard in our elections."
"The opportunity to partner with StudentVote.org was an invaluable experience for the students," said Associate Professor Kristin Hughes. "They had a chance to direct their creative voices towards a critical issue—increase the younger generation voter turnout. The student work speaks volumes—highlighting pressing social and environmental issues young people care about and inviting their peers to use their voice with a vote."
The School of Design spoke with four Juniors about the work they did for this project, why it's important to vote, and why Communication Designers play a critical role in raising awareness about the importance of voting.
Yoshi Torralva – "Win the Fight with Pride"
Today, the LGBTQIA+ community has never received more visibility in government, education, and entertainment. However, with visibility comes greater scrutiny—many people are working to dismantle the freedom, love, and acceptance our community has fought for. In this project, I wanted to engage LGBTQIA+ student voters to realize that the community's fight is a battle still yet to be won.
Coming out is not easy. It takes courage to tell those you love your true self. In my video, I ask the audience to imagine a future where no one ever had to come out. Coming out today is often viewed as an essential part of the LGBTQIA+ experience. However, through coming out, we unknowingly perpetuate a heteronormative construct of society where our community is left to start a step below. For that reason, voting is essential to shift this paradigm. By voting, we demand that our voices be heard by placing people into power to advocate for all constituents.
The visual approach blends design activism from the past and present. Through the use of Serif, Sans Serif, and a vibrant yet vintage color palette, I pay homage to the LGBTQIA+ activists before and during my time. The video's visual narrative uses the pride flag as a motif to define moments of reflection, realization, and action.
Voting is a moment for us to be appreciative, reflective, but most importantly, critical of the path our Nation is taking. When we all vote, we have the power to shift the tides of political forces to change, expand, and include more voices.
Sammie Kim – "Fading Voices"
This campaign's objective, "Fading Voices" expresses the idea that not voting is equivalent to ignoring all the prevalent issues and current events this Nation is facing. All the shocking and painful statistics will persist, unless we take the effort to make our stance. Through sound and typography, I revealed the emotions rising up in America right now. Right now is a critical time, and all voices are needed for the upcoming election. Regardless of their circumstances, eligible voters must not forget their most fundamental civic duty—voting.
The objective of this campaign is to raise awareness of the potential power of young American voters, as they are the ones who will experience the present and future global consequences of the U.S administration. Young citizens must vote, because they represent the most ethnically and racially diverse generation, which brings great potential to drive meaningful change.
I believe designers hold great power and responsibility for communicating messages. Designers always explore ways to relay the message that may have a more significant emotional impact for the audience to remember. I think communication designers must be aware of ongoing political, social, and environmental issues since they are responsible for messaging that influences many people.
Langston Wells – "I, Too, Move"
I'm using the metaphor of "movement" to encourage young voters to become actively engaged in the civic process through a public service announcement and complimentary social media and print materials to further amplify the campaign's momentum.
This project was born from a poem I wrote on the importance and power of movement. The poem was in response to the class prompt and the current political climate and news cycle in our country. I felt having something raw and genuine would connect with my audience of young adults "fed-up" but unsure of how to have their voices heard.
I feel to have a functioning democracy, everyone's voice needs to be heard, especially those who've never had a say. For me, the most critical generation to reach is new voters since this is their first time having a say in the way our country operates.
Good design can really come from anywhere. We've been seeing so many powerful designs springing up through the past few months from people who never trained in design—everything from animations on people's mental states during COVID to beautiful, handmade signs at protests and rallies. To wield our knowledge of design into a pressing social and civic issue like voting can have a tremendous impact, mostly when done in community with others.
Jamie Park – "Vote to Voice"
My project is focused on helping young adults understand why they should vote despite the presence of the electoral college. There have been many efforts to reform the system, but many young voters are disappointed when their vote does not directly impact the election. To motivate the disheartened voters, my campaign focuses on explaining how the electoral college works, what kind of laws and regulations are present or forthcoming to work around the system, and why young voters should still vote.
I spent days reading articles and making sense of the information that I am explaining. I can't imagine a busy student having the mental space or time to fully understand the electoral college's complicated process in one sitting. Voter information circulates quickly; I felt it was my role to simplify the data and convince the audience that their vote matters.
My concept is "voices (opinions) as shapes." In this country, all shapes (voices) are unique. Some voices get stronger by building on top of each other, some support by standing next to each other, and some transform as their opinions change; but all voices have the same power to vote on the election day. I used simple, colorful visuals, and a lighthearted tone because the electoral college information is complicated.
Voting is important because it builds the culture of voting. If each of us votes on the day of the election and encourages others to do so, we may live in a country where everyone practices their civil duties and does not take the privilege for granted.
Take a look at all of the videos from our Communications Juniors, and don't forget to VOTE on November 3rd.