Can graphic design save your life?

Last week I was in London for a few days and made a special trip to see the latest exhibition of The Wellcome Collection titled Can Graphic Design Save Your Life? I’d read about the exhibition and because of the nature of what I do, it was an obvious draw. My answer to the question is an emphatic Yes! Graphic design can save lives. The exhibition goes on to show many of the creative and ingenious ways that design has been used over the years to distil complex information into a public friendly package. Selling health messages has never been easy but it’s a challenge that I’ve enjoyed taking on since the 1980s and continue to do so.

In the show, examples have been gathered from all over the world and a diversity of public health areas are included – from alcohol to AIDS and smoking to sexual health. I was of course a little bit saddened to see that the majority of examples from the UK were created in London, this is particularly frustrating as I know that some of my design work for the NHS is in the archives of The Wellcome Foundation. My enthusiasm was not dampened though and it was particularly fascinating to see the actual tombstone prop on display that was made for the first national UK AIDS awareness campaign in the mid-1980s, Don’t die of ignorance. If you’re interested in my work in this area, there’s a short film HERE.

To quote from the promotional material from the exhibition:

Comprising over 200 objects including hard-hitting posters, illuminated pharmacy signs and digital teaching aids, ‘Can Graphic Design Save Your Life?’ considers the role of graphic design in constructing and communicating healthcare messages around the world, and shows how graphic design has been used to persuade, to inform and to empower. This exhibition highlights the widespread and often subliminal nature of graphic design in shaping our environment, our health and our sense of self. Drawn from public and private collections around the world, it will feature work from influential figures in graphic design from the 20th century, as well as from studios and individual designers working today.

If you’re in London I would highly recommend seeing the exhibition, it’s free and is just a five minute walk from Euston Station. If you can’t make it to the show but would like more information, visit the website: HERE

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