Out of the blue, my lovely fiancée received an email this morning from Barbara Boxer, a US Senator from California. Her campaign is running a design competition to create a new campaign poster for her 2010 reelection bid.
Now first of all, I rarely participate in contests. It’s risky business, to say the least. Years ago I won a t-shirt design contest for Pricewatch.com [shown at right], but since then I’ve been of the mindset that lightning does not strike twice. But competitions do have some merit—they may not necessarily properly compensate a designer for their time, expertise, or ideas, but they can offer a growing experience for designers of all levels. They’re especially good for design students or those who are not yet established, as they sometimes offer realistic design briefs that can help a designer build a portfolio. And, with a win, a designer can at least get their name out there.
In this instance, as soon as I read the brief, I had a clear visual concept in my head. And I’d just posted earlier today about another political campaign design. Politics aside, I wanted to make this thing, whether or not I entered the contest. I’d posted some time ago about Wordles, which are essentially frequency maps that help attractively visualize how often certain words get used. For this one, I used Senator Boxer’s RSS feed to generate the words, and with some Illustrator trickery, masked the whole thing with an outline of the shape of California. Simple and effective, I hope, and it’s certainly in keeping with her existing yellow/black aesthetic. I’d also come up with a few alternative color schemes, which I might post here for the sake of it sometime soon. (It’s weird designing without being able to get direct feedback from the client!)
So we’ll see what happens—either way, I’m glad I did this.