We experience the persuasive power of art and design as part of our everyday lives. We might see several posters as we head to school each morning and move through public spaces. How many do you remember?
There are many different types of posters. Some aim to promote products, films, books or events. Others are part of a campaign and aim to raise awareness.
Big Idea: Which campaign posters have an impact through print and online media, and why are some memorable while others are easily forgotten?
Graphic Design is a medium of visual communication that can have a big impact on our experiences of our everyday world. It can also be used to communicate important messages in a fun and easy-to-understand way.
Usha Chowdury, founding member of Oxfam partner organisation Vikalp, holding up awareness raising materials. This is a poster that illustrates that child marriage is not good.
"Drawing is one way to change the world, because you have to change the world by finding your voice; it’s something I found a voice in." Oxfam poster designer Steph Hughes, 2016
About this resource
'Poster Design to Change the World' is a multi-layered resource aimed at enriching understandings of the role of the practice of the graphic designer/artist, the design process, the audience and the world. It supports the teaching of Oxfam’s ‘Six Goals to Change the World’, the human rights principles that guide Oxfam’s work.
This resource has been developed to support the teaching of Visual Arts, Media Studies and Design. It can also complement learning in English (persuasive texts) and Humanities and Social Sciences (campaigning and political movements). It is designed to be used in Primary and Secondary classrooms.
We have all encountered education resources that simply ask students to “create a poster” in response to an issue or idea with little understanding of the nature of the field of design practice. In contrast, this resource aims to unpack some of the conceptual, material and artistic choices that inform successful poster design, and to support the development of an understanding of the complex role that Design and the Visual Arts play in shifting opinions, educating, and persuading audiences.
Designers seek to successfully employ a visual language as a system of signs and symbols that can be read and understood. Designers working on persuasive campaigns deal with the manipulation of imagery and text and use appropriate technology to engage and activate audiences.
In this light, the Designer/Artists in this education resource might also be seen as social agents who are influenced by the social and cultural values of the world in which they live, and who seek to comment on and make changes to the social, economic and political conditions of their time.
The resource includes three linked sections:
What makes a successful campaign poster?
Brief history of poster design
Examples of successful campaign posters and learning activities
Exploring the history of the Oxfam campaign poster.
Who is Oxfam?
How have certain Oxfam posters been used to convey messages that are specific to audiences in time and place?
What are Oxfam’s ‘Six Goals to Change the World’?
Designer Steph Hughes and the Oxfam brief.
Film: meet the illustrator behind Oxfam Australia’s ‘Six Goals to Change the World’ Posters
Further resources on Steph Hughes and learning activities
Glossary of key resource terms
In each section of this resource there are readings, interviews, ideas and learning activities for art making and for developing critically and historically informed responses. You will also find an evaluative task for each section in the 'task' area. The resource and activities are divided into the categories: Learn, Think and Act. Visual Arts, Design and Media Arts teachers may use this resource to develop a unit of work on campaign poster design or to develop a sequence of individual lessons.
Oxfam Australia thanks VADEA-NSW co-president Kathrine Kyriacou for creating this resource.