Election Posters: The most contemptible showcase of Irish graphic design.
Poster canvassing is a glaring example of throw-away society with the added insult of inconsiderate design.
Having had two major referenda as well as local and general elections in the last five years, the telephone poles of Ireland are weary. Corriboard posters have been hung and subsequently torn from their trunks by Yes campaigners, No campaigners, prospective TDs and County Council hopefuls alike. And now that we’re set for an October presidential election, it looks like we can expect to see plenty more where that came from.
The current method of printing political posters has been commonplace in Ireland since the 1970’s when offset printing (where ink is transferred to a rubber cylinder) became affordable to the point that political prints could be produced and dissipated across cities, towns and townlands. Election posters have since become embedded into the fabric of political life in Ireland and their arrival in the days and months preceding a public vote is as habitual as the Lenten period in the run up to Easter. However, they may be losing just as many fans in our modern Irish society.
“lying these posters out head-to-toe would create a long line of polypropylene that could literally belly-band our island”
Having looked at figures from the 2016 election it would be no underestimate to say the next general election will see the production of more than 200,000 political posters. If each one is roughly A1 sized with a height of 841mm, lying these posters out head-to-toe would create a long line of polypropylene that could literally belly-band our island, stretching from Galway Bay to Dublin City Centre. Knowing how harmful plastic production and disposal is on our environment, one has to ask why political parties continue to use this incredibly harmful method of advertisement? In a country idolised for its pretty towns and where regulatory acts are in place to preserve architecture and open spaces, very little consideration is given to the ill effects of vote-time on the Irish environment and landscape.
It is, of course, important to acknowledge that these posters play a significant role in ensuring free and fair elections and that their very presence encourages civic participation. Provisions are also in place to reduce their negative impact on Irish communities. However, it is becoming more evident, vote after vote, that there is need for tightening of these provisions. Our country’s advocacy for environmental protection is growing, so seeing the ugliness and wastefulness of this practice, we increasingly find ourselves asking of street-side political posters – what is the point?
“an indifference towards any of the fundamentals of graphic design”
As well as their plastic medium, the content of these posters is also a cause of consternation. Erected haphazardly, several to a pole, these posters shout violently at passers-by with garish colours, political jargon, unconsidered typography and over-exposed photographs. Preaching messages of co-operation and betterment, these posters are in fact entirely inconsiderate of their audience. Blatant disregard for the existing aesthetics of Irish towns and countryside is accompanied by an indifference towards any of the fundamentals of graphic design.
The standard of design on display is certainly less than reflective of the sophisticated creative industry at work in Ireland today, and as we become a nation of increasingly design-conscious citizens, we can only wonder what visitors from around the world must think of the show.
A More Considered Approach
The election poster is surely becoming one of the most contemptible showcases of Irish design. Until political parties start to think in terms of design, across all of the governmental disciplines, we are unlikely to see an improvement in political processes, and while the design of election posters might not be the hottest burning issue of our time, a more considered approach to their appearance and production would not go unappreciated.
Dan Eames, Junior Designer