Washougal resident Lori Reed recently put up a sign endorsing the political candidate of her choice in her front yard.
A passerby cast a wary eye on the placard and told Reed, “You have a lot of nerve doing that around here.”
Those words could’ve been the beginning of a heated political argument. Instead, they led to something more productive.
“It was more like a civil conversation,” Reed said. “(The person said), ‘A lot of people wouldn’t want to talk about these things.’ I said, ‘I know, but I want to open up and have a conversation about it — not an argument.’ I want to foster more of that. Let’s talk about (our differences). I want people to tell me why they think the way they think to help me understand their views.”
That’s why Reed, owner of Reed Creative, a Washougal graphic design and marketing firm, is participating in the American Institute of Graphic Arts’ 2020 Get out the Vote campaign, which tasks its members with creating visual materials that encourage people to vote in local and national elections. The designers can submit their designs to AIGA, which then passes them on to organizations that need them.
“Every year, election officials create materials to engage citizens to register to vote and get out to vote — and often that art is sourced from the AIGA ‘Get Out The Vote’ collection of submissions,” the AIGA states on its website. “In jurisdictions with more support, organizations work with a local graphic artist to help pull together a more versatile set of campaign materials across different means of communication. However, smaller jurisdictions — of which there are many — don’t have the same resources, which is why our traditional poster campaign has been so helpful.”
The campaign is part of Design for Democracy, an AIGA initiative to increase civic participation through design.
“This is a critical year for women and business owners to make sure their voice is being heard,” said Reed, an AIGA member. “Usually, I refrain from being politically active and keep my thoughts to myself. I don’t know if it’s because of my age, or the state of the world, but this year I decided that I wanted to be more vocal — in a respectful, positive, nonpartisan way. I want to be more involved.”
Reed and her team created four, 36-inch-high san-serif letters — V, O, T and E — from recycled sheets of paper and hung them from their second-story office windows.
Reed was inspired by of her design idols, Milton Glaser, whom she interned with as a college student.In the mid-1970s, Glaser designed the “I Love New York” logo that later became New York’s official state slogan.
“As I was sketching, I thought that we could put the ‘V’ and the ‘O’ on one window and the ‘T’ and ‘E’ in the other,” she said, “but then I reflected back on (Glaser), a person who I had always respected, and decided to stack the letters, like the ‘I Love New York’ (design).”
Reed and her coworkers will regularly update the ‘O’ with different elements, such as a blue checkmark, an American flag and an ‘I voted’ button, to attract the attention of people passing by the Washougal office building.
As a nonprofit organization, AIGA is prohibited from endorsing candidates, so Reed is simply encouraging people to vote.
“My message is that I don’t care who you vote for, but it’s important to exercise your right to vote,” she said. “A lot of people don’t vote, and because it’s such a critical year, helping to nudge those people along is so important. We (encourage people) to have polite conversations with family members and friends who might have different political views. It doesn’t always have to be an argument. It can be civil. Regardless of political affiliation, we can all love our neighbors, our community and our country.”
Reed didn’t know what kind reaction her sign would receive, but said it’s been “all positive so far.”
“I was nervous at first,” she said. “I was wondering if people were going to fling tomatoes at my window. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. But there hasn’t been anything negative.”