The best-looking political piece of 2007?

blank's picture

Disclaimer: I'm not trying to stir up a flame war with this one, just digging on some political design work that's making the rounds here in DC.

The NRA is producing, and has leaked, a new fund-raising booklet that's exploding with gorgeous illustration and some fine design, especially for a political piece, you can snag the whole thing in a pdf here. I think that in terms of lobbying design, this is one of the best campaigns I've seen in years, although it's not as nice as the American Chemistry Council's poster campaign this year which treated DC commuters to massive Helvetica on subway station banners. What do you think—is this pretty impressive for a political piece or what?

Stephen Coles's picture

The illustrations are okay (love the one with the hairy legged animal rights activista), but even Dick Cheney could hit with his shotgun the space between the words in that justified text.

Stephen Coles's picture

BTW, I think the Chem Council used Chalet.

pattyfab's picture

I wish they'd used the Th ligature in Mrs. Eaves... in general the typography is pretty weak especially in contrast with the illustration & design which is scarily strong. Reminds me of Rolling Stone. That NRA has mucho bucks, that's for sure, and ain't afraid to spend it. Yikes.

I am PROUD to be an Animal Rights Terrorist!!!

blank's picture

BTW, I think the Chem Council used Chalet.

I really need to get better at identifying type...

Linda Cunningham's picture

Beautiful technique on the illustrations, but I'm with Patty: really crummy typography. Blech!

(And hey, I'm the body double for the animal rights terrorist: I got dibs on that gasoline can too!) :-)

Quincunx's picture

Thats indeed a nice booklet. I agree about the typography, it's quite.. bumpy here and there, but the woodcut-inspired illustrations are very, very nice. As is the choice of the colors.

brampitoyo's picture

Eek, stroked types and circled numerics!

eolson's picture

My apologies but, it's a wee bit difficult to separate the content from the illustration quality here. This kind of thing is hoping credulous readers will make choices out of fear rather than with something radical, like logic. It's kind of hard to take seriously. Maybe Rick Santorum can jerk off to it now that he has some spare time on his hands. More here:

aluminum's picture

I wouldn't call the NRA comic good design. It's great illustration, but as a package, it's fairly awful.

But, I've been known to overestimate the general American public, so maybe this actually hits the mark and they can convince the masses that their logic makes sense. Or may be Katie Couric really is the enemy.

dezcom's picture

eolson ,

I see what you mean. I have a tough time being "objective" about the typography when looking at this little sample:


blank's picture

I appreciate the comments. Also, I realize that the design isn't spectacular, but I'm looking at it in terms of American political stuff, where everything is generally red, white and blue with Bodoni display type and some TNR/Arial sprinkled on top. Between last year's American Chemistry Campaign, Tom Vilsack's logo/materials, and This I'm starting to wonder if lobbyists with money have finally decided to start spending more on design, which would do wonders for design salaries here in Washington :)

TBiddy's picture

Well some us are trying to do or best to improve this, James. :) I also do similar design work here in DC. is hard to seperate the look from the message. It looks nice, but its a very scary piece of fear-inducing propaganda. I think we all know how far stuff like this can go if taken to the ultimate extreme. This truly sickens me.

timd's picture

Idea: George Soros (God like) sitting on stacks of money, guns burning all around him.

Idea: Globalist one-world anti-American types want to reduce our quality of freedom
to that of the rest of the world.
Concept 1: Globalist holding blue earth in one hand and crumpled-up Bill of Rights in
the other.
Concept 2: Globalist holds globe, from which the U.S. land mass has been plucked,
oceans pour into the resulting void.
Cutline will help explain this.

Idea: Brutal, door-to-door, armed gun confiscations.
Concept: Four burly armed SWAT-equipped pol body-slam a fragile 71-year-old lady to the floor of her modest kitchen to wrest and recover her opened, non-threatening pearl-handled revolver.

Idea: When disaster triggers collapse of society, all that stands between your family’s security and chaotic crime is a firearm.
Concept: Night scene of a horrifically ravaged middle-class neighborhood – by hurricane or tornado or riots or terrorist act – abandoned by police and left powerless against violent mayhem by roving gangs. A lone father stands guard over his home, wife and children with a shotgun.

Idea: Criminal gangs are in all communities and of all races.
Concept: Clearly Asian, black, white and Latino gang members.

Idea: Good (American values) and evil (anti-American influences) are locked in a final, titanic moment of combat, and the reader must act now.
Concept: Iconic evil non-American figure with blazing torch seeks to overpower and set fire to American flag defended by iconic American muscular warrior. Good guy has death grip on bad guy’s throat and on the torch, which has already caused the flag to smolder. The balance of power is dangerously equal; neither combatant has advantage.

When will users learn that there is far more information in a pdf than is immediately visible?


Quincunx's picture

It's a shame such nice illustrations are for such a cause.

Linda Cunningham's picture

I'm not sure "shame" is the word I'd use.

"Disgusting" comes to mind, though....

dsb's picture

Wow, that is one seriously frightening and offensive piece of propaganda.

It is curious who they are trying to appeal to with that design. It is kind of
serious looking, like a Harper's Magazine. Which is not exactly the crowd
they will win over.

I am not impressed with the type either. Sociologically, it is always interesting
to see what is being pushed on, or sold to people, but design-wise this
piece is not so interesting.

Quincunx's picture

I’m not sure “shame” is the word I’d use.

“Disgusting” comes to mind, though….

Agreed, disgusting.

Q's picture


But useful. I begin teaching design with a discussion on the importance of ethics and personal values. This will be a great conversation starter. It is so heavy handed that it might even get some of my apathetic students to search inside of themselves for opinions. They certainly don't have to agree with mine, but I'd like to see them have some. I'm holding out hope that some good may come of this.


Linda Cunningham's picture

I begin teaching design with a discussion on the importance of ethics and personal values. This will be a great conversation starter. It is so heavy handed that it might even get some of my apathetic students to search inside of themselves for opinions. They certainly don’t have to agree with mine, but I’d like to see them have some. I’m holding out hope that some good may come of this.

Depends on their ages. When I went back to do my Masters, most of my classmates were young enough to be my offspring (they were in their early 20s), and they certainly didn't get much of our required course called "Philosophical Aspects of Environmental Design."

Pretty sad, actually....

aluminum's picture

"I begin teaching design with a discussion on the importance of ethics and personal values."

It's a tough sell. Yes, ethics and personal values are critical. But, then again, the design/marketing worlds are very much about selling crap. A whole lot of it. I often think the best thing to teach is 'if you HAVE ethics and personal values...rethink working in this industry...' ;o)

brampitoyo's picture

Speaking of selling crap and morality, here's an article that discussed Google's so called "un-design" aesthetic with insightful observation. It's a nice counterbalance to what has been going on in the design world, I think.

Bruce's picture

Hey, how come the two guys standing in front of the Capitol Building (with their scarves so artfully wind-blown) don't earn the privilege of the same degree of caricature (and 30 years of age added) that Soros and Clinton et al get elsewhere in the book?

Very scary.

Gus Winterbottom's picture

The illustrations remind me of the Adobe Acrobat splash screens and marketing material (up through version 6, anyway) -- this, for instance: Does that style have a name or an association with a designer or agency other than anonymous Adobe staff?

(Later clarification: Just to be clear, I'm talking about the overall look and feel of the illustrations as a style of graphic design, not suggesting that Adobe is in any way involved.)

Conor's picture

> Does that style have a name

Scraper-board is what we call it our side of the pond.

pattyfab's picture

We yanks call it Scratch Board.

(doesn't sound like mad sheep disease)

dezcom's picture

(doesn’t sound like mad sheep disease)

But it does sound like a lottery ticket :-)


Linda Cunningham's picture

"Scrapie" is what you're thinking of, Patty -- the sheep version of CJD, in fact. :-)

pattyfab's picture

Yes that's what I was referring to.

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