Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Pro bono publico: Designing posters to alert mariners to dangerous conditions

Throughout my career I've always tried to utilize the skills I've developed in business to make a difference in the community -- in my children's schools, with non-profit groups and, for the last decade, as a U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliarist.  I've found I get far more back from these engagements than the energy I contribute.

My client work has evolved from graphic design and PowerPoint wizardry towards a broader focus on a whole range of approaches to communicate leadership. Sometimes a project comes along that is a stand alone visual message. These are fun opportunities to get back to my design roots.

Know before you go...

In the next few months these posters will be showing up on the Oregon & Washington coasts and on the Interstate 5 corridor. The design brief was fairly simple -- we wanted to feature a QR code which links to a National Weather Service site with the current conditions of the Oregon and Washington river bars. QR codes are becoming common in advertising but usually serve as an opportunity for more information. In this case the QR code is what we were trying to communicate.

These will be 24" x 36" posters.


These river bars are incredibly dangerous. The Coast Guard regularly closes the bars to recreational vessel traffic. At times the Columbia Bar is so rough ocean going ships don't cross. The challenge is assuring recreational boaters are aware of the current conditions and comply with any restrictions. If someone drives two hours to go fishing and spends an hour getting underway they may be tempted to attempt a bar crossing even if they know the bar is closed. It is also possible for inexperienced boaters to be unaware of bar closures. In either case this puts the boater in extreme danger and puts the Coast Guardsmen called upon to make the rescue in peril as well.

If you are a boater please check the conditions before you cross the bar, carry proper safety equipment, and WEAR YOUR LIFE JACKET.


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