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Works That Work, No.1, Winter 2013

Evil Prevails When Good Men Fail To Act

by Ralph Schraivogel (487 words)

Ralph Schraivogel spent four months crafting a poster design whose simplicity belies the intensive, meticulous work behind it.

Cover photo: Process sketches (Image courtesy of Ralph Schraivogel)

The poster is probably the most direct graphic communication medium. Directness is the essence of the poster; good poster designers know that the poster is viewed for only a few seconds, competing for attention with visual noise and other posters. Therefore most posters are designed quickly, relying on eye-catching first ideas to get their message across efficiently.

(Image courtesy of Ralph Schraivogel)

This poster by Ralph Schraivogel is an exception. It took four months to create this seemingly simple image. The starting point was the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass), a series of coordinated attacks conducted against Jews throughout Germany in November 1938 while the authorities looked on without intervening. To commemorate this tragedy, often described as the beginning of the Holocaust, German chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a powerful speech at a synagogue in Berlin. Immediately after the live broadcast Sacha Wigdorovits, Schraivogel’s long-time client, called to commission a poster inspired by Merkel’s address. The poster was to include a quote by the 18th-century Irish statesman Edmund Burke: ‘Evil prevails when good men fail to act.’

Schraivogel, who teaches at an art school, never throws away his sketches, drafts and rejected proposals. He believes that keeping them and showing them to students has educational value. As a result we have a rare opportunity to see the complete process of a poster’s creation, including the rejection of many versions that other artists might have settled for early on. Schraivogel worked slowly and methodically, exploring the typographic potential embedded in Burke’s quotation. Over 300 steps later Schraivogel arrived at the version that he believed was it.

(Image courtesy of Ralph Schraivogel)

Ralph Schraivogel was born to Dutch parents in Lucerne, Switzerland. He specialises in designing posters for cultural events.

This article comes from Works That Work magazine, No.1.
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