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Your Space Or Mine

James Hodson and Jason Keet: War on COVID-19

As the coronavirus pandemic has developed, politicians have tended towards using wartime language to describe the crisis, referencing the “blitz spirit” that we should all be embodying. Despite that, nobody seems to know exactly what we need to do. The advice, and information, changes every day, leaving most people confused as to how we should be behaving, what we should be doing, and how often we should wash our hands.

In response to these issues, we collaborated with creative advertising duo James Hodson and Jason Keet to disperse useful information while disrupting the mundanity of our current lockdown with wartime-style posters on our poster sites in London and other regions. The pieces, modelled on WWII messaging, tackle different coronavirus issues in a humorous way with slogans like “Britons, your country needs you (to sit on the sofa)” and “only dorks meet for walks”.

“They’re modern takes on classic war posters, designed to give people clear instructions about what to do in the crisis, but delivered with a sense of humour and style,” explain the duo. Each different poster takes on a different, confusing topic to do with the pandemic, such as hand-washing, social distancing, panic-buying and weekly shopping. “Pretty much anything you’re supposed to do or not to do, we’ve got a poster for it.” they add.

It isn’t just politicians who are acknowledging the similarities with war: “We came up with the idea because we thought how similar this is to a wartime situation,” say the duo, adding that the motivation for creating the posters wasn’t only tongue in cheek, but intended to inform people’s actions: “It made us think of the old war posters and how they were incredibly effective at conveying the right social behaviour to people in a simple and powerful way. So we just started re-making them. We thought that if they made somebody somewhere do something different, they’d be worthwhile.”

While most of us are locked down at home, many still have to be out and about in the city to conduct essential work, run errands, or get medical help. These posters will break up that mundanity to convey essential information while you’re out on your daily walk or shop, hopefully even bringing you a smile. “We thought it was important to put our creative skills to good use and try and help the situation. These are the skills we have, so this is what we can offer. We hope it helps somebody somewhere out there. But not everyone is obligated to do something. It’s fine to just survive right now.” they say, reassuringly.

There are many ways to respond to a crisis, but with their background in advertising, James and Jason have opted to do so creatively. With nobody else involved in the design and writing process, they’ve had to work hard. “We’ll look at the different problems that need solving, like people need to stop hoarding pasta for example, and then think of how we can use the old wartime style to get a message across to people. Sometimes we’ll repurpose existing works of wartime art and think of how to modernise it in the language and in the visuals to bring it up-to-date. Other times we’ll think of a message or a funny line to say to people and work out how to design it in a wartime style. It’s this combination of writing and design that makes them work. We do it all ourselves so there’s no-one else really involved.”

While we are not living through an actual war, we are living in scary times that require everybody to do their part to try and keep everyone else safe. Those of us with skills to help out or spread information are more needed than ever, and James and Jason recognised that. “The message is vitally important to the local community. The more people can see these messages and change their behaviour, the better off we’ll be.” they say, adding that as more information develops, more posters will be added to the project. “Different times call for different measures, which in turn will call for different communications. Whatever the circumstances, we’ll have a poster for it.”

As part of our collaboration we have made the poster artwork downloadable so that you can help spread the message too. Print them out and display them in your window.

Craig Oldham - Your Space Or Mine

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