In Chicago, there are agencies who continuously accept tobacco companies as clients, using their staff to help sell cigarettes to a younger market. As a group creative director at an agency in the same city, I felt this acceptance by agency staff goes against everything my generation fought so hard to prevent. As a city, we’ve come so far – through education, publicity, even becoming one of the first cities to ban smoking in public establishments – for the health of all people.
I couldn’t just stand there and watch my colleagues use creativity to help people smoke, let alone convince the younger generations to start. I wanted to do the opposite: bring the original fight against smoking back to help save the next generation. Additionally, as someone who lost loved ones to emphysema after decades of smoking, I wanted to stand for something: to use creativity and design not to promote smoking, but to prevent it.
Creatively, I wanted to show the balance between “generations” & “legacies,” and how they relate to smoking within a family. Each poster is supposed to be personal, and the execution changes based on each individual. For example I’m a first-generation non-smoker, so my son is second-generation, which is represented by the cut typography of the headline. My eyes being blue – his being a different shade of blueish green – is shown in the background gradient. Finally, something I want to pass down to him is the enjoyment of playing hockey, represented by the quote: “Endless hours on a frozen pond.” A different person with different eye color, favorite pastime, etc., would have a completely different poster, or “legacy.”
This “legacy” all gets erased with smoking and its impact on a person’s health. That method of erasing is shown through the erosion of ink with chemicals similar to those found in cigarettes in the blue poster, and destruction of paper through cigarette burns in the brown.
The video shows the 11 days I spent designing the posters, printing them, building a lab, and the removal of each legacy. I wrote & performed the background track on the cello, which with its abstract chords timed in 2 second-intervals, is supposed to leave you with the feeling of uneasiness.
Ultimately, through this piece, I wanted to show that your “legacy” isn’t just a poster or something you pass down from one generation to the next, but also your ability to say no, and stand for something you believe in.