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Last year, the Society of Typographic Arts curated a public art project displayed in the Chicago Merchandise Mart called Chicago Characters. Chicago Characters featured 30 posters celebrating the design and typographic history of Chicago. 30 Chicago designers and artists were invited to participate and contribute. The theme for each 18"x24" poster married a historical character in Chicago’s design history with a letter of the alphabet (A-Z plus &#@‽). For example, the poster “O” was for Oswald Cooper and would be inspired by Cooper, his life, or his work, and would prominently feature the letter “O”. Pivot Design was assigned the letter “T” for Herb Temple.
Herb Temple was a prolific African-American designer and yet, he is largely unheard of in comparison to his middle-class white contemporaries. As an agency, this bothered us. With that in mind, rather than simply designing a more superficial poster in the visual style of Herb Temple, we sought to honor his legacy by creating a visual ‘hole’ in the exhibit itself by leaving the poster blank, except for a concept manifesto at the bottom that explains our rationale. Contemporary African American designer Maurice Cherry said “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”. Our straightforward and honest solution seeks to stop viewers from simply walking past and, by doing so, we hope it stays with them as they walk on.
We hope that the message of the poster had a permanent impact on those who viewed the exhibition.