Poster for tomorrow is the main project of 4tomorrow, an independent, non-profit organisation based in Paris. Their goal is to encourage people, both in and outside the design community, to make posters to stimulate debate on issues that affect us all.
In a nutshell, Poster For Tomorrow is a 'free to enter' independent poster competition open to a worldwide audience. However, the 'competition' side to it is almost incidental to a much bigger issue, it's more a clever way to globally promote serious social and economic problems relating to specific causes. For example, the current brief running from March 2011 to July 2011 is entitled 'Right to Education'. It opens with the following quote form Nelson Mandela: "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world". The brief encourages the designer to research the fact that every child has the right to education. The following quote is taken from the brief itself:
"it’s a problem that without intervention will just keep on getting worse. This isn’t simply a question of getting kids in school, it’s about giving everybody on this planet, regardless of gender, religion or handicap, a chance of a better life, a better tomorrow for themselves and their children."
It is then up to the designer to communicate this notion in the way they best see fit.
Once the deadline for entries has passed, a judging panel of international judges selects 100 designs that will form an exhibition to be held in various cities around the world. They will also each receive a free copy of the Poster For Tomorrow catalogue. Beyond this, 10 of the designs will be added to various prestigious design collections at selected design museums around the world.
Since it started in 2009, I have seen some very strong entries to the briefs posted and it's heartening to see just how many people have taken the effort to get involved with a competition that offers very little by way of material gain. Of course, I can't deny that the creators of the selected posters will most probably revel in the kudos surrounding the results but what's more important is the fact that the message is being pushed around to the places that matter.
Overall, the 'blog' style nature of the site is very easy to navigate. There are regular updates giving news and information relating to the current briefs and such like. Subscribers to the site will also receive important email notifications.
Down the left hand side of the page are other categories to browse including 'Workshops', 'Past Projects' and 'Gallery'. Basically all the information is easy to access without having to spend ages trying to figure out how to get to specific parts of the site. This is great because it means the user can get straight to where they need to be in a minimal amount of time, meaning they have more time to channel their energies into designing their entry.
In terms of communicating the brief to the user, it works very well and efficently. One simply clicks on their language of choice from a multitude of different languages, this automatically triggers a pdf document to download to their chosen location. There is also a separate document for the regulations relating to the brief; for some reason, the language options for this document only have around 20% of the language choice of the aforementioned, possibly something that needs addressing.
The system used to upload entries works smoothly. The entrant simply uploads the artwork that they've saved to the stipulated specifications along with a small photo of themselves and a brief synopsis of their work.
The overall layout and design of the site is clean and easy on the eye. It's white background with predominantly black and grey text, works well in helping the banners and image updates to standout. This slick and simple execution is a winner in my opinion and goes a long way towards making the Poster For Tomorrow site appealing to the user.
As an individual based in the world of design, I find it refreshing that an organisation like Poster For Tomorrow has popped up in recent years. There are times when it worries me that too many people in the industry are far to wrapped up in making things look "cool" for the sake of looking "cool"; I guess they fall into the trap of 'to much style over substance'. Don't get me wrong, that sort of work has a place but from a personal perspective, I got into the creative world so that I could produce work that can make a positive mark on society and dare I be so bold as to say, "make a difference". So when I first learnt about Poster For Tomorrow, I was very excited. This is a fantastic site with roots in very serious issues that affect us all. It succeeds in making the whole process of downloading the brief and uploading entries very simple and pain free; so basically, any designers out there who want to try and give reasons why they can't be bothered to enter, shame on you - get involved and help make the world a better place.