Communicating Through Design
February 22, 2007
Here's some examples of how graphic artists are trying to save people's lives.
Prince Pickles is the manga-style cartoon character who represents Japanese Self-Defense Forces troops deployed in Iraq. Sure, he's cute, but some cartoon characters used alongside Japanese troop deployments are credited with possibly reducing violence against the troops:
[O]fficials in Tokyo say their cute offensive is working. During the mission to Iraq, the SDF decorated water trucks with a figure from a globally popular Japanese soccer cartoon, variably known as Captain Tsubasa in Japanese, Flash Kicker in the United States and Captain Majed in Arab countries.
"Everybody loved it," said Aki Tsuda of the Foreign Ministry's aid department.
Some have even suggested that Captain Majed was the reason the Japanese trucks weren't attacked during the2 1/2-year mission there, although the general area of deployment itself was relatively violence-free.
Somewhat less successful, to my untrained eye, is this attempt at making people flee in terror from sources of radiation. The International Atomic Energy Agency commissioned the work as an attempt to find a sign that would communicate with a large number of people, regardless of their cultural or linguistic background.
The new symbol is aimed at alerting anyone, anywhere to the potential dangers of being close to a large source of ionizing radiation, the result of a five-year project conducted in 11 countries around the world. The symbol was tested with different population groups - mixed ages, varying educational backgrounds, male and female - to ensure that its message of "danger - stay away" was crystal clear and understood by all.
"We can´t teach the world about radiation," said Carolyn Mac Kenzie, an IAEA radiation specialist who helped develop the symbol, "but we can warn people about dangerous sources for the price of sticker."
To me, the red triangle pretty clearly says, "You're a fan of pirates, right?"