When it comes to community, Grant Design Collaborative is very passionate about giving back. Since relocating the firm to Canton, Georgia in 1996, I have looked for opportunities to utilize our “design thinking” to advance our small town and fulfill its potential. Some of contributions have been obvious in the form of pro bono design; such as brand identities for the city, Main Street program, Cherokee Arts Center, Cherokee Family Violence Center and others. Other strategic engagement came from serving on the Canton Vision for the Future Commission and the Variance Board of Appeals, where I have advocated for reduced sign pollution. Whatever the cause, I have attempted to advance Canton’s “brand” by contributing on both an aesthetic and strategic level.
Recently, I decided that my volunteer efforts were not enough to shape the necessary policies and vision that are needed to move Canton forward, so I decided to run for Canton City Council in my ward. Since we are very busy at Grant Design Collaborative, this was not an easy decision. However, my team supported me fully, as always. In addition to their extraordinary moral support, they also contributed their excellent design skills to my campaign graphics.
As a graphic designer, I knew my signs, ads and other promotional materials would be held to a higher standard. I also realized my campaign graphics were an excellent way to distinguish myself from my opponents, so I collaborated with my team to produce unique and memorable materials. From lawn signs that featured classic typography to postcards that evoked the spirit, authenticity and familiarity of a Hatch Show Print poster, we worked to combine classic graphic design with modern strategy.
Along the way, we also learned a lot about how these materials function. For example, the original lawn sign was designed to showcase the “Grant for Canton” brand with a combination of typography and color. While visually appealing, the white background had a tendency to fade away. After reviewing this issue and evaluating other candidates’ signs, typically red or blue, we specified cyan as the background for the last round of materials. This bright blue became a signature color for my campaign, and the public responded in a very positive manner. They loved the color and could spot my signs from “a mile away.” The color even read well at night, and the rest is history.
In the end, I handily won the election with almost 65% of the vote. Of course, my message and platform were the most important elements, but there is no substitution for great design. I look forward to taking office on January 2, 2014, and I know there will be plenty of opportunities for me and my team at Grant Design Collaborative to employ our strategy, craft and passion to design a better Canton. Like most great projects, the journey will be challenging and enlightening.
With the recent 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, I am inspired by one of his famous lines about making tough choices that contribute to society. When it comes to public service, we do these things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”