Poster project MakingIt21 shares positivity and wisdom from the industry

David Moloney has designed 21 typographic posters using quotes, advice and reminders from 21 creative experts for those who need it most

The last year has been difficult for everyone. In the creative industries, young and emerging designers especially have had a tough time breaking through with cancelled degree shows and events, and fewer junior roles available. Though the future of 2021 still feels TBC, design director David Moloney has created MakingIt21 as a source of positivity during this time, for both graduating designers, and anyone else who needs it. 

Moloney spoke to 21 creatives from the industry for the project, whose quotes have been turned into 21 animated typographic posters. “The purpose of MakingIt21 is to spread some optimism off the back of a terrible year, a series of messages to graduate designers who missed out on the typical opportunities, or to be honest anyone who is looking for a moral boost,” Moloney tells us. “The aim is creativity for positivity. I know for myself, 12 years into my career, I’ve taken loads away from designing the posters and working with the quotes throughout the duration of this project.”

The brief and all 21 posters. All images: MakingIt21 by David Moloney

MakingIt21 is a continuation of a D&AD New Blood event Moloney ran in 2015 which was a series of talks for graduates. This updated version takes on a digital form with Moloney sharing the posters online and on his social channels. The line-up of creatives providing wisdom includes Stefan Sagmeister, Camille Walala, Craig Oldham, Morag Myerscough, Tony Brook, Mills from Ustwo and many, many more.

The posters are bright, bold and typographic with each one bringing something different. To tie the series together, Moloney has created a cute mascot that features on most of the posters to bring a sense of unity, fun, warmth and optimism. “The mascot brings a human touch that type simply can’t do, for example the fist bump in G Torto’s quote, ‘It’s about people’. I’ve mainly been sharing [the posters] through Instagram so I wanted them to stand out as there is a lot of pure typographic work and loads of amazing kinetic type,” explains Moloney. “It was a balancing act as I was mindful to respect the quotes, so the mascot never takes over the canvas.”

Look Closely poster, words by Ben Brookbanks

Moloney believes advice always prompts very personal reactions, but luckily there’s a range of tips on offer from the experts. Some posters are actionable and punchy such as, “Say what you mean. Mean what you say. And never ask for permission” from Craig Oldham or “Don’t fit in” by Wolff Olins’ creative director Emma Barratt. Others act as reminders to be kinder to yourself such as, “You can’t really do anything wrong” by Ragged Edge’s associate creative director David Ormondroyd, and “Make beauty a goal for everything you create” from Stefan Sagmeister. 

As Moloney spoke to each creative directly, every poster is also accompanied by a longer caption which he is sharing on his Instagram stories. “The captions are a great space to extend on the headline ideas people contributed,” Moloney says. “Nearly everyone had more to add. The captions are often where the best bits are, for example I really enjoy Terry Stephens’ Hustle story, and Jack Renwick had some great advice and made a big effort.”  

Say What You Mean poster, words by Craig Oldham

With MakingIt21 Moloney says he learnt three things about the process and himself, the first being that while side projects look easy from the outside, they actually take a huge effort to fit in. “But they can be very rewarding and help push you,” he says. “Posting design work on Instagram is also very stressful but you can learn a lot through the process, ‘likes’ aren’t everything,” he adds. Ultimately though, Moloney says this project has reminded him that the design community can actually be a very welcoming space, with “99% of creative people willing to help and offer advice where they can,” he says. “Reach out to them, the designers you admire have an email inbox.” 

Plans for MakingIt21 so far are for the project to continue to live digitally, but Moloney hopes one day that he’ll be able to make printed versions of the posters, potentially as postcards on 21 different paper stocks. 

Work Work Work poster, words by Zipeng Zhu