Creatives share uplifting messages in New York billboard campaign

Artists and designers including Milton Glaser, Edel Rodriguez and Paula Scher have been enlisted for the citywide campaign, which shows gratitude to frontline workers and celebrates the resilience of New Yorkers amid the pandemic

The state of New York has been deemed the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic – with nearly 225,000 cases and approaching 15,000 deaths so far, it’s the worst hit state in the US. In an eerie reflection of our times, the streets and tourist hot spots of New York City have been emptied, leaving a ghost town in its wake.

In light of the circumstances, a new billboard campaign has been launched as a gesture of solidarity with New Yorkers during the pandemic. The campaign is a collaborative effort between Times Square Arts, New York museum Poster House, Print Magazine and civic engagement platform For Freedoms.

The citywide PSA campaign features works by a whole host of prominent artists, designers and illustrators. Among those taking part are design veteran and creator of the ‘I Heart NY’ logo Milton Glaser, design aficionado Debbie Millman, illustrator Edel Rogriguez – best known for his satirical Trump creations – as well as Pentagram partners Emily Oberman and Paula Scher.

As with most PSAs, there is a clear typographic focus across many of the designs. Others reflect scenes of NYC life, such as those by Wes Anderson collaborator Jessica Hische and illustrator Klaas Verplancke, who each capture scenes of New Yorkers at their windows.

The tone of the messaging seen across the billboards varies among the designs, with several appealing to New Yorkers’ sense of resilience and strength of spirit.

Others are dedicated to championing the essential workers who are keeping New York running in these troubling times, with Rodriguez’s artwork elevating healthcare workers to superhero status.

Many of the designs take an advisory stance, using the space to remind people of social distancing guidelines in particular. However, as seen in Joe Hollier’s contribution, providing serious advice doesn’t always mean taking a serious approach, as he offers some helpful references to remember the six feet rule.

The designs will be showcased from today on nearly 1,800 digital billboards – including in Times Square – across all five boroughs of New York City, which were donated to the project.