How the Pandemic Graphic Archive is preserving our new reality

Founded by recent graduate Charlotte Walker, a new online archive is collating Covid-19 signage and wayfinding from around the world

Aside from face masks and hand sanitising stations, one of the most visible elements of the ‘new normal’ is the wealth of Covid-related signage we’re now used to seeing on a daily basis.

Signage and wayfinding have taken on new significance in our buildings and public spaces, as businesses of all kinds have been required to produce new warning notices and social distancing guidelines.

The Pandemic Graphic Archive is one of the various online archives and initiatives cropping up in response to our new reality, just as major cultural institutions have scrabbled to add Covid-related objects to their collections.

The ongoing project is the brainchild of recent graphic design graduate Charlotte Walker who, faced with the prospect of an unstable employment market, launched the archive after finishing up at Liverpool John Moores University last summer.

Started during the UK’s first lockdown, Walker’s self-initiated project comprising personal photography of Covid-19 floor signs quickly grew into a fully fledged archive after she opened it up to submissions from the wider public at the beginning of this year.

“With the current travel restrictions in place, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to reach out to a global audience and curate a visual online documentation of the new normal globally,” she says. “The site acts as an accessible and collaborative archive that is both an investigation and a social testimony of the time in which we are living.”

The online archive features a simple layout showcasing the best of the collated graphic ephemera worldwide. Still titled as a ‘WIP’, the site is designed to evolve in tandem with the look and feel of Covid graphics across the globe.

Walker hopes the archive will continue to develop as the pandemic impacts our everyday world and we see things like mask-wearing and social distancing become a permanent fixture of our daily lives.

“The pure creativity of businesses keen to continue trading and keeping customers safe is a fantastic example of the fact that everyone is a graphic designer,” says Walker.

“Often dismissed and perceived as an enforcement, coronavirus signs have become part of our everyday visual language globally, and a way of communicating the new normal.”

Explore the Pandemic Graphic Archive at twometregraphics.co.uk

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes