One of the defining qualities of the coronavirus pandemic has thus far been the confusion surrounding best practices when it comes to maintaining your health. Amidst all this turmoil, the organization Times Square Arts has stepped in to announce a collaboration with the museum Poster House, Print Magazine and the organization For Freedoms on a two-phase PSA campaign that will beam public safety guidelines, messages of support and generalized encouragement to digital billboards in every borough in New York City. The billboards were created by a host of participating artists and graphic designers, including Mirko Ilić, Maira Kalman and Pablo Delcan.
Although some of the PSA content will be notably on display on huge billboards in Times Square, LinkNYC kiosks and billboards above the Lincoln Tunnel will also beam the messaging to people largely confined to their homes in every borough. In keeping with the deadly urgency of the subject at hand, the artist-generated billboards are generally brightly colored, concise and particularly eye-catching. “Many of the designers immediately gravitated towards messages of community strength and gratitude towards front line workers, as well as agreed upon public safety advice,” Julia Knight, Director of Poster House, told Observer.
“There was a lot of humor and bright colors, and a few really gorgeous typographic pieces,” Knight added. “It was amazing how much everyone wanted to use their voice to give something to the city of New York, which has suffered so much at the hands of this epidemic.”
One poster, created by Ilić, urges anyone passing by: “Don’t stop to read this. Keep going. Be safe.” Another, made by the Brooklyn-based design studio Strick&Williams, features a message written on a slip of paper balanced between two chopsticks: “Before you point fingers, make sure your hands are clean.”
“The world is looking toward New York City during this crisis, and as the symbolic heart of the city, Times Square becomes a powerful platform for artists to communicate hope and resilience in the face of uncertainty,” Jean Cooney, the director of Times Square Arts, told Observer. “We hope that these messages will resonate with New Yorkers at home and with communities around the world, and most importantly with the essential workers keeping our city running right now and always.”