The American Spirit of the Pioneer

Project 4 asked us to research presidential inaugural addresses, choose one that spoke to us, then create a poster using an excerpt from the address. I chose FDR’s first inaugural address. Historically, this speech was given at an economic downfall in our country, shortly after the stock market fell and in the midst of the Great Depression. The country was searching for hope in its next president as much as they were searching for answers to their unending questions. It just felt so parallel to where our country is today and the hope and expectations during the election of President Obama. As I read the speech, I felt like it was something President Obama could have given at his inaugural address.

The portion that spoke to me the most was, “It is the insistence, as a first consideration, upon the interdependence of the various elements in all parts of the United States – a recognition of the old and permanently important manifestation of the American spirit of the pioneer. It is the way to recovery. It is the immediate way. It is the strongest assurance that the recovery will endure.” To me, this section meant we need to get back to our roots, back to our ideals of being a trailblazer and an innovator. With a recognition and respect for the past, our country can become more forward thinkers. As a nation, we can learn from our past mistakes and learn from our past successes…sort of like respecting the wisdom of our elders.

I set out to create a poster that conveyed that message: the rugged, organic, natural, groundbreaking pioneer. Our color options were restricted to black, white and tints of one of the following: red, green, blue and yellow. Green was my immediate choice because of the thoughts of nature that go along with it. I also contemplated yellow as it feels like a hopeful color. (By the way, I love that one single color can evoke so many feelings!) We were also given the choice of the following typefaces: Gotham, Caslon, and Knockout. When I first began creating, I chose Caslon merely because I almost never choose to work with serif typefaces, but I quickly realized this serif typeface was a little to fancy for my rugged pioneer attitude.

The next few steps were not so easy. A few drafts in, I realized my thumbnails and sketches weren’t very strong and didn’t have a favorite from the get-go. They were weak and didn’t push the concepts. But like all pioneers, I carried on. I continued with more drafts, pushing in directions that were further from my message. I was so inspired by this project and its message, how could I not convey that to print? I needed to go back to the brainstorming/sketching/researching phase. I researched typographic posters and wrote down specific elements I enjoyed from various images. I mind-mapped the word pioneer. I wrote down my message and what it meant to me. After the second round of research, I cranked out a few more drafts that I was much happier with. (The draft count was quite high at this point…and those were the ones I was actually saving. Many more were just not worth the disk space.) A classmate suggested I play with the “one” within the word pioneer. I toyed with tonal differences in color as well as spacial emphasis. The result was my final draft. Broken record, but my classmates constantly push me to be better.

I felt like I struggled with this project more than any of the others, but it makes me appreciate those projects when things worked well so effortlessly. Can’t have the rainbows without the rain, I guess.


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2 thoughts on “The American Spirit of the Pioneer

  1. Krista Knepp says:

    Like the Pioneer poster. Excellent use of space. So, did you use Futura as the font?

  2. […] 4 figures are 1-minute gesture drawings. Pioneer was my typography poster project. Bottom images were line art done in Visual Literacy. The tower was done in 3D with 1/8 inch dowel […]

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