Looking at the Glass Half Full – Communicating Optimism through Design

This October, Positive Posters announced the finalists for their 2010 Exhibition. Held annually between July and October, the goal of each annual design competition is to inspire individuals through positive visual messages. Founded in 2009 by graphic designer Nick Hallam, Positive Posters is a non-profit international poster competition run by volunteers based in Melbourne, Australia. This year, designers were asked to work with the theme of “A Glass Half Full”.


"It's a Matter of Perspective" by Hailey McKenzie

“Optimism is a matter of perspective. Perspective gives us a point of view and a choice… a choice to see the world in different ways.” (Hailey McKenzie)


"Us" by Hilary Sloane

“Yes, there are many things wrong in the world, but perhaps we can see it as giving us something to do.” (Hilary Sloane)

"Turn that frown upside-down!" by Jesse Mallon

“By flipping the letters upside down the audience is invited to take a second look at the poster to understand, and be inspired by, its message.” (Jesse Mallon)

The work of this year’s 30 finalists represents a design aesthetic that is as diverse as their creators, which come from all over the world: Australia, England, Hong Kong, Thailand, the United States, South Korea and a host of other nations. These designers each bring their own unique understanding of what optimism means to them.

2009’s competition brought in over 300 entries from 53 countries. Peter Chmela’s winning entry, Smile, traveled as far as North Pole, where it was photographed.

2009's winning entry at the North Pole.


Rebranding the Buck

I know what you're thinking... what happened to George Washington?!?

Absolutely hate the look of some of the new U.S. currency? If you think that the appearance of our legal tender will change anytime soon, don’t hold your breath, but it’s an interesting concept to consider. For the past two years, the Dollar Rede$ign Project has been holding a design competition to bring a new look and face to U.S. legal tender. Richard Smith, a creative consultant who conceived and presently organizes the Dollar Rede$ign Project, argues that a redesign of U.S. currency would lift the hearts and minds of citizens while rebuilding confidence in the fledgling economy.

The variety of entries both this year and last present a number of interesting concepts, paying homage to a number of historical figures and events. While many of the decisions seem personally driven, many seem carefully thought out to appeal to a wide range of people. Entries range dramatically in design and style, from reserved to radical. A few historical figures popping up on some entries include Martin Luther King, Henry Ford, Steve Jobs, Eleanor Roosevelt and Marilyn Monroe. While it’s interesting to see some nods to modern American history and achievements, many examples omit any sense of the wider breadth of U.S. history.

Entries by design studio Dowling Duncan (above) appear to be the most carefully though out. Some aspects of their redesign include bills in different lengths and colors in a vertical format.

“You tend to hold a wallet or purse vertically… people hand over notes vertically when making purchases. All machines accept notes vertically. Therefore a vertical note makes more sense.” (Dowling Duncan)

Taking each bills’ design one step further, images on each bill are directly related to their value in one way or another: Obama, the nation’s first black president is the face of the one-dollar bill; the Bill of Rights, composed of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, are listed on the ten-dollar bill; recognition of the 50 states in the union on the fifty-dollar bill.

“We wanted a concept behind the imagery so that the image directly relates to the value of each note. We also wanted the notes to be educational, not only for those living in America but visitors as well.” (Dowling Duncan)

Visit the Dollar ReDe$ign Project for yourself for more information and other entries.