Wallflowers are blooming

While the small screen in our pocket gets most of our daily attention, presenting a poster in public space is still a holy grail to many designers

After judging a poster competition in June 2007 the renowned design critic Alice Twemlow asked herself; “When did posters become such wallflowers?”. She published an article that stuck in the back of my mind for 10 years. I couldn’t agree more with statements like: “What defines poster-ness for me, is the way it is conceptually attached to a motivating force”, and “The designer … because he believes in it and, because of that, often makes it more beautiful than it needs to be”. Sadly she had to conclude that many posters end up as wallflowers with no effect due to a lack of urgency and reason for being.

My my, has the world changed in a decade! If posters are considered wallflowers, they’re definitely in bloom now! The poster as a medium for urgent and current messages is flourishing. Bright and bold posters are waiting for the bees to spread their seeds.

Kateřina Puncmannová, Max Senden, Nick Liefhebber, Mauricio Muratalla


In response to our Open Call for posters we received 2.561 entries from designers in 91 countries. We asked them to Speak Up about stories they care about. Like we expected, there are many designers out there that engage with current issues. Without any beautification they use raw and direct images to motivate their audience. A poster won’t change the world, but it will definitely spark awareness.

Key factor in the succes of a posters is a clever distribution. Posters need to be seen in public. As a cultural organisation our possibilities are limited. However by presenting the 60 winning posters in public space the next 4 months, we do reach over 120.000 bees that have the technology to spread the message beyond the physical object.

When you visit Graphic Matters, make sure to come prepared. Charge that camera phone and empty your SD-cards. These 60 winning posters are worth spreading. 

Oleksandr Parkhomovskyy, Dennis Janssens, Felix Kosok, Mykola Kovalenko


Congrats to Dennis Janssens (BE), Penelope Lira (BR), Mauricio Canales (CL), Li Qipeng, Jin Wei, Biwei Zhu, Ray Zhu Zhu, Liu Xueqin, Zhao Zongzhen, Shao Shuai, Liwei Liu, Xupei Wang, Jixin Wang (CN), Kateřina Puncmannová (CZ), Abdulrahman Hassan (EG), Felix Kosok, Julia Vogel, Frauke Cordes, Oleksandr Parkhomovskyy (DE), Kristof Szabo (HU), Hamid Nasr, Ehsan Ghasemi Nia (IR), Giacomo Scandolara, Tomaso Marcolla (IT), Jisuke Matsuda (JP), Hyejung Ko (KR), Karim Shehimi (LB), Jasmine Ng (MY), Mauricio Muratalla, Naandeyé García (MX), Michel Walpot, Thonik, Max Senden, Andrea Ronhaar, Nick Liefhebber, Thomas & Jurgen (NL), Janusz Jurek, Andrzej Witczak, Dominika Czerniak-Chojnacka, Sandra Leszczyńska, Wojciech Mazur, Katarzyna Zapart (PL), Luís Veiga (PT), Dariia Tolochenko, Lita Poliakova, Polina Parygina, Elena Sautina (RU), Jovan Tarbuk, Irena Muhar (RS), Dogan Arslan (TR), Mykola Kovalenko, Mari Kinovych (UA), Adam Hayes, Hugo Drummond, Eleanor Major, Thomas Cannon, Callum Dean (UK), Mengxin Li, Satoru Nihei and Keith Kitz (US).


1968 - Ernest Withers captures the protests by 1,300 black sanitation workers in Memphis
From historical graphical activism to current tactics; Graphic Matters shows critical imagination by activists, pranksters and good guys who question current issues and challenge you to create your own image.

Alternative facts, whistleblowers and polarizing politicians cause a global turmoil. Disputes are no longer about left or right, right or wrong. Today's issues are complex and international. Our current choices determine how to live together in the future. Is this the moment for dominant ideas to make place for an open society? Is it time to realize that reality consists not only of like-minded users of social networks? Can we look beyond algorithms? Do we still want to just be materialistic consumers or hedonistic individuals?

The current status quo poses complex challenges. Values ​​and achievements of previous generations are under pressure at a global, national and even local level. In order to maintain fundamental democratic values, awareness, understanding and involvement are urgently needed. Creating personal opinions helps us to deal with the people around us in a critical and respectful way.

In this fascinating time, designers can make a difference! No longer do they have to sell their souls to commercial clients. Today, they can speak up for issues that matter. 

Sagmeister & Walsh - Pins won't save the world (2016)


We share our thoughts, comments and likes online 24 hours a day. As a result all around the world debates, spontaneous protests and even riots arise. In many new forms of protest imagination is key. Graphic designers therefore have a social responsibility in expressing strong opinions.

More and more designers stimulate the social debate with self-initiated projects. They raise specific issues, present different perspectives or interact. A slogan and logo can create a movement!