The Blue Wave Process Part One: How We Design Postcards
From the start, I wanted Blue Wave postcards to look very different from a typical political postcard. I felt that the graphics should have a “homemade” quality, and be interesting enough that someone might want to keep and post them on their fridge…or at least would want to look at and read them.
Our initial designs were done in black and white, so that postcard writers could hand-color them in addition to writing a message on the back. This was fun, but proved to be impractical. It was more important to spend time writing messages and getting many cards mailed.
My “blue wave” design was the first postcard we printed in color. These didn’t have much printed on the back, and our volunteers wrote their own messages about why it was important to vote. We gave volunteers a list of suggestions on what to write on the postcards. They were mostly motivational messages focusing on the importance of voting. We planned to mail these voter mobilization cards closer to the election.
Soon, we decided that it would be much more impactful to send voters in swing states postcards with actionable messages. So, along with an eye-catching graphic on the front, we added useful pre-printed information on the back. For example, we provided instructions and dates for vote-by-mail registration. We also included a URL and a QR code, so that recipients could access up-to-date information on a website. Our goal was to make it as easy as possible to register, sign up to vote by mail, and obtain important information such as early voting dates. But we always made sure that we left room for a hand-written message to give each card a personal touch. Research told us that as long as the postcard had a short hand-written message and an actual stamp, the recipient was much more likely to pay attention and act. Additional personal touches like writing the message with colorful pens or drawing simple graphics on the back made the postcard look even more attractive and interesting.
When we started working on a campaign, Ning and I collaborated on design and message ideas. We often considered many different design concepts before settling on the one we wanted to print. We also spent time writing and editing the pre-printed language so that it was clear, concise, and compelling.
It was a laborious, joyful, and creative process. And we received feedback from many postcard writers that they felt this sense of joy when they wrote the messages and decorated the postcards in their own ways. We also hoped the recipients appreciated and felt empowered not only by the artwork and information, but also by the fact that strangers from around the country took the time to write and send them these cards.
We learned a lot and refined our creative process over the past year. We are in the process of launching more campaigns to support passage of important legislation, such as the “For the People Act,” now before Congress and of course, the 2022 midterm elections. Click here for updates on future campaigns.
The postcards we designed in 2020
A poster of all of these postcards is available here.
-Faith, Art Director [bio]