Sunday, July 16, 2006

Saving lives with graphic design

I loved these Ghost Bikes signs, which popped up in and around Madison a few weeks ago. Paul Soglin seemed to think they constituted a litter campaign, but I thought they were great.

What I especially liked about them was that the signs, featuring an abstract, ghostly bike constructed of skeletal white bones, employed stunning graphic design to raise awareness and make people think -- something that's easier said than done. Art directors' conferences often hold panel discussions about making the world a better place or promoting social change through graphic design. The trouble is, if there's a strong message, often the art suffers. If the art is strong, often the message is unclear or subordinated to the art. The Ghost Bikes sign campaign combined both in perfect balance. And they definitely made me think -- both when I was on my bike, and when I was driving my car.

I wondered who had designed the striking signs. Now, thanks to TDP's Madison Miscellany, I do. The creator was Michael Lemberger, a Madison graphic artist who finally decided to go public and take credit for his creation. Thanks, Michael!

Check out his blog, which has some great posts on bicycles and bicycling. This reprint with photo of a Sustainable Times story about him and his cargo bike is priceless. What's a cargo bike? All your questions will be answered here.
We've had lots of fun with this thing. Besides the countless trips to our community garden space, I've hauled insulation, lumber, paint, dog food, groceries, a bale of marsh hay and a whole bunch of interesting yard sale stuff.
Is it possible to use a bike as a mini-pickup truck? He makes a believer out of me.

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