475 legacies
24" x 36" each

With the help of the advertising industry, 3,900 children under the age of 18 will try their first cigarette – of which 475 will ultimately die from their habit – every single day.*

Full description of the project below w/ updates. 

 
 

The original concept had my son writing the generational headlines. He's still learning. 


I live + work in Chicago. In this city, there are agencies who continuously accept tobacco companies as clients, using their staff to help sell cigarettes to a younger market. As a group creative director at an agency in the same city, I felt this acceptance by agency staff goes against everything my generation fought so hard to prevent. As a city, we've come so far – through education, publicity, even becoming one of the first cities to ban smoking in public establishments – for the health of all people. 

I couldn't just stand there and watch my colleagues use creativity to help people smoke, let alone convince the younger generations to start. So instead of joining them, I wanted to do the opposite: bring the original fight against smoking back to help save the next generation. Additionally, as someone who lost loved ones to emphysema after decades of smoking, and now as a father, I wanted to spend my time and talents doing something my children could not only respect, but would also be proud of me for. 

In other words, I wanted to stand for something. To use creativity and design not to promote smoking, but to prevent it. 

Creatively, I wanted to show the balance between "generations" & "legacies," and how they relate to smoking within a family. Each poster is supposed to be personal, and the execution changes based on each individual. For example I'm a first-generation non-smoker, so my son is second-generation, which is represented by the cut typography of the headline. My eyes being blue – his being a different shade of blueish green – is shown in the background gradient. Finally, something I want to pass down to him is the enjoyment of playing hockey, represented by the quote: "Endless hours on a frozen pond." A different person with different eye color, favorite pastime, etc., would have a completely different poster, or "legacy." 

This "legacy" all gets erased with smoking and its impact on a person's health. That method of erasing is shown through the erosion of ink with chemicals similar to those found in cigarettes on the left, and destruction of paper through cigarette burns on the right. 

The video above shows the 11 days I spent designing the posters, printing them, building a lab, and the removal of each legacy. I wrote & performed the background track on the cello, which with its abstract chords timed in 2 second-intervals, is supposed to leave you with the feeling of uneasiness. 

Ultimately, through this piece, I wanted to show that your "legacy" isn't just a poster or something you pass down from one generation to the next, but also your ability to say no, and stand for something you believe in. 

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* Thanks to the American Lung Association who helped me out with the content for the posters which reads: "Tobacco advertising plays an important role in encouraging young people to begin a lifelong addiction to smoking before they are old enough to fully understand its long-term health risk. Ninety percent of adults who smoke started by the age of 21, and half of them became regular smokers by their 18th birthday. Every day, almost 3,900 children under 18 years old try their first cigarette. More than 950 of them will become new, regular daily smokers. Half of them will ultimately die from their habit." Thanks again A.L.A - you're good people. 

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Full pdf of project here.


UPDATES:
Special thanks to those who have let me know they've liked the project in one way or another:
@truthorange  Thanks guys, keep fighting the good fight.
CDC  Man, you guys are awesome. Thank you.
City of Chicago  My people. Thank you.  
IdN Magazine  An all-time favorite, and an inspiration for years. Thank you.
Leviathan  Thanks guys
Thirst  Thanks Rick
Society of Typographic Arts  Thanks STA & judges