Union Settlement Project
A social responsibility design project. Guided by a strategic and ambitious creative process grounded by specific objectives, the Union Settlement Association is looking for design solutions that imparts the mission and personality of this 120 year old Association. The goal was to raise awareness about Union Settlement and its mission and programs, and motivate the public to join in addressing the problems faced by East Harlem.
Union Settlement helps the residents of East Harlem achieve economic self-sufficiency and build better lives for themselves and their families, by providing programs and services in education, childcare, counseling, the arts, youth development, senior services, job training and more.
I wanted to build an image for Union Settlement that showed the positive, optimistic, and active character that this non-profit organization possesses, providing all kinds of services for the culturally colorful, yet needy neighborhood of East Harlem. Imagining myself as a potential donor, I thought it would be quite marvelous to support a group of happy and healthy people, knowing that my assistance will help them dream and grow, rather than looking down at a miserable crowd and just helping out of sheer pity.
With the tagline "East Harlem In Bloom," this identifier for Union Settlement depicts an abstract tree blossoming into full bloom, with uprising spheres of color in the background, showing fruitfulness, light, and hope. The type is placed underneath, as the roots that support, nourish, and encourage growth. The variety of colors portrays and celebrates the diverse people of East Harlem.
The idea for an ad campaign was inspired by NYC subway murals—art brought into the public sphere—which raise social awareness and have emotional impact, but are not too commercial. Using lines from poetry by literary figures such as Langston Hughes, Piri Thomas, and Julia de Burgos, who had either been born or had lived in East Harlem, these posters each illustrate a service based on Union Settlement’s different programs. The illustrations were done by hand.
This newsletter is also a direct mailer, and a mural-like poster when fully open. The colors used in this piece are taken from the color palette for the visual identity. Photographs of the many people of Union Settlement and East Harlem are replaced and softened by hand-drawn illustrations, to evoke a more emotional response.
Although many direct mailer pledges are easily thrown away, this pledge has a surprise factor when it is opened that will grab the viewer’s attention. Following the tagline of “blooming,” this pledge opens into a colorful bloom, with part of the information printed onto colored translucent paper, adding playfulness and also showing the different age levels of the people Union Settlement serves.