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How Fedrigoni led 19 artists against Covid-19 - #BehindTheIdea

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Creativity can change the world. Every creative professional knows that, and you will hear that notion more and more this year, especially after a year as tumultuous as 2020.

Knowing that, Fedrigoni set off to actually try and change the world for good, asking 19 artists to design each one A1 poster on the theme of Coronavirus and social distancing. Each artist had the opportunity to pick from a range of Fedrigoni paper for their work, which was then converted into posters and face mask designs.

For this Behind the Idea, we are hearing from Ian Braithwaite, Commercial Manager at Fedrigoni, and Alvaro Lopez, the graphic designer who conceived the project, to learn more about how this compelling campaign came to life.

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What was the brief?

Álvaro López: During these tough times, it is important for us to come together as a community and support one another, especially those who are working tirelessly to keep us all safe. I saw this as an opportunity to engage the international creative community and ask them to show their support in the fight against COVID-19. Together with paper manufacturer Fedrigoni, we created the ‘19 Artists vs COVID-10’ poster initiative. 19 artists (including myself) were asked to design an A1 portrait format poster in response to the pandemic, centred around the message of: “STAY HOME, STAY SAFE, PROTECT THE NHS.” 

Ian Braithwaite: Each artist had the opportunity to choose from any of the following Fedrigoni paper ranges: Sirio Colour, Woodstock, Meterica, Tintoretto and Old Mill. Beyond this, they were encouraged to take the brief in whichever direction they liked. We wanted to showcase the diverse ways in which the creative community were responding to the pandemic, alongside highlighting design as a powerful tool for communicating important messages around COVID safety.

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How did the initial brainstorming phase go?

Ian: This wasn’t a pitch, at least not in the traditional sense. Alvaro approached us with his idea, with a view to Fedrigoni supporting. What Alvaro wasn’t aware of at this stage was that my wife was working in the Accident and Emergency Department of St George’s Hospital in South London. This was going to be an intensely personal project and it wasn’t a case of IF Fedrigoni was going to be involved, but how we could be involved. After this, everything clicked into place and we brought on board additional partners, such as London based printer Push, to be involved in the project.

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Tell us more about the concept. How did it come to life, and why was it the right choice?

Alvaro: I was on furlough and, like many people, wanted to find a way to contribute to the fight against COVID-19. Showing support through art and design is a very powerful mode of transmitting an important message to society. I considered a creative approach to be a unique way to raise awareness about the situation, send a very clear and direct message asking people to stay home, whilst raising money for an important charity. 

What was the production process like? What was the biggest challenge?

Alvaro: The biggest challenge was to bring 19 well-regarded artists together (“virtually”) to create something really remarkable. The production process was time consuming as technical and print specifications needed to be very clear; a pre-press process occurred after each artist sent in their poster artwork. Printing refinement was a key for developing  high-quality posters. Push London, the printer we worked with, did an amazing job retaining an unwavering high standard, as a run of 75 copies of each artist for a unique limited edition was a big challenge. In the end, our constant dialogue and collaboration with the printer achieved a beautiful result.

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What is one funny or notable thing that happened during the production of the campaign?

Ian: From the outset, this was about using design to deliver a key message, as well as to raise awareness and money. What we initially failed to appreciate is that these posters and their designs were documenting a unique period in time. Subsequently, the Museum of Fine Arts of Boston acquired four of the posters by the artists Nick Cook, Shweta Malhotra, Alejandro Paul and Álvaro López for their collection. An exhibition focusing on COVID-19, featuring art from a number of countries, was planned by the Museum but unfortunately has had to be postponed due to social distancing regulations.

We intend to display all 19 posters at our Fedrigoni studio in London when circumstances permit, culminating in an auction of the number 1 editions. We hope this will be a moment of togetherness for the local design community, and a chance to reflect on some of our creative contributions from the past year.

What’s the main message of the campaign and why does it matter?

Alvaro: Our intention was to articulate through design the message: “Stay home, stay safe and protect the NHS”. This slogan  became a defining feature of the early months of the pandemic, and was crucial in helping  people to understand how important it was to prevent the spread of the virus and loss of life. This is something  that affectscolleagues, friends and family, and there is an absolute necessity to behave responsibly.

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What is one unique aspect of the campaign?

Alvaro: The diverse and varied response to the theme. It’s been exciting to see how each of us responded to the brief in a very unique and personal style. Each of the 19 posters - all beautifully individual - come together to create a rich tapestry of creative responses to the pandemic. I think this truly embodies the diversity that defines our industry and highlights how, even in the darkest of times, creativity can flourish. 

How long did it take from inception to delivery?

Ian: Initially launched in May 2020, the period from inception to production and commencing fundraising was 3 weeks. We needed to act fast, so found the shortest period possible to bring this important message to the public. This included the creation of a website and promoting via social media and other media channels. 

As cases started to rise significantly again in January 2021, we decided to relaunch the campaign to raise additional funds for the NHS. The health service is now under even more pressure than it was last Spring. It felt like our duty to reignite the initiative and sell the remaining posters to raise as much as possible for those working tirelessly to keep us safe.

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What do you hope it achieves for the brand?

Ian: What we would hope to achieve is as much exposure for the campaign as possible and to maximise the money raised for NHS Charities Together. With £20,000 already raised for the charity, we hope to raise even more with the potential sales of the first editions at an auction in the future. 

Credit list for the campaign?

For a full list of the contributing artists, please visit www.19vs19.co.uk and @19artistsversuscovid19. Organised by Álvaro López (@alvarus85) and Fedrigoni UK (@fedrigoniuk). Print Partner: Push Print (@pushprintlondon)

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