Workshop: Placards

Upon returning to university after an equally relaxing and tiring Christmas, we began the Field portion of Level 4. I discovered my group for the next 4 weeks and we began work on a one-day project to create protest placards for a controversial topic. We needed to create two placard sides demonstrating the two sides of the argument, in favour and against our topic. We agreed on the broad topic of animal rights and then chose the more focused topic of animals in captivity.

The green writing shows our ideas for a phrase for the positive side of the board, in favour of animals being kept in captivity in establishments such as zoos, safari parks and sanctuaries. The red writing shows our ideas for a phrase for the negative side of the board, against animals being kept in captivity.

For us, coming up with ideas against animals being in captivity felt much more natural and we felt we had much stronger ideas for this view, such as the strength in the negative words ‘kidnapping’, ‘illegal’ and ‘cage’.

We looked at disproving positive reasons for captivity in our placard, and decided to experiment with using sarcasm which is so commonly seen in protests. Sarcasm can be so brilliantly used to not only get a message across, but also to expose the stupidity of the opposing idea. We talked about how those in favour of captivity for animals would argue that the animals are save from the dangers that they face in the wild, for example poachers and extinction. It is true that these people would have to agree that fundamentally, what they want is for animals to be kept protected and to achieve this by putting them in a small cage, sometimes 18,000 times smaller than their natural habitat. To us, this sounded ridiculous. The idea that an animal should be taken away from their homes by humans, to save them from other humans interference and placed in a small area, limiting their quality of life was unbelievable. Perhaps it should be considered that instead of taking animals away from the danger, we take the danger away from the animals and stop poaching.

For our against placard, we decided to expose the view of people that put animals in cages to ‘protect’ them, saying ‘SAVE THE ANIMALS! PUT THEM IN A CAGE!’

Having only black and white paint to work with, we decided to begin with a black background and white bars, replicating the overwhelming negativity of animals behind bars. We painted the writing using the white paint, attempting to use a geometric font to imitate the bars.

For the opposing side of the placard, we wanted to play upon the idea that animals in captivity get care and help that they otherwise could not receive in the wild. We wanted to almost personify the animals, creating the illusion that they were in desperate need of the help of those that capture them. For this, we pondered for a long time on the phrasing and choice of words, wanting words that demonstrated the desperation of the animals and the kindness and care of the option of captivity.

We decided upon adopting the phrase ‘dying species’, as we felt it was much more emotive than ‘endangered’. We agreed that the use of the word ‘need’ accurately conveyed the necessity of captivity for these animals. After considering a large pool of words, we chose ‘sanctuary’ as opposed to ‘zoo’ or ‘captivity’. These words come across quite aggressive, while ‘sanctuary’ is much more gentle and inviting, eluding to the idea that animals are cared for as opposed to being shown off.

We created this placard using the opposite idea to the first – black on white. The purity and cleanliness of the white gave illusion to the positivity of the concept, while the black writing on top stood out as bold and powerful.

We were very happy with the outcome of our placards and personally I think they looked great. Seeing everyones placards together showed how diverse and creative everyones ideas were and it was interesting to see everyones take on their issue!

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