Who would you be more inclined to give money to – a homeless person holding a handwritten sign or a homeless person holding a sign full of cool graphics and colors?
In Massachusetts, a collaboration between artist Kenji Nakayama and Christopher Hope is answering that question by exchanging boring signs for colorfully illustrated signs in an attempt to give the homeless the power to be noticed.
But how will this “Signs for the Homeless” project really help the homeless community?
“Homelessness is the white noise of the community,” Hope tells Co.Design. “We live in a world that is so saturated by design and branding that these homemade begging signs just get drowned out.”
He also pointed out that these tattered signs aren’t always begging for money or food. Instead, they are works of self-expression and statements by a human being about the world they live in.
“I see signs all the time where the homeless make a political or religious statement,” says Hope. “Many are not using their signs to make money at all. They’re using them as a voice, to reach out.”
“We want people to see these signs, and be curious about the person holding it,” says Hope. “We want them to go up and say, ‘Nice sign, where’d you get it?’”
But the answer to the main question – will it make a difference? – still isn’t as clear cut as we’d all like. Homelessness, as the team pointed out, is a complex problem.
“Good design helps you see the world in a different way,” says Hope. Design is a powerful force that can help overpower people’s preconceptions and attract us to the very things we were once repelled by.
Too see the rest of the project, click here.