Charity ad show an outlet for work-starved artists

MILAN (Reuters Life!) - As the current economic crisis hits advertising spending and reduces demand for artwork, one young Italian artist is pushing another outlet for the industry’s best designers -- publicity for charities.

Although working voluntarily won’t pay the bills, it can open a window onto another world for professionals focused on promoting consumer goods and fashion fads. And it can help young artists and students find international recognition.

“Our aims (are) providing charities with creativity for free and waking the creative community up to the power they have to be a force for good,” 30-year old Pasquale Volpe says in a statement promoting his third exhibition of such work.

Volpe launched "Good 50x70" (, an exhibition on the internet and in galleries, in 2007 with Tommaso Minnetti.

“When we started ... we had no idea how it would be received by the design community, the public, or even the charities we were working for,” Volpe said.

The exhibition opens this year on Friday at Milan’s Triennale Design Museum. It features 210 shortlisted posters selected from 4,126 submitted from 67 countries.

Now, “Good 50x70,” named after the size of posters, has the support of UNESCO and charities such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace and the WWF suggest themes or ideas for designers.

This year, themes include child labor, climate change, women’s rights and HIV/Aids.

Habib Farajabadi from Iran depicts extinction with a vegetable threatened by forks and Turk Ahmet Erdogan puts a nuclear logo as a bullet in a gun for Russian roulette. Todd Stoilov from the United States shows a silhouette of a female amputee carrying guns to tell about violation of rights for African women.

Charities can choose any poster entered for the competition for their campaigns, as long as they credit the artist.

The exhibition will travel to 20 cities including New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Tehran and Bogota, Volpe said.

The inspiration goes beyond just an exhibition and a website, however.

Volpe and Minnetti offer workshops for design schools and universities with lectures on social communication, help in designing posters and a final exhibition.

“We passionately believe that to change the status quo in the creative industries we need to engage and involve the next generation of creative talent,” Volpe says.

Amsterdam and Suriname have also launched their own “Good 50x70” focusing on local issues.

“Good 5070 might not directly change any of the issues ... but if we can wake up the graphic design and creative communities to the power they have to be a force for change in the world, we’ll have achieved something,” Volpe says in a statement with the exhibition’s catalog.

He says his greatest satisfaction so far, though, is being asked to teach a master class at the European Design Institute (IED) -- just a year after he failed to get a place as a student there.

Editing by Paul Casciato