5 min read

Artists for Education - American History Poster

Published on
February 8, 2022

My goal in designing this poster was to prioritize both providing a broad historical perspective at-a-glance and showing the cause-and-effect of nature of events upon closer inspection. This goal presented many complex problems to solve.  Making it easy to read at a glance meant that much of the nuance of events be stripped away in order to keep the design consistent throughout the poster. I also had to decide what qualified a market crash or a war big enough to make it on the poster.

Deciding which events demanded inclusion in the American History Timeline excited a history nerd like me. History is the study of the past, but often times human perception is imperfect, and the inclusion or exclusion of events can shape the narrative of history in unexpected ways. The Vietnam was in particular, was tricky because many of the circumstances surrounding American involvement in the war was cloaked in secrecy until only recently.

Once I had figured out a rough idea of what I wanted to include, I had decided upon showing the timeline bending or "turning" at important points in American history. (Unwittingly, I had designed a poster which supported the Strauss-Howe Generational Theory, or "Fourth Turning", a theory that I find overly broad and too vague to be true).  After some arithmetic, I placed the notches indicating individual years, and started adding in events, symbols, and illustrations.

When I had a solid comp together, I consulted a professor at the University of Texas at Austin to look over my work.  He suggested that I include more events related to the technological innovations that impacted history.  Again, while identifying these technologies was almost a no-brainer, the task of where to place it on the timeline was more complicated.  Should the telephone or television be placed when it was invented, or when the technology was widespread enough to influence society?

I invite any and all criticisms of my poster— both it's content and design.  There was a lot that I wanted to include but felt I just didn't have the physical space, and given the limited time frame, I did not have time to thoroughly research the totality to my satisfaction.

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