Art Center Students Participate in the Mandela 95 Poster Project

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June 25, 2013

Leonard Konopelski received his MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland in 1973. His works can be found in many private collections in Kyoto, Copenhagen, Berlin, Budapest, Warsaw, Ottawa, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Strasbourg and Sydney. Leonard is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Graphic Design Department at Art Center.

A real life project celebrating a real life hero became the optimal assignment and a once in a lifetime opportunity for the students of the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena who were tasked to design ideas for a “Mandela95 Poster Project.”  The project was assigned to my communication design classes (2 and 3). Twenty-eight designs were developed from which 8 were selected for submission to the South African Organizing Committee for the “Mandela95 Poster Project.”  The committee, under the leadership of Mr. Jacques Lange, Creative Director and Partner at BluPrint Design, South Africa and former president of ICOGRADA accepted all 8 of the submissions, an exceptional honor.

Our goal was to create a poster for Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday celebrating his long life and extraordinary achievements. Utilizing the internet the students researched the man and his accomplishments; creating their own iconography of Mandela as a symbol of peace, freedom, determination, power, revolution, courage and more–much, much more.

The collection criteria allowed us the freedom to create our own textual message for each poster.  As the result of two weeks of intensive work the students’ projects were developed and refined as they each strived to portray the extraordinary story of Nelson Mandela’s life in a compact, clear and powerful way.

I believe the committee’s requirement of the A2 poster format was most appropriate to both the subject matter and the collection.  Thanks to the new multi-media communication platforms and the stature of Nelson Mandela, the work of our Art Center students is becoming in their own small, actionable way, part of international poster history.   As Jacques Lange has shared with us, the committee is currently finalizing details with the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust to collaborate on an international traveling exhibition plan for the final Mandela95 Poster Project as a means to assist them in raising funds for the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital which is currently under construction.

“The hospital is Mandiba’s final wish and his wife Graça Machel is personally chairing the Trust,”  Jacques told us.  There are currently only three dedicated children’s hospitals in the whole of the continent of Africa and it is Madiba’s wish to provide a fourth where in his words: “No child will ever be turned away for inability to pay.”

My personal thanks to Professor Nikolaus Hafermaas, Chair of Graphic Design, and Mariana Amatullo, Vice President, Designmatters, for providing us the opportunity to be a part of this very important project.

For more information about the Mandela 95 Poster Project, visit:

Designed by David Iker Sanchez

Designed by Brandon Carrillo

Designed by George Widodo

Designed by Juan-Andres Helt

Designed by Rosie Geozalian

Designed by Zarina Mendoza

Designed by William Gonzalez Zamora

Designed by Scott Struhs

Designed by Jasveer Sidhu