For as long as I can remember, at least ten years back, I have admired the work of Luba Lukova, with its restrained one- and two-color palettes and poignantly simple illustrations. I have always seen the work in books or online, small and only fractionally representative of the impact its bigger brethren have. With Social Justice 2008, a 21.5-inch by 14.5-inch portfolio of twelve, unbound posters by Lukova, published by Clay & Gold Editions, her work is given a second life — both as artifacts that once already existed and by assigning each with a concept, notion or social issue that is intimately tied with our current state of affairs.
Brainwashing, Peace, Social Security, Immigrant, Sudan, Privacy, Corporate Corruption, Dialogue, Censorship, Health Coverage, Income Gap, and Ecology are the twelve posters handsomely reproduced in Social Justice — and while we have all seen these before, it’s quite amazing to see them take on new meanings by the simple act of relabeling them. The posters are accompanied by an introduction from writer Margaret Scarsdale, and in it she summarizes the effectiveness of Lukova’s work which, in its sparcity makes it easy to forget how much can be read from a well conceived visual metaphor, “[The] visual metaphor is not only a symbol of hope, it is an inexorable and urgent call for action: In a world full of duplicitous metaphors, it is time to take a critical look at the true face of the policies and procedures that shape our lives.”
Social Justice is a very satisfying collectible for any graphic designer. Individually or as a group, these posters are a reminder of how much can be achieved through such economic visual means. And, let’s not be too un-superficial, they look great hanging on a wall. Perhaps the best part about the portfolio is the inside back and front covers and the wrapping paper that the posters come in, which are awash in Lukova’s sketches, giving us an insight of where the final images came from. Even more now than ten years ago, I remain an admirer.