During these anxious times, we constantly check our hand computers for the latest updates, which make us still more anxious. Before technology allowed us to alarm ourselves with up-to-the-minute information, public-health messages were communicated using a fundamental graphic medium: the poster. Produced and displayed on a massive scale, these posters used a variety of cultural, political, and psychological strategies to steer public behavior with eye-catching and sometimes shocking visuals. And while today’s medium provides options via Instagram that you can print yourself, the message for fighting disease remains uncomfortably the same: Cover your mouth when coughing, stay home when you’re sick, avoid crowds, and don’t poop in the communal stream. Timeless advice, indeed.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alicia Yin Cheng is a partner at MGMT. design, a graphic design studio based in Brooklyn.