Students Design Billboards to Encourage People to Vote

Some students from the School of Journalism and Electronic Media are urging people to get out and vote in a big way.

Their messages are on billboards around the Knoxville area.

vote-2aRob Heller, a JEM professor in the College of Communication and Information, asked his media graphics students to design posters encouraging people to vote in the upcoming election.

“I asked them to create something nonpartisan and use only three words—one of which must be a version of the word ‘vote,’̍” Heller said. “They could use only type. No pictures. And it had to be black and white, with more than one additional color.”

Among the messages the students came up with: Veni (I came), Vidi (I saw), Voti (I voted); Use Your Vote; Did You Vote? (with a yes box checked); Decide, Vote, Elect; and Exercise Voting Rights.

“I’m very proud of their creative work,” Heller said. “And I wanted to give it a wider audience.”

Heller contacted the local office of Lamar Advertising, the company that manages most of the billboards around Knoxville. Lamar agreed to print three vinyl signs and also include some of the students’ work on digital billboards strategically placed around the city.

vote1a“When Professor Heller approached us about his public service ‘Vote’ project with his class, our reaction was a definitive yes. We take pride in being loyal to the community in which we serve, and to partner with the School of Journalism and Electronic Media at UT was an honor,” said Benjamin Eaton, sales manager for Lamar Advertising. “Their goal was to deliver an important message to the public, and by utilizing both static and digital billboards, the students did this with skillful creativity and simplicity. Lamar is proud to be the vehicle for their voice.”

This year’s voting project is similar to one Heller gave his students during the presidential election four years ago; that year, UT’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy printed the best student posters and placed them around campus.

“This year, my students are extremely excited to see their work on billboards,” said Heller. “I’m not sure how we can top this in 2020, but we’ll give it try.”

Heller has taught photojournalism and media graphics at UT for 30 years.

Amy Blakely (ablakely@utk.edu, 865-974-5034)