Layout Design + Illustration
Elgin Street, one of downtown Ottawa's main thoroughfares, has been undergoing a major construction project since January 2019. In preparation for the project, many of the street's retail owners got together and formed the I Dig Elgin campaign aimed at keeping a fun, positive and inviting atmosphere throughout construction time. As construction fences went up, I worked with the great campaign team on the design of cheerful posters to brighten the construction landscape.
I started the design process by taking a long walk up and down Elgin with my camera to find any standout buildings or details that could be symbolic of the street. I was immediately drawn to its many churches, beautiful little details on heritage buildings, and how the street is generally made of 2-story boxy buildings.
We decided to put all of the street's details together and create a simple line art streetscape that didn't show any specific businesses, but was immediately recognizable as Elgin Street. A bright yellow background gave the posters high visibility in various weather and lighting conditions, and large bold typography kept the main focus on the copy and made it legible from close and far.
The main goal was to let pedestrians know that the street's shops, restaurants and cafes are still open while adding a touch of humour to the situation. The team was inspired by a construction campaign created by the Hartford Connecticut BIA, who gave them kind permission to create a similar campaign. The I Dig Elgin team came up with the copy - song lyrics and puns that related to the street or to construction - which became the main focus of the posters.
The campaign received overwhelmingly positive responses from the public, by word of mouth and social media. It was shared thousands of times on Facebook and Twitter, and even made it to Reddit's front page. Business owners also reported customers who had come from Toronto or Hamilton to see the posters and stopped into the shops.
I Dig Elgin
Print Design, Illustration, Advertising
Printing: Katari Imaging
Photography: Barbara Kowalski
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© Barbara Kowalski 2019