Student wins ‘Quit to Win’ contest

By Lisa Schulz

Using a wave of black and red design to convey a message that most children can’t communicate, Elizabeth Salinas created a winning advertisement highlighting the dangers of parental secondhand smoke that is about to spread across Chicago.

The senior art and design major won the “Quit to Win” anti-smoking design contest for the Chicago Tobacco Prevention Project, hosted by the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago. Her triumph, announced on Nov. 17, earned her a $5,000 scholarship and an iPad.

Five billboards and multiple CTA platforms across the city will display the design, which premiered on the Soldier Field Jumbotron during the Bears vs. Lions game on Nov. 13, according to the CTPP.

Entries were to be based on either the effects of secondhand smoke or the importance of smoke-free environments, according to CTPP. Entries were judged on their effectiveness, visual appeal, originality, clarity in design and appropriateness. Two other winners were rewarded with a $2,000 scholarship and an iPad for second place and an iPad for third place.

Salinas, who discovered her passion for graphic design when laying out greeting cards, focused on the disease-causing effects of smoking on children because of their inability to speak for themselves.

“Infants and kids are the most vulnerable,” Salinas said. “[Kids] can’t really do much. It’s not like they can say ‘stop.’ And if they do, it’s not always that [parents] are going to listen to them.”

The design reads, “Exhaled by parents. Inhaled by children.” Intertwined with smoke are the effects of secondhand smoke in children, including asthma, pneumonia, chemicals, ear infections, toxins and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Joel Africk, president and CEO of the RHA, said the organization hopes the “powerful” messages will have a great enough impact to make smokers think twice about secondhand smoke and persuade attempting quitters to follow through with their effort.

“I think the design was creative, and the use of typography was creative,” Africk said. “It communicated the message clearly and in an eye-catching way.”

Interested in experimenting with typography and silhouettes, Salinas put her ideas to work in a single day and rushed to meet the deadline two weeks after polishing up the design, she said.

Salinas received critiques from classmates on her project, which originated as an assignment from her instructor, Renee Ramsey-Passmore, an adjunct faculty member in the Art and Design Department.

The design was slightly altered from her original submission, she said. Instead of the word “Cancer,” the typography now reads “SIDS,” to better inform its viewers of the possible detriment of a child’s health. White space was also added to the original design to draw attention to the eye and to emphasize boldness of the silhouettes Salinas said.

Adjusting to a client or judge’s request is typical for designers, especially when they’re first beginning, Ramsey-Passmore said. She added that as a professional, designers are entitled to a stronger opinion of what’s best for the work and a client’s requests.

“They’re going to have to learn to be adaptable and try to come to a halfway point with the client,” she said. “When they have a little more credibility, they’re able to do that. But as a student, often they’re at a whim of what the client really wants in the end.”

Timing is crucial to submissions, Salinas said. Some classmates who entered didn’t follow through with the submission process. A project started must be finished, she said.

“You can change the world with design,” Salinas said. As far as changing the minds of smokers, “If you get at least one person to quit, you’ve made a difference. And it’s all about the way you communicated that message.”