Building an Icon: The Power of Counter Culture Messaging

Counter Culture Messaging (also referred to as Guerrilla Advertising) plays a pivotal role in shaping popular culture and influencing society. Found in physical and virtual platforms, counter-culture messaging lives and thrives all around us, whether we choose to participate or not.

Phase 1.

In this investigation, I am focusing on guerrilla advertising that lives in public space. Public areas constitute neighborhoods and streets as well as shared spaces like work and restaurants that are subject to many different people navigating the space.

Below is initial fieldwork research investigating guerrilla advertising in the neighborhood “Old Fourth Ward” Atlanta.

Steven Heller defines pop icons as “celebrities who have transcended the usual fifteen minutes of fame to become natural (or manufactured) members of the cultural pantheon… usually pop icons are ephemeral – hence the reference to pop – but sometimes they begin as ephemera and turn into something that transcends time. [1]

[1] Heller, Steven. POP: How Graphic Design Shapes Popular Culture. (New York, NY: Allworth Press, 2010), 39.

I also created mood boards to collect popular culture references from print media, television, and web. You can see some of this research here.

Phase 2. Building an Icon

The next phase of work was conceptualizing and producing the iconic figure inspired by popular culture references discovered in research. Nova emerged as a figural, non-gender specific representation of the societal lust for fame.

As the design developed, the goggles and antennas became the prevalent iconic elements of Nova. She can see and hear all things, always connected to culture around her. She is happy, curious, and engaged.

The color palette and pattern is also an important factor in developing the final imagery for the campaign. It was important to create a strong look and feel for the icons in order to create a recognizable family of images. Artwork influences include steam punk movement (especially for the design of the goggles) as well as pop art movement.


Phase 3. Guerrilla Advertising in Public Space


Phase 4. Experimental Video
Online Viral Messaging

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