Halifax artist helps Japan relief effort

The idea for the “Help Japan” poster came to James White within 45 minutes of hearing about the earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11.

“My first reaction was, I need to help out. How can I help out?” says White, who is an artist, blogger, and graphic designer from Halifax.

By Emma Romano

James White displays his "Help Japan" poster (Emma Romano photo)

The idea for the “Help Japan” poster came to James White within 45 minutes of hearing about the earthquake and resulting tsunami that devastated Japan on March 11.

“My first reaction was, I need to help out. How can I help out?” says White, who is an artist, blogger, and graphic designer from Halifax.

So far White has raised more than $14,000 for the Canadian Red Cross by selling the poster. All of the profits go to charity. White footed the bill for the production of the first 250 posters himself. The printer he deals with, Precision Atlantic Media Group, covered additional costs.

The 18 inch by 24 inch poster mimics the Japanese flag, with the red sun on a white background. The sun on White’s graphic is fractured to represent Japan’s need for help to rebuild. The black text below reads “Help Japan.”

“The whole design was basically a call to action,” White says.

White operates his business alone out of his basement. In order to fill more than 750 orders he received from all over the world, he enlisted the help of friends and Merchline, an online fulfillment provider.

White chose the Canadian Red Cross as his charity of choice because he has donated to them before. In 2010 he created a poster to help the relief effort in Haiti, raising just over $1,200.

“I know that the Canadian Red Cross mobilizes very quickly in these troubled areas … and I know that those funds would go specifically to a certain area through their network.”

White relied heavily on social media including Twitter, Facebook, and his blog, Signalnoise.com, to get word out about the poster sales.

“I know and talk to a lot of designers on the internet … and they were all, ‘back it instantly,’ so it kind of snowballed online.”

The “tipping point”, says White, was when the New York Daily News posted an online story about his endeavour on March 14.

Since then, White has been contacted by numerous T-shirt companies seeking the rights to the image. He hasn’t given it out to any businesses yet, but he has allowed students from Germany, Thailand, the United States and Canada to use the image to promote their fundraisers to aid Japan.

Recently, there have been critics of White’s posters. They say White is capitalizing on a tragedy. White disagrees.

[audio:http://peninsula-news.kingsjournalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/James-White-on-internet-debates.mp3|titles=James White on internet debates]

This Friday, March 25, White will be selling posters at the Paragon Theater. Doors open at 9:00 pm.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AsWiau_UXkc