Sam Linville


Why are American elections so polarizing, and how can the average voter connect a politician's words with quantitative data?

Illustrations and graphics, even on the cover, are designed with real data in mind.

Battleground is a non-partisan, data-driven publication designed to empower the average American voter to cut through slanted election commentary and get right to what the candidates and their surrogates are saying on the campaign trail. Published throughout the election season, each issue contains recent speeches and policy proposals connected with quantitative data.

This issue, published after the general election, is a recap of each campaign's most significant moments.
Each candidate or surrogates speech is presented word-for-word. Subject tags below the headline let the reader easily scan for major themes, such as immigration or LGBTQ equality.
Convention speakers are given featured positions, with dynamic, colorful layouts to accentuate the highly-partisan nature of the nominating conventions.
Convention speeches are traditionally measured by the audience's reaction, so Battleground quantified the length of applause breaks throughout each speech.
The primary wordmark is businesslike and traditional. The O and U characters are combined in a custom ligature, representing the convergence of two political ideologies, but in a orderly, dignified manner.

The Biggest Lesson

I had class bright and early on November 9, 2016. I was utterly devastated by the results of the election. My initial interest in creating a publication like Battleground was predicated on the expectation that Hillary Clinton would win the general election. I begged my TA to let me change the topic of my project. For months, I was horrified by the behavior of the Republican's nominee. Sobered by the outcome of the election, I felt that designing his words into my journal, giving them aesthetic beauty and visual clarity, would make me complicit in his rampage of xenophobia and corruption.

My TA reminded me that when I set out on the project, I had planned to present each side plainly, giving readers a platform to judge each candidate on their own words, and that the results of the election shouldn't (by the standards I set for Battleground) change the outcome. She also told me that design as a profession is filled with projects that grate on our nerves, offend our politics, and make us feel uncomfortable. This wouldn't be the last time I was faced with a job that I didn't feel like doing.

I decided to use the opportunity to put both of these nuggets of wisdom into practice, and I have a few takeaways. First: Doing this project still sucks. Writing about it sucks. Presenting it sucks. That's okay. Second: I still feel that pouring my talents onto his words is a violation of my values, and that's a valuable lesson to learn as I enter the workforce. We are ultimately responsible for the things we create, and I should ask questions about my employers, clients, and projects up front.

I'm proud of the work that I did on this project. It stretched my skills as a designer, but it also taught me a lot about what it will mean to be a design professional.

Created by Sam Linville.