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Tolerance Poster Show: Mirko Ilić campaigns for humanity with Milton Glaser & more

T

olerance is essential for humans to embrace. It is the only antidote for the competitive drive that characterizes our species. At this moment in history, there’s a slightly reluctant quality to the word. What we really want it to mean is acceptance and generosity” says Milton Glaser, one of the many artists who participate in Mirko Ilić’s Tolerance Poster Project for good. 

Established by artivist (artist-activist) Mirko Ilić the Tolerance Poster Show is an international traveling exhibition not to be missed. Through these posters, viewers are reminded of the dangers of eschewing the commonalities that are central to the human experience in favor of rhetoric and policies that serve to divide us.

Always displayed in non-traditional venues – such as university campuses, shopping malls, and public parks, that exist outside of the traditional museums and gallery sphere– so that it remains as accessible to members of the general public as possible TPS has been displayed more than 51 times in 24 countries across the planet to date.

In each of its iterations, the Tolerance Poster Show brings together leading international artists from diverse backgrounds and fields to create an array of posters that focus on the vital importance of tolerance in our societies. While the design of each poster is up to its creator, the word “Tolerance” – rendered in the artist’s native language – appears as a common thread that ties each of them together. At each location where the exhibition is constructed, Ilić has invited well-known artists from the area to participate, adding distinct local flavor to each new edition.

On July 12, the Tolerance Poster Show opened in Venice, Italy alongside Artivism: The Atrocity Prevention Pavilion, an ongoing presentation organized by the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), an international non-governmental organization devoted to the prevention of mass atrocities.

Typeroom's Loukas Karnis spoke with Ilić, the project’s organizer and curator, on the immense value of a poster show functioning as a “first step” in our collective journey from the darkness of intolerance to the light of tolerance.

“Tolerance is the lowest possible level of positive interactions between humans. It doesn’t ask for anyone to love everyone else, all it does is asking people to hurt each other, physically and/or verbally. It is just the first step, but a very important one” 

“In the past, I supported a few different festivals. One of them was the film festival ‘The House of Tolerance’ in Ljubljana, Slovenia. As token of precision, they offered me a small square with ten poster stands each with three places for posters to show my work. I didn’t feel it was appropriate to display my work because I was not supporting them to promote myself. However, now that I had the space I came up with the idea to reach out to 28 artists and asked them to create a poster about Tolerance. My only requirement was to write Tolerance in their native language along with their name and country on the poster. Twenty days later I received all the posters and 10 days later we had the show. After receiving all this amazing art and the show ended, I felt bad that these posters would only be seen by people in Ljubljana. That’s how I came up with the idea to create a traveling poster show, continuing adding new poster designs. Especially works designed by the native creative community in the countries and cities where the show is appearing” explains Ilić of this brand new project of his which shouts out loud a word of great importance. 

Tolerance is the lowest possible level of positive interactions between humans. It doesn’t ask for anyone to love everyone else, all it does is asking people to hurt each other, physically and/or verbally. It is just the first step, but a very important one” reminds Ilić to us all. “I always prefer to have the shows featured in public places rather than galleries or museums. I believe this message of tolerance should be for the general public, not just those interested in art and design” he adds. 

“The most common reasons for intolerance are for belonging to the ‘wrong’ tribe, having the ‘wrong’ color skin, having the ‘wrong’ sexual orientation, or believing the ‘wrong' religion. Three of these four ‘wrong’ reasons are caused by birth. And that's something a person is not actually responsible for, not being able to control it at all. So, they don’t tolerate the way you are born. So, it's better not to be born. So, it's better that you don’t exist, it’s better if you’re dead. Isn’t that horrible?” writes Ilić in his introductory statement to his first Tolerance Poster Show ever. 

“These three 'wrong' things make up 10% of our differences, while we are all the same in the other 90% of our existence. We want to love. We want to be loved. We want security. We want work, food, water, and a roof over our head. We want a long life for ourselves and for our children. Isn’t that more of a reason for tolerance, than intolerance?” asks Ilic of his effort to make us more humans. Eventually, Tolerance Project Inc. is now a thing. 

The first two and a half years, during which we put on 51 shows in 24 countries, everything was organized and financed by me. Everything was done by me and my assistant without financial help from the outside. Not only did it become a very time-consuming project but it took us away from our daily work for-profit work. Towards the end of this two and a half years, we spent 60% of our work time organizing the Tolerance Poster shows and similar events. With an increasing demand for the show and less and less time to focus on anything else, it was evident that something needed to change. So I decided to form the Tolerance Project Inc., a non-profit organization with the hope that I can get some grants and support for future shows to continue this project.” An ally of his, the renowned Milton Glaser was on board since the very beginning. 

“The first artist I asked to contribute to the original show was Milton Glaser. I told him that not only did I need his poster for the show but I needed his poster as a ‘bait’ for the other 27 artists. When I registered the Tolerance Project Inc. I needed a logo for it. Somehow I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to design it, I was too involved with the project, so I decided to ask Milton not only for a great logo but also for bragging rights. Similar to the idea of tolerance, the logo conveys something different to everyone” Ilić tells Typeroom. 

“As with every decent organization, I needed to have logo. Knowing how troubling it is to design a logo for your own company I decided to pass that burden to somebody else. I asked Milton Glaser to design the logo for me. Here I am proudly presenting to you the logo for Tolerance Project Inc. by Milton Glaser” writes Ilić. 

“Tolerance is essential for humans to embrace. It is the only antidote for the competitive drive that characterizes our species. At this moment in history, there’s a slightly reluctant quality to the word. What we really want it to mean is acceptance and generosity” Milton Glaser

As for what the future holds for Tolerance, Ilić wants his campaign of a tolerant society to expand. “I want to organize as many more shows as I can, in as many countries as possible. In the process, we will continue to add more posters from artists across the globe. We are also planning on releasing a book of the posters and whenever possible, we are connecting the show to workshops with high school and college students on the subject of tolerance. Through these workshops, we try to continue the conversation about tolerance started by the poster show itself.”

Born in Bosnia, Mirko Ilić rose to prominence drawing comics, illustrations, and art-directed posters, as well as designs for books and record covers. Since 1986, he has worked in the United States on a variety of major domestic and international magazines and newspapers. Among other positions, he served as the Art Director for Time Magazine’s international editions as well as the New York Times Op-Ed pages before founding Mirko Ilic Corp., a graphic design, computer graphics, and motion picture studio, in 1995. He has received awards from several major industry authorities and his works can be viewed in collections displayed by the Smithsonian Museum and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and San Francisco. Ilić also currently teaches post-graduate courses on Illustration at the School of Visual Arts. Mirko Ilić, a man of talent and words has co-authored the book “The Design of Dissent” with Milton Glaser and nine more publications with the renowned art director, journalist, critic, author, and editor Steven Heller

Be part of this posterized evolution to kindness and acknowledge the importance of Tolerance here.

Following are some of Typeroom's favorite posters for a better world. 

Chago Garcia, Dominican Republic

Ben Faydherbe, Netherlands

Kit Hinrichs, USA

Alain Le Quernec, France

Ariane Spanier, Germany

“I want to organize as many more shows as I can, in as many countries as possible and whenever possible, we are connecting the show to workshops with high school and college students on the subject of tolerance. Through these workshops, we try to continue the conversation about tolerance started by the poster show itself”

Holger Matthies, Germany

Yarza Twins, Spain

Jessica Hische, USA

 

Stefan G Bucher, USA

Li Xu, China

Kleon Medugorac, Switzerland

The Tolerance Poster Show is on view in Venice till the 10th of August. More info here.