Kevin Dowd

Research Group: Centre for Research through Design
Award studied: PhD

Project title

The Conservative Party poster as graphic artefact, 1979-2010


Political advertising and design has come into focus as an area of interest over the last several years, along with the development of visual design as a political communication tool. Through use of particular visual language, politicians and their parties can engage with a particular demographic, or convey a particular idea, through employment of established graphic elements.

This research project examines the Conservative Party poster produced prior to the British General Election between the years of 1979 and 2010. These years act as anchors within the research as the specific format under investigation was first utilised to such a degree at this time. That format is the billboard poster, or 48-sheet poster; while commercial advertising occupies this space the vast majority of the time, every four or five years, political messages appear, with their own aesthetic and visual characteristics.

Focusing on this format, the research project aims to deconstruct the Conservative poster through a system of practice-based methods, generating insights and revealing tropes in how this space is used within a political context, and subsequently, respective to the commercial visual design usually found here.

This investigation aims to reframe the Conservative party poster through the lens of graphic design research, utilising tools inherent within our field that can help us to engage with visual material rigorously and objectively. As practice-based research, the aim of this project is to produce findings through visual research methods that incorporate practice, as well as producing a body of work that is a synthesis of findings from the investigation.