Covidesign Spotlight: Design-Forward CDC Safety Signage

Gavi Wolf is CEO and Ari Grazi is President of Indiewalls, a full-service art consultancy connecting designers, brands, and consumers to a global community of independent artists.

When the economic shutdown became a reality, we knew that our full-service, commercial art consultancy business, Indiewalls, required a pivot — not only for the business to survive, but so the independent artists at the core of our business could too. 

We’ve always felt an inherent dedication to our network of artists; when the pandemic hit, we felt compelled to rethink how we’d continue to facilitate their creative work when creative work was effectively put on pause (along with everything else in the world).

Pivoting from Indiewalls, we launched Indiesigns — an e-commerce shop whereby independent artists could produce COVID-19 signage with a positive and design-forward aesthetic, and a goal to help businesses reopen safely without compromising on design.


What is design, if not art meeting real life?

With so many changes to our society, open-mindedness and creativity are crucial. In our case, we were blindsided—like most people—by the drastic impact COVID-19 would have on our business. When we were thinking of ways we could continue to financially support artists and keep our printers running, the idea of producing safety signage and decals dawned on us.

In reopening the world—restaurants, hotels, workplaces, schools, and public spaces — businesses are contemplating how to enforce the latest safety regulations presented by the CDC. In times of problem solving, we turn to artists and designers —creatives who help us re-conceptualize the realities of our ‘new normal’ through art and design.

The signs and decals found on have been custom-designed by independent artists—those who have suffered loss of work as a result of the pandemic. The signage, which adheres to guidelines presented by the CDC, presents information in positive, colorful, and creative ways. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the artist who created it.


The importance of visually-beautiful graphics in times of collective crisis

Right now there are a lot of emotions swirling around our society, and some of them particularly negative—frustration, fear, boredom, anger. We see art and great design as counter-forces for these emotions, when used in the appropriate form. For example—take an experience that could be frustrating, like being forced to stand 6-feet apart from the next customer in line. Now, picture those instructions on a thoughtfully written sign, with artistically-designed floor decal to stand on. The idea is to take a crummy situation and add some beauty and positivity into it.

Visual communication sets the tone for what kind of experience patrons should expect. It provides an emotional context and individual personality for the space that informs how to act and what the patrons’ connection to their environment should be. The independent artist-created signs of Indiesigns are proof that signage need not sacrifice aesthetics — in fact, quite the opposite; signage should prioritize aesthetics when the message being communicated is one fraught with hardship, and perhaps even trauma.

At a time like this, we all need to do our part bringing more joy to the world. While the world changes, we are doing our best to go with the flow — or raging storm — and to make a difference in the little, everyday experiences of our communities.