Ernest Beck | Projects

Creative Support for Japan

Max Erdenberger's poster: yours for a minimum $25 donation.

Just when you thought the world might be suffering from disaster fatigue after a number of successive catastrophes, along comes a disaster of such immense proportions that we are compelled to dig even deeper into our pockets. The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that hit Japan has been the catalyst for individuals, NGOs, charitable organizations and companies to raise money and move supplies to Japanese relief agencies — everything from crates of instant ramen to tents, toothbrushes, blankets, batteries, water purification tables and full-body radiation suits. Even for the world’s third-wealthiest nation, one that prides itself on self-sufficiency and has extraordinary disaster-response capabilities, assistance is needed (although the Japanese were at first typically reluctant to ask for it).

The easiest way to give is to donate directly to major organizations including:
American Red Cross
Habitat for Humanity
Architecture for Humanity aims to raise $200,000 for reconstruction phase projects to carry out small-scale building efforts for local organizations.

Or if you want to get involved in a more creative way, the design community is pitching in with a truckload of inspired items for sale with proceeds going to relief aid. Think posters, T-shirts and even perfume. Retailers are raising money, too, by allotting a percentage of sales to relief agencies.

Here is a roundup of various campaigns, but there are many more out there. And please keep us informed about projects so we can update the list.

Handmade for Japan, an online auction of objects donated by artists and galleries, will be held March 24–27 through eBay. All proceeds will be donated to GlobalGiving for its relief efforts in Japan.

Heath Ceramics, in Sausalito, California, is donating 25 percent of all online sales to Architecture for Humanity’s relief program for Japan.

Lifestyle apparel company Nada has launched a fundraising campaign with T-shirts and similar items.

Parisian perfumer Libertin Louison has created a limited-edition lavender-based cologne dedicated to the Japanese village of Minami Sanriku that disappeared in the tsunami.

20x200 is selling the photograph Imperial Palace Gardens with Wall, Tokyo by Emily Shur with all proceeds donated to the Japan Society’s relief fund. Or just visit the Japan Society in New York, where 50 percent of all ticket and admission sales go to the organization’s Earthquake Relief Fund. The Society will also host a Concert for Japan on April 9th.

A beautiful screen-printed poster (a bold white cross inside the red circle of the Japanese flag) by Max Erdenberger, a designer at Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, is available for a minimum $25 donation. 

This poster is also available, for a donation, from the graphic artists Astrid Stavro and Richard Sarson.

As is this one, from Paul Vickers in France.

And this one from David Vogin in Maryland.

Hide & Seek Clothing’s dramatic relief tee features a map of Japan with fractured rising sun symbol.

On March 26th the Shop for Japan campaign is open for business with participating retailers donating a percentage of their sales to recommended disaster relief charities in Japan.

The Behance Network, a creative professional platform, is continually expanding its gallery of work related to the disaster, some of which is for sale to help relief organizations.

The Society of Typographic Aficionados is organizing a project to raise funds to expedite relief efforts.

Posted in: Social Good

Comments [16]

Spoon & Tamago has been doing some great posts on what designers in Japan are doing to help. http://bit.ly/g3Sfe3 and http://bit.ly/elyyHN


Via Brian Jones:

"Download this free poster.
Print it with your own printer.
Donate $25 directly to www.icrc.org
Pat self on back."

Emily Craig

Love Japan - Help Japan poster.
All proceeds to The Red Cross and Save The Children.
€30 or more. Contact [email protected]

Paul Vickers


You know what that attitude says about you? It says "I don't believe art and design can serve any public good. It's only value is as a commercial product, therefore any attempts to do something good with it should looked down on as selfish and misguided."

Your cynicism is so useless.

^ lol

Thats putting a lot of words in his mouth.
Maybe there are people who feel posters are shortsighted solutions to drive funds to Japan, rather than people who need to promote themselves through tragedy.

George Quick

Great post.

There are as many opinions as there are posters. I rather liked this response from Ryan McGovern on FastCompany:

Designers, artists and illustrators have been making posters to raise awareness for issues they want to call attention to since the poster was invented. In your soul-searching moment (whether to buy a poster or not) ... you forgot the most important part of the transaction.


To have guilt about owning a ‘pretty’ object is self-centered waste of energy. It doesn’t matter if you wipe your ass with the poster or hang it up in a public space (so others might discover a way to also make a donation).

I'm sure there are a number of websites and suggestions about how to donate being flashed across the screen on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, FOX and hundreds of other news outlets reporting on this disaster. How easy is it to tune those messages out? They’re ugly, repetitive and perhaps we saw them JUST as we were learning about the issue. But then maybe a day passes and I see this poster as I'm on my way to work. I've had all that time to think about it and now I'm ready to donate. Maybe that moment is when I make a connection because I've seen this striking visual image that has moved me in a way that all the reporting can’t. "

felix sockwell

Check out this Design Bundle from 365psd.com http://365psd.com/bundle/
Christina Olivas


graham wood

Silk-screened to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC.

50% of all proceeds from these prints will be donated to the Red Cross to support their relief efforts in northern Japan: http://www.polygraphcreative.com
Sakura Poster, 2011

Yes, I am as deeply cynical as you are judgmental.

George deduced precisely what I was driving at.

@ Casimir
Making t-shirts and posters for sale is cynical and insulting to everyone I know in Japan (they said it, not me). If anything, they need people to donate time, materials and money to Japan- and Asian-based aid organizations (the Red Cross not being one of them, since the vast majority of their donation revenues go towards towards their own salaries, marketing and more fundraising).

Of course, art and design can serve the public good; no more than science, politics or economics. But it doesn't change the fact that designers' self-image benefit from all this do-gooding. This is no different than a politician doing PR under the guise of Katrina fundraising.

@ felix
Charity with a designer name attached to it is a shame. Really. True charity is generous, spontaneous and anonymous, and doesn't need a public pat on the back or "signed" beautiful objects to be meaningful. I've always disagreed with Slavoj Zizek (in general), but his piece on the ethics of charity is bang on:

Buying into design charity posters is like buying into "good Starbucks karma," "you buy your redemption from being only a consumerist."
Cedric L.

I'm in complete agreement with Cedric.

A poster raises awareness, but doesn't solve the problem. Japan needs help repairing the infrastructure to get the food/water/supplies to the victims. They have the money not the human capital needed.

Money doesn't solve the problem, but human capital and time do.

I understand the notion to "make" and share your various emotions about Japan's tragedy through your work (via posters) however, selling them becomes a Capitalist "pat on the back" to promote oneself. That isn't charity.

We're all better served volunteering our time to the people affected by tragedies. Maybe then the image you hang on your wall will be a photo with the community you helped and not the poster you bought to feel better.
Eric Benson

Some other great posters raising money for the relief effort.

Heal Japan, by Chad Renfroe

Help Japan, by James White
Chad Renfroe

If you want to help Japan and you are in the New York are please check out our event.

It will be a silent are auction with 30+ contemporary artists donating top pieces to be shown and sold with profits going to doctors without borders.

The event will be held at:
Eastlight Studios
21-29 45th Road, Long Island City, New York, 11101

on March 31 from 7pm-11

flyer can be found here:

Christopher Sausto

Other posters are here
ELMANCO / Stefano Ricci

Jobs | June 19