• 10.17.08

Inspiration Friday: An Artist Celebrates Your Rights

A Video Birthday Card Starring Helvetica and Human Rights: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Hits The YouTube Generation

Check out this extraordinary video – a motion-graphical interpretation of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The video was created to commemorate the 60th anniversary of its adoption by the United Nations. (More on that below.)


The poignant piece – virtually no one knows about the Declaration or its history. Can the YouTube age keep the conversation going?

I found some background on the artist and his method at Cool Hunting:
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, CH friend and colleague Seth Brau recently completed the rather daunting task of bringing the words to life with motion graphics. The result is on one hand elegant — using a two-tone palette, linear — and on the other an experimental take on scale, the use of typography and symbolism.

Given complete creative freedom and a little over a month’s time, Seth used a mix of After Effects and Illustrator to seamlessly connect the 30 articles of the document into a captivating piece. In this case, no plan was the best plan. Seth comments, “There were times when I had no idea what I was going to do for the next section of the document. I would churn out something that I would hate but in that process I would come up with the idea, layout or imagery for something I ended up developing and liking.”

To recreate the feeling of an older document Seth chose a simple color palette of black against a textured tan and kept it modern with Helvetica. “Originally, I hoped using to a two-color scheme would simplify the process but it actually ended up making things harder because creating single color imagery, especially when it’s the the same color of the text, was very challenging.” He proved up to the challenge, creating a dynamic flow between the text and the morphing illustrations that impels the viewer to follow along. Using the text itself as a graphic element that shifts and plays across the screen, both pays homage to the original document and cleverly blurs the line between words and images. The melodic music, “Minds Awake,” by Rumspringa off Cantora Records is also nice touch.

The anniversary of the Declaration offers a poignant reminder of how far we’ve come and how little has changed. The movement for an international declaration of human rights arose out of the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust; before that, the notion had largely been considered a domestic issue. The concept was first raised by President Roosevelt in a 1941 speech to Congress in which he outlined four freedoms that could never be abridged – freedom of speech and expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. His wife, Eleanor, took up the greater cause with the United Nations, which ultimately ratified the Declaration in 1948.

Learn more here and here.