Philosophy Works Subway Poster

The School of Practical Philosophy & Meditation 2023-24 Ad Campaign

The School of Practical Philosophy & Meditation "offers a journey of self-discovery that guides students toward understanding their innate wisdom and appreciation of the underlying unity connecting us all. Philosophy Works, the introductory ten-week course, prepares students for mantra-based meditation, an offering upon completion."

In-person enrollment has been dropping for the last two years. The brand identity has gone through many iterations. We need a campaign that will once again establish the School as the NY community hub for Practical Philosophy.

To reach our audience more efficiently, speak to their pain point and engage them with the benefits of PHILOSOPHY WORKS. We expect to increase our in-person Philosophy Works classes on the Upper East Side and Tribeca.

When on the subway, I seek out the illustrations commissioned by the MTA and I tend to lose myself in the stories that the illustrators create. I do not seek out advertisements. (Of course, I don't need to as they can't be missed.) Generally, the advertisements are not engaging. My approach to this project is to be a visual artist and storyteller, not an advertiser. My goal is to create an in-car advertisement that people may lose themselves in through illustrated New Yorkers and the possible interactions and activities of these characters. The School's Creative Director, Jaime Sears felt that the advertisement needed to speak to the difficulties and uncertainties ("pain point") commonly experienced by New Yorkers at this time. Ideally, the scenarios in the illustration will be familiar to most New Yorkers.

With these concepts in mind, I rode the subway and traversed the city. I photographed fellow commuters and eavesdropped on their conversations, observed their interactions. Specific individuals and life moments are represented in the final illustration. The majority of the characters in the final composition are real New Yorkers - commuters, pedestrians, recyclers, and even our infamous subway rats...

As meditation is a key element of the School and a practice known to calm people, I elected to have meditation be the central element to the design. Without the funds for a photo shoot, I searched online for people meditating. I found an attractive young woman sitting on the floor with her hands' index finger and thumb touching. At the School, people generally meditate in a chair, however, design-wise, I felt that the chair would take up too much horizontal space, so I purchased the rights to the photo of the woman on the floor in a criss-cross applesauce pose and changed the hand pose. I based the central illustration on this photograph. I also wanted to make the name of the School central, so I placed the School's name on her t-shirt at the very center of the design.

I surrounded the meditating woman with vignettes of everyday life from subway to street. Moving from left to right: subway musicians, a Hasidic commuter studying, a young woman with her earbuds in place, a businesswoman busily texting, two men in conflict, an MTA maintenance worker sweeping as he watches a business dandy toss his coffee cup on the platform floor with a trash can nearby... At the center, a woman meditating with a fiery aura outlining her figure. Then to the street (right side of the design) - a young female pedestrian wearing a surgical mask, PRIDE revelers enjoying life, an older man observing the street scene from his window, a mother and daughter gardening, a food delivery guy on his bike, and people recycling. A few of these illustrations, I had already created for past projects. The subway musicians and female subway rider I rotoscoped long ago for a series of animations reflecting New York City life. The rat and delivery guy are from a 2D video game and installation, una geografia de ser. Recycling past illustrations was necessary as the turn around on this project was very tight. However, the rest of the work is new.

Philosophy Works Subway Poster draft

I created a version of the graphic illustration with thought bubbles or spoken text for the various characters, but the School preferred that viewers interpret the illustration for themselves. Throughout the illustrations, I attempted to represent points of conflict that are common to the density of New York City.

The platform poster is much simpler and hopefully striking. It merely presents a woman meditating. Since people are on the platform for a shorter span of time, waiting to get on a train or exiting the station, I wanted to create a graphic that would immediately speak to the commuter.

Philosophy Works Subway Platform Poster

Here a few images documenting the posting of the posters in the subways and in the platforms:

Philosophy Works Subway Platform Poster
Philosophy Works Subway Platform Poster
Philosophy Works Subway Platform Poster
Philosophy Works Subway Platform Poster

For the Schools social media, I have created more characters and added animation. Hopefully, these graphic designs will help bring more New Yorkers to The School of Practical Philosophy & Meditation. Afterall, I have strongly come to believe that the The School of Practical Philosophy & Meditation is a treasure for New Yorkers. The initial class Philosophy Works is free, there is only a $10 registration fee.

Winter 2024 Advertisement Campaign

Philosophy Works in-car Subway Poster for Winter 2024 term

The winter MTA subway campaign's in-car poster remained consistent with the fall design. However, the characters were given winter coats, beanies, the LGBTQ revelers became New Year 2024 revelers. The two men arguing along the bottom left were given Giants and Jets beanies and I even re-created the team logos, but the School requested that the logos be removed:{ Even without the logos, New Yorkers will identify the team colors and may find some humor in these two guys. The mom and daughter to the right are making a snowman instead of tending to a garden. The bike deliver person has been given a winter coat, gloves, helmet and food delivery backpack. If one zooms into the helmet, it is decorated by WAK - WAK is the pronunciation for the Mayan hieroglyphic representing the number six. Places labeled six are cosmic realms in Mayan writing. As an ear decoration, this rendition of WAK wears a smart phone.

The platform poster is an entirely new design.

Philosophy Works Subway Poster for the plaform, Winter 2024 ad campaign

The creative director, Jaime Sears requested a new design. She had this image of a woman against skyscrapers, at ease as if meditating against the intensity of New York City. Following her concept, I created a series of glass towers from the street perspective and placed a young woman with her eyes closed at the center, the towers rising all around her.

Philosophy Works Subway Poster for the plaform, Winter 2024 ad campaign

Winter 2024 Wallkill Postcard

Philosophy Works Wallkill poster for Winter 2024 ad campaign

The School of Practical Philosophy & Meditation owns an estate in Wallkill, NY, approximately a 2 hour drive upstate. Rather than public posters, a postcard is mailed to folks around Wallkill. The creative director requested a new design for the postcard. Linda Engler, a member of the School and upstate resident near Wallkill took photos that I could reference for the design. There wasn't much of a budget for this design, so I needed to recycle previous work for the School. Meditation was to remain a primary motif, so I took one of the meditating characters from the fall campaign and gave him a flannel shirt, jeans and a beard. Behind him, I created a winter town drawing from the photos taken upstate.

Spring 2024 Advertisement Campaign

Illustration of a woman in bed scrolling on phone

Jaime Sears, the creative director for the advertising campaigns for The School for Practical Philosophy & Meditation once again hired me to create the MTA subway posters for the School. This time we worked with fellow School member and digital consultant Adam Wasserman to help generate ideas for the posters. Adam presented several ideas, the one that was selected features the word “TRANSCEND” trailed by a phrase that reflects common nagging realities (at least common to New Yorkers). A few of these phrases are:

The three that were selected are: “TRANSCEND your late night doomscrolling,” “TRANSCEND your side hustles” and “TRANSCEND your roommate’s dirty dishes.” As both the budget and time were tight, I was asked to reuse some of the recent artwork. I did, however, create a new illustration for the doomscrolling concept (pictured above) as I didn’t have an appropriate asset. Below are the two in-car subway posters that will be presented above riders’ heads and one platform poster. Adam suggested editing the illustrated characters’ t-shirts from showing the entire School logo and name to only showing the logo (which I think works nicely). For the in-car woman meditator, he also suggested the use of a lotus flower.

Hopefully these words and illustrations will attract subway riders' eyes and generate enough curiousity to investigate the School website and consider taking the free introductory course "Philosophy Works" (one only pays a $10 registration fee).

Philosophy Works Subway Poster for the subway cars, Spring 2024 ad campaign
Philosophy Works Subway Poster for the subway cars, Spring 2024 ad campaign
Philosophy Works Subway Poster for the subway cars, Spring 2024 ad campaign