Small businesses (and sometimes even quite large ones) often resort to their own amateur design skills to promote their products and services. These days, we constantly see the results online on social media, but the classic medium is still the flyer or street poster.
Such amateur design works can sometimes be aesthetically painful and fail to convey their intended message. But one designer is doing perhaps the greatest acts of graphic kindness we’ve seen. He’s been anonymously redesigning ads all over New York to make them better — and his heroic effort has become a viral hit on TikTok (see our pick for the best graphic design software if you’re looking to upgrade your own tools).
@cool_lookin_bug (opens in new tab)
♬ original sound – MAX KOLO (opens in new tab)
Max Kolo is a freelance digital artist and filmmaker who has done illustrations for the New York Times and cartoons for Vans. But in the time between jobs, he found an exciting outlet for his skills: improving terrible amateur graphic design without anyone asking for it and for free.
A video of Day 1 of the project on TikTok (@cool_looking_bug), sees Kolo walking around New York looking for pieces of design “that need help”. He picks a flyer of people looking for someone to play Catan. Is the poster trying to grab attention with the phrase “Hey, do you like to play Catan”? but the design needs serious work.
Kolo’s fix includes a custom illustration to replace the weird Photoshop editing, making the piece more fun and exciting and a lot less meme-like. It also reduces the amount of text and increases the font size to draw attention while making the design much less busy.
Kolo says he doesn’t know who the Catan players are or even what Catan is, but we expect his redesign could generate more calls. The original kindness is wonderful, and Kolo also provides some pointers that hobbyists could consider for their own designs. His TikTok is also full of comments from people who want to play Catan.
We can’t wait to see what Kolo gets up to next as he roams New York doing good deeds. He also has an Instagram account where he posts photos that people send him modified with his own sketches.
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