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Graphic Design Student Makes News With a Unique Project

Born of a desire to raise awareness of global current events, Johnny Selman’s thesis project has taken on a life of its own. The Academy of Art University Graphic Design MFA student started a website, BBCX365, which illustrates a BBC News story each day.

Poster by Johnny Selman – December 1

He has since been featured on the BBC’s website, in London’s Guardian and on the Design Institute of Australia’s website. In short, his website has become a current event.

“I wanted to use my thesis to both expand as a designer and grow as a communicator,” Johnny said. Inspired by his own attempts to remain connected to world events, he committed himself to designing a poster each day based on headlines found on the BBC News website, which he reads daily and considers a trusted news source.

The project continues each morning over a pot of coffee and the daily news. Johnny’s choice of headline depends on a variety of factors.

“My goal with the project is to raise awareness of global current events with the American public, so I try to choose news articles that might slip by their radar,” he said. “I take into account what I have reported on in previous days and try to bring variety to the countries, characters and events that I feature.”

Poster by Johnny Selman – November 11

Using a combination of satire and visual puns to convey meaning, the posters create striking imagery that encourages the viewer to learn more. The project has captured such diverse events as the recent discovery of a Leonardo DaVinci manuscript and Burma’s first national elections in 20 years.

“I strip the posters down to the core message of the story, which is a constant task of self-editing,” said Johnny. He works to be as unbiased as possible as he presents each poster.

His project is working. Readers who comment on the website note that the posters have intrigued and interested them, causing them to take a moment to read the full story.

Graduate Director of Graphic Design at Academy of Art University Phil Hamlett has encouraged Johnny in the project since its inception. “He stressed the importance of a student’s thesis work living beyond the walls of the Academy,” Johnny said. “With his guidance, I was well-armed when I launched the project on September 8.”

Poster by Johnny Selman – November 19

In an effort to expand his audience and engage more Americans with his project, Johnny is taking his posters to the streets. Literally.

On December 16 between 7PM and 10PM, to commemorate the 100th poster, storefronts in San Francisco will display the posters created thus far. The event is free and open to the public. Posters will be displayed on Valencia Street between 17th and 22nd Street.

“The posters will be printed and will be accompanied with a card that explains the news story and the date,” he said.

Johnny offers this advice for fellow graduate students: “Pick your thesis topic wisely. It has to be something that you can let consume your life.”

It is advice that he has heeded himself. After more than three months of creating posters daily, the project continues to present new and exciting challenges. “The headlines change and the subjects vary,” he said. “This keeps it interesting and I’m presented with a new communication problem each morning.”


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