Visual pollution is a complicated problem in almost every city in Eastern Europe. The problem stems from various reasons such as lack of regulations for advertising quantity and quality in public spaces and general visual taste of society. For graphic designers and architects, it is a very sensitive topic and there have been many initiatives and forms of activism to tackle it over the past few years. Unfortunately, most of them were of temporary duration and did not have much support in the municipality. However, one exception is graphic designer Veronika Rút Nováková, who continuously works on this topic. Her work is a good case study of how we can move forward with this problem towards a real solution.
She started to focus on the topic during her diploma thesis where she made research about visual pollution in Brno. She made her own key to evaluate visual aspects of companies and businesses in the area between the main railway station and Joštova Street in the city center. In these analyses, she tried to rationalize the argument against visual pollution by moving the focus from emotional aspects to constructive arguments. She created a map and then publication that evaluated the most critical parts (companies, shops etc.) and also helped to identify specific situations that lead to this problem.
After that, she published an announcement addressed to the municipality of Brno, where she defined the main reasons why the city should care about this issue. Surprisingly, the city reacted positively and started to discuss it with Veronika. After several debates and open presentation for officers, she was asked to make a tool that could serve as a precedent for future laws and regulations. The city hired Veronika to define the concept and plan the entire project. She first focused on contacting specialists from different fields that are connected with the problem, such as: businesses, company stakeholders, graphic designers, municipal officers involved with public spaces, specialists from the Heritage Institute, lawyers, and others. After two years of research, she had enough analyses and materials to develop Manuál dobré praxe reklamy a označování provozoven (Manual of Good Practices for Advertising).
The final manual was published in May 2018 and it establishes three main goals – help stakeholders with bureaucratic processes, inspire new solutions and economical tips, and the protection of architectural heritage. So it is connected to different points of view and is more than just a strict regulative document. Despite that, it is just one tool for solutions to this huge problem. But Veronika`s process and story behind it is a good example how initiatives can grow and develop into professional projects that can influence people and help cities. I also appreciate that Veronika got support from the city and was given the responsibility for the entire project, which is really unusual but as we can see possible.