High Visibility. Low Risk.



Our larger objective was to get Indiana University to sign the Open Covid Pledge. With this image we wanted to initiate the conversation in a way that wouldn’t be overlooked as easily as a typical email might.

The Project:

This is a screen shot of a section of an email that we sent to leaders at Indiana University. First we designed images of hand-decorated facemasks that connected the Open Covid Pledge to IU values. We then photoshopped them onto the headshots of IU leaders we were emailing about the Open Covid Pledge. We paired the image with text that highlighted how IU had already embraced open licensing in the fight against COVID-19. We emphasized that for IU, signing the Open Covid Pledge would be “High Visibility, Low Risk.” The email included relevant hyperlinks and a brief introductory message.


Make a version for your target.

What worked?

These messages combined images and language that we’d been exploring in other contexts – here it really came together cohesively. Also, everyone we sent these images to responded to us (although these images might not be why that happened).

Reflections from Laura Holzman

What was the process/journey of creating this work?

We initially wanted to do something that had a personal touch. We also wanted to connect signing the Open Covid Pledge to IU’s values and to celebrate a way that the university had already contributed to the open sharing of information related to the pandemic. An IU professor had designed an origami face mask and freely shared the pattern. We’d identified key IU values for a previous project, and we thought it might work well to put those values and a mention of the Open Covid Pledge on one of the origami masks.

It wasn’t feasible to send hand-painted face masks, so we came up with a digital alternative. Megan is a painter, so she made an image of the embellished masks. We considered just sending an image of the mask but decided instead to photoshop it onto the headshot of the person we were sending it to. That extra step made it more personal – and it’s hard to ignore a picture of your own face. By doing this we ended up making an image that envisioned the outcome we wanted – leaders at IU supporting the Open Covid Pledge.

We paired the image with some carefully written text – language that we hoped would be short enough that someone would read it, and language that made a clear case for why IU should adopt the Open Covid Pledge.

Another important factor here is that I’m a professor at IU – I sent the emails from my university address with a personalized note that explained that this was related to my scholarship. Even though this email didn’t make anyone immediately sign the pledge, we think it put the issue on a number of people’s radars and helped open up a conversation.

About this project

May, 2020

Image/graphic, Online/web thing, Writing

United States, Indianapolis


Creative Commons BY-NC-SA