Design and Storytelling for Japan Relief

It's been devastating. An earthquake. The tsunami. And now a nuclear emergency. The scope of Japan's suffering is almost too big to bear. Artists, in their own small way, have lent their support to disaster relief by offering these simple and compelling designs-for-donations.  Here is a sampling of some of the ones I've seen in recent days.

Threadless launched the "Japan and Pacific Relief T-shirt Challenge," asking people to design a t-shirt around the theme of "sunrise." View the submissions here. Threadless will donate 100% of net proceeds from the sale of each t-shirt to The American Red Cross's Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami fund. Zazzle.com is also donating a portion of the sales from these custom-design t-shirts to the relief effort.

AIGA, the professional association for design, asked "How Can Designers Support Relief Efforts in Japan?" The answer is still inconclusive: "Although we know designers want to help, it may take some time and investigation to realize where our help is most needed," AIGA Executive Director Richard Grefé writes. But lessons may be learned from other design initiatives following natural disasters, like the "Leave No Designer Behind" initiative that launched in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to locate every affected AIGA member and to help any other designers displaced by the catastrophic storm. Assistance included housing, design contacts, job opportunities, printing of new stationery and business cards, and replacement software or equipment. Read some of the success stories on Displaced Designer. It's worth noting that AIGA plans to launch a new program this spring, Design for Good, asking designers to dedicate 5 percent of their time to pro bono causes.

Flavorwire compiled a great collection of affordable artworkprofits from the salest of which will go to charitable organizations involved in the relief effort. Famed advertising giant Wieden + Kennedy will also donate all net proceeds from their Help Japan poster.

Tomomi Sasaki of Global Voices Online highlights three examples of "Social Art and Design for Earthquake Relief," including Pray for Japan logos to use in print, websites and social media; the #setsudencopy crowd-sourced poster design initiative to promote energy conservation and efficiency; and the #newday_GEISAI hashtag that encourages artists to upload their work to Twitter's image hosting sites, in lieu of exhibiting at the GESAI art and design event, which was cancelled in the wake of the disasters.

To find other ways to help, check out Google Crisis Response, which includes a list of places where you can donate, an online "person finder," and information on shelters, transit status, flight status, government agencies and other emergency resources. GOOD magazine also has a constantly updated list of ways to aid those in need. Meanwhile, check out YouTube's new Person Finder (消息情報) channel that features video messages from people looking to reunite with their loved ones, shot by TBS, a major Japanese TV station. Other content providers and user-submitted videos should be on their way.