Do the right thing

Design Indaba Alumnus Luba Lukova’s poster portfolio is a call to action

On the back of Luba Lukova’s ‘Designing Justice’ exhibition, which ran at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) in Cincinnati until 22 March, the New York-based artist has released a portfolio containing eight of her stark, provocative prints that tackle pressing social issues. 


These works, which form part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), tackle a range of pressing social issues, from war and peace to immigration, the environment, censorship and income inequality. 





The 11x17-inch prints in Designing Justice bring Lukova’s work into homes, offices and classrooms – they offer discussion points that engage with the complexity of our existence in a globalised, unequal world. 

When the artist’s 55-piece exhibition of the same name opened at the NURFC, journalist Clancy Burke asked art expert Cody Hefner to unravel the meaning behind Lukova’s work. He focused on ‘LIC Blues (Gentrification 2)’, which addresses the ongoing gentrification of Long Island City, where a thriving musical scene is being throttled by high-end real-estate enterprises. A harmonica is artfully dropped in among visually similar condominium towers – a plea for the survival of creativity in precincts becoming increasingly soulless. 


According to Hefner, “[Lukova] looked at her neighbourhood and realised all these old buildings that used to house characterful art studios, and were generational homes to all these folk, were being torn down and replaced with high-end real-estate enterprises. And this gentrification is not something that’s isolated to New York City… But it makes us think about the people who are being forced out.”




The Bulgarian-born artist hopes her images will change the world by stirring people to act – to take up causes she highlights in her economical artworks, which employ saturated colour, stark outlines and metaphorical images to get her heavy-hitting message across. 


Considered one of the most original image-makers working in design today, Lukova has received international acclaim for her commentary on complex social issues. She has steadily gained a following for her stance on making art “central to human existence” and the way in which she aligns “morality and creativity”.


While Lukova’s posters touch on justice in a wide range of contexts, her ultimate message involves doing the right thing in your own community. With artworks that are shown across the globe, Lukova’s work demands attention for its artistic force as much as its political statements.

Order a copy of Luba Lukova’s ‘Designing Justice’ (Clay & Gold, 2021), which tackles issues of humanity and inequity through a contemporary lens, by clicking here.



Read more:

Designing for justice: Communication designer Ananya Khaitan tackles social issues in India.

Antenna 2021 graduate Anandita Ayesha Rangarajan’s Hate, Spaces, Ghettos project uses architecture as a means of political and social critique.

Hyperakt: Social impact design.


Credits: Luba Lukova