Ask First! A Retrotastic Campaign Poster for Dogs in Need of Space

Posted on Feb 4, 2013

from the Design Lab

Many of us have been there, whether we have friendly dogs who love everyone or we have dogs that are not so sure about new people or other dogs, chances are, we have all had a moment or two during a walk or a hike when an encounter leaves our hearts beating a little faster.
I happen to have both: a dog who loves everyone and a dog who loves dogs, but is afraid of people. Regardless, as their person, it is my responsibility to protect them from anything that might harm them or another person or dog.

I was thrilled when the lovely mastermind behind the popular DINOS: Dogs in Need of Space movement, Jessica Dolce contacted us to collaborate on a new project (we had previously worked together on creating a logo, brand and product line for DINOS). Ask First! is a public service announcement campaign to illustrate and bring attention to the importance of being responsible, respectful and safe when out enjoying the outdoors with our four-legged friends.

To read about the campaign, and why it is important to give people and dogs space, please visit her blog HERE. You can also go to her shop from there and download the poster for free or purchase stickers and lots of other goodies.


When Jess and I first sat down to draw some concepts for the poster, two things were at the top of our list: the need for the message to be clear and a love of all things vintage and retro.

So we got to work. Jess wrote all the copy she wanted in the poster and gave me a scenario to start from: two people with dogs cross paths, one dog is very friendly and eager to meet the other, pulling on his leash and directly approaching th other dog. The other dog in question is a DINOS, a dog in need of space, he may be afraid of other dogs or people, he may be in training, he may be in recovery etc. The DINOS dog depends on his person for protection, and so the person pleads with the other to keep a distance from them, with a raised arm and a universal “stop” hand sign.

We drew inspiration mainly from vintage style travel posters like the ones beautifully produced by Anderson Design Group. One of our favorites, being this one for Glacier National Park.

With simple shapes, playing with depth, light and shadow, we were able to create a similar style. Drawing people is no easy feat, especially in a case like this, where a message is being delivered, with a need to appeal to a wide audience, to educate without preaching and to avoid offending anyone.
Why are the people faceless? We thought it appropriate to match the style of the poster, but also, so that we could all put ourselves in that scenario. I’ve been the girl with the friendly dog (more on that below) but I have also been the guy with the DINOS dog.


Inside Look: To get just the right angle of bodies and movement, we took photographs of a girl and a dog very eager to get somewhere and a guy raising his hand in “stop” with his dog by his side, looking up at him. Here’s the kicker, the girl and the brown dog is yours truly (if you know me, my bangs are a dead giveaway) and the brown dog is none other than the Design Lab himself, Corbin, with a different coat color. The guy happens to be Bill (the other half of our team) and the little Beagle by his side, was originally modeled by our own DINOS dog Willow, a Shepherd-Kelpie mix that underwent a serious transformation.

We are thrilled to be a small part of this movement, and hope ti will bring awareness and improve safety and relations for dog lovers everywhere. Thanks to Jess and DINOS for always making collaborations so much fun!

1 Comment

  1. Ali Peterson
    February 4, 2013

    I dig it…and totally agree. You’d think people would be more hesitant to let their dog approach me & my three Pits, but they do it all the time! I wouldn’t mind, but my youngest tends to get overly excited…then the whole pack mentality comes out…then I’m forced to use all my might to hold them back…then I’m to blame for my unapproachable dog. Geesh!


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