Ellen Stoehr Design
freelance creative director \\ designer


Thoughts become things


This is an opinion blog

about typography, design, and the challenges or innovations across different projects as entrepreneur but it also hosts personal challenges, wins and opinions.

May you learn from my findings and lessons. Proceed with caution.


Blessed Ramadan; Designing a sign for the MN Council of Churches


Whilst having a leisure lunch on a Saturday in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis with my boyfriend, his family, and family friends Mark and Peg, we caught up on what's new in our worlds. After some personal conversations and professional conversations, Peg Chemberlin, CEO of Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) brought us up to speed on an upcoming project that the MCC was working on for the 2016 Muslim Ramadan; a lawn sign with a simple message. She mentioned she was without a designer and I immediately offered my services, for I was thrilled at the opportunity to be a part of something so mindful and progressive during such a time of displaced hate.

The issue
We are in a context of increased disrespect for Muslims. From hate crimes to a presidential campaign where fear and hate speech seem to becoming more of the norm. Perhaps Minnesotans, as our best selves, could turn the tides with a shared narrative of respect that stands in quiet opposition to the bigotry and hatefulness.

The solution
A sign design to place in the yards of communities with a simple message, "To Our Muslim Neighbors: Blessed Ramadan," during the Ramadan season; the beginning of consideration for an opportunity to grow a movement this Ramadan.

Overall, the design process was smooth, considering we were on a tight deadline to get the sign ready for the month of June, the Ramadan season. My approach to the project's functionality was simple: Displaced Muslim hatred is due to ignorance and the lack of understanding. The streamlined solution, from a design perspective, is making people want to understand Muslim religion, culture, etc… versus continuous stubborn hatred.

The Blessed Ramadan sign should beg the question, “What is Ramadan? Why is it important? Why am I seeing these signs?”

Color considerations
My initial thought was the sign should be brightly colored, and for two reasons: The color palette of Ramadan is very bright, full or oranges, pinks, purples, golds, greens, and blues and because June’s seasonal color palette mirrors those tones. The end result was a color palette consisting of complementary colors orange and blue, to mimic dusk and dawn of the Ramadan season.

Typography treatment
Typography was going to be the most important part of the design, specifically for the words, “Blessed Ramadan.” I eliminated the idea of using any Devanagari scripts because this was an American sign, primarily designed to support the Ramadan season, to sit on the lawns of non-Muslim homes and mimicking Muslim fonts would be confusing. I knew that a sans serif might feel too modern and a serif might feel too academic or scholarly. I experimented with a handful of slab serifs, both old and new. The final verdict was a typeface called Museo, a semi-serif which felt progressive, celebratory, and sincere while at the same time, conveyed an emotional layer, is taken seriously and thought-provoking.

The outcome
Working with the team at MCC was incredibly pleasant for multiple reasons: everyone had an opinion so getting feedback was easy, email communication was timely and efficient, and the team was incredibly receptive to my design process and perspective. I am thrilled to have been a part of this project because it has opened my eyes to Ramadan—what it is, when it takes place, and why the tradition takes place and moving forward, what steps I can take to dilute the displaced hatred for Muslims.

Make a donation to get a Blessed Ramadan sign by clicking here.

Here are some related articles:

Kare 11: Churches launch Ramadan campaign
Fox 9 News: Minnesotans using yard signs to fight Islamophobia