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Q&A with York Tech instructor whose DNC poster defied odds

Steve Ward is no fan of politics.

The York Technical College digital design instructor believes it's too often "negative," "divisive" and "sometimes corrupt."

So it might seem odd that it's Ward who designed the 2012 Democratic National Convention's official poster.

Ward, who also works as a freelance designer, entered the poster contest last fall because he saw it as an opportunity to create an iconic image that could transcend partisan rhetoric and promote American unity.

The competition drew some 400 entries and more than 26,000 votes.

Ward's image of red and blue hands clasped in solidarity along the Charlotte skyline stood out.

Ward, 31, was invited to the September convention in Charlotte, where he will sign copies of the poster.

He also will collect royalties on sales of the image.

Ward talked with The Herald about his experience.

You said you entered the contest despite your perception of politics. How do you view politics, and what separated this particular contest for you?

I sometimes have a negative perception of politics.

It's such a divisive and sometimes corrupt thing. And it's usually people getting into their own groups and talking about how their way is better than someone else's. I thought it would be a way to create something that totally went against that and really brought together both sides.

I thought it was a great opportunity ... to showcase something beautiful and positive.

What made you want to enter the contest?

I got into reading the rules and what the competition was about and (saw) that it couldn't be solely about a political candidate or political party, so it brought more focus to the convention itself and to Charlotte.

I really liked that and thought it was a way to really highlight the city and promote the city.

How did you come up with the poster's title, "Urban Unity?"

I chose "urban" because the convention is in Charlotte, and that's where these people will be coming together.

And of course "unity" is where different sides, different viewpoints, even within the party itself come together for a common cause.

How did you find out that you won?

They surprised me. They had told me to come in for a meeting about doing other merchandising.

When I walked in, I was totally taken off-guard. There was a room full of people congratulating me.