Category Archives: social design

Spotlight: Elise Rose | Photographer

I LOVE finding new creatives and artists to be inspired by, and after reading an article about one of my favourite humans Travis Alabanza on ItsNiceThat, the accompanying photos caught my eye:

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Elise Rose is a British photographer who’s creative aesthetic is Punk expression. Elise uses her imagery to convey raw and authentic narratives, and originally started off with a project called POC Punx – a photography series focusing on the black experience of Punk.

Growing up, I was one of 3 people of colour involved in a scene that felt unquestionably white. In an effort to visually dismantle the idea that punk is essentially a white thing, I began to take photographs of friends and inspirational people of colour in punk and alternative music scenes. Within this series I wanted create straight-ups, intimate snapshots and images that capture the energy and power of their presence at shows. On many occasions, particularly with the straight up’s, I’ve used different compact and disposable cameras as I feel theres’s something really unpretentious and unfiltered about the snapshots they produce. I feel that it compliments the movement.

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I love how Elise’s portfolio sways from untamed edge to editorial art direction, but still maintains a strong aesthetic. What a talent!

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Pride: Gavin Grimm | My Trans Hero

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Pride has fully kicked off here in London, and with that I have created this illustration as an ode to one of the most inspiring and tenacious young men to have taken on the US judicial system. Gavin Grimm is a 19-year-old from Virginia, who came out as transgender to his fellow classmates at 15. The school he attended had allowed him to use the male bathrooms, however revoked this right after an uproar of complaints from “disgusted” parents.
What should have been a private and intimate discussion for a child, turned into a worldwide spectacle. As a child, Gavin had to stand in front of his peers, teachers and the court to fight for his right to use a bathroom. A CHILD. Gavin sued his district for violating the Title IX (US Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex” in education) and was immediately thrust into the spotlight as the face of bathroom rights for trans* people. Two years later in 2016, a 2-1 decision marked the first time a federal court had ruled that Title IX protects transgender individuals and their right to use the bathroom that aligns with their identity.

The battle continued as a district court initially ruled against Gavin, but was ordered to review its ruling after the Obama administration issued a guidance advising public schools to let trans* students to use whichever bathrooms they like. The case entered the Supreme Court but was quickly suspended as the Trump administration withdrew the previous guidance on bathroom use, therefore sending the case back to the lower courts.
Fast forward to May 2018 where the case has been revived and could end up making lasting changes to transgender rights in America. The school requested to dismiss Gavin’s case, but a Virginia court has rejected this request as US district judge Arenda Wright Allen’s refused to throw out his case, even suggesting that Gavin might win:

As Mr. Grimm contends, attempting to draw lines based on physiological and anatomical characteristics proves unmanageable: how would the Board’s policy apply to individuals who have had genital surgery, individuals whose genitals were injured in an accident, or those with intersex traits who have genital characteristics that are neither typically male nor female?

Gavin graduated from high school in 2017, but has continued to fight this battle, leaving behind a legacy of transgender activism. From the moment I heard his story, his determination and perseverance stunned me. Children should not be forced to grow up so quickly, nor should they be forced to justify their existence to a court, and to the rest of the world. Gavin is a true American hero and has pathed the way for transgender rights.

Gavin is what makes me proud to be a part of Pride.

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Project Embrace | #AFROVISIBILITY

Ad agency (and previous place of employment for yours truly when I had just started out) Quiet Storm were commissioned by branding agency Vine Creatives to create a series of posters for Project Embrace.

The campaign aims to shine the light on every day women of colour who are proud of their natural hair. #Afrovisibility is a reaction to the fact that Afro hair is rarely seen in any advertising, let alone on giant city-centre billboards, but these will feature in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton, Newcastle and Glasgow.

The outdoor campaign by Quiet Storm features beautifully shot, powerful imagery featuring black women, all cast through an open audition, which includes a teacher, a finance manager, a writer, a receptionist, a student and an HR partner. The tag line “Proud to be me” boldly overlays these real women who are celebrating their natural hair.
In the last few years I have taken an interest in educating myself about the pressures placed on black women to change their hair to more European styles, and this is very evident in film, TV, music and advertising. With more and more more women of colour bravely sharing their stories of traction alopecia (hair loss from sewn in weaves and braids) and their stories of hating their own hair, it is a wonderful for black women of all ages and backgrounds to see that they shouldn’t feel pressurised to spend money on expensive weaves or straighten their hair, and should embrace the ‘fro!

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CALM: Project 84

CALM (The Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a charity dedicated to preventing male suicide, and a charity that has a big place in my heart. I am a ig supporter of the charity and always enjoy seeing what campaigns they produce to lift the lid on a subject that is unnecessarily, and dangerously taboo. Male suicide is the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK, and ad agency adam&eveDBB collaborated with CALM to raise awareness of this statistic.

Project 84 is a stunt campaign that placed 84 mannequins on the ledges of London’s ITV Southbank buildings to represent 84 real men who committed suicide. The number originates from the statistic that every two hours, a man takes his own life, making about 84 deaths per week. Sculptor Mark Jenkins, created this work of art alongside friends and families of those who have committed suicide:

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This campaign is about both raising awareness and showing that there is no shame in men talking about their mental health. I love this kind of work, and I think it has been executed perfectly. More importantly, it’s had a hell of a lot of people talking about this male epidemic, with users on social media tweeting images of the sculpture and the hashtag #Project84.

This is what design and advertising is all about.

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Spotlight: Henry James Garrett | Drawings of Dogs

Brighton based illustrator Henry James Garrett aka Drawings of Dogs first created his wonderful illustrated stories after dropping out of his PhD studies due to anxiety. He started drawing and creating stories as a means of soothing his anxiety, which eventually lead to selling greeting cards. This is his story, wonderfully illustrated, of course:

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I first found out about Henry’s illustrations from Pride London who have collaborated with him for this year’s Pride festival. Prior to this he currently has a series of weekly cartoons for The i Newspaper, which features other animals, called Adventures in Anthropomorphism. The comic above is a narrative told by Billie, Henry’s real life dog, which first appeared in CALMzine, a magazine for mental health charity CALM. This makes me love Henry even more because I am a huge supporter of CALM.

So he’s created illustrations for Pride and CALM. He’s living my dream.

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Pride tweeted “Homophobia can duck off! Around 1,500 animal species practice same-sex coupling. Only one species practices homophobia.”

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“Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. Always assume that a person is an expert in themself.”

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Above are some of the illustrations he has created for Pride, but he also covers other topics like racism, feminism, kindness, politics, and of course his usual funny animal jokes:

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I love his style – the simple, line drawn illustrations is reminiscent of my own preferred illustration style. I have always been drawn (pun intended) towards art that conveys a strong message and make us question how we treat each other. Comics that make us giggle are great too – let’s not under-appreciate his copy skills.

I honestly will be here forever if I post all my favourites, so make sure you check out his Instagram.

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Tinder: Invention of Together

Production company Buck have worked with Tinder to create this adorable animation for the dating app. It’s a far cry from what I would expect from Tinder, but the “history of man and woman” concept works really well. It seems Tinder are trying to move away from being seen as a hookup app, and more about finding someone with a connection:

In this epic history of man and womankind’s eternal struggle to couple… and do other things, the good folks at Tinder let us get our art on to create a luscious world where people have wonderbutts… and the same face.

Will this animation help the apps reputation? I’m not so sure… but from a creative perspective it’s a fantastic narrative with strong connotations towards the evolution of man and woman both physically and emotionally. ‘Invention of Together’ shows how thousands of years ago choosing who you wanted to date or love wasn’t an option – the narrative explores forced marriages, religious and moral differences – but now with the freedom to date who we want, Tinder aims to make this even easier to build new connections. We see a nod to the struggles of having homophobic parents and the celebration of the legalisation of interracial marriage.

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I recommend looking at Buck’s development section on their website to see the process of the wonderful character design. Buck used physical sets with computer generated characters, which required a month of shooting and eight weeks of postproduction. They really committed to the idea of evolution of man and woman by making each of the characters from the same body: “One of the concepts that we had was that all of mankind is from the same place and I guess to make the characters feel like they were all one family. So if you watch, the caveman [bodies] are the same as the modern-day characters’ [bodies]”:

The film will be rolled out online globally, following its debut in South Korea in December 2017. You can also see some awesome BTS shoots here.

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Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious

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2017 has been a tough year…
I seem to have unintentionally created a series of illustrations about Donald Trump! It’s impossible to avoid the damage he has caused during his presidency, and his actions have become material for my illustrations.

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National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | Logic: 1-800-273-8255

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This creative mashup is a wonderful example of when music, film, advertising and a PSA come together to create a piece for such an important issue – suicide. The song was created in partnership with the federal government initiative and was named “1-800-273-8255” as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number. The song was written and produced by American rapper Logic, alongside producers 6ix, and features guest vocals from singer-songwriters Alessia Cara and Khalid. The song was performed in August last year at the MTV Video Music Awards and received a well deserved nomination for Song of the Year at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards. At the VMAs, Logic shared the stage with suicide attempt survivors and consequently the line received 5,041 calls following the emotional performance.

The song and video takes us through a narrative of a young man’s life feeling suicidal, considering suicide and eventually coming out on top as an older adult. The context itself explores a lot of issues that people of all ages, races and backgrounds have to face. I think it’s a very clever choice that the directors chose when casting the actors for the video, as suicide amongst young men is an epidemic of the 21st century. Additionally, there is a cultural representation explored as the main character comes from a family that racially, typically has traditions and values not associated with talking about emotions, sexuality and depression in men.
Although the video narrates serious themes, including racism, politics and Logic’s own biracial identity, ultimately, the song delivers a message of hope. I think this should be shown to young people in schools across the globe. It is incredible that someone in the music industry (who is nowhere near as popular as his other VMA performer counterparts) put so much time, effort and heart into a project. The results speak for themselves: on the day of the release, the lifeline received over 4,573 calls, and a 27% increase from the usual volume. Also, the NSPL website saw a monthly boost of 100,000 visits, from an average of 300,000 up to 400,000, in the two months after the song’s release. Google searches for the phone number doubled immediately after April, and they remain consistently 25% above the previous average today.

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HSBC: Global Citizen | Together We Thrive

Richard Ayoade and loads of dogs? Yes please! This new advert for HSBC by ad agency J Walter Thompson (London) is what we all need in the lead up to Brexit. The narrative explores the thoughts of many liberal, pro-EU folk by naming international everyday brands, services and products that Brits use, from Colombian coffee; to French bulldogs; to Swedish flat-pack furniture; to Indian takeaways. This is exactly what I’ve thought about after reading depressing tweets from key-board warriors defending blatantly discriminatory, anti-culture-blending “British principals”. Despite our country taking full advantage of global innovation, many Brits still express an archaic distain for “people coming into our country” (the worst phrase of all) whilst simultaneously utilising ubiquitous imported products… Ayoade wonderfully highlights this irony:

We live on a wonderful lump of land in the middle of the sea. But we are not an island. We are part of something far, far bigger.

“Together We Thrive” is the bank’s newest tagline since “The World’s Local Bank” from 2011. The 60-second TV ad is set to the soundtrack of Edward Elgar’s Nimrod, and is accompanied by print, outdoor and digital ads (which also features Ayoade, one of my favourite British comedians) to promote the bank’s sponsorship of British Cycling, its £10bn Small Business Fund and its support of The Prince’s Trust.

Adverts for banks in the UK have rarely been praised amongst creatives, because they tend to follow little to no creativity or uniqueness. I think the only time I’ve ever blogged about a UK bank is the NatWest rebrand, and that was about design, not a creative TV ad. I think this is because advertising for banks tends to focus on a service (which is understandable) rather than venturing into alternative ways to market themselves and stand out from the crowd. When banks try to create ads that speak to “the people”, they can came across as incredibly disingenuous and cringey, like NatWest’s ‘We are what we do’. With this in mind, some people may believe that HSBC and JWT have taken advantage of a currently strained political climate where a lot of brands are jumping on the “social-change” bandwagon. However, I think JWT have tackled problems with division and racism within the UK in a really clever way – by using humour and fact, mixed with core principles from HSBC’s brand background:

We have been connecting the world through trade for 152 years. Our new ad campaign reflects our proud international heritage and our commitment to helping people, businesses and communities in the UK to thrive.

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Procter & Gamble: The Talk

Get the tissues out! This short film by BBDO (New York) was created for My Black is Beautiful, a group of visionary black women at P&G (created in 2006) to spark a broader dialogue about black beauty. The megaconglomerate owning almost every brand (apart from those owned by Unilever) showcases unique, and real stories with the aim of encouraging viewers to start a conversation on social media with the hashtag #TalkAboutBias.

“The Talk” narrates 6 stories of different generations of black families and the talk parents have to have with their children about discrimination. This is an ad for all countries, but the specific reference to police violence in the US is a very clear statement from P&G, and one that needs to be talked about. Although P&G have stated this is not a political statement, but a reflection of real life, some self righteous white people are claiming that it supports “cop-hate” – of course, making it about them rather than the issue at hand – racial bias.
Well, Dove, this is how it’s done! If a brand or an agency wants to talk about racism and discrimination, this is exactly how it should be communicated. The campaign doesn’t end there – a series of conversations about various aspects of racial bias continues on P&G’s “The Talk” website.

Damon Jones, P&G’s Director of Global Company Communications said:

Great advertising opens hearts and changes minds, but doesn’t have to stop there. We believe great advertising can inspire real, lasting change. That’s the aspiration behind ‘The Talk’. These real-life conversations about conscious and unconscious bias are too common in homes across the country and weigh heavily on parents and children of many different backgrounds. We take seriously the opportunity to spark dialogue on what we all can do to put an end to the harmful effects of bias, and motivate true change.

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