AcademyNew! Background, theory, interviews and cases on non-profit advertising and marketing for social causes.
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week in several countries, so it seemed like the right time to share this series of illustrations by Toby Allen, titled “Real Monsters”:
Although it could be misconstrued as literally demonizing people with mental illness, the externalization of the various disorders as evil creatures who prey on the mind (or soul) is as old as civilization. The characterization of depression as an ominous black dog goes back to Samuel Johnson, and was hauntingly referenced by Nick Drake almost 40 years ago (just before his death):
Toby Allen told Global News that he hopes to draw attention to mental illnesses that often get ignored or aren’t taken seriously.
“I found that drawing my worries and fears as little monsters would help me think about them differently and make my anxiety feel more manageable,” said Allen in an email to Global. “I began to work with these ideas and draw monsters that represented my worries and fears.”
A while back, Noah asked if anyone from Osocio would review The Design Activist’s Handbook. Both Marc and I wrote a review, and Marc posted his first. That explains why there are two reviews of the book on Osocio. If you’d like your book reviewed, please get in touch.
Review of The Design Activist’s Handbook by Noah Scalin & Michelle Taute
This is an excellent book.
I wish I had a few copies on my shelf. I’d hand them out to all the young creatives and design students I meet, when they ask me the questions that all designers with a conscience ask sooner or later:
How did I end up here?
How do I change it?
What choices do I have?
Are there other ways of being a designer?
And above all,
How do I make a living without compromising my values?
This book frames those questions for people who haven’t yet found the ways to ask them. And it provides its readers with ways to answer them. Different ways to think about a career in creativity or design. New models of design business. Ways to find partners, funders, clients and projects that chime with your view of the world.
Both inspiring and practical, it also contains interviews and features with practitioners in conscientious design. People who are, as The Design Activist’s Handbook has it, already both ‘making a difference’ and ‘making a living’. My one minor complaint might be that it could benefit from more global examples – they are all from the US, though to be fair this book is aimed at a US audience.
What it’s not is a conscientious design or design ideas sourcebook. For that, I’d recommend Goodvertising or, you know, the internet (this blog is a good place to start). The design examples it does show are primarily useful because they tell stories about how work was commissioned and created. How it came to be, which, if you’re a conscientious designer, is just as important as what it is.
It will probably put into words what many designers already feel. It will, I hope, inspire a new generation of people to put their talent and creativity into shifting the world on its axis rather than just shifting product. In its pages may be the future creative department of The Good Agency and the next generation of Osocio bloggers. For that alone, we should be thankful.
If you’re a designer or creative, and you want a book that helps you both ask and answer the questions that really matter, buy this one.
The Good Agency
The Nu Project is part of the online movement to show female body diversity to help women of all ages, shapes and sizes feel better about their sexuality. This one is shot by a man, Matt Blum, of Minneapolis.
I started my working career in a printing house. It was in the late seventies, early eighties during the turbulent times in Amsterdam. The glory days of the squatting and anti-nuclear movement.
It was a logical choice to start my working career within those movements. Because of my study and interest in graphic design it all began in a human and environment friendly printing house. Looking back it was an important step in my life.
Consciousness of the things you do. We discussed almost everything. From the choice of printing paper to the content of the printed work. Together and with the clients and suppliers. That wasn’t easy sometimes. Buying a printing press was difficult because of the industry cartel. Recycled paper was hardly made. And suppliers laugh at us when we asked for linseed oil ink.
A review of ‘Goodvertising’, a new book about ‘good’ advertising compiled by Thomas Kolster and published by Thames & Hudson.
It’s a good book –a bit like Osocio, printed out.
I recently had the privilege of being invited to speak and participate in the 2012 Design Ethos Conference/Do-ference at Savannah College of Art and Design.
The creator of the conference, Scott Boylston, is a longtime friend in the relatively small socially conscious design community and I was delighted that he chose to be included in a roster of many other like-minded folks I had know for ages, but most of which I never met in person.
Even more exciting was that for this second ever Design Ethos Conference Scott was initiating a new element: the Do-ference. OK it’s a silly name, but it got the point across: rather than just the typical days of keynote speakers and panels with a lot of schmoozing and backslapping Scott had the crazy idea to actually do something with the talent he was amassing.
The visiting designers, myself included, would not only give talks to the attendees of the conference, but be broken into six groups to work with local students and community members on real projects over the course of the 3 days we were there.
(continues after the break)
He is one of the most innovative contemporary graphical artists, the sage, the thinking man’s designer: Stefan Sagmeister. His most radical work was a poster he created for his lecture in Detroit 1999. The invitation text was scratched into the skin of his torso, then photographed with a large format camera, which made every pore and every drop of blood clearly visible.
Let’s see what Stefan Sagmeister tells us about his life’s lessons thus far.
Lecture on the Department of Design’s introduction course for the new MA students “Wellbeing in the Age of Wicked Problems”. That was in Aalto in Finland.
The course was about the theme of wellbeing, the complex challenges and opportunities that design faces today and tomorrow. Design is now more thought as a strategic and public activity, where in the projects we recognise the needs of the other client, the humankind.
John Thackara is a writer, speaker and design producer, and director of Doors of Perception. He is blogger at Design Observer and he is the author of twelve books including In The Bubble: Designing In A Complex World and Wouldn’t It Be Great If….
Osocio visitors who are familiar with social design know Emily Pilloton. She is founder of Project H, the project to help develop effective design solutions for people who need it most.
In 2009 Emily also wrote Design Revolution, a book about 100-plus objects and systems designed to make people’s lives better.
Earlier this year she spoke at TEDGlobal about her move to rural Bertie County, in North Carolina USA. She’s teaching a design-build class that engages high schoolers’ minds and bodies while bringing smart design and new opportunities to the poorest county in the state.
She strongly believe in these 6 assumptions and practice them all in Bertie Country:
More about the project in this article from Emily Pilloton at design mind.
Related post: Hippo Roller by Project H Design
For the last six years I’ve taught a class on socially conscious design at Virginia Commonwealth University called Design Rebels. I created the class after teaching general design classes and seeing that no one was talking about the issues that drove me to start my on socially conscious design firm in 2001. Namely that design is an extremely powerful tool for affecting change in the world and designers need to be making conscious choices about how and for whom they do this work.
Through readings, discussions, presentations, and self-directed community projects, Design Rebels introduces the students to the range of gray areas they will encounter in their professional lives. But when I started the class the only book that really dealt with the related issues was Naomi Kline’s No Logo and it was not directed specifically towards designers. Lacking a proper textbook I created a course pack culled from dozens of books and articles that represented the range of issues that I wanted to class to discuss. And every year I have added and removed articles attempting to refine it into a functional handbook for the students, while keeping an eye out for something to fill the void.