Design can inform, educate and promote social change. When creating design with a social vision, designers can communicate and visualise complex problems, shape opinions, force the viewer to confront difficult issues, and stimulate social action.
At Piquant Media, we have been tasked with working on multiple design projects with a social vision that we care about. In this piece, our Graphic Designer Victoria Brunetta looks at her work on the It Stops Now campaign, which aims to end sexual violence and harassment in third level institutions.
Designing a social movement
There are challenges when trying to visualise a social movement. Victoria explains how these challenges determine the Graphic Designer’s mission when design is devoted to change.
“One of the first challenges that comes up when we start to think about a campaign concept or a graphic piece for a human rights-related issue is finding the best way to deliver a message that allows for a good understanding of a complex problem, and is committed to express dignity, respect and sensibility.”
“I hold the opinion that our mission when visualising a social movement is also to bring in to question the perceptions most people have around issues such as feminism, homelessness, immigration, poverty, racism, education, environment… In other words, how can we challenge dominating stereotypes that harm the dignity of the most vulnerable and communicate a clear, powerful message that encourages people to take action? Or, eventually, how can that message give the audience a different perspective on community development and social change? In my eyes, ultimately, the challenge when trying to visualise a social movement or any human rights related issue, is how can I, as a Graphic Designer, help people to live in a more equal society?”.
Graphic Designers as Social Communicators
The most essential part of a social movement is engagement from the audience, and Graphic Design is integral to this aim.
“As Graphic Designers, we should be aware of the responsibility we have in our community as we don’t only design nice and attractive shapes, we are social communicators, no matter what type of client we’re working for. How we develop and visualise a communication strategy will eventually impact on people’s perception. For better or worse, Graphic Designers have become key actors in the consumption chain development.”
“We’re living in a complex society, understanding and analysing the impact of media and our role as Graphic Designers in it could maybe help to deliver a more inclusive message and tackle the more damaging sides of capitalism.”
It Stops Now – Ending sexual violence and harassment in third level institutions
The ESHTE project aims to prevent and combat sexual violence and harassment in 3rd level education throughout Europe. The project is funded by the European Commission. The It Stops Now campaign was developed as part of this project.
The It Stops Now campaign will build a culture of zero tolerance of sexual harassment and violence in third level institutions by raising awareness through active campaigning, training and policy resources for students and staff.
We designed the It Stops Now brand to engage, challenge and inform. It is factual, bold and unapologetic. The brand recognises the profound nature of the subject matter and is designed with the flexibility to alter its tone depending on context.
For Victoria, working on this campaign had massive personal significance, intensifying her feelings of solidarity with the women’s rights movement in her home country, Argentina. “The experience of working on the design for a social movement like It Stops Now has had a big impact on my career.”
“As a Latin American woman, the struggle is real. Unfortunately, I’m very aware of what it means to be exposed to harassment and to be constantly at risk of sexual violence. I come from a country where sadly I have to say that a woman is killed every 35 hours.”
‟It’s shocking and unbearable to read that we have one of the highest rates of femicide in the world. So we’re all survivors. Therefore, I’m also proud of the women’s rights movements in Argentina, they are working very hard to change this situation. I’m trying to play my part here in Ireland, helping to enhance our rights, working and standing for all womankind. The “It Stops Now” campaign has been a unique opportunity so far: an opportunity to realise the dream of a more equal society for women, and the most vulnerable.”