Do you remember what it felt like to wake up that morning –the morning of November 9, 2016?
On that morning, we, The Beauty Shop team, came into the studio. We hugged. We cried. Julie went to buy a new phone.
And then, we collectively decided that business as usual was a privilege that we could no longer afford.
At 11am, we posted this message to our Instagram followers:
With the caption: Our new homepage. As designers we have a responsibility to use our skills to help those that will need representation the most in the coming four years. Contact us if you'd like to help. Pass it on.
And they did pass it on. Within 48 hours, close to 300 designers, coders, copywriters, strategists, and other creative professionals had volunteered to help. We quickly realized that this was much larger than just The Beauty Shop, and the idea for Visible was born.
We started Visible because we believe in the power of design.
Many of us in the creative industry create work for some of the most influential brands in the world.
Our work is a large part of why these brands carry such enormous influence and power. But, we also know that designers don’t work alone. When we partner with others in the creative industry, our power is compounded.
We believe that small non-profits, grassroots organizations, and those working to protect our most vulnerable communities deserve access to the same quality creative work as Nike, Google, and Apple.
To some of you, this might sound impossible.
But I assure you, we’re serious.
Imagine, if we took even a small portion of the energy and effort we put toward product launches and corporate brands, and devoted that same kind of passion toward projects that empower vulnerable communities, defend civil rights, and mend social divides?
What if our talents were accessible to more than just the 1%?
What could that world look like?
We know that if we choose to reposition our talents and effort —our power— that we can influence change.
Right now, many of us in the creative industry are asking:
how can we help?
And, while getting politically involved, not working for fascists, and self care are all a good start, they are not enough.
So, what can designers do to help?
We’re so glad you asked.
Persuade and influence
Like the iconic work of Shepard Fairy, that mobilizes the power of symbolism, association, and metaphor to evoke emotion, incite action, and influence change.
Transcend language and communicate across ideological and cultural barriers
The Isotype, an early form of design as activism, was created by Marie and Otto Neurath. After being forced to leave Vienna by the rise of Austrian fascism, The Isotype system was created to “promote a democratization of knowledge” and is the predecessor to what we now refer to as pictograms.
Increase visibility, influence, and recognition
Entire creative teams at magazines like National Geographic have effectively used their broad platforms to increase focus on content to highlight diversity since the election.
But, we also know our talents can be used to reinforce power structures and exploit movements in the name of profit 😞
We see the influence of our work every day.
Of course you shouldn't design that wall, or code the Muslim registry website. In 2017 it’s not enough to just work ethically at your day job.
We must intentionally use our talents for good.
Across the country, people are realizing that ordinary citizens have real power. In the streets, in airports, and at town halls.
Just as it’s time to show our power as citizens, it’s time to show our power as designers.
For too long we’ve sold and given our power away: to corporations, to politicians, to a belief that someone else knows what’s best for us, and that someone else will protect us. To the assumption that someone else will do the work, while we post photos of brunch.
Not recognizing our power has led to one place—to this point in time and history.
Well, here we are. How do you like this place?
We know that our work matters.
That it shapes how a brand is seen and what a consumer decides to purchase.
But it’s even more powerful than that— it can change how we look at ourselves, each other, our leaders, our country, and the world we live in.
It can compel us to act, help us relate to those we’ve misunderstood, challenge us to recognize the place we’re in and how to move forward and reset our trajectory toward progress — for everyone.