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 and creative work.
Many of our alliance members create work for some of the most influential brands in the world.
And, 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 support social justice. What if our talents were accessible to more than just the 1% ?
What could that world look like?
Right now, many of us in the creative industry are asking:
how can we help?
We’ve heard suggestions such as:
• Call your representatives
“Before we need you as a designer, we will need you as a citizen ... The most important thing you can do is make phone calls.”
• Stay Hydrated
• Work ethically at your day job
“We need you working ethically at your day job, much more than we need you working with that non-profit.”
• Get plenty of rest
• Don’t work for fascists
• Make sure to vote
And, while getting politically involved and taking care of yourself are important, we must not underestimate the power of the work we do and the positions of influence that we hold.
Over the past half century, our industry has helped to make brand names more desirable than human rights, and mainstream media more influential than truth. We've helped make products more well known than the content of our constitution.
If we strip away all the pretense and fancy language about what we do, it comes down to one thing: we sell things to people. Not always products. Sometimes ideas, or information.
And we’re great at it.
Our work can convince people that they need things they don’t need, and want things that they can’t afford. It’s powerful, persuasive stuff.
So, what can designers and creative professionals do to help?
We’re so glad you asked.
Persuade and influence, by using the power of symbolism, association, and metaphor to evoke emotion, and incite action, like the iconic posters designed by Shepard Fairey:
Create safe spaces on the internet and protect free speech, like this emergency website with enhanced cyber-security that Visible Studio Partner Presence Agency created in less than two weeks for the Nonprofit org Yemen Peace Project to protect them from hacking during the Yemeni Bodega Strike in protest of the Muslim ban:
Transcend language and communicate across ideological and cultural barriers to get important information to those who need it most:
Increase visibility, influence, and recognition like the work of entire creative teams at magazines like National Geographic, who since the election, have increased their focus on content to highlight diversity:
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.
As citizen designers, we too have power. But, for too long we’ve sold and given that 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.
Giving away our power has led to one place—to this point in time and history.
Now, it’s time for us to start selling something different. The things we really need, and that we can’t afford to do without: diversity, inclusion, black lives, religious freedom, truth, peace, and human rights.
How much work will it take? How much work did it take to convince people they needed an iPhone?
This is not a weekend project. It’s going to take the largest creative team you’ve ever worked with. We promise you, this is the most important client you’ll ever work for. And, this time, your work really will change the world. How do we know?
Because, truly, we believe in the power of design.