Online portfolio and print on demand catalogs for Graphic Design and Animation graduates from the Department of Design 2012. On this page you will find our conference presentations, and by hovering over the menu groups on the left you can read contextual documents. You are welcome to attend our Grad Show, opening on 29 November 2012 at 6pm, and daily from 30 November to 6 December 9.30am – 4pm.
I AM: To help lessen the occurrence of bullying and empower those at the age of 11-13 who are suffering or have suffered from bullying.
We can never really tell the exact date nor even the era of when it began, but we know that bullying has always existed. Some we see in movies or television, most we hear about in the news; but often we see it with our own two eyes yet never really took the time to do something about it. We try not to obligate ourselves with this issue as long as we are not the one involved. The lack of understanding and empathy has made bullying more severe than it seems.
According to my initial research, New Zealand schools have not been very vigilant with regards to dealing with this issue of bullying. Since I always loved to design for change within the community, I decided to investigate the causes and effects of physical, verbal, emotional and cyber bullying that occur in schools around Auckland. The aim was to graphically design for a campaign that will help raise awareness about this issue, provide a way to lessen these occurrences and empower my chosen target audience of ages 11-13 who are suffering or have suffered from bullying.
After reading a number of psychology papers such as, “Big Bad Bully” by Hara Estroff Marano and “Passive Aggressive Diaries: What Parents Can Do About Bullying” by Signe Whitson, I have gained some idea of what the causes and effects of bullying are. Most people often focus on the victims and how to stop it but never on who the bully is and why they do what they do; not realizing that these bullies live in a state of paranoia where everyone seems to be a threat. Being able to find out these psychological reasons has helped me understand that to overcome bullying, we must influence instead of instructing.(1)
Although I gained a lot of information through reading, there was still a lack of connection between the issue and me that could inspire me to where I wanted to go with my design. It was necessary to retrieve first hand information, which seemed to be more reliant, leading me to conduct an interview for people who have experienced bullying to see how they handled these situations. By interviewing these people, there was more for me to understand and place my shoes in these circumstances and to see the emotional responses of those who have experienced bullying.
As far as I have learned, most people tried to turn this negative experience into a positive one. Which made this idea grow from wanting to create steps to prevent bullying, to raising awareness against bullying and finally coming to a turning point where wanting to overcome the negativity of this issue became the aim. A realization occurred that if the young people were more aware of their self worth and identity, they would less likely be bullied or bully. According to professor Debra Pepler “Bullying is a conflict in which aggression is used to demonstrate power. But aggression and power are not synonyms. I don’t think we want our children to learn lessons about aggression and violence when they have power…Aggression is the wrong way to use power. There are wonderful ways to be leaders without being aggressive.” (1)Most of the time, what surrounds these young people are violence and the harsh reality that the world is a cruel world to live in therefore leading them to live the same way.
My past projects have always chosen to take the message into an extreme negative and enforce a feeling of guilt or self-pity; I believed that to create an impact, I needed to leave a mark or a scar in someone’s mind. One of my main inspirational quotes by Andy Chen said,
‘But if we’re serious about social change, it is necessary to create design that examines the consequences of marginalization on a wider human scale. Our work should not merely address the political injustices wrought by discriminatory laws: it should register the sense of loss inflicted on those who suffer them.’(2)
With this in mind, I developed the idea of showing the negative effects of bullying to enforce the importance of why we should take action. At first, I found myself looking at minimalism and thought it could be the effective way to get the message around. It seemed to me that minimalist posters had a sense of humor; it was simple and straight to the point.
But after testing my designs within a focused group, I found that the age that my target audience are in prefer to have more color and substance in a design; leading to an exploration around the area of illustration and photography. I first found myself experimenting with the idea of hands. It was one of the best metaphor/symbol that I could think of to represent humans and how being part of a body requires working together even if there are a lot of differences between the group.
Thinking about my target audience, I knew that there was a need of having to capture their attention. Young people tend to respond more to color and images that seem to be familiar with them and so I experimented more with color. Although there was a bit of hesitation with my color palettes, I did my best to freshen up the design and choose contrasting colors that would attract my audience even more.
From these ideas, I received a comment from a critique that some people who have experienced bullying that saw my posters felt even worse about themselves. To be emotionally down and be told about how sad that is and that maybe they needed to change themselves affected their self esteem even more. This reminded me of what I read from the journal articles that instead of instructing, we must influence and inspire-in a positive sense.
Looking at the New Zealand Transportation’s advertisement “Ghost Chips” about driving drunk, which looked at the positive side of the issue, its message became more of a hit and created more impact to its target audience. I came to a complete turn around with my project with the need to create a different perspective about this issue and to formulate a plan of tackling it.
This then lead me to looking at campaigns that engages the community into looking at society’s problems in a positive view. The idea then turned into engaging the community into a positive empowerment of oneself, aiming to create personal reflection about the issue of bullying and how it affects them personally. If the young people were more aware of their self worth and understands that there are people who care for them, they would less likely to be fragile to be bullied or apathetic to bully.
The main contextual reference that I wanted to apply in this project would be the use of color, photography and hand drawn illustrations, which caters to my target audience effectively. I think it is safe to say that one of the most important factors in a design would be the color palette, which defines the mood or the aura of the design. I experimented more on color through my branding designs; by this time I wasn’t as hesitant as I was in the beginning and it felt good to take risks with my color palettes.
Taking a leap of faith, I decided to move from just photography into mixed media, combining it with illustration. By juxtaposing these two elements, I found a more in depth portrayal of what the reality is and how the media sugar coats it and sometimes even the opposite. But even though this happens, we can still always find the positive things within ourselves and towards each other. Kerry Roper and Container are both based on UK and have become my inspiration in taking this route for my project. They have taken illustration into a different environment which boosted its impact. These images didn’t need technical or still life drawings to capture the essence of what they are trying to portray due to the already present photograph that it is juxtaposed with.
To promote positive affirmations around high schools in Auckland, I have been working on creating a promotional kit that would enable the spreading of positive affirmations around Intermediate Schools in Auckland. This kit would consist of a series of posters, badges and a shirt in its own packaging. This would then be linked into an existing program where the issue of bullying is being dealt with.
These artifacts would serve as a reminder to the young people that they are more than what they see themselves to be. The positive affirmation that could go around between friends, colleagues and even a whole community through graphic design could impact on the decline in numbers of bullies and those who get bullied.
(1) Marano, Hara Estroff. “Big Bad Bully”. Psychology Today. September 1, 1995. Web. 25 March 2012.
(2)Chen, Andy: Left Me Speechless. Observatory: Design Observer. Observer Omnimedia 2006-2011. Novemeber 2, 20011.