I’VE BEEN A DESIGNER AND CREATIVE DIRECTOR PROFESSIONALLY FOR NEARLY 20 YEARS. BUT I’VE BEEN A HUMAN BEING ALL MY LIFE! I’VE ALWAYS BELIEVED IN CREATIVITY AND DESIGN AS A POWERFUL TOOL FOR COMMUNICATION AND TO FACILITATE CHANGE. AND THAT ANIMATION HAS A UNIQUE WAY OF TELLING STORIES IMPOSSIBLE BY OTHER MEANS.
Becoming increasingly disillusioned with working in what was essentially product marketing for much of this time, I had been looking for ways to demonstrate my beliefs through my work. This coupled with a growing frustration that my skills should be used for the benefit of causes I felt were important meant I was looking for ways to put this evolving perspective into practice.
So when I saw a Meet-up group was calling for digital creatives to explore how we could use our skills to help the refugee crisis, it immediately struck a chord. I went along to the next meeting not knowing where this might take me.
At the time I knew very little about the crisis beyond what I had seen in the media, but I was moved by the human tragedy as well as being disappointed by the political spin surrounding it. I had a desire to help but no idea what form that might take.
I liked the idea of working with people with different skill-sets that I’d not yet met. Collaboration is an overused word in the creative industries but this was collaborating in its truest sense. Could a group of total strangers come together to create something worthwhile? The possible difficulties were obvious but the potential was more exiting.
Since the first meeting at the end of 2015 I am now setting up a new studio called Working Progress, dedicated to using design and animation to facilitate positive change for people and the planet. The Us & Them project has been a big influence in the shaping of the ethos and vision of the studio and the new direction my work is now taking. I’m a big believer in learning through doing, getting stuck in and trying to make things happen incrementally. Without this attitude there will never be change.
I animated the story of Star and Ana and their journey from Afghanistan to the Calais Jungle camp. And I was involved in the shared creative direction of the project and coming up with its name. I found it difficult to feel like I was doing justice to these people’s experiences. Experiences so far removed from my own, and that of my family and friends, that they were difficult to comprehend.