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Empowering Women and Girls’ Voices Through Collaborative Design

BA (Hons) Graphic Design students collaborated on a live brief for Trevi’s Reclaim The Night March, creating impactful placards through screen printing.
<p>Arts University Plymouth BA (Hons) Graphic Design students Hannah Gray, Liam Olczyk, Cynthia Lewarne, Emily Grabham and Jessika McCarron, recently took on a live brief as the design team for Trevi’s Reclaim The Night March, a national award-winning women's rights charity based in the South West.<br /></p>
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<p dir="ltr">The project was led by <a href="">Sue Lewry</a>, a lecturer on the BA (Hons) Graphic Design course, to guide and inform their responses to a live brief. Application of their combined skill set was used to communicate and translate statements given by Trevi, onto placards. The placards were then produced in-house at the University for Trevi’s ‘Reclaim The Night’ March which took place on the streets of Plymouth earlier this year. </p> <p dir="ltr">This article is written as a joint endeavour by third year Hannah alongside first year students Jess and Emily. These three students share their perspectives and experiences of working collaboratively on such an important project. <br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">“As a group along with two other third-year students Liam Olczyk and Cynthia Lewarne, we found it important to understand the purpose and context in which the designs would be seen. Being able to work on a live brief was such a valuable experience as the real-world aspect got us to consider the application and context of our designs. It was important to us that we conveyed Trevi's message with impact, that it came across in a loud and respectful way, but still held our individual design aesthetic.”<br /></p>
We could relate to the content of the placards. It really drove home how important it was for us all to do a good job, not just as designers but as people too.
Hannah Gray, BA (Hons) Graphic Design student at Arts University Plymouth
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<p dir="ltr">“The project presented a few new challenges to us all, pushing our creative boundaries. Designing placards was a new experience for us all as it was a completely new medium and application. Navigating such a large scale was new, as we had to accommodate the limitations set by the screen print process.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Working and designing for Trevi, a charity we care about and believe in, was such an exciting moment. The tight turnaround really empowered the collaboration within our team to strive to create something worthy of the march. We quickly found we could be open and honest with each other in terms of feedback and suggestions, which was beneficial to us all, as it pushed our designs to create more developed outcomes for Trevi. Our meetings were constructive, respectful, supportive and positive, which helped with the short deadline we had been given.”<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">“The screen printing workshop was an eye-opening experience, seeing members of the public taking part in the process and getting involved was amazing. The joy stemmed from witnessing members of the public screen print our designs onto placards right in front of us. We loved getting involved with members of the public as they got to explore a skill and medium most had never worked with before.”<br /></p>
Designing the placards was a new experience for me as I had never designed anything similar and knowing it was going towards a live brief added a bit more of a challenge.
Emily Grabham, BA (Hons) Graphic Design student at Arts University Plymouth
<p>“The moment when the screens lifted to reveal the printed placards underneath was the cherry on top. Seeing people’s reactions to their printed placards was great. The public even incorporated their own flair and personality into our designs after the workshop, merging what was once ours to theirs. Everyone was full of amazement, shock and awe; it was priceless. Engaging with the public in this manner got us all to see how design can impact people and create real-life meaning, especially for those who need it the most.”</p>
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<p dir="ltr">“A range of people came to screen print with us, some with their friends, family, partners, others alone, but we all felt connected as we worked in collaboration with each other. This partnership elevated the messages on the boards, as the meanings became personal, adding a depth to the design which couldn’t be replicated.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“The workshop was a testament to the organisation and hard work of the Arts University Plymouth team and student ambassadors. From inking up the screens, to printing the boards and onto the drying station, each step was set up so well, culminating in the creation of placards ready to make a statement in the city. We all felt the screen printing workshop was over so quickly!”<br /></p>
<p dir="ltr">“After the workshop, we joined the procession to march through the streets of Plymouth, our voices loud in solidarity. For us, this march was a powerful affirmation of just how big the impact of our designs had and the voices they represented. We were surprised to hear people honking their car horns in support, and feeling surrounded by a welcoming and supportive group of people as we moved.”<br /></p>
I felt so proud to hold up our placards knowing the statements were the voice of a real woman. I felt proud to see the designs of everyone in our group.
Jessika McCarron, BA (Hons) Graphic Design student at Arts University Plymouth
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<p dir="ltr">“Marching through Plymouth at night with a group of strong women and men felt empowering. We also appreciated that it was a supportive march for dads walking with their daughters. We overheard stories being shared of domestic violence throughout the march which emphasised the importance of that night.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“This project gave me more confidence to jump into collaborative briefs. It felt like Plymouth was taking this issue seriously and I was proud the University was a part of this march. This brief has helped me to see the vital role design plays in helping to elevate people's voices that need to be heard,” said Jess McCarron.<br /></p>
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<p>“Throughout this project, I’ve learnt the importance of collaboration and engagement.<br />How working collectively, in all aspects, can feel more accomplished than working alone.<br />The audience interaction was a major part of the brief and reminded me how important it was to produce something worthy of such a brilliant cause. The impact this process has had on each element of the project has truly pushed me to become a better, more evolved designer,” said Hannah Gray.</p>