Design Rebel: Socially Conscious Design | Noah Scalin | Skillshare

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Design Rebel: Socially Conscious Design

teacher avatar Noah Scalin, Artist

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The Visual Message


    • 3.

      What Do You Care About?


    • 4.

      You're Not Alone


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Identifying Audience & Message


    • 7.

      Engaging an Audience


    • 8.

      Creating Your Subversion


    • 9.

      Sharing Your Message


    • 10.

      Becoming a Social Entrepreneur


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About This Class

Design Rebels unite! Design is encountered constantly in your everyday life. . . even more than you encounter advertisements. There is tremendous power in design as a means to communicate with the world. There is a way to do it right, and a way to do it wrong. In this class, Noah will teach you how to harness your creativity to design for social good.

In this class, design activist Noah Scalin will take you through a history of design activism and the socially conscious design projects that inspire movements. You'll be equipped with the inspiration and conceptual tools to harness your passion and create good with it. Anyone can be a design rebel, you just have to make the choice to use your skills to proliferate what you believe in. This class is the place to start!

What You'll Learn

  • Think Like a Designer and an Activist. Utilizing the power of design and your frame of mind.
  • Turn your Passion into Action. Putting your design skills to work.
  • Create & Spread your Message. Identifying your audience & message.
  • Become a Social Entrepreneur. Turning your work into a bigger movement.

What You'll Do

  • Deliverable. You will design a small poster that illustrates a message you are passionate about communicating to the world.
  • Brief. Design Activism is all about passion. This class will guide you in discovering your passion and turning it into a visual creation to share with the world. 
  • Specs. You will print your mini activism poster and distribute it in your community. Your poster should be small enough to be disributed as many places as possible.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Noah Scalin



Noah Scalin is an artist, author, and activist. He is the founding partner at Another Limited Rebellion an art & innovation consulting firm that provides creative development training for organizations like GE, Capital One, Altria and more. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts, Noah started his career as art director for Troma Entertainment and Avirex clothing. Noah's artwork is collected internationally and has been exhibited in numerous museums and galleries, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Mütter Museum as well as NYC’s Times Square. He is the author of six books on art & creativity and a sought after public speaker. In 2016 Noah was chosen as the first ever artist-in-residence at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Busin... See full profile

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1. Trailer: I'm an artist, a designer, and an activist. The skills that you're going to learn in this class could be applied to any design project. However, they're really useful to reach the world with the things that you're passionate about. So you're going to learn about things like message, audience, and making choices about how to create things that will really make an impact. This is important to know because these skills you have are incredibly powerful, and you need to make a choice now about what you're going to do with them. The sooner you start using your powers for good, the sooner you can make a real positive difference in your world. I'm Noah Scalin, and this is my Skillshare class, Design Rebel. 3. The Visual Message: There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a very few of them, and possibly only one profession is phony. Advertising design in persuading people to buy things they don't need with money they don't have in order to impress others who don't care is probably the phoniest field in existence today. That's your job or it might be, but it doesn't have to be. This quote you might think it's from a recent book, but actually, this came out in 1971. This book actually belonged to my father who was a designer as well, as I am. Victor Papanek, who wrote it was one of the first people to talk about the concept of doing good by using design. Not just doing the things that he talks about in here, which is what pretty much everyone up to that point thought those skills were four. So, I'm here to talk to you today about graphic design, but not just graphic design, socially conscious graphic design, or as I like to call it, being a design rebel. Basically, I'm talking about the idea of using your skills for something better. So, let's start off talking about what those skills are and what they're about. A few years ago, University did a study about fast food. They had elementary school children eating packaged food that was wrapped in McDonald's packaging and also, food that was just unwrapped. They asked the children which tasted better, and go figure, the ones that were wrapped in McDonald's packaging tasted better to them. But here's the thing, they were exactly the same food. That's how powerful branding is. That even in the minds of children, they have been convinced that something is better just because of the packaging, the branding, the marketing around it. That's amazing. Now, you might think, "Okay, well," but that's just kids. That's not me. I'm not affected, and I know a lot of people say that. They say, "Advertising doesn't affect me. It's just something that's in the air." Well, let's take a test and see. Here are some letters, and if you look at them, you're probably going to recognize some brands right away. This was a few years ago, and yet I could imagine that you're going to know several of these. Think about this. Just a single letter in a color, in a typeface, you're able to know what that brand is. That's how marketing works. You've had these images burned into your brain, and that's an appropriate term because branding actually comes from that concept of literally burning a logo into the side of a cow, whose where how people kept track of their cattle. The reality is that Coca-Cola spends millions and millions of dollars every year on advertising. So, if you think it doesn't work well, they've done the research. They know it does. Otherwise, they wouldn't spend their money doing that, they'd spend it on something else. Of course, it's not just Coca-Cola, it's every big corporation you've ever heard of, every product you've ever encountered. All of this money is being spent to influence what you do. But, here's the really interesting thing, it's not just those companies that are influencing you, it's really the invisible people behind it. The people like you, graphic designers, marketing people, copywriters, illustrators, all these people in service of this process. Now, these nameless and faceless people often, I mean, literally you can think about this. If you've talked to anybody about graphic design, and if you're a fan of graphic design, you may talk about your favorite designers, but anyone who's not a part of the field has never ever heard of any of these people. The most famous graphic designer in the world could walk down the street and not be mobbed by fans. So, that's the reality is that, this is a group of invisible people who are influencing you and me, and we're part of that. So, the question is to think about what can a designer do? Well, it's interesting because a designer can do everything. At this point in history, every single piece of communication has most likely been touched by a designer at some point along the way. It doesn't matter if it's in print or on the web, it's coming to you through the hands of people like you. Those people have an opportunity, have a choice. They can decide what they're doing and not just be a cog in the machine, but this is a radical thought. I have a metaphor I like to use for this, which is that, you can have a choice about what you're going to be. You can think of a designer as this invisible powerful person who has this really incredible skill, and I would say that's a lot like an assassin. Someone who's really good at using a gun and pointing it at somebody and shooting them, but only if they're paid enough by the right person, and that's how a lot of designers behave. They don't really care about the impact of their work. They just take the paycheck and do the job, but I think we're better than that. I think that we have beliefs, we have things we care about that we could put out into the world through the work we're doing. We don't just have to be the mindless cog. So, the other option is to be the megaphone, is to be the person who helps raise the voice of people who are not normally heard above the den of all the other visual communication that's constantly around us. The cool thing is that, as a designer, we have these skills that can be used to really compete with even the most wealthy businesses. Even the businesses with the largest budgets can't make messages that are more exciting than a designer working with very little. Because ultimately, the tools these days are the same. So, what's the point? You've got this amazing set of skills, and they're really good for selling soft drinks, and fast food, and dog perfume, but they're really good at sharing ideas and selling messages that people need to hear about. You have an opportunity to use them that way if you make the choice to do so. 5. What Do You Care About?: Now that you're convinced that you need to be a design activist, you have to figure out, what do you care about? So the key here is understanding what your passions are, and I do believe that everyone already has ethics, issues they care about, things that they're excited about, things that they're passionate about. But you may not realize it that you're doing it already. Maybe you're already sharing articles online about things you care about, maybe you're signing petitions and sharing them with your friends, maybe you're making donations to nonprofit organizations or even volunteering in your community. If you're doing that, you're doing it already. But if you're not, that's okay, too. You do care deeply about stuff. Everybody was raised with their own set of ethics, and whether that's something that your family gave you or you got through a religion or through your community, you've got it in you. In fact, there were studies done recently that showed that even babies already have a set of ethics, that they already know good from bad. So, this is something internal to us. So don't worry too much about it but it is time now to start getting specific about it. Design activism is really about putting internal ethics into external actions. So the first thing you need to do is write it down. I think this is really important. A lot of times, we spend our time thinking about stuff, and we believe that we've got it worked out. But it's only really when you take a moment to put it pen to paper that we really make concise, specific choices. So, start writing. This is what I want you to put down. What are the things you do care about? It could be as loose and open-ended as animals or it could be a specific as workers' rights in specific countries. Whatever it is, make that list. Put as much as you can on there. Take a while to do this. When you're done with that list, go back through and start putting asterisks next to the things that you're most excited about. Which one really ignites your passions? This is important because if you get involved in something like this and you don't really care, you're not super enthusiastic about it, that's going to show and it's going to not be fun for you to do and it's not going to end up with a good result for whoever you're trying to help out. Most likely, there are already organizations working on these topics, and maybe you already know about them or encountered them but if you haven't, take the time to go online and do some research. It doesn't take much to find a lot of groups working on a lot of issues. So, look around. See what people are doing, see which ones are doing things that are interesting to you, see which ones have tactics that excite you, see which ones are doing a good job. While you're doing this research, go ahead and start looking at the type of marketing and advertising design that's being applied to these social causes. You may be surprised to see how bad a lot of it is, or maybe you'll find some really great examples. Collect both. Make a folder and start putting them in there. Make a list of the things that you like and don't like. What you want to do now is figure out what's being done already so that you can get on board and make it even better. I put together a list of resources to help you get started. Check it out. There are dozens of options of books, blogs, movies, events and other things that can help you find the issue that you're passionate about. You should also take a moment to dig through the archives of Osocio. This is a website that collects examples of international design, advertising, marketing around social causes. These are really some of the best ones that have ever been produced and are incredibly inspiring. 6. You're Not Alone: The future is an infinite succession of presence, and to live now as we think human beings should live in defiance of all that is bad around us is itself a marvelous victory. That's a quote from Howard Zinn. He was a historian, an author, and a teacher, and one of the people that really influenced me in the way I thought about living my life as an activist. He really clearly states there something I think that's important, which is that it's about the choices we make. It's about defining the world that we want to live in, rather than just accepting the one that we do live in. The nice thing is that you're not alone. There is a long history of designers and artists using their skills to do social good. You could say that as long as the field has been in existence, designers have been doing something positive with their skills as well. The real modern design rebels movement began in the 1960's with the first thing's first manifesto. A group of designers at that time realized that their profession could be used for more good. So, they created this manifesto as a way to coalesce around the concept. I'll go ahead and read it to you. We, the underassigned, are graphic designers, photographers, and students who've been brought up in a world in which the techniques and apparatus of advertising have persistently been presented to us as the most lucrative, effective, and desirable means of using our talents. We have been bombarded with publications devoted to this belief, applauding the work of those who have flogged their skill and imagination to sell such things as cat food, stomach powders, detergent, hair restore, striped toothpaste, aftershave lotion, before shave lotion, slimming diet, fattening diets, deodorants, fizzy water, cigarettes, roll-ons, poll-ons, and slip-ons. By far, the greatest effort of those working in the advertising industry are wasted on those trivial purposes which contribute little or nothing to our national prosperity. In common with an increasing number of the general public, we have reached a saturation point at which the high-pitch scream of consumer selling is no more than shear noise. We think that there are other things more worth using our skill and expertise on. There are signs for streets in buildings, books and periodicals, catalogs, instruction manuals, industrial photography, educational aids, films, television features, scientific and industrial publications, and all other media through which we promote our trade, our education, our culture, and our greater awareness of the world. We do not advocate the abolition of high-pressure consumer advertising. This is not feasible nor do we want to take any of the fun out of life, but we're proposing a reversal of priorities in favor of the more useful, the more lasting forms of communication. We hope that our society will tire of gimmick merchants, status salesman, and hidden persuaders and that the prior call on our skills will be for worthwhile purposes. With this in mind, we propose to share our experiences and opinions and then make them available to colleagues, students, and others who may be interested. That was in 1964. So, not much has changed and yet a lot has changed. In fact, the first thing's first manifesto was repriced in 1999 by Adbusters, Emigre, and several other design magazines. They proposed that it was a time to renew that idea and to bring it up again because that radical time of the '60s seemed to have disappeared into the '80s when people were much more consumer-oriented, and the '90s, it was seemed to be a right time to bring it back. The proposal for changing the way designers think has come up again. There is actually a brand new version of the first thing's first manifesto that came out in 2014. If you would, take a moment, read it and maybe you'll decide to sign it as well and make this commitment to be a design activist on a grander scale. So, now's the time to pull out that list of passions you've already written and pick out the one that really inspires you. 9. Examples: In 2011, I became aware of the Occupy movement, and I heard about the protesters in Zuccotti Park in New York City, and I wanted to lend my skills as a designer to help them out, but I wasn't based in New York at that point. I was living in my hometown of Richmond, Virginia. So, I had to figure out how I could help from far because I couldn't be there myself to hold a placard, and this is where really the designer as activist can come into play, because I could use my skills to create something to help them and send it out into the world digitally. What I did was I made a symbol, I felt like this group of people needed something to help them coalesce around, and so the term 99% had been used a lot, and so I wanted to make a visualization of it. I created this two numbers out of a crowd of people, and if you look carefully you'll see that they're all different kinds, there's even some police in the midst of them, there's children, there's people that are doing spray paint, there are people having fun, but there's also just everyday workers, firemen. The point was that the 99% was everybody, and that this image maybe could be something to help people understand and visualize that, that you are part of the 99%. So, I created this and a few other posters and I put them online and said here, these are yours to use for free. This is about helping out the movement. I send them out to a few different places where people were sharing their posters and ideas and inspirations around the Occupy movement. A little while after I put it up, I got an email back saying that people had started to see it and use, they had seen signs all over Zuccotti Park and all over New York in fact. The image had been taken up by one of the groups that helped organize protesters, and they had used it as part of their promotional material. People asked me to put it on T-shirts, so I did, I made it available in that form. It would end up being on buttons as well, and then getting used in articles about the movement. It did exactly what I wanted it to do, it helped people visualize and understand what was going on in Zuccotti Park. Even years later I still get requests about using it, and again I put it out for free, I didn't ask for anything back, it wasn't about making money it was about helping a cause. So now, you can see the image today even on the cover of a book and in magazine articles. In 2011, artist Candy Chang did a really amazing project. She painted the side of an abandoned building with chalkboard paint, and then stenciled the words, "Before I die I want to", with a line next to it, and repeated that over and over and over. Then she left some chalk. It wasn't long before all of the space were filled up, and they were cleaned off and then replaced again and again and again. She used her skills as an artist and really as a designer because she was using the simple tools of design words, visual images, to get people inspired to share and be part of a community, rather than just selling them something. Rather than having it be a monologue from advertisers to consumers, she created a dialogue between the community and the space around them. That's a really amazing way that somebody can use their design skills to make an impact and allow people's voices to be heard. That project has now moved to different locations all over the world, and is even in book form. I actually encountered this project in Savannah Georgia, and I have to say, being a part of it was amazing. I wanted to write on the wall. I wanted to read what other people wrote, and allowed me to get excited about talking to strangers who are around me writing on this wall. Normally in a neighborhood where this wall was I probably would be avoiding the people that were around me, worried about crime or worried about what would happen to me, and instead I was engaging and thinking differently about the community. The 'Yes Men' are amazing case of how people can use the design art skills to make a difference in a community. What they do is stage really interesting subversive acts and often a small number of people will actually observe them in person. But then they get great publicity and the wider world finds out about what they did. By doing these unusual things, these prank type activities they garner attention in the media that it's always looking for a new message a new story, and they've gotten some really amazing things done. But most incredible to me was in 2008, when they released over a million copies of an entirely fake newspaper. They made a version of The New York Times that was set one year in the future with the headline that the war in Iraq which had been going on for years had ended. Now what was this about? They were creating the world they wanted to live in, they were showing people what it could be like, and the newspaper was filled with other stories about the world they wanted to live in. So here's an opportunity for them to have reached all these people just in New York City, but again through media lots of people all over the world encountering the story and got people talking again about a war that had become so common that people had basically stopped talking about it and got used to it. They allowed that conversation to get reignited using their skills. So, the key with all of these projects is that, the artists and designers behind them didn't wait for someone to hire them to do it, they decided this was something they cared about and they made something and put it out into the world, so that it could have an impact. 12. Identifying Audience & Message: The secret of doing great work on a cause that you believe in is to be treat it like any other design job. So, the first thing any designer should do regardless of project is to identify two things, the audience and the message. The key about the audience is specificity. The reality is that most people want to reach everybody with their message. This happens all the time with clients. They go, "Oh, our audience is everyone." That's fine, but advertising marketing doesn't work very well when you're that broadly focused, and the same goes for this kind of work. The more you narrow it down, the better your chance of actually getting somebody to respond, to think, to act. Now, you can make a lot of choice about who audiences are. It could be about age range, gender, it could be about where they're located, it could be a variety of those caught in combination. The key though is to spend the time thinking about and learning about the audience, and deciding who it is that you really want to reach. One of the things that comes up a lot when I work with clients is that they tend to be preaching to the choir. They tend to be trying to send their message out to people who already like what they're doing or agree with them. That's great, but not really useful if really you only have a limited amount of time, energy, or budget to expend on something like this. The best thing to do is to pick the audience that you think you might be able to tip over to your side. Who are the ones that are the fence sitters? Who are the ones that are maybe slightly interested in what you're doing, but have never given a deeper thought? I've had this happen with my clients. I presented them the concept of working as a socially conscious designer, and that alone gave them an interest in doing better with their work. These are companies and clients that weren't necessarily already focused on doing good. The thing about selecting audience isn't about excluding people, it's just about being specific about who you're reaching. Most likely you're not going to offend everyone else when you pick one audience to talk especially to. The important thing is that those people are more likely to get excited and respond when they know the message is crafted for them and they feel like it's something for them. So, the next thing you're going to have to do is figure out what your message is. Now, this is where usually a client would tell you what to say. But even if it's for yourself, the same holds true, you need to write it down. Write out everything you feel about this topic, go ahead and be expansive. This is the time to write a lot. The important part about this is that you're getting it all out because you're now going to narrow it down. You can't say all of this. When you're creating something in a normal design situation, you'll find that clients want to tell the world everything about themselves in a logo, where you really have a very small amount of space to tell any story. So, this is always about how do we get down to the, key, the core? What's the central most thing you want people to get? If they're encountering this thing that you've created, what's the one thing they're going to take away from it? Now, there's a term people use for this which they call an elevator pitch, an elevator speech. And the idea here is that if you're in an elevator with someone, could you explain your cause, your subject in the course of time it takes to get from the ground floor to the floor that you're going to? Would you be able to say it in one sentence or two sentences? It's not easy to do. But again, this is what you have to do. If you want to clearly market to people, you have to have a clear message. So, even doing social activism work, even being a design rebel, you still have to do this piece of the puzzle. You've got to get this really clear. Make sure you understand what you're trying to say to other people, and it may help to actually just do that, talk to other people. Tell them what you're trying to say. Many times I've talked to people and said, just tell me what you're trying to say and then they'll say it, but the that they were hemming and hawing and it going on and on trying to explain all these nuances and details. So, if you feel like you're stuck in this place try that method as well, but definitely do the writing down part. Write down expansively then narrow down, try to write the one sentence, then say that sentence to other people and see if they get what you're trying to say. See if all the components are there. 15. Engaging an Audience: So now is the hard part, what are you going to make? This is the thing, if you understand the audience and you have a very clear message, then hopefully the thing you're going to make will be decided and created from those details. If you're able to figure those two things out, you're probably going think, start to think about, what do people in that audience like? Where do they go? What did they encounter? Where will this message be something that will reach them? Where do they hang out? Also, what do they normally see? What are the things they normally encounter? What would stand out? What would be unusual? What would surprise and delight them? What you're trying to do is get under people's radar. When you're making an effective piece of design, you're trying to create something that catches people off guard so that they stop. They pay attention. They look and they let something into their mind. It's very hard. Take a look at these examples from the students in my design rebels class. Here are students who decided what projects to make, decided on the subject matter, and decided on the audience and created things specifically targeted to reach them. In the case of these coffee sleeves, their goal was to talk to the general community about the idea of LGBTQ awareness. So already they didn't need to reach out to the people in that community. They knew they were trying to reach people who were maybe not familiar or not comfortable with people who are part of that community. So, the thought that they had was that, if they created something innocuous, like coffee sleeves that people encounter every day, then they could get the message literally into people's hands and they'd have a moment to think about it while they're drinking their coffee. Now, what's cool is that, they really wanted to present these people who they represented in this campaign as people. So, that was their message. They're just normal people. So, if you look there's just an image and a name and then on the back is a list of attributes and one of them happens to be their orientation. The point is that there's a lot of other things that you can think about these people before you get to this aspect of their lives. So, if you look on the side of this cup, you'll also see what looks like the typical checkboxes for the type of coffee. But in fact, are the list of attributes. At the bottom, the only box that's actually checked on the cup is human. So, that was the ultimate message, and it was a really great way to get this out into the community. People were very surprised and delighted when they encountered them. We got a lot of positive feedback by the people who actually held these cups in their hands. But more importantly, this got further out of our community through the media and people online discovered it all over the world. Here's another project created by my design rebel students. They wanted to talk to their community about recycling. They realized that there was a lot of stuff that just ended up in the trash that didn't need to but how are they going to get people to understand this on a real deep level, because we all hear about recycling all the time, it's sort of a boring topic these days, and I thought they did something really interesting. They decided to create a public visual intervention. This was on the street in Richmond Virginia where I'm from, and they basically created a sculpture that interrupted people as they walked down the street, and it looked like a giant horrible pile of trash which was completely out of place for this street. But on the other side of the pile of trash, it had been broken down into segments and what each segment showed was the type of trash that ends up in landfills that could end up somewhere else. This is a pretty exciting thing because people definitely want to know what they were looking at, and the students were able to then hand them brochures that they'd created that talked about the options for recycling in their community, gave them immediate resources they could use to start using things better, whether it's actually recycling or we're just reducing their waste or reusing items. So, this is a wonderful way to engage with their community, get people excited, it was fun, it didn't feel depressing, it was exciting for people and it was out of the norm. So, how are you going to do something like this for your subject matter? The options are really infinite. So, I've got a suggestion, why not create a tiny real-world subversion? 18. Creating Your Subversion: All right. Here's how to do it. Start by making a list of facts about the topic that interests you. Again, go online and do the research if it's not something you know a lot about. It's Just something you're passionate about or interested in, go find out the real information. There's a lot of really cool stuff out there. Find something that surprises you. Find something that would get you excited about the topic. Figure out what it was that originally got you excited about this subject. Next, you have to pick one. Sorry, but again, this is about focus. So, pick the one piece of information that you think your specific audience is going to be excited by, the specific piece of information that's going to get them motivated to do something, or at least to think about it or maybe to talk about it with somebody else. Next, you got to write some taglines. You know what taglines are. You see them all the time on movies and TV shows, but you also encounter them on commercials for products. Basically, you're trying to make that one exciting little sentence. It doesn't have to stay in the whole story, but it does have to be interesting, engaging, surprising, fun, funny even. This may take a while. Do it right. Write down lots of options, read them out loud to friends, try them out on people, see which one people laugh at or which one people would get excited by, or even frightened by, or disturbed by. Pick the one that gets the emotional response. Now, write down a list of places where you could reach your specific audience. Where do they hang out? What do they do? Where are the places where they might encounter something that they consume? Where is the piece of information that they're getting? Also, think about what will be most feasible for you to have access to. Obviously, inside of a locked office building might not be the place for your subversion. Also think about, what would be the most effective? Again, putting it somewhere where there's lots of other messages may not have much impact, because there's lots of things competing for their attention. Now it's time to choose a design tool of your choice. What will your audience be attracted to? What will surprise them? What will stand out or blend in? The thing about this is that, if you're creating something unusual, you may want it to look like other materials that they normally are encountering. That way, they'll pick it up without thinking about it. Or maybe they're in a really bland and boring environment, where something really cool could stand out and make them stop and pay attention, and pick it up. Pick a tool that you are comfortable with or pick a tool that you want to have more practice with. You could work by hand, certainly, could work digitally, just do what interest you. Really, this again is about something that you're passionate about. So, not only should you be passionate about the topic, but you should be passionate about the way that you're going to make this subversion. Pick something that's going to be fun for you to do, as well as fun for your audience to encounter. Don't worry if you can't draw. You don't feel like you're a good photographer. There's plenty of royalty free materials online that you could also work with here. Checkout as a starting place. They'll link to other resources where you can find materials that you can use for free for this kind of purposes. Creative Commons is a great resource for design activists, because they're also interested in thinking about design and art from a different perspective. They're interested in taking materials and having them be more accessible to the public, rather than more restrictive. Something else to think about when it comes to location is how uncomfortable you want to be. It's really worth doing some things that push you out of your comfort zone. But if you feel like it's going to push you so far out of your comfort zone that you won't even try doing it, that's a problem. On the comfortable and the spectrum, you could take your mini-poster and just leave it on tables at your local coffee shop, or you could leave it on a community bulletin board. If you're willing to take a little more of a risk, maybe try to convert a disused newspaper box into a display for your poster, or maybe you could practice shopdropping. That's the opposite of shoplifting, where people leave things in stores instead of taking them out. It's fun to discover something on a shelf that isn't supposed to be there. If you do it right, it doesn't harm anyone and hopefully, you won't get in trouble. If you do, don't tell them I sent you. Well, I don't think you should do something illegal. I do think it's important to try to push yourself to do something you maybe, feel a little uncomfortable doing. It's usually in that space that you discover new things, new inspirations, and have more opportunity to reach people. Ideally, you want to get this to as many people as possible. That way, there's more chances of somebody finding it and having a response to it. Use the resources you have on hand. Maybe it's a copier or a printer, maybe you know how to do silk screening. Make as many copies as you can using what you've got. The more people you reach, the more likely it is that you'll have an impact. 21. Sharing Your Message: So, you've made your project, you've put it in the right place and you've reached a few people, but a lot of times the real impact of these projects comes later once somebody else shares it. At a basic level, you can share it through your social media networks. Most likely, you've got a few already. It's easy enough to take a photo, put it online, and tell people about what you did, and you'll reach more people potentially all over the world than you would ever reached by just leaving things in one location. However, it's worth pushing yourself to go a little further. Could you reach out some of the blogs that you like to read or news media sources, whether they're local or national, to see if they might pick up on the story? You might be surprised. It's actually not that hard to get people to write about things. Most news sources are constantly looking for something to talk about, and this is an opportunity to give them an interesting story. Make sure you get great photographs, write up some good quotes, talk to people who encountered the work that you made, show their responses. Even if you just create your own short video and put it up on YouTube, sharing that link could lead to a lot of opportunities. Definitely try this, you never know what will happen and you may be really pleasantly surprised. My suggestion is that you create a mini poster. We encounter a lot of really big advertising, big posters, billboards all the time, and sometimes it's the small things that really catch your eye. Something that's little and out of place maybe just the right thing to get someone interested in your topic. Now, I suggest making something business card size, it's a familiar form and you could even use some online resources like business card printers that offer free business cards as a way to make this. Use that format or decide on something else that you'd like to do, maybe it's a sticker or maybe you need some other suggestions. Checkout for a bunch of really great resources on public forums of subversive actions that use design and art skills, maybe one of those will be the thing that excites you and gets you inspired. 22. Becoming a Social Entrepreneur: If you like this experience, maybe it's worth thinking about taking it to the next level and becoming a social entrepreneur. Doing good is important but I understand that you need to also make a living. This is why I advocate doing both. Finding ways that you can make money while doing good work is possible. I've done it. I've run my business for years as a socially conscious design and consulting firm. So, how can you do that? Well, let me give you a few examples of people who have taken their projects that were like this. They were free. They were fun projects around passions and turned it into things that actually made money for them. Free Range Studios has been around for many years doing wonderful, socially conscious design work. But one of the things that really put them on the map was early on they offered a grant to the clients and potential clients to create something for them for free. What they ended up choosing was a project that became The Meatrix. This was one of the very first online videos that became really viral around a social topic and what's cool is that, that led to them being able to do a lot of other really great work in that style. But they first have to create that piece for free. Similarly, the designers at Marc and Phil had a cause they cared deeply about, the recent BP oil spill. What they did was create this little site that allowed you to transform any website into one that was being slowly destroyed by an oil spill. They created work that got attention and got them other clients. If you're ready for the next step, one of the best ways to start is reaching out to one of the nonprofits you've already identified. They may not be ready to use the thing you've just created but that'll open up a conversation that could allow for all kinds of future opportunities. Conversely, you could just apply for a grant and get money to make a project without a client. The sappy ideas that matter, grant is offered every year to creative professionals to make their passion projects. My own passion is sharing this idea. I really think it's important for designers to understand how powerful their skills are and to know that it's possible to do good work with it and still make a living as well. One of the ways that I've shared that is through teaching a course called Design Rebels at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. I've shown you some of the projects that I've worked with the students in that class and it's been a wonderful opportunity for me to reach a lot of young people about these ideas. But as I said, it's a limited thing when you work with people face-to-face. I've gotten these ideas out further by making a book. It's called The Design Activists Handbook. I worked with writer, Michelle Tawny, to put these ideas from my class and from my own life and work in a form that I think inspires other people to consider this as a way of life. The book really goes more into depth about making a choice about design activism being a lifestyle, choosing a path that makes the most sense with your needs and with your passions. So, if you need even more inspiration, if you want to take things to the next level definitely check it out. If you're feeling overwhelmed when you're researching nonprofits online or if you're not sure about which ones are doing the most effective work, it might be worth checking out GuideStar. This is a free online resource that tells you a lot more about what they're doing. It can get a little technical but again, if you're having a hard time picking a place, this may be a resource that's useful for you.