October’s Still Kickin Poster: Ned Wright Grapples with Legacies and Impossible Shapes

In the hardest times, we need each other. It’s something Nora Purmort knows from experience, and it’s why she founded Still Kickin. Nora’s organization helps build an emotional and financial safety net for people going through their toughest moments. We were so inspired by Nora’s work that we launched a six-month collaboration. Some of our most talented designers from around the world will design posters that reflect Still Kickin’s impact and message, and Still Kickin will use the profits from poster sales to continue their work.

Our second poster is by Ned Wright, Minnesota-based Adobe Senior Design Lead. We asked Ned to give us the inside scoop on the meaning and creative process behind this month’s poster, available here.

Why did you want to work with Still Kickin?

I met Aaron Purmort years ago through the design community here in Minneapolis. He was such a loving, larger-than-life guy—just an awesome human. When he got brain cancer, we were all torn apart over it. We followed Aaron and his wife Nora’s journey through Nora’s blog, which connected us to their story in a deeply personal way. Then, after we lost Aaron, one of my colleagues suggested that the design team at Adobe could get involved and support Nora’s work at Still Kickin. We thought that, as designers, we could interpret what Still Kickin means to us and create something tangible around that. Helping push Still Kickin out into the world is something I’m really passionate about.

What is it about Still Kickin’s mission that means the most to you?

Two things. As a relatively new father, I could imagine myself in Aaron’s shoes. My heart went out to him, his wife and their little boy as they were dealing with death and illness. You want people to know that there really is a community out there to support them and help their family when they’re gone.

Second, I’m a designer like Aaron, and we make stuff—posters, websites, logos. It means a lot to know that someone’s life can inspire more of those things, to know that new things are still being made to represent Aaron’s life and legacy. It’s something I think he’d be proud of.

Where did you start when you were designing your poster? What was your inspiration?

I think we sometimes lose our connection to the tangible world and the craft of art and design when we’re stuck in front of the computer, so I brought paints out of the closet and worked through a lot of color and form explorations. My goal was to create a textural feeling that I could manipulate digitally.

The primary design element is an infinite loop. It’s an impossible shape, an “Escher shape,” that can’t exist in the real world. It’s my way of translating the concept behind Still Kickin—that there’s a mark you make while you’re here, and an echo you leave beyond that. The ripples of your life are hidden behind everyday things. They are a presence in someone you touched or helped, but you can never measure a person’s full impact. It’s intangible, even as it keeps reverberating.

Do you think designers can play a role in making the world a better place? How can they use their design superpowers for good?

At their best, designers are looking for problems in the world and trying to make them better; at their worst, designers are trying to take something you don’t need and make you want it. I think we make the world better when we find new and inventive ways to solve problems—it can be through a piece of art, a blueprint, or an idea. It’s about taking the power of critical thinking and translating it into reality.

Other stories in this series: