December’s Still Kickin Poster: Life Is Messy

gabrielIn 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 Adobe’s 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 fourth poster is by the reflective and innovative Gabriel Campbell, a California-based senior experience designer. We asked Gabriel to give us the inside scoop on the meaning and creative process behind this month’s poster, available here.

Why did you volunteer your time to create a poster for Still Kickin?

I was visiting the San Francisco Adobe office on the day Nora came to speak. She told the very personal and heart-wrenching story of what she went through, and how she was able to turn that into action—not action to get rid of her pain, but to be proactive to help other people manage their situations. I knew I wanted to be a part of this.

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

Still Kickin is unique because the organization focuses on getting through difficult times together. I know from my own experience that when you go through a hard time, you can feel like you’re the only one who’s ever gone through it. So what really resonated with me is that Still Kickin doesn’t promise to fix people’s problems; they say, ‘Hey, we’re going to go through these problems together.’ That’s really powerful.

What was the inspiration for your poster? What are you trying to communicate?

At a broad level, I wanted to convey that life is messy. It’s not easy. It’s a trek, and there’s a lot to slog through.

One of my first inspirations was Nora’s husband Aaron’s work. Before he lost his battle with brain cancer, he made posters (that’s one reason we’re doing this poster thing), so I looked at his portfolio and saw that he did a lot of custom typography. From that moment, I knew I wanted to do something with hand-drawn typography as a way to honor Aaron’s legacy.

Then I started thinking about the mission, and I wanted the poster to convey that life’s not always neat and tidy. I developed a footprint concept that’s about two ideas: the imprints of people who’ve passed and the journey of people who are still here.

Tell us about your creative process for this poster.

This one was difficult for me creatively. It’s not my normal style. I had the concept early on, and then it was a matter of figuring out which form it would take. At first, I was thinking about photography, perhaps taking pictures of mud and footprints and then illustrating it from there. Then I started doing more research on “gloopy” letterforms and that put me down the road of a cartoon-inspired, highly stylized illustration style. It was an evolution. It was outside of my comfort zone, which I thought was okay given the nature of the organization.

Do you think designers can play a role in making the world a better place? If so, how can they best use their design superpowers for good?

Yes! I think that it’s important to recognize that people can use their unique talents. It’s not just about donating money. At a very simple level, designers can contact a not-for-profit and ask what kind of help they need. And I know from experience that when your family finds out you can do design, they ask you for flyers and brochures and business cards! We can extend that to any organization.

At a bigger level, designers like to solve problems. That’s our basic drive. And I think there’s a lot that can be done by bringing design thinking to help organizations with their missions. My team recently met with people from Oxfam. One thing we did was work on ways to encourage donors to give on a regular basis, instead of just when disaster strikes. It was a great collaboration, and Oxfam was blown away by the new ideas we generated together.

As a designer, I feel very fortunate to work on projects where I can just straight-up do what I do on a daily basis and do it for, hopefully, some good.

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