Adobe Creative Cloud

October 16, 2014 /Uncategorized /

The BULLY Project Mosaic: Art for A Movement

Bully_1_FinalMosaicAdobe partnered recently with Lee Hirsch, the filmmaker behind the 2012 documentary BULLY, to evangelize his anti-bullying movement The BULLY Project.

The embodiment of the partnership is the No Bully Mosaic. Created by sixteen Behance artists from around the world, who worked independently to create one unified piece, it’s an expression of how community and commitment can change the world.

It, and an accompanying website, The BULLY Project Mural, an ever-changing digital mural to which people can contribute artwork and stories, were donated to Lee’s organization earlier this month at Adobe MAX.

Watch Lee’s powerful Adobe MAX presentation about this global human rights issue and how he’s affecting change for children around the world. Then read the comments, alongside the art, of the artists who contributed to this unique work:

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The Eyes, Amr Elshamy (Cairo, Egypt)

“I’ve been bullied all my life but art was there for me so I’ve worked hard to develop art that can speak for me and to others.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? When I watched the movie I had this deep feeling that I had to be part of it.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? It was both. I was bullied by other kids in school because I was overweight and was hurt deeply by it. I contributed to this artwork with mixed, really personal, feelings about the negative aspects of bullying.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement? I’ve had to skip days of school because of other kids and art always there for me. I have great feelings about the power of art and about this movement.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? It’s amazing. Every other piece touched my soul somehow.

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Paul Trillo (Brooklyn, New York)

“Sometimes the only escape from depression is to let your imagination take you somewhere else. As a kid, I would look to the night sky to let my mind wander.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? As cruel as the Internet can be, it can also be equally uplifting and powerful. I was happy to contribute toward something positive that could outweigh some of the negativity that is prevalent online; I was excited to see how I could be a part of something larger with some incredibly talented artists. I was bullied when I was younger, and using that emotional history as a springboard for a creative concept came naturally to me. Plus I was just excited to see how I could be a part of something larger with some incredibly talented artists.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? I was fascinated by stars and astronomy as a kid. I’m not sure exactly why, perhaps because it felt so far away it was a form of escape, but I was easily hypnotized by staring into the sky. It allowed me to take my mind off things at school especially if I was being bullied. I’ve also had a knack for creating cosmic imagery as of late so this was another excuse to keep moving in that direction.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement? The best thing that could come of this, is that it inspires someone to go out and create something. The biggest reward for creating work is when motivating someone else to go create. I hope it also spawns a new type of collective—Internet-sourced artists. I discovered a bunch of amazing artists through this project; by doing more communal things such as this we can all help each other get seen.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? I had no idea what other people would do, so each and every piece surpassed my level of expectation. I was very impressed overall with everyone’s ability to output something of such high quality and production in such a short time. My favorite pieces are Mike Terpestra’s The Bus Stop and Mark Gmehling’s Social Racism, which both feel honest and capture a narrative with incredible simplicity.

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Keep Ya Head Up, Leonardo Betti (Florence, Italy)

“There’s the necessity to keep your head up, to hug people and spread love; true love will give you a colorful and strong feedback that generates beauty.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? The trailer was so powerful and at the same time it reminded me of dark childhoods events.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? I have childhood memories about friends who were victims of bullying. I was a victim too when I was eleven. With my art I tried to emphasize how bullying makes you blind and shy, makes you feel alone. But if you lose the fear, and keep your head up, you discover people who love you and give you the force to overcome the bad vibes that result from bullying.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement? I think that the force of creativity and art is really powerful. It can fight physical violence using beauty and win. And this movement is great. I hope it grows to involve more and more talented creatives and artists.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? I felt so happy and at the same time surprised by how different styles and techniques could connect to become one strong and immersive piece. I really liked the aesthetic and the concept of Helping Hands by Coming Soon.

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Statue, Christian Bergheim, Anti (Bergen, Norway)

“Bullying isn’t always physical or violent, it can also be about treating someone like air; our artwork is inspired by statues—a metaphor for not being treated like a person.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? Being invited to the project was an honour and, after reading about the cause, the movie and the entire project, we simply couldn’t pass on the opportunity.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? Our piece is not inspired by any specific episode or memory, it´s more of an interpretation of some of the general aspects of bullying.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement? Making yourself heard and your voice count is easier now than ever before, and the web has given people a tool for communication that is completely unprecedented in human history. A single voice can literally change the world, and designers and artists can play a vital role in getting important messages across more clearly and reach out even further. I´m hoping we´ll see visual communicators and creatives teaming up with activists a lot more in the future.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? Honoured and in good company.

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Spiral, Pablo Álvarez Vinagre (Brighton, United Kingdom)

“‘I am starting to think I don’t feel anymore.’ —Alex Libby. Inside a spiral of chaos and pain, our mind builds up a shield that makes us impervious to anything coming from the outside. At the end this shield is destroying us, as we are decomposing inside our entrapped thoughts.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? As a designer I sometimes wonder if my work has an effect on people, so, when I had the opportunity to participate in this project I didn’t think twice. If I can contribute to such an important cause doing what I know best, it would be absurd not to do it.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? Fortunately I have not suffered bullying, but I can understand the pain of the many children who have suffered or are currently suffering it. I think we all have a general understanding of the negative impact of bullying, and therefore we must do our maximum to put an end to it.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement? That we can help to express the voice of many people. Communication is a powerful weapon and, therefore, so is art.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? Seeing the full mosaic, I saw sixteen completely different styles expressing the same message. No matter where we come from, or our context, if we all move in the same direction we can change that which we propose to change—and that’s not limited to design or any other art field.

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The Bus Stop, Mike Terpstra (Oakland, California)

“With this piece, beyond documenting a specific childhood memory, I hoped to evoke the feelings of loss, upheaval, and fear that bullying unnecessarily introduces into a child’s life.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? I was contacted by Cindy Yep at Adobe with an invitation to pitch an idea for the BULLY Project Mural. The catch was… it was due the following day. I was in my final week of a long project at work, and I was considering not contributing based on the time it was going to take to come up with a quality idea and a decent image for the pitch. The thing that convinced me was watching the trailer for BULLY.  I brainstormed a few ideas, and decided to pitch something personal.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? It was. I have one (only one, because the punishment that followed curbed my behavior) regretful memory from my early childhood. I was the bully. I remember pushing a neighborhood kid around one morning because he didn’t bring his toys to the bus stop like he said he was going to do; he ended up going home and missing the bus that day. His mom got in touch with my parents, who had zero tolerance for that kind of behavior.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement?  I’ve recently become more aware of how apathy and inaction can be overcome with dynamic art. I finished work on the new TV series Cosmos earlier this year (an incredible experience) and a few critics of the series took issue with the need to add such “flashy” and “Hollywood-style” visual effects. Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Seth Macfarlane both understood the show would have both greater impact and reach a much broader audience if the science was presented in a dynamic way. The series was both successful and impactful while effectively communicating an important message, in much the same way the BULLY Project Mural is doing for the issue of bullying.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? I was expecting to see some good pieces, but honestly, I was blown away by the mosaic. I’m quite honored to have a piece nestled among such talent. I’ve examined each of them, and they spoke to me in different ways, which is the beauty of art.  I love the diversity represented in the mosaic—the artistic styles and the message each artist wanted to convey.

Bully_8_AdrianAndGidiCheck, Adrian Woods / Gidi van Maarseveen, Adrian & Gidi (Brighton, United Kingdom)

“A single chess piece against many opponents on an abstract chessboard. Showing the overwhelming inequality of bullying in the unpredictable environment of growing up.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? Because of some personal experiences in the past we could really identify with The BULLY Project and the stories on the website. So when Adobe approached us about the mural artwork, and we started to look into Lee Hirsch’s work, we knew straight away that we wanted to get involved and spread the word.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? Our artwork is based on the general understanding of the negative impact. That being said, our personal experience of being bullied and the stories we read on Lee Hirsch’s website, certainly played a part in formulating the concept. We wanted to portray the feeling of being cornered and overpowered, but leaving the subject or experience open to interpretation.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement?  We hope for it to strengthen the movement. It would be amazing if a lot of people joined in, spreading the message through art.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? It was great to see all the artworks from different artists and designers from around the globe click into each other to form a single piece of art. Visually we love the work of Karan Singh, and conceptually the work from Coming Soon.

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Blindness, Valentin Leonida (Montréal, Canada)

“In a world of beauty, the bully wants to control everything. He wants to convert each potential victim to a trophy and, for this, he offers generously his venom. In his soul the hate is stronger than love. But he is not pure evil, he is just blind…”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? I was very glad to work for The BULLY Project and I hope that the message of the movie can be heard… Everybody feels that something is wrong but nobody reacts. The documentary reveals that fact and if people see the movie they will understand that we are all involved in this. Our ignorance generates violence and suffering.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? I am very new to North America. I come from a different culture—more precisely from Romania—and I remember clearly the years of childhood when the violence experienced by young people was something “normal.” Like a path of initiation. After all, the entire population was under the pressure of a Communist regime and children are the last link in this absurd chain. Fear became a very effective tool to cut any open wings. I saw how parents accepted the wounds of their children because they all believe that this is a growing process. So everyone had clipped wings. Over the long term it creates a society based on pain and fear.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement? It’s a beginning. We still live in a time of madness. It’s unacceptable to have fights and conflicts in a world with such a high level of cultural and technological achievement. I dream that one day the walls of great cities will become open pages of culture and enlightenment. We must accept that the only tool to fight against violence is culture—an active culture. Because they have the power, large companies should promote ideas not products. I hope that this project will touch hearts and begin to change the collective mentality.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? Like a bee contemplating a honeycomb. I enjoy the idea of synchronicity in art whereby artists keep their personal vision and sensibility. Each piece is interesting. It’s hard to choose one because the mediums are very different (photography, installation, animation, 3D); the most important thing is that we now have a participatory art mosaic.

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Social Racism, Mark Gmehling (Dortmund, Germany)

“Bullying is a variant of racism based on social status driven by group dynamics. The most uneducated are leading a mob of labile followers terrorizing persons not fitting their frame.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? My own experiences in school. I wasn’t punished physically but I remember the strange group dynamics that were tolerated or perceived as cool. You ask yourself if you want to confront a majority and socialize with the victims because it feels right, but you’re unconfident yourself. Simply: It’s important to talk about bullying.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? In my case it was more a general understanding of the situation that I wanted to visualize. Bullying is an awful social dynamic we all know on the big scale. The biggest problem is that the terrorized kids get tired of living,  too young to understand that their fate is caused by the missing courage and/or bad breeding of the mob.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement?  That the visual activists get the needed attention and recognition to keep rolling.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? It felt good being able to contribute to this important subject because I’m sure it helps and encourages people (and kids) to support each other more. Conceptually I really like the work of Amr Elshamy, that depicts the challenge of the children who have to face their fears again every single day. I want to whisper, “Stay brave, stay strong. You are not alone.” as Alberto Seveso said in his great work.

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Dark & Light, Gastón Pacheco (Mendoza, Argentina)

“The main concept of my piece is Contrast; a lighter and friendly area where coexistence, empathy, harmony, and color stand over broken, fragile and crushed symbolic elements dispersed in darkness.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? Since the moment I was contacted to get involved with The BULLY Project, it seemed very interesting to me. I got really excited with the idea of a collective contribution to a noble cause, and of many points of view captured in a single work.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? What I expressed is not from a specific memory, although it was created with the load not only of having suffered it partially when I was in secondary school, but also of being witness to so many other people suffering it.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement?  I think the most important is to expand the consciousness about the influence of bullying in our lives. It shapes our lives, so it shouldn’t be ignored.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? The mosaic radiates effort, dedication, and compromise toward the subject. Even so, what I liked the most was to see the way in which many people joined The BULLY Project Mural after the mosaic was finished… contributing to the cause.  One of the works that impacted me is Mike Terpstra’s The Bus Stop and his memories of bullying someone else. It made me think a lot of how unconscious we are to the acts we carry out in different stages of our lives; we often don’t know why we do what we do. I think that the awareness needs to take into account both parts equally—the bullied and the bully—because both are part of the problem.

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All Sorts, Karan Singh (New York, New York)

“My response is based on the notion of acceptance and celebrating differences. My goal was to use differing patterns and colors on confectionery, an inseparable part of childhood, as a visual metaphor.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? I admire that the documentary draws long overdue attention to an often underestimated and unaddressed aspect of growing up.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? Though I definitely experienced my fair share of bullying, my approach was more about embracing the positive impact of the documentary. I liked the idea of acceptance and embracing differences… and it’s what I hoped to convey in my tile.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement? I’d hope that as a result there’s more of an acknowledgment and dialogue on the issue that, ideally, would result in less of a stigma in speaking up.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? I was pretty stoked and I think the idea of a mosaic aligns well with BULLY‘s message. There’s something powerful and empowering about working collaboratively to make something big.

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Helping Hands, Jim Van Raemdonck, Coming Soon (Wetteren, Belgium)

“Protect something precious. Helping hands viewed almost as a statue trying to help. White is the colour of hope and symbolizes that we all have to work together to solve the problem of bullying.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? Adobe asked us if we would be interested in creating some artwork. Bullies don’t realise that what they do when they’re kids can influence someone for life. It’s a serious problem for the victims and this project brings it into the spotlight in a way that makes it difficult to ignore.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? We saw it more like a symbol, a sign that we all have to work together to protect those who are bullied. The hands protect something precious, something golden.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement? That it’s a sign. That now is the time for things to change.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? It’s a really nice concept. It’s surprising that this piece is made by different artists all over the world who never met each other and never saw the other pieces… yet when you put it together, it tells a powerful story.

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Tell, Gregory Barbot (Nantes, France)

“The word “Tell,” composed of bubbly letters stands out from the word “Hell,” composed of graffiti letters. The use of speech can break down the cycle of violence and its dramatic consequences.”

What made you want to get involved with Lee Hirsch’s BULLY Project? When Adobe asked me to create an artwork on the theme of bullying I hadn’t heard about The BULLY Project in France. But when I looked at the trailer, I found it really important to get involved because bullying is unfortunately an international issue.

Was your art based on a specific bullying memory? Or a more general understanding of the negative impact of it? Although I witnessed bullying during my childhood, my art isn’t based on a personal experience, but I’m a father now and I worry about it. As Lee Hirsch demonstrated during his Adobe MAX keynote, it’s a subject that should concern everyone.

The visual activism of designers and artists can shape culture. What’s your hope for this movement? I hope that we will help to spread the message all over the world. Solidarity and caring for each other is the basis of humanity. This problem is universal and we have to avoid tragedies among us, especially when children are involved.

How did you feel when you saw the completed mosaic? Was there another piece that really touched you? I really like the final art. It shows the depth of the subject how it affects every artist differently. Every piece is different (concept, medium, and graphic treatment); despite that, the work as a whole shows a strong unity.

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Taijitu, Yovcho Gorchev (Mendoza, Argentina)

“A portrait of an innocent fictional character, captured in a dreamlike state. Her face, illuminated by the physically burned area, serves as a visual metaphor for the willpower to erase and oppose negative memories and actions; to find the strength and courage in one’s own inner self.”


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Alex, Alberto Seveso (Bristol, United Kingdom)

From Lucius Annaeus Seneca’s Of a Happy Life, Book XXVII: “I offer myself to all attacks, like some lonely rock in a shallow sea, which the waves never cease to beat upon from whatever quarter they may come, but which they cannot thereby move from its place nor yet wear away, for however many years they may unceasingly dash against it. Bound upon me, rush upon me, I will overcome you by enduring your onset: whatever strikes against that which is firm and unconquerable merely injures itself by its own violence.”


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Into Ashes, Flora Borsi (Budapest, Hungary)

“Inspired by my childhood, I wanted to do something dramatic… This photo-manipulation depicts the essence of the destructive nature of verbal aggression.”

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