We capped off 2019 with a member meeting focused on using your design talents to elevate a non-profit or positive impacting initiative!
We invited LWD members Jenn Wilson and Jessica Lyon to share how they create graphic and digital design work that focuses on positive impacts outside their commercial endeavors. We had an inspiring conversation around self awareness, acceptance and our biases.
Jenn Wilson is a graphic designer from the Pacific Northwest with over 10 years of print and digital design experience. Specialties include branding design, logo development, and layout design. She worked on the “Show Up” campaign for Every Child Oregon. A campaign inviting and informing Oregonians state wide about the many ways they can get involved and make a difference for kids in the foster care system.
Jess Lyon is a graphic designer, illustrator, and teacher who experiences life in a fat body. Outside of her commercial work and teaching she uses her talents to elevate the body positivity movement. Recently, she has been focusing on building brand identities for businesses run by fat folks. She uses her personal designs as a healing tool for herself and to inspire others. Most of her printing is done on a Risograph—the imperfections in the process remind her that there is beauty in our perceived flaws.
Jenn and Jessica met several years ago at a previous job and have been friends and future design collaborators since. Realizing at one point that they had a lot in common outside of design and that they both at one point carried around a false narrative that wasn’t serving them.
Jessica shared some extremely vulnerable topics around body image and how she is using design to heal from childhood traumas while also empowering and helping others. Jess talked about attending a Design Week Portland event that talked about bias in design and bias training. This discussion had a massive impact on her and her work. The topics covered in this event propelled her to own her identity as a fat designer. She uses her design and illustration skills to not only heal herself but also be an inspiring voice for the body positivity movement.
She discussed the challenges and fears of going against societal norms – in this case with something we don’t have control over – the body we are born with. The majority of her work includes animal imagery. She found that as a society we don’t judge animals as harshly for their different shapes and sizes as we do humans.
Right now she releases her work through instagram and uses the anonymous alias – Fat Designer. Her goal is to have a united identity of a designer/illustrator and self-proclaimed fat person and do this work full-time.
Jenn came from a religious community and has struggled with our binary identity system and coming into being gay inside religious confines. She talked about previous volunteer work and having the opportunity to work on the “Show Up” campaign for Every Child Oregon while working at a larger design firm and how much joy that brought her.
Jenn is currently working a full-time design job but is looking for ways to bring more joy, intention and meaning into her work in 2020. She is especially interested in helping elevate topics and understanding around bias that she has felt.
Jess and Jenn have visions of collaborating in the future to bring the visions of Fat & Gay Designs forward.
The conversation opened up to the group and others shared how they have gotten involved in designing to elevate good. We talked about how this does not necessarily have to be for free or volunteer. As Jess mentioned although she is doing work for businesses owned by self identified fat people she still charges what the work is worth.
Some in the conversation talked about how they had designed for brands and made the switch to designing with education at the forefront instead of selling a product.
Sometimes we can design to elevate good as our job if we decide to make that shift.
AllGo – app where plus-sized people rate the comfort and accessibility of public spaces
Your Fat Friend – anonymous essayist addressing size exclusivity issues
DWP 2018 – The Fattest Gap in Design
Purchase Fat Designer Prints – https://www.etsy.com/shop/fatdesignerprints