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How Can Designers Help With the Climate Crisis?

The climate crisis needs no introduction. With activists like Greta Thunberg to documentaries from David Attenborough raising awareness, it feels as though there is a constant stream of stories covering the crisis, but what else can be done? Designers and creatives all have the talent for storytelling, so why not use this talent for good and help spread the importance of this message.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova

What climate crisis?

Over the recent years, climate change has become a growing concern worldwide, and the topic is now regularly seen across a range of media. What's worse is that we are now seeing the consequences of this crisis, with July 2021 being recorded as the hottest month ever recorded in human history, to the unnerving statistic that 11% of the world's population is currently vulnerable to the climate crisis from extreme floods, droughts and sea levels rising.

This crisis can leave you feel daunted and helpless, but the good news is that the media has meant that people are becoming more aware of this growing problem;

"In a 2020 survey by the Boston Consultancy Group, found that from 3,000 participants across eight Countries, 70% were more aware of the climate crisis now than before COVID-19."

It is great to see that more people are awakening to the severity of this problem, but there is always more that can be done.

The power of designers

For those of us who have talents in Visual Communication, we have the underlying skill of being able to break down heavy information and translate it into a piece of work that gets the message across to viewers in a more refined and simple way. This skill should not be forgotten, and instead of creating work that is being used to encourage consumerism, it could be used to share messages regarding the climate crisis.

A great example of this is the artist, Anthony Burrill, who specialises in typo-graphic posters and screen printing to create bold and powerful work.

In 2010, Burrill was approached by the agency Happiness Brussels to create a series of posters to raise awareness for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. To tackle this brief, Burrill created a series of screen-printed posters using Oil from the beaches of Mexico that came from the spill. The series of posters simply read: Oil And Water Do Not Mix, which was then sold through a website where the proceeds went to The Coalition To Restore Coastal Louisiana.

This limited series of prints are beautifully designed and helped raise awareness of the dangers of fossil fuels and how they can come at a price to our oceans. Although this issue is not directly linked to the climate crisis, it makes you reflect on how we must be kind to our planet and how consumption and human actions can cause irreversible damage to our planet. This campaign raised a lot of awareness for the cause, which indicates the power of creating work around climate change and environmental disasters. This shows how we can choose who we make work for as artists and put our personal values at the heart of our practice.

What can you do

Whether you are an artist, a writer, or even a performer, believe in yourself and your ability to tell stories. Then, use this skill to raise awareness with your audience about the climate crisis. It doesn't matter if you have an audience of a thousand people or simply one or two friends. To tackle this issue, we must all work together to make a difference, so the more people who are aware of it, the better. Here are a few tips on how you can use your talents for good:

  • Collaborate - work with others to share your message! whether this is another artist or even scientist and charities that are tackling these issues right now

  • Be ethical with who you work with - Consider who you choose to work with. For example, you could create a poster for a local charity, or you could be asked to work with car manufacturers. Make sure the work you create aligns with what's important to you and your values.

  • Be kind to our planet - In day to day life, remember to care for our planet, from recycling to making ethical decisions with what materials you choose to use in your practice.

  • Read about it - If this is a topic you don't feel so confident in, you still want to make a difference. Have a read of what's already out there and gather some inspiration

Take some time to reflect on your creative practice and consider how you can raise awareness of the climate crisis.


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