Trends get a bad-rap in the design world. Too often we look down our noses at what is of the moment without taking time to appreciate that trends have an uncanny ability to show us the ethos of the present time. I doubt anyone could argue that our present time is typical, calm, or generally peaceful which is why nothing seems more appropriately trendy than the concept of empathy. Recently it would seem that designers have been inundated with calls for a design that encourages empathetic responses in users and audience, calls for design thinking practices that encourage empathy in the design process. The ethos is of the present seems to be defined by an understanding that we have become estranged from a vital aspect of a healthy society, empathy.
That being said, empathy is not easy. Empathy is a tricky concept, it is tricky to discuss and understand let alone convey visually. That is exactly what 15 young designers and their mentors did at the 2017 Elevate Poster show. Earlier in the summer young designers from schools across Metro Denver as well as Colorado Springs were paired up with professional designers and educators and together the mentors and mentees took on the challenge of designing a poster that conveyed an aspect or understanding of empathy. Students were given the option of digitally printing their posters but were also encouraged to screen print their posters at Nicky and Stu Alden’s Ink Lounge Screen Printing Studio, where the initial kickoff meeting for the event was held.
The finished posters were shown on July 21st at The VSA Colorado / Access Gallery + Studio at 909 Santa Fe Drive. The posters showed the range and complexity of empathy in their different approaches, from simple and elegant typographic statements to the deeply personal and expressive illustration, every poster captured empathy in a successful manner. However, one mentor/mentee pairing took the experience to another level. Adrienne Johnson along with mentor Stu Alden made the experience a practice in empathetic design. They facilitated an event with Access Gallery students where the students drew portraits of each other. Adrienne and Stu took the finished portraits and arranged them into three separate poster compositions. They screen printed the finished compositions and donated the finished posters to Access Gallery.
You can see some of the posters from the show, including those printed by Adrienne Johnson and Stu Alden for Access Gallery, below. Posters from this show are available for purchase for $20.00 contact Miranda Ziegler at firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase a poster.
Access Gallery Green
Natasha Rogers: Empathy Begins with A Conversation
Miranda Ziegler: Finding Our Balance
Mike Campbell: Empathy
Leticia Dominquez: Empathy
Leesa Salazar: Empathy Bloom Turq 2
Leesa Salazar: Empathy Bloom Turq 1
Leesa Salazar: Empathy Bloom Pink1
Lauren Hostetler: I Feel You
Leesa Salazar: Empathy Bloom Black
Lauren Hostetler: Empathy is the NewBacon
Kristen Harris: Together We Can
Carrie Carrigan: Unapologetic
Allison Rocha: Steadfast
Allison Rocha: Fig1614 Through the Heart
Access Gallery Red
Andrea Thurber: Bacteria
Breanna Sieck: Empathy
Hannah Anderson: Journey
James Love: The Empathetic Ones2
Hannah Anderson: Journey Detail
Stu Alden: Octopus
Access Gallery Blue
Sarah Smalley: Take Your Time