020 3846 1910

Small Green Shoots

Youth arts and development charity Small Green Shoots were invited to participate in Ai Weiwei's 'Fly the Flag' initiative, marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. SGS asked us to get involved by running illustration workshops for their young participants and by creating a set of illustrations, in the form of protest boards, to accompany the brilliant spoken word poetry their young participants produced.


Illustration, Photography, Workshops

The Challenge

  1. Unifying the project under a cohesive visual style but in a way that displayed each participant’s individuality.
  2. Create a set of workshops to help the participants realise a visual representation of their poetry.
  3. Capturing an appropriate and effective tone for the placards.

Barefaced Solution

  1. We developed a set colour palette that was used across each design to create cohesion, whilst allowing for more artistic freedom with the illustrative style and content of each piece. This meant that the final work was able to successfully work as a collective of images, without hampering individuality.
  2. We designed a set of workshops led by our Senior Illustrator, Rob, to provide guidance to the participants. Each workshop was structured to include both group and one-to-one work, allowing for the participants to really engage with us and have their ideas heard.
  3. The subject matter of the poetry is upsetting, intense and needs to be heard and understood. Together with the participant’s we made the decision to avoid tired shock tactics and instead create imagery that was thought-provoking whilst being deeply personal to the participants themselves.


We’ve worked closely with Small Green Shoots for a number of years and every new foray brings a unique set of challenges. For this project the ‘Shoots wanted to create a mock protest, featuring poetry written by a group of young participants, sharing their views and personal experiences on human rights issues. Each participant would be ‘armed’ with an illustrated protest board that represented their spoken word piece.

We designed a set of workshops in which we worked directly with the participants to help shape each poem into a symbolic image perfect for a placard. It was imperative that the protest boards we produced with the participants had an awareness of their place within the larger activist movement. The current political climate has seen an abundance of marches, sit-ins and protests circulating within the media (both old and new), all of which are rife with creative placards (“this is an Eton mess” we’re looking at you). So we drew inspiration from the history of protest signs – from the suffragettes to Obama’s ‘hope’ campaign – and then personalised each one deeply by working closely with the participants to get to the heart of how they wanted to make their audience feel and react.

The event itself, part of a nation wide initiative led by artist Ai Weiwei in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, was a tour de force of eloquent, articulate and powerful messages. The Shoots proving that the next generation is at once active, passionate and socially engaged. As the majority of contemporary movements catch wind through the circulation of digital media, we ensured that Small Green Shoots had high quality photography to broadcast their messages beyond the event itself. Now, if anyone claims young people are “apathetic nowadays”, or don’t care about human rights we have a veritable smorgasbord of snaps to prove that this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Yout arts charity small green shoots with illustrations created by Barefaced Studios

Harley Academy

Disrupting the aesthetics industry.

A bold new identity and brand strategy for a company challenging the status quo.

Read more

Davies & Davies Estate Agents

Your local property nerds.

Re-positioning a historic estate agents, driving rapid growth and increasing web traffic by over 200%.

Read more

Heron Financial

No more robots - the human face of finance.

A differentiating brand proposition in a market where everyone is saying the same thing.

Read more

Click here to see more of our work
or contact us on the details below...

Like what you see?

Give us a shout.

020 3846 1910