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    Small Green Shoots

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


    Illustration, Photography, Workshops.

    The Challenge

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

    Barefaced Solution

    1. We developed a colour palette that was used across each design to create cohesion. Nevertheless, we allowed for more artistic freedom within the illustration 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. This allowed 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. Instead we created imagery that was thought-provoking, whilst being deeply personal to the participants themselves.

    “Barefaced Studios did a fantastic job, once again. They took the time to really consider the needs of our participants and what they wanted to achieve. The attention to detail was fantastic – from the carefully constructed workshops, to the creative work itself. The work achieved all of our objectives and, most importantly, the participants felt listened to and supported.”

    – Natalie Wade, Director

    A picture of a student partaking in an Barefaced illustration class next to Rob, a senior illustrator at Barefaced Studios teaching the course.
    Photo of Rob, senior illustrator, running a workshop.
    A close up of Rob, Senior Illustrator at Barefaced Studios, drawing at the workshop for Small Green Shoots.
    Illustration protest boards for Small Green Shoots, designed by Barefaced Studios. Small Green Shoots members holding up an illustration protest board designed by Barefaced Studios as part of their human rights project. Small Green Shoots members holding up illustrated boards designed by Barefaced Studios as part of their human rights project. Small Green Shoots members holding up boards designed by Barefaced Studios as part of their human rights project.


    Small Green Shoots is a youth-led charity offering an alternative to the conventional system for education, training and entry into the jobs market. They help young people facing difficult life circumstances gain access to the entertainment and creative industries through paid classroom learning, vocational training, internships and access to creative grants. This allows their young workers (the “Shoots”) to build a career, rather than just seek a job. Small Green Shoots run a plethora of projects and events aimed at providing their Shoots with real-world experience and to support emerging artists.

    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. The poetry shared their views and personal experiences on human rights issues. Each participant was to 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. We then fully personalised each protest board by working closely with the participants to get to the heart of how they wanted to make their audience feel and react.

    The Shoots proved that the next generation is at once active, passionate and socially engaged. As the majority of contemporary protest movements catch wind through the circulation of digital media, we ensured that they 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.

    Take a look at another event design case study by clicking here.

    Let’s build something great together:

    020 3846 1910