RMCAD alumnus creates multicultural artwork to combat COVID-19 in Australia

Kimberley Lawrence is making a positive impact in her hometown of Melbourne, Australia by creating multicultural signage surrounding COVID-19. The alumni graduated last year as an online student from our Graphic Design department and continues to make great work. Lawrence is currently creating posters that you can download here to help businesses raise awareness about sanitizing, social distancing and other precautionary measures. We asked the artist about what inspired her to get involved.

What is your goal with this project?
The goal is to prevent the spread of the virus by communicating simple changes people can make to everyday actions performed within the building/business. My aim was also not to create confusion or make the posters an annoying task to read with a large amount of text. We also live in a multicultural city and apartment building with many different languages spoken, it would be impossible to translate a body of text to capture all of the languages spoken to fit on one poster. The use of illustrations aims to show how the task should be performed so the resident can quickly mimic the poster without interruption, no matter what language they speak.

Can you tell us how your work is being used in Melbourne, Australia?
These posters are being used to communicate with residents within high-density housing in roughly 30 buildings across Melbourne (that I am aware of). After creating the posters for my building, I placed them onto a GitHub and shared with other Body Corporate Management firms in Australia, receiving a few emails back to say that they will use in their buildings. The posters are being placed where the resident needs to be aware of their actions, such as; in the lobby, they are placed near the elevator buttons, instructing people to change how they interact with the elevator, or next to the exit button that they need to use their elbow to press rather than their hands. I have made these posters free to use, share and modify under creative commons, by providing the Ai and SVG source files (or the cake and the recipe) allowing anyone access to change, use, and modify how they need to through this time.Some friends and family have also been sharing them through social media, which has led to a few small businesses using them too. This week I received some feedback from the community, asking for signs that were targeted to children. These need to be a little more colorful to attract their eye, but also clear and straightforward so they can follow along with the instructions easily. These posters are now being issued to numerous childcare centers and schools. 

Why is it more important now than ever to create?
I think now, more than ever, it is essential to create for others and yourself. If you can help someone navigate or stay safe through this time – do it. Art is a great way to create a positive distraction, so if you can make something that will give someone a moment away from worrying about the world outside, do it – put smiles on people’s faces. But if anything, take this time to focus on learning a new skill or building upon those you have already, so when this isolation ends, we will be stronger artists on the other side – bring something positive out of isolation with you.

What is your advice to other artists working at home for the first time?
My advice to other artists working from home is to make sure you have a fun and creative space that you enjoy working in (even if that means taking over the kitchen table), make sure you take breaks and keep track of the time – it is too easy to continue working deep into the night when you don’t physically need to leave a workplace. Also, be kind to yourself; some days you will be more motivated than others; this is a tough and unpredictable time, don’t be hard on yourself. Tomorrow is another day to create.  

How would you describe your style of work?
I wouldn’t say I have a particular style; instead, I tend to select a style that works for the project at hand. In this case, for the instructional illustrations, I was inspired by IKEA and how they present their wordless instructions. The instructions are clean line drawings that include enough information to be understood easily while using a thicker outline and some basic colors to bring visual interest. I have had some feedback that they also look like medical illustrations too. 

Why do you love graphic design?
What I love the most about graphic design is how art can be used in such specific ways to inform and communicate with an audience.

What made you pursue RMCAD?
I joined RMCAD after my first college, The Art Institute, closed about a quarter before I was set to graduate. I am pleased that I made the switch to RMCAD. My professors in the final few quarters taught me a lot – especially to Professor Kitzerow and his visual sequencing class that has come in very handy with these instructions!

Can you tell us about your online student experience?
I was an online student for roughly three years of my degree, and I loved it. My biggest challenge was not so much the work, but the language, funnily enough. I have been speaking and writing British English all my life, so I very quickly learned (learnt in British English) the American English ways. During my final two years online, I was back home in Australia, where I had the added challenge of keeping track of two completely different time zones. I enjoyed the discussion posts the most within the classroom. I learned a lot in them as fellow classmates, and the teachers would give you constructive feedback, and a lot of it, which always made you see your work or ideas in different ways and further challenging your thinking and art. 

What does the future hold for Kimberley Lawrence?
That is a good question! I am not sure what the future holds for me. I am looking for my first job in the industry, and I hope once our world is a little more stable and job opportunities start popping back up, I can jump in head first! Until then, I am continuing to make and update signs as our Government sets new restrictions and challenging myself to learn some new skills – I recently started playing in Blender.