When I grow up: Culturally sensitive graphic design explorations

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Degree Programme in Graphic Design
Graafisen suunnittelun koulutusohjelma
With a global village that is growing and a world that is getting smaller it becomes evermore important for graphic designers to successfully cross cultural borders, yet this is easier said than done. My theoretical work aims at making these cross-cultural design experiences easier for graphic designers, as well as creating higher awareness of the differences that exist within cultural constructions. An amalgamation of design practices, cultural and anthropological research, the theory explores the perspective changes a graphic designer needs to consider when intending to create visual communication solutions in a different cultural context. What to look out for? What to expect? What kind of extra questions to consider? Strategies and suggestions to overcome the small differ-ences that different cultures use to read visual messages. Methodologies and theories are compiled from unstructured interviews held with designers and artists who have experience working in these situations; literary review of both contemporary and more traditional theories regarding the subject matter; as well as personal observations compiled from engaging in the cross-cultural case study project. As a case study, my practical work probes into how visual communication can be used to change the perspective of a community, using co-design as one of the working methodologies. After extensive research it has become clear that South African children do not perceive education to have a high value. I aim to change this perception using visual communication. The target market is the community of Mabopane, South Africa situated in a rural area 50km outside the capital city. In collaboration with a NGO, SA Cares for Life that already has a solid and trusted relationship with the community the intention is to create a sustainable message that can be taken to the community. Ensuring the continual running and growing of the message I aim to equip the care workers presently working and living in the community they in turn will teach the children that school is important using a fun and interactive method that is not intrusive, overbearing or patronizing. The final solution is inexpensive and the community can sustain it once the designer and others involved in the project have moved on to their next assignments. Using the initiative and creativity of the SA Cares for life Care workers, as representatives of the community, as well as the stated dreams and ambitions of the children at the Early Learning Centre, a sing along animation is created that can be sent back to the schools and used as a motivation tool by the teachers.
Itkonen, Marjatta
Thesis advisor
Uppa, Heidi
cultural sensitivity, social design, township, south africa, education, animation
Other note
  • Sing-along song animation - final production of process explained in the thesis documentation