How can you be creative with a conscience?
We've known Chrissy Levett for a very long time, both as a candidate and in her capacity as Founder of the Creative Conscience Awards. Over her career she's worked in agencies including Cowan, Honey Creative and Illumination and more recently as in-house Creative Director at Azimo. Now she focuses her time on the Creative Conscience Awards. We're huge supporters of what they do and we share the belief that design can change the world.
Hi Chrissy! Can you tell us a bit about the Creative Conscience?
Creative Conscience is a global movement that aims to improve the communities in which we live and work and in turn help transform the wider world, through creative thinking.
Our mission is to promote socially valuable, human centred design that enables and inspires people to change their lives and the lives of those around them for the better. We do this through:
- Inspiring designers to apply their talents to socially valuable projects, promoting sustainability, freedom, social health and well-being.
- Creating educational frameworks, rewarding, acknowledging and supporting creative projects for social change
'Embed the idea of people and planet first – profit can come from this way of being.'
How did it all begin?
In 2011 I attended a Landmark course. The aim was to build and launch a community project in just 12 weeks. Creative Conscience was my community project. Graham Hawkins at Illumination supported the idea, alongside our team at the time. Industry experts joined our community including Sir Quentin Blake, Margaret Calvert OBE and Sir Jonathan Porritt. With little effort it simply ‘took off’. I guess a great idea at the right moment in time.
Do you have any favourite projects or ones that have been especially successful?
Elena Ciolacu graphic novel created for our awards went on to touched the lives of more than 2 million bullied and suicidal young people across the world, is the most powerful project we’ve had for impact. One favourite around positive activism was a sexual health campaign winning concept. We helped build and deliver it, by high jacking a number of on-line dating apps, it was great fun and we had some positive results. We’ve had literally thousands of game changing idea sent our way. It’s inspiring and fills me with hope for the future.
It’s hard to capture the data on our impact, but we are working with a number of universities and IBM ix to see how we can improve and collect data in the future.
'Be brave, talk to clients about the positive benefits of social change within business models.'
I think some universities now include the Creative Conscience briefs as part of their course - is that right?
Yes, and this is one of our current goals to build ‘purpose’ into education globally.
From an agency perspective, what things are people doing/could people be doing to promote a ‘creative conscience’?
It’s a great feeling to work on something that has a positive purpose. Some agencies are doing this or are starting to do this, but more can be done in order to make the changes we so desperately need.
Be brave, talk to clients about the positive benefits of social change within business models. People and planet before profit, does and can work. Inspire your clients by running your own agency CRS projects, showcase these great projects. Make people feel good by doing good. We’re here to help if you need it.
What about your own career – why did you choose design?
On degree I trained more as an Illustrator/print maker and I won an illustration award in my final year. I met Quentin Blake at the private view held at the Royal Academy and he suggested I went to the RCA, so I did but studied Graphic Design & Communication. I was hopeless at school but I could draw, create, so that’s what I did and I did it with passion – so much passion, I guess to prove them wrong. It was my strength and therefore my choice.
'Be passionate, find what you love most and work hard, really hard, have fun too and enjoy life, it’s a gift.'
You worked in consumer branding/packaging for a long time, then switched to working in-house at Azimo, which is quite different. How did that happen?
I was given the opportunity to work in an emerging industry. Fintech.
It was an exciting time and a chance to learn new things. I liked the idea of working in a space that was disrupting traditional banking systems, which I saw as greedy, unjust and antiquated. The idea of being a positive design activist if you like. It was a brilliant experience and I learnt so much, it was fascinating.
And how do you think someone could go from agency to client side?
Simply by taking an opportunity. I would urge anyone to do the same, take any opportunity as long as it feels right. I had so many misguided stories about clients before this experience. It was wonderful to see both viewpoints.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in design?
Be passionate, find what you love most and work hard, really hard, have fun too and enjoy life, it’s a gift.
What are your hopes/plans for Creative Conscience?
We want to continue to grow globally as a positive movement for change. Our hope is that ‘social justice’ and ‘purpose’ is built into the heart of all educational systems, at every level and for every subject globally.
And that we continue to influence the influencers. That we embed the idea of people and planet first – profit can come from this way of being. That we change our industries and the world with a new generation of creative thinkers. That we will always be able to serve and build positive impact.
Want to know more? See here.
And you can check out Chrissy's TEDx talk here.