Sophie Whitworth: Winner of the Creative Conscience Awards 2023
Graphic Designer, Alumni and soon to be MA graduate Sophie Whitworth is the winner of the Creative Conscience Awards 2023 in the Equality & Justice category with her work ID. Creative Conscious is ‘a creative community and global not-for-profit organisation who believe that creative thinking and innovation can make positive change.” Originally inspired by last years MA exhibition showcase ‘Souvenir‘, Sophie’s project ID, challenges the use of labels and their associated narratives through a series of data visualisations.
Read on to find out more about Sophie’s work:
You recently won the creative conscience award (Graphic Design & Equality & Justice) tell us about it:
Creative Conscience is a global organisation with a notable reputation, and by entering their awards it gives you the opportunity to tackle a prominent social issue of your choice whilst working on an industry standard brief. Olivia and other Graphic Design tutors (Paul and Matt) have always encouraged us to enter awards as it is a great way to expand your portfolio and get your name out there. The process of applying for the awards is really simple and can easily be done through their website, you just have to ensure your pitch stands out and clearly explains your concept. Once I had learnt that I had won the gold award I was extremely happy. It has been a major confidence boost receiving such a high level of recognition from a well-known organisation, that supports the same causes I do.
Tell us about ID! What inspired the project?
The concept of ID itself was originally developed during the first module on the MA course, which was to create an exhibition piece that responded to the theme of Souvenir. My interpretation of said theme concluded in me exploring the idea that a Souvenir is merely a representative item. ID challenges the boundaries of the theme by implying the exhibition itself to be the souvenir. It is the representation of complex issues and the ongoing debate that encapsulates social identity and the highlights constraints and limitations of stereotypical labels. By removing the identifiers of the participant, the viewer is no longer aware of their race, sexual orientation, or social status, instead they are exposed to the underlining beauty and individuality of each and every person.
The work is heavily inspired by designer Giorgia Lupi and is guided by her theory of Data Humanism.
There is a rising number of young people – public figures and private individuals – who are rejecting the concept of labels, deeming them to be ‘outdated’ and ‘unhelpful’. Even prominent ‘celebrities’ who have a substantial influence on society are refusing to attach labels to themselves, even in a time when hate crimes like homophobia and transphobia are intensifying.
Labelling can be a problematic practice, if not entirely damaging, when they form the foundation of a person or culture’s bias and hatred. This is predominately evidenced with the social labels enforced onto an individual due to identifiers that person can’t control like, gender, race, or sexual orientation. They propose a set of limitations and expectations, which without an option, they are supposed to associate with. For example, the idea that women are emotional, weak, and foolish, whilst men are seen to be dominate, aggressive and providers, Asians are smart, bisexuals are greedy and plus-sized individuals are unfit. As a result of this stereotypes can lead to exaggerated or understated expectations regardless of what that actual individual is capable of.
ID responds and challenges the complexities of identity and socially prescribed labels through an intricate series of Data Visualizations, which highlight the individuality of people in society. It charts both the significant moments and defining events in the participants lives as well as the conception they have of their own identity. ID uses the visual language of infographics to enhance the understanding of the collected information, contextualising it therefore producing a more insightful narrative.
Through following a framework of questions that encourages the contributors to actively think about their identity (personal and social) and self-assigned labels, the respondents inadvertently produce one-of-a-kind outcomes, which lead to the creation of unique ‘Identity Portraits’. Each interpretation of data is presented as an abstract and geometric outcome that is a composition of six, five pointed dimensions, which represent a different aspect of each participant.
While each composition can stand on its own as a piece of art, displayed together, the collection represents a unique appreciation of identity and personality. ID is the representation of complex issues and the ongoing debate that encapsulate social identity and highlights the constraints and limitations of stereotypical labels. By removing the identifiers of the contributor, the viewer is no longer aware of their race, sexual orientation, or social status, instead they are exposed to the underlining beauty and individuality of each and every person.
Tell us about any future work or future steps you would like to take?
After graduating in August, I have been working on refining my portfolio and preparing myself to enter the industry. I am wanting to work on getting experience and potentially begin studying for a PGCE in September.
I want to continue working on creating socially conscious work that generates new insight and exposes systemic inequalities plaguing society. Empowering those who are affected by prejudice and discrimination.
How well do you think your course prepared you for your industry?
The advice, support and guidance I have received from all tutors during my 4 years at The Northern School of Art has provided me with a wealth of knowledge, particularly regarding what is needed to be well prepared to succeed in the industry.
What advice would you have for a student looking to study graphics or a postgraduate degree?
Don’t be boring, get involved! What you put into studying your degree and experience at university in general is what you get back; attend the talks, go on the trips (if that is viable), get involved with the SU.