Side Project: The Queer Oral History Project
By John Hanawalt, Senior Visual Designer
At Elefint, using design to empower good causes isn’t just part of the job—it’s one of the perks. In addition to client work, we pursue side projects—as a studio and individually—that allow us to work on issues that matter to us. For the last several months, I’ve been helping friends at the Queer Oral History Project create a new visual identity and website that launched earlier this month.
The Queer Oral History Project uses video and social networking to connect queer-identified people across demographic and geographic borders, creating a living, shared history. The volunteer-run project started as a curated archive of stories recorded by the project’s co-founder. But for the project to grow, it needed a website that would showcase its participants’ stories and attract new stories. And it needed a brand that was as exciting as the project’s mission.
As part of our work together, I also created the following motion graphic to help explain The Queer Oral History Project‘s mission.
The resulting work isn’t just cool visually (if you don’t mind me saying), it’s a case study in what happens when good causes and design are equal partners. Thinking about design helped the project staff clarify their vision and strategy. In turn, considering the social implications of design decisions forced a deeper understanding of the project, helping create a more informed (read: better) design.
As I write on the QOHP blog, designing for the LGBT community isn’t so different from designing for anyone else. But when your content is intimately connected to someone’s identity, the line between removing a menu item from your site’s navigation and erasing someone from your community is very very thin. In that blog post, I also discuss how issues of identity and inclusion informed our design decisions.
If the personal is political, so is design. And at the same time, so are the rewards. My work with the Queer Oral History Project gives me not only professional pride but also the deep satisfaction of being fortunate enough to use my work to engage with and give back to my community.