A Note from James, team member at Light Grey Art Lab
The last couple of years, I feel like I’ve really had my eyes opened to just how powerful the voice of creatives and the creative community at large, really is. But, the responsibility we have to use that voice for positivity is hugely important. We have this wonderful ability to influence, educate, and support whoever and whatever we believe in, and now more than ever we have the means to get our work in front of those who need to see it most.
It honestly feel silly to say, but sometimes I feel like we have a super power. We have this part of our brain with the ability to visualize and process this radiating web of connected thoughts, individuals, movements, and feelings, AND we have the know-how to influence it. It’s incredible to think that someone can be inspired to make a difference or support a cause, simply based off something you created.
Our hands are the tools of change that can make a difference in our lives and the lives around us.
- James Lavella
Emory Allen is a Minneapolis-based illustrator, designer, and organizer, whose work focuses on whimsical characters and their fun, imaginative worlds. Recently, Allen has co-founded a studio with his partner, Alicia Allen, called Foreign Fauna, which uses animation and design to advocate for issues important to the duo. But as Emory himself puts it, these issues can be tackled in the same lighthearted way that he handles his independent work. “Foreign Fauna takes making the world a better place very seriously, but we want to have fun with it, you know? That's why are motto is ‘Empathy through humor and surprise.’" Read more about Allen’s thoughts on giving and advocacy below.
What is the value of the creative voice - as compared to a monetary value - for something like raising awareness for good causes?
It's exactly that "voice" part of "creative voice". When you donate money, you're letting people know what is important to you. But, when you create something, you get the chance to explain why it is important to you.
Have you used your creative voice / or your presence in the past toward bringing awareness to a cause? What was it / why did you want to participate?
Foreign Fauna recently created a piece to try to get people to vote by helping them understand that even though they may have just one vote, all of those "just one votes" add up to something greater than themselves. Voting is teamwork with a team you've never met.
Do you have any personal exercises, mantras, or reminders that help you work towards being a positive force in the world?
Our secret motto at Foreign Fauna is "Don't worry about changing the old. Focus on building the new". It's kind of a different way of saying "be the change you want to see in the world". We often catch ourselves saying stuff like, "Why is this thing this way? I bet we could make them change it", but we've found that it takes way less energy to create something new than it does to get someone else to change their ways to our ideals. That might sound like giving up on someone, but it really allows us to help more people. By not spending time trying to change one person's mind, we have the time and energy to safe/nurturing spaces for many more people.
What kind of positive change would you like to see in the next five years?
It's easy to have this mentality of "this issue doesn't affect me, so it must not be a problem". So, I would just like to see more people exercise empathy when confronted with a weighty issue instead of only seeing things from their perspective. I believe that trying to understand someone else's pain can only lead to positive changes.