Different, Not Defective Poster Series
- Kirk Cetinic
The Different, Not Defective Exhibition, held at the TooT Artspace in St. Kilda in June 2019 sought to effect social change by raising awareness of autism spectrum disorder. People need to see the reason why change is important. The exhibition was comprised of ten posters depicting the challenges autistic people face in life. The work juxtaposes the way those on the spectrum experience and perceive their surroundings with those of neurotypical people. Excessive screen use may result in virtual autism. Included in the exhibition are works which depict this connection and encourage face to face social engagement.
The ten posters convey a synthesis of poignancy and playfulness around the subject of autism. It has a visceral quality as well as being informative. Division of the page creates striking uniformity, but each message is different and thought provoking.
I noticed there was an absence of visual material exploring the traits of autism. The differences were emphasised in a negative way, which reinforces the stigma around autism. I drew some sketches. I refined the concepts which led to the final minimalist versions, incorporating a diagonal line pattern used to represent the repetitive patterns of thought and behaviour.
The impact socially if incorporated into an ongoing campaign, would be immense. It could initiate a cultural shift. Apart from the creative process, I was thinking about people, what they want in particular outcomes and how they could reach their potential. I envisage the creation of a unified campaign of inclusiveness through graphic design, print and social media, reaching an audience of employers, educators and decision makers, ultimately forging a more inclusive society.
I was invited to present my exhibition to educators and integration aides at Albert Park College, so it has already had a positive social impact. In the presentation, I talked about my educational passage, experience of being on the autism spectrum and my design influences. They felt inspired to continue their hard work, as I said, ‘I would not be there if it were not for them’.
Commercially the exhibition would be of great value to any government departments, medical institutions, educators, home schooling, parents, employers and anyone that is touched by autism. It fulfils a need to educate and to be persuasive in the pursuit of social change.
The exhibition sets a benchmark for design by utilising a modern and cutting edge approach with geometric structure and powerful visual metaphors. The typeface I chose can be read from a long distance and emphasises the key message of the posters. I believe investing in professional design draws in the viewer, there is a laser sharp focus on a reality that may have gone unnoticed. It makes the subject matter relevant, current, interesting and challenges the viewer’s interpretation of the world and the necessity for change.
As a designer, I desire to make a difference in the world. To utilise design to change attitudes one must think of a more ideal world. Excellent design helps visualise, imagine and craft different states into being. Through good design, these posters have the power to persuade. My original design concept can grow. By using colour movement and angular elements and opposing functionality of objects, my posters seek to attract attention, raise curiosity and stimulate a response. Overall it adds value to Victoria’s design and creative culture.
Autistic people may be seen as having narrow focus or interests. There is a growing need for a change of perception and to embrace the nuances of autism, acknowledgement of its strengths and potential for creativity. Everyone is different. Society needs to be modified to ensure people can participate equally.
I have learnt the difficulties autistic people face in education through life’s experience, not a textbook. The most pressing issues for autistic people is the stigma surrounding it, the difficulties around multitasking and the timing and processing of instructions and probably teamwork. I hope that by educating and entertaining the public in an imaginative and informative manner through graphic design to create deeper empathy and understanding of autism. The first of its kind, this exhibition was innovative and has the potential to be developed as an educational resource in both primary and secondary schools.
Part of the project’s uniqueness and groundbreaking features can be identified because it is a self-represented work by a designer with autism on the subject of autism. This gives the audience an insight into the way the world is perceived, both intellectually and emotionally, by a creative on the spectrum. My work is my passion, and I can communicate my unconscious responses to the barriers autistic people face through graphic design.
Link to exhibition on Kirk’s portfolio website: https://kirkcetinic.design/different-not-defective-solo-exhibition