Y1 Communication Design 2020 Cohort, Otago PolytechnicLockdown Zines
Submission # 59
Student – Ākonga
Impact – Social Good
Identity – People & Culture
The Lockdown Zines were an adapted response to a first-year publication design brief and the remote learning situation we found ourselves in during Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020. This project was conceived entirely remotely. Given that this was only the second design project students had undertaken we needed to adapt the original brief. We did this in two ways. Firstly, we changed the theme from a Response to Nature (environmental) to a Response to Covid-19 (topical) to give students the opportunity to look at the current situation and the impact it was having on them as individuals and us as communities. Secondly, the original brief was designed for a 2-colour Risograph output. We decided to retain the limited colour palette by giving students a Riso swatch to choose from and place the primary emphasis on the content and message of the zines rather than the printed outcome. Each zine had to contain at least 300 words, one hand-illustrated element, one digitally-illustrated element and one photographic element. Zines were produced latterly on a laser printer and exhibited and distributed in the polytechnic student hub.
The revised brief provided students with an innovative outlet for a range of responses to what were uncertain and challenging times in lockdown. From a student perspective it was accessible and the options were endless. Most importantly they could draw directly on their own experience – how-to stay connected, combat boredom, live with your parents, stay sane, be creative, slow down, etc… The ‘shared’ experience of lockdown was unprecedented and there was great mutual benefit in acknowledging and recognizing common feelings. The zines gave some form to those emotions. Responses to the brief ranged from highly personal accounts of grief and isolation, to more humorous perspectives on our redefined human behaviour, the media, conspiracy theories and characters on the world stage. It gave students a discussion point particularly around mental health and the anxiety they were feeling. Student Success requested the zines be made publicly available around campus on their website to support student wellbeing.
Student learning is at its best when students bring their own experience to a brief in ways that are meaningful to them. Lockdown provided plenty of content to draw on and zines were the ideal format, as they lend themselves to art, poems, musings, writings, as well as commentary on what is happening near and afar. Given it was the second design project undertaken by first year students, who’d only spent five weeks on campus, we needed an open format and one that didn’t necessarily rely on access to software and good wifi. Students were required to research two-colour design, select colours that worked with their theme, write and illustrate or photograph the content, based on personal experience or research. The outcomes were varied and thoughtful. Collectively they captured a unique moment in our history. The responses were raw and insightful into a challenging life experience, and offered some solace to others during these ‘strange times’.
"A really clever brief in response to the global situation at the time and having to adapt to online teaching with first years. It's clear that students responded really well and had fun."
"Great adaption of the standard brief as a result of the covid lockdown. Definitely a moment in time captured by young designers at the start of their individual design journey. Worthy of a place in the archive."
Credits & Collaborators: Teacher/Tutor - Denise Narciso Teacher/Tutor - Lucy Richardson Teacher/Tutor - Caitlin Jack Photographer - Astrid Erasmuson
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