Tips for Working with Creatives

In introducing the superhero Helvetika Bold in the following comic book excerpt, we have introduced a creative element into this toolkit. Working with artist Gan Golan, we worked to find a concept that could bring to life the principles we are trying to communicate in this publication.

We did this because we believe that the fields of advocacy and art can and should work for even more inten- tional alignment and alliances. Socially engaged artists, media makers, and cultural organizations play a vital role in building the national will for equal and greater opportunity in America. The spectrum of creativity, from grassroots to Hollywood, and from campaign-driven expression to “art for art’s sake,” each have the potential to move hearts and minds, break down prejudice, inspire citizen engagement, catalyze action, and in the long term, encourage public support for systemic change.

For social change advocates wishing to begin or increase their work with the creative sector, we offer these seven suggestions.

  1. Allow Artists to Lead the Creative Process. Although partnerships between artists and organiza- tions are important, artists should lead when it comes to the creative concepts, or the results may be just flat-out bad art, or, at best, a “pretty” version of campaign talking points.
  2. Develop Authentic Partnerships for Effective Collaborations. For effective collaborations to flourish, it is critical to develop a culture of genuine partnership and reciprocity between professional ad- vocates and artists, as opposed to the impulse to “use” or “harness” artists for campaign purposes. We are all much better off when artists—experts at “sideways thinking”—are involved with developing strategy from the ground up.
  3. Embrace Contradiction. There are false choices between art that is accompanied by express calls to actions (“sign this petition”) and a softer, long-term “hearts and minds” approach. We believe that each can play a critical role in the ecosystem for social change. From our perspective, the answer is usually “both... and” rather than “either...or.”