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3 design-led ways to support the AAPI community

Illustrations of your favorite buildings, rad T-shirts, and a mega design raffle.

3 design-led ways to support the AAPI community
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Anti-Asian violence has risen dramatically since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, culminating in the horrific shooting in Atlanta last month. Six of the eight people killed were women of Asian descent. Now, Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) designers and allies are using their design skills to advocate for change in small but meaningful ways.

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Some have created moving social graphics, such as this one by Angel B. Lee, which depicts six stark red tally marks against a white backdrop, or this haunting redesign of the New York Times front page by Sho Shibuya, which looks like it’s been shot eight times. Others, such as designer Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, created free rally posters that depict Asian Americans in colorful and optimistic illustrations with phrases such as “This is our home too.”

Some designers are also raising money for advocacy groups, encouraging you to use the power of the purse in support of Asian American and Pacific Islander causes. Here, we outline three design fundraisers that benefit AAPI causes and organizations—but hurry, they won’t be around forever.

Round Tray by Gaetano Pesce. [Photo: courtesy #DesignforATL]

#DesignforATL

This fundraiser is a raffle of gorgeous products from 96 different designers with the funds going to the families of the Atlanta victims through the nonprofit Advancing Justice Atlanta.

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Building Block, Mini Rucksack. [Photo: courtesy #DesignforATL]
#DesignforATL has a slew of design pieces on offer—such as these drop earrings by Faris Jewelry, Building Block’s mini rucksack, and even big-ticket items such as a Herman Miller Noguchi table.

[Photo: courtesy #DesignforATL]
Here’s how it works: Scope out any products you might want on the #DesignforATL Instagram page. To enter, go to the Advancing Justice for Atlanta page, make a donation, and write #DesignforATL along with the product you want in the notes section. It’s basically like a raffle. One donation equals one ticket. There’s no limit on the number of donations you can make in order to up your chances. The requested donation price varies by product. The fundraiser ends on Sunday, March 28, at midnight EST.

Ash Chen, Dotted Medusa Vase. [Photo: courtesy #DesignforATL]
The fundraiser was organized by three AAPI-owned organizations: PR collective Hello Human, multidisciplinary design studio L&G Studio, and rug and textile design studio Tantuvi.

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Jenny Nguyen, the founder of Hello Human, says the organizers pulled off the concept in a matter of days, emailing “all the designers we could think of” to donate products. “This fundraiser gave us a place to start, to help the victim’s families. As community-first people it made sense to use our existing skills and networks to do this,” says Nguyen. “But there is a lot more complex and difficult work to be done to break down white supremacy. This is just the beginning.”

AAPI Love Taste Bud T-shirts

Buy one of these long-sleeve graphic tees to support the AAPI Community Fund, and raise awareness for over 100 AAPI-owned restaurants listed on the back of the tee. The shirt, designed by social media director and consultant Michael Chan and graphic designer Eileen Tjan, is minimal but says a lot with a bold typeface on the front and sleeves of the tee that reads “AAPI Love” and “Hey Let’s Be Taste Buds.”

[Image: courtesy Eileen Tjan/Michael Chan]
Chan and Tjan’s shared love of food spurred the project as a way to support both AAPI-owned restaurants facing economic hardship and the AAPI community, which has experienced an increase in hate crimes and violence. Tjan’s love for fashion led to the T-shirt, which she wanted to make more purposeful than your typical trendy graphic tee. She describes this one as “a cool-looking shirt that[‘s] actually useful, and serves as a restaurant guide for people traveling across America, all while supporting our community as they dine.”

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Tjan, who also owns design studio Other, adds that clothing is a great way to spur dialog. “Clothing can be a conversation starter, and having conversations is one easy (and common) way to engage, learn, understand, share, and heal with another person during this difficult time.”

The T-shirt is $50 and available for preorder until Sunday, March 28.

We Draw We Donate

Graphic designers Malissa Smith and Allison Supron have launched an initiative called We Draw We Donate, which immortalizes your favorite building in a black-and-white line drawing, with all the funds going to Stop AAPI Hate. The name of their initiative pretty much spells out how it works: Email a photo of the building you’d like them to draw, Venmo $75 (100% of which will be donated), and receive your custom digital illustration in 3-4 weeks. More info here.

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[Images: courtesy We Draw We Donate]
Supron and Smith first launched We Draw We Donate in the summer of 2020 as a way to support the Black Lives Matter movement. At that time, they created over 85 drawings and raised $8,000 in total for the Loveland Foundation and Campaign Zero. Supron and Smith plan to launch new “chapters” of the initiative in the future, noting that the format allows them “to respond to the current climate and areas of activism that need financial support in that moment,” says Supron.

Smith says the requests they’ve received so far run the gamut: They’ve drawn homes, favorite happy-hour bars and restaurants, first apartments, even a Chili’s. They’ve had lots of requests for drawings as gifts. Smith hopes the project raises awareness for anti-racism efforts. “We hope it continues to allow us to use our talents to raise money for organizations that are already putting in the work to create positive change in our world,” Smith says. “We also hope it challenges others to find ways to use their skills to make an impact in our communities. No matter what your situation is, you have something to contribute.”

Whatever you send, they’ll do their best to draw it, she says. The deadline for orders is April 2.

About the author

Lilly Smith is an associate editor of Co.Design. She was previously the editor of Design Observer, and a contributing writer to AIGA Eye on Design.

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