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Case Study: Weapons of Reason

Weapons of Reason is a brilliant example of marketing for social good; a magazine to turn knowledge into action. Made in partnership with D&AD, it's an eight-issue publishing venture to understand and articulate the interconnected global issues shaping our world, and provide ways to inspire positive action. Issue one begins with an exploration of the Arctic.

Illustrating the Arctic

Weapons of Reason commissioned leading illustrators, including Jean Jullien and Adrian Johnson, to provide an accessible way to approach the huge topic and worked with Human After All’s Anna Dunn, Eve Lloyd Knight and a new young illustrator, Aaron Nelson, to create artwork and data visualisations that embody the power of great visual thinking.

“The visual information needs to travel fast – there’s no pointless decoration or embellishment. Everything is lean and done for a reason.” ​Paul Willoughby, Creative Director, Human After All

Anna Dunn

Weapons of Reason: Arctic Illustration

These illustrations both reflect the effect of pollution on the Arctic – the oil shape is both forming the outline of the animals, and looks like it is about to envelop them.

Weapons of Reason: Arctic Illustration

This one was simply about showing what a rich ecosystem the Arctic has.

Weapons of Reason: Arctic Illustration

Adrian Johnson

My immediate response to the brief was one of 'consumption'.

The title 'Appetite for the Arctic' came after the illustration was complete. The challenge was to try and illustrate our insatiable appetite for oil buried deep under the Arctic whilst simultaneously communicating the melting of the polar ice cap. As with all my artwork, I aspire to say as much as possible with minimum means. I'm a reductionist at heart.

Weapons of Reason: Arctic Illustration

I originally looked into different routes involving melting candles or cakes – which eventually led me to the ice lolly. With this I could illustrate the melting ice cap, the sea water, and oil below. The bite taken out of the 'oil' represents the consumption, the stick works as a device to show drilling, and the top of the lolly literally being the tip of the (melting) iceberg.

Jean Jullien

I was asked to illustrate mankind's enormous appetite for energy, so I chose to draw a greedy eater eagerly awaiting his meal to be served, with his fork in the shape of a plug. The idea was to show our constant expectation for energy, we never give much consideration to where it comes from (very much like food), we just expect to be served.

Weapons of Reason: Arctic Illustration

Eve Lloyd Knight

For 'The Future' section we commissioned two academic specialists to collaboratively write opposing scenarios for the future of the Arctic – one utopian, and one dystopian. Both pieces spoke to each other, which gave me a starting point for two complementary illustrations.

For the dystopian vision (that sees the Arctic ravaged by countries seeking its riches), I used the cake device to dish out the Arctic and its oil into slices. After I settled on the cake as a metaphor, the fun part was biting out chunks of oil and drawing puffy smoke from burning candles.

Weapons of Reason: Arctic Illustration

In the utopian outcome, I wanted the Arctic to feel as peaceful and un-touched as possible – and we needed some snow!

Weapons of Reason: Arctic Illustration

Aaron Nelson

My brief was to capture the vibrant city of Iqaluit. One of Canada's smallest cities, Iqaluit's population is constantly rising with a diverse mix of inhabitants . I was inspired by some of the city's unique architecture designed at the time for functionality, the ability to withstand climate conditions and cut material costs. It allowed me to replicate a number of the distinctive buildings that are located in and around the city of Iqaluit.

Weapons of Reason: Arctic Illustration

Cajsa Holgersson

A project for a cause very close to my heart, a brief containing the words ‘crisp vector art’, an intelligent client whose work I admire – there wasn't really much to ponder when Paul Willoughby asked me to contribute to Human After All’s new magazine.

With the guidelines simple and bold in my mind, I decided to focus on dimension of spaces rather than objects and details when making the illustration. To add a bit of detail without worrying about it being a distraction from the message, I chose to use a minimal dot-raster effect.

Weapons of Reason: Arctic Illustration

Find out more about Weapons of Reason, order your copy or take action.

If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.

For more creative inspiration and the opportunity to get up close and personal with the world’s best design and advertising, join us at D&AD Festival.

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