If Only...

graphics replaced words to get across life-saving messages, says Corrine Beaumont, designer of the ‘lemons’ graphics for the Worldwide Breast Cancer charity

Design is often seen as elitist, a method for increasing status. But the real power of design is when it’s used as an equaliser. Design can take difficult messages, maybe only known to a select few, and transform them into desirable, useful, even life-saving experiences for many.

My goal was to create a campaign that would spark the curiosity of a diverse spectrum of people. When you make people curious you’re inviting them to join the conversation, to participate in your story. Visuals are the only way to really achieve that when you’re working across cultures, languages, literacy levels, and they do it instantly. With words, they connect with us differently. They ask us to interpret information through nouns and verbs. But visuals communicate through metaphor. They present a reality and ask you to relate it to your own experiences. And when you find a good visual metaphor it has the potential to teach in a powerful way on an individual level.

For example, when I would tell people about the campaign, I would often get odd looks: ‘Lemons as breasts?’ It didn’t make very much sense. I could take about five minutes to verbally describe the symptoms, but it was still an abstract concept that would end up being summarised by the person, “So look for ‘changes’. OK, got it”. But when I show the graphic image, it requires no words and in a matter of seconds someone knows, and says: “This is what I must look for and feel for”.

Corrine Beaumont
Corrine Beaumont
Photo: Aaron Jacobsen

‘I’m a hybrid: designer-entrepreneur-researcher.’ Born and raised on a farm in Idaho by a musician and an inventor, she now lives outside London with her four-year-old daughter. A retired academic, she uses visuals to reveal things that words alone cannot. Good design is democratic, she says.

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