Interview 18th November 2019
Chrissy Levett: Illustrator, creative director and founder of Creative Conscience.
“You can’t change things by shaming people - you have to inspire them into thinking differently.”
Chrissy Levett; illustrator, creative director and founder of Creative Conscious on environmentalism, self-aware design and creating for the greater good.
The ASOOO team sat down to call Chrissy on a warm Tuesday morning, excited to chat to the Creative Conscience founder about all thing’s design and sustainability. Chrissy is undeniably passionate, charming and warm, choosing to go for a walk as we spoke to her on the phone “to get some fresh air away from the computer”. We started the interview with Chrissy cracking jokes and asking what type of interviewer personality we’d choose to be. Louis Theroux, obviously.
A Studio of Our Own (ASOOO): For those of us who aren’t aware, can you tell us a bit more about what Creative Conscience is and why you started the movement?
Chrissy Levett: Creative Conscience is a global platform set up to engage, reward and support the next generation of creatives to use their talents for positive social and environmental impact. We started Creative Conscience because we wanted to change things – we have to change things.
ASOOO: Have you noticed an influx of more self-aware design projects and initiatives starting since founding Creative Conscience in 2012?
Chrissy Levett: Completely. What we’ve set up has grown exponentially and we started with very little, so it’s mad really. We just put something out there and it’s grown and grown and grown.
It’s really interesting that industries and companies are changing now, too. You can see that they realise that if they don’t start thinking about people and the planet they won’t survive. It’s now so much easier for people to find out how others are behaving and what supply chains are like, so things can’t be hidden.
ASOOO: What advice would you give to creatives who want to be more socially and environmentally aware with their work?
Chrissy Levett: I think that it’s all about being brave and being authentic. If you’re working with a client and know how to do a job in a more environmentally friendly way, even if it’s something as simple as a print job or what paper and inks to use, you should tell them. Ask clients if they’re B corps. Make sure they’re living wage approved. Help them make better choices.
It’s all about being brave enough to have an open and authentic conversation with people. You can’t change things by shaming people - you have to inspire them into thinking differently.
Education is vital and it’s a very exciting time, especially for younger generations. Ultimately education is going to change things - it’s where we should start.
As designers, engineers, lawyers – it doesn’t matter what we do, all that matters is that we all think consciously about how we behave. We need to think about what steps we can take as individuals and how we can unite and move forward into a future that’s going to serve everyone. We can’t play the blame game or make any politicians or companies bad guys - it’s no one’s fault, it’s just the way society is built. We’re all responsible to make a change, though.
“It’s all about being brave enough to have an open and authentic conversation with people. You can’t change things by shaming people - you have to inspire them into thinking differently.”
ASOOO: What’s your current favourite piece of ethical design?
Chrissy Levett: I have a lot of time for the Gravity Light as a product - it’s a really clever piece of design and engineering that’s helping a lot of people.
I also have to mention the doughnut economy model. It was designed by a woman and it’s a piece of design that changes the whole economics of how we operate on our planet. Its fantastic.
ASOOO: …And can you shout out some ethical organisations that you think everyone should be aware of?
Chrissy Levett: The Extinction Rebellion is definitely my number one favourite thing right now. I absolutely am right behind them. We have to be careful that we don’t sit in an echo chamber though. We can assume that everyone knows about the Extinction Rebellion, and that everyone knows about the great work Greta Thunberg is doing, but people don’t. It’s important that we have conversations with people that we might not normally have conversations with so that we can spread the message.
There’s also a fantastic organisation called The Dandelion Foundation in Guernsey, started by Marc Winn and Jock Pettitt. They’re trying to change the whole system and policies around health on the island – they’re amazing guys.
Dan Burgess is great too – he started Good for Nothing, a community for people to use their ideas and skills to help grow and create social projects. He also has a podcast called Spaceship Earth where he interviews interesting people. He’s a lovely guy doing lovely things.
Theres also the campaign Its Our Time, which is built to motivate 2 million climate-conscious 18-30-year-olds to vote in the forthcoming election; it's all about voting with climate change in mind.
“It’s important that we have conversations with people that we might not normally have conversations with so that we can spread the message.”
ASOOO: When we work with our clients, our three aims are to get them to communicate in a way that's nice, brave and honest: they’re the tenets of our agency. How do you think being nice, honest and brave has helped you get to where you are today?
Chrissy Levett: To be nice, honest and brave - it’s a constant practice and thought process. I would say that I wish I’d been those things sooner. And actually, since I’ve discovered that that’s what we need to be, things have got a lot better for me.
This is our community and this is our planet. To be brave you have to question things, you have to be conscious and aware - that’s what we need. After all, if you’re doing something, it’s better than nothing. We have to lead by example.
Come and celebrate creative change makers with us - it’s a charity fund raiser.
Visit Chrissy at Creative Conscience and say Hey! From the ASOOO team:
Creative Conscience Instagram: @ccchangemakers
Creative Conscience Facebook: /creativeconscience