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Fulfilling Lives Novella


Our  illustration  students  each  created  a  graphic  novella  on  one  aspect  of  real  people’s  experience  of  living  with  complex  needs.  Thanks  to  an  EU  European  Development  Fund  Creative  Fuse  grant,  these  stories  were  then  published  in  a  printed  book  for  Fulfilling  Lives  called  #WhatDoYouSee?.  This  was  published  in  June  2018.   

The  Challenge

In  2017,  in  a  2nd  year  illustration  module  we  assigned  to  our  illustration  students  one  of  two  Fulfilling  Lives’  personal  anonymised  stories  of  complex  needs,  from  two  people  who  are  being  helped  by  Fulfilling  Lives  to  get  their  lives  back  on  track.  Each  story  was  an  aspect  of  a  person’s  life,  so  the  2nd  year  illustration  worked  empathically  and  sensitively  (and  without  judgement)  to  interpret  each  personal  snapshot  of  a  complex  life.  The  students  then  told  each  story  in  three  different  ways.  Firstly,  they  storyboarded  the  story  as  told.  Secondly,  they  then  focused  on  an  action  point  and  developed  a  short  10-second  animation  of  that  point.  Finally,  the  student  reinterpreted  the  story  as  a  short  12-page  graphic  novella.  The  five  best  novellas  were  then  selected  to  be  printed  in  Fulfilling  Lives'  Graphic  Novel  Anthology.

The  Graphic  Novel  Anthology

#WhatDoYouSee?  A  Fulfilling  Lives  Graphic  Novel  Anthology  and  will  be  used  in  Fulfilling  Lives’  outreach  workshops  with  social  services.  There  is  also  a  social  media  campaign  to  accompany  it  using  the  hashtag  #WhatDoYouSee.  The  anthology  contains:    •a  strip-based  introduction  explaining  the  project,    •five  graphic  novellas  telling  five  different  lived  experiences,    •a  wraparound  cover  using  imagery  inspired  by  an  actual  visual  therapy  aid  used  by  Fulfilling  Lives,    •a  foreword  and  afterword  by  someone  living  with  complex  needs.

Working  with  Fulfilling  Lives

We  jumped  at  the  chance  of  getting  involved  with  helping  Fulfilling  Lives  to  challenge  society’s  stigma  on  people  living  with  complex  needs.  It  was  important  to  us  as  educators  of  students  engaged  in  visual  communication  to  help  to  visually  tell  the  personal  stories  of  two  of  Fulfilling  Lives’  clients.  Our  illustration  students  rose  to  the  challenge,  and  created  short  animations  and  graphic  novellas  that  were  sensitive  and  empathic  to  the  voices  of  Newcastle’s  vulnerable  citizens. 

The  Results

This  book  also  had  an  eBook  version  and  a  social  media  campaign  using  the  hashtag  #WhatDoYouSee?  Panels  from  the  graphic  novellas  will  be  tweeted  out  to  provoke  dialogue,  and  to  drive  the  debate  to  the  Fulfilling  Lives  website  where  they  can  download  the  eBook.  Attendees  of  Fulfilling  Lives'  outreach  workshops  with  social  services  can  use  the  printed  book  to  challenge  their  personal  attitudes,  and  then  using  the  hashtag,  continue  the  discussion  on  social  media.  This  project  has  been  a  very  successful  collaboration,  as  the  students  involved  have  since  graduated  (all  with  very  good  degrees)  and  have  gone  on  to  work  professionally  in  various  creative  industries.  The  project  has  been  presented  at  national  and  international  illustration  conferences  as  an  exemplar  of  how  illustration  can  have  a  positive  impact  on  society.  A  short  film  on  the  project  is  in  production  by  the  Creative  Fuse  team,  featuring  interviews  with  some  of  the  illustrators. 

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