Responses by Shamel Washington, creator, The ABC’s of Survival/group art supervisor, The Bloc
Background: The ABC’s of Survival is the book that should not exist, designed to be torn apart to change laws. The book was created for children and adults. Its pages are an alphabet of survival lessons that support mental health for BIPOC youth in America, and include a section of tear-out protest posters and postcards that can be sent to Congress to take action. The book was made in partnership with the National Black Child Development Institute.
Reasoning: As a Black father, I was looking for a creative solution to tell a troublesome story that plagues many Black households. I wanted to create something that could help have “the talk” and help end “the talk.” The idea was to create an actionable item to help people stand up for injustice in their communities.
Challenges: The most challenging part of this project was finding the right look and tone for the book and coordinating with artists around the world to create unique art for each letter. With child and adult audiences, we needed to find the in-between serious, hopeful and actionable.
Visual influences: Our team was primarily influenced by artwork, posters, textures and typography from the Civil Rights movement. We also drew modern inspiration from Nike, Kobe’s Rules Book, kid’s alphabet books and the visuals from the recent Black Lives Matter protests.
Specific demands: The tension in the idea itself made the project harder to solve, but worth the effort. It is a book that shouldn’t exist, but is still so badly needed today. That’s why we realized the book needed a section that could be torn apart, both symbolically and functionally, to create change.
Anything new: If there are enough people behind a cause, you’ll be surprised with what you can accomplish. With The ABC’s of Survival, I found that a simple, meaningful, good idea can break through any restrictions. It’s that type of idea—an idea for good—that people align to from the heart.