Beauty of bad design – Vega graduate and artist Eliana Raff on the power of visual language

“Good design stays stagnant and invisible. ‘Bad’ design shifts, changes, is memorable and stands out to become great.” These words form part of Eliana Raff‘s creative mantra. The Joburg-based Vega School graduate says she believes that visual communication is a universal language that can be used to make real change a reality.

Eliana aspires to becoming the creative director of a leading agency in South Africa, while also being involved in at least one social project a year that helps to solve the challenges that ordinary South Africans encounter. We sat down with this emerging creative to hear what her plans are.

‘Once Upon A Millennial Generation’ – A self-directed storybook that has a modern, millennial take on fairytales.

Why did you choose to become a designer?
I have always believed that visual communication is the strongest form of social literacy and expression, where it transcends race, language, gender, class and culture to create a universal language. I wanted to use my passion and creative skills to make a positive impact.

What is art?
Art is transformative and expressive. Through art, people have the freedom of expression, which can represent different realities and alternate thinking, which leads to change.

‘Nike – Second Life’ print campaign is Eliana’s final year project.

What themes does you work explore?
I have focused my work mainly around the human experience and through this get to understand, grapple with, and solve challenges of communication that helps to improve and enrich the lives of every day people.

Tell us more about the work you submitted for your final year?
This project was a collaborative one with my fellow college friends Maliya Muhande, who is a multimedia designer, and Devorah Suttner, a copywriter. We did an integrated campaign project for Nike. We started with the idea that Nike is associated with comfort and quality, which are two components that allows the shoe to “live again”. By giving away a pair of Air Max, that would go to greater use to someone else, the shoe lives on. The shoe lives its “first life with its owner”, and has a rebirth-new-life on the feet of someone else.

‘Nike – Second Life’ print campaign.

What do you look forward to most after you graduate?
To be part of a creative team that helps transform and makes a social impact in South Africa, and to further enhance and add to the practical creative skills that I have learnt at Vega over the past three years. To be involved with a creative team where the collaborative skills are as important as the creative skills of the individual and to be able to, through exposure at a creative agency, better understand and identify the specific creative niches that would appeal to me.

What are you working on next?
I recently completed my degree and an internship at Grid Worldwide, which is a global branding and design company and I am currently enjoying some downtime until January.

What are your career aspirations?
I want to make a social impact with my creative skills, to add value to a creative team, to ultimately become a creative director of a leading agency and to be involved in at least one social impact project a year.

‘Find your Zany’ concept – for Sunglass Hut.
‘Find your Zany’ concept in situ – for Sunglass Hut.
‘Nike – Second Life; print campaign.
‘Nike – Second Life’ print campaign concept.
‘Once Upon A Millennial Generation’
‘Once Upon A Millennial Generation’ book cover
‘Once Upon A Millennial Generation’

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