Meet the graduates: University of Leeds’ Lucy Barker

As part of our coverage of 2021’s graduate season, we’re spending five minutes with a selection of graduates from around the country to talk about their work, practice and plans.

Lucy Barker is a 22-year-old graphic and communication design graduate from the University of Leeds. Her final project is called In the Shade. 

Design Week: Can you explain what your final project was about?

Lucy Barker: This final year project was quite a challenging brief; raising awareness of skin cancer in Black and minority ethnic groups, while also giving people the tools to approach healthcare confidently.

In the Shade takes on multiple meanings in the campaign and serves as the inspiration for much of the design. Firstly, it recognises that you can’t take people’s skin colour out of the equation here. Black and minority ethnic groups have been consistently underrepresented in medical information, impacting the survival rates in skin cancer. Secondly is that this is a longstanding racial problem in healthcare that has too often been left in the dark by people at the top of the system. Thirdly is the importance of shade in skin cancer prevention, as sun exposure increases people’s risk even if they have darker skin.

The main awareness features of the campaign make use of light and shade to tell their message. Silhouettes cast down a shadow that, when the sun is in the right place, tells the importance of checking for signs of skin cancer rather than waiting until the symptoms have become prominent. Similarly, light-reactive digital posters reveal the unfair disparity between survival rates of white people and Black and minority ethnic groups.

The website and information cards were designed to be clear, simple, and accessible. This gives people confidence to go to their doctors and get checked if they suspect anything could be wrong, while making the topic less intimidating to approach.

DW: More generally, what would you say your biggest inspirations are in your design practice?

LB: I always try to find people who are championing change and willing to find a creative solution, both in design and in wider society. For this project I found great inspiration in people like Malone Mukwende and the Brown Skin Matters project, who saw the lack of Black skin representation in medicine and designed solutions to it themselves.

That’s the sort of design that inspires me; looking for creative ways to solve issues that may not immediately seem like a ‘design problem’. Design is so much more than just making something look good or displaying information, so I always search for designers who make a real impact.

DW: What would be the ideal job for you, and why?

LB: Quite a tough question! I enjoy different aspects of design from advertising to illustration to UI and UX. Ideally, I’d love a job with varied tasks that take a holistic approach to working with a design project.

Of course, I’d also enjoy working on brands and projects that are taking the challenge of putting something new and unconventional out there who need some creative thinking as well as powerful design.

You can view Lucy’s work, as well as her peers’ as part of the University of Leeds School of Design student showcase

Read our full 2021 graduate show guide here.

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  • andrew bainbridge August 17, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    There are some goodGraphic grads to contact here

    who would appreciate some exposure, if not already on your radar?

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