AIGA Arizona is excited to present the third interview in our ongoing series of Design for Good Spotlight interviews. Each interview focuses on an Arizona-based creative professional whose work positively affects our communities, and embodies the goals of AIGA’s Design for Good Initiative: to ignite, accelerate and amplify design-driven social change.
“Turn the Labels” interview with Lisa Altomare
Give us an overview of your D4G project?
“Turn the Labels” is a creative initiative to increase awareness of the opioid addiction issue in Arizona and beyond. It provides an opportunity to capture and share stark, unfiltered, emotional responses to the issue very quickly, by allowing people to sketch their impressions, add their sketches to prescription bottles and share them on Instagram. My hope is that this initiative will become a portable, scalable model, able to move between markets and cities, which might provide a new way to talk about opioid addiction. It’s yet to see how big the effort will become or how far it might spread.
What first drew you to the “Turn the Labels” D4G project?
As the UX Director / Creative Director at Lucid, there was a cultural opportunity to increase our capabilities, and positively effect the quality of our content, by shifting our view of users from “conversions” to people. To help with this, we put together a team to conduct a Human Centered Design project. We researched a number of topics, and quickly found a huge need for attention around the rapidly increasing issue, and changing face, of opioid addiction. Today’s addiction is no longer limited to the crack and meth users portrayed on The Wire, but has become a common facet across all socio-economic spectrums. Addiction often begins with prescription drug use, and includes all genders, races and ages. Many members of our team discovered personal connections to people in our lives who were struggling with the issue. In our research we encountered very limited public understanding of the real stories, facts, and profound impact of addiction on peoples lives. We found few treatment options, limited awareness of improved therapies, a lack of doctors available to help, thousands of addicted births and more deaths from opioid overdoses in AZ than from traffic accidents, and a highly stigmatized issue that remains difficult to acknowledge or discuss. We wanted to raise awareness and help change the public perception of opioid addiction in a manner that was easily disseminated and scalable, with the use of visuals that would stick.
What other D4G projects have you worked on?
I volunteered as the Camp Swift team-lead at AIGA Arizona’s CreateAthon Phoenix 2015. An experience that I found very rewarding. I enjoy bringing D4G ideas to organizations and have leaned towards educational, mentoring and job skills opportunities. “Turn the Labels” is a unique initiative for me.
Has anything unexpected happened during this D4G project?
The “Turn the Labels” execution is still in progress, although the discovery phase has coalesced. Involvement in this D4G project has had a really positive impact on our team’s work at Lucid. People became comfortable with, and excited about, calling strangers and having conversations. They were amazed at how incredibly forthcoming and immediate people’s responses were, over and over again. For example, we emailed a Baltimore Doctor for an interview, who immediately called and gave 20 minutes of their time. We interviewed a recovering addict, who used to steal medicine from their job, and who now rides their bike to areas with high concentrations of addicts, to offer backpacks of socks and useful items, and to elicit stories to help highlight the impact of opioid addiction.
What are your future hopes for the “Turn the Labels” D4G project?
If “Turn the Labels” is successful here in Arizona, and works to increase awareness, expand the audience and provide weight to the opioid addiction issue – my dream would be that it would grow on its own. The model could be portable and scalable, being tailored for local impact elsewhere. It could be recycled, even if it isn’t hyper repeatable.
Is there a particular process in which the “Turn the Labels” D4G project has to unfold?
The project’s purpose clear, and we’re working out the final details of execution. We’re exploring how much direction is required to involve but not lead the project, to avoid ambiguity while also not being prescriptive, and to frame it for maximum creative expression. I’ve been inspired by how well attended repeating local creative events, like Drink & Draws and Creative Mornings, put on by other studios and individuals have been. I’ve observed that the ability to express freely tends to be enthusiastically received by creative individuals who often tend to be introverted. We’re utilizing the Drink & Draw model to help engage and leverage the skills of the AZ creative community to direct their efforts towards a positive social outcome. We’ll have to see how many people attend and measure results, but I’m hopeful for success. “Turn the Labels” will be the cap on the Lucid team’s Human Centered research project and experience.
What piece of advice would you give to others interested in launching a D4G project?
Worthy D4G ideas can be inhibiting to execute, with the large amount of legwork involved. It’s been inspiring to be able to reach out to the community, to illicit input, involvement and support from other creative individuals. It’s been exciting to realize that a D4G project doesn’t have to be done completely on your own.
What other D4G event has inspired you?
The first D4G event I attended was “Facilitation by Design.” At this event, I was impressed by the encouraging debate around the validity of “Design can Change the World” and also by the City of Birmingham’s efforts to transform its neighborhoods through the use of design.
If you had unlimited funds, what D4G project would you start right now?
I would work on a project to help inspire literacy and promote reading among individuals. I’d like to develop a browser app that could show the efficacy and importance of how people consume information in the digital age. It would track and catalogue the types of content consumed, volume of words read, and provide goals, tags, and at a glance understanding of information intake. A goal would be to limit the disparagement of digital reading trends and encourage people to celebrate and consume information in whatever format they like.
Join Jeremy and the Lucid team on Wednesday, June 8, to participate in the “Turn the Labels” initiative. Register here.