This summer I was thrilled to welcome Claire Zhang, 18MR’s first intern, to our team.

I have spent the last four years at 18MR working to strengthen the relationship between art, design, and digital organizing. To me, design is not just decoration, but a reflection of the worlds we choose to build. Social movements are not just about fighting against injustice, they are also about building alternatives to what currently exists. Art, design, and cultural work are just some of many tools that our movement needs to build the future we deserve.

It is so important that we encourage designers and creatives to invest in building a long term relationship with our movements. With this internship I wanted to create an opportunity for young designers and creatives to use their technical skills for movement building, while learning how to apply digital organizing, design strategy, and collaborative campaigning to their design process. My goal with developing this internship program was to not only provide an intern with hands on work experience, but create a place for them to develop their unique perspective as a designer and learn to how to communicate and advocate for their design choices.

During their time with 18MR, Claire collaborated with the 18MR staff to bring our campaigns and projects to life. At the end of their internship, Claire put together a case study that highlighted what they had learned about design strategy and how they applied it to their work.

“For this case study, I wanted to outline and document the exact thought processes that go into designing a project for an actual campaign. The Vision Act campaign is a project that we are collaborating on with APSC, and involves many aspects of design. This particular case study is for a hypothetical digital postcard that focuses on older folks within our communities who may be digitally adverse. In the case study, I outline not only the process for the drafts and the “final” product, but also what works and what doesn’t and why. This is meant to be a cumulation of skills, hard and soft, I learned while at 18MR, including the art of presentation itself.” - Claire Zhang

You can download Claire’s entire presentation here.

Thank you so much for joining us this summer, Claire! As a parting gift Claire has written a letter for the 18MR Staff and Community:

Dear 18MR Community,

My name is Claire Zhang and I’m the 2022 Spring/Summer Graphic Design intern for 18 Million Rising. As I am transitioning out of the role at the end of next week, I wanted to take a moment to write a love letter to you all, to the team, and to our community,

As a student in design school, I learned how to create beautiful designs for print and web, social media graphics for fashion companies, branding and motion graphics for products, etc. However, as I continued through college, I discovered that my true passions in design were designing for communities, that I could use design to strengthen and even create communities that could hold, serve, and fight for people I love. A month after I graduated from Parsons, I saw the posting for 18MR and it felt like everything I had been building fell into place.

During my time here, I learned how to go beyond what I had learned in school, to apply it to a very real and established community, to very real and established movements. I created designs for teaching presentations, rebranded the “Did You Eat Yet” newsletter, and provided support across the team for their work with fundraising, organizing, and connecting with the community. During my 5 months at 18MR, there were multiple hate-motivated shootings across the country and Roe V. Wade was overturned, many tragic and momentous events that remind me how important and urgent our ongoing work is. I am excited to now be a part of this movement, a connection that will go beyond this internship and suffuse into the rest of my life.

Beyond the many immediate movement building and design skills that I have learned and will carry forward with me, I also learned so much from the people who make up 18MR themselves. I learned to advocate for my time and energy, to operate in a work environment with spaciousness and capacity, that these are essential skills to a creative and hopeful making process. I learned how community can stretch over thousands of miles, that a movement is made of relationships, and that my relationships with my team members, as organizers, designers, friends, and comrades, are essential to creating and sustaining a loving community. I am so grateful for my time with 18MR, and for the learning experiences and relationships I will carry with me into the rest of my life. I hope to continue to serve our communities with my work and am excited to collaborate with 18MR in the future!

Not a goodbye but a see you later,

Claire Zhang