World Humanitarian Day: Human Pictures

In honor of World Humanitarian Day, Behance is supporting the United Nation’s campaign by profiling users who have created projects with a particularly humanitarian focus. This year’s World Humanitarian Day theme asks the question “The World Needs More _________”; brands, organizations, and individuals can then sponsor the words to raise money and awareness.

Human Pictures is a film-specialized design group based in New York. Their projects reflect their commitment to progressive media creation, and  include advertisements for the United Nations, get-out-the-vote initiatives, a campaign for SOME Designs, as well as several other documentary short projects.

The theme for World Humanitarian Day is: The World Needs More _______. In three words or less, what do you think the world needs more of?
The World Needs More Will to Change

What led you to pursue these projects?
Human Pictures was born as a means to push toward a more just world through the use of media as a tool for social transformation. From the get go, Human Pictures has been committed to working exclusively on projects that in some way or another contributed in the struggle for justice and social change. These projects are sometimes based on a direct message of transformation, offer options to consumers that contributed to a more just exchange economy, or challenge and question social paradigms around race, gender and sexuality. The UN Women piece clearly spurred a message against racism within Colombian society, while our work on SOME provided more socially responsible alternatives to consumers.

What were the most rewarding aspects of taking on this project?
On top of our excitement about being able to collaborate in media campaigns that espoused our values and agenda, we were excited to be able become involved in both projects because they allowed a good degree of creative freedom. We often find that folks working in organizations pushing for change and against the grain are often more open to allowing creative approaches. I think the fact that their daily work often involves risks makes them more likely to be willing to take risks creatively.


“We want to work in truly creative projects, but we want these projects to have a clear purpose; we want our creativity to translate in some way into a direct contribution toward a more just society. We believe in the notion of creating complex work; complexity above notions of objectivity and neutrality.”


What role do you think design and creativity plays in addressing humanitarian issues?
We all know that the world today faces a number of serious, urgent humanitarian crises. These are not exclusive to “Third World” countries, but are often based on socio-economic, political, and environmental exclusion and inequalities throughout our society in general. Often times however, it is difficult to find ways for the most privileged to truly understand and relate to the exclusions and inequalities faced by the least fortunate. It is our job as creative media makers to find ways that effectively translate these issues and make you relate and empathize (not just sympathize), while at the same time push you to want to understand and change the factors at the root of these crises.

What does it mean, to you, to be both a humanitarian and a creative?
To a great extent it means not being afraid to take sides. We want to work in truly creative projects, but we want these projects to have a clear purpose; we want our creativity to translate in some way into a direct contribution toward a more just society. We believe in the notion of creating complex work; complexity above notions of objectivity and neutrality. Like Howard Zinn said: “You can’t be neutral on a moving train”. Neutrality basically says: “I’m ok with the way things are, I supper the status quo.”