My West London Life

Graphic Designer and NHS Fundraiser Rebekah di Palma

May
20

West London Living interviews Rebekah di Palma about designing for purpose and supporting the NHS during Covid-19

Do you live in west London?

No, I live in Hersham but my dad was born and grew up in Ealing. We have lots of friends and family in west London so we are always backwards and forwards enjoying the area.

What do you love about the area?

Probably the diversity of colours of the signage, bridges, shops and architecture – plus the open space. I work with The Young Hammersmith and Fulham Foundation and Young K&C (Kensington & Chelsea) both providing support and opportunities for young people in the borough and I try to reflect the placement in their branding.

How would you spend the perfect day and night in west London? Any favourite spots?

A lazy morning at home followed by an afternoon walk in Kensington Gardens, Richmond or Osterley park, Ealing Common and end up in a nearby restaurant or pub to finish the evening. We like to try out different places each time – I’m always drawn to quirky alternatives.

You’re a graphic designer by trade and have been using your skills to raise money for the NHS during Covid-19, can you tell us about what you’ve been doing?

If you know any other graphic designers, you know that we can be easily visually assaulted by poorly executed graphics! And that’s how this began. I kept seeing a problem where my Facebook friends were sharing badly designed messages of thanks to keyworkers, and one night it got a bit too much for me. So by 11pm, I took to my tablet and created my own version (the rainbow heart design) and shared it on my Facebook page and asked people to share the image and use it as their profile pictures etc. I also had the idea to upload the design as a downloadable print on Etsy and to donate the money to the NHS.

The next day I had so many positive responses and someone asked if I would be printing it to t-shirts as they would like one. So I set about finding a company that could print-on-demand and found an amazing company called Teemill. They print with vegan inks, on organic cotton, in renewable energy powered factories and deliver in plastic-free packaging…it couldn’t be a better match for me and my creative ethos of designing for purpose.

I wanted to give back to the NHS, and just try to help in some way, so I chose to donate 100% profit to the NHS. Within 24 hours I had sold over 100 t-shirts, within a week I had raised over £500, and it continues to rise!

The positive response has been overwhelming and so many people have sent me photos. The project continues – and I am uploading more designs and raising money for other charities connected to the impact of COVID-19, like mental health, domestic abuse and the vulnerable people charities.

What was the motivation to support the NHS in this way?

I spent a month in hospital very unexpectedly before Christmas and had an operation on 9th March…just before lockdown. Seeing how much strain the NHS was under before the full impact of COVID 19, I felt compelled to support the nurses and health care assistants on the frontline in any way I could.

How does it feel to see so many people wearing your t-shirts and spreading your message?

Every day I’m sent a selfie from friends and strangers, and every time I see their faces full of joy I’m proud people are wearing my design that gives back.

What role do you think art plays at a time like this when people are perhaps struggling with feelings of uncertainty, anxiety and isolation?

I’m a strong believer in creative wellbeing and often set projects for myself and others: in my creative community Facebook group, I run things like creative challenges and origami sessions. All levels of creativity are invited and I encourage those I call ‘creative souls’ as much as I do the creative professionals and children.

When I freelance in studios I am known to leave positively doodled messages or origami on people desks when I leave.

On 29 February I set myself the challenge to create 29 artworks (within 24 hours) based on the message ‘Love on The Inside’ to raise awareness for suicidal awareness, something close to my heart. I had sketched an octopus and I loved how the multiple arms of an octopus represented the multiple ‘arms’ of the NHS, and since an octopus has 3 hearts it connected with the love of the NHS, the people it cares for, and us caring about the NHS. This is exactly what I mean when I say I design for purpose and why I chose to use it as an alternative to the rainbow heart design during the COVID crisis.

Have you seen any particularly touching instances of people coming together to support each other?

Apart from the hundreds of people buying my t-shirts, I’ve witnessed my neighbours playing ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ on the cello on Thursday evenings during Clap for Carers, and have seen people sharing lots of online virtual tutorials and class freebies like fitness and sound baths (highly recommended!).

When all of this is over, what’s the first thing you’re going to do that you haven’t been able to during lockdown?

Visit family and friends for sure, just to hug them and spend time with them is what I’m looking forward to most. We are lucky to be able to do video calls but I always say ‘never underestimate the power of a hug’.

If you weren’t a graphic designer what would your “Plan B” dream career be?

When I was at art college I almost chose to follow an art therapist’s career; specialising in children with special needs and teenage wellbeing. I guess that is where my value of designing for purpose is born and is what underpins my creativity in my work as a graphic designer.

See Rebekah’s designs and grab yourself a t-shirt to support the NHS over at: https://rebekah-di-palma.teemill.com

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