With Pateman in mind, I began by creating an illustration for the symptom: Brain fogs, which is stated on the Pernicious Anaemia website.
I began by sketching out a brain and scanning it into illustrator.
I wanted to have a playful and colourful illustration which wouldn’t be intimidating to look at, I wanted to encourage people to read the poster and gage an interest, instead of threatening them with the extreme outcomes of pernicious anaemia.
I used three warm pink/red tones to fill the different sections of the brain. I then illustrated a fog cloud which I placed over the top of the brain, changing the opacity to give that foggy effect. Placing the illustration on bold contrasting back grounds to make it pop.
I then moved on to think about how I could represent different symptoms. I drew a vector image of a sleeping person on illustrator to represent fatigue.
using the same colour scheme as before, wanting to keep a red tone throughout to match the clients requirements:
My next symptom I went to tackle was pins and needles.
I again started the process by sketching our pins and needles with pencil and paper, then scanning it into illustrator.
Once I had designed my three illustrations to represent each symptom I presented my ideas in a tutorial with Wendy to talk about how well these illustrations represented each symptom.
I discussed with Wendy how along this I planned to include a ‘PA card’ that would help those who suffer to successfully suggested to their doctor that PA may be what they a suffering with.
From this tutorial I came away with the knowledge to focus on the user journey to see how the user would successfully get to each outcome, and how this would help contribute to spreading awareness.
I began by researching into different ways in which people have tackled posters with medical meanings. looking through Pinterest I came across pateontoast.co.uk.
Pâté, also known as Paul Pateman, is a graphic artist with a quick wit and a strong, simple aesthetic. Based in London, he creates concept-led images and type compositions for a diverse collection of personal and commercial projects.
His work caught my attention due to its simplicity yet eye catching and powerful designs.
The concept behind his designs were extremely powerful, however were tackled in a clear simple manner, using bright colours and flat vector Illustrations.
The images that caught my attention most, was amazing body facts poster:
These posters were in the style of Pateman, with simple illustrations that spoke a thousand words. I had the idea of doing something similar with my posters, illustrating them as literal, to catch the eye of the viewer.
After scouring the internet for every source of information on PA and talking one on one with suffers, me and my group arranged a meeting with our client to see what they wanted us to translate through our campaign, as well as sharing our current ideas and getting initial feedback.
Our clients were Liesel Schwarz and Karyl Pasoc. They were lovely and gave us so much inside into what they do as a society and their mission, along with sharing how pernicious anaemia has affected them personality, a lot of which we all found very shocking.
Notes from meeting:
- Don’t scream and shout, the campaign needs to be friendly, accessable, cool and funky, we want people to trust the information that we are telling them.
- KNOW YOUR NUMBERS!! – Knowing you levels of b12 is extremely important, different cities have different levels of low b12, so not being diagnosed with low b12 doesn’t mean you don’t have it!
- make people question wether the symptoms could apply to them, making people relate to the issue.
- information packs? all symptoms different, there are different ways in which you can get b12, you are able to look after yourself and this is how you can do it.
- make sure people find the root of the problem, may people have low b12, but PA specifically makes you unable to absorb it from food, so b12 supplements and change in diet won’t help.
- Keep it simple!
- everyone knows someone with PA, it is important that we EMPOWER
- tell our story – advocacy and awareness : this is where it came from : this is the problem : this is why people struggle.
- information block : if you think you have it, this iswhat you should do, include things on what to say to your doctor if you think you have it. – EMPOWER PEOPLE TO TAKE IT FURTHER
- it’s not just a b12 deficiency it’s bigger.
- pack to hand to your doctor that says all about b12
- red colour scheme
- it costs pennies to get a b12 – is your life worth pennies? pennies can save your life!
- low b12 can effect your pregnancy
- starting a conversation – how do you spread the message
- want to reflect that they are a respectful and trustworthy organisation
Following this conversation, I brought some b12 myself to see the effects it would have on me first hand.
I began playing around with different concepts and ideas in which I could tackle the awareness of pernicious anaemia. Ideas such as leaflets, social media campaigns and information design posters. The idea of comparing the ease and quickness of a jab to a common household task, was something that stuck with me.
‘it takes 2 minutes to make a cup of tea, it also takes 2 minutes to get a B12 injection’ was an idea that I thought could work well as grabbing the attention of a wide generation and something that could relate to a lot of people, ‘its as easy to get a b12 shot, as it is to make a cup of tea’ ‘preventing nerve damage is as easy as a cup of tea’
The idea of an online test was a thought I had, somewhere which someone who thought they may have b12 could be a test to encourage them to go the gp and not be ashamed of thinking they are wrong, it is common that people don’t always think that their symptoms are something that they should worry about as the symptoms which come with PA are also symptoms which come with growing old.
The statistics are something which came as shocking, not only to my peers but to my group and mentor. I felt it was important to include these in some format throughout my campaign.
- 44% initially wrongly diagnosed
- 22%had to wait 2 years for a correct diagnosis
- 19% had to wait 5 years for a diagnosis
- 4% had to wait 10 years for a diagnosis
- 14% more than 10 years for a diagnosis
I also played with the ideas of a younger target audience and playing with something in which they would relate to or feel sorry for or create an emotion with. Telling the story of the blood cell and how it gets damage due to PA, creating a story book or game to enages them.
We have been fortunate enough to have a mentor assigned to us to help us throughout this project. Our mentor was Charlotte Davies, a former student at Cardiff met who was able to shed a light on different approach’s on how to face the task. We arranged to meet up with her to discuss the brief and any initial ideas that we may have had. We started off by talking about the brief, like us, charlotte hadn’t heard of pernicious anaemia before, which only backs up its title of being the “forgotten” auto-immune disease, something so common, yet un talked about throughout the public. We expanded on the brief and shed the information we had learnt throughout our research so far. The main point that charlotte wanted to get across was the need for research, research, research! It is so easy to decide on an idea early on in the project and then get tunnel vision so was reiterated by charlotte to concentrate on the research and don’t try and come up with an outcome until later on down the line. Typically, I often do exactly the opposite of what charlotte said and therefore often get stuck in a state of panic when I can’t push my original idea forward due to this tunnel vision, it was useful to know that there is now rush to have an outcome straight away and that the more research you do the better the outcome will be. Charlotte mentioned to research things such as similar companies that target the same audience to see how each one approaches them – How to educate someone that doesn’t want to be educated? Asking dietitians what information they have on the “forgotten” autoimmune disease and how hidden illness effect people.
After this meeting I had a clearer view on my next steps into tackling the brief.
Our tutorial with David and Wendy was very successful in helping us all with idea generation. We shared the tutorial with the group working on ‘living with a stoma’ brief which help to compare and contrast between both briefs and get feed back from those with no knowledge on PA. Both groups seemed to be on the same stage of their design process, with loads of ideas floating around. We were pushed to go beyond our boundaries and give the wow factor within our work.
It is apparent from the talks that focusing on awareness and empowerment by connecting and relating to the viewer will be a helpful strategy within this work for example, comparing the time and effort it take to get a b12 jab with a household task in which we take for granted. Taking away the dismissiveness of people when they question their tiredness.
Following the discussion we had within the groups I began to think of visual metaphors which could be used within my work. The word “forgotten’ was something that kept reappearing in all our descriptions of Pernicious Anaemia and was mentioned to us to explore that word further. I began to explore the things that were most often forgotten by people:
- Where you out your glasses
- Words to songs
- Pin number
- Replying to texts
As well as researching into the most common used words that came to mind when looking into PA.
- could be anyone
Forgotten: unseen, gone, abandoned, erased, blanked out, neglected, discarded, ghostly, hidden, un noticeable, invisible, eliminated, left behind, suppressed, empty, outcast.
I decided from this that it could be interesting to try turning the negative connotations that come along side PA and turning it into a positive.
‘Imagine if your illness was this easily forgotten?’
‘forgot your keys? what if you forgot about your disease?’
“would you forget it, if it effected your life?”
‘forget the pain and tiredness by forgetting the forgotten disease’
‘don’t forget the importance of your symptoms”
‘just forget about it! – forgetting the forgotten auto – immune disease’
Further to my research into PA, I thought it would very important to understand how people who suffer with PA feel and their stories into how they got diagnosed. Putting ourselves into the sufferer shoes is something that can really help us relate to the needs of those with PA, seeing what they would’ve found more helpful before they got diagnosed, helping me and my team pin point the best outcomes through our campaign. After scouring the internet for all the statistics and research available, we started having conversations about PA with peers around uni, through this it was revealed that someone amongst us was a long term sufferer of PA, which drive home the scale of the issue and reinstated the fact that it is a common auto-immunises disease. Jasmine was kind enough to allow us to interview her and tell us her personal struggle with PA and how it came about. Her perspective was invaluable and gave us helpful information through seeing her emotions and frustration through telling her story, her openness and willingness to talk about a personal health issue was hugely appreciated.
To hear the recording of the interview follow this link.
Summary of Jasmine’s Story
Jasmine told us that prior to her diagnosis she had never heard of pernicious anaemia before. It was something in which she had to discover herself by constant research due to the dismissiveness of her doctors at the time, ignoring that she was ill and brushing it off as just lack of sleep.
- The complexity of PA means there are many symptoms which correlate to many other illnesses making it hard to pin point.
- It took a total of 6 years before Jasmine was diagnosed with PA.
- Her first symptoms were tiredness and insomnia – Jazz mentions how she would be at such extreme levels of fatigue physically and mentally, that she struggled to hold items in her hands, however when she went to bed she was unable to fall asleep.
- As she was at the age of 15, she mentions how the tiredness she was experiencing was often ignored as it is not uncommon for someone to mention their lack of sleep. (1:00)
- Early symptoms not extreme enough to warrant a response from doctors.
- As a result of low levels of B12, Jasmine suffered with Paresthesia – burning pins and needles, a physical pain in which can cause blisters under the skin. “I would scream and scream and say my feet are burning, and shove them in buckets of ice”
- This was the symptom that forced doctors to say there was a problem.
- Reluctance to pushback against disbelieving doctors and asking to be seen by different people. Doctors are difficult to argue with as they have the authority. ‘I felt shy in a way, to say “I think you’re wrong”, but no one did a blood test and that’s what annoyed me. They didn’t even check, they just dismissed me very quickly’ (3:00)
- ‘I even changed doctors surgeries because I didn’t want to say “You’re colleague told me this, but now I want to check with you” I was nervous.’
- ‘Ask them specifically to check for it.’ (4:00) Jasmine mentions how she had to do the research and then present to the doctors the ideas of what she thinks it could be.
- More difficult to be taken seriously as a young woman. ‘They definitely thought I was overreacting.’
- Due to lack of treatment Jazz’s levels of B12 were so low she had to go on a year long intensive course, getting painful b12 jabs every 2 weeks. ‘[My B12} was dangerously low, it was dangerous low to the point where I was at risk of possible seizures. I do believe that’s down the fact that I went so long untreated.’ (6:00)
- Now that her levels are more stable the course is one injection every three months.
- Jasmine reiterated that people need to be more educated and to stop accusing themselves of just being “tired”.
- ‘You can’t expect every doctor to know everything’ (6:40)
- ‘I first found out about B12 when I googled it myself, and I feel like if someone had just told me and I’d asked years before, I would’ve been tested years before.
- ‘I just kept accusing myself of being overdramatic’ (7:40)
- Due to lack of B12 Jasmines immune system was down which caused her to have tonsillitis 23 times a year. (8:00)
- People need to understand that the symptoms aren’t major until the late stages where the real damage is being caused.
- The lack of B12 was effecting her school life as well as her health.
- A simple poster in the toilet would have been sufficient enough to educate jazz and bring I to her doctors attention sooner.
- Tired can be dangerous. That’s the main one, because you dismiss tiredness very quickly’ (9:15)
- She empathises that the symptoms rant major until it’s too late, so its worth just getting yourself checked if you’re in doubt about your health.
- ‘Puberty triggers it, which makes it 10 times worse.’ (10:00)
- Check your diet and lifestyle first. If that doesn’t help, look further afield. Elimination.
- Someone said “this can be sorted with a tiny little injection’ and I was like…brilliant!’ (11:00)
- Suggest a blood test to the doctor. They’re not expensive or difficult and it could be quickly sorted. Even if it isn’t PA, it could be caught by this precautionary step.
- ‘Suggest those words, because you can’t expect your doctor to know absolutely everything.’ (11:45)
So much information that jazz shared came as a shock to a lot of us. The perspective of an individual sufferer is far more in-depth and detailed than any symptom list I have come across online and it allowed us to get a glimpse of the struggle of living with a “forgotten” disease. It also shines a light on the perstistance that is needed when struggling with PA to get a correct diagnosis and to finally stop being ignored.
The interview has helped spark a handful of ideas in which I think is important for me to translate through my campaign. Focusing on educating people about PA and making sure they don’t feel alone, ignored or disregarded as “just tired”.