Working on this project was one of the more interesting commissions I had last year. I was thrilled to be able to contribute to this year’s State of Power report, after previously working on one of the Digital Power pieces. It was thanks to Zoran, who recommended my work for the issue, that we collaborated on a unique visual language to complement the essays.
Being genuinely interested in the topics of the essays I was asked to illustrate, the process was rather smooth. The ideas formed quickly. The main challenge was to translate the idea into a single image that best highlighted the key subject of each essay. I tried to solve this by writing down each idea in detail before making any sketches, and in discussion with the editor Nick deciding on the right approach for each piece.
I wanted to bring the topics closer to the reader by using common objects and symbols from everyday life. In the case of the tech militarization piece, I used topographical lines in the background to explain the layers between users, big tech, governments and the military. To visualize present power dynamics, I turned to architecture as well – whether the rigid structure of data centers, sanitized corporate corridors, or the well-known monumental complexes we associate power with. In all the illustrations, the characters are entangled and surrounded by architectural objects, which helps to illustrate the dominating nature of big tech in our lives.
The dependence on digital platforms and services and the more complex ways in which their power is manifested is something illustrators and designers often discuss. The fact that a couple of platforms create and sustain our livelihoods is already taken as a fact. This is why I find the report to be of great importance, since it brings into the spotlight the ways in which big tech is shaping all of our lives. I hope it is able to bring to attention these issues to people outside of the tech and creative industries too, in order to create lasting policy change. In the vast pool of images on the web, I hope my illustrations can engage with people as they read the essays.