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Eleven artists, two questions and one shared act of kindness

The artists behind our Kindness Will Keep Us Together posters tell us about the inspiration for their designs, and what kindness means to them

Last updated 28 March 2023

The past year has seen changes on a scale we’ve never before experienced. As the world responds to the Covid-19 and we all do our best to follow government guidelines on staying home to protect the NHS, we’ve also seen messages of hope pop up everywhere we look.

Creativity blossoms in times of uncertainty. Paintings with messages of love and support for the NHS and neighbours hang in windows, while choirs and bands have taken to conference calls to showcase their talents. And, you need only take a look at the hashtag #lookforrainbows on Instagram to see thousands of people spreading joy through arts and crafts.

Channelling their own creativity through the pandemic, eleven artists have created posters for the British Red Cross in support of our Kindness campaign. You can browse through the artists’ work online and each can be downloaded in black and white from our website and coloured in by children and adults alike. So you, too, can get involved in brightening up someone’s daily walk. 

So, what does kindness mean to the talents behind the posters? Read on to find out more from some of our artists.

Anthony Burrill is a graphic artist, print-maker and designer, who is best known for his ‘Work hard and be nice to people’ poster

What was your creative approach or inspiration for the poster?

I primarily work with words and typography to make thoughtful statements that connect with people. I use letterpress type to make my work – I picked tall thin letterforms that would occupy the available space of the poster. I wanted the type to be big and bold to create an arresting powerful design.

Kindness is powerful; my aim was to portray the act of kindness as courageous and strong. Acting with kindness is something to be proud of.

What does kindness mean to you?

The phrase ‘Kindness will keep us together’ resonates with my own personal values and approach to life. The past few weeks have forced us all to stop and think about how we live our lives. This sudden disconnection with things we formerly took for granted has been a huge shock.

I hope we can all learn from this time and when we get back to our normal lives, we’ll all be more forgiving and kinder with each other.

The small human interactions we all have every day are the things that make us who we are. Sometimes it’s hard to be kind to people who are not being kind to you, but this is just the right opportunity to demonstrate your kindness. This acknowledgement of our shared humanity is what will bring us back together.

Rose Blake, illustrator and artist

What was your creative approach or inspiration for the poster?

I was briefed for this on the morning after Boris Johnson locked London down, and I had a day to turn the design around. My brain was totally frazzled, the week before had been so crazy and stressful, and I was averaging about two hours’ sleep a night. 

My parents had already been quarantining for a week as they are both very high risk, and I had been trying to process how we were going to make this new situation work, so I suppose the idea for the poster came from that.

What does kindness mean to you?

It means taking care, being compassionate, not being selfish.

This is a quote from Artful by Ali Smith (kindness personified!), who says it better than I ever could: “The word kindred and the word kind are related; the words for kindness and family have etymology in common.”

Yukai Du, animator and illustrator

What was your creative approach or inspiration for the poster?

I used abstract shapes and patterns to represent us human beings. We are fighting the virus all together and we are the same.

What does kindness mean to you?

Kindness to me means spreading positive messages, considering others, understanding each other, giving what we can and being grateful for what we are given. 

If we consider each other and understand others' situations more, we are willing to help and support each other. It will bring us closer together and stronger!

Bett Norris, illustrator

What was your creative approach or inspiration for the poster?

Keeping in touch with people is more important than ever, so I wanted to do something which reflected that.

In my area people are volunteering to support people who are isolated by calling them for a chat on the phone, so I also wanted to pay tribute to them.

What does kindness mean to you?

Kindness to me means showing empathy and understanding towards others, and not expecting anything in return.

I think this has encouraged people to think on a more local scale. I’ve seen examples of amazing acts of kindness in my community, such as individuals coming together to provide food and deliver supplies to those who are most vulnerable.

Seeing other people doing these things gives me hope.

Rob Flowers, illustrator

What was the creative approach or inspiration for the poster? 

The starting point for me was obviously the slogan ‘Kindness Will Keep Us Together’ - I knew i wanted to make something typographic and from there it was about creating a mood of hope, friendship and happiness through the characters getting along and having fun.  If you’ve seen my work before that means putting silly faces on loads of stuff. 

What does kindness mean to you?

I think it means thinking of others before yourself. Thinking about how your actions impact other people and treating them how you would like to be treated if the roles were reversed. Kindness should be the foundation of the way we live. How we treat the most vulnerable (global pandemic or not) is how a society should be judged.

Sadly it feels like we’ve lost sight of that in recent years. The only good to come out of the current crisis would be if we refocused our priorities and put treating each other with kindness and dignity at the centre of the way we are governed and live. And paid key workers the money they deserve.

Cajsa Holgersson, illustrator and graphic designer

What was your creative approach or inspiration for the poster?

I brainstormed around ‘what keeps things together’ and after a pitching session for the rest of my lockdown family, landed on the glue stick idea.

Pritt Stick is a craft-drawer staple for most people and, at least in my life, they’ve been part of many early years kindness projects. Loo roll Santas for mum, Easter cards for grandparents and mix tape collage covers for teenage pals. 


What does kindness mean to you?

Kindness is everything. Before I drop my seven-year-old off at the school gate I ask him what the most important thing is and he replies “being kind”. It’s the one mantra I’ve made sure to drill into his brain. There is nothing more valuable than being a good friend, partner, neighbour, fellow human. It’s the thing that improves both your own and other people’s days and lives, and all for the price of nothing!

From my experience a single person’s act of kindness makes you instantly feel better about the human race in general. On my daily quarantine-outings to my neighbourhood trails I’ve had random ladies wishing me a great run as I’ve passed them (with many metres between us ...), it’s made my day every time and certainly has impacted on how I approach others farther down the road. 

Having someone being nice or just giving you a smile or a hello as you meet makes you feel they’re on your team and then you want to pass that feeling on. It’s an infectious thing!

Nina Cosford, illustrator


What was your creative approach or inspiration for the poster?

I think it has a great message and a double meaning – one being that kindness keeps us closer but it also holds us together as people and as a society.

Now, more than ever, it's important to be aware of that and embrace it as much as we can. I began the poster by making a huge list of different ways in which kindness can manifest itself – gestures, objects, values, actions and signs of self-care.

I then came up with a bunch of motifs and symbols which could represent these ideas, some literal and some a little more abstract. I wanted the message to form the main part of the composition, with the illustrations circling it like a wreath, decorating and supporting the meaning of it.


What does kindness mean to you?

I think kindness can be shown in so many ways. Sometimes it's obvious and sometimes it's more disguised. Either way, I think it's super important to be open to kindness. If you're willing to appreciate it and accept it, it's likely you're willing to share it and show it too. Self-kindness and self-care are also important to start with.

I think there is no limit to kindness. There's a great quote I heard once which was "no one ever became poor by giving". That is to say, there is always room to be kind and to give, no matter what.

Whatever the situation, whatever times we are in, whatever else is up, we all have the ability to show compassion, kindness and generosity in our own ways. It's one huge thing people have in common and need to embrace!

Timothy Hunt, illustrator


What was your creative approach or inspiration for the poster?

The idea came from the thought that a simple smile can be an act of kindness and a way to keep positive. The lips also act as a boat on rough seas, which is also a symbol of togetherness: in the same boat.

What does kindness mean to you?

To me, kindness is small things people do every day to help each other – being there for each other, sometimes just listening. Because we're stronger together, if we're divided and selfish I think society will suffer.

Ruby Taylor, illustrator and designer

What was the creative approach or inspiration for the poster? 

I was inspired by the word kindness, I thought about the ways in which kindness is happening during this time and and wanted to try and represent some of these in my illustration.

Things like letting someone know you're thinking of them, delivering shopping to a vulnerable neighbour, to the sacrifice and kindness of the amazing NHS workers who are doing everything they can to look after people who are suffering. 

What does kindness mean to you?

Kindness is making the effort to think about someone else’s needs, thinking outside your own sphere and reaching out to people who need it. 

During a time like this it's really easy to cut yourself off, to look at how other people are behaving and think they should be doing things differently, or become obsessed with the awful news as it rolls in. But also there have been some really incredible moments, the first time our street all came out to clap for key workers was so emotional, our village has made a real effort to help people who are vulnerable and set up a hotline for those in need.

This kind of thing has happened all over the world and it's so nice to know that people really care about each other, it makes you feel like together we will get through. 


Rob Lowe, artist also known as Supermundane

What was the creative approach or inspiration behind the poster? 

As I wrote out the words I realised I could make a face of sorts out of them. I didn’t want to make this too obvious, so most people might not notice the smiling face, but the suggestion is there. 

The image itself is an abstract world suggesting joy and togetherness. Often with my work I want to get across a feeling rather than something specific, especially when words are used, rather than be a literal illustration.

What does kindness mean to you? 

Thinking about how your actions affect others and being aware of others needs. A few years ago I made a T-shirt that said Be Kind. It was at a time when people were saying we should all love each other. I thought that loving everyone isn’t really possible but you can be kind to everyone. Kindness doesn’t require you to like the person you are being kind to.

At its core kindness can be very simple and often leads to more acts of kindness. It can keep us together because in order to be kind you need to be aware of others feelings and once you are you’ll realise we are all pretty much the same.

Oli Frape, hand-lettering artist


What was your creative approach or inspiration for the poster?

I wanted my poster to express the sentiment of the quote in a nuanced and friendly way. Fortunately, that’s what I do best in my practice – create hand-lettered works that can be informal and conversational – like warm words between friends rather than a statement shouted across a busy room. 

I also wanted it to be decorative alongside that warmth, hence this fusion of something a bit 70s with something complex and a little Spencerian. I had a lot of fun making it!

What does kindness mean to you?

For me, kindness means thinking of others and not just ourselves. It sounds simple, but it isn’t always. It is a mindset though and maybe we’ve gotten out of the habit. In times like this, we’re reminded how much we need each other. So perhaps it’s time we remembered how to think kindly again.

Kindness keeps us together because it reminds us that we’re all in this together.

Following the developments of Covid-19, some people on my street started a chat group. Every day since, I’ve seen people sharing food, getting extra supplies for those in isolation, people trying to cheer each other up – daily acts of kindness that have made us all feel more together than we ever have before. It’s reassuring in times of crisis to see people pulling together. Long may it continue.

About the Art of kindness project:

As part of our Kindness campaign, the British Red Cross asked 11 artists to create posters with positive messages of reassurance in this challenging time. The posters are all available for download 
here or to buy in our shop, with all proceeds going to our UK Coronavirus Response Appeal.

Eleven artists have created posters in support of our Kindness campaign

Visit our online store to see their incredible designs.

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