UK based graphic designer and environmental activist Weiyena Wei translates her passion for sustainability and the natural environment into compelling illustrations.
Design as Environmental Activism
Artists have the tools to engage public opinion about difficult issues such as pollution, climate change and endangered species. In some ways, art can also be viewed as an act of rebellion, confronting us with hard truths that we’d rather not face, but still aiming to encourage change.
Hence, we were delighted to hear from environmental artist and activist Weiyena Wei, who had been inspired by the work of the Prevented Ocean Plastic Research Centre.
“I first gained knowledge of the impact of plastic on the ocean through the interesting content shared on the Prevented Ocean Plastic website and social platforms. I was particularly influenced by the art & design projects. As an artist, it inspired me to build awareness of this environmental issue by using my graphic design and print making skills to educate, inspire, excite, and encourage new behaviours.”
In her work series, ‘Plastic Homes’, Wei incorporates shocking facts into her compelling designs to show the impact of human behaviour on natural habitats. Though the designs demonstrate how plastic can affect marine life, it is not the material which is problematic – but how we use it and dispose of it.
“Plastic has become now home and reality for many creatures and we need to take better care of the ocean. I make these graphics to show how our consumption is affecting wildlife around the world.”
Endangered species: How did we let this happen?
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 35,500 species are currently facing extinction.
Wei created posters to raise concern about vaquitas, small aquatic mammals from the porpoise family, who scientists fear will become extinct before the end of 2021. Recent estimates suggest there are now less than 20 left in the world.
Combining graphic elements with simple but confronting facts, Wei brings our attention to the plight of the endangered animal. Through clever design, she encourages the viewer to examine and revisit the artwork multiple times and from different angles – with a new discovery at every turn.
Wei holds two Art degrees in Visual Communication Design from Shenzhen University in China and Birmingham City University in the UK, where she was awarded a certificate in ‘Design As Environmental Activism’. Most recently she set up the start-up AsEarth, an organisation which marries design with marketing expertise, whilst focusing on sustainability.