Finalist Highlights: Jason Lau

McMaster University finalist showcases Canada’s ethnocultural diversity in colourful campaign

Jason Lau of McMaster University is a finalist in two EMAs categories this year. These include the public relations category for “Canada is the World” and in the design: print magazine cover or spread category for his submission “More.”

1. What inspired you to begin this project? Why are you passionate about it?

For my project “Canada Is the World”: In 2011, one in five Canadians were born elsewhere. In our largest city, Toronto, it’s every other person.

The truth is that we are an immigrant nation. We live, work and coexist with people different from us every day, but it is our differences that make us strong and prosperous.

This typographically-led campaign aims to not just communicate Canada’s postnational identity to the world, but also to showcase its ethnocultural diversity by visually bringing together nations (represented by custom letters) through bold statements.

Most importantly, this is a project which showcases how graphic design can be used to communicate political messages, agitate and inspire social action in bringing people of different backgrounds together in celebrating the true Canadian identity in 2017. In a post-Brexit and post-Trump era, the world has become divided. It has never been more important than now to remind the world of the importance of diversity.

This campaign has the power to prod, agitate and provoke critical conversations of globalization, immigration, ethnocultural diversity and harmony. It’s not just about Canada—it’s about Canada as a model for the rest of the world’s nations. While Canada may be the first postnational country in the world—it’s safe to say that it will certainly not be the last.

For my work on Incite Magazine: When I was studying at McMaster University, I noticed that there was a cynicism for arts through the constant lack of representation, opportunities and a public sphere that encouraged democracy. I realized that creative expression and creative arts on campus are not just a product—but an avenue that allows for the bridging of social relationships in working towards the shared goal of creative expression.

I have always believed in the power of Incite to become a valuable public space for creative and artistic expression in a campus defined by the sciences. Moreover, I saw in Incite a platform that was able to expose and connect different worldviews—and ultimately create a democratic sphere for meaningful discourse on campus.

2. How do you feel as a nominee for the Emerge Media Awards?

I am extremely honoured and excited to be a second-time nominee for the impressively well-organized Emerge Media Awards. It is also incredibly inspiring and humbling to be recognized with a group of talented and brilliant young creators and artists – the new generation of our media industries!

3. How do you feel your school prepared you to create this work?

The recently graduated cohort in my media program was one of the most supportive groups of people I could have studied and created with. In our final year, a small group of us came together and organized our program’s first graduating exhibition in downtown Hamilton, Ont., where my project “Canada is the World” was put on display for hundreds of visitors. I could not have gotten this far without my peers, as well as the immense support of my professors Liss Platt and David Ogborn.

As a double major in anthropology, I also gained a more critical, culturally contextual and human-centric worldview that has deeply affected how I approach my design- and art-making.

4. Why do you want to go into the media industry?

I believe that visual and creative media have an ability to really capture attention and bring out honest and visceral emotions, and I believe that is extremely powerful in our world. Arts and design are present in every arena of our everyday lives, no matter how invisible they may seem – they are also often taken for granted. To help contribute to innovative design- and art-making in the media industry with the end goal of improving our society and communities is incredibly exciting to me.

5. What’s your ideal dream job?

My ideal job would simply be anything where I would be able to help affect positive change in our world using creativity and design – perhaps a strategic designer or design researcher. Whatever job it is – I just want to never stop learning about our world and the people in it!

You can see more from Jason by visiting his personal website at www.lauj.ca.

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