The Big Issue Australia turns 15 today... and this makes me feel old. You see, way back in January 1997, having just finished my BA in Graphic Design, I saw an ad for an Art Director for The Big Issue. As soon as I saw it I knew it was the role for me. So I photographed my folio onto transparencies (yes, it was what we did back then), sent them off (in the post) and waited for a call.
I worked at The Big Issue for close to six years and it was an amazing experience. Each day was filled with hard work and challenges (the sort you wouldn't have to face in big corporations), but we knew that what we were doing was creating and building something good, and helping people who needed it.
By far the most rewarding experiences for me were hearing the vendor's personal stories. The hardships they'd faced and crises they'd been through were often heart breaking, but seeing their optimism and the purpose and sense of community The Big Issue gave them gave me hope.
It also taught me that we are all vulnerable. When not one, but two or three (or more) unfortunate things happen in somebody's life it's tough. Take away the support of family and friends and your world can crumble. Quickly. Having personally experienced a very tough last five years I think of this every day. I am lucky to have had a great support network, but some aren't so lucky. So I thank you The Big Issue, not only for a great start to my career, but for teaching me so much about life.
This was our winning entry for The International Network of Street Papers cover design competition way back in 2000. The idea was that we are all in need of support, and when those support networks are torn we become vulnerable and at risk.