Author: Anna Celeste Watson - Web Designer
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October 14th 2011
Design for Change

I suppose its about time I introduced myself properly! I’m Anna, the Web Designer who will be creating the website to promote the amazing project that is Anya17. I am very proud to be working with my Partner Illustrator Stu Jones who created the stunningly beautiful yet provocative and disturbing logo!

Ben Kaye first rang me back in July about creating a logo, saying he had been recommended to me by someone I had never heard of and he then googled me by general location. To this day I am not sure whether it was me he was even supposed to call or if he got the wrong company, but either way I’m pretty sure it was fate! I hope that he certainly came to the right person as I have specifically been looking to get involved with more ethical and charity related web design projects, after all it must be every designers dream to do work for ‘good causes’ for the greater good of others.

Despite deciding I couldn’t take on more voluntary work for a while (in my ‘spare’ time I founded and run Compassionate Dorset as the local supporter group for the leading farm animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming)… the day before Ben rang I had signed a petition against Sex Trafficking in my local Body Shop. Quite honestly I cannot imagine anything much more horrendous than human beings being ‘traded’ and used as sex slaves, so… inspired by Ben’s passion and hearing just how many other people were already involved in the project, how could I refuse?! So I volunteered Stu’s design services on the spot!!! (I knew he wouldn’t mind me doing so!!!).

Sex trafficking is almost an unbearable subject to think about, and one could be forgiven for not really wanting to think about it at all, BUT if you want to change something sometimes you just have to face the unbelievable truth. The scale of the issue is actually terrifying. However, I trust completely that even one person can make a difference, and that lots of people getting together for a good cause can make an even bigger difference, and that all change starts with awareness. I also believe that the visual and creative arts including design, music and poetry can play a vital part in such change and communicates on an intuitive and accessible level to people as human beings. And that’s part of what Anya17 is about too. Anya is not just an anonymous nobody nor is she just part of a statistic. Although she is a fictional character based on true stories, there are hundred of thousands of living (if you can call it living) individual girls out there and even here, possibly on our doorstep, suffering and treated like mere commodities for the pleasure of who I would like to say are sick perverted men, but of course its more complex than that and the men (apparently even occasionally couples and women) who go to such prostitutes have probably been led to be believe (and/or allowed themselves to believe) that these girls actually have a choice and that they even enjoy the ‘job’ (but its not always like Secret Dairy of a Call Girl!).

Its not comfortable for me to write about this publically (and certainly never a subject I thought I would be writing about), but as we are intending to expose the truth so this billion dollar ‘trade’ doesn’t stay hidden, I am thinking that I can’t be the only person who has heard or overheard stories by men of their amusing sexual encounters with ladies of the night when abroad especially when they were young lads? I reckon lots of young men have ‘had a go’ with a prostitute at some point – but she probably liked it right?! Or, who even cares, it was just a one off?

These girls are just girls – real living, feeling, complex, unique human beings – and this project is being created by human beings to communicate with YOU… as a human being.

I think it is unfair to say that we the ‘privileged’ people and ‘creative types’ have a ‘duty’ to expose injustice and cruelty, but really actually I do kind of feel that way. It takes me just a moment to imagine being Anya17 and imagine the utter despair and hopelessness at the pit of my stomach, and yet of course I can’t really imagine at all and I don’t really even want to go there and in a way I don’t need to. But I do know its got to stop and we – that’s you, me, myself and I – can play our part in raising awareness to help stamp out sex trafficking and all forms of human slavery right now…

So that’s why I am supporting this project! Plus a contemporary opera on sex trafficking is simply a bold and ingenious idea!

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a Designer not a Writer, so if you are a fellow designer, I recommend you check out this recent article in Digital Arts magazine for their more articulate feature on DESIGN FOR CHANGE: (as shared by my lovely client Lauren Bates who has just launched the fantastic charity recruitment agency ethicaledge®, and who I would also like to thank for supporting the project by helping us find a Digital Marketing Specialist to do the stuff I can’t do!).

I also set-up this blog with the help of Travis Hayler and Andrew Green – my Associate Web Developers at DR Solutions, so BIG thanks to them for their continued support!

By the way, when it comes to any design work for Anya17 it’s really going to be her eyes that say it all, so I urge you to look into her eyes and ask who she really is… and I suggest that her name may not mean what you think…