Conform Cox
Apart From The Norm

Image Type: multiple

Usage: The illustrations were used as images in a research thesis and on ‘conversation cards’ that are used by psychologists to talk with their patients about norms and desires to have or not have children. These are for example people still in doubt or struggling with involuntary childlessness.

Process: The research and conceptual thinking processes were much longer than the visual design process. I wanted to create images accessible and understandable for many people. It needed to be clear in combination with the small text, but also open for some own interpretation.

Materials: I made sketches by hand with pen and scanned them to create an image in the computer later. The images are printed on coated cards to be intensively used in a conversation.

Format: There are fifty cards with motivations to have and forty-five cards with motivations to not have children. The size of the cards is 7cm by 11cm. The cards are two sided printed: on the back you find the eight categories that provide a structure in the reasons, as well as a division between arguments that are pro (coloured background, white lines) or con (white background, coloured lines). All or a selection of these cards can be shown. Also the thesis can be shown, the images are integrated between the text: pictures of the inside can be found on my website, but the focus is on the cards.

Brief Requirements: It was a quite free brief for my graduation, commissioned by the gynaecology department of a hospital. I had to look myself for what was needed and what was a good subject, if only it had something to do with gynaecology. Because many women come to the gynaecology department for a fertility treatment, there are also special psychologists for that subject in the hospital. This is a hard period to go through, mostly because of fear, uncertainty and shame.

Key Brief Ideas: What is the core of this shame? It made me curious for the social norms still existing and what if you are apart from that norm: when you can’t naturally have children, when you are in doubt or when you don’t want to have children. What are real motivations for people to have or not have children? Can we look more positive on a life without children? I concluded that people have a choice when it comes to having children, but because the prevailing societal norm is still to aspire to parenthood, the choice is not as free as it appears. The social pressure is considerable. The Desire Cards became a logical outcome; they are conversation tools that can be used by the groups mentioned ‘apart from the norm’. The cards’ visual cues accompany them distinguish their own desires from those projected by outsiders. The project is used in real situations in collaboration with several psychologists. To consider several sides of a question can help in ordering somebody’s thoughts or in understanding each other better.