This agency is using art to get young people to turn up at the ballot box

Can art cut through the politics when there's just too much noise around?

Young people in the UK are front and center this election. In the past, the amount of young people who turn up to vote has been pretty low, and this time around there’s been a really obvious push to make young people get out and make their voices heard on 8 June.

So far it’s actually been quite successful – over a quarter of a million people under the age of 25 are now registered to vote.

And it's not just political parties trying to get people to the ballot box – businesses are getting involved too. Illustration agency Jelly partnered with a charity focused on getting young people to vote called Bite The Ballot. They've commissioned all sorts of creatives to submit designers for posters around a campaign called TurnUp, tackling that next step after registering: actually turning up to vote.

We spoke to Chris, owner of Jelly, about why a business would take time, effort, and resources, to do something that definitely wouldn't make them any money. Here's what he said:


Jelly Illustration - gif
BiffStudio via Jelly London

Tell us the story – What's Jelly and how did you get involved with Turn Up?

Chris: We’d been talking among ourselves for months about creating something that raised political awareness in the UK. I think last year’s referendum [the Brexit one] shined a spotlight on certain aspects of the way people think in the UK that we, as an organization, weren’t completely comfortable with. When the election was announced, it focussed our minds a bit. Nicki, our Head of Illustration, did lot of research into organizations that were helping the cause and found Bite the Ballot.

We approached them and they were very open to working with us. We then talked to some other creative businesses and artists' agents and asked them if they wanted to get involved and they did, which made life much easier and brought together a sense of community across across the creative industry. Then it was just a case of making it work… achieving our purpose… getting people to register to vote and then actually vote.

Chris Jeffreys – Turn Up
Chris Jeffreys via Jelly London

And why? What do you think your agency offers the campaign? How can art help?

I have teenage kids, unfortunately they are still too young to vote but I could see how frustrated they were with the status quo. That situation has been created largely by their generation not being engaged in the process. There aren’t many ways that a company like Jelly London can try and directly affect public opinion but this felt like the best way of doing that. Yes, art can help, of course, if we didn’t believe in the power of art then we are in wrong business! There’s an overload of words, news and information surrounding politics – sometimes images can cut to the chase.

Simon Whittaker
Simon Whittaker via Jelly London

It can't be totally out of the good of your hearts... ;-) Do you get anything out of collaborations like this? Either in a business sense or in a warm fuzzy feeling sense.

It certainly doesn’t make any commercial sense to get involved in these kinds of projects. They are time-consuming and logistically difficult – this has taken up huge amounts of time for our heads of marketing and social as a lot of stuff needed organizing in a very short period of time. So no, we don’t get much out of it in a business sense, although I guess we have got some PR as a result, which could be beneficial in the long run. I’ll feel warm and fuzzy if it makes a difference.

What's the response been like? Do you think the message is getting out to the people who need to hear it?

The response has been completely overwhelming, we were really pleased that so many artists and designers, from all over the country, were happy to get involved and to submit their work to be shared. I

The whole point of the project and the way that it should be judged is if we can encourage more young people to sign up, use their voice, and vote on June the 8th. The challenge is to get the work out of the Creative community ‘bubble’ and out into the general public. Fortunately, a number of influencers in the music and entertainment business are happy to get involved and to help. A massive moment for us was when we found out that over 90,000 young people had signed up to vote in the 24 hours before the deadline, hopefully that means the message is getting through.


Sean Cox via Jelly, London

Download and share all the images produced by Jelly here, or even a gif if you're feeling it :-) 

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