For a long time, I hadn’t heard of the charity, CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably). If I’m honest, I had a brief look, but beyond noting it had something to do with men and the horrible disease that is suicide, I didn’t know too much more. Then through our work at Quenched, we met Danny Keehan. We were aware of the great work of Danny and Factory Foundation founder Esther O’Callaghan (OBE) on Thirty-One Songs. The album is a thirty-one track compilation including the likes of Noel Gallagher, Elbow and The Janice Graham Band from which all proceeds go directly to CALM. Esther chose the name “Thirty One” because she was shocked to find out that suicide is, 31 years after Ian Curtis took his life, still the single biggest killer of young men and that 75% of all suicides are male. She also wanted to produce an album that showed the breadth and depth of Manchester’s current music scene.
CALM and Quenched
All of this was new to me and after a meeting with the CALM team in London, I was extremely taken back by their great work and the things I learned about suicide among young men. So I agreed to direct a new campaign for them. By trade, I am an illustrator. I am also an art-director and lecturer in visual communication. I live for the arts. and quite simply, I overdo it. I can’t sleep at night because I’m either worried, or so over-excited about whatever project I’m on, that I bounce around the walls until the small hours and it’s not uncommon to wake in different clothes to those I went to bed in. Despite the bags under my eyes, I’m a happy person, for the most part, I’ve led something of a charmed life compared to many unfortunate people. So I looked around and suddenly, after a year of working on a ridiculous range of projects, including Quenched Music, I had this loyal network of talent – photographers, art-directors, film makers, writers and poets. I realised that all these people speak through their art and that artistic expression was not to be underestimated as a powerful outlet. I also noticed that it was these people who offered me the chance to express anything at all, let alone the nonsense that rages in my head most of the day.
So where do you start with work of this magnitude. I’ve worked with many clients over the last four years and I’ve had many thrilling steps forward in that time. The biggest reward of all, for me personally, is the knowledge that your work is having a positive effect on a person’s life. UNICEF, Mines Advisory Group, Teenage Cancer Trust and others had all provided me with the chance to earn that reward but this was something new to me. When you learn that suicide has touched so many people in your immediate circle, it becomes even more personal. Yet it is something that is overlooked as a killer. I know many close friends who suffer from depression, so over the next few months, through this campaign, the chance to do something I love to address such a relevant problem… Well it will probably take over my life. When you’re obsessive about anything, that’s what happens.
So I decided to lead with The Arts. I wanted to showcase some of the guys who express things, positive or negative, through their creativity. I wanted to show that it can be as simple as a tweet or a note in a diary or as complex as intricate poetry or recording an album. They all serve as a voice of sorts. A method of venting. So in a range of mediums, we’ll be potraying men in the arts. We’ll be putting together an EP of tracks that were recorded as a method of saying something. We have a very special track listing and it will all come together as a transmedia package between CALM and Quenched. Esther said of the project, “We are delighted that Quenched are putting their creativity into a new CALM campaign and can’t wait to hear the EP”.
We’ll be charting the whole process here on the brand new website and anyone who wants to ask questions about the process, or better still, get involved, just shout. I hope that I will learn much along the way and that the people who are kind enough to make this happen for me will benefit too. Above all, if we can provide CALM with something to help their campaign, then we will feel honoured to have been trusted with such an important piece of work.