JESS3 commissioned these graphics for the first episode in the Emmy Award winning TV show VICE on HBO. VICE started as a free publication in Canada exploring international arts, news and culture then added a documentary-style news show in which journalists travel to the far corners of earth reporting hard-hitting and dangerous stories not covered on everyday networks.
The graphics were an important asset in generating social media buzz about the show, which has a target audience of males aged 18-34. The graphics depicted boy soldiers in Afghanistan and the Phillipines - wearing bomb vests, holding guns and bearing the symbols of organisations to which they belong.
In the first episode Ryan Duffy explored the gun crazy attitudes prevalent in the Philippines (where some areas boast a 70 percent gun ownership rate) visiting underground gun makers and a terrorist training camp consisting almost entirely of children. Then VICE co-founder Shane Smith travelled to Kabul to speak with children who had been arrested before detonating themselves. The Taliban had ramped up its use of children in suicide bombing terrorist attacks, manipulating and lying to them as they were sent to blow up their targets.
The art director asked me to develop the figures as grayscales with an unexpected pop of bright yellow and orange. I tried to capture facial expressions that reflect the unease of these vulnerable kids: broken, solemn, unsure of themselves.
The graphics gradually evolved to show just how young child soldiers can be, ranging from teenage to as young as six years old.
With each redraw the soldiers became progressively younger: the faces rounder and smoother, the legs shorter and skinnier.