Mercy Corps Illustration Suite

In 2022, I got to work alongside the lovely folks at Jolby to create an expansive illustration and icon suite for Mercy Corps. Mercy Corps is a global humanitarian organisation, assisting people in over 40 countries in emergency responses, agriculture and equality (amongst many other areas). In need of a refreshed illustration system with a consistent and inclusive design, they approached Jolby (who then brought me on board!).

The bulk of this project was the creation of an illustrated suite of modular people— i.e. illustrated humans that could be edited and changed by MC as needed. Being able to show an inclusive range of skin colours, hair styles, body shapes, clothing and abilities was the priority! We accomplished this by talking with MC team members all over the world, making sure we were representing the people and culture in their area in a genuine way.

In presenting the illustration suite to MC, it was important to highlight how you could start with one character pose and bit-by-bit, adjust them to suit your needs. Below are some examples of characters changing poses, height, clothing, hair and much more.

Here's some examples of the modular elements we created, giving the MC team lots of flexibility when it comes to creating new people and poses.

We also created a collection of items, tools, animals and "focus shapes", which are background shapes used to unify or ground a scene. These could be used alongside the modular humans, giving them jobs, personality and context.

Another major part of this project was the creation of a new icon system— it had to be consistent in its design, and cover the wide range of topics and themes MC is involved in. Continuing our theme of inclusivity, we designed our icon set in a way that avoided dipping in to "icon stereotypes", especially around icons like "family" and "worker".

We found a two-tone, monoline approach worked best for our icon library, giving us lots of flexibility for some of those more tricky or abstract icons!

Along the way, we created a collection of other supporting visuals: below are some landscapes I illustrated representing (widely) the major biomes that MC works in. Similar to the people illustrations, these landscapes can be adjusted to suite the needs of MC workers— they can be expanded out, compacted down or presented in linework-only, one-colour versions. They can also be used alongside the people illustrations, giving them another level of context and character.

By the end of the project, we'd created over 80 icons, a fully modular illustrated people system, and a suite of patterns, locations and frames. It was a challenging project, but also fun and fulfilling— I credit this to Colby and the amazing team at Jolby, whose creativity and leadership helped make this a joy :v) Thanks y'all!