CSM Graphic Communication Design alumni and art director Kyle Harman-Turner on the potential of football to bring global warming awareness
We caught up with designer and art director Kyle Harman-Turner to learn about his decision to use his creativity ‘for good’ after a long compelling career in advertising. He studied Foundation and Graphic Communication Design at Central Saint Martins.
Why did you choose to study at UAL and Graphic Communication Design in particular?
I always knew that I wanted to do something creative, but I was equally interested in subjects like Fashion, Fine Art, Printmaking, Architecture, Design, Photography and Typography. So, I took a Foundation year to experiment in all these different areas.
It was really the power of great ideas that always appealed to me the most, over and above the disciplines that brought them to life.
I went on to study Graphic Design, specialising in Advertising, because every project can be so different from the next. It allowed me to always keep the power of ideas at the top and keep switching up the executional styles that brought them to life.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in sustainability
I’m lucky enough to have two beautiful children, Ettie and Auben.
It was whilst on paternity leave for my little boy that I really questioned what I wanted my children to see when they looked at their father, and so I decided to spend more time using my creativity for good.
I took a Sustainability course at Cambridge University and have been using the cultural power of football to tackle climate change. I merged my love for football and purpose into one being and created Climate Clubs.
I was inspired by clubs like A.S. Roma. They have been able to find 12 missing children globally, simply by posting an image of a missing child next to every new player the team has signed.
Football has such an untapped power to shift social behaviors. Working with the Premier League, their broadcast reach is 4.7 billion people - bigger than any country on planet Earth.
Look at Marcus Rashford, toppling number 10 Downing Street. Or Mohammed Salah, who came second in the most recent Egyptian elections, even though he didn't even run as a candidate; that many people simply wrote his name on the ballot paper.
These clubs can be more influential than governments. They’re like modern day churches.
What is it like to work with the current generation of CSM students (on GCD Summer schools etc)?
It’s really inspiring. I love to feel their energy and excitement for the future. I honestly think I get just as much out of it as them.
There are also some really strong and interesting themes that emerge from students who come from different countries and walks of life.
Universally, they don’t accept the traditional concept of a 9 to 5 job or the idea of working in an office. The concept of ‘work’ is a much more fluid thing to them.
I was also struck by how determined the students were to use their creativity to make a change. It feels like this next generation is grouped by this powerful desire to reset the world they’ve inherited. And I believe they can.
You studied Foundation and then Graphic Communication Design at CSM and spent your career in advertising before turning to sustainability studies. Can you describe how your design education fits with the work you are doing today?
Everything I’m doing today is still rooted in those early CSM lessons.
Every class was really about helping the world to see things with a new energy or from a different perspective.
That’s still my brief on everything I do now.
It’s still about capturing and moving people.
What’s Climate Clubs and what would you like to see in the future with this initiative?
Climate Clubs leverage the power of sport to tackle climate change.
We work with clubs like Chelsea and AC Milan to make sustainability less of a CSR (corporate social responsibility) bolt on - and more of a cultural part of the club and its fan base.
One of my tutors at Cambridge University once said: “Climate Change is no longer a science issue. The data is clear and it has been for a long time. It’s now a communications challenge. How do we get people to care?”
In many ways, I think sustainability needs a rebrand. Can you imagine the powerful effect it would have if all the great minds in the creative world tackled this brief.
Is there a campaign/project you're particularly fond of?
Can I cheat and talk about 3 different ones?
We first launched at The Royal Academy with a series of sustainably made football flags. Each featured a subverted club badge to raise awareness around climate issues. For example, the Nottingham Forest badge highlighted how many forest fires were burning around the world. We sold the flags with all profits going to relevant charities. The impact of this was incredible: over 25 million earned media impressions. We’ve also been featured on the front page of BBC News.
We also recently featured in the new Sky Sports Future of Football series. You can watch us at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2aNikh_fbk
And we’ve just developed Wildflower Fireworks. The UK has lost 97% of its wildflower meadows since 1930. The fireworks contain seeds, so they re-flower the square foot of a football pitch with every bang.
We were inspired by the likes of Luigi Cani, the skydiver who dropped 100 million seeds over the Amazon.
“Sustainability” is such a worthy word. I think we need to embody some swagger and attitude into it. I think we need to take a Red Bull approach to saving our planet. Making it fun, creative and inspiring.
I’d love to collaborate further outside of sport, with brands like Patagonia. I think they’re a great example of a company that has its values in the right place. From campaigns like “Don’t Buy This Jacket” to the fact that Yvon Chouinard gave away the company to fight climate change.
But a real dream would be to fuse with Central Saint Martins. I’d love to see how the talent within these walls will change the world around them.