09 October 2007
Meghan Kelly
Meghan Kelly

The Icograda Education Network introduced Meghan Kelly to a very enthusiastic and passionate group of design professionals who provided her with overwhelmed support. So great was the participation, she was able to undertake the cross-cultural design project with two groups of four countries resulting in over 140 participating students and 568 designs from eight countries. Meghan Kelly explains:

Above: Eight of the books put together by Meghan Kelly containing all of the work done throughout this project.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Brenda Sanderson and the Icograda Education Network who have been assisting me with a cross-cultural design research project as part of a higher degree qualification. Brenda Sanderson was able to introduce me to a very enthusiastic and passionate group of design professionals through the Education Network who have provided me with overwhelming support. So great was the participation, this cross-cultural design project has resulted in over 140 participating students and 568 designs from eight countries.

I have spent the past 2 years looking at how cultural stereotypes influence Graphic Designers, their message, and the perception of the communication. Participants were asked to design a postcard under the topic of 'sense of community' for their own country and another for the other participating countries in their group. Postcards were collated and sent back for review to the country they were designed for. Students were asked to determine the origin of the designer, decide if the submission contained stereotypes and if the solution successfully communicated the given topic 'sense of community'.

I am still in the process of collating the responses but already the results are proving to be quite fascinating. Students were unable to determine the origin of the designer but made presumptions on where the designs had come from. With these presumptions, they make judgements on how they felt about the submissions. The presence of certain stereotypes related to the dislike of a submission, but a submission was deemed successful irrespective of the presence of stereotypes or considered success in communicating the topic. Patterns have emerged in the findings and themes indicate new data which I hope will help practicing visual communicators as they pursue more work in this expanding field.

With the depth of the investigation and the extensive response through the Icograda Education Network I have been able to successfully convert my Masters of Design to PhD candidature at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. I now have the opportunity to develop a website, due for launch June 2009. I hope to give educators the opportunity to use these images in their teaching and give students visual evidence to help better understand communicating in a cross-cultural context.

This has been a great project and a wonderful experience due to the generosity and dedication of everyone involved. My gratitude extends to the lecturers and their students from the following Universities:

Gene Bawden, Brad Haylock and Russell Kennedy, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Simone Taffe and Nicki Wragg, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia

Regina Wilke, Senac Institute, Brazil

Jorge Meza, University Iberoamericana, Mexico

Janet Berger, Vega School of Communication, Joburg, South Africa

Esen Karol, Bilgi University, Turkey

Halim Choueiry, Virginia Commonwealth University, Qatar

Mookesh Patel, Arizona State University, United States of America

Saki Mafundikwa, Ziva Institute of Visual Arts, Zimbabwe

Thank you everyone!

Meghan Kelly
Monash University, Melbourne, Australia