Opinion by Richard Baird
CareerTrackers is an Australian nation-wide charitable organisation that addresses Indigenous disadvantage by developing professional career pathways, internship programs and links with private sector employers for Indigenous university students. It does this through a model adapted from an African-American internship program which has a proven legacy of 45 years. This is based on an approach that sees students intern with sponsoring companies with the intention of converting them into full-time employees following their university degree.
Sydney-based studio Garbett worked with CareerTrackers to develop a visual identity for the organisation’s report and Gala Awards evening which included banners, information cards and awards. These are united by a striking and modern yet referential coalescence of form and multi-colour, and an element of the structural.
CareerTrackers’ annual report documents the impact that the not-for-profit has made in Australia with a series of statements and statistics. The mode of this, a set of cards, takes what could have been a dry and corporatised presentation and loads it with visual immediacy, character and warmth. Simplification of information serves to clearly quantify and articulate the success of CareerTrackers. The statistical language, the language of proven results feels measured, presented in a way that is reassuring to those involved and exciting for those wanting to get involved. It is essentially a materialisation of the corporate deck.
Any reference to cultural legacy deployed within the context of social mobility for Indigenous peoples implemented by Western charitable organisations can be problematic. These can potentially lean into blunt appropriation and an insensitivity, particularly when paired with the statistical.
Indigenous art was clearly a starting point. This is evident in the use of form and colour—the earthy hues of available pigments—yet builds this out into something with its own identity and a systematic usefulness in its linking of various assets. This feels well-suited to the pragmatism and efficacy of the organisation, the theme of pathways, structured learning and of results but critically and essentially about people.
Stylistically, in the use of tension, contrast and arrangement, Garbett create a cohesive system with plenty of variety. The monospaced mechanisation of type finds a difference in tone but commonality in form with imagery, serving to elevate and compliment. The materialisation of the deck, the statistical made tangible, and the balance between measurable result and the essential human component feels well-weighted.
The Gala Awards collateral, much like the annual report takes the graphic and gives it further material dimensionality. The awards employ something of the material craft of Indigenous art but follows in the form language of graphic expression in shape, while the die cuts of cards might well keep idle hands busy and work in an element of play alongside insight during the event, and perhaps more symbolically, speaks of building a stable and diverse foundational structure for the future.