Brian Williamson | Radio Free Asia
“It’s not OK” is a collection of portraits of Asian women caught in the struggle for human rights in their communities, some willingly, others forced by circumstances. Each is a testimony to the courage and determination of these women.
The title, “It’s not OK,” comes from the public cry by one of them, in court, as she heard that her husband’s sentence had been extended by eight years.
I was invited to help illustrate RFA’s book profiling women across Asia struggling for human rights.
We wanted to create a series of distinctive portraits, using a variety of mediums and techniques. This goal was rooted in both the desire to treat each story as unique as well as the practical limitations of using the available reference photos and videos. For some women we found an abundance of photos documenting their public struggles, for others we found virtually no visual reference, as they struggled alone.
I created nine portraits for this project. I used a variety of mediums: pen and ink, watercolor, pastel, scratchboard, pencil, and computer to not only reproduce a likeness, but illustrate an individual story of courage. The initial goal was to publish the content exclusively as an ebook, but I suggested that we also present the content online and repurpose it as a printed book. I designed a simple responsive site and helped design the print-on-demand edition.