I am a Vegan Graphic Artivist
I started off going to school to become a veterinarian. During my last year of studying Chemistry as an undergrad, I was accepted to the School of Vet Med. At the same time my dad was diagnosed too late with cancer. Everything was turned upside down.
I took a year off from school to heal.
During that time I started a riot grrl band with friends called The Violents, where I discovered a buried voice and the wonderful world of graphic design. I started volunteering for a group called GirlZone. GirlZone put on workshops and festivals for girls age 7-17. We taught them things not culturally taught to girls at the time (and still today) — like changing the oil in a car, changing a tire (on a car and a bike), writing zines, cooking on a grill, skateboarding, playing a bass and starting a band, boxing, computers, and so much more. Every time I watched a girl transform in one workshop, I transformed with them. When they found confidence in themselves, I gained more for me too.
I understood the importance of identifying as a feminist.
After design school and freelancing for a few years I took a job at a marketing firm — they did beautiful work in my community, and were crucial in forming me as a professional. I also learned that the type of client I worked with not only was ethically important to me, it effected the way I designed. It’s my job to manipulate your eyes to look and ultimately vote through your dollars in support of something. I take that responsibility very seriously. When I didn’t believe in a project, it showed.
I switched up jobs and started working at a performing arts center — here I learned the dynamics of team work. I learned to listen instead of react, and how to better communicate my thoughts and needs in a kind way that can be heard. I also shared an office space with colleagues who were vegetarian. They weren’t vocally political about their food choices, but they would share how moments of exclusion effected them. It reached me in a way that my work as a feminist reaches me.
I researched how animals were treated and started the transition to becoming vegan.
The more I researched feminism, the more I researched animal rights, the more I researched LGBT issues, the more I researched environmental issues…. The more I saw them intersecting, and the more my need to work with diverse clients in all these fields became urgent. For one year I donated one month of design and marketing to 12 non-profits. These groups covered all types of topics and came from all over the world. I learned so much, in so little time — most importantly I learned how working in this capacity set my creativity on fire.
I felt like I was truly making a difference.
With all the paths in my life merging into one, I started my own business. Now, every morning I wake up excited to help my clients—excited to further enable the people who are making big changes in our world. I often get the opportunity to donate my work to those who are on the same path as me, recognizing the intersection of all we believe in. I even started my own campaign, Keep On Vegan On, to raise money for a farm sanctuary I volunteer at.
When I look back on the year my dad died, when everything really changed — a common thread shined through. I wanted to work with animals as a vet, my dad was vegetarian (working towards being vegan) before he died, one of my band mates was vegan, my office mates were vegetarian… I had an amazing community to get me on my way. It was a weird ride with a lot of detours, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Keep on vegan on, friends — I can’t wait to see where my next detour takes me!
Anni Poppen is owner/artivist at Mowgli Studio, graphic design and marketing for non-profits and socially responsible businesses.
When Anni isn’t creating empathetic badassery at her job or nurturing herself through cooking in the kitchen, she spends as much time with her pup, Gertie and her cat, Tate as possible.
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