Designing for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

How Bachelor of Design student Jorden Edmondstone created imagery to help the Faculty of Arts dismantle structural oppression and racism

Erik Einsiedel - 16 February 2021

In the Fall of 2020, a class of Visual Communication Design students were given a unique challenge: to create imagery representing the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) initiatives in the Faculty of Arts.

Out of a class of 15, only one would be selected whose designs would be incorporated into the EDI website. Their work would visually communicate key pillars of the Arts community, including diversity in gender identity, race, sexual orientation, and ethnicity.

The Faculty of Arts Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion recently awarded the project to Art & Design student Jorden Edmondstone. We caught up with him to find out how his own Chinese-Malaysian roots inspired the design of the new EDI visuals.

What was your reaction when you found out your designs were going to be used for the EDI website?

It was incredibly exciting for me! I have Chinese-Malaysian roots on my mother’s side, so this was an interesting challenge for me to work on topics like diversity and inclusion. It required a little more education and research on my part, and it was a great opportunity for me to grow.

What was your design background like before you got this project?

Most of my work has been with the theatre community, like designing posters for Edmonton Fringe productions. I’ve done design work for local improv groups like Marv n’ Berry, and a sketch comedy troupe called Dang Dumb who I actually perform with too.

How long have you been studying design?

I started the Design program in 2016, but before that I got my degree in Electrical Engineering from the U of A. Once I finished, I moved away and lived in London for nine months and worked in a bar with a bunch of people who had degrees in graphic design. Their work fascinated me, and it inspired me to come back to the U of A to pursue my Bachelor of Design.

What was your process in designing the EDI imagery?

I started with at least 18 pages of pencil and paper sketches. My initial concept was based on literal figures, to represent inclusivity. But I quickly realized that if you show one group, you have to show every group. It became too overwhelming to visually represent all these diverse communities, so I had to change my focus.


Interestingly, during the project, I got COVID, and it was actually during a fever dream that a more abstract and symbolic style came to me. It became a psychedelic style that harkened back to the sixties, which has a cultural consciousness associated with liberation, freedom and a spirit of inclusivity. These were some of the keywords that I associated with EDI, so I kept going back to those words to help drive the design.

How did your time at the U of A influence you as a designer?

For me, the strength of the U of A program is in its professors and my peers. I guess it’s possible for someone to learn design on their own, but here I’ve learned so much more with mentors and peers. You get all this constructive feedback, and you have these meaningful interactions with your peers that help you become a better designer.

The EDI design project was a class assignment for Design 593 (The Practice of Graphic Design) led by Associate Professor Sue Colberg. Jorden Edmondstone’s EDI designs can be found at the EDI website. To see more of his work, visit his Instagram page.