Blast studio uses simple paper-cut illustration to rebrand refugee initiative Amna

In collaboration with Amna, Blast aims to shift the focus from the “negatives of trauma” to the initiative’s transformative work.

18 August 2022

In 2016, the Refugee Trauma Initiative was founded, when some 13,000 refugees became stranded on the border of Greece and North Macedonia. Today, the​ refugee healing network has been rebranded as Amna. The initiative works to support the mental wellbeing of displaced communities, and in the process, “does invaluable work enabling refugees to rediscover ‘feelings of joy and belonging’”, explains London branding studio Blast. The most recent Blast project hinges on reflecting this transformational aspect – “to shift focus from the negatives of trauma” to the more “positive benefits” of Amna’s work. Going down an interestingly hand-drawn route, the studio seeks to emphasise self-expression and play with the brand refresh.

As part of this new positioning, the initiative has been renamed Amna – meaning “safe and caring in Arabic”, Paul Tunnicliffe, creative director at Blast, tells us – to better reflect the initiatives and communities it serves. While Paul stressed the need to keep the design concept appropriate, “as it’s a serious subject”, making room for creativity was imperative. Illustrator Polly Lindsay ensures this side of the project is fulfilled through the creative’s signature use of bespoke paper-cut illustrations.

The illustrations began as rough drafts from Blast, mocked up digitally after the studio agreed on appropriate subject matters and scenes with Amna. Polly then hand-cut and photographed the final versions – a process which took around three to four weeks to complete. On the Amna site, the illustrations appear with a “subtle shadow” to suggest dimensionality, maintaining a sense of the analogue process behind the work. These bespoke illustrations have also been turned into simple animations by Blast to be used across socials.


Blast: Amna, illustration by Polly Lindsay (Copyright © Amna, 2022)

Though unique for a brand identity to lead with hand-crafted elements, the use of simple, representative forms fits with Blast’s larger aims for the brand. The illustrations help foster universal connection to a complex experience. Blast adds: “We hope to produce a full paper cut animation with Polly soon, to help people better understand the refugee experience.”

Supported by a bright “optimistic” colour palette, the work is completed with a similarly hand-written logotype and headline font, employing a cursive line and brushstroke effect. Learn more about Amna’s work and see Polly Lindsay’s bespoke illustrative work for Blast on the initiative’s newly renovated site.

GalleryBlast: Amna, illustration by Polly Lindsay (Copyright © Amna, 2022)

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Blast: Amna, illustration by Polly Lindsay (Copyright © Amna, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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