Stop Torture

An interview with Pali Palavathanan

An interview with one our judges, founder and creative director of TEMPLO, Pali Palavathanan. With over ten years of experience in the Design industry, Pali has worked with some of the worlds biggest brands, winning awards form across the globe and regularly speaking at design events. Pali firmly believes that designers and creatives have all the necessary skills set to make a significant difference to issues around the world demonstrated by TEMPLO’s desire to make “real-world” impact with their work. Pali shared some insights into his influences and accomplishments.

What are you passionate about? What motivates and inspires you?

I’m passionate about two things 1) seeking untold stories around the world and 2) the power of effective branding. These both play out in the work we do at TEMPLO whether it be for charities, education or cultural institutions. Our mantra is ‘Creativity for Change’. We’re not interested in just handing over a logo and walking away thinking that we’ve changed the world – we want to make real-world impact with our work.

I also love collaborating with people in completely different fields. Our clients, who are incredibly gifted and leaders in their industries, often struggle to articulate the work they do in a impactful and visual way. So working closely with them to express the work they do is a fascinating process. We find that genuine partnerships with our clients allows us to influence the narrative rather than just coming in at the end of a project to make things look pretty.

What is your greatest professional (and/or personal) accomplishment?

Our #StopTorture campaign that we co-created with some of the worlds leading human rights lawyers, journalists and celebrities to raise awareness about the ongoing sexual violence and torture in Sri Lanka since the war ended in 2009. The campaign helped to effect voting at the United Nations, forcing an independent international war crimes enquiry into the Sri Lankan government and military.

At the heart of the campaign was an unusual branding approach of creating a set of logos which fused the two national languages of Sri Lanka (Tamil & Sinhala) with English. Immediately the solution allowed us to connect to the Sri Lankan people and connect with a global audience. Also by creating a whole new visual approach we were able to cut through the pre-existing political noise and catch the Sri Lankan government off guard.

The campaign is not over. We’ve had to learn the hard way that making political change is a incredibly slow and often frustrating process. It may take 25+ years to bring key players of the war crimes in Sri Lanka to the Hague to be tried. But we’ve got the ball rolling…

The project is extra special for me as both my parents immigrated from Sri Lanka in the 60’s and my grandfather was killed at the beginning of the civil war. So I feel the burden and personal responsibility to use my skills to help bring about change.

Who or what has been your biggest influence?

Most of my influences come from spending time walking in nature, meditating in the early hours of the morning or in lucid dreams rather than individuals.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given and who gave it?

When I was 14 years old my English teacher encouraged me to always ask ‘why’. It seems so simple but at the time it really turned everything I once knew on its head and made me more aware. I’m still questioning things to this day and I guess it helps feed my creativity.

What moved you we get involved with Creative Conscience?

At TEMPLO we feel that designers/creatives have all the necessary skills set to make a significant difference to issues around the world. It’s great to have an organisation like Creative Conscience championing and encouraging this. In my opinion positive design doesn’t always get the spotlight in our industry that it deserves so I think its vital we form a community and inspire up and coming creatives.