JUAN ESTELA

Graphic Design
www.juanestela.media

June (I Resist, I Exist), 2019. Risograph print. 11 × 8.5 in.
Effort and Venture, 2019. Printed sticker. 2 × 4 in.
Advocacy permeates my work, seizing the opportunity that design offers to inspire an audience. However, rarely do I ask, “How can I use design to inspire and advocate for myself?” The Words I Couldn’t Say aims to activate a more introspective part of my brain in my design practice and invites an external audience to engage with my revelations.

My reflection begins with two axes: an axis between suppression and expression, and an axis between trauma and healing. I define suppression and expression as tools of manifestation that either assert or challenge my perception of reality. I define trauma and healing as states of internalization of lived experiences.

Relative to these axes, I hypothesize that a lack of internalization prompts thoughts and behaviors that inhibit my ability to thrive. This lack of internalization—denial as the suppression of healing—asserts an inaccurate reality and comes in many forms, including a misconstrued perception of normalcy or the downplaying of a lived experience. Internalization on a superficial and isolated level—shame as the suppression of trauma—prompts me to understand the inaccuracy of my reality, but its comfort drives me to perpetuate an inauthentic version of myself.

The Words I Couldn’t Say is an expression of trauma, symbolizing my desire to truthfully accept and internalize past and present through design. By quantifying and qualifying my perceptions through exercises such as reflective writing and data visualization, my hope is to develop a system that allows me to present a vulnerable but genuine version of myself. In doing so, I aim to head toward a path of self-actualization—a form of expression and healing—defined as the ownership of thought and active cognizance of behaviors.