The Public is an activist design studio specializing in changing the world. We believe that an important message conveyed with inspiration can do just that. We give our clients work that is creatively, emotionally, and intellectually uplifting, that challenges oppressive ideas, and that empowers people to pursue real change.
We are not just committed to ethical and sustainable practices; we are defined by them. We believe in and practice eco-friendly printing processes, progressive hiring, democratic decision-making, and local purchasing. We are very present in the communities we work in and with and strive to make a positive impact on their cultures, environments, and economies.
The Public is run by principal and creative director, Sheila Sampath, and a team of community organizers working collaboratively and bringing our common goals and divergent experiences to the drawing board.
Sheila Sampath has been crafting creative for social good since 2003. Former chair of the board at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre/Multi-cultural Women Against Rape, she has a background in grassroots anti-oppression activism, which she incorporates into her strategic approach to graphic design. She is the editorial and art director of award-winning magazine, Shameless — Canada’s feminist voice for young women and trans youth, and is actively involved in local art and music communities, playing in Toronto band, Tu Suis, and a board member of the South Asian Visual Arts Centre. She is an instructor at OCAD U, a member of the British Council’s TN2020 Network and a fellow of the Royal Society of Artists. Sheila holds a diploma in graphic design from the George Brown College School of Design and an Honours BSc. in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Toronto. Her work as a designer has been widely recognized and awarded and her political writing has been published internationally. Her first book, Letters Lived, was published by Three O’Clock Press in the fall of 2013.
Natalia Saavedra (designer) has made a name for herself in the Toronto Arts community through her work in design education for social change. She has worked in different design-related settings both as an intern, community organizer and as a designer for the past 3 years. Natalia holds a bachelor of design from the Ontario College of Art and Design University. Her graduating thesis focused on the impact of graphic design outside of the mainstream exchanges of supply and demand, or capitalism, into a community-based practice of arts and design. She works with anti-oppressive and anti-authoritarian community-based organizations in Toronto, in the hopes of creating a sustainable and long-lasting relationship between her politics and her passion as a graphic designer. She is the funder and creative director of the Radical Design School, a grassroots community response to graphic media needs in the city of Toronto and beyond.
Coco Riot (studio co-ordinator) is a spanish migrant artist who has been drawing for social justice since the age of four. Actively involved in queer and anti-oppression politics, Coco is a graphic designer, comic artist, zinester, illustrator and the author of the internationally acclaimed Llueven Queers, a spanish graphic book on queer issues. Their art, videos and installations have shown in contemporary art museums, renown galleries, political events and friend’s living rooms across the world. Keen on knowledge sharing, Coco also facilitates workshops on political art. Coco holds a MA in Comparative Literature at Paris VII University and a BA in Art and Design from the Fine Arts School of Toulouse.
Salma Al Atassi (accounts manager) is a Syrian born feminist activist currently residing in Toronto. She has a worked in community-based political and cultural organizing since 2008. She was a collective member and co-designer of AQSAZine a grassroots zine for young Muslim women and trans youth that addressed issues of gender based violence, migration, ancestry, resistance, and healing through art and poetry. She is currently working on using creative expression to create solidarity networking amongst community members and activists with Syrian revolutionaries. Over the past year, she has developed a strong interest in gaining knowledge of traditional and ancestral healing practices with a strong community emphasis in order to create more holistic approaches to dealing with grief, loss, and trauma. She is working on a long term goal of gaining a Masters of Social Work and a Clinical Herbalist degree.
For over 10 years Derek Hogue (preferred contract web developer) has been designing and developing websites for radical publishers, artists and musicians, and non-profit advocacy organizations across Canada and beyond. An HTML and CSS expert, he is also an experienced PHP developer, and deeply-versed in both the ExpressionEngine and WordPress content-management platforms. His free, open-source GigPress WordPress plugin has been highly-lauded, and has become an essential tool used by musicians and artists the world-over; and his custom ExpressionEngine add-ons have won numerous awards and nominations.