Design thinking training inspires art exhibition

book cover 13 Dixon

In early November 2014 I was at work in a design thinking training session. It was a staff-training day at Barking and Dagenham College and no students were in that day. This particular training session was about coming up with unique ways of thinking about innovative ideas. My attention was divided throughout the training because I had just announced that my second book ‘Ambitions of the deprived’ would be released in 2015. So naturally I was filled with excitement. During the design thinking training I was thinking about how I could improve my teaching and come up with new ways of making sure my students get the best from my lessons. I was also thinking about how I could use this book to give some talented young people an opportunity to showcase their talents.

By the end of the training session, it hit me. I wanted young artists, photographers and graphic designers to visually interpret the title of the book. For me those words have a powerful meaning, and as I writer I can paint a picture using words to tell a story. I wanted those who could literally paint a picture to do just that. That night I decided to set up a competition, a call for artists, photographers and graphic designers. The aim was to have them submit their work and then a panel that I put together would select the pieces, which would then be part of the official book launch in June 2015.

I thought to myself that this was not a big enough incentive; I needed something that would truly reward the efforts of the creative young people. I was on a mission to try and create an exhibition that will go beyond the book launch; I wanted to make sure the young people’s work will be noticed by key people in the industry. At this point I did not know how I would make all these things happen. It was too late to turn back now, the competition was up and running and the submissions were coming in quickly.

When I started seeing the great pieces that were being sent in, it inspired me even more to make sure all I promised would happen.

I started approaching different art galleries, making enquiries. Through the help of a few contacts I started making progress. Thanks to Frank Sweeny from New variety lives I managed to get the Rose Lipman building in Hackney as the venue for the book launch. The exhibition will also be showcased there for 2 weeks and it will be open to the public.

Another opportunity came when I was invited by Dean Stalham from Made Corrections to be a guest on Resonance radio. London’s arts radio station. Since the show Dean has helped with the development of the AOTD exhibition. Dean organised a meeting at the Mother London (The biggest independent advertising agency in the UK). Mother have a gallery at their headquarters in the heart of Shoreditch. The meeting went well and now ‘Ambitions of the deprived’ alongside other artists’ exhibitions will feature at the Mother gallery in September for two weeks. We will have two showcase nights, with hundreds of people that will be in attendance. The young people will have a great chance to mingle with industry experts, a chance to get their work sold and hopefully much more.

So being at the design thinking training effectively had an immediate impact on me as ideas for so many different lessons and projects came to mind. The ‘Ambitions of the deprived’ exhibition idea was a direct result of that training.

AOTD Book Launch and Exhibition June 18th 2015 @ The Rose Lipman Building

43 De Beauvoir Road, London N1 5SQ

18:30 – 21:00

Register your free tickets with the link below.


Made Corrections presents ‘Ambitions of the Deprived’ Exhibition @

Rose Lipman Building from June 18th – 2nd July

The Mother Gallery September 17th Opening Night.



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