Life or Knife campaign proposals

Art direction

Brochure design
Exhibition graphics

A block of 12 posters is wheatpasted to a hoarding on an urban street. Each poster shows a black and white image of a knife crime victim, with their name, age and story.


This was a speculative proposal based on a brief from West Midlands Police: to design an anti-knife carrying campaign in response to a sharply increased number of stabbings in the region, where young people have lost their lives or been handed a life sentence. The campaign was intended to support operational activity aimed at reducing the number of knives on the streets, educational inputs in schools and direct collaboration with communities and parents in tackling knife crime. The key campaign aims were to showcase the realities of knife crime and the significant impact it can have on peoples’ lives.

Image of double-page spread from brand proposal document. Life or Knife logo variants in landscape and square formats are displayed on the left-hand side of the spread. On the right are typographic samples and colour swatches.


My initial approach to this brief took its inspiration from museums and memorials – specifically Budapest’s Terror Háza, and the Berlin Wall Memorial on Bernauer Straße, Berlin. Both sites utilise the respectful use of photography to create impactful installations, highlighting the individuality of the victims while simultaneously emphasising their sheer numbers. I looked to combine this approach with the original content created for WM Police’s existing ‘Life or Knife’ campaign, opting to reframe the existing content with the tagline ‘There is a choice’.  This slight shift was intended to counteract a potential feeling among young people that there is no alternative to carrying a knife for protection. I also referred to similar anti-knife crime campaigns and academic studies into the efficacy of anti-knife campaigning amongst young people.

Key features of the re-imagined approach included expanding the selection of potential touchpoints to include outdoor as well as online media, including 48-sheet or wildposting (on authorised sites) around key physical locations, near shops, clubs and bars and also on public transport. 

Outdoor media

Side-on image of a red double-decker bus featuring an image of Nikita and Ronan Kanda, along with a quote from Nikita and a large call-to-action to prompt anonymous crime reporting
Image of billboard showing a high-contrast red and black image of convicted murderer Sadam Essakhil, with a quote reading “I just went out there feeling that I needed to protect myself. That night, if I never took a knife it would have been a fist fight at most.  30 seconds later, my whole life is different. That moment changed my whole life­—for the worse.”
Image of a bus shelter featuring two Life or Knife branded posters. The left-hand poster features a picture of Nikita and Ronan Kanda, along with a quote from Nikita. The right hand poster has large text reading 'If you have any information about knife crime you can report it 100% anonymously at'

Online and social

Image of two mobiles side by side. The left-hand phone displays a Life or Knife branded YouTube channel, with a video interview with the mother of a knife crime victim. The right hand mobile displays a TikTok advert utilising an interview with a former gang member.
Image of smartphone displaying a proposed mobile navigation for the Life or Knife website. At the centre of the navigation is a prominent red circle with the text prompt 'Report knife crime 100% anonymously'
Image of laptop and smartphone displaying a potential UI design for the Life or Knife website. The website shows quotes and images from knife crime victims on a dark background.

Educational and roadshow resources

Close-cropped image of a young person wearing a Life or Knife branded hoodie
Life or Knife folded DL brochure for use in education packs. The leaflet shows an image and quote from convicted murderer Sadam Essakhil along with text explaining the impact of having a criminal record
Aerial image of a speaker in front of a large screen displaying a Life or Knife slide deck. The slide displays the text 'Knife crime isn't just a gang issue. 80 per cent of knife murders have nothing to do with gang crime.'

All content used with the permission of West Midlands Police

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© 2024 Justin Still