In 2021 Te Hiringa Hauora launched Small Steps / Te Ara Ora, a free, bilingual platform offering premium online tools to improve mental health, available to all New Zealanders. They needed an extensive suite of illustrations, ranging from hero and banner illustrations to page dividers and icons. The artwork needed to strike a very specific tone in order to help the tools get maximum cut through with those that needed them most.
The illustrations firstly needed to feel gentle, warm and approachable, without being overly fun and buoyant—essentially they needed to make anyone using the tools who might be experiencing mental ill-health, to feel comfortable. They also needed to be youth-centric, and incorporate plenty of cultural touchstones for a wide variety of communities, so that they felt welcoming to as many as possible. Another focus of the illustrations was the inclusion of plenty of natural imagery: plants; water; hills; to make the illustrations feel calming.
A style was developed that combined flat colour illustration with textural grain shading. In total, twelve tools were developed, each requiring a banner illustration, instructional diagram, and character imagery, plus further bespoke assets as each tool required. Additionally, a home page hero illustration, logo and logotype, three theme banners, 24 page divider illustrations and marketing assets were also created.