6th – 8th June 2019

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The Hand of Change

  • Marksteen Adamson


Birmingham & Midland Institute


Thu 7th June @ 3:30 pm - 4:10 pm



Marksteen will be talking about two recent projects.

Behold The Man is a study by ASHA’s executive creative director Marksteen Adamson. The project is an exploration of mind, body and soul through a three-year collaborative study with Alan Dainton, a homeless beggar in Cheltenham battling addiction. It’s about how we honour the subject we are engaging with when exploring the value and hidden assets of someone who has been written off by society.

How do you build the projects, develop the idea so that it engages with larger audiences, write the stories, create the exhibition and design the publications that honour the subject and often toxic issues.

Project PEEL – Exploring Self Identity. Social media, self-expression and self-identity present growing problems for young people, and there is growing evidence that this pressure is contributing more and more to mental health issues. Trying to establish a true identity, whilst finding themselves within a ‘selfie’ culture of carefully curated Facebook and Instagram lives, has never been harder. PEEL works with groups of young people, and uses photography and poetry to help them explore their identity, restore empathy for each other, and build greater understanding of who they are rather than just focussing on what they look like.


Marksteen Adamson

Founding Partner ASHA

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Founding Partner ASHA

Marksteen has gained an international reputation for being an inspiring creative strategist and problem solver, advising global companies, governments, countries and charities on brand strategy and brand behaviour. Marksteen was Global Creative Director of Interbrand and joint Director of its worldwide steering committee, building and overseeing the creative teams in London, Amsterdam and New York before making the move to set up ASHA in 2002.

He is a visiting D&AD college lecturer and conference speaker, writes articles, and is frequently on television and radio.

Marksteen’s award-winning work as Global Creative Director of Interbrand includes: ‘Welcome to Estonia’ (a unique brand identity project commissioned by the Estonian government to re-brand and re-position Estonia); the brand identity for PWC; the global brand refresh for Orange, and the multi-D&AD award-winning Niceday brand identity for WH Smith. He was also responsible for the rebrand of the RaboBank in the Netherlands, Guinness Mahon Private Bank, and helping set up, brand and name the global movement – WeAreWhatWeDo.

The awards have continued for his agency and more recently ASHA was ranked in Design Week’s Top 100 as one of the most awarded agencies in the UK.

As well as overseeing all creative work, brand strategy, innovation and driving the business direction and social objectives of Agency ASHA, Marksteen also has personal projects he works on in-between client and family commitments. Some of these include:

Co-founder of The New Life Secondary School in Tanzania. 

Founder of The Big Cold Turkey Foundation.

Co-founder and Trustee of The Cheltenham Design Foundation and Festival Creative Director.

King’s – Community coffee house.

‘Behold The Man’ – Study of addiction and homelessness.

‘The Stations’ – Project tracing the emotional journey of refugees.

‘PEEL’ – A study of identity created by young people.

‘The Sober Parrot’ – Alcohol free venue in Cheltenham.

Marksteen grew up on a mission station deep inside the savannah of Tanzania. Working across the world, he has lived in Denmark, Holland, the US and the UK. He speaks four languages, writes a fifth, is a keen cyclist and motorcyclist and an avid collector of many things. He believes that everyone has the ability to be creative and is committed to teaching young people how to express their imagination and ideas through creative thinking. He also writes music and plays numerous instruments. He lives with his wife Louise in Cheltenham and has four children, a cheeky Patterdale Terrier and two cats: Tom and Jerry.


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Graphic District Sponsor

Birmingham & Midland Institute

9 Margaret St
Birmingham, B3 3BS United Kingdom

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Birmingham & Midland Institute (BMI) is a Victorian Grade II listed building, nestled behind Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in the city centre. The BMI has been at the heart of Birmingham’s cultural life for over 150 years. It was originally founded by Act of Parliament in 1854 for the ‘Diffusion and Advancement of Science, Literature and Art amongst all Classes of Persons resident in Birmingham and Midland Counties’. Charles Dickens was one of its early Presidents.

A note on accessibility: There is some accessibility but this is unfortunately limited in some areas due to the age of the building. Disabled visitors should contact BMI before attending an event so they can discuss in more detail how to make their visit as accessible as possible. Hearing loops are available for a small fee.

  • Nearby Parking
  • Wheelchair Access
  • Toilets
  • Accessible Toilets
  • Hearing Loop


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