When we started ideating a wearable merch series for Public Works, we wanted to make something that sparks curiosity, prompts questions about what we do and calls for storytelling. Why? Because merchandise that gets people curious and triggers conversation are perfect to get them connecting with our brand in a meaningful way. Besides, stories are one of the most wonderful ways to share information and enjoy creative expression with another person. We also wanted to make our merchandise highly consumable, timeless product types that people of many generations can relate to across different cultures; This is why we decided to design Public Works merch around the most ubiquitous clothing item of our times—the T-shirt. And of course, it couldn’t be that standard logo on the T-shirt. Our brief to ourselves was to make it something that makes people curious about what Public Works does.


Just as we tell our clients, we started with the brand values. Public Works being a company with creative thinking at its core, we wanted to make merchandise that reflected this imaginative spirit through an interesting story. To trigger questions about what we do, we looked into our work process for a good story seed. This is how we ended up designing a T-shirt series portraying iconic personalities that represent Public Works’ primary brand personality archetype—the creator archetype.


An archetype is a prototype or a model; a primitive ‘type’ inherited from the earliest human ancestors and supposed to be present in the collective unconscious according to a psychoanalytic theory put forward by Carl Jung. At Public Works, we use these Jungian archetypes in our storytelling process for typifying brand personalities and projecting their values in stories.

We use Carl Jung’s archetypes as a way to model a brand personality that reflects the real values and beliefs of a business. Among these Jungian prototypes of the human psyche, the creator archetype is one of most interesting. This is the personality that wants to contribute to the world through its creativity—a trait that companies connected to innovation, imagination and ingenuity often want to associate with through their stories. We’ve constructed many stories for businesses that embody this archetype. The creator archetype is special to us as a business because it’s one of the two primary archetypes shaping Public Works.


When Carl Jung identified the creator archetype first, it was coined as ‘the artist’. We prefer to use the term ‘creator’ as it includes the whole spectrum of creative minds. “Who looks outside and dreams; who looks inside and awakes”, Jung wrote, explaining the way the creative minds work.

The T-shirt series we produced depicted three iconic creators who represented the power of the human imagination. Screen-printed entirely by hand, this limited edition T-shirt series featured the extraordinary woman Mirra Alfassa who created Auroville, Nobel laureate poet Rabindranath Tagore and, of course, the psychoanalyst that dared to tread the line between scientist and artist—Carl Jung.



This T-shirt series triggered many conversations and people were curious to learn more about these personalities and what stands out about their creativity; Through that, they connected with Public Works at a more profound level with shared values like imagination and innovation, instead of just seeing our company name and logo. It’s equivalent to remembering a person through a deep and meaningful conversation and not just as a face with a name.





We now use this series to show our clients how branded merchandise can be much more interesting than just a T-shirt with a logo. Great merchandise uses elements, ideas, events or people that connect the consumers to the core of a brand; they have greater potential to create more conversation that connects to the values of a business.


We think there’s always room to bring good storytelling into branded merch. If you’re thinking about getting merchandise that tells your brand’s story in a more imaginative way, ask us how.


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Our monthly stories are productions looking to connect people to the magic of stories.

We create supplementary reading lists as a way to give you an insight into the inspirations and thinking behind our monthly stories. These reading lists take you behind the story, revealing the process of its making.

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Rasa → Hāsyam (हास्यं): Laughter, mirth, comedy. Presiding deity: Shiva. Colour: white, Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow

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ArchetypeRebel

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This story was created with the central character Leela who embodies the shadow side of the rebel archetype. Among the archetypes presented in Carl Jung’s theory of psychoanalysis, the rebel is the one fearlessly heralding change. Also known as the revolutionary, the reformer, the misfit, the maverick and the free spirit, the light side of the rebel archetype is at the frontlines of all historic movements that led to better and fairer distribution of liberty and rights. The rebel archetype is inspiring—moving mountains, facing hard truths head-on and leading to progress that benefits generations; But, in its shadow, this archetype can be tremendously frustrating as troublemakers, provocateurs, and downright outlaws who pointlessly rebel without a cause.


The aesthetic flavor that we chose from the Rasa Theory for this story is comic or hāsya. A secondary rasa was brought in to give the story more dimension and to also work in the most popular mood voted in by our subscribers—adbūtha, or wonder.


In this reading list, you’ll find stories, events, films, and research that connects to the rebel archetype from Jungian psychology and the aesthetic flavor of hāsya.

  • 1940, The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin. Charles Chaplin Film Corporation. This iconic movie, released during the years leading up to WW2, struck a chord with many. It carried an important message with Chaplin’s characteristic humor and great writing.

  • 1996, Trainspotting. D. Boyle based on a novel by Irvine Welsh. Channel Four Films, Figment Films, Noel Gay Motion Picture Company. In this memorable scene Mark Renton, played by Ewan Mcgregor, rages on being Scottish with funny and unforgettable wit.

  • Batalanda detention centre was an alleged detention center in Sri Lanka used to torture and exterminate people leading dissent, particularly of the janatha vimukthi peramuna (JVP) during uprising of 1988–1989. The detention center was said to be run by counter-subversive units of the police who were tasked with destroying rebels.

  • The Matale rebellion, also known as the Rebellion of 1848, took place in Sri Lanka against the British colonial government. It marked a transition from the classic feudal form of anti-colonial revolt to modern independence struggles. It was fundamentally a peasant revolt that led to significant changes in how the British ruled Sri Lanka.

  • An article that first appeared as a pamphlet issued in September 1953 by the Lanka Sama Samaja Party of Ceylon. Its author, Dr. Colvin R. de Silva was considered to be one of Asia’s finest orators. Among his published works are a well-known two-volume history, Ceylon Under the British Occupation, 1795-1833, and An Outline of the Permanent Revolution (January 1955)— a basic Marxist training manual.

  • Ashta Bhairavas are eight manifestations of the Hindu divine symbol for time, and change. Their ferocious iconography embodies the merciless nature of time which brings an end to all rules, systems and beliefs made by humans.

  • Orabi Pasha was a famous Egyptian nationalist and military leader exiled to Sri Lanka from 1883 - 1901. Orabi led a national revolt against the injustices of the Turkish ruler Fewfik, who called on the British to protect him. The Egyptians under Orabi fought against the British troops who entered Cairo and occupied Egypt for 70 years. Orabi was arrested and exiled for life in Sri Lanka.

  • Richard de Zoysa was a well-known Sri Lankan journalist, author, human rights activist and actor, who was abducted and murdered on 18 February 1990. His murder caused widespread outrage inside the country, and is widely believed to have been carried out by a death squad linked to elements within the government.

  • The caricatures of Gaganendranath Tagore, an artist of rare talent, stand out as satirical commentaries on emerging classes, religious systems, and society in general. Gaganendranath experimented with many styles throughout his life. Picking elements from Japanese brushwork to cubism, but always filtering them through his own take, Gaganendranath Tagore’s humorous caricatures suggest a refusal of affiliation.




>> Read the previous reading list



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ImageRon Lach

Rasa → Hāsyam (हास्यं): Laughter, mirth, comedy. Presiding deity: Shiva. Colour: white, Adbhutam (अद्भुतं): Wonder, amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow

Archetype → Rebel

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Leela stopped to catch her breath before shouting again between the bars of the police cell.


“You!”, she shouted, pointing at the back of the police deputy walking away. His shoulders hung from the relief of having just locked in Leela—the loudest woman he had ever encountered—pricked up again at the sound of her voice.


“You’re a dog! A hired dog paid to bark at us people,” she shouted at his back, trying in vain to rattle the heavy bars. But, the bars stood resolute and responseless.


The policeman sat down at his desk and sighed as Leela turned around throwing her fists into the air. ‘Who’s power? People’s power! You can’t shut us down!’ she chanted.


Her shouting echoed around the cell and fell dead. From the adjoining cell, two women sitting on the floor watched her. One woman chewed betel, wore a chītta wrap and a stained T-shirt. The other wore smudged makeup, a long skirt, and a red satin blouse that took on a ghostly glow under the fluorescent light. Watching Leela, both wore expressions of half-hearted contempt. Leela recognised this contempt so well. From her university days—spent mostly in student protests—Leela had seen how, for most people, it was easier to respond to rebellion with a sudden disdain for lawlessness than to join its exhausting current towards upheaval.


Leela considered the two smoldering faces for a second; “You know why governments always make fools out of people? Because people act like goats who only know how to get herded; you sit here chewing away till the jackals come...,”


“Goats?”, snarled the woman chewing betel; the word ‘goat’ seemed to have struck her somewhere particularly sore. An escaped smile twitched Leela’s mouth; she knew that poking where it hurts was the fastest way to get people up and angry.


“Why does ‘Madam’ here get her own cell? Some big insurgency fellow?” the woman in the red blouse asked the policeman, cocking her head at Leela.


“Please be quiet, I’m trying to record this arrest,” said the policeman, his voice strained between concentration, exhaustion, and annoyance.


Leela felt her mouth open automatically in reaction, despite her best efforts to savor the secret pride of being speculated a ‘big insurgency fellow’. “Trying to send me to the Counter Subversive Unit? Dog!” she screamed at the policeman. But he scribbled away, determinedly ignoring the three women.


“Counter Subversive Unit? Damn good!” the betel woman’s voice cut through. “You insurgency-types belong there”.


“I heard there’s a torture chamber in some coconut plantation where you people are being taken to…”, the red-bloused woman said, unable to hide the glee on her face.


Leela seethed at them; “Yes! Goats like you’d rather see me dead than put effort into rising from your slavery. But, you know what? You’ll never see our revolution dead! Victory to people’s liberation!” she shouted, throwing a fist into the air. But, somewhere at the back of Leela’s mind, her husband’s voice echoed; ‘But, do the people you’re trying to liberate really want to be liberated?’


“To hell with your revolution. We have enough problems as it is,” said the red-bloused woman. “Since you got here and started shouting, they’ve even forgotten our dinner. You insurgency people never make it easy for the rest of us you know,” she said.


The policeman picked up the telephone and reminded someone about dinner.


“You don’t see the enemy do you? You don’t see how they make it about your people vs. my people, and keep us at each other's throats while they empty the bank…?” Leela shouted.


A man in khaki shorts walked in whistling; He held a tray of wrapped food and a glass of water in one hand and three carelessly stacked metal plates in the other. The man smilingly placed the tray on the policeman’s desk; He slid the metal plates under the bars without looking at the women and strolled back out, whistling.


“Wonder what’s in the special meal for Sir...” the betel woman remarked pointedly, picking up a plate.


“Not goat feed for sure...” said Leela, wiping food from the bottom of her plate.


The betel woman’s angry retort was cut off the next second when, suddenly, the electricity blacked out. Everything paralyzed into a soundless night.


“Police station being attacked? They cut the power? Apooo! The insurgency people are coming to kill us!” The red-bloused woman started wailing. “Let the thirty-three thousand gods see this! Oh gods I haven’t sinned that much...”


“Quiet! No one is coming to kill us!” the policeman’s voice snapped.


Without the ceiling fan and fluorescent lights driving them away, mosquitoes took over like a hungry choir. Leela heard their humming circling her. Their stings punctured her skin; She swatted one and got food on her forehead. To her side, a curse erupted in the betel woman’s voice with the sound of a metal plate being dropped loudly onto the floor. The startled policeman—who sounded as if he had just knocked over the glass of water—clicked his tongue in annoyance.


“What the hell is this power cut?” asked the betel woman.


No one responded. Even Leela had nothing left to say.


Only a quiet idea floating in the dark seemed to present an answer too uncomfortable to swallow. It settled down amidst them, growing painfully apparent against the dark.



Read the previous story


 

The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.