Friday, 26 October 2012

Love and Hate

This piece of design is a great example of how effective simplicity can be. Although the image only consists of the instruction 'stop and think' the message is bold, clear and motivational. In my opinion effective design usually intents to make people stop and think. Therefore this could be interpreted as a representation for all graphic design, but stripped of all identity.

I discovered Sohei Nishino last summer when I visited the Saatchi Gallery in London. I loved these collages where he had photographed cities such as London, New York and Paris and placed the images together to recreate each city as best as he remembered. I'm really inspired by clever use of photography like this, it gives a whole new perspective on something which is usually taken for granted.

I have always hated pink and red together, I think the colours distract from one another as they are reasonably similar. The example above is a prime example of design which I hate for many reasons. Not only is it pink and red, they have used every other colour they could possibly think of! The type itself is also distracting; the mixture of Comic Sans and Ariel in bold, italic and underlined styles is unnecessary. Generally this webpage is trying so hard to impress the audience visually, the subject matter is lost. 

As a Londener I got so fed up seeing this logo continuously placed around the city during the Olympics. I have never personally like the design, again I think it is trying too hard to incorporate a vast amount of concepts. Once reseaching into the design motives I did start to appreciate that there was a great amount of thought put into the design but visually I think it just seems clumsy and rushed.

Message and Delivery - Research

For this task we were asked to produce extensive research based on any news paper article of our choice from Tuesday 23rd October. My chosen story is from the Daily Express:

The article is celebrating 'Golden wonder women of the year' but I am focusing particularly on Doreen Lawrence, Mother of Stephen Lawrence who was murdered. Doreen has recently been awarded for her 'tireless work against racism' and singer Beverly Knight has described her as "The embodiment of 'Never give up'.

Doreen alongside other ward winners (left to right) PD James, Doreen Lawrence and Zainab Salbi, at the 57th annual Women of the Year lunch

Doreen's son Stephen Lawrence was murdered by a gang of thugs on 22 April 1993.
Image Source

The description beneath this dramatisation based on real events reads: Stephen Lawrence (13 September 1974 -- 22 April 1993) was a black British teenager from Eltham, southeast London, who was stabbed to death while waiting for a bus on the evening of 22 April 1993.

After the initial investigation, five suspects were arrested but never convicted.[2] It was suggested during the course of investigation that the murder had a racist motive and that Lawrence was killed because he was black, and that the handling of the case by the police and Crown Prosecution Service was affected by issues of race, leading to an inquiry.

In 1999, an inquiry headed by Sir William Macpherson examined the original Metropolitan police investigation and concluded that the force was "institutionally racist". The inquiry has been called 'one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain'. The report of the examination's work and conclusions was published in 1999 as The Macpherson Report.

On 18 May 2011, it was announced that one of the original suspects, and another man, are to stand trial for the murder in the light of "new and substantial evidence" becoming available. A jury was selected on Monday 14 November 2011, and the trial started on the following day.

In the Guardian on Sunday 14th February 1999 Doreen Quoted: "Yes, I am still angry," she says. "I'm angry that even now we're still being kept in the dark and have to read the newspapers to find out what is going on."

"And I'm angry that Stephen is six feet under but the boys who stabbed him can laugh and drink. Their families can still have an interaction with them, but I'm never going to have that again with Stephen." This was the first time Doreen had agreed to speak about her feelings in almost 2 years.

18 Years later and Doreen delivers a powerful and moving speech to the public about the relief of her son's killers finally being imprisoned. 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Revolutionary Design in Russia

The revolution was an opportunity for art to progress constructivists desire to make art useful. The aim was that art should help construct a new society. The use of new techniques and an abstract aesthetic towards the end of the 1920s artistic freedom. However in 1934 Stalin decrees 'Socialist Realism' only.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Context of Practice Task 2: Image Analysis Exercise

These images share various similarities and differences. The first image is an American advertisement for an oven during 1876. The second image is a poster produced during WW1 persuading men to join the army. Although each image is focusing on different subjects, their mannerisms, tone of voice and general approach is similar.

Image one was produced one hundred years on from American Independence Day. From the decoration alone it is clear the image is pro-American. There is an unusual choice of composition. Usually in advertisements the main focus of attention would be placed in the centre, however in this case the oven is placed to the left and there is a wealthy-looking man in the middle of the image instead. This could suggest a subtle hint to other men with families that this advertisement is aimed at them as the man of the house to provide for their family. Both images use a similar idea of wealth and an ideal dream life style. Image one uses a saloon bar, wild west type-face This could be portrayed as a symbolism of gold and 'the American Dream'.

Image two is during World War Two. There are similar themes as used in image one related to wealth and patriotism. Ironically, the war is being portrayed as something 'great'. the caption at the bottom of the image reads 'Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?' This is a strong persuasion tactic causing men to feel responsible for the fate of their families. Another implication of appeal to joining the army is the young boy playing with the palace guards as some sort of game, wanting to re-enact the war as though it is something enjoyable and lighthearted. The use of children in image two is extremely powerful and motivational. By capitalising the word 'you' and the specific expression and direction of the man's face as he looks directly at the viewer, generates a more personal message directly to fathers during the Second World War.

Another way in which image one celebrates the American lifestyle is by undermining and mocking other countries food habits. The contents of food used on the food bill for the other countries is slightly racist. For example there is a reference to Ireland eating potatoes, China eating birds nest boiled and Italy eating macaroni. The name Uncle Sam is personification in its own right.

In conclusion, both images share a passion for their countries. They are patriotic, persuasive and positive. They both suggest a target audience of husbands and fathers during crucial times in both American and British history. Although they do not necessarily use fair persuasion methods they are both effective in generating a powerful, motivational response.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Seminar 1.. Analysis of the LCA Prospectus

During our first contextual seminar with Richard we split into groups of 4 and were asked to critique the current Leeds College of Art prospectus. The key elements we payed attention to were:

Choice and organisation of fonts and overall aesthetic

Purpose and meaning of the publication
The target/potential audience of the publication
Any social or political contexts relevant to the production of the publication
Whether the design is effective and appropriate

  • The front cover uses a weak contrast of a bold blue background with shiny red lettering. The typeface itself is nice but would have been more effective if it had been used with a different colour and  without the emboss effect.
  • The first page uses an unnecessary layout. There's no need for the borders, they distract from the written information. The content is useful but the chosen typeface is slightly basic 
  • There is a contrast in tone between the front cover and content inside the prospectus. By using the heading 'WE ARE THE STATE OF THE ART' on the front cover the general first impression is very formal, serious and in some ways slightly boastful. However once reading through the first few pages you begin to realise the approach is the complete opposite and in some ways immature and patronising. 
  • Another few points about the design of the cover is that they have decided not to include the name of the uni anywhere apart from in what is supposedly the centre of the back of the cover, however it has been placed without consideration of lost space once the book was bounded. This is a standard design process and it appears to have been ignored. The fact they have made the heading more of a main focus than the name of the university suggests more interest in bragging status.
  • When continuing reading through the prospectus you begin to realise that none of the images are aligned in a specific way. They are consistently placed at random across the whole book. This causes the overall prospectus to seem clumsy, unorganised and slightly confusing.
  • The information doesn't actually help the target audience. There is very minimal amounts of useful information and its not always clear where the reader is meant to find their course-specific information. Maybe this could be solved by including some sort of contents page?
  • We also found it slightly ironic how on page 30 there are small headings such as 'let's learn', 'lets get creative' and 'lets go shopping' which already seems like a strange approach to use in a university prospectus. That aside, the paragraph titled 'lets get sporty' is longer than 'lets get creative'. This is odd seeing as it is an arts university.
Generally the design methods used in the current LCA prospectus seems to have not taken any of the main points outlined at the beginning of this post into consideration. The choice and organisation of fonts and overall aesthetic is clumsy, inconsistent and basic.
The purpose and meaning of the publication is to inform, advice and persuade, yet it does this in a very unhelpful, confusing way.
The target/potential audience of the publication is new students seeking advice on whether LCA is the right university for them, yet the tone is inappropriate either too formal or too immature.
The social and political information required is very unclear and hard to find if included at all.
Personally I don't agree that the design is either effective or appropriate. The inconsistency causes it to feel lazy, rushed and unorganised.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Lecture: Postmodernism

Definition: Term applied to a wide range of cultural analysis and production since the early 1970s. Whilst there are different attitudes to what postmodernism is, it is generally referred to as a significant shift in attitude away from the certainties of a modernism based on progress. The cultural production include the acceptance of many styles, the importance of surface and the playful adoption of different styles through parody and pastiche.

If Modernism is logically from 1860-1960 then Postmodernism is 1960s-today. (though some critics state postmodernism is over and we have entered a phase of Post-postmodernism)

-Initially born out of optimism, an aspirational reaction to WW1, with a view to harnessing technology to improve people's lives. 
-Ends up doctrinaire, almost blind obedience to rules, and above all - form follows function.

-A reaction to the Modernism rules
-Starts as a critique of the international style 
(Robert Venturi - Learning from Las Vegas, 1972. Ideas developed by Charles Jencks,1977)
-Only rule is that there are no rules.
-Celebrates what might otherwise be termed kitsch.

If Modernism equates with:
simplified aesthetic
utopian ideals
truth to materials
form follows function

Then Postmodernism involves:
Bricolage - mixing up of styles and materials
parody, pastiche and irony.

-Postmodernism has an attitude of questioning conventions (especially those set out by modernism)
-Postmodern aesthetic - multiplicity of styles and approaches
-Theme of 'double coding', borrowing, or 'quoting' from a number of historical styles
-Knowing juxtapositions, or 'postmodern irony'
-Questioning old limitations
-Space for marginalised discourse: women sexual diversity & multiculturalism

Le Corbusier, Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut, Ronchamp, 1953-5

Miles Van der Rohe and Philip Johnson, Seagram Building, New York, 1957

Philip Johnson, Sony Plaza (former AT&T Building), New York, 1978-84

Renzo Piano & Richard Rogers, Pompidop Centre, Paris, 1972-77

James String, Neue Staatsgalerie, Stuttart, Germany, 1977 - 1983

Philippe Starck, Juicy Salif, 1990

Sex Boutique, Kings Road London, 1975 (Vivienne Westwood on left)

Andy Warhol, Campbell's Soup Cans, 1962

Roy Litchenstien, Drowning Girl, 1963

Jeff Koons, Michael Jackson and Bubbles, 1988

Damien Hirst, Mother and Child Divided, 1993

Tracey Emin My Bed, 1998

David Carson, Don't Mistake Legibility for Communication

Barbara Kruger, I shop therefore I am, 1987

-Postmodern has an attitude of questioning convention - particularly modernism
-Postmodern aesthetic = multiplicity of styles and approached
-Shift in thought & theory investigating 'crisis & confidence'
-Space for 'new voices'

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Alphabet Soup - Designing a Typeface to Represent Ant

For tast 2 of Alphabet Soup I have been paired up with Ant. The new task is to generate an alphabet which represents Ant. 
To begin my research I needed to learn a bit more about him. The questions given were:

What is your favourite colour?

What is your earliest memory?
Driving a toy tractor down some steps

Which living designer do you most admire and why?
Neville Brody because I like his work, its similar to my preferred style

What is your most treasured possession?
My Car

What would your super power be?

Which piece of graphic design do you wish you had created?
The Starbucks logo because it is so well recognised

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Jimmy Stewart

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Alfred Hitchcock

What makes you unhappy?
Sad Animals - I can't look at them

What would be your ideal fancy dress costume?
Slender Man

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
But why? (in a patronising voice)

I also then continued to ask Ant a few more of my own questions such as how he would describe his personality, where he is from, his main art interests, the kind of music he likes and if he had any favourite hobbies.

From talking to Ant for a while I learned he's irish, really likes Neville brody, he is easily stressed out but usually easy going. On the subject of music he enjoys mainly Indie Rock music - especially really loud. His interest in wanting to of designed the Starbucks logo suggests he is into logos and generally well recognised design. The other names mentioned apart from Neville Brody included Jimmy Stewart, Alfred Hitchcock and Slender man. So, these faces in a slightly Irish-inspired Neville Brody style alphabet is a good base for my research.

1. Neville Brody
Wikipedia: Neville Brody (born 23 April 1957 in London) is an English graphic designertypographer and art director.[1]
Neville Brody is an alumnus of the London College of Printing and Hornsey College of Art, and is known for his work on The Facemagazine (1981–1986) and Arena magazine (1987–1990), as well as for designing record covers for artists such as Cabaret Voltaireand Depeche Mode. He created the company Research Studios in 1994 and is a founding member of Fontworks. He has been announced to be the new Head of the Communication Art & Design department at the Royal College of Art commencing in January 2011.

“typography is a hidden tool of manipulation within society. - neville brody”

I found an interesting website with a selection of fonts designed by Neville Brody which are available to experiment with: Neville Brody Fonts

To develop my research into Neville Brody I intend to learn more about Face magazine and Arena magazine as they were both directed by him. I like the idea of somehow playing with words to convey 'typeface' magazine in a similar style to 'face' magazine but I am still unsure if it will be possible.

Alfred Hitchcock
Here is a nice website I found of images of Alfred Hitchcock Alfred Hitchcock Images

Irish Celtic Designs