Author: Hannah Smith

Poster: Icon vs Typography

What are these posters trying to do?

These posters are designed to encourage people to stay at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. In both of these designs they have chosen bright colours with strong connotations. Red is often associated with danger and yellow is associated with warning, particularly when combined with black. We also see that both are quite simple yet structured. There is a flow to both designs leading you to the same conclusion, but in two very different ways.

The red poster, titled ‘Stay Home’, has chosen a very stark way of conveying this message. Through focusing mostly on icons this very simply structured scene is almost graph like, implying the statistical impact of each person who chooses to endanger society when stepping out the front door. This poster has a very strong message, stay home or the knock on effects could be disastrous. I found this design to be quite shocking but massively impactful and effective. I especially like that they have chosen to include a very small amount of text at the very end; the two words say hardly anything and yet everything and they leave nothing to be questioned.

In contrast, the message to commuters is mostly text. We do have a few small icons to guide the reader but they are not necessarily the focal point in this design. I found this design to have much more attitude than the first. The choice of wording is very interesting, almost humorous in its bluntness, though I do not think this to be the intended effect. Similar to our first design it has a very straightforward message, unless you are an essential worker you should remain at home. However this poster is challenging the reader to confront their own actions in response to this pandemic whilst in the act. The use of a question here is quite provoking. Keeping the same typeface throughout, the reader is not distracted by decoration or overwhelmed by many different elements. I think it is in the simplicity of this design that its seriousness comes through.

 

Do different approaches produce different results?

I find the implied consequences in the first poster to provoke a stronger response in me than the second. I am not being told what to do or think but I am able to see and understand for myself how my role can affect the society in which I live and I think this greater understanding of context and consequence leaves a greater impression than the second poster which is correcting an action already taken.

 

References

Stay home. Image created by Barış Cihan Peşmen. Submitted for United Nations Global Call Out To Creatives – help stop the spread of COVID-19. Available at: https://unsplash.com/photos/jTK820WUr2k

Subway message for commuters. New York City, NY, USA. Available at: https://unsplash.com/photos/yCk_WyOdzAk

Happy Feet

The class

Through this class I gained a much better practical understanding of the appropriate use of spacing tools such as tracking, leading and space before, and the guidelines with which spacing within text should be considered. I had not used paragraph rules before and so I was very glad to have discovered this particular tool. I also enjoyed learning how to create a template, in this case replicating a classic Penguin book cover and then using this template as the foundation for experimentation.

 

The cover

For my cover I chose to focus on the penguin logo. It has become so iconic but is often not designed to be the focus piece of any cover designs. It is almost always positioned in the middle of the bottom third of the cover on a blank background. The movie ‘Happy Feet’ singles out one penguin from the rest as being different and unusual so I wanted to play around with the use of the penguin, it’s colour and it’s position to create the background of the top and bottom thirds whilst echoing the storyline of the movie.

 

 

Cateye

Brief

Gather three interesting facts about your partner. Use these three facts to design the ideal gift for them, whilst following the ‘Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver’ method from Design Council.

 

Process

My first three words were cat, travel, food. I started looking into what I could create based on the cat, there is so much cat paraphernalia out there however that this on its own wasn’t proving to be very interesting. So I experimented with incorporating the travel and food elements more. One of my earlier ideas was an app that you could use in the airport to direct you to allergen friendly foods for those on restricted diets. This is because one of my partners said they were gluten intolerant.

On the hour each hour for three hours we had to add a random word into the mix. The first word I was given was bird. When I think of birds I think of birdsong, vibrant colours and flight. Flight fit perfectly with the theme of travel and so I incorporated a birds wing into my Cateye logo. I went for ‘cateye’ as a play on words from red eye flights. My second word was game. I realised that this app could be both functional and playful. By expanding the cat theme to become a Pokemon-go style collection game, I could integrate the second word pretty well. The idea being that when you find and scan your vegan wrap, you unlock the Cheshire Cat avatar to add yo your family of cats, etc. My third and final random word was milkshake. So I expanded the game idea and included treats to be earned for the cats you have collected.

 

Reflection

At first I found it really hard to just scratch out a bunch of ideas freely that related to my initial three words. I found I was trying to think of something, rather than just jot down all the ideas that were coming to mind. It was then made much more difficult when throwing in really random words at different points along the process. However, I really enjoyed stretching myself in the idea forming process. This wasn’t a method I had tried before, and though it was a challenge I really appreciated how it encouraged me to push my ideas further and experiment more.

Boris

Brief:

Create two images which convey ‘Politician‘. The first image should convey the word directly. The second image must have one addition to change the feeling or the meaning of the first image. Export into a GIF.

Process:

When I think of a politician the first image I see is a man in a suit behind a podium. It is quickly accompanied by the impression of greed, deception and power. Image is considered everything and so is public perception. This makes many political environments very controlled and staged. I wanted to create something which would pull back the curtain and reveal what people really want to know. We always watch these press conferences and wonder what is not being said, or very much wish they would just say what we are all thinking or know to be true.

My first image is of a political scene as they are often portrayed. My second image has defaced the first with a message we would rather was being shared or admitted.

I was going to create a generic man to represent the ‘politician’, but my classmates suggested a well known figure would make the piece more personable and therefore more impactful, as it relates to this brief. Therefore I chose an image of Boris Johnson at one of the latest COVID news conferences. At first I had thought to deface this image through imposing a monkey over his face, or some other image to suggest foolishness often associated with politicians. However I found this to be too gimmicky and not quite message I was wanting the image to create.

Instead I went for the crude sort of style we often see in text books and on posters. I like how it so effortlessly defaces the controlled and sophisticated front trying to be conveyed by the politicians and brings an element of chaos to the scene. I chose to desaturate the image to further the contrast between their staged presentation and our desire for all the information, however shocking.

To create this loop I first created each image in Illustrator and exported them to Photoshop. In Photoshop I was able to make each layer a 0.5 second clip to play on repeat. From here I could export it as a GIF.

Reflections:

I like how it is as if the message breaking through the mask here is that the podium is saying what Boris isn’t. The simplicity of the design puts the point across clean and clear and I am pleased with how well this has fulfilled the brief. I also learnt how to make a GIF on Photoshop, a function I didn’t know about before.

Never ending narrative

Brief:

A client has written a novel and asks you to work on the design of the book. He wants you to develop a concept that enhances and brings forward the visual dimension of the story. He does not request a traditional design, but a book that helps to develop the narrative through its form and materiality.

  • Loop: a man picks up a novel and starts reading it sitting in an armchair with his back to the door. He sinks into the novel, in which a man and a woman meet in a cabin. They are lovers, but their attention is focused on murder: the man is going to kill the woman’s husband. Following her instructions, knife in hand, the man goes inside and sees his victim: a man who is sitting in an armchair reading a book with his back to the door.

Process:

  • I had the idea to glue the two covers together to simulate the never ending narrative of this storyline, then to draw or cut an impression of the man reading in his chair throughout the pages. However I found that the binding of this book was quite strong and so rather than the pages spraying open evenly in a circular way when the covers were pulled together, instead few of the pages followed. This was not the desired effect so I experimented with removing the cover and slicing strips down the glue of the spine. I hoped this would give it more flexibility and allow the pages to look like one continuous loop. This proved quite difficult to execute and drastically weakened the spine so I decided to adjust the design.
  • Instead I started to cut away the pages to develop a portrait of a mans face. At first I was cutting very carefully a group of pages at a time. But this meant I  had the same design running through the whole book. I quickly realised I could easily carve the pages, as if shaving cuttings off of wood, which made the face more 3D. I played with a few different ways of bringing shape and definition to the face also through using layers.
  • My initial idea imagined a complete head cut out to look 3D, so I had to keep in mind that this would be more of a slither of the centre line down a mans face. Being the section of the face with many main features I was confident that the shape would still be legible and reflect that of a portrait. My ability to bring in definition and round shape was a slightly limited due the thickness/thinness of the book. To adapt to this I cut some block layers from the front and the back of the book for more stark and abrupt shaping. I really like the effect of this, especially when it is played with the light.

Reflections:

I really like how the light plays with the shapes of the pages in this book to enhance the design and mirror the storyline. As each page is turned, the shadows echo the message of the book and the intended design. To further this design I would like to explore the impact of colour and shading applied directly to the pages to make each page turn more intriguing to turn. This would also aid in bringing more detailed definition to the structure of the face.

Hannahsmithosis

Brief 

To create a monogram, a graphic representation of your name. Develop ideas of ways your first initial could transform into your second initial – a metamorphosis.

Process

We had the choice between Futura (san serif) and Garamond (serif). Though I began open to both fonts, I was drawn to Garamond because I really like the added detail in the serif and found that the letters created more interesting shapes to play with. My early ideas were playing with the H and S in capitals, however I quickly found it was hard to blend the two together. Therefore I explored the option of using the lower case of each of these letters.

(Preliminary sketches)

Garamond is quite a round font and so when I put the lower case ‘s’ inside the lower case ‘h’ I found they blended really nicely. I had thought I’d need to scale down the ‘s’ for it to fit the ‘h’ counter but both letters were consistent with the x-height so no alterations in size were needed. Once paired, I thought it would be interesting to play with the negative space as a means of forming the monogram. My idea was to keep it quite simple and minimal but my first draft proved to be too abstract for this brief. The ‘s’ was the only prevalent letter. To rectify this I added a rectangular block to represent the negative space to the left of the stem belonging to the ‘h’, this gave me the opportunity to display the serifs.

Another modification which increased the readability of the ‘h’ was that I decided to follow the shoulder of the ‘h’ rather than the ‘s’. This is why the top of the ‘s’ is thicker than that at the bottom. However I think it works well in this design as it blends the two letters together nicely and is not too noticeable.

As a final exploration I wanted to experiment with adding a matching block to the right side of the monogram, to mirror that of the left. I did this because I wasn’t sure if it looked unfinished having it on just the one side. Adding the second bar however created a black box around my monogram and in some ways made it too obvious. It gave the whole shape away. I really like in my final monogram how you get to look for the finished shape a bit. The eye is taken down the right hand side of the shape through the point and so naturally completes the shape. This I found to be a much better ending than to simply box in the monogram.

(block vs box)

 

(Final monogram)

Now you see me?

 

For this project we were tasked with noticing and capturing letterforms in the environment around us. We are used to being bombarded with messages on signs and posters, but we often fail to see the more subtle ways letterforms are guiding our steps and our thoughts throughout the day. When walking around campus with my camera in my hand, ready to capture all the letterforms I could see, I was quickly overwhelmed by how confidently set they were on near enough everything I encountered. Being aware of how much I was seeing, I was sure there were many more I wasn’t.

I chose to take a series of photographs that explored the shape, function and setting of the letterforms I came across on campus. Some were of interest to me because of how they played with, or were reliant upon, the light to communicate clearly. In others I enjoyed the often bold, and sometimes mysterious shapes that combined to create legible letterforms. Then there were those that were seeking to clearly convey a message. As fun as I found it to explore light and shape, I was particularly interested in the letterforms wishing to convey a clear or instructive message. The letterform itself was not sufficient in and of itself to communicate the desired message, perspective and positioning were also key factors in having these letterforms produce meaning in a given context.

After collecting our photographs we were to organise them into a system that made sense to us. I went for three groupings; shape, light and message, as these were the three things that stood out most to me as I was observing the use, function and creation of these letterforms. In allocating my photos to each of these groups I found light and shape relatively easy to assign, whereas ‘message’ was rather ambiguous. Most of the letterforms that have been created and installed in our environment could be argued to have a message, or a purpose for being where they are. I suppose what I meant by this title was looking at the combined letterforms in their context. Going forward I would take more time to consider my choice of words when organising my work to ensure my system still makes sense to me when I come back to it later, and anyone else who many need to understand it.