First Things First: Expressive Typography

For the typographic element of my poster, I wanted to explore not only different typefaces that would visualise what it was that the words were saying, but different ways of creating type aside from just using the computer and researching fonts.

The 1975 are a popular band with a very particular artistic personality and attitude. Their latest album has transformed their entire brand, introducing bright colour and most noticeably, overloads of pale pink which contrasts with their first album which had everything from music videos to album covers to promotional photographs in black and white. The below pictures were released in the build up to the album release, one for each song name on the album. Each features the song name in pink neon lights in a suitable setting for the lyrics of the song. I think this photo series are beautifully simple and powerful, particularly after listening to and understanding an interpretation of the songs. I love the neon light writing that has become a recognisable trait of their brand, and feel that it would work well in the place of a typeface for words with connotations of strength, power and talent. As my poster is about trying to empower graphic communicators, I would like to explore this option for type as I feel it would represent what the words mean to have them in bright lights.

I researched neon light writing online. I looked up ordering my own, making my own, how to replicate it on photoshop and also for online generators. I used my phrase to visualise what this idea would look like and if I still liked it.

Whilst I liked all of these examples and I still love the idea of neon light art, I want to explore different ways of generating text for my poster.

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With a background of fine art, I am always keen to create pieces using paint, ink and whatever else I can find to then be scanned into my work. I decided to explore online for a typeface which I could replicate using brush pens and ink for the word “creators”, which I felt was one of the words in my phrase which I could play around with most. I wanted to create the word using this technique to show the craftsmanship in graphic design, the reality of, whether create on computer or by hand, there is a person behind the work, hands applying the craft they are so passionate about. I wanted only a small amount of ink of my brush to create organic shapes of the letters and the negative space left where the ink did not show up on the page. I scanned the above word and the ‘s’ I preferred into photoshop and began playing with colours.



First Things First: Photograph Experimentation

After experimenting with and later discarding my idea of using Olafur Eliasson’s Weather Project photograph for the image element of my poster, I decided to take some photographs of my own to play with.

I pondered my chosen phrase for a while and, I must admit, struggled with imagery to perfectly visualise it’s message. The strongest idea I came up with was to use hands, a powerful visual in themselves to demonstrate creation and control, and to add a personal element. I took some photographs of my brother’s hands:

and chose to work with the following, as I liked the areas of light and shade, and the visibility of the palms.


I then experimented with duotone.

I liked all of these colours together, but none stood out to me as working well for a poster. I really loved the bottom right thumbnail, inspired by The 1975 promotional campaign for there latest album, however, I would like to be more experimental with duotone and use two completely different colours, not just different shades.

First Things First: Assembling Potential Compositions

After conducting lots of in-depth research into the future of graphic communication, I have collated and created some quote to consider using in my final poster.

“Design is an omnipresent juggernaut in our media-driven society” – the word ‘juggernaut’ appeared repeatedly throughout my research, describing graphic design as a strong force in society.

“We write reality”  “Designers are creators of contemporary reality” – this phrase was based on ideas in First Things First (revisited) by Rick Poyner who discussed how graphic design appears so incredibly frequently in our lives that  society has become numb to its wonders, becoming blind to the fact that some work of graphic designers is intact work of graphic designers and not just something that simply exists as a necessity. This has subsequently meant that graphic designers are so regularly discredited and under appreciated. This phrase argues my views that graphic designers are incredibly important, as it is they who create everything that we see, therefore creating the society that we live in and everything we know as reality.

“Remarkably touchy lot, designers” – I took this quote from an article I read concerning The Guardian’s reaction to the rebranding of the Premier League, in which they asked readers to re-redesign the brand as “they could do better”. When this sparked outrage from graphic designers, The Guardian responded with another article, giving the above quote.

“Complex, but not complicated” – I liked how this quote referred to designs which are so often given the phrase “simple but effective”. I felt this way whilst browsing through De DesignPolitie, who feature on their website the tag line “turning complex stories into iconic visuals”.

“I challenge graphic designers to never go away” – I found this quote whilst reading an article written by a passionate graphic communicator, asking other communicators to remain strong in their field and keep producing exceptional work in order to hopefully one day in the future gain the recognition we so deserve.

I discussed my phrases with David and we decided that the idea of “contemporary reality” being created by designers was a concept that I may want to spread to designers everywhere to reassure them of their importance to society and empower them for the future. I decided to alter the phrase from “designers are creators of contemporary reality” to “we are the creators of contemporary reality”, to create a sense of togetherness and unity between graphic designers. In preparation for creating my duotone A2 poster, I began experimenting with colour on some images that I was considering for the composition of the piece.

This was experimentation done on an image I found on the Tate Modern website. It was taken from an Olafur Eliasson exhibition called Weather Project, 2003-2004. I wanted to use these photos to illustrate the importance of graphic communication to society, as the sun is to the earth. In the original photos, the colours are vibrant and warm, the sun bright and powerful. Whilst I enjoyed the tie-dye effect of the floor after my colour experimentation, nothing compared to the original image, and I began to look elsewhere for inspiration.



Fabrica: Too Young To Drink

“Fabrica is a communication research centre. It is based in Treviso, Italy, and is an integral part of the Benetton Group.” 
Fabrica’s website is amongst my favourites that I have seen. It is vibrant and diverse and packed full of a variety of work. On their ‘Social Campaigns’ area of their website, Fabrica have developed incredibly powerful and innovative ways of drawing attention to serious current issues in the media. The first I have chosen is a campaign called “Too Young To Drink”, a project for drawing attention to the harm that drinking during pregnancy can cause. The visual shows a baby appearing in what looks to be a cocktail, posed as if it is in the womb and placed amongst lime, ice cubes and bubbles. This gives a powerful image of a baby drinking what the mother does of no choice of it’s own, causing damage to the baby. The title “Too Young To Drink” is almost a play on words, most often used to describe children and teenagers who just fall short of the legal drinking age. The phrase appears almost shocking next to the image of a baby who is clearly too young to drink. It seems shocking that someone may need to be reminded of this.
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I found the following campaign particularly interesting. Despite being a campaign deterring from violence against women, Fabrica decided against a common technique of using shock advertising, exposing the pain behind violence. Instead, they use flower petals as a metaphor for the violence, showing a woman being ‘stoned’ with petals instead of stones. This choice is explained on their website as below:

“A group of men “stoning” a woman with flower petals: this is the symbol-image of the new campaign by United Colors of Benetton in support of UN Women, the United Nations agency that promotes gender equality and empowerment of women, on occasion of the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on 25 November.

By choosing to overturn the cliché of “do not hit even with flowers”, United Colors of Benetton and UN Women call for ending all forms of discrimination and abuse. Devised and created by Fabrica, the global campaign, centered around an image and online videos published by the international press and on social networks, seeks to remind the world that women should no longer have to put up with discomfort, suffering or a life of misery: they should be able to choose to be themselves and not what their partners, men, religion or society would like them to be. The goal of the campaign is also to advocate international awareness of the need for concrete actions to support women and prevention programs, beginning with efforts to promote an education for young men and women that develops a culture based on recognition, respect for difference and equal opportunities.”
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Mariana Fernandes
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“Remarkably touchy lot, designers”

“February 2016 saw the refresh of the Premier League which was met with a large amount of attention, scorn and, cruelly, ridicule. Most brand teams expect this feedback, accept it and shrug their shoulders at inevitable public backlash from ‘logo obsessed zombies’ as The Met director Thomas P Campbell termed them this week.”


“From the cabbie telling me the new Premier League logo was crap and cost millions because he heard it on the BBC, to the Guardian setting up a competition to rebrand the Premier League because, in their words, “Frankly we think that you can do better…”.”

People do not like change. That is just an apparent fact. No matter how beautiful, complex and exciting a new logo may be, it is almost guaranteed that there will be far more opposers than supporters solely down to the fact that there has been a change. Due to the disapproval of so many, the work of a graphic designers is often ridiculed and mocked, proved by the Guardian’s recent proposal that a member of the public could rebrand the Premier League and do a better job than a professional. The question is, what do these newspapers get out of these cruel competitions? The mockery of a profession and the work of a professional which has been informed by the desires and ideas of a client is unnecessary and unkind, often fuelled by a misunderstanding and lack of appreciation for graphic designers as a whole.

“I doubt there’s one definitive answer on why we’re the butt of this particular joke. One place I start though, is the thinking that graphic design is perceived to be easy. It’s colouring-in and a few shapes, slapping new logos on old brands, something anyone could do with the right software and some time.”

After the Guardian’s proposal of another redesign by the public, they were hit with backlash and offence taken by graphic designers, naturally. In response to this backlash, the Guardian labelled graphic designers ‘touchy’, backtracking on their mockery explaining it as simply a joke.

“The counterbalance is that we, as designers, don’t really help ourselves – could it be the fault of our egos? We often take ourselves so seriously, which, in turn, leads our own discussions into “I can do better” – not to mention the arguments about kerning, colour and which typeface is best. If we act like this online, in public, then maybe the press take their cues from that? New logos will always and forever invoke knee-jerk reactions, but that’s all they are: sudden, involuntary, and, very often, personal. The true value of a new graphic identity only becomes apparent over time.”

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Oded Ezer

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The anarchic realms of Oded Ezer’s work prove him to be a designer who enjoys the enforcement of rules for the sole purpose of breaking them. Ezer’s disobedience towards social conformations and the general censored expectations for public exhibitions ensure that his work breaks boundaries, evolving into an entity for its own existence, consuming the observer into the message behind the image. Whilst the consensus of graphic design could be argued that messages are portrayed subtly, being registered subliminally, Ezer’s work aims to shock and inform often taking an obvious approach. This instant effect of the typographer’s creations engulf the observer, leaving them with echoing interpretations of the piece. The dichotomy of science and creation that he expresses so effortlessly pushes his typography into its own dimension of lettering, allowing the exploration of works of nature and mankind to combine harmoniously. The innovative wonderland in which Oded Ezer accesses the life inside inanimate objects to fabricate his work exposes him as an incredible thinker and an exceptional designer. Oded Ezer’s work captures both the sense of an artist who is able to transform that which surrounds him at a touch and a man who can also transform himself, eluding, fascinating and mesmerising us.

Oded Ezer inspires me to be a graphic designer. His innovative approach to design and typography astounds me and drives me to become a better artist, designer and observer of the world I live in, everyday. The myriad of interpretations his work creates engulfs my understanding of design, constantly and consistently proving that graphic design knows no bounds. Oded Ezer’s passion for his work translates through his pieces, making each and every one a product of a deeply manifested passion for art, and not simply a design brief that requires completion.


The Web – The Ultimate Propaganda Tool

“We don’t want governments in our Web! It’s a rhetoric-free platform! We populate it, for us and our interests! We don’t want it to be used to manipulate us! Sorry folks, it’s too late. It’s a hugely powerful tool. Of course they want to harness it. And they will.”

In fact, they already have. According to the website below, there were three main milestones in the development of propaganda: the printing press, WW2 and the Worldwide Web. Though the first two allowed propaganda to develop significantly, the most important of the three is clearly the WWW due to the fact that it offers techniques perfected in WW2 and of the print press, amongst many many more. As well as this, the web is an enormous trove of information, endless pages and web addresses of ideas to be absorbed by the viewer.

However, another argument raised is the credibility of this information. The web, whilst being the ultimate propaganda tool for the future has been criticised for being a library dominated by misinformation and untrue fact. An example of this would be the poster child of the Worldwide Web: Wikipedia. So commonly trusted as a quick source of fact, Wikipedia gives the most superficial understand of a topic as a result of being editable by almost anybody. This makes the internet a danger to genuine research and knowledge, as wrong and shallow information is so often understood as fact.

Despite the opposing sides to the argument, the internet is an enormous trove of information and is a powerful tool for distribution of ideas and information, propaganda, and credible information.


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