Constellation: The Plasticity of the Body and World

For my end of term constellation essay, I have chosen to utilise the theory of neuroplasticity and apply it to graphic communication. I find the theory incredibly intriguing as it explores the concept that the brain can change at any age. I feel that this relates to graphic communication, as the aim of a graphic communicator is to challenge what their audience think they know or believe in. The idea of changing the mind or emotion of a person solely using powerful graphic design is arguably the dream goal for any designer and an aim which I will explore the feasibility of. Through the lectures I have attended I have gained an understanding of this theory and its relevance to my practice. The following quotes are ones which I have found particular relevant in supporting my connections between the theories of scientists and scholars and the world of graphic communication:

“When the world was born there began a war that will last until the worlds end, and this is the war of man against nature, of the spirit against the flesh, of liberty against determinism. History is nothing but the story of the endless conflict.” (Jules Michelet (1912) The Conquest of Nature)

“Much like letters, sounds, and images can be transformed into analog or digital signals, sent across space, and decoded again by fax machines, radios, televisions, and computer screens, a signal can be transmitted between two or more individuals. All of us, from mates and god sibs to publicists and pornographers, have the ability to reach into the autonomic nervous system of other bodies, there to excite neurons and stimulate or shut off neurotransmitters and hormones (Shryock and Smail, p. 64)

“The body is molded by a great many distinct regimes; it is broken down by the rhymes of work, rest and holidays; it is poisoned by food or values, through eating habits or moral laws; it constructs resistances.” (Nietzsche, cited in Shryock and Smail, 2011, p. 75)



Workshop: Vernacular Typography

Vernacular typography is typography found captured in an urban environment or created using objects and materials.

We were given the word ‘captive’ and told to create the word in an expressive way in our environment, portraying an interpretation of the word. We first looked at typical connotations of the word, playing with ideas of light and dark and a dark, scary side of captivity. Despite our ideas that we agreed would accurately express ‘captive’, we didn’t want our work to look predictable and simple, and so we explored alternative interpretations of the word.

We wanted to look into a more innocent understanding of the word, and consider everyday items that are captive and contained within a small space. We began to think about eggs, and their captivity within an egg shell until they are able to break out. We also considered the truth of battery chickens and their lives in captivity until death.

We laid out silver foil and cracked six eggs. Using the cracked shells, we created the letters, which proved very fiddly, messy and time consuming. A few of the yolks split, which was not the intention, however upon reflection, we all agreed that we liked the effect they created and that they added to the illusion of breaking out of captivity.


During our class presentation, it was drawn to our attention that we may have slightly misinterpret the meaning of the word, being blinded by our excitement of the idea and presenting a piece more resonant with ‘containment’ than ‘captive’.

I would agree, however I like how this piece turned out, the colours and the appearance of the type using the broken egg shells.

Workshop: Expressive Personality

For this task, I paired up with Joanne and we told each other a little about ourselves. We particularly focussed on personality traits that we possessed. After collating a list representing Joanne’s personality, I considered how I could present three of these in typographic logos, using the font itself to express the personality trait.

The first I decided to focus on was Joanne’s girly-girl personality, her interest in hair, make-up and shopping and her love of the colour pink. The idea quickly came to me to take inspiration from the infamous Barbie logo, and I tried to recreated this using Joanne’s name instead of Barbie.

I feel this design was successful, as it is recognisable as the Barbie logo font and therefore has obvious connotations of classic ‘girliness’ and femininity.


UPDATE: I drew over these logos using a 0.3 fine point drawing pen to emphasise the outlines.

joanne edited 1

The second logo I created was based on the fact Joanne said she can sometimes be dramatic. For this typeface, I wanted to use upper case, bold letters, replicating a similar font to that which may be used outside an old fashioned theatre or cinema. To achieve this, I made the letters serif in some places and added a curved edge detail. I also drew a second outline on the inside of the letter to add definition and attempt to create a more dramatic effect.

I feel that this logo was successful in conveying ‘dramatic’, and it is reasonably easy to see where my inspiration came from. To add more dramatic effect, I would outline my work with a black pen next time.


UPDATE: joanne edited 2

For my third logo, I used the personality trait ‘clumsy’. I attempted to make the letters themselves look like clumsy beings, beginning straight and in perfect formation and progressing to fall over each other, becoming more and more clumsy through the word.

If I were to do this task again, I would make the letters even more clumsy, perhaps falling below the baseline or lay on their side by the end of the word.


UPDATE: joanne edited 3

Workshop: Layout

Today we delved into the importance of layout when creating a page, and the elements that make up this.

In groups, we looked at design magazines and sketched the various page layouts, attempting to analyse the elements and decide how many columns had been applied to the InDesign template. We found a particularly difficult page to work out and after some discussion and analysis, decided it had 12 columns. We then sketched this into our sketchbooks and finally recreated the InDesign layout on the wall using tape. We used red tape for the columns, gutters and margins, blue for the image boxes and black for the text boxes.

This exercise not only taught me the essential elements of a well presented page, but it also emphasised their importance and helped me understand the elements that I need to consider in my own work.

Workshop: Shakespeare and Hybrids

After a lecture on Hybography, we were set a task in which we had to create hybrid letterforms using Serif and Sans Serif fonts to make up impactful words, portraying the action or meaning of the word itself.

I first pondered ‘Burn’. I attempted to make the letter solid and thick at the bottom and thinner at the top to replicate the appearance of a flame, however on completion of this idea, I felt it more suitably replicated words such as ‘Robotic’ or ‘Clockwork’. Next I tried ‘Snap’. I tried to split the word in two, aiming them in two different directions as if the word itself had been snapped, as well as creating a gap between the Serif and Sans Serif element of the letters so they also looked snapped in themselves. I felt that this word was more successful, however quite predictable in its appearance. I then tried ‘Smithereens’. This was my favourite word of the three, however if I were to create it again, I would make the letters even more fragmented and less organised.

After exploring the concept of Hybography, we each chose a Shakespeare play and filtered the story down to six words. I toyed with ‘Witches told me to do it’ (Macbeth), ‘The King’s tragic decent into madness’ (King Lear) and ‘The downfall of Malvolio; arrogant fool’ (Twelfth Night), however I eventually selected ‘In love. Both dead. Silly mistake’, to represent Romeo and Juliet.I created my A2 hybrid poster on Illustrator, cutting one Serif and one Sans Serif font apart and pasting them back together in different formations. For the ‘In love’ part, I decided I wanted the letters to be more rounded, close together and on a curved line instead of a straight one. For the ‘Both dead’, I decided to make the letters hybrid by splitting the type exactly half Serif and half Sans Serif with a gap in-between to represent the separation of the two characters. For the ‘Silly mistake’, I decided to make the letters incomplete and messy, each one looking slightly wrong and imperfect. In the word mistake, I swapped two of the letters around. I experimented with which two letters to change around to make the mistake hardly noticeable until drawn attention to.

Overall I am happy with my piece and feel I fulfilled all my aims successfully.

Romeo and Juliet

Constellation: Ambiguous Imagery


At first glance, this image could be perceived to be one of two things. Some may claim to see a monochrome drawing of a human skull, large and shadowed on the page, slightly off centre and perhaps slightly disfigured. Others may claim to envisage two women sat at a table, lit by candle light. Both interpretations of this image can be argued as correct, as if one tried to focus of both images at separate times, or at the same time. the combination of both images aiding each others creation can be seen. For some, the original image the found so clear at first may be blurred by the revelation that two are present, for others, the second image impossible to detect because of their clear observation of the first. Ambiguous images like these create (besides arguments!) interesting discussions of the differentiation in the mental and visual interpretive abilities of different people, supporting the theory that no two people experience anything in the same way.

While the image is ambiguous in the form that it raises questions of which of the two images is the most dominant, one of the two images itself is ambiguous. Is the young woman sat in front of a mirror, seeing her own reflection, surrounded by make up and lit by candle light? Or is she sat opposite another woman, enjoying food and drink, both lit by candle light? This ambiguity is something which in itself could be argued, adding depth to the confusion and intelligence of the image.

Workshop: Cardiff in Typographic Letterforms

Early on a Tuesday morning, we met at Cardiff Castle to begin a search for three categories of letterforms around Cardiff centre. My team were searching for Script, Slab Serif and Nesting. It became quickly apparent that Script and Slab Serif were the easiest to find; Nesting appearing particular rarely. We collected around 30 examples around town through the morning.

Back at the studio, we were asked to choose one letter/collection of letters and draw it onto a piece of coloured card for a pop up exhibition only a few hours later. I chose the Script type used for the infamous Coca-Cola logo.

For the exhibition, we all hung our letterforms on the wall and they created a piece of art more impressive than I think any of us could have hoped for! The exhibition on the wall displayed a wide variety of categories of type in brilliant colour, conveying the range of beautiful type found on just a walk around Cardiff.