Reflecting on VCD101

WEEK 13- FINAL REFLECTION

I have learnt many skills in VCD101 which I am excited to take into my future assignments, projects and career. While learning about the different components of VCD was thoroughly enjoyable, it is safe to say many challenges were faced along the way.

The first skill I learnt was to be more observant in every-day life. When required to find letters of the alphabet in architecture and objects in Assessment 1, it showed me how to become creative with ‘everyday’ things. Following off of that, it was excellent learning skills in Abode Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator to create graphic letterforms. This assignment also highlighted the importance of composition, colour and size to create a poster which captures the eyes of an audience.

Letter forms of every day objects.

Learning how to create a monogram in Assessment 2 also taught me great skills on Illustrator, particularly the pen tool. It was fun experimenting with different fonts and placement for my initials, however it took many hours plating around the tools until creating a monogram which suited my booklets overall theme.

Monogram

Creating the ransom quote was a highlight of VCD101. It was interesting finding different text shapes and colours to use for my quote. The most stressful part was navigating what to use in my background against the text. I wanted the ocean to be incorporated, while maintaining a chic look. I ended up dividing the background images into quarters, where two were filled with face shots of models, one ocean and one with black and white type. I decided to use the type against where the quote was so it could be easier to read. My aim for my booklet was to be simplistic, clean and sophisticated, which I believe was achieved through the colour and image use from the ransom quote.

I wanted my booklet layout to work harmoniously with my ransom quote. To do this, I made each page black, white or blue. I also used certain images from the ransom quote throughout the booklet creates a sense of continuity. A tricky part of this was cropping the images without stretching or distorting the image. Another part which was helpful in creating my layout was the use of margins and grids to organise my images and text.

A few of my pages from the booklet.

Text composition was another element of this project which I enjoyed but was also extremely time consuming. I wanted each composition to be unique while maintaining a ‘neat’ and simplistic vibe.  I believe I achieved this through making each composition a different type of Helvetica, different grids, different point sizes, justification styles and colour of font. A huge aspect of this which will stick with me is how to create a good text composition which is aesthetic and easily readable. Learning about justification, point size and fonts taught me things I had never thought of.

The main challenge of this semester was learning the functions of InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator online. This was tricky because if I couldn’t figure out how to use a certain function, I would have to learn it myself. It took many hours and lots of failures before learning how to use each function.

Overall, VCD101 has taught me many great skills and proved that graphic design is a path I am keen to head toward in my career. I have learnt how to create an eye-capturing and visually aesthetic designs from different functions on the creative cloud. I am keen to continue my VCD journey in the rest of my degree!

The legacy of monograms

From the first recorded monogram by Charlemagne to modern Coco Chanel, the monogram’s purpose has always been ‘distinction’. A monogram is used to mark an object as their own to distinct it from anything else. It is identity.

Charlemagne’s monogram was used to communicate power and dominance. His monogram was used so all languages and alphabets could distinct what he had conquered. It also created unity. If you were on Charlemagne’s military side, you identified with this monogram. It made Charlemagne’s defeats and army one.

By the 1700’s, monograms were seen as ‘upper class’ and added great value to produced goods. As years went on, monograms became status symbols for royalty. It symbolised royal family and ownership, and exclusivity.

After World War One, America picked up monograms as a new means for work. American’s began to create monograms for businesses, and this saw the beginning of monograms become prevalent in culture.

Monograms nowadays are used as a hallmark of style and is a part of visual culture.

The monogram is still seen as a classy asset and is used particularly on fancy labels- such as Coco Chanel.

The two C’s overlap in this monogram to create one symbol. In this case, the letters represent ‘Coco Chanel’ This monogram is used for brand authenticity. It has also emerged into an iconic symbol and is recognisable on a large scale. Thus, Coco Chanel has succeeded to create a distinct monogram which consumers recognise as ‘one of a kind’ class and quality.

The importance of emotion in design

“I’m a big believer in the emotion of design, and the message that’s sent before somebody begins to read, before they get the rest of the information; what is the emotional response they get to the product, to the story, to the painting – whatever it is”- David Carson

David Carson

David Carson is an American graphic designer, art director and surfer. He is well known for teaching the world that editorial layouts did not need to stick to the rules around image placement, consistent typography or persistent flowing copy.

His work is characterized by signature chaotic typography patterns, disarray of photos overlapping each other and seemingly meaningless at the surface, but conveys a larger picture.

To expand on Carson’s quote, creating an emotional response or a message that’s sent before consumer reads the key information is a powerful tool. It draws the reader in and creates a personal connection with the design. This often means the key information of the design is more likely to stick with the reader as it is not just information they have consumed- but emotion and connection too. In contrast, if an image does not evoke an emotional response or send a message, readers are more likely to forget the information. 

Carson intentionally uses visual communication to attracts readers to the written communication by evoking emotion.  I believe there are multiple ways to achieve this in graphic design.  

First and foremost, colour certainly has an emotional effect on people. This is because people often associate colours with a particular feeling or memory. Thus, colour is personal.  Warm colours evoke different emotions than cool colours- and same goes with bright and muted colours. Warm colours such as red, orange and yellow often evoke feelings of happiness, optimism and energy. It has an attention-grabbing effect and can also signal danger. In contrast, cool colours are calming, soothing and often expresses sadness. It can also be used to portray health, beauty or security. Therefore, colours can have an emotional effect on people before the key information is read. This is important as the reader has already established an emotional response with the image and is more inclined to engage with it.

The way an image is composed can also spark an emotional response. If an image is cluttered and lacks negative space, a reader might feel overwhelmed. On the other hand, if an image is bare and contains lots of white space, it may not capture the readers eye at all. Hence, it is important to get a composition that will draw the reader in to the key information without them feeling lost.

Photographs are a powerful way to send a message. This is because they have the ability capture emotion in a realistic way which can resonate with readers. Again, photographs can create an emotional response before key information is consumed, making the information more likely to stick with the reader.

As a designer, there is lots I can learn from Carson.  I should always be intentional with how I use colour, compositions and other aspects of my design to evoke emotion. By using aspects to evoke an emotional response that links with the key information, it creates a powerful message which is not easily forgotten.

Bibliography:

https://99designs.com.au/blog/tips/how-color-impacts-emotions-and-behaviors/

Reflecting on weeks 3 & 4 of VCD101

Researching graphic designers and the history of graphic design styles has been helpful to understand this project.

For my research blogs this week, I looked at Herbert Bayer (bahaus) and Wes Wilson (psychedelic). I learnt lots from each artist. I love the sans-serif and lower case typography used in Bayer’s art to achieve a clean and simplistic look. However, I particularly enjoyed researching Wilson. The political and social history behind his artworks are fascinating. The crazy colours and wild letter-styling used in his psychedelic art is what made Wilson’s work my favourite to research so far.

Throughout my research over the past weeks, I realised I am implementing swiss modernism composition in my project by using a grid layout on InDesign. The clean and organised composure of the images create a crisp and minimalistic look. Additionally, the colour theme of my grid so far is most like swiss modernism. The colours are not bold and bright like psychedelics or pop art, but instead subtle and soft.  I also discovered the urban lettering used for this project is inspired by bauhaus art. Bauhaus is abstract, and draws upon architecture for inspiration.  

Overall, I have learnt lots from each different styles technique of colour, composition and typography. I am particularly keen to implement more aspects of psychedelics and swiss modernism in my project.

The Master of Minimalism and Crisp Graphic Design

Herbert Bayer is an Austrian born graphic designer, painter, photographer and sculptor. Bayer had always dreamed of becoming a painter, and at nineteen, he was an apprentice to architect Georg Schmidthammer in Linz. Not long after, he became an assistant for German architect Emmanuel Josef Margold at the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony. After these experiences, he was accepted into Bauhaus- an experience which largely defines Bayer.

Herbert Bayer

Bayer’s typography work became the staple of the Bauhaus publications. His use of all lower-case, sans-serif typefaces and geometric compositions is what contributed to Bayer’s iconic minimalist and crisp look. Most of his designs are colourful, but the images he photographed were monochrome which gave a blunt contrast compared to his paintings and graphic designs. His knowledge of architecture and advertising is what made his work so successful and admired. Bayer claims the Bauhaus gave him clear principles for the creative process and a practical way of working in the discipline of arts. However, he soon left the Bauhaus to work for Vogue in Germany to move away from theory and start practice.

An example of Bayer’s graphic work

His time in Germany was complicated due to World War Two occurring. Bayer ended up ‘unintentionally’ creating three graphic designs for Nazi propaganda campaigns. These works were called ‘The Miracle of Life’ and conveyed the message of ‘Germany’s economy is thriving by ridding itself of international Jewry, its population was growing ever more robust through the science of eugenics and its military skill had restored the country to the status of a European great power’. Bayer claimed he did not support Nazism and that his wife and daughter are Jewish, which makes his contribution to this particular art questionable. There is a possibility that he feared turning down the work as it could have put his family at risk, or he was purely naive, as he was said to be ‘all about the art and gave little consideration to social implications’. Ultimately, when the Nazi’s learnt of Bayer’s political position, they declared his work as ‘degenerate art’.

One example of the ‘Miracle of Life’ works.

In 1938, Bayer fled Germany and started a new life in America to help design the Bauhaus Exhibition. After years implementing his artistic style into this exhibition, Bayer moved to Aspen, Colorado in 1948. Aspen was originally a ‘dead town’ but had huge ski-tourism potential. So, Bayer began working designing local architecture and creating posters for the local community. Bayer’s work helped the town come to life and is a popular ski destination to this day.

An example of Bayer’s work in Aspen

Overall, the only work of Bayer’s which was a response to political and social events at the time were the Nazi posters he innocently designed. Otherwise, Bayer seemed mind his own business and focus on designing simplistic and modern architecture. Bayer’s contemporary design methods has shaped the aesthetics and style of graphic design to this day.

Bibliography

Brown, A 2019, ‘Contending with Herbert Bayer’s contributions to Nazi propaganda’, Aspen Times, accessed on the 4th of April 2020 https://www.aspentimes.com/news/contending-with-herbert-bayers-contributions-to-nazi-propaganda/

Design is History 2020, ‘Herbert Bayer’, Design Is History, accessed on the 6th of April 2020 https://www.designishistory.com/1920/herbert-bayer/

Petit, Z 2017, ‘Herbert Bayer’, AIGA, accessed on 5th of April 2020 https://www.aiga.org/medalist-herbert-bayer

The Artists 2020, ‘Herbert Bayer’, The Artists, accessed on 6th of April 2020 https://www.the-artists.org/herbert-bayer/

The Father of Psychedelic Posters

Wes Wilson was an American graphic designer and is also known as ‘the father of the 1960’s rock concert poster’. He was born in 1937 in Sacramento, California. Growing up, Wilson was not interested in art, but fascinated by nature and the outdoors. He studied forestry and horticulture at a small junior college in Auburn, and later philosophy at San Francisco State. It was not long he dropped out of college to pursue his artistic career in 1965.

Poster artist Wes Wilson poses with some of the posters he has created. Wilson gained fame as a poster artist during the sixties when posters were often given out with the purchase of tickets to rock concerts. 1978. (Photo by © Ted Streshinsky/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Wilson’s first poster was self-published. The poster was created in 1965 and is called ‘Are We Next?’. It was a personal response to the United States’ increasing involvement in the Vietnam war. The poster is symbolic anticipation of what could of happened if American government adopted military power tactics over traditional American and ethical and humanitarian principles. Wilson believed ‘if you’re going to have a decent world, people have to treat one another with, number one, equal respect.’ Wilson was aware that communism threat at the time of creating his poster, but was too upset about the ‘Bay of Pigs’ attack led under Kennedy, and the Vietnam was the last straw for him. He needed to express his stance. Wilson said, “it was an example of military-industrial business community taking on communism instead of dealing with it as an ideological problem”.  The poster was printed and used for an anti-war rally that fall- where it got plenty of attention. ‘Are we next’ was ultimately is an example of Wilson’s willingness to speak out about his anti-war stance.

‘Are We Next’ poster by Wes Wilson.

On another note, the alternative culture scene was emerging at the time Wilson was in San Francisco.  It was not long until he met Bob Carr, who was deeply involved in the San Francisco beat poetry and jazz scene. Carr ran a contact printing firm in his basement, and Wilson became his assistant and partner. One of the first gigs Wilson got asked to do was the handbill for the first ever Trips Festival. He was deeply moved by the intertwinement of love, drugs and music he experienced at this festival. It was this experience that inspired his art style.

Trips Festival 1966.

Not long after the Trips Festival, a friend of Wilson showed him a copy of 1908 poster created by Viennese Seccionist artist, Alfred Roller. The abstract use of alphabet and lettering Roller used inspired Wilson. He began to implement this typography in his own work. This was the start of creative lettering revolution that changed poster scene forever.

Alfred Roller’s work.

Although Wilson drew upon many people and experiences for his artwork, he indeed pioneered psychedelic poster by himself. Psychedelic art was mainly inspired by LSD- a drug which produces altered states of consciousness. It depicts a strong coloured pallet, contrasting colours, ornate lettering and kaleidoscopic swirls, spirals, concentric circles, repetition of motifs or symbols and is often in collage form. The use of his bold colours and patterns were inspired by the lights of concerts he attended. His psychedelic art eventually caught the attention of Billy Graham. This truly kickstarted his career as he then began to create art for the fine masses. Wilson’s psychedelic works played huge part of 1960’s American pop culture.

Psychedelic work of Wes Wilson.

To conclude, it is safe to say Wilson’s work was a response to the social events occurring in the 1960s-70s. Furthermore, many of his posters reflect his political view on war, particularly ‘Are We Next?’. Wilson’s psychedelic art was inspired by drugs, rock n roll and love- all controversial themes of his time. Wilson was a bold artist, not only to share his stance through his art, but to also create a new and outrageous style of art which has revolutionised graphic design to this day.

Bibliography

Bahr Gallery, 2020 ‘The father of the psychedelic poster movement’, Bahr Gallery, accessed on 5th of April 2020 https://www.bahrgallery.com/artist-master/wes-wilson

Erlewine, M 2020 ‘A Brief Biography’, Wes Wilson, accessed on 4th of April 2020 http://www.wes-wilson.com/a-brief-biography-by-michael-erlewine.html

Popeson, P 2014, ‘Consider the Rock Concert Poster’, MoMA, accessed on April 5th 2020 https://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2014/12/18/rock-concert-posters-at-moma/

Wilson, W 2020 ‘Psychadelic Poster Artist, Wes Wilson’, Wes Wilson, accessed on 3rd of April 2020 http://www.wes-wilson.com/about.html

Williams, H 2018, ‘How LSD influenced Western culture’, BBC Culture, accessed on 4th of April 2020 http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20181016-how-lsd-influenced-western-culture

Reflecting on my first two weeks of VCD101

I have thoroughly enjoyed the first stage of this process of photographing letters of the alphabet in structures and objects.

This task has helped me become more visual and analytical through finding patters, letters, numbers and shapes in everyday objects.

I intend to make my proof sheet as consistent and aesthetically pleasing as possible. In order to achieve this, I attempted to find all the letters in urban settings. However, I soon realised I would need to resort to furniture and other interior objects to complete the alphabet. Letters I particular struggled with was K, M, Y and Z. I ended up spontaneously going to a breakout room a weekend before this task was due, and found many of those letters in the whacky interior design of the place. I avoided using nature for my letters, as they seemed out of place with the urban letters. Overall, I ended up finding my letters on the streets, in university and indoor areas- such as cafes.

Letter ‘K’ found in a break out room.

Letter ‘T’ found on the street.

Another challenge was taking the photos on an angle which made it easy to see the letter. Some images may are a little harder to interpret the letter, but I’m relying on editing later in the process to help with this.

Something I found interesting about this project was that I most often found letters when I wasn’t meaning to. I would find them walking to the train station or while catching up with a friend in a cafe. This proves that this task is the start of me learning to observe and interpret the world through a more visually-creative lens.

Now that I have all 26 letters, my next job is to transfer them on to photoshop.  As this is my first year doing visual communication, photoshop is very new to me. After the week two tutorial, I feel a little more comfortable with it, but learning how to transfer and edit these photos will take some time to navigate. By using photoshop, I intend to create all my letters to have a similar composition, colour and crop to create a consistent and clean aesthetic theme. The week two lecture taught me many composition techniques which I’m keen to integrate in my editing.

Original ‘L’ image
Photshopped ‘L’ image.

Furthermore, researching pop art and swiss style for my research blog taught me many valuable things. Swiss style encouraged me to think about grid structure and layout when creating an image. Pop art showed me how to create an attention-grabbing series of images and to be bold with the colours. I hope to take aspects of each of these styles and incorporate them into my work.

Overall, this project has been challenging but great for testing my visual skills. While there is still much to learn and do, I am keen to continue to grow my skills in photoshop and become more of a visual thinker.

The Smoothness of Swiss Style

The ‘Swiss style’ is a graphic layout characterised by highly structured formats, grids and sans-serif typefaces to achieve a clear and pleasant design.

Swiss Style originated in Russia, the Netherlands and Germany in the 1920’s. The movement started in two Swiss art schools- the Kunstgewerbeschule in Zurich led by Josef Müller-Brockmann, and the Allgemeine Gewerbeschule in Basel led by Armin Hofmann.

Josef Müller-Brockmann

The Swiss style’s proverb is that ‘design should be as invisible as possible’. By stripping distractions, Swiss style allows heavy information to be consumed rather than merely admired. It has a simplistic balance between artistry and communication.

Example of Swiss style

The art is distinguished from any other kind of art by the use of “ext aligned flush-left, ragged-right; sans serif typefaces like Helvetica, the use of photographs instead of illustration and the deployment of a mathematically determined grid to determine the placement of design elements” (Bigman, 2015).

The mathematical grids are used to structure information and make it easy for readers to follow along. The rule of thirds and golden ratio are often used to accomplish this.

Josef Müller-Brockmann is known as the ‘father of Swiss design’. One of his most famous designs was his ‘Music Viva’ work- a series for a music concert held at the Zurich Tonhalle. This series of posters aimed for a visual link between constructivism and musical harmonic structures to effectively cater to musical audiences. Müller-Brockmann’s work is also known for how he utilizes the freedom within the grid system.

Here one piece of his ‘Music Viva’ series.

Music Viva, 1959

The composition of this image is simple but effective- just as Swiss style should be.

The form relationship between the writing and illustration is most like an upside down T. The illustration of the coloured box and title at the top right corner fills up the white space. While there is no valuable information, the illustration of the boxes is what first captures the readers eye. It then trickles the eyes of the reader down to where the information is at the bottom. The most important information is in a larger size font on the left, demanding the audience to read that paragraph first.

The writing in the bottom third of the grid is where all the valuable information lies. The writing is clustered at the bottom to create an aesthetic while also being easy to digest.

Alignment is evident in this poster by use of the grid system. This can be seen as the coloured boxes vertically align with each paragraph of text at the bottom.

The main aspect of contrast is this image is between the black text and the light grey background, which helps the text to stand out. The overall light tone of the image creates a vibrant mood, which is a helpful advertising strategy for a concert.

Swiss style is a great design method when aiming to create work that is attractive to the eye but is simple enough to allow the reader to consume all information. Müller-Brockmann’s grid theory has helped and improved many graphic designers to structure information in a visually pleasing fashion to this day.

Bibliography

Bigman, A 2015 ‘What excatly is Swiss Design, anyway?’, 99 Designs, accessed on 14th of March 2020 https://99designs.com.au/blog/design-history-movements/swiss-design/

Lucarelli, F 2016 ‘Joseph Müller Brockmann: Musica Viva Posters for the Zurich Tonhalle’, Socks, accessed on the 13th of March 2020 socks-studio.com/2016/11/30/joseph-muller-brockmann-musica-viva-posters-for-the-zurich-tonhalle/

Weis, M 2017 ‘What is Swiss Design?’, Medium, accessed on 13th of March 2020 https://medium.com/@mason_weis/what-is-swiss-design-2c97088c3f20

The Outrage of Pop Art

Pop art. One of the most iconic movements in the history graphic-design.

Pop art began in the 1950’s when a handful of young men decided to rebel against the dominant and stereotypical approaches to art and culture.  We can thank Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist and Claes Oldenburg for this outrageous movement.

Tom Wesselman, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg in Warhol’s Loft, New York City, 1964.

These young artists decided that classic museum art was not relevant or exciting to everyday life.  Fascinated by popular and commercial culture, they drew upon Hollywood, advertising, product packaging, pop music and comic books as inspiration for their art. Pop art was loud and controversial.

In 1957, pop artist Richard Hamilton described pop art as ‘popular, transient, expandable, low cost, mass produced, young, witty, sexy and glamorous’, and is designed for a mass audience.

America and Britain are the two countries where pop art really flourished, yet the pop art styles of each have different meaning and purpose. The intention of American pop art was seen as a ‘commentary on the American Dream’. America pop art wanted to reflect what it was like to be in America during the 1950/60’s- Hollywood glamour, vibrant, entertaining and consumer driven. Its goal was to turn mundane realities and mass-produced objects into popular culture, which they achieved through bold colours and sarcasm. On the other hand, British pop art had a larger purpose of opposing traditional art movements of the time. A collective of creative artists called ‘The Independent Group’ embraced the democratization that pop art brought and believed in making art more ‘real life’. Eventually, the ‘American Dream’ pop art reached Britain, yet Britain distinguished their pop art from the Americans by adding irony and parody.

Pop art icon Andy Warhol’s ‘Reigning Queens’ is a series of shots taken by four reigning queens of the day- Queen Elizabeth II of England, Queen Beatrix of Netherlands, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland. Created in 1985, it is Warhol’s largest portfolio of screen prints. Andy Warhol particularly was interested in universal images, and based these prints on the queen’s official state portraits which were mass produced on stamps and money.

‘Reigning Queens’ by Andy Warhol 1985

For this blog I will be analysing the composition of the Queen Elizabeth series.

A picture containing text

Description automatically generated

Although it may come across as a busy image, there are only three main elements of this image: the Queen, the background and the coloured squares. The face of the Queen is the positive space and is at top of the visual hierarchy, as she is the largest and most eye-capturing element of this image.

The background and coloured squares are components of the negative space. They don’t take away from the main focus of the Queen, but it adds colour and contrast to make the image stand out more. The alignment of the squares in the background help centralise the queens face. The squares are also cropped to create new compositions in each image.

 The contrast is seen through the Queen’s face being lighter toned against the coloured and darker backgrounds. The large scale of the Queen against the background is another factor of contrast in the image, and again helps the reader to focus on her face.

The coloured squares are aligned to centralise the queens face. The outline around the Queen’s figure creates a 3D perspective. The overlapping of the squares creates the illusion that the Queen is the foreground.

Warhol uses lots of repetition in his art, as seen in this image. While the image itself is the same, the colours used in each four squares are different, creating a vibrant and attention-grabbing image as a whole.

Andy Warhol

Pop art was the start of a revolution to many modern arts and has had a huge impact on art and graphic design to this day. It is safe to say those four young artists accomplished their mission of ‘rebelling against the dominant and stereotypical approaches to art and culture’.  Pop art has a boldness and distinctiveness unlike any other type of art. As Warhol once said, “art is what you can get away with”.

Bibliography:

‘Britain vs America- Pop Art’, My Art Broker, accessed on the 12th of March 2020 https://www.myartbroker.com/blog/myartbroker-explores-pop-art-britain-vs-america/

‘Pop Art-Art Term’, Tate, accessed on 11th of March 2020 https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/p/pop-art

‘Pop Art Movement Overview’, The Art Story, accessed on the 11th of March 2020 https://www.theartstory.org/movement/pop-art/