As a part of expanded practice unit we were set with a brief, that encouraged to explore typography in a new way, breaking the rules and grids, that we as a graphic designers are so used to.
On the first session we were introduced to the brief, which led to the talk about what experimental typography actually is and why it is important to use appropriate typefaces to communicate a certain message. Throughout the discussion we came up with some interesting food for thought:
- how does the content affects the perception of the typeface? (and vice versa)
- how do background and history of fonts shapes its look?
- can a sense of the typeface be transformed by the context of its use?
- can the font carry more than one meaning / feeling depending on the way of its use?
For the next week we were set with a task of finding 5 typefaces to suit the word we were assigned with (mine is anxious). We will also need to provide a bit of the background about each font, in order to back up the choice.
Throughout the week I was looking for a different typefaces, that can represent the anxiety or bring a new meaning to the word. Anxiety is tough to convey, because it can be different for everyone. However, I tried to outline the most common associations related to it:
scared / shaking / dizzy / worried / stressful / wavy / fear / cluttered / illegible / unfocused / uncleared / nervy
Based on that I started my searches. I wanted to find fonts that represented hand-writing, as anxiety is a human feature (animals don’t get anxious, usually).
1. Sketch by T-26
2. Baragaki horror font by Poemhaiku
3. CrissCross by Hanoded
4. YWFT Nash by YourWorkForThem
5. Comic Sans by Microsoft
because seeing somebody using it for their brochure make me really anxious
week 2 / notes
On the third session Katherine talked through the basics of using InDesign for editorial design. Even though the talk was meant for those, who've never used the program before, I learnt some tips and tricks, which will be useful in the future. We were set with a very interesting task for the following week: design several spreads using the photographer and the article of our choice.
I've never done something like this before, so the process would be not only interesting, but exciting as well. As a subject I chose Lady Gaga's photoshoot by Ruth Hogben, that was published in Elle in 2013. Gaga is an outrageous singer, but what caught my eye in this photoshoot is that photographer managed to capture another side of her.
To accompany the photos, I chose the interview from Vogue as I felt like the subject of the talk also focuses on the other side of Gaga's personality.
Van Meter, J. (2017). Lady Gaga: Our Lady of Pop. [online] Vogue. Available at: http://www.vogue.com/865458/lady-gaga-our-lady-of-pop/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].
Throughout the week I was working on the editorial design for an interview with Lady Gaga. I'm more or less satisfied with the result, however I feel, that I could be a bit braver and experiment more with typography. After all, it is the experimental typography project. I tried to make design consistent, using pale colours, because the photoshoot has a very gentle and tender touch and layering, as I feel that it goes along with the name of the article (Our Lady of Pop).
I was inspired by designs found on Pinterest (below), all of them share a couple of things in common: they are neat, minimalistic and structured (very me). While doing the research, I realised how important is a wise use of the white space. There is no need to try and fit as much as possible into a spread - the clever balancing between content and white space is a key to a good design. I always considered editorial design as something complex and quite not my cup of tea, but the exercise helped me understand, that I just don't know much about it and therefore I feel uncomfortable doing it. Confidence comes through practice and that's what I need to focus on now.
week 4 / discussion
Fourth session marked that we are halfway through the expanded practice unit. During the morning each of us presented the work done during the week, which was followed by group discussion and suggestions from Katherine. I was fascinated by the layouts of people from the other pathways. Some of them never used InDesign before and having only a week of time produced an amazing work. Of course there were things that made my heart cringe a tiny bit, but overall it was very interesting.
The feedback on the design I've created, was generally positive. Katherine came up with great idea of using the letter L and G (for Lady Gaga) as a pale, transparent background on one of the spreads. She thought that the font I used for that (Didot) is perfect for something massive.
I still feel like editorial design is one of the hardest field. Because of the big amount of text usually used in the articles it can be really hard to do everything nice & neat. You can spend days and weeks trying to align the text perfectly or get rid of the widows and orphans.
The next session would be the start of our two weeks project, which I'm really excited about. The topic is "100 yeas of photography". Basically, each of us was assigned with a certain year (1952 for me). We need to find a photograph that was made in this year and make an A3 poster representing this photography, using type only. This sounds really challenging and I have no idea so far how it's gonna look like, but this is probably why I am so excited about it.
week 5 / research
During the week I was searching through photos from 1952, trying to find the one that can be considered as iconic.
Marilyn Monroe was at the peak of her's popularity at that time so I managed to find a lot of different shots on Tumblr and Pinterest. Even though I admire Monroe as an actress, I don't really feel, that I want to do a poster based on her photograph. There were also a lot of fashion shots, but again it didn't press my buttons.
The first photograph that I liked was a shot of Marcel Duchamp by Eliot Elisofon. The shot was a tribute to one of Duchamp's paintings (Nude Descending a Staircases, 1912) and was published in Life Magazine (April 28, 1952 issue) accompanying the article about his work.
The second set of photographs that caught my eye was one from the Matisse's studio in Nice. He was working in Hotel Regina during the 50s and recreated the fragments of his painting (The Parakeet and the Mermaid) across the walls of the studio. It was the time when he experimented with cut out techniques a lot, so the space became one of medium for his bizarre juxtapositions. After finishing piece at Hotel Regina, Matisse noted: "I have made a little garden all around me, where I can work. There are leaves, fruits and a bird." These words seemed to me very touching.
I was fascinated by the rough, graphic shapes, that he produced using classic artist equipment (gouache and paper) and the way he managed to arrange them.
Inspired, I found an article based on one of the MOMA's exhibitions, exploring the Matisse's late work. It gives an insight on how the artist used to create his artworks.
After that I came across a lot of artworks, that were somehow based or inspired by Matisse's style. Because of the easiness of the process the cut out technique it is still widely used. As an example - schools use it to encourage children's imagination and build their creative confidence.
Apparently, somebody was so inspired by artist's style, that even created the whole font dedicated to the period Matisse was into cut outs.
It might seem like a font from the designer's nightmare, that was done in five minutes at first sight, but it perfectly conveys the artist's style: DIY, rough and edgy. I can't say, that I love it, but I found something intriguing in it.
For now it is hard to say, where all of my findings will lead me, as I'm bit confused of what photo to choose and where to start, but I hope, that after the friday's session and a feedback from the tutor and my group everything will become clearer.
Edwards, R. (2015). Art for Kids: Fun with Matisse - Playful Learning. [online] Playful Learning. Available at: http://playfullearning.net/2015/09/art-for-kids-fun-with-matisse/ [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].
MOMA. (2014). Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs. [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/2014/matisse/index.html [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].
During the session I decided to use Duchamp's photograph as a base for my poster, as both my group and the tutor pointed out that it would be more interesting and challenging, than working with Matisse's paintings.
I started out with a bit of a deeper research and it turned out that the original painting is quite popular and was re-created throughout the years several times. The painting was provocative for it's time and inspired many artists and creative people.
So I decided, that it would make sense to create a typographic tribute to the tribute of Duchamp's "Nude Descending the Staircase", as all the previous recreations were quite graphic.
Later I found a webpage, dedicated to the photograph, exploring everything from it's origins to the impact on pop culture. What caught my eye was the title - "Dude Descending the Staircase". I am not sure whether it is a misspelling or an intentional heading, but anyway I found it amusing. Therefore I decided to start experimenting with the word dude.
I spend some time trying to design the layouts in InDesign, but in my opinion they didn't turn out really successful. I was inspired by the fact that photograph uses the technique of multiple exposure and tried to do the same with the type, overlaying it over and over again.
The results seemed to me a bit dull and boring, so I decided to use another medium for an experimentation, rather then predictable Indesign.
"My aim was a static representation of movement, a static composition of indications of various positions taken by a form in movement..."
said Marcel about the painting. So I thought of trying to do the same within my work: to communicate the movement through a static image. So I printed out the word and started scanning it, simulating the walk on the stairs. At first it looked like a mess (which I kind of liked as well), but after several attempts, I managed to achieve interesting imageries.
I ended up with the imageries, that can be seen above, preferring the last one among them all. The technique is completely new to me, although I always wanted to try and create something that glitchy, so I'm glad I tried it. Over the week I'll try to expand the idea and make more layouts and experiment with other mediums, I've never used before.
Historacle.org. (n.d.). Dude Descending a Staircase. [online] Available at: http://www.historacle.org/dude_descending_staircase [Accessed 11 Nov. 2016].
week 6 / developing
Throughout the week I didn't have much time to work on the project. However, I decided to try another technique - lino cut printing and see how the technique of repetition would look like, when smth as analogue as paint is used.
I made letter's stencils and tried printing out different layouts, changing the amount of ink, position and amount of repetitions. The result still looked like there's something wrong, though I loved the texture of the prints.
On the sixth session we had an individual tutorial to track down how''s the process of the posters is going on. Katherine and me agreed, that the scanning distortion seems the most interesting and appropriate technique to used, because of the parallel with lighting and long exposure photography.
She noticed, that maybe I need to re-think the word, that would be used as nowadays 'dude' associates with something trashy and draggy. That's the fair point and I didn't thought to use it on a final poster, the word was just a starting point for experimentation.
She also suggested using a transparent paper, trying to scan it, print and re-scan, experimenting and achieving an even more distorted image. I quite like this idea and certainly think I'll give it a try.
I want to use dada typographic posters as a starting point now, because of the fact that Duchamp was a part of the movement and because I find their style of work full of movement, even though it is still.
The work of Mira Schendel can also be considered as a reference point. I think, that his experimentation with using letters to create motion and a story is quite fascinating.
Having an inspiration and an initial ideas, I only need to figure out the word/text that gonna be used and start doing loads of variations, experimenting with type of paper and amount of layers.
I really want to capture the contrast between the movement and stillness on the poster, like the contrast that can be seen on Duchamp's painting - between the stairs and the figure. Therefore I need to have at least one stable object, which I think gonna be stairs as well. On top of them I'm planning to add layers and layers of moving type, using the transparent paper and a scanner.
week 7 / readymade alphabet
Finding out an appropriate caption for the poster, turned out a lot more harder, that I thought. I found a lot of articles, dedicated to both the photograph and the painting, however, I didn't find a quote enough poetic to use on the poster. The only note, that caught my eye, was a question Duchamp asked the photographer before the shoot:
Don't you want me to do it nude?
The question makes sense, as on the painting the figure was naked. The Elisofon's answer is unknown, but we can kind of guess it based on the final photograph.
I didn't want to waste time, finding the ideal caption, so instead I focused on the representation of movement on a static image. I asked myself: how can the the long exposure technique be translated to typography, using the scanner?
The answer came through experimentation. I printed out several letters on different paper and started experimenting, moving them around, while scanning.
I was intrigued by the result, even though there still was something wrong with it in my opinion. I tried to invert the colours, to achieve a black background, just like on the photograph and at that moment everything came together.
I was satisfied with the result and decided to expand it into the full alphabet. I used Helvetica as a starting point, because of it's neutral style, the font itself doesn't carry any meaning, therefore is ideal for experimentation. Drawing a parallel with Duchamp's work, I named the alphabet "readymade", as in fact I didn't create anything new, I just re-appropriated the existing font.
Now I need to think, what can be presented on a final poster. Is it going to be the whole alphabet or just a quote written in it? I think at this point I need the feedback from my tutor and the group, in order to choose the right message and medium to convey the work.
week 7 / poster + animation
Throughout the week I was working on a final poster. In the end I decided to keep things simple: having just the alphabet and a caption, that explains the inspiration behind it.
Readymade was inspired by the photo of Marcel Duchamp made by Eliot Elisofon in 1952. It is a long exposure shot, capturing the artist descending the staircase. The alphabet was made by taking the readymade Helvetica as a base, scanning and layering letters, giving the impression of movement in a still image.
I was more or less satisfied with the poster. It is the first time I made smth so rough and glitchy, the design doesn't look like me at all.
I got a positive feedback and my tutor suggested to push it ever further by creating a short animation to show the font in use. She mentioned Beowulf designed by LettError as something I might find relevant. After working on it for quite a bit I ended up with the short video.
The term came to an end and so did the Expanded Practice Unit. The sessions gave me loads of things to think about: the affection of the content on the type (and vice versa), feeling that fonts can carry, and the affection of font’s origin on the way it looks and is used. Throughout working on the tasks, there were ups and downs, but I’m really satisfied with the amount of work, that I was able to produce. Being taught by a practitioner was very useful as all of the Katherine’s suggestions were backed up by her experience. Working as an editorial designer, she shared with us tips and tricks, that you can’t learn from books. The discussion sessions were very interesting for me. Katherine talked to us about the history of typography as well as methods of usage and ways of appropriation.
First of all the editorial piece, that we designed during week three. As already mentioned above, I don’t quite feel, that editorial is my cup of tea. It’s a very precise job, where loads of details needs to be considered. I decided to make most of the task, by taking the photoshoot I really loved. Using it’s style I was able to build a design, that would look consistent throughout the spreads. I consider this to be my first successful editorial work. At least, I’m not ashamed to show it to others, which is always a good sign. However, I still think that it might look not experimental enough. I guess I played with the imageries more, than with the type, when the brief assumes you need to do it vice versa.
The second task was more challenging for me. Translating the photograph into a typographic poster sounded easy in theory, but came out as really hard thing to do in practice. Throughout the first part of the project, I used a lot of analogue and digital mediums to distort the fonts (as it was the main idea for my outcome). I haven’t done so much experimentation, since the Foundation Course. Inspired by the typographic artworks of Dada artists, I tried to implement the same style, when working on my poster. But almost to the end of the project I wasn’t quite sure, what my outcome would look like. There were several times, when I discarded all the drafts and started all over again from the beginning.
The hardest part was to find an appropriate word or quote to use on the poster. It’s not, that I did have associations with the photograph, but all of the formulations I tried didn’t work the way I wanted. That's why, in the end I decided to take a risk and create an alphabet inspired by the photograph instead of re-creating it as a type. The idea seemed very fresh and appealing to me, as I always wanted to try myself at that.
The process was pretty simple: I took a readymade Helvetica, printed out each letter and scanned each one three times, moving the piece of paper to distort the image. Then I overlaid letter’s versions and combined them on an A3 poster., Continuing to reference the Dadaism movement, the image turned out very dynamic. I was aiming to convey the sense of the photograph I chose and in my opinion, I succeeded. Later on, I decided to create a short motion piece to accompany the poster and bring my alphabet to life.
Looking back now, I can say that it was an invaluable experience, that helped me to develop my skills as a graphic designer. The outcome I produced is completely not my style, but I guess it is a good point. I was finally able to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself to try something new. Overall I’m really happy, that I chose this exact brief to complete as a part of the Expanded Practice Unit.