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Week 9 - Press

Message Delivered 

Message and medium, pencil, pixel, performance, packaging. 

The main question to reflect on this week was "How a message can be enhanced through the medium you use?"  I felt liberated by this idea that I could choose any material or process that really connected with the message I decided to convey.  I felt this week was a good time to try to be more expressive with my initial ideas and play with medium with a 'see what happens' approach.  My notes on the resources can be found below.

Discovery Notes 
Analysis of Research

I was really buoyed listening to Sam Winston explain how he moved from the heavy digital, screen based work he was doing as a student at UCL, to something more physical.  As a designer who likes to work with tangible materials, I was interested to hear his views on creating work with hands and tools.  He emphasised that using tools helps him to manifest an idea, that you learn through touching materials and that hands have an "intuition".  His comments resonated with me because I do think that manipulating materials with your hands can reveal surprising elements and take you down quirky paths, something that would not have occurred if you had created the 'piece' on screen.  I consider my process at the moment a bit of a tug of war between screen and physical.  I have been afraid of this, but I am learning to embrace the ebb and flow of these mediums, sometimes in harmony and other times not, but I guess it is all part of solving the problems presented by the brief.

Another concept that Sam Winston advocated was trying to approach an environment like a sponge and "really soak it up".  He introduced his work involving removing his sense of sight to respond to a brief with this sense eliminated.  I would imagine that the other senses would compensate for the loss of one and therefore elicit unique results.  I really wanted to not have any preconception of an idea before visiting a place but found it very hard to not allow my mind to stubbornly wander around the task, bumping in to ideas and in one case even a final outcome!  I refused to follow any 'leads' until I was in the space, but how could I not call up any info I had prior to the visit.  The answer was suggested by my husband, who picked the place for me!  I was totally in the dark and it was great to just respond to what I was seeing, feeling, hearing...  This ideas of absolving myself of the choice reminded me of the chapter by Pentagram Designer, Michael Bierut in the book 'A smile in the mind; witty thinking in graphic design'.  Beirut had been dwelling on an important brief for some time when it dawned on him that he needed to "abdicate personal responsibility for how it looked" (Bierut, 2015, p.218) .  It might seem strange that a designer would do this but he had written the copy for the poster design and just needed a way to present it, the answer came in the form of his young daughter's hand.  I like this notion that you can lose some element of control over what you are doing, but still maintain integrity within your work.

The book provides a number of designers an opportunity to share the ways that they believe their ideas manifest.  There were interesting perspectives about how the emotion of the designer can play a part in ideation, drawing out ideas in anger when you are so keen to prove a point.  How ideas often come when you are under time pressure to complete the work "I only get ideas when I have to" (Aziz Cami, 2015 p222).  Ideas can come about through experimenting and play.  Christoph Niemann said "its a tough decision to say I'm just going to sit here and play for a while.  But it is the most important thing you can do" (2015, p250) 

Two designers in the book discussed how they alter or disregard ideas that do not 'suit' them.  Shigeo Fukuda said "I try to think of ideas that suit me" (2015, p 232) and Alan Fletcher (Pentagram Founder) said "If I think of an idea that probably should be done photographically, I tend to try and think of something else" (2015, p230).  These points made me consider if one should alter an 'idea' in order to make it fits one's own aesthetic or skills.  Alternatively should we call on the experience of other designers to create what we ourselves cannot?  The latter approach seems to be adopted by many commercial designers and studios; if the skill is missing, hire it in.  I suppose this is what makes studio design houses versatile and adaptable.  Freelance designers working within their own self controlled aesthetic, have to consider what their work is about and what makes it relevant and desirable enough to generate commission work and therefore income. 

 

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Workshop Challenge

1.  Communicate an emotion you perceive your location is about.

2.  Imagine & create a material response to how you communicate that emotion in material form.

 

In a bid to relinquish an element of control in this brief and not have too many formulated ideas before I had arrived at and absorbed the atmosphere of a location, I asked my husband to choose for me.  Once my 'location' had been gifted to me, and I really began to look and record, I almost immediately saw several issues I could address.  In the car I saw signs that sparked an idea.  I took photographs, video, found objects and sketches.  I let these stimuli simmer for a bit before I began further investigation. So my husband's magical mystery tour took me to the New Forest village of Godshill, where we stopped at a carpark, got my little girl Amber an ice cream and walked along the gravel path.  

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Initial Rough (Car!) Sketches & Word Ideas
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New Forest Carpark off B3078 just before Godshill Village

Returning from the trip with my records, I began to research the main issue, New Forest livestock injured or killed when hit by vehicles.   I looked at New Forest District Council, New Forest Park Authority and Verderers of the Forest. 

 

The Verderers role is to: 

"Protect and regulate the New Forest's unique agricultural commoning practices;  Conserve it's traditional landscape, wildlife and aesthetic character, including it's flora and fauna, peacefulness, natural beauty and cultural heritage" (verderers.org.uk)

Commoning rights in the New Forest are attached to various properties and owners allow their livestock to graze freely on the heathland.  This is an inportant historical and ecological tradition.

Groups have worked hard to reduce the number of animals killed or injured on forest roads with increased signage, youth education schemes and campaigns like the video below:

Data taken from New Forest Park Authority suggests a positive reduction in injury and deaths, however vehicle owners still continue to hit and run for fear of reprisals.  It is not a crime to hit a forest animal however prosecution can occur in cases left unreported; and rightly so when you consider that these animals could be left in agonising pain.  There have been some heart breaking stories of foals grieving at their mothers side and pregnant animals left dying. 

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The map above shows the worst roads for animal deaths - the road I visited is in the top left hand corner and is orange coded. (source: https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/) 

Following further investigation, I created an image board to support my sketching, shown below...

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The images were a collection of photographs I took at location, found pony fur, clippings from New Forest Life magazine and sombre shot curtesy of Bournemouth Echo - reporting on an incident in 2015) .  I must admit, it was very hard to look at that photo with the pony carcase emblazoned with 'Verderers aware' sign.  The topic was pulling at my emotions and was definitely pushing me out of my comfort zone.   I felt angry about the senseless loss and wanted to show that through my message delivery.  I began to sketch ideas, shown below...

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My sketches made me realise a few key elements:

1.  It was important to show the animal in the communication of the word.

2.  I needed to show death or injury in some way.

3.  One word could be shown as 2 with use of hierarchy.

4.  Type needed to reference the road and possibly have perspective.

5.  Signs & vehicles play a big part in the narrative.

I began to look at typefaces that related to roads and found 'Transport' and 'Pavement' available from: https://www.roads.org.uk/fonts, curtesy of http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/

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Transport Type Medium
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Pavement Type

I realised that I wanted to represent the fur of the animals in the piece.  I began to look at artists who use animals in their work.  I also decided that I wanted a communication with a uncomfortable image, designed to shock by not too gratuitous.  I started researching advertisements that were put together with that intention.  Some of my visual inspiration below...

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Knowing that I wanted to create the word in something that resembled animal fur, I produced a few textile experiments and textile type experiments...

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I knew that if I was going to show the 'animal' word deceased, I would need to communicate this through blood (or at least fake blood!)  I looked at PETA adverts for inspiration.  Notoriously extreme, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, have produced some very shocking campaigns demonstrating their zeal and fervor to spread the message.  Two of their advertisments are shown below. 

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I also found a anti animal souvenir canpaign by WWF and another anti-fur campaign designed by Andrej Radisic.  I thought the letters in the shape of fur coats was a less grotesque  and clever way to blend the word with the message. 

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I completed a few more experiments with materials before deciding on a faux fur route.

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2 Textile 'signs' prepared and ready to be photographed in New Forest location

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And in situ...

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Journal Reflections

I loved working on this brief.  As soon as the workshop challenge said to consider how a message can be enhanced by the medium, ideas were spinning about what materials I could use!  I felt that I was going to fall in to the trap of going with the first idea and I really tried hard to reign in my brain and focus on the key elements of the project.  I interpreted the key points to be how to convey emotion and my perception of a location.

Deciding to take inspiration from Michael Beirut, handing over responsibility for location selection to my husband was interesting.  Although I had no idea where he would take me, as soon as we arrived at our destination in the New Forest my mind began to make connections.  The decision to choose an issue relating to animal deaths seemed an obvious one, but the deliver of the final outcome required considerable wrangling in my mind about the correct tone to set within my message.

I knew I could have been more shocking in my outcome, in a similar way to PeTA campaigns, but I did not feel it was necessary.  I drew visual references through typeface choice, medium choice and photographic positioning, all of which enhanced my message.  I think there were an number of other iterations that I could have finalised; the sign could look more like a road sign; the word chosen could have conveyed emotion rather than location; the photograph could have been taken at night, when animals are at higher risk of collision with a vehicle.

I found a range of data about animal deaths & injury in the forest on different roads at different times of the day/night and with more time it would have been an interesting perspective to unpick and translate the quantative values into an outcome.  That could become a project that produces messages specific to areas of the forest, connecting better with the regular travellers of those regions.  One could also look at the micro-cultures around the Forest in the villages and utilise the symbolic references within them to build a larger narrative around the cause.

 

 

References

McAlhone, B., Stuart, D., Quinton, G., Asbury, N. (2016) A Smile in the Mind; Witty Thinking in Graphic Design. [online] London: Phaidon. Available from:https://content.talisaspire.com/falmouth/bundles/5bd8488c69df5011fb0a0734 [accessed 23 March 2021]

 

New Forest National Park Authority. (2012)  Driving Safely Across the New Forest. [online video]  Available at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9MbWPYROEdw&t=10s [accessed 24 March  2021]

Daily Echo. (2016)Can you help find Jaguar car thought to have killed pregnant New Forest pony?https://www.bournemouthecho.co.uk/news/14549998.can-you-help-find-jaguar-car-thought-to-have-killed-pregnant-new-forest-pony/ [accessed 24 March 2021]

Yandell, C. (2017) WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES: Two ponies killed on notorious New Forest road.  Southern Daily Echo.  Available from:  https://www.dailyecho.co.uk/news/15062728.warning-graphic-images-two-ponies-killed-on-notorious-new-forest-road/ [Accessed 24 March 2021]

Verderers of the New Forest. Reporting an Incident.  Available from: https://www.verderers.org.uk/reporting-an-incident/ [accesses 24 March 2021]

BBC. (2014) New Forest road safety campaign donkey killed by car.  Available from: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hampshire-30342578[accessed 24 March 2021]

 Digital Synopsis. (c.2020) 60 Powerful Social Issue Ads that will make you stop and think.  Available at: https://digitalsynopsis.com/inspiration/60-public-service-announcements-social-issue-ads/ [accessed 24 March 2021]

Wikipedia. Transport Typefaces.  Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transport_(typeface)#:~:text=Highway%20Gothic%20%E2%80%94%20A%20font%20also,the%20world%20for%20traffic%20signs. [accessed 24 March 2021]

New Forest National Park Authority.  Available from: https://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/ [accessed 24 March 2021]

 

 

 

 

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