Project 1 Looking for Visual Communication: Research

What is mass media?

My workbook asks me to consider a quote from the 1964 book Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan; “the medium is the message”. Trying to consider this applied to visual communications rather than just aesthetics or art is interesting. I think the medium does have a large impact on our understanding or perhaps more importantly acceptance of the message. For instance I feel more at ease accepting something as fact coming from the BBC News website or article than I do from a gossip webpage or ‘fan-site’. Thinking about something like advertising, a billboard or poster in a container by a bus stop or even on a bus, says ‘this is an advert’, really ‘you should consider buying this’. In the digital age it’s interesting to see advertising coming through Vloggers – people who share they’re world or hobbies through video’s on-line/namely on YouTube. A lot of these video’s have become platforms for advertising, but I think the medium of an advert delivered by an ‘ordinary person’, in an informal manner has a disarming affect. For arguments sake here’s an example from a Vlogger whose YouTube channel is called ViviannaDoesMakeUp.

There are several reading points to this research, I want to start with an article about Marshall McLuhan seeing as we were asked to consider a quote by him. I’d not heard of or been introduced to McLuhan before and I’d be interested to read some of his works. I’m going to buy his book Understanding Media, simply because it seems to be regarded as an in-depth analysis of a variety of methods of communication, and that seems interesting/relevant. I wish I’d known about him when I’d done my previous module in Graphic Design.

Notes on Communication Theory, Whitney Davis:

In the article Davis, refers to Jakobson’s analysis of communications and introduced me to his six factors of communication – ‘the addresser, addressee, message, code, context and contact’. This model reminds me of Aristotle’s theories around plot development, mostly just in format. I think the article also brings to the forefront the issue of intention in communication. Intention seems fairly tricky – the addresser may have had a clear intention or hidden or subconscious intention which informed their method of communication or language use. The addressee also then has to be able to decipher that intention correctly. It seems to me that communication theory has to take in societal factors, physiological factors as well as semantics to come to some conclusions.

Notes on Design, Penny Sparke:

It was interesting to read the Design essay; it helped to put into historical context or sense some aspects of Design which had seemed a bit of a mystery to me. Particularly how  the design process had been divided from the crafting of an object or work, leading to people who specialised entirely in the planning of and preparation of an item before it’s actual production. From a personal point of view I’m interested to find out more about the Arts and Crafts Movement, as a means to understanding where the resurgence of designer makers actually originated from. I can certainly identity with feeling that most people now feel they have a sense of what ‘good’ or ‘bad’ design is and advertisers have worked hard to introduce something as “designer made” to add a sense of value or luxury. But I feel sometimes this is fraudulent, can a mass produced item ever be truly luxury?

Notes on Visual Culture:

The idea of the study of Visual Culture, seems perfectly rational to me. But  reading the article I became aware that for those of another generation who did not grow up  alongside the growth of the internet or social media/communication or even the mass of television programmes today might find it an odd thing to look into. I also found it funny to read about the definition of  high culture and low culture, I think these still exist today, but are diminishing in their power with time. One particular line stood out – “Culture is thus produced in complex networks of exchange through which meanings are co-created by members of a society or group”, I read that as a from of communication between different parties. In the second to last paragraph the importance of “the emergence of digital media and a networked society”, “images circulate today instantaneously. Media events are global”, rings true. I am reminded of images from the migrant crisis of a young boy who had tragically died, washed to shore, which seemed to fill Facebook pages for weeks.

Notes on Commercial art:

This article seemed to pay particular attention to naming artists or design houses which contributed to the emergence of commercial/graphic art. I wanted to make a note of those names here, but under the category of the country they came from. Purely just a quick reference point for me to come back to should I need to:

French Commercial artists:

  • Jules Cheret
  • Henri de Toulouse-Laurtrec
  • Print Studio – Chaix & Compagnie
  • Cassandre
  • Jean Carleu

British Commercial artists:

  • Baynard Press England
  • W.S.Crawford and Son
  • The London Press exchange
  • Tom Purvis
  • Frank Newbould
  • Ashley Havinden
  • McKnight Kauffer
  • Herbert Bayer
  • Tom Eckersley

Dutch Commercial artists:

  • Paul Schuitema

Swiss Commercial artists:

  • ‘Swiss Graphics’
  • Josef Muller-Brockman
  • Matter

Russian Commercial artists:

  • Aleksandr Rodchenko
  • El Lissitzky


Part 3: Exercise 1~ Persuasion

For this exercise I am identifying different forms of visual communication created with a specific purpose in mind. For each category I’ve identified an example using different forms of media; print, web, moving image.

  1. Persuasion – Boden Clothing Case Study:

I picked Boden as an example of persuasive visual communication initially for their printed brochure’s which work very hard to convince their audience to buy their clothing. However as I looked further into their on-line presence (website), I noticed that their webpage is highly interactive and contains video’s and animations all with the same persuasive aim. To me they’re an example of how much effort modern companies go to go to gain their buyers attention and loyalty through their visual communications.

I picked two pages from their March 2015 catalogue as examples of persuasive visual communication and analysed them in my physical learning log, you can see scans of these below:

Annotated Boden Catalogue Page 13. March 2015

Annotated Boden Catalogue Page 13. March 2015

Annotation of Boden Catalogue p.34 March 2015

Annotation of Boden Catalogue p.34 March 2015

Both make use of catchy slogans, repetitive phrases to draw attention to the product. They also make use of possessive language; “mine all mine”, “you know you’re going to get them” – any sense of it being optional to buy the product is pushed aside.

Both feature prominent visuals alongside the text. The photo of the lady in the dress has an effortless quality. She looks carefree but also professional. I think this is persuasive for women, particularly professional women or aspirational women who see clothing as a way to express their status and character.

In the page with the shoes, visually the choice of the bold pink and red shoe, at the bottom of the page, with the rest in more subtle colours draws focus to the product.






My illustration of Boden's webpage.

My illustration of Boden’s webpage.

I moved on to their webpage and alongside the normal categories for clothing (i.e. Women, Men, Children etc), they have a section called ‘We Love’. To me this section seems all about persuasion, it has several interactive elements – some of the images change as you scroll over them. There are links to video’s of animated illustrations, stop motion clothing – all designed seemingly to appeal to children but actually I think it’s to persuade parents that the clothing is child friendly, fun, will make them look good too.

There’s strong use of slogans, repetitive phrases, the word “perfect” is referred to twice – the implication that you can become better or perfect with this item of clothing. It seems to try and cover all their range – there’s a post to appeal to men, some for children, some for women’s office wear, some for women’s occasion wear. Design wise the use of the squares and rectangles with some kind of half drop or variation is clever because it keeps the eye moving across the page, and the same style box helps with continuity. It feels very seamless, slick, cohesive but at the same time humorous, fun – I think this is a persuasive method – it feels less like a business vying for your money and more like a friend trying to help you decide what to purchase.

Final comments on Boden’s persuasive visual communications goes to their YouTube channel. I could focus on lots of their video’s, again like their webpage they seem to have created video’s to appeal to a broad range of demographics. I’d like to focus just on this video for their February women’s wear catalogue:

I think it’s a interesting tactic, to produce an advert which is essentially a mini- story. We follow the heroine from the start (first shot is pretty much the shoes she’s wearing), she appears to be alone in an expensive hotel, her bright coat seems to catch the attention of a attractive man on the stairs (suggestion of romance), she bumps into a small girl with a dog (she appears kind, friendly – appeals to the ‘goodness’ or morality). She emerges from the hotel and calls a taxi – sense of adventure leading somewhere. The story finishes with a slogan or caption that says “join us for the ride” – its friendly, invitational, disarming.  I think the film creates the world where your clothing offers you opportunities – the chance for romance, friendship, adventure. Ideally, put yourself in the woman’s shoes and the thing you want is her clothes (and her lifestyle). All in all fairly persuasive.


Part 3: Exercise 1 ~ Delivering Information

For this part of the exercise I am finding examples of ways in which visual communications deliver information. I need examples of web based design, print and moving image. I had an idea of a graphic designer who produces info graphics – Sarah Illenberger, but not much of an idea for the web-based design.

Web-based design:

I started by searching through the archives of the V&A collection for posters or leaflets but quickly realised that most of their collection is older and they don’t feature a lot of (if any) webdesign. I remembered the Design Museum was good at tracking trends in design across several areas, including Graphic Design so began by looking at their Designs of the Year 2015. I discovered they had a category for Graphics. Here I discovered a project by Graphic designer Marcel which I think displays information in an interesting way, but also acts as a campaign piece.

The project called – Inglorious fruits & vegetables by Intermarche, was a campaign by the supermarket to reduce food waste by trying to integrate ugly fruits and vegetables into supermarket chains.  The campaign was backed by a powerful, persuasive advertising scheme, which covered TV (commercials), magazines, labelling in food stores and Poster/Billboard adverts.

Inglorious Fruits by Marcel for Intermarche.

Inglorious Fruits by Marcel for Intermarche.

I think this is a really clever design because it visually elevates and glorifies the ugly vegetables or fruit by putting them centre stage, enlarged. Photographing them in a good light reminds me of a photo shoot for a fashion magazine, and how generally we’re used to seeing perfected images whether it’s of people or products. So its a kind of visual challenge to see something imperfect presented in the same format or medium as we have come to see perfect images. The visually are aided by the text which adds to the playful but confronting message – ‘An Ugly Carrot, The Disfigured Eggplant’. Then the lines beneath which remind us it doesn’t actually matter what they look like because their main function is for taste; “An Ugly Carrot…But in a soup who cares”? These posters and images also became the entrance point to introducing the public to facts and figures about Food Wastage, this was the important part to raise consumer awareness and reduce waste by doing so.

Inglorious Fruits Campaign Strategy, Design by Marcel for Intermarche.

Inglorious Fruits Campaign Strategy, Design by Marcel for Intermarche.

The success of the campaign was I think largely due its clever graphics, they are humorous, and the humour helps to stop people being offended when confronted by facts and figures which are being used to tell consumers to shop/behave differently.




Sarah Illengberger:

Is an Designer, Illustrator, Art Director based in Berlin, whose work is often 3-D, and explores unconventional ways of displaying information or conveying a point. I came across her a little while ago and wanted a chance to talk about her work. I think this is a good an exercise to talk about her work because I think she’s part of a growing set of creative’s who are looking to push the presentation of information into a more visual format.

The 10 Best Books of the Year by Sarah Illenberger for The New York Times.

The 10 Best Books of the Year by Sarah Illenberger for The New York Times.

In this cover for the New York Times book review she created paper rosette’s out the book jackets of the chosen books for the year. It’s a fun way of tying the visual to the idea of an awards ceremony, with the rosette’s as prizes.




Chilli Con Carne by Sarah Illenberger for Enroute Magazine. Taken from self-titled book published by Gestalten.

Chilli Con Carne by Sarah Illenberger for Enroute Magazine. Taken from self-titled book published by Gestalten.

The image here shows her work for Enroute Magazine. She hand made from paper the ingredients for a complex chilli con carne, I think it works really well. You get the idea that these are ingredients for a meal, and the sense that its a complex one, but it’s not 100% clear what meal as there’s been an omission of text. I manges to link in my mind cooking to art, as form of creativity. I think its an interesting way to display ingredients. I wonder if you could effectively display the making process through paper cutting or whether that would become to complex a task to convey without and text instructions.

Chilli Con Carne by Sarah Illenberger for Enroute Magazine. Taken from self-titled book published by Gestalten.

Chilli Con Carne by Sarah Illenberger for Enroute Magazine. Taken from self-titled book published by Gestalten.








I also wanted to make reference to a series of Infographic’s she produced for Neon magazine following the results of a survey on the sexual life of young people in 2007. I know it’s an odd topic to mention but I guess what I find interesting if her way of presenting that information in a way that’s palatable. It’s handled sensitively, and humorously, without having to use seedy images of men or women half naked or have cartoon of certain activity. For me that’s interesting as an example of finding ways to bring more taboo subjects into consideration without causing offensive or being vulgar. Here’s the link to the magazine pages.

Part 3: Exercise 1 ~ Identity Design

I needed to find some examples of design which was about creating a particular emotive response or association with brand identity. I chose to look through women’s fashion/lifestyle magazine Red for some examples.  I found two different examples of identity design; one an advert for clothing company Jigsaw, the other for Burt’s Bee’s Lip balm.

Perhaps the Jigsaw advert is designed to be more emotive, as its not entirely clear what in the advert is their product. You can see a scan of the advert below, followed by an annotated version I created using Illustrator. It’s a bit rough looking but it seemed like a good idea to annotate around the image rather than try and loosely write about it here…

Jigsaw Clothing Advert from Red Magazine April 2016.

Jigsaw Clothing Advert from Red Magazine April 2016.

Annotation and analysis of Jigsaw advert.

Annotation and analysis of Jigsaw advert.










I followed the same idea with the second advert from the magazine by Burt’s Bee’s:

Burt's Bee's Advert from Red Magazine April 2016.

Burt’s Bee’s Advert from Red Magazine April 2016.

Annotation and analysis of Burt's Bee's advert.

Annotation and analysis of Burt’s Bee’s advert.










Although both have different approaches in terms of design layout and content, they have a similar underlying feel of suggesting they or their products are life enhancing. That they as brands value honesty, freedom and creativity. Both feel like efforts to convince you of their trustworthy or investment worthy nature by way of virtue instead of convincing you that you must have their product. I wonder if this is something of a trend in marketing now or just those two companies?

Part 3: Exercise 1~ Authorial Content

For this part of the exercise I was initially unsure what to look for. But I took my cue’s from my work-book description and looked for examples of which was, “generating new and engaging content through comics, graphic novels, animation and other media”. It tried also to keep in mind that the objective of the content needed to be “to entertain, satirise or educate”.

Print examples:

Coralie Bickford-Smith; The Fox and The Star

I came across Coralie Bickford-Smith’s work as an illustrator/graphic designer for Penguin Books, she designed the beautiful covers of their Cloth Bound Classics range. But I wanted to focus on her work which she had authorial control over. Her début novel The Fox and The Star, is a good example of authorial content – she has written the text and designed the graphics within.

Front cover of The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Front cover of The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

The front and back covers are beautifully printed onto cloth, they’re incredibly tactile, you have the feel of the cloth but also the raised ink on the surface. The dense illustration on the front is a good foreshadowing of the inside content of the book.The use of just white ink against the navy cloth has a striking effect, making the image appear to jump off the cover. It’s simple but arresting, Bickford-Smith seems to like sticking to a limited colour- palette and this gives a distinct style to her work

Back cover of The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Back cover of The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

The front and back covers seem like a nod to previous older practices of book binding and printing. Which doesn’t really scream new and engaging content, but I think there’s a return to this style of craftsmanship returning to design at the moment which offers a break from high colour, glossy overloaded modern graphics.



Inside page from; The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Inside page from; The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

I think it’s the inside content of the book, in terms of layout, colour choices, illustrative style that offers a new engaging way of telling a story. There seems to be no strict rules to the layout of the text or illustrations, she uses several different layout formats across the book. Sometimes the illustrations have a large white border and then another central white box for the text to sit inside.On other pages the white text box sits towards the bottom left corner of the image or off centre. I think this encourages your eye to keep moving around the images and also fits well with the story.

Inside page from; The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Inside page from; The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

The fox is searching for a lost Star, so he’s moving around.These quite structured layouts are interspersed with double page images, with little or no text, which allow for a break from reading to just consider the imagery. Again this is unusual for a novel or children’s story. I think this encourages your eye to keep moving around the images and also fits well with the story, the fox is searching for a lost Star, so he’s moving around.


Inside page from; The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Inside page from; The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.








The layout of the text is also played with throughout the book, sometimes sitting within a white box, sometimes dispersed around the page surrounded by illustrations, even zigzagged between an illustration of the fox. I find this a fresh way of playing with text, as often text in a novel follows conventional forms, staying in the same place throughout.

Inside page from; The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Inside page from; The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.







Inside page from; The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Inside page from; The Fox And The Star by Coralie Bickford-Smith. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Her use of colour is also refreshing, she sticks to a limited colour palette, again allowing this to be different on alternative sets of pages. I think keeping the colour palette limited keeps everything together, if the colour palette was really varied alongside all the changing layout options I think it would feel disorientating and detract from the story. I think at most there are four colours on a page, and it least two (not including black and white as colours here)! I think the its a bold choice really in an age where lots of graphic design is loaded with colours and saturated tones.

Josh Cochran; New York

Front Cover of New York by Josh Cochran, published by Big Picture Press. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Front Cover of New York by Josh Cochran, published by Big Picture Press. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Perhaps on the opposite end of the design spectrum to Coralie Bickford-Smith is Josh Cochran. Specifically I want to mention a children’s book he published with Big Picture Press, called New York.  I’ve chosen it because it’s a very different format of book to the traditional children’s novel. Firstly there are no words, no real story line, secondly the book unfolds into a giant double sided poster.


Accordion folding pages of New York by Josh Cochran, published by Big Picture Press. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Accordion folding pages of New York by Josh Cochran, published by Big Picture Press. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

It’s a bit like the where’s Wally books, but set in New York and without a central character to find. Instead you’re invited to explore New York through the eyes of Josh Cochran in the form of a fun, hectic illustration. I think it mostly aims just to entertain but I suppose there’s a bit of education or exploration thrown in there for young children wanting to learn more about the world we live in.



The book pages unfolded. New York: Inside & Out, by Josh Cochran.

The book pages unfolded. New York: Inside & Out, by Josh Cochran.








Visually you couldn’t get much further opposite in content from The Fox and The Star. The pages are packed with illustrations of buildings, people, rubbish, animals, shop signs etc. The colour use is interesting, there is a certain style to it, there’s a mix of soft and bold, pastel shades and vibrant shades, but it’s certainly not a limited palette. The finish is allowed to be rougher, with pencil marks and shading lines left in, which gives a lively textured finish.

Close up on page from New York by Josh Cochran, published by Big Picture Press. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Close up on page from New York by Josh Cochran, published by Big Picture Press. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Animation/New media:

The School of Life:

The School of Life, exists to educate and enable people to develop emotional intelligence. It explores all areas of life and uses culture to do so. It makes use of YouTube as a platform for it’s education videos. These video’s explore a range of subjects but also use a range of forms of visual communication. Below is a video about Confidence, which is an animation with an illustrative quality. It seeks to visualize our struggles with confidence, defining it, where it comes from and does so (at least I think) fairly well. Using this medium is interesting, I think having this topic explored through a visual story, where the character is illustrated, instead of watching real people, gives the space to project your self, your own thoughts towards confidence onto the video.

Animation exploring confidence:

They use different formats/types of visuals for different topics. For instance in the video for Design below, a much more busy visual approach is taken.

Cut out images of figures or buildings or objects are animated to move on and off the screen. Some are made to look more humorous by adding googly eyes to them. The images are set to the same backdrop throughout an area of blue texture. It feels like a factual lesson or presentation without becoming dry and boring, I think this is largely due to the moving graphics and fun presentation. To me choosing to explore this content through this medium is about helping people to engage with the topic. It makes use of our limited attention span by keeping the video short, even being on the platform YouTube is part of a recognition of the technology or communication preferences of this age. Also their output of content; a video a week, is in keeping with educating an audience in a world where information travels quickly and attention is short lived.

I’ll leave my thoughts there for now and move on in my next post to Interactive Design…

Part 3: Exercise 1~ Interactive Design

Interactive communication is it feels becoming a part of our normal everyday on-line world. I wanted to try and find an example of interactive design from the web as well as from a game design perspective. I’ve explored the work of Wonky Studio as an example of Web Design, and the game Life Is Strange as an example of Game Design.

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Part 3: Exercise 1~ Alternative Messages

For the final part of the exercise I am exploring how visual communication is used by subcultural groups, ordinary people as a tool for protest. There were two groups that came to mind when I began thinking about who to research further; The Guerrilla Girls and The Craftivist Collective. 

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Project 2: Exercise 1 ~ Mixed Messages

Typography exercise examples.

Typography exercise examples.

In this exercise we were asked to describe the messages being communicated by the typefaces in the examples opposite. Also to describe the what’s communicated by the combination of what they say and the visual feel of the typography.

I decided to use The Field Guide to Typography by Peter Dawson to help me understand the original or designed uses to some of the typefaces.


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Project 2: Exercise 2 ~ Re-contextualising images

Researching artists who worked with photo-montage or collage:

I’ve previously researched work by artists John Heartfield and Peter Kennard in my Graphic Design module so I know I need to research other artists for this exercise. So I’ve looked into the work of Hannah Hoch and Martha Rosler.

Hannah Hoch:

Firstly let me start by saying how difficult it is to find images of Hoch’s work on-line. I’ve found it hard to find original works rather than imitation or work inspired by her work. I found some initial articles explaining Hannah Hoch’s work as connected to or part of the Dada, anti-art movement emerging from Germany following the first world war. Hannah Hoch was a German artist [1889-1978], whose work often featured montages of images, cut or collected from magazines, newspapers, posters. Her work often sought to promote women, and to give notion to the ideal of feminism and shifting attitudes towards the roles of women within society from the 1920s onwards.

I read an interesting article in the Telegraph written by Mark Hudson, around the same time as the Whitechapel Gallery presented the first major UK exhibition of the artists work. I found a link to Daniel Herman one of the curators of the exhibition discussing the exhibition with examples of work in a YouTube video:

He describes her work as abstract, concerned with challenging notions of beauty and addressing the fragmentation of society through the use of fragmented pieces of imagery (collage).

In another clip, this time from the MoMA online resources, a piece by Hannah Hoch is discussed:

There are a limited number of images of Hoch’s work here on the MoMA site. Unfortunately I cannot reproduced any of the images here for copyright reasons. Another website called The Weird Show – a concern on collage and beyond posted some examples of her work, but didn’t identify any names, dates or information with the pieces.

Martha Rosler:

Is an female artist born in America in 1943. Her work takes many forms; video, photography, text, installation. Theme’s within her work include exploring everyday life, feminism, the link between war and home, national security and climate change. Most of her work is created for public display or for use in public forums. Like Hoch she uses photomontage and collage to challenge stereotypes and society, often juxtaposing images of home life/domesticity with imagery of war or chaos or decay. This is particularly apparent in her series House Beautiful:Bringing the War Home. A series which she revisited in 2004-2008 around the years of the Iraq War.

Balloons 1967-1972 Martha Rosler.

Balloons 1967-1972 Martha Rosler.

Beauty Rest 1967-1972 Martha Rosler.

Beauty Rest 1967-1972 Martha Rosler.









Photo op, 2004 by Martha Rosler.

Photo op, 2004 by Martha Rosler.

Unlike Hoch’s collages Rosler’s work is much cleaner in terms of arrangement. The work appears less fragmented and I think this aids her concept of brining the war home. It is still clear the two different kinds of imagery jar and conflict with each other but there is an odd sense of the two meshing together in her work.

Further examples of Rosler’s work can be seen at the MoMA artists page.



Re-contextualising a current news story: The Panama Tax Havens Leak

The big story of the past few days has been a massive information/data leak of details from Mossack Fonseca which enables clients to launder money and avoid tax. Many names have emerged in the documents, among whom Russian leader Vladimir Putin and more recently links to David Cameron’s family through assets belonging to his late father. Unsurprisingly Downing Street say this is a private matter. I decided to take this ironic twist in events and pull out David Cameron and Vladimir Putin, supposedly opposites in morals and ideologies together in a image depicting panama.  This is obviously me stretching things and being a bit tongue in cheek!

I found some images an image of David Cameron with his hands up – in a pose that suggests ‘I’m not involved in this’ and a photo of Vladimir Putin winking – to signify perhaps wry involvement and making fun of Cameron’s involvement. I then stuck these images onto bikini clad or beach clad women to fit with the Panama beach setting. I found a background from a fashion magazine of a coastal region (I think Cannes to be precise) and used this as a back drop. I then found a rather comedy looking set of bags with dollar signs on to represent stole or perhaps illicitly kept cash. I then combined these images in a black and white arrangement using Photoshop:

Panama Collage Non text

The image on the left is the non text version of the collage. I decided to keep all the elements black and white using Photoshop because the real colours of the cut out images were too broad a mix of colours. The colours didn’t sit well together. I noticed that in most of Hannah Hoch or Rosler’s design a limited colour palette helped the elements sit side by side without too much competition for attention.




Panama Collage

The image on the right is a version of the collage with text. I added the text to help the viewer understand the context for all the elements. Perhaps the need to add text reveals my choice of imagery wasn’t effective enough. I’m not 100% sure either way. I find text often helps set a visual in it’s correct place. Personally I think the image needs the text because without colour it may not be initially clear to the viewer that the flag in the background is the Panama flag. Adding in the name of the country to the slogan helps make it clear what is being made reference to – at least I think it helps make it clearer.


Exercise 2: Collage examples from Artist Lynn Giunta

In the previous exercise I researched some Artists who worked with photomontage or collage for a more political or social commentary. Whilst I think Art that challenges or causes us to question decision makers or inequalities is good and often necessary sometimes it’s good to see a more positive perspective.

Whilst researching collage I came across the blog of Hallmark studios, think.make.share, which is full of lots of examples of hallmark artists doing workshops to inspire their creativity. I personally find the sight really exciting and love seeing the different approaches to creativity.

Searching through the blog I came across the work of Hallmark Artist, Lynn Giunta, who specialising in creating through collages. She led a session on creating paper cut collages for the Hallmark Artists which was written about on the blog. There is also an artist spotlight piece on her work. A simple video about her process is below:

Her work is vastly different to that of Hannah Hoch or Martha Rosler, and is also for commercial means (i.e. cards to be sold). But I enjoy her more free and organic approach, and the use of colours and textures. Her work has a liveliness to it, and is uplifting. Really I just wanted to make a note of her work as an example of collage that I preferred personally.

Part 2: Exercise 3 ~ Film Posters

I’m excited to have the opportunity to talk about a recent favourite animated film, Ernest & Celestine. The animation is based on the famous children’s book series featuring Ernest & Celestine by Gabrielle Vincent. It explores the unlikely friendship between bear Ernest and mouse Celestine and their Bonnie and Clyde like adventures.

For the purposes of this exercise I will be considering how typography, colour, image and composition are used to reflect the nature of the film in it’s film poster and trailer.

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Project 3: Exercise 1~ what does this Apple mean?

I wasn’t entirely sure how best to begin this exercise. So I began with a broad spectrum of search ideas and then refined down what I wanted to explore. For this exercise I needed to use images of apples as a start point for considering what the image of an apple could represent or signify. I could chose to explore apple images from art history or commercial visual communication. I started my search looking into both categories and have decided to narrow it down to the field of commercial visual communication.

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Visit to: The Hepworth Wakefield Print Fair 2016

I’ve been meaning to write about this visit for some time, it was our (myself and my husbands) first visit to The Hepworth Wakefield gallery and first time at a fair dedicated to printmaking. I will admit two things to begin with, firstly that I had never seen any work by the famous sculptor Barbara Hepworth prior to the visit. Secondly that I was not prepared for the somewhat dismal day we arrived at the gallery. Anyway we had intended to come see the print fair and to hear Printmaker Angie Lewin in Conversation with Senior Curator of Prints at the V&A, Gill Saunders.

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Interesting Illustrators: Owen Gent & Marina Muun.

In the process of researching for projects for degree work I often come across artists, designers, illustrators that I find fascinating. I don’t always make the time to comment on or collate examples of these. Often Pinterest is my chosen place of visual collation – I have boards where I digitally collect images in several different categories. I wanted to take the time to reflect on the work of two illustrators whose work I’ve discovered recently; Owen Gent & Marina Muun.

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Project 3: Exercise 2 ~ Join the Navy

Join the Navy, 1917 (colour litho); Richard Fayerweather Babcock

Join the Navy, 1917 (colour litho); Richard Fayerweather Babcock

In this exercise I am going to explore semiotics, by doing a semiotic analysis on the picture opposite. I will first describe the literal elements of the print, the denotation. Then I will consider its implied meaning, and try to work out whether these connotation were accidental or deliberate.






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Project 4: Time and Place ~ Exercise 1

In approaching this project, and more specifically this exercise I realised something. Okay I realised a couple of things; one that I’m not massively aware of what is new or now in visual/contemporary culture, two that I needed to figure out how to find out what is new or now. Cue frantic online searching of various illustration, contemporary visual culture magazines. I came across one magazine, Wrap, that I liked the look of which professed to be interested in contemporary illustration.  I  also began looking into the websites and magazines listed in my course guidance.

Front cover illustration by Ping Zhu. For Wrap magazine, issue 11 'Balance'. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

Front cover illustration by Ping Zhu. For Wrap magazine, issue 11 ‘Balance’. Photo credit: Christy Archer.

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Project 4: Exercise 2 ~ Knitting Patterns

This is perhaps one of the stranger exercises I’ve had to do for Uni work. In this exercise I’ve been asked to research contemporary and historical examples of where and how knitted items have been represented. I began with a mind map of my own instant thoughts on knitting and it’s associations.

Knitting brain storm









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Project 4: Exercise 3 ~ Visual conventions for time and place

In this exercise I needed to;

find examples of different visual conventions used to convey time/or place/space – frame by frame storytelling, handling of perspective, use of speech bubbles – from different time periods.

I also needed to use the exercise to develop research skills through the use of OCA online resources, websites, or visiting local libraries.

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Project 4: Exercise 4 Cutting Edge

So this exercise feels like an bit of an odd end to part three of this module. It’s about considering and finding examples of new forms of media, can be games, video, other interactive media, which I consider cutting edge or inventive forms of visual media.

I’d like to take a moment to say I am not massively cutting edge – I still think Instagram and Twitter feel like fairly new versions of media, they haven’t really existed for that long now have they!?

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Assignment 3: Re-appropriating images

For this assignment we have been asked to identify an example of re-appropriation within visual communication. I have chosen to consider a re-appropriation of Johannes Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring. The re-appropriation is a digital creation by Vienna based artist Dorothee Golz. In the post that follows I consider both images and collate notes ready for the assignment, a 1,00 word essay reflecting on questions from the workbook…

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Assignment 3:Reflections on Tutor Feedback

I realise I often don’t give the time/space to reflect on my tutor’s feedback on an assignment before diving straight into the next one. Her feedback was lengthy but helpful. There’s a few things I want to pick up on as room for improvement following her feedback:

  1. I need to make sure when I read recommended texts for the course I do the following things;

a) Make notes on my responses, thoughts, questions that arise on my blog as I read – this isn’t something I’ve done so far.

b) Make space/schedule time for reading these texts – I’ve given a large proportion of the time allocated to study to working on the exercises and assignment but haven’t set aside an amount of time for reading to support or supplement my studies. In all honesty I’m not sure how best to do this! Should I set aside an afternoon a week to read textbooks? Or a couple of hours a week?

2. Learn from previous mistakes:

For the next section on Photography, I’ve gone ahead and bought the texts my tutor recommended; Ian Jeffrey Photography: A Concise History, Susan Sontag On Photography, Graham Clarke The Photograph: A Visual History, Charlotte Cotton The Photography as Contemporary Art.

3. Recommended Essays or Documentaries;

My tutor mentioned Walter Benjamin’s 1936 Essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, as an important essay exploring mass communication. I found a version of it online, here.

She also recommended I watch John Berger’s Ways of Seeing, series of programmes made in 1972. I have also found a link to these on YouTube and will begin watching those and making some reflections in my learning log.


Assignment 3: Final revisions of essay

I gave an initial response to my tutor’s feedback on assignment 3 here. I have since then spent some time reworking and re-writing elements of the essay to try and make improvements or fill in gaps that my tutor had a highlighted.

One of the main things my tutor highlighted was ‘the need to work on integrating relevant ‘theory’ with your solid analysis’. I read Walter Benjamin’s essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction some time ago, but recently read Ways of Seeing by John Berger. I found within Berger’s book (which draws heavily on many of the arguments Benjamin’s essay made), much more accessible. I also found that Berger’s arguments were relevant to the assignment, particularly the issue of the distinctness of an original and the notion of a ‘language of images’. I’ve tried to incorporate these arguments in my revised essay.

My tutor also noted that Golz work (the artist whose re-appropriation I studied in my essay), was postmodernist. I had manged to get part way through reading Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction by Christopher Butler, so I carried on reading, and discovered that Golz work was a good example of postmodernism in it’s obsession with using elements from art of the past, and in it’s bid to force viewers or audiences to question art by taking elements of past movements and re-working them. Golz work also has a feminist slant to, and I found Berger and Butler both useful in explaining her effort to address the representation of women in society at the time of Vermeer and in today’s postmodernist society. I’m aware that I still don’t have a comprehensive understanding of Postmodernism but I feel like at least I’ve tried to grasp some key concepts and refer to them in a way that’s appropriate to the subject of the essay.

My tutor also noted that Golz had drawn on elements in her re-appropriation that were similar to elements seen in typical Vermeer paintings, again this highlighted to me the need for further research. I found a book in my library dedicated to Vermeer; A view of Delft Vermeer then and now, by Anthony Bailey, which me to uncover how The Girl with The Pearl Earring would’ve been seen by an audience at the time. I used this to help improve my semiotic analysis of the original. Which leads to my final point of improvement – I was encouraged to be more deliberate in my semiotic analysis, so I decided to make that the initial starting point of my re-written essay, beginning with the denotation and then moving on to the connotation of the original.

I think (at least hope), these changes and further research have made my essay much more informed. I’ve certainly tried to incorporate wider themes, refer to key course textbooks in the revised essay.