Assignment 3: Exercise – Starting a visual diary

I was very excited at the prospect of doing this exercise because it feels like I’ve been doing it in some form for a few years now. I started collecting packaging, clothing labels, magazines, articles, cutting out bits of text I liked the look of in 2008/2009.

But I’d never put these objects into a scrap book or something collective so they’ve sat in boxes for years and I’ve just continued to accumulate more. So I’ve now started to compile a folder (a physical not digital one), where I can stick done objects on pages and insert the pages in.

Here’s a few

Page 1 of Scrap book

Page 1 of Scrap book –  various packaging

Pages from scrap book

Pages from scrap book – coffee packaging & fashion images

Page from scrap book

Page from scrap book – text from magazines


More pages from scrap book

More pages from scrap book – labels



Project visual literacy: researching graphic designers

I’m finding this a little tricky, as I’ve become aware that I don’t really have much awareness of current graphic designers. A lot of the design I admire or keep from packaging etc comes from companies which don’t name their designers on their products/packaging.

So I looked at two illustrators I admire: Emma Block & Debbie Powell.

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Visual Literacy: Research Pt.2

I mentioned in my first research post that I hadn’t investigated who designs some of the packaging I admire and really so no reason not to. So I searched ‘who designs Starbucks packaging’  and came across a very interesting post here:

It’s an interview with Mike Peck, Starbucks Creative Director of Packaging (what an incredible title!) It’s mostly an interview about a redesign of packaging for their coffee beans. I should probably explain at this point that I used to work for Starbucks (as a barista) so was fairly familiar with their packaging/design.

It’s a fascinating read because it reveals how important design can be for conveying information about what a product is really like, it ca convey a feeling or depth or provoke intrigue or it can look simplistic and not invite the viewer to engage.

The really great bit at the end of the interview is that he mentions a whole list of graphic designers who worked on the redesign. So I went through the list searching to find one that had some kind of blog or website so I could find out more about their process.

One designer I found of interest in the bunch is a guy named Victor Melendez:

I really like his work for Starbucks and some of his side projects but am unsure about his general style, I don’t really like the whole day of the dead themed work. I’ll do a proper analysis tomorrow but for now I think that’s enough!

Visual Literacy: Research Pt.3

Victor Melendez

Victor Melendez describes himself as a Graphic designer and Illustrator. He originates from Mexico City but currently lives and works in Seattle. He works within the Starbucks creative design team but also seems to keep himself busy with side projects.

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Exercise: Signs and Symbols

The brief:

Reading existing signs symbols and images create a new symbol for one of these concepts:

Danger, Movement, Love, Here.

Research how existing visual language represents these concepts, document this through drawings, examples, mind maps. Then create an alternative symbol to represent at least one of the above concepts.

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Exercise: Signs and Symbols Pt.2

I started working on the designs mainly on the computer heading into illustrator to try and create something using the squares of movement I’d cut out from magazines. In hindsight I think it would’ve been better for me to have taken longer/given more thought to sketching designs in pencil first.

I started by working on creating a clipping mask to insert the pictures into text saying ‘movement’:

Movement Logo 1 copy Movement Logo 2


I like the look of these as I think the colour and clipped effect of the images inside the letters adds to the sense of movement. But I think it feels too much like the easy or cheating option to use the word ‘movement’ to reference the concept of movement. It doesn’t really feel like an alternative sign.

I showed my husband the designs I’d created and he felt like I needed to go back to simpler images maybe a logo of sorts rather than using letters to show the concept. So I went back to my sketchbook and drew some simple little ideas to see if I could come up with a different avenue for the design:

Movement sketches

I liked the idea of almost a cork screw/spiral shape as a symbol for movement as obviously this links to visual ideas like the hurricane or storms which have extreme amounts of movement. I tried to create a shape in Illustrator drawing over my sketch of the spiral shape.

But I wasn’t happy that I was creating a fluid/developed enough shape, it looked fairly childish and that wasn’t what I wanted. Using a spiral with curved lines also felt like creating a sign which linked to closely to existing images of movement. I wanted to create a shape that used lines that were an alternative so thought maybe something that was more geometric in nature might work.

I came across an online tutorial to create a logo which inspired me to create the final logo. You can see the tutorial here:

In the tutorial he creates a ribbon shaped logo out of rectangles arranged upright, almost in an concertina fashion. My thought was to use some curved rectangles on their sides to draw the eye downwards and create a sense of movement.

In the image below you can see the basic frame work (the second almost lollipop shaped spiral).


Movement symbols-logo skeleton

I wasn’t 100% happy with the basic framework but it was better than anything I’d thought of so I decided to think about adding colour to the basic shapes. I thought that a bright, rainbow like colour would be fitting as there’s often a lot of colour in images displaying movement. But I wanted to use blended colour rather than just flat colour so I took a bit of time learning how to use the gradient tool and the result is the image below. It’s not perfect but I think it does offer a different perhaps more restrained logo like take on the concept of movement:


Movement symbols-logo







Project: Visual Dynamics

Research point

The research point for this project involves going back to my own visual diary and considering how I look at images. I’m asked to consider three things:

1. How do your eyes travel around the items you have collected?

2. What do you look at first?

3. Where is the contrast in what you are looking at?

I want to consider these question by commenting on a few pages from my visual diary…

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Exercise: Abstract Cities – Montreal

I didn’t really know where to start with this, but seeing as I couldn’t afford a trip to Montreal and have not previously been there I knew primary research was out of the question. My next thought was to try and find out more about visiting Montreal and therefore find out about popular landmarks/attractions that might form the basis of my abstract design.

I did something sneaky – I went into a travel agents and said I was interested in holidays in Canada and could I have a brochure. They were kind and here’s the evidence:

Scan of p.74 of '1stClassHolidays - Canada the complete guide 2014'

Scan of p.74 of ‘1stClassHolidays – Canada the complete guide 2014’

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Exercise: Abstract Cities – Manhattan

I am very privileged to be able to say I have been in parts of Manhattan as I visited New York City. I found the rough guide to Manhattan helped me to clarify just what parts of New York City were Manhattan! See the link below:

Interestingly it considers Staten Island and the statue of liberty as parts of Manhattan’s Down town district, which is lucky for me as I took a few (poor quality) photo’s when I visited when I was 16.

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Exercise: Abstract cities – Marrakesh

Marrakesh is not a city that I’ve visited before so again I’ve looked at the rough travel guide to help me figure out where to begin my research. I then formed a mind map of places to find images of as a source for ideas. I also contacted a friend who had visited the city and found a photo of her’s to use as inspiration.

Mind map of places to research.

Mind map of places to research.

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Exercise: Abstract Cities – Malmo

Malmo is a city within Sweden, I looked to the rough guide to start my research into the city.

I also found the local website helpful in helping me get a feel for the city itself:

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Exercise: Abstract cities – Manchester

I’m half embarrassed to admit I’ve never been to Manchester and didn’t really know much about it before starting the project. If I’m honest I actually found it one of the harder places to create a cover for, perhaps because it’s supposed to be closer to home but really doesn’t feel it!

Brainstorming ideas

Brainstorming ideas

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Exercise: Photomontage – Rana Plaza

I was really appalled by the Rana Plaza factory collapse back in 2013. It was widely discussed in the media at the time as it was the biggest industrial disaster in Bangladesh’s history. But also because the factory that collapsed was a garment factory which made cheap clothing for many well known brands in the UK & USA.  There’s lots of news articles about the legacy of the collapse but here’s one to make a point: Continue reading

Assignment 3: Colour Me – Research

For this assignment I needed to produce an A3 sized (297x420mm) poster which celebrated a colour of my choice. There were a few limitations to the task:

1. Only allowed to use my chosen colour, its complementary colour and black/white.

2. Consider visual dynamics/contrast as well as meaning – my interpretation of the colour as well as other people’s.

3. Submit three variations of the poster as well as the finished design.

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