Project: Different Typefaces

For me, Typography has become as much a part of Graphic Design as dynamic imagery, grid layout, and design. It’s integral and can either make or break a message. As I’ve read and learned during the course I have discovered the importance of steering away from urges to copy contemporary enthusiast uses of typo, often made à la mode.

Bad choices #1 and #2. Enough to make the eyes sting.

I had an inkling that print had been around for some time, and it’s important to consider what you believe to be printing. It is impressions made by seals, its rubbings, moveable block, and wooden block, screen, PC and 3D. In Europe, however, we seem to have stumbled into a fixation that Johannes Gutenberg’s innovation of printing seems to have wiped out all previous forms of print from popular consciousness.

Diamond-Sutra

Diamond Sutra 868 AD – A moment of revelation

Yet some 600 years earlier we had the Diamond Sutra (above) the first mass-produced example of print, but surely there are earlier examples of print that ties in typography?

Cylinder-seal of the Uruk period and its impression, c.3100 BCE. Louvre Museum.

Cylinder-seal of the Uruk period (Sumeria) with the corresponding impression, c.3100 BCE. Louvre Museum.

Lo there was. Ancient Sumerians used cylinder seals to make impressions into clay tablets as a form of graphic representation of goods/services received. This shows that despite our perceptions of print, type and graphic representation being in the ‘present’, its history is far longer.

So among all of this history which period attracts me the most? It has to be said its contemporary Typography that has the real pull for me. The heady mix of words as imagery and type of Font and Type adding power to a message. So as an avid fan of Pinterest I started a Typography and Inspired Graphic Design boards.

 

 

Typography is filled with examples of Type that have really caught my eye with their imaginative approach to communicating a message in a word. Whilst Inspired Graphic Design features works from the late Victorian Era to the early 60’s. moments of nostalgic glow that give me the urge to endeavor to replicate in some form or other.
Please feel free to follow and I hope you’re own boards start to grow with your own ideas of Type perfection.

Resources Used:

Bad Choice Poster #1. Available at: http://artfcity.com/2010/10/08/an-open-letter-to-rachel-harrison/ (Accessed 06102019)

Bad Choice Poster #2. Available at: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/367887863286946200/ (Accessed 06102019)

Diamond Sutra. Available at: https://www.ancient-origins.net/artifacts-ancient-writings/diamond-sutra-oldest-known-printed-book-world-006185 (Accessed 06102019)

Cylinder-seal of the Uruk period and its impression, c.3100 BCE. Louvre Museum. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cylinder_seal (Accessed 06102019)

Exercise: Photomontage

Early examples of my photomontage work

I recall the first examples of photomontage by Soviet Constructivists that I came across and how their simplicity in form and colour as well as how powerful they were. As the messages contained within the posters were heralding a new dawn of hope for the future. Celebrating great technological and sociological events of the age, these new forms of graph design were as dynamic as they were groundbreaking.

Whilst in Western and Central Europe Photomontage was still very much on the fringes of the Avant-Garde, in the burgeoning Soviets Republics they were much in the mainstream. Not only because they challenged the old visual order, but also because the population’s literacy rates at the time were so low.

G. Klulsis (1895-1938).jpg

 Let‘s fulfill the plan of great work.  Moscow, Leningrad, 1930, G. Klulsis.

Lenin and electrification Shass-Kobelev 1925

Lenin and electrification, Shass-Kobelev, 1925

tempo_1

Tempo, Tempo, Marianne Brandt. Brandt of the Bauhaus School challenged perceptions around gender and work.

These early pioneers went on to ignite the imagination and creativity of so many photographers and artists, myself included. Such is the proliferation of photomontage that a simple Pinterest search delivers a mass of inspiration.

Pinterest Screen Shot

Pinterest Screen Shot

For this particular exercise, I chose to run with contemporary political themes, BREXIT, Gun Control and address the rise in Vegan populist news stories.

BREXIT

Brexit shambols

BREXIT Shambles. Ben Skipper 2019. Created using Photoshop and deliberately echoing the ransom note style.

Brexit

This image gave the opportunity to mix self-taken imagery with some pre-existing and well-known imagery. I wanted to show what an absolute farce BREXIT had become, how the whole process has progressed from a political vanity project to a politically impassable mess.

The main background image was taken a few years ago of a Big Issue seller in Lincoln cleaning spoons he found. The cover of the magazine is as apt then as it is now. Over this, I laid an opaque image of the EU flag as part of the overall tableau.

The other image I took is of the gentleman sitting on the ‘S’, he was counting food coupons at the time. I isolated him from the background image below using the Magnetic Lasso tool and then creating a separate JPEG layer allowing me to position the man in a predominant position.

Coupons

Coupons

I then sourced a range of key political imagery that existing around BREXIT, including the now-infamous BREXIT bus and David Cameron, both isolated from their background image below using the Magnetic Lasso tool and then creating a separate JPEG layer.

Above these were positioned flying pigs, sourced from a PNG royalty-free library. I shall let their presence speak for itself. The now-iconic image of the European Research Group (ERG) with their heads in their hands has become synonymous with the issue being commented upon and work for all sides on a range of levels from hopelessness to frustration to apathy.

Aside from the obvious message, the BREXIT Shambles text was influenced by a range of sources, but the design was chosen for two distinct reasons. The first it echoed the atypical ransom note, a reference to how both sides of the BREXIT argument feel that their wishes are being held.

The second is the format in which letters are presented as being deliberately cut from Tabloid newspaper headlines and names, whose reportage has been less than accurate at times [sic].

In God We Trust

Give me Liberty

In God We Trust Ben Skipper 2019

This montage was very much an almost instantaneous reaction to recent events in the US. From the seemingly endless fatal incidents with firearms to the almost constant, inflammatory and mindless vitriol spouted by President Trump. His is a presidency that has become a mirror of contemporary America.

His almost fanatical support for the firearms lobby combined with anti-immigration policies have created a fractured America. A country once united by their shared belief in God (which one of the 5000 such deities I’m not sure) has become increasingly fragmented and isolationist.

I deliberately sought an image of enraged Trump, which seems to be his default oratory method, the gun acting as a microphone for his words of anger. Behind him two samples of how his presidency is viewed, one by the New York Post the other by the Sri Lankan Daily Mirror.

The image below the NY Post is of  Rioters in Washington, D.C., on his Inauguration Day, whilst below Sri Lankan Daily Mirror is a Border Camp image by Sergio Flores echoing Trump’s new form of Nationalism. Both images have been chosen to echo the headlines above and to show how fractures the Super Power has become.

His inactivity, or disinterest, in dealing with escalating domestic gun violence has made him something of a gun lobby darling with many seeing his stance as aiding the message of the NRA.

Finally, the combined background of the Stars and Stripes and the Dollar Bill are used to reflect Trump’s political character, one drive my intense nationalistic pride and  Avarice.

Fake News – Populism and Reality

Fake News

Fake News Stamp. Ben Skipper 2019

Cows of Death

Bovines of Death? Ben Skipper 2019

From Science Focus:

From Science Focus: How many cars equal the CO2 emissions of one plane?

‘A Boeing 747 uses 7840kg of aviation fuel for the take-off, climb and descent portions of the flight and these account for about 250km. For journeys longer than that, the plane will use 10.1kg for each additional kilometre under typical cruising conditions. So to fly from Heathrow to Edinburgh (530km) uses 10,668kg of fuel, which releases a little over 33 tonnes of CO2. 

‘Whereas a Ford Mondeo 1.8 TDCi emits 151g of CO2 per km and covers 650km to reach Edinburgh. That works out to be 98kg for a single passenger, compared to 79kg per person for the Jumbo, assuming it carries its full complement of 416 passengers. But you could drive 336 cars to Edinburgh for the same CO2 as one plane’. Carla Pearce

From Springer Link:

‘Methane (CH4) is one of the trace gases in the atmosphere that is considered to play a major role in what is called the “greenhouse effect.” There are six major sources of atmospheric methane: emission from anaerobic decomposition in (1) natural wetlands; (2) paddy rice fields; (3) emission from livestock production systems (including intrinsic fermentation and animal waste); (4) biomass burning (including forest fires, charcoal combustion, and firewood burning); (5) anaerobic decomposition of organic waste in landfills; and (6) fossil methane emission during the exploration and transport of fossil fuels. Obviously, human activities play a major role in increasing methane emissions from most of these sources. Especially the worldwide expansion of paddy rice cultivation, livestock production and fossil fuel exploration have increased the methane concentration in the atmosphere. Several data sets help estimate atmospheric methane concentration up to 160,000 years back. Major sources and sinks of present-day methane emission and their relative contribution to the global methane balance demonstrate great uncertainties in the identification and quantification of individual sources and sinks. Most recent methane projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for 2025 and 2100 are discussed and used to estimate the contribution of population growth to future methane emission. Finally the paper discusses options and restrictions of reducing anthropogenic methane emissions to the atmosphere’. Gerhard K. Heilig

From Time for Change Are cows the cause of global warming?:

‘The most important conclusion for ourselves is: Eat much less meat and dairy products. This is one of the most effective ways to reduce our personal carbon footprint and to generally reduce our personal negative impact on the environment’. 

Response to the above: ‘When managed intensively, the “standard grazing unit”, a 1000 pound cow can capture and store the equivalent of 3 tons of CO2 per year, three times as much as the equivalent methane she produces’.

From Webwise.ie:

According to Martina Chapman (Media Literacy Expert), there are three elements to fake news; ‘Mistrust, misinformation and manipulation’.

This image is a response to the recent, almost militant assault on farming, in particular, livestock husbandry, that has taken certain scientific facts and highlighted some whilst ignoring others.

It features a self-taken still of Cows, which has been layer with the background converted to Black and White, while the cows have been isolated with the Magnetic Lasso Too. They have retained their colour, so as to be a focal point, and been placed as a layer between the Fake News stamp, made in Photoshop, and the background.

The skull and crossbones, signifying death and the methane molecules rising from the herd tipping a wink to the spurious claims that cows are responsible, and by extension farming in general, is responsible for Global Warming, the Fake News element of the piece.

I deliberately kept the message and image as visually simple as possible allowing the elements to spur the viewer to consider the message much like the work of John Heartfield.

Evaluation

The act of photomontage is not only an opportunity to tell a story, make a statement or protest, it is also the opportunity to change the context of an image. To change a moment of innocent inactivity into something powerful is a great challenge and can be a creative panacea.

In approaching my three themes I have utilised not only photography but also graphic art and type, echoing the work of early Soviet Weimar practitioners and influences. By merging all three elements I feel I have been true to the exercise theme and also developed my own creativity. Image Reserach has been not only beneficial but great fun too.

In using the magnetic loop tool within Photoshop, as well as the utilising the program for font design has allowed me to be more comfortable and creative in my approach to the task.

Overall a great exercise in creativity, research and DTP use. Photomontage is a genre I have always been drawn to and I hope to continue to utilise it as a medium.


 Resources Used

 Let‘s fulfill the plan of great work.  Moscow, Leningrad 1930. G. Klulsis. Available at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/106251732/sovet-constructivist-posters-lets

Lenin and electrification Shass-Kobelev 1925. Available at: https://www.etsy.com/listing/153703442/soviet-poster-ussr-ussr-propaganda?item_group_id=PG_153703442

Tempo, Tempo, Marianne Brandt. Available at: https://www.icp.org/exhibitions/tempo-tempo-the-bauhaus-photomontages-of-marianne-brandt

Heads in hands. The Guardian available at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/sep/12/brexit-great-why-boris-johnson-jacob-rees-mogg-peter-bone-sad#img-1

Theresa May available at:  https://briefingsforbrexit.com/may-renegotiating-the-withdrawal-agreement/

Brexit Bus available at:  https://www.thedailymash.co.uk/politics/politics-headlines/guilt-ridden-brexit-bus-in-self-destructive-shame-spiral-20180805175990

EU Flag available at:  https://www.disabilitynewsservice.com/more-disabled-people-add-their-voices-to-brexit-opposition/

David Cameron available at:  https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/david-camerons-full-speech-conservative-6589711

Flying Pig available at:  https://imgbin.com/png/tnHBnQip/flying-pig-png

US Flag available at:  https://www.military.com/flag-day/us-flag-code.html

Trump available at:  http://www.financetwitter.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/

M16 available at: https://machinegunamericaorlando.com/gun_types/machine-guns/

NRA Logo available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Rifle_Association#/media/File:National_Rifle_Association_official_logo.svg

In God we trust available at:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_God_We_Trust

Daniel Rohrbough available at:  https://metro.co.uk/2019/04/20/remembering-the-13-victims-of-columbine-high-school-massacre-20-years-on-9228117/

Sri Lankan Daily Mirror available at:  http://www.dailymirror.lk/print/opinion/Donald-Trump-the-nationalist-messiah-from-the-Wild-West/172-119764

NY Post available at:  https://nypost.com/2019/08/04/the-post-says-ban-assault-weapons-now/

Microphone head available at:  https://www.gear4music.com/Recording-and-Computers/Shure-A58WS-Foam-Windscreen-for-Ball-Type-Microphone-Black/PD0?origin=product-ads&utm_campaign=PLA+Shop+-+Shure&utm_medium=vertical_search&network=google&adgroup=2+-+Brand+Level+-+Shure&merchant_id=1279443&product_id=32868d1&product_country=GB&product_partition_id=84412766959&gclid=Cj0KCQjw2K3rBRDiARIsAOFSW_4Z6GmqBj5Gs4ezcAK69FX42zzfP_zeAX_pWv7DaRygH5p2UenWdfYaAt2WEALw_wcB

Border Camp Image Sergio Flores for The Washington Post/Getty Images available at:  https://www.gq.com/story/us-border-concentration-camps

Rioters in Washington, D.C., on Inauguration Day (Photo: Sara L. Voisin/Washington Post/Getty Images) available at:  https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/06/antifa-protest-donald-trump-roots-left-wing-political-violence/

Skull and Cross Bones available at:  https://www.cleanpng.com/png-skull-and-bones-skull-and-crossbones-human-skull-s-4559270/

Methane Structure available at:  https://www.pinclipart.com/pindetail/JbmJo_methane-molecule-structure-atom-chemical-compound-methane-ball/

Pinterest Screen Shot available at: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/search/pins/?q=photomontage&rs=typed&term_meta[]=photomontage%7Ctyped

Science Focus: How many cars equal the CO2 emissions of one plane? Available at:https://www.sciencefocus.com/future-technology/how-many-cars-equal-the-co2-emissions-of-one-plane/

The Greenhouse Gas Methane (CH4) Abstract, Gerhard K. Heilig, Nov 1994, Springer Link. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02208779

Are cows the cause of global warming? Time for Change, 2008. Available at:https://timeforchange.org/are-cows-cause-of-global-warming-meat-methane-CO2

Explained: What is Fake News? Available at: https://www.webwise.ie/teachers/what-is-fake-news/

Exercise: Understanding Colour

csm_Itten_Johannes_Farbstern_12936deb8c

Portrait of Johannes Itten, by Paula Stockmar, father of the Farbenkugel, or Colour wheel, wearing one of his self made robes whilst working as a member of staff at the Staatliches Bauhaus in Weimar 1920.

This particular exercise starts to draw on various strands of professional practice across the graphic design spectrum as well as delving further into DTP software and understanding the role of colour.

As with all exercises the first task to read the brief and consider what actions to take to help deliver the expected outcome. Notes were taken and ideas developed.

Keynotes to help formulate my plan

The first task was to look at each word and break it down to consider its meaning beyond the face value and to consider how these definitions could be realised in colour. The next step was to then divide the 26 ideas proved by the exercise into themes.

This was a relatively straight forward task and the ideas were separated into Harmonious, Neutral and Harsh themes. This also allowed to consider the form that my colour combinations would take.

I then considered colour. As the themes were self-explanatory I opened a series of photo’s from my library where the colour reflected the three themes. These were then pixelated through Affinity Designer and Publisher to provide a 256 colour palette, of which I made several.

I then created a grid, into which I chose palettes that were populated with what I considered to be 40 bright and dark colors. These palettes were further pixelated, again using affinity products, to produce bespoke 256 colour palettes.

Screenshot ContactSheet-001

Screenshots of colour palette development

The resultant colours were then chosen to represent the lighter and darker sides of human nature. This in itself was great fun and let me focus on the clours that I really felt matched what I was aiming to achieve.

Light (L) and Dark (R) palettes

The next phase was to design how the clours would work as contrast and dynamic partners and whether or not similar shades could also be contrasting? The final question was form presentation. How could these combinations be presented?

I decided on using a differing physical form for each idea as below. I would also experience with DTP to utilise certain effects. An inner shadow was adopted for the Harsh themes, whilst an outer glow was adopted for the Harmonious themes. The Neutral theme would be soft on the eye, but different enough to ensure the viewer would not confuse it with the other themes.

Energetic, Vital and Unhappy

Overall a great exercise, not only for experimenting with colour, but also for working with DTP and learning a little more about how to manipulate images to suit a purpose. This work allowed me to consider contrasts and what worked and what didn’t. It also showed me that selecting contrasts isn’t always the easiest task and takes quite a bot of concentration and consideration.

Final tearsheets featuring all the emotions by name

Resources used

Portrait of Johannes Itten, by Paula Stockmar, 1920, available at https://www.bauhaus100.com/the-bauhaus/people/masters-and-teachers/johannes-itten/ (accessed 19/08/2019)

Whitford, F. (1988) Bauhaus. Thames and Hudson. London

Mollica, P. (2013). Walter Foster. CA

Muller-Brockmann, J. (2019) Grid Systems in Graphic Design 13th edn. Niggli, Salenstein.

Exercise: Seeing the Light

Tearsheets featuring the complete light bulb design set.

This exercise has been great fun as it’s allowed for a moment of PC related fun and games. Using a rather cute kitten as a creative cue the exercise asked me to look at utilising a Light Bulb, a block of colour and the words ‘Light Bulb’.

Sitting down with my sketch pad I started to doodle away and created a mind map which helped me to develop my ideas.

My initial ideas noted down and developed

I drew on every inspirational image I could think of. I chose yellow for its association with brightness, which is something a light bulb is rather good at supplying.

Changing the shape and style of the block was always going to be a winner and something I was keen to experiment with. I also sought to change the colour and tone of the wording, adjusting it to fit the size and positions of the colour block and bulb. Seeking to amplify its dynamic nature in tune with the bulb.

I chose the font, Blackcurrent by Rian Hughes, which is available on Adobe Creative Cloud. I chose the font primarily for its bulbous form and soon found that it responded well to manipulation, losing none of its vitality. I particularly like the fade-out block, though I think it may have been pushing the design brief a little too far.

Like the Kitten, in the example, the kitten was enlarged, shrunk and generally utilised as a part of the design process not external to it. Using this as my cue I started to play with the form of the light bulb, splitting it both vertically and horizontally, as well as enlarging it. I also experimented with transforming the block colour to take on the shape of the Light Bulb, pushing the brief a little.

My final 20 designs

Having produced a series of 36 images I was now faced with singling out 20. This was no easy task, and those I chose were either subtly different or new concepts in their entirety.

I have to admit I found myself drawn more the images where the light blud was split or rotated and the wording bold and enlarged. The block colour, bright and full of life, soon became subordinate to my needs, which rapidly focused on the font and object.

Overall a great little exercise and even with its tight parameters delivered some very aesthetically interesting combinations.

Exercise: Signs and Symbols. Playing with Fire

As the course progresses I move on to tackling Simile and Metaphor. They almost roll off the tongue, much in the same way that tactile and elbow do. But I digress. This exercise focuses on me choosing one concept, so I went for DANGER. Using what little brains I have I started with my notes and sketches looking at all the themes around the word and idea.

2019-07-22-01

Hmm, I may be in need of a heavier pencil…

2019-07-22-02

…thinking about and around themes…

2019-07-22-03

…now thinking about visual representations…

2019-07-22-04

…practice drawings, close but no cigar…

2019-07-22-05

…that better, not so 80’s kitsch. The bottom figure is the one I’m going for, pure and simple representation…

2019-07-22-06

…looking at the details, I want to merge the biohazard and radiation symbols and place these in a ball shape to symbolise both playing with fire and danger.

So I started to place the elements together in Designer to see how they would look.

Don't play with fire

The first image certainly has the drama, the Photoshop flames, and sparks adding a bit of action to the figure kicking the ‘danger ball’.

Don't play with fire Sparks out

I looked at the image and realised that the sparks seemed to face the wrong way, so I swung them around 180 degrees. Okay, I suppose. I’m still not feeling it. So In a moment of gay abandon, I step it up a gear. exclamation mark, literally.

Don't play with fire Sparks out #2

Okay, not quite the effect I had in mind. So how about using the images frame to draw the viewers attention in?

Don't play with fire #3

Errr… that’s a no from me. way too much going on. It’s a visual mess, two different times of image realisation, circles everywhere. Time to rethink.

Don't play with fire #6

So, the main thing that jarred for me was the fire loop. Given the rest of the image was cartoon-like in nature I opted on replacing this. Given my drawing skills aren’t the sharpest right now I did a quick search and found the graphic that suited my needs.  It will also add inspiration to my learning around drawing such images in Designer.

At the same time, I chose to do away with the eclipse shape as it was ‘fussy’ and didn’t seem to add anything to the overall design. The above image was close to what I wanted, yet still seemed not quite right. No real balance.

It was then I realised that the sparks, whilst possibly dynamic, didn’t really add anything. Visually they were unnecessary and in terms of the colour palette they clashed. Whilst I could have changed the colour the more I looked the more unsettled I was by their presence, so out they came.

Don't play with fire #5

Yet something still didn’t seem right. The exclamation mark? was it too much?

Don't play with fire #4

With its removal, the image seems empty, yet with its inclusion, it seems cluttered. Yet I want to keep the message simple.

This exercise just goes to show that even the simplest task can be complicated.


Resources Accessed

Cartoon Flame. Available at: http://clipart-library.com/clip-art/flames-with-transparent-background-17.htm (accessed 20072019)

Photorealistic flames, Biohard and Radiation symbols: Available at: https://www.kisspng.com/png-fire-spark-flames-709923/ (accessed 20072019)

Exercise: A Visual Diary

Always an ongoing and highly enjoyable mission the visual diary is something I’ve been keeping for a few years now since I discovered Pinterest. Along side promotional postcards and magazines I started to consider and appreciate the graphic design in advertising as a form of art.

Pinterest #1

A screenshot of my Pinterest graphics folder ‘Inspired Graphics’

On top of the various saved sites and magazines are the dozens of books, filled with ideas, examples and tips are the websites of various collections of imagery. I find myself drawn, in particular, to the styles of the 1930’s to the early 60’s. Here there is an innocence and a sense of fun that when tried before seemed a little forced.

Aeroput Yugoslavia c.1930s Giclee Print by Marcovic

Aeroput, Yugoslavia c.1930s Giclee Print by Marcovic

It was also a period of visual experimentation, where nothing was discounted and a new period of creative freedom seemed to abound. I’m also drawn to this style of illustration as there’s something ‘safe’ about it. Reassuring almost.

Harpers

Harpers Bazaar Magazine Cover, June 1940.

Maybe it’s a reflection of my own values a desire to return to a more level headed world? Its also a break perhaps from the often busy designs of my own cultural background and a desire to seek something cleaner and crisper.

From The Fireside Book of Favorite American Songs Illustrated by Aurelius Battaglia. 1952.

From “The Fireside Book of Favorite American Songs” Illustrated by Aurelius Battaglia. 1952.

Either way it’s always fun to continue to seek and find new


Resources Accessed

Harpers Bazaar Print: Available at: http://www.moodlki.com/2013/06/bazaar-covers.html (Accessed 11072019)

Aeroput Yugoslavia c.1930s Giclee Print by Marcovic Available at: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/603200943820318308/  (Accessed 11072019)

From “The Fireside Book of Favorite American Songs,” Illustrated by Aurelius Battaglia. 1952. Available at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/37217398@N02/3702809297/in/gallery-31333391@N04-72157623308399437/ (Accessed 11072019)

 

 

Research Point: Defining an influence

How do you define influence? Who’s work is it that shouts out to you? Graphic Design is, for me at least, filled with individuals and groups who’s work has spanned the ages and influenced me in a variety of ways.

 

 

Early Soviet Propaganda. Clockwise: For the Proletarian Park of Culture and Leisure, 1932, by Vera Gitsevich; Gather the Harvest, 1931, by Dmitrii Moor and Let Us Build a Dirigible Fleet in Lenin’s Name, 1931, by Georgii Kibardin

With so much influence at such an early stage of my design career I almost feel overwhelmed. I’m sure I’m not the only one in fairness. Yet these are styles I appreciate, I’ve grown up with and admired. Here is not only form and colour, message and art. It is art.

When looking at the type, the layer effects and the sheer creativity that goes into this work it all to easy to be in awe.

The visual language covers the optimism of the Soviet early National Socialist movements, with its use of montage and bold colours, celebrating movement and bring the people together. Here the message was reinforced with visual cues about the overall message, which for a country whose literacy rate stood at little over 50% this was exceptionally important. The messages of hopefulness, of prosperity and of working together had to be as literal and dynamic as possible in order to sell the new Communist ideas and ideals.

They also had to show a suspicious outside world that the new Soviet system meant business, and was keen to become the leader of social, scientific and cultural development for the people of the people.

There is something in this approach that appeals visually and the Soviets were, up until Stalin’s total grip on power, keen to utilise the arts to deliver this message. There after and until the start of the great calamity of the Great Patriotic War all propaganda shifted in focus towards cementing the cult of Stalin’s personality.

From Bauhaus (below) to Soviet constructivism and later (above)…

Bauhaus Input; L: Bauhaus Typeface, Herbert Bayers Circa 1925, R: Staatliches Bauhaus, by Joost Schmidt, 1923

Moving on I’ve always been attracted to the work of the Bauhaus movement; the energy, the vision, and the continual development. The versatility and simplistic dynamics of the Bauhaus typeface, in particular, has always drawn me in. the San Serif font seems to be easily adaptable and lends itself to being merged with illustrative design. Another love of mine.

The Western European styles and optimism of colourful 1930/1950’s graphic design, whose use of bold colour and mixes of cartoon and realist imagery always seems to draw me in. Combined with often daring and types, these were examples of graphic design running wild.

Here the visual message is merged with the typeface from the 30’s in Western Europe. Here the message is simplified visually and wonderfully bright colour palettes are added, illustration taking over from bulky sections of text. The cartoonesque nature of the advertising, in particular, takes marketing away from the stern ‘Father knows best’ model, to ‘let’s make this product fun and appealing’.

L: After Work Guinness, Tom Eckersley, Circa 1950, R: Smarties, Artist Unknown, 1950’s

Then there is William Morris, who’s working styles, have engaged my imagination and creativity more so than any other designer.

Plate for Kelmscott Press, which Morris opened in 1891

Then there is William Morris, whose working styles, have engaged my imagination and creativity more so than any other designer. His flowing floral designs and pseudo-medieval patterns draw the viewer in, and whilst they could be considered ‘too busy’ they are light in touch and have a delicate beauty to the form of patterns, illustrations, and typeface.

The Story of the Glittering Plain by William Morris, Kelmscott Press, 1891. Courtesy The Victorian Web.

The Story of the Glittering Plain by William Morris, Kelmscott Press, 1891 

No where else is so exemplified so perfectly in the Plate for Kelmscott Press. Here all three elements come together in an exquisite sampler of simplicity, beauty and art by Morris. This, above all else shows the high level of craftsmanship achieved by Morris and one that he extolled throughout his life. It is worthwhile taking a moment to read his Treatise Useful Work vs Useless Toil.

Late 80’s Goth album covers to Grunge Design, led by its unofficial father David Carson, and including protagonists such as Carl McCoy of Sheerfaith.

L:The Magazine Factory, David Carson, London, 2013, R: Dead but Dreaming, Carl McCoy, 1990

Here was the start of edgy and aggressive photo manipulation and non-compromising Typefaces that merged, seamlessly, with the image. This new school of Graphic Design continued the rise of the aggressive sub-culture imagery started by among others Jamie Reid’s work for Malcolm McLaran.

Sex Pistols

Jamie Reid, Never Mind the Bollocks, 1976

From the early 80’s onwards the examples of Punk, Goth, Grunge, and independent music graphics filtered into the mainstream, from supporting youth culture products such as Doc Martens to the controversial Benetton United Colours campaign. The later almost taking a Richard Kern approach to confrontational still imagery and combining this initally with Gill sans Type before moving onto their own in-house type, Benetton Sans designed by Joe Finocchiaro, in 2011.

This period also saw the advent of more dynamic and creative photo manipulation, where designers worked with double exposures and layer to help compact a message. Designers also took to damaging prints and selecting Sensational Spelling for special effect.

L: Affinity Designer Screenshot, 2019, R: Epic 1950s Retro Graphics, Wing’s Art, 2013

Finally, there is the new generation of Retro and Vintagesque images that pop up that intrigues me, especially the array of fonts that crop up on my Pinterest, and Adobe feeds with alarming regularity. This proliferation, spurred by the rise of Vector graphics and slicker design packages, has seen the dawn of new vibrant, challenging and fun imagery, and Type Faces. We truly are at the cusp of something remarkable. A whole system that can integrate the hand drawn with the computer generated.

As designers, it’s fair to say we’ve never had it so good and that the world is truly our oyster. From all the above examples, of the many thousands of practitioners, it is these that are the most influential to me, for now. We live in an ever-developing world and who knows what work awaits my discovery?


Resources Accessed

Morris Examples available at: https://www.grafik.net/category/heroes/morris-man

Morris, W. (1888) Useful Work vs Useless Toil. 2008 edn, Penguin, London

Bauhuas Poster Examples available at: https://www.designweek.co.uk/issues/18-24-february-2019/bauhaus-what-was-it-and-why-is-it-important-today/

Sovier Posters examples available at: https://www.wallpaper.com/art/soviet-propaganda-graphic-design-wolfsonian

The Magazine Factory, David Carson, 2013, available at: https://nvtodorova.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/magazinefactory

Dead But Dreaming, Carl McCoy, 1990, available at: https://postgothic.com/fields-of-the-nephilim/

Smarties Poster available at: https://shop.actionposters.co.uk/vintage-1950s-smarties-sweets-advertisement-a3-poster-reprint-19927-p.asp

Guiness Poster available at: https://www.antikbar.co.uk/original_vintage_posters/advertising_posters/guinness_after_work_eckersley_midcentury_modern/PA2026/

Affinity Publisher available at: https://appleinsider.com/articles/19/06/19/mac-page-design-app-affinity-publisher-comes-out-of-beta

Epic 1950s retro graphics By Wing’s Art 2013 available at: https://creativemarket.com/wingsart/9686-Epic-1950s-Retro-Graphics-Bundle?u=KateenaRuby?utm_source=Pinterest&utm_medium=CM%20Social%20Share&utm_campaign=Category%20Social%20Share&utm_content=Popular%20Graphics%20%7E%20Product%20Mockups,%20Illustrations,%20Objects%20&%20More%20%7E%20Creative%20Market

Jamie Reid, Never Mind the Bollocks… available at: https://www.loudersound.com/features/the-story-behind-sex-pistols-never-mind-the-bollocks-album-artwork

Benetton Fonts information available at: https://fontsinuse.com/typefaces/42142/benetton-sans