Assignment Five: Book Design revisited

You could have followed the horizontal thirds format inside and used a vertical 6 column grid.’ Tutor Feedback

Continuing addressing the issue form my last assignments feedback the next area to address was how I’d arranged my text on the book pages. Retrospectively they seemed okay, but lacked verve. And looking at the vertical six column arrangement I went to further consider my options.

I played around with the original format to see how may variations I could generate before settling on the one that I felt visually comfortable with.

The final format sees the two points of interest move to the top, the heavy yellow boxes replaced by a lighter yellow border and the text box centred within this with the main text body formed below by two drop down columns. This seems to be more balanced and keeps the visual layout cleaner and less confusion. It also eliminates any hierarchy in the information chain. Hopefully.

Exercise – Chance Housing Association Revisited

Again a sound range of ideas for ‘Chance Housing Association’. In many respects you over-complicated the solution by adding door illustration therefore your logo design has two illustrative features; the word ‘association’ doesn’t merit emphasis.’

Never has a truer word been spoken in jest. The more I looked at what I initially thought was a great idea the more I realised I’d strayed into illustration territory, perhaps goaded by some of the images I’d collected on Pinterest. Some of which may have looked nice, twee. Kitsch. I think its very easy to be taken in by snazzy logos, bright colours and wonderful motifs, yet they rarely add anything to the overall design.

The desire to overcomplicate or not let the text speak is strange and indeed when I searched for simple estate agent logo’s there were surprisingly few that relied on lettering and simple decorative devices. That puts the designer up against it as straight the way you’re having to be innovative. So to that end I revisited the work I’d done previously for this exercise and drop the door opening motif, ensuring the simplicity of the design returned (though I kept the roof motif as it didn’t interfere with the lettering), and any manipulation of the lettering was reflective of the theme.

I’ve done a couple of mock up’s with two different designs and hopefully these are closer to the intent of the original brief.  

Of the two designs the one on the left is my favoured as it’s simpler, cleaner and visually more balanced and the one I’d submit for assessment.

The French Hen Revisited 15012021

As they say a good designer has room for development and flexibility, and so here I am. My recent feedback from my tutor included a line which has made me chuckle a bit as well as think about how an idea I’d shelved could be developed. Here the comment:

‘…a sassy hen with sophisticated confidence.’

Now who am I to deny the world a sassy hen? So a return to the shelved idea and an attempt to create a hen with sophisticated confidence. Folk, before you laugh it is possible to do. I merely developed the idea, and thought about sassy, strutting your stuff, and a little bit of Pinterest research gave me the shot of inspiration I needed.

The logo wording was added above this time and I used Thirsty Script Extrabold and placed it on a curved text line above the chicken.

Now the final mock up of the new design, which I have to admit I rather like.

Assignment Five – Book Design: Feedback and Reflection

So here is my final Assignment Feedback. First off I have to say OCA’s new Feedback form is far easier to navigate for both parties I imagine. Regarding the course from my perspective as student and one with an TBI that affects cognitive functioning then there are a few observations and points I’d like to make. Please note I’m not using my disabilities as an excuse, more as a point of awareness and how they affect a students learning journey.

If you’re a TBI disabled student do take your time with this course. It’s not the easiest to interpret at times, and I struggled, especially mid point. If anything I would, if you can, do Illustration before doing Graphic Design, as I imagine that would help immensely. Some elements of the course will require you to be on point with your illustration, so fore warned etc. Secondly if you are struggling do ask for help; OCA and Student Services have been great with their support. Thirdly if you feel your tutor isn’t doing their best by you change them. I had to unfortunately, early on and that knocked my confidence in the course and my abilities. If you have a disability you’ll understand why.

If you are disabled and struggling, especially with symptom flair ups, please consider taking time out. I seriously wished I had, but instead struggled through it. Whilst finishing should have been a point of celebration, it was little more than a point of relief. In fact I very near canned the course, writing it off as a bad idea. I’m glad I didn’t as I genuinely feel if I were to start again from scratch I would enjoy it far more, especially with the tutor I was lucky enough to be paired with.

On technology, certain assistive tech will be useful, but in the case of brain fog, as I had to explain to one member of Student Services, its nod all use. I did however find in moments like that pencil and paper actually helped no end. For illustration and imagine production I used the Affinity packages of Publisher and Designer. These seem to be far more forgiving, as I really have struggled with Indesign and Illsutrator. Whilst I used the later for familiarisation during the course, and they are the industry standard, the Affinity programs are equally as good, and seem easier to use. For me at least.

The final thing I’ll say that may help someone who is considering doing the course, which I really do recommend if you like to be stretched, as it is a good course, is this: Illustration is used for pleasure and Graphic Design is used to inform.

Right, onwards and upwards and onto my responses for Assignment Five, which I fell was the culmination assignment So I don’t lose my thread I’ve broken down the feedback into manageable sections. My responses are in Italics.

Overall feedback

Part five of this course has focused on layout through the design of leaflets, flyers and posters. It appears you have responded very well to part 4 feedback enabling you to further develop your creative process through exercises in part 5. The final assignment offered the choice of three briefs, you chose brief 1: A series of book designs for Penguin Books new range of colour, typography, photography and A is for… books. You demonstrate a sound understanding of the basic principles of graphic design, as shown in work produced for your book covers. Your design would have strong shelf visibility with yellow as the corporate colour and the banding device drawing attention to each subject. The double page spread is less resolved than the covers. You could have followed the horizontal thirds format inside and used a vertical 6 column grid. This would allow the top third space for headings and subheadings and bottom two thirds for main copy. The images are in 3 columns but require more formal structure. Refer to you magazine analysis.

Is it far to say I completely overlooked the 3-grid system for the interior sheets at his point as I was seeking to create a more aesthetically pleasing image to reflect early Tcshichold horizontal covers, versus a balanced representation. Which given my reading of Muller-Brockmann as well as the information, exercises and research points in the course, is inexcusable.

Regarding the other comments they are fair and kind. I really enjoyed this Assignment as Book Covers hold a great appeal for me. So am happy with the encouraging feedback and will look at the points raised.

Overall your response has been good, and in places such as publishing shows this is defiantly where your strengths are in graphic design. I hope you’ve enjoyed doing the Graphic Design 1 course.

For me the course finally came together with Part Five, and I’m glad I held out. I won’t deny I was flummoxed, infuriated with not seemingly being able to ‘get it’ and have a brain stuck in neutral, and in some cases on another planet at times. I have to admit I’m drawn more to publishing than Typography, No idea why, but it certainly seems to be comfortable ground for me to work in.

If you decide to submit your work for assessment you’ll need to select a cross-section of the work you’ve done on the course. You’ll also need to submit your learning log, sketchbooks and tutor reports. Please refer to OCA digital submission guidelines. In terms of organising your work for assessment please refer to all feedback provided to help you present a portfolio that showcases your strengths in graphic design.

At this point I’m a little worried as earlier work wasn’t too great, so some consideration and reworking is required.

  • develop your creative and visual abilities in your practice as a graphic designer

You produced a good range of ideas for ‘The French Hen’ branding, which you tested on a product range. Do you believe you selected most appropriate idea for a bar aimed at younger women and sophisticated men? Your illustration is of a brooding hen nesting her eggs, not a sassy hen with sophisticated confidence. You show an idea in 50s style illustration that could look great developed in a retro style and the other strong idea in the wine ring/hen logo design that could also look very contemporary.

Sassy Hens? What fresh hell is this? Okay joking aside this is where sub-cultural bias come in and shows how easily it can influence our design processes. The more I think about it the more I’m seeing aging Yuppies, as opposed to bright young things flocking (pardon the pun), to my French Hen Café and Bar. But then again are the bright young things like to go to a Café and Bar? That said the strong hint around the wine ring/hen should be revisited and developed a little further. If only to now appease my own interest.

Again a sound range of ideas for ‘Chance Housing Association’. In many respects you over-complicated the solution by adding door illustration therefore your logo design has two illustrative features; the word ‘association’ doesn’t merit emphasis. The craft of a good designer is recognising when to pull back. There is potential in this idea that just requires solution refinement. The ‘judging a book by its cover’ exercise is the most accomplished work of all the exercises.

On this one I agree 100%. Why did I add the door? I certainly veered away from my own KISS principles there somewhat, and it didn’t add anything really, if anything it served as a clichéd trope really. So a return to form and simplify that particular logo will hopefully fix that.

‘Judging a book by its cover’, I believe that was where it all came together and my tutors feedback is reassuring. One for submission for final assessment I believe.

  • use creative problem solving and research to generate visual ideas

Country Life for the ‘magazine pages’ exercise was a good choice to analyse as it is a well designed established publication. You analysed and measured grid accurately but next time you also need to analyse and trace typographic detailing. Evaluate your layout in context to Country Life, which uses paragraph indents not line breaks, there are slightly more words per line causing fewer rivers, doesn’t use hyphens, ensure you use baseline text alignment.

Your investigation into different fonts and sizes shows you are developing a good awareness of typography for publishing, but check the fine details. Exploring font styles in context to narrative and image selection evidences your awareness of how important the visual of a design aids communication of message. It was good to see you research Newton and Ridley applying their company colour plan to your branding ‘The French Hen’. This demonstrates you have a clear understanding that research of organisations commissioning design work must inform your ideas generation.

You also conducted solid research of housing association branding, however you need to really analyse which communicated affectively and which less so, note your findings with more clarity. Excellent range of information design examples, OS maps being such a brilliant design. Why did you then use words on your design rather than symbols as on an OS key? You need to translate what you see to what you do.

Great feedback and some very useful tips there, I also enjoy research so I’m chuffed to see I wasn’t over thinking it. Excellent point about analysis and the important of considering what works and what doesn’t. Again a section to review.

‘Why did you then use words on your design rather than symbols as on an OS key? You need to translate what you see to what you do.’ – Exactly? Why? I’ll revisit this exercise and adapt the map, using symbology and generating a key.

  • demonstrate your use of design and technical skills for graphic design

Always design pages for publishing as double page spreads. Your design and technical skills are clearly evident in your branding for ‘The French Hen’ but don’t get too carried away with an idea because it looks professional, ensure idea first answers brief so solution is fit for purpose. For ‘Chance Housing Association’ branding be cautious of digital techniques that don’t add value to the visual communication, for example it appears you may have altered original typeface selected rather than choosing to use complimentary fonts as in the magazine spread. Good to see you mastered how to make digital mock-ups. The ‘Birthday List’ exercise appears to have really helped you develop further digital skills using different program.

For ‘Chance Housing Association’ I embossed an element, which I shouldn’t have; let the design of the font speak for itself.

Digital mock-ups were the last hurdle for me, so I’m pretty chuffed I mastered it. I would say that perhaps links and a small exercise should be included in the module, just to help introduce the concept. I used https://mockups-design.com/ which is free.

  • articulate an understanding of the contexts of graphic design practices and reflect on your own learning

Really good to see you revisited the ‘vernacular type’ research task, extending your search to gain a broader understanding of type and its origins. Research points ‘branding’ and ‘posters’ show an excellent range of examples with some good analyse and notation.

Again very kind feedback.

Action points based on Learning Outcomes

develop your creative and visual abilities in your practice as a graphic designer

Be consistent with your creative process: research (primary and secondary), ideas generation (spider diagrams and thumbnail sketches and mood-boards), selecting most appropriate idea for development, planning (re-visit research), testing digital iterations, rationalise concept, refinement of outcome.

Early on I was particularly poor at this; however this habit has developed over time. It still needs refinement and is something I should be focusing upon in future.

use creative problem solving and research to generate visual ideas

You had some good examples of poster design for the ‘Sing Out’ exercise but it doesn’t appear you really analysed the layouts and compositions. This is evident in your design that resembles a leaflet rather than a poster. You need to consider how different fonts, sizes and colours can help to visually organise hierarchy of information; your design shows very little differentiation in the text. You started exploring idea of ‘sing out’ in speech bubble but it got lost in translation to standard upper/lowercase sans serif font; a missed opportunity to explore script flowing hand-drawn expressive type for this design. Always use research to inform every aspect of your creative process.

Excellent points made. I’ll have a review as I’ve never felt comfortable with how this exercise progressed or finished.

demonstrate your use of design and technical skills for graphic design

Ensure you use appropriate programmes for the task, in general: Photoshop for image manipulation; Illustrator or logo design, drawing type and illustration; InDesign for layout design

Affinity packages are good, and I can understand the need to use the adobe packages, so carry on sharpening up my skills there I think.

articulate an understanding of the contexts of graphic design practices and reflect on your own learning

Always refer back to research in order to evaluate your ideas against examples of professional practice, ensuring your solutions are fit for purpose in context to differing organisations and audiences.

Something I need to do a little more of; reflection. Though getting there.

Research – Vernacular Typography. A theme revisited

The first time I visited Vernacular Typography I was limited in my outlook, this was rightly pointed out by my tutor. This had me vexed, what had I missed? Had I been too technical in my outlook, or merely restricted? This has been in the back of my mind for a while now as to what I’d missed out. The key element was the art of Sign writing, something which is unforgivable to ignore. It’s prevalence in our lives up until the advent of vinyl printing and large scale decals was so common it merged into the background.

The issue with this sort of typography, for me at least, is that I have my prejudices, insofar as when we talk about type I automatically think print or paint. I forget the flourishes that exist, the art of the sign writer but most importantly of all the craft of the Mason. From Sumerian clay impressions, to ancient Greek markings, to contemporary grave markers, this form of Typography, like the traditional sign writer, is overlooked. Here the form takes on commonality restricted by type, leaving a 2000 year old record of commonality.

For me all of this leads to sign writing, which is the ultimate expression in vernacular typography. It was soon copied by Victorian print makers and in this age of DTP is enjoying a renaissance at the hands of modern typographers such as Letterhead Fonts. The decorative curls and broad expanses lend themselves to both contemporary businesses to help deisgn logos, promote the business as well as become established as part of a new 21st Century sub-culture, Hipsters.

The flows and strokes of the range of types and font available are definitely of interest to any Graphic Designer, if not historically, most definitely as a basis for future work and adaption. After all DTP can do anything nowadays.

Resources Used

Research Point: Posters

The one thing this course does is open your mind to new ideas and concepts, and whilst the way in which visual information is relayed to us. Be it official announcement or marketing and promotion purposes, the poster remains that bridge between the informative elements of Graphic Design and illustration. The Victorians and Edwardians were great one for providing wonderfully illustrated posters that were almost artworks in themselves, often featuring fantastical motifs and themes. Alluding that the properties of products were somehow magical, patriotic in some cases, but always superior by virtue of the standard of artwork commissioned. By the start of the Great War these posters had morphed into celebrations of nationalistic pride, of women urging men to advance into the crucible of the Western Front.

The post-war world had changed beyond all recognition and by the 1920’s the artistic freedom that many designers were experiencing in the new world of post imperial Russia and Germany were influencing the work of artists in Great Britain and USA. Palette colours were simplified and styles from the Bauhaus and Art Deco Schools were making themselves felt in popular advertising. This was now torn between connecting the consumers personal preferences to a product and new ways of radical thinking and governance, such as communism and fascism, rather than chasing the nationalistic ideals of Exceptionalism and turning goods into a celebration of Empire.

As the period progressed there was a drive to place the consumer at the heart of the image; famers, families, men, and women. There was also a return to selling the ideal, but not as an extension of the body politic (outside of Central and Eastern Europe aside), but as a means to introduce the consumer to the world. The age of the holiday was upon the masses, given rise by cheaper transportation, and an ever increasing globalisation of information. The use of photography, which first appeared mainly in post war political posters, was becoming more popular with advertisers and manufacturers, especially the automotive industry. Though illustrations were still being used, it was more simplistic and suited to cheaper mass and rapid turn over printing rather than the more expensive and complex painterly styles.

The onset of war and mass propaganda introduced once again more complex and dynamic use of colour, composition and theme. Posters followed the same formulas of personal engagement with the viewer seen with contemporary advertising, promoting personal responsibility and collective aims.

Post war adverting and poster production was miles away from the still rigid forms of the inter war years. Many of the designers returned from fighting eager to experiment and use their post war education credits to gain the necessary qualifications in design and illustration. New theories from Switzerland, especially those penned by Müller – Brockmann and Tschichold, introduced a new form and visual direction to the poster, which was easier to fulfil with the development of print technolgy. There was also the chance to completely tear-up the rule book and introduce more informal form in their work. The seriousness of wartime messaging was now replaced with a looser, freer form of expression where comedy and whimsicality was welcomed, especially in film and travel posters.

For me this was the golden era of the poster, from holidays to military recruitment, clothing to cars this period not only helped to sell ideas, good and experiences, but also, for a fleeting moment, showed that all was still good with the world. Colours and artistic flare worked together to give the viewer an experience and insight in what was out there, a welcoming splash of colour and life for all to enjoy.

All the while Type and Font has developed with posters, becoming more sophisticated and less decorative whilst improving accessibility. Though it has to be noted that as the decades progressed the decorative fonts were used, but often sparingly, as part of logos for example, and often in Black or Bold styles.

My Pinterest collection of posters and similar can be found here: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/Benjskipper/inspired-graphic-design/

Resources Used

Inglis, T. (2019) Mid-Century Modern Graphic Design, Batsford, London

Clark, T. (1997) Art and Propaganda, Everyman Art Library, London