This is my final reflective report on my major graphic design project for 2016, under the ‘read more’ divider.
PART 1: IDENTIFY CRITICAL INCIDENTS
1.1. Identify and describe three critical incidents from your design project.
- The first critical incident was the suggestion to develop theatre poster art as opposed to book cover art (Major Project Research #5), which changed the direction of my project towards creating a series of posters instead of book covers.
- The shift from illustration to typography was a major critical incident as the subject matter and visual style of my project changed dramatically (Major Project Drafting #3). My research stopped investigating Australian designers and artistic styles and moved towards typography creation and different ways of displaying and using type in accordance with this new direction.
- The creation of an entire alphabet, as opposed to only making the letters needed to form the title of the play, turned my project into a typeface development exercise instead of collateral creation which was a significant change of focus (Major Project Feedback #3).
1.2 Discuss why you believe these incidents are particularly significant.
- The suggestion to look at theatre poster art changed the subject of the project from ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ and other classic novels towards Shakespearean plays and their many reinterpretations and modernisations. This lead to research into the Australian theatre company Bell Shakespeare, which seeks to make Shakespeare’s plays relevant for a modern Australian audience (Bell Shakespeare 2016). It gave my project an established company as a client to draw resources such as branding from, and offered new sources of inspiration such as the company’s mission, goals, past reinterpretations, and Australian perspective.
It is unlikely that I would have chosen ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ or developed a typeface without being given this suggestion, I believe that I would have continued along the lines of illustration and ended up with a completely different project outcome. The plant-based typography is specific to the play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ and its forest setting (Shakespeare,W 1994), so it would not have been created without this new subject matter.
- Changing my design idea from handmade illustration to handmade typography with found objects changed the appearance of my project and the techniques that I ended up using. My research moved from examining Australian illustrators to projects involving typography creation, specifically those which used natural materials such as Ethan Park’s ‘How to Touch Your Heart’ and Frost Design’s campaign for Green Villages, both shown below. Examples such as these gave the project a completely different design style and created a new mood board from which to draw inspiration.
Instead of looking at illustrating ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, I examined elements and themes from within the play which could lend themselves to a typeface. I settled on the outdoor, forest setting which lead to the creation of a typeface made up of plant matter. These campaigns and other similar works formed the inspiration for my design style and composition on my final poster.
- The suggestion to create the whole alphabet changed the primary focus of my project towards typeface creation rather than collateral and the establishment of a commercial campaign. Originally, I had only intended to make the letters that I needed for the title or a quote from the play, as shown in my initial draft of part of the the character Puck’s quote “O Lord, what fools these mortals be!” (Shakespeare 1994, p. 194).
This allowed for a more versatile project, as it made the project potentially reuseable and editable for other projects which may feature the same nature-based theme. This version of the project allows for the further development of more glyphs such as numbers and punctuation to expand what has already been done in the future, while a campaign may not have the same room for development.
PART 2: LEARNING FROM THE DESIGN EXPERIENCE
2.1 Identify and describe three things you have learned from your design project.
- I have learned that I need to manage my time and prioritise certain tasks much better in the future. I spent too much time on the letters and underestimated how long some tasks would take, such as digitally cleaning up and arranging the letters. Ideas were changed frequently, and while brainstorming many ideas is an expected part of the design process as outlined by Abrose and Harris (2010, p. 66) the ideation stage for this project took far too long and left less time than was preferable for the prototyping, selection, and implementation stages.
- I have learned more about Australian illustrators, the history of Australian illustration, and what general characteristics a Australian design style has been identified as possessing (Major Project Research #10). This research included the work of Reg Mombassa, Douglas Annand, and Michael Fitzjames among others.
- I learned more about typography, specifically on their creation and the importance of making the letters legible through the careful selection of shapes. This was particularly important for my project as it utilised highly varied materials to create the shapes of the letters, which need to be positioned in a way that they are understood as a letter of the alphabet and not just as a plant.
2.2 How might you apply this learning to future design projects?
- The most obvious solution to improving my time management would be to make a schedule of what tasks I need to accomplish and within what time frame, and try to stick to it as much as possible. However, this is something I have tried to implement several times in the past without success; as if something unexpected comes up and throws me off schedule I find it very difficult to recover the lost time. More careful planning of what to do in these unexpected situations may alleviate the issue, but the primary phase of the design process that took too long was ideation. Seeking more feedback more often may have shortened this process of constant indecision, as I found I felt much more confident about the project’s direction after receiving feedback. Therefore, more feedback is something I should seek more often in the future to try and minimise indecision and become more efficient.
- Knowledge of more Australian designers has given me a greater knowledge of the industry’s history and prominent figures, particularly in the context of Australia’s design history. I am far more familiar with visual arts history, so having a greater knowledge of design practitioners will be beneficial to me when working in the design industry as it is more relevant to the field. It will be useful to draw upon this newfound knowledge for future projects in terms of inspiration and potential technique, as well as giving me a better theoretical grounding.
- Typography is important in the design industry and is essential as both a means of communicating a message and as a design element in its own right (Ambrose and Harris 2010, p. 108), so any additional familiarity with it that I can obtain will be very relevant to future work in the industry. I may need to work on projects which involve the creation of a typeface or imagery from found materials, as shown in Frost Collective’s work above (2015), so experience in this area and an understanding of what kinds of shapes work and don’t work may become useful on a future project.
PART 3: THINKING ABOUT DESIGN PRACTICE
3.1 Now you have completed your project, describe two alternative outcomes and discuss your rationale.
- One alternative outcome would have been to focus more on the creation of a campaign rather than a typeface, using organic materials to make words that advertise a fictional Bell Shakespeare performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. This would include a wide range of collateral including posters, tickets, print advertisements, web banners, and a program guide. This project may not have had the same re-usability as the one that was completed, as the lettering would be used for a specific commercial campaign and may not necessarily need the development of a full typeface, and would have become a marketing exercise which would have changed the course of my research towards advertising.
This outcome would be similar to Frost Collective’s work above (2015) in creating a one-off typography design which doubles up as an illustration and works well in a specific configuration, unlike my submitted project which can be changed around. Due to this versatility, my submission may not achieve the same illustrative quality as a work that has been created in a one-off polished configuration, so this alternative solution would seek to explore that. In much the same way as my submitted project, smaller pieces of the work could be used for collateral which may not be large enough to carry the whole message. The rationale is similar to my submitted work in the use of natural materials to reflect the outdoor, forest theme of the play while adding an illustrative, handmade element.
- Another alternate outcome would have been to stick with illustration, the type of handmade design I was initially using, and come up with an Australian illustrative style to depict the play for either a book or theatre adaptation. Australian design can be summarised as having “a sense of place, cheeky wit and a relaxed sense of humour, often with dark undertones as well” (Barnum, Haddock, Hicks and Oppen 2012, p. 4), and I would have gone with a bright, surrealist theme like that of Reg Mombassa to try and reflect this albeit with my own illustrative style.
The play is often surrounded by imagery including donkeys, fairies, nighttime, and forests; so the challenge with this project would have been to find a way to make imagery that represents the play while avoiding these clichés. The imagery that I proposed was to create a fictional spectator, in the form of a possum, to situate the play within an Australian context. The possum, or the surrounding elements of the play, would feature some sort of surrealism to make the overall design style dream-like and filled with fantasy. These are some of my experiments with this idea, with the key rationale behind this being that I want to reflect that this is an Australian adaptation of the play while focusing on the spectator as opposed to the play’s contents.
3.2 Based on your experience from this project, how might you now approach a similar design in the future and why?
- For a future project of a similar design, I would divide my time better between the creation of the typeface and the collateral. I now have a better understanding of how long certain design processes take such as the brainstorming and feedback processes, individual letter creation, and experimentation; so I will have a better plan on how to manage all of these elements of the design process time-wise. Managing time will assist in creating a higher quality outcome at the end, and may present opportunities to take the project even further.
I would also do more research into different campaigns using a similar technique. For example, the Frost Collective campaign (2015) was made known to me quite late in the design process, and I wish I had have discovered it much sooner as it presents some good composition and letter form ideas that I think would have benefited my final outcome with further examination. For a similar future project, I would also like to be more playful with compositional styles and techniques from the beginning.
3.3 Based on your experience from this project, how might you now approach a different design solution in the future and why?
- I will approach a different design solution with a wider range of sources in my background research, and a better plan of project management, for the same reasons as stated in my previous answer. If there are elements of the different design solution that are similar to what I have achieved in my submitted solution, I can draw upon these techniques and experiences and develop them to help the completion of this new project in a new and interesting way.
3.4 How might the final outcomes and/or the thinking to emerge from your design project prepare you for industry or post-graduate study?
- The incorporation of handmade elements and unconventional materials in my design project may assist me in projects which call for a design project that is less digital. I find much of graphic design study centres around the heavy use of computers, so I hope that this will project will present something a little different and demonstrate a capacity for working with alternative means. Additionally, the lessons I learned about how the process of establishing a design brief and the time various stages of implementation take will help me have a more realistic idea about how I need to manage my future projects when working in the industry.
- Ambrose, G and Harris, P 2010, Design Thinking, AVA Publishing, Switzerland
- Barnum, A, Haddock, S, Hicks, A, and Oppen, F 2012, Graphic Design: Australian Style Manual, McGraw-Hill, Australia
- Bell Shakespeare 2016, ‘Vision, Mission, and Artistic Goals’, Bell Shakespeare, accessed 25/10/2016, https://www.bellshakespeare.com.au/about-us/vision/
- Shakespeare, W 1994, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ in P Holland (ed.) The Oxford Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Oxford University Press, New York, pp. 127-256
- Catacious 2016, First Plant Matter Typography Experimentation, image, Catacious, accessed 18/9/2016, https://catacious.wordpress.com/2016/09/18/major-project-drafting-3/
- Catacious 2016, Possum Concept 1, image, Catacious, accessed 19/9/2016, https://catacious.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/major-project-drafting-4/
- Catacious 2016, Possum Concept 3, image, Catacious, accessed 19/9/2016, https://catacious.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/major-project-drafting-4/
- Frost Collective 2015, Be A Leftover Lover, image, Frost Collective, accessed 27/10/2016, http://www.frostcollective.com.au/projects/targeting-food-waste/
- Mombassa, R 2014, Australian Jesus Greeting Card, image, Reg Mombassa, accessed 12/9/2016, http://regmombassa.com/
- Park, E 2010, How to Touch your Heart, image, Ethan is Sweet, accessed 18/9/2016, http://www.ethanissweet.co.uk/HOW-TOUCH-YOUR-HEART