The next project of the semester looks more closely at the response to ideas rather than the response to the written word which we looked at in the last 3 projects. In this project, we will be creating a protest pack revolving around a campaign/protest of our choice - anything from quite a trivial perspective (i.e. middle lane drivers) to more serious topics (black lives matter). I had a few initial campaign ideas which I'm personally very interested in. These include fast/sustainable fashion, feminism (women's rights, toxic masculinity), domestic/sexual abuse, recycling and more. For the outcome we need to think a lot about how we would effectively get across our message without leaning towards the standard billboard scenario, so things like stickers, pin badges, posters, t shirts/hoodies and social media posts are areas I will look into. After all my initial research, I decided I would focus specifically on toxic masculinity.
Something that was never really spoken about, but in the more recent years, a term that is becoming more and more common. Toxic masculinity generally is a term used referring to cultural and societal norms which are harmful to both society and men themselves. It all links to traditional stereotypical men - socially dominant, along with other traits such as homophobia, misogyny, which can all be considered 'toxic' due to the role they play in violence (including domestic and sexual abuse). It's common for patriarchal societies to normalise groups of boys as potentially violent - the term 'boys will be boys' is a common phrase, linking to aspects of bullying and aggression. The element of this topic which I'd like to focus on is more to do with the negative impact this has on men. Self reliance and emotional repression are closely related to the rise in men's mental health and psychological issues - such as depression, substance abuse, and increased stress. I found a very useful article by the New York Times which clearly outlines the subject of toxic masculinity.
FOCUSED METHODS OF PROTESTING:
CRAFTIVISM is a form of activism, generally portraying various forms of protest, through the practice of crafts, or domestic arts. Traditionally in craftivism, activists involved would produce their work in public spaces - public transport, in outdoor public areas etc, as this would spark conversation with people asking what they were doing - therefore raising awareness. Embroidery hoops are still a significant part of craftivism today, online shops such as etsy buy hoops which contain meaningful messages which can then be displayed in people's homes, offices, cafes etc. This could even involve face masks which would work particularly well for this project as toxic masculinity involves masking feelings.
HARRY STYLES AGAINST TOXIC MASCULINITY:
Another idea I had for engaging people in the campaign was to create a downloadable pdf design that could then be printed at home onto fabric transferrable paper (normally compatible with most printers), and then people could transfer these to various items - t shirts, hoodies, tote bags, which would raise awareness and also demonstrate that it was something you believed in.
With toxic masculinity being such a broad subject, there are various elements I could focus on, but I think I should have one clear element I want to communicate and then I can always dip into other sections as and when I feel appropriate. I think the main thing for me that I want to express is that men shouldn't feel as though they need to fit a stereotype. I understand that is a broad phrase, but everything leads to the main idea that there is a stereotype which is toxically masculine. This leads to several issues, and the one I want to focus on is the link to mens mental health. I want to protest to destroy the idea that repressing emotions is a sign of strength, and it is a shame men feel the need to do this because they're worried it would make them less of a man - it comes down to not wanting to "look like a girl", or appear feminine.
As seen above, I got my initial ideas down specifically for a poster, and then embroidery hoops and beer mats which are in the circular format. I also looked at what to include when incorporating text. It's apparent through lots of my imagery that pink is the dominant colour and this is definitely on purpose. Pink is stereotypically a feminine colour and my aim is to use this colour as my theme for toxic masculinity as thats exactly the sort of thing I'm protesting - pink should not be seen as a 'girls colour'.
Below are some key images of textile art which will inspire my work for this project. I think the idea of craftivism and embroidery provides more than just the method of illustration here as well as the whole concept is traditionally seen as quite feminine. Therefore, by producing my illustrations through stitch and textiles, it provides a deeper concept due to the fact that it's quite ironic to protest a male topic through a feminine form of art.
I realised I was struggling with imagery in regards to getting some initial ideas down, so I asked one of my friends if they wouldn't mind me doing a photoshoot for reference and some first hand image research. This was to make it easier for me to figure out the vibe I was going for, and this will be particularly useful when creating final illustration work.
DEVELOPMENT OF PHOTOSHOOT IMAGES
I had a play with the images in photoshop, layering up some colours and including text etc. with the aim that this will aid me in producing final posters and other products for my pack. It helps to figure out the incorporation of text, the scale of the illustration, and it helps quite a lot with idea generation.
IDEA GENERATION FROM PICS
Experimenting with some of the pictures from the photoshoot, I looked at how these compositions would fit nicely in a circular shape for beer mats/embroidery hoops. It's useful for playing with colour and the incorporation of text and I will further look into how I plan to illustrate the images.
EXPERIMENTATION WITH MATERIALS & POSTER DEVELOPMENT
Here I produced some stitch samples which I then scanned in and further developed in photoshop. Generally I am focusing on the poster to begin with, and I will use that to inspire and figure out what I will do for my beer mat. I also want to produce an embroidery pattern for a hoop design which will link to craftivism.
I thought that for my beer mats I would take more of an illustrated typography approach as I thought this would be the best way to portray a message effectively on a beer mat. Below are some of her images which I find most interesting regarding their shape and compositions and boldness.
BEER MAT/EMBROIDERY HOOP DEVELOPMENT
Here I've got some more ideas for my beer mat and my embroidery hoop pattern. I'm thinking focus the beer mat more on illustrated typography whereas I think I'm going to keep the embroidery hoop image based. After some experiments with type I realised I wanted to keep in touch with the craftivism side of the project as I think this is a really effective method for portraying a clever concept since craftivism is more a feminine subject. Bearing this in mind, I began looking at mini embroidery hoop ideas using textiles and embroidery to produce my beer mats.
My final outcomes include a poster, which can be displayed in various places. It could be used as a billboard, or stuck around cities, or a way which this would reach men is potentially displayed in mens bathrooms. My series of beermats, which I would hope to be purchased and used in bars/pubs/restaurants where they would definitely reach a male demographic. Furthermore, a printable pdf design would be available to download for campaigners to print at home onto transferrable paper and iron onto items of their choice. This would highlight members of the campaign, almost provide community, and also subtly promotes the protest through an everyday item. Lastly, an embroidery hoop pack would be available where members of the campaign could produce their own embroidery hoop at home, receiving the hoop, the pattern, fabric and threads, where they can then engage in the method of craftivism. Through all of my outcomes I was aiming for a real look of domestic arts (craftivism) as this is a strong and effective method of protest and also provides a clever irony due to the fact that my project is aimed at the male demographic, and is being protested through something which is stereotypically feminine. I used lots of textile elements, stitch, embroidery, and I am really pleased with the outcomes. The strong theme throughout would be the colour pink, and this is to further go against the stereotype and highlight that pink is not a 'girls colour'. On this note however, in my beer mat series I did include some hand dyed blue fabric, and it gives an appearance of denim which I really like as this further holds male connotations.
After some feedback on the poster, I realised the message wasn't very clearly portrayed through the stitched text, so I did a couple edits which I will attach below.
After some feedback, we discussed how the image was potentially quite difficult to read, especially from a distance which isn't really ideal for the format of this protest. The feedback suggested that just to reinsert the face profile would help with this so I did this below.
EMBROIDERY HOOP PACK
For the last brief of the semester, we had a very broad choice for the subject. I opted for the children's book brief as I really liked the look of it and I thought this would allow me to really have some fun and experiment. Also after watching an episode of BBC4's Picture Book series, I felt really inspired, particularly in the way children's books are incredibly thought through regarding educational elements and ways of learning and development. I have a nephew and I've read him countless books and it's fascinating how much he learns from them - I find that he counts EVERYTHING - (e.g. the number of birds on each page), they're good at teaching colours, and also the names of animals etc.
The children's book I have chosen within the brief is 'How the Elephant got its Trunk'. It is a very cute story about how the little elephant went from having a black bumpy nose to now having a trunk. The story involves lots of different animals - a hippo, a crocodile, an aunt ostridge, an uncle giraffe, birds and more. I noticed how the story involves family orientated elements, which is common in lots of children's books as it helps engage the children. I think it's particularly important to produce characters who appear friendly, warm and lovable, who the children feel they can resonate with. The main illustrators who particularly interested me were Catherine Rayner who I love - I really like how her main focus is the characters which is something I am going to think about, I liked Eric Carle and Brian Wildsmith's collage styles, and Quentin Blake's images which contain such personality.
Within the brief, we are tasked with producing a front cover, a single page, and a double page spread, taking into consideration and demonstrating the integration of type. Therefore I will focus on the elements of the book I find most interesting! We are also to provide proof of concept (i.e. how the book will pan out). We had the freedom of using our own dimensions so after doing research into what is generally accepted within industry, I will opt to do my book 8.5inches x 8.5inches. Although children's books do range in sizes, generally books are either 8.5x8.5inches or 7x10inches, so sticking to these dimensions makes it more likely your book would be published, and also easily mass produced.
First hand research:
To gain some inspiration and further insight to children's picture books I raided my nephews large story collection. Mainly looking at illustrations which particularly caught my intention and also associated with animals. Also this was very useful when looking at the ways text has been integrated.
Initial thumbnail sketches, playing with composition, idea generation:
Experimenting with collage, mark making (very rough, quick developments):
I produced some sheets of mark making as a bit of a fun therapeutic exercise, but I can use these for collage both digital and handmade. Also they would be really good for using as textures within photoshop. I was generally just having a rough play with collage and composition. After these exercises I came to the conclusion that I think I prefer the idea of digitally layering elements - I really like the crocodile experiment I did. I would love to experiment further with producing a layered background (maybe screen printed) with more detailed illustrations on top - possibly in ink and watercolour with added textures through photoshop.
On reflection, I really hadn't thought enough about my colour scheme. As the book is based in Africa, I think I want to stick to potentially more muted tones, however on the warmer end of the spectrum - more reds and oranges, browns etc. I think I should steer clear of the blue as this does not reflect Africa at all. I really like the crocodile development here and I think the colour scheme on this piece is effective.
I experimented here with the 'tug of war' scene, after my group crit I was inspired to make the most of the double page spread, and thought this could be emphasised further by spreading it across several pages. I thought this would also be enjoyable and engaging for the reader. I used a mixture of my mark making sheets and also textured papers for the collage effect but this was mainly just for figuring out composition etc and having a play. Another idea would be to have these pages in a concertina format - this would be very interesting and especially engaging for a young audience.
Here are some further developments for the front cover focusing more on style and the typography. I really like the idea of using watercolour and pencil crayon for the animals, inspired by Catherine Rayner. I have also developed the use of layers in photoshop, aiming for a screen printed effect background. I really want the characters to have a personality, and be characters children can resonate with. I aim for the elephant to appear innocent, friendly and lovable. I have roughly experimented with hand rendered type in my developments but I came across another font which I have used below which I think is really effective and I think it suits the genre.
Here I went back to one of my other ideas just to have a bit of a further play with composition and with the incorporation of text.
After some feedback, this gave me some developments for improving composition and other elements such as the text. I took this font here, and edited some of the letters to make them a bit more 'child friendly' such as the 't'. I also made all the edges of the characters a bit softer to produce my own typeface using this font as a bit of a basis. Using the website calligraphr, I produced this font which I'm really happy with. Furthermore, I made alterations to the elephant to make it a bit more friendly/'cuddly' and appropriately in proportion (for a children's book). I also used guides on photoshop to ensure I didn't have anything too close to the edges. Another thing that came up in feedback was the colour scheme - it was suggested that I push it further with the Africa theme - the colours could be a bit bolder, so this is another thing I worked on. I also wanted to make the title appear more as tho it's water splashing out of the elephant's trunk as it's almost a celebration of the trunk, so I had a bit more of a play with this.
Below were some initial development ideas for my double page spread - roughly figuring out composition using a range of textures within photoshop. Also I played with the text to allow adjustments within the composition. After figuring out composition and layout, I went on to produce the double page spread in the same style as the front cover - keeping in mind lots of the things I had previously noted in feedback sessions regarding the composition (not having things too close to the edges etc).
I played around a little bit with the text as initially I had the text centred but I had remembered that big bodies of text in this format are particularly difficult to read. Therefore, considering this is a book for children, I looked at arranging the text in the more common format of ranging left, ragged right (going back to basics of first year!). This makes the text easier to read, and I also experimented with the word 'pulled' to add a bit of fun to the text.
For my single page of the book, I experimented quite a bit with view point and composition, and the arrangement of the text. I looked at the portrayal of the crocodile from above - providing a level of threat from the character, and on the other hand, looking down at the crocodile almost as if you could imagine the elephant's ear listening to him whisper.
Although I like the third one where the 'whispering' text is arranged cleverly by the crocodile's mouth, I personally didn't really like this page. I preferred the composition of the first example but I had a bit more of a play with the text to make it a bit more engaging. I also made a few edits to the textural elements and the ink colour.
After some time for reflection on formative feedback, I had a look at experimenting further regarding colour, a play at making the elephant less generic, and some alterations to the type due to the colour variations. Regarding the elephant, I aimed to make the character less of a washed out grey colour and potentially a more purpley tone.
UPDATED FINALS/MOCK UPS
For the next project of the module, we have each been assigned a short story by M. R. James, and the brief consists of producing 1 full bleed illustration, 160x226mm, CMYK (300 dpi) and 1 chapter heading illustration, 105x50mm, greyscale (300 dpi). Also for this project we are to take a more literal approach in contrast to the previous project.
"Wailing Well" is a ghost story written by M R James in 1928. It is about a young boy scout named Stanley Judkins, who is a disobedient, ill-mannered boy. The story revolves around a scout camping trip, set during an undisclosed time of the early 1900s, in which they are given maps which points out the 'danger' zones with a red ring around them. The 'wailing well' is in the red ring, and despite being a prohibited area linked to lots of horror stories, Judkins is keen to go regardless. Needless to say the story doesn't have a happy ending.
Key quotes from the story:
"That sort of clump in the middle of the field down there"
"Three women and a man"
"You can pretty well see from here what a state it's got into with brambles and suckers and trash of all kinds"
"There's tracks in it"
"Four tracks: three women and a man"
"Rags and bones", "flutterin' rags and whity bones"
"They hadn't much to call faces", "but I could seem to see they had teeth"
"The well inside the clump of bent and gnarled scotch firs was plainly visible, and so were the four tracks winding about among the thorns and rough growth'
"He's making a straight for the trees"
"He saw a terrible figure - something in ragged black - with whitish patches breaking out of it: the head, perched on a long thing neck, half hidden by a shapeless sort of blackened sun-bonnet"
"The boys took it all in in an instance of silence"
The main illustrators I have looked at for inspiration include Daniel Egneus, Mervyn Peake, Lorenzo Mattotti and Charles Keeping. I like Daniel Egneus' abstract stylisation of figures and I think this would work well when portraying 'flutterin' rags and whity bones'. I also really like the spookiness involved with Charles Keeping's work and the use of line, I think they are very gloomy pieces. Also with both Egneus and Keeping, there are elements of colour which have inspired some of my thumbnails, for example for the portrayal of shadows etc. I really like the layered effect these artists use and I think it would be ideal for this story. Mervyn Peake however I think provides an atmosphere which I am aiming for. I really like the use of light and dark, and his approach also provides the feeling of something old. Here are my initial thumbnails below for both the full page illustration and the chapter header. I am more confident with the chapter header thumbnails at the minute as I feel they provide a brief introduction to the mood and atmosphere, revealing little about the story. For the main illustration part of me is thinking I've over complicated it in some aspects, as a simple idea done in an effective manner could be just as, if not more, communicative in the sense that it wouldn't give too much away to the reader, yet it provides everything we want the reader to be feeling.
Developed thumbnails for main full bleed illustration:
Developed thumbnails for chapter header:
Following a group feedback session, Tony's main points were that he wanted me to experiment more with colour for the full bleed illustration, and also encouraged me not to lose the figures in the foliage - look at less skeletal figures (include more of the 'rags' that are mentioned in the story). Other things that were mentioned included the possibility of a bit more distant background, more attention to detail regarding the characteristics of the figures. For my chapter header his thoughts were that it was a little too similar to my full bleed illustration. He suggested maybe keeping it a bit more brief and home in a bit more on the 'do not enter' idea, and the fact that the place is dangerous. Considering the feedback, I had a play with a few more ideas shown below.
VERY rough chapter heading ideas...
I also had a play with some of the different filters on the layers just out of curiosity really but I thought they displayed some interesting moods.
Full page illustration progress:
For the first project of the semester, we were each given a written article for which we are tasked with producing illustrations for. We are also looking conceptually here rather than literally, which will be really interesting.
Within conceptual illustration we are aiming to attract interest to the article, without revealing too much about whats included in the article. We don't want to almost repeat what's already been said in the article. It is a complex and professional form of illustration which involves a clever use of imagery and problem-solving. The pieces often involve extreme distortion and abstraction, used to display certain effects and meanings. Particularly with conceptual illustration, we need to focus on who the audience will be, and what key points we need to include which will trigger a meaningful reaction - all linked to semiotics.
I looked at a range of conceptual illustration on Pinterest and a few that I found fascinating were John Holcroft, and Dan Page. Here are some of the pieces I found particularly engaging.
My article was a BBC article about 'working from bed' - the way in which people have adapted to working at home, in particular in bed, since the growth of the pandemic. I was tasked with producing 1 × illustration - 160 × 120mm, 1 × spot illustration - 50 × 70, both CMYK. I found this a very interesting topic, very current, and something which I could definitely develop. For my initial thumbnails I was looking at the shape of a bed, and things which I also associated with that shape, which I could also link to this topic. So I came up with using an open book as a bed, which progressed to a laptop as a bed - which I thought was a much better shape for this idea. I also played with the global aspects of the topic - the article speaks about how global decisions can be made from bed, but I thought I was going a bit far with the idea at that point. After a group crit, I decided I'd go with the idea of the laptop opening out into a bed, using the keyboard of the laptop as the duvet cover. It also came up in my crit that I had explored the idea of working in bed in a bedroom, but not so much in an office environment, so I thought I'd use this as a simple idea for the spot illustration.
BBC article: www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-55775292
Here are my developed thumbnails, I aim for the 'laptop bed' to be my main illustration, and the simple office scene to be my spot illustration. Through developing my concept I also added in the plug socket for the laptop which came to be quite important to the piece, as it is switched on - and within the article it is discussed that working from bed makes it difficult to 'switch off' from work mode. The colour scheme I was generally aiming towards was blue/grey as grey is always a colour which springs to mind when I think about technology, and also blue.
I was very happy with my feedback from the second group crit. Tony really liked my ideas, showing both concepts - working in bed in a bedroom scene. Then for the spot illustration I was showing the other side - a uniform, orderly office setting, with one of them being a bed instead of a desk. To keep the image in an orderly setting I just included anonymous workers as the focus was mainly on the bed.
Here is my final main illustration (120mm x 160mm). I produced the line work using dip pen, and then uploaded it into photoshop, adding my colour and texture. I am really happy with how this turned out, and I think it's a really clever concept for the article. I think the colour palette works really well here as well as it's quite plain which I'd associate with an office vibe.
For my spot illustration (50mm x 70mm) I found that working initially to these dimensions was difficult when it came to editing in photoshop (see below) so I worked on a larger scale using the same ratio to make life easier for production.
FINALS & MOCK UP