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