Thursday, 6 September 2007

Staying Alive

This website aims to educate young people in the importance of safe sex. It has an interactive game that is easy to use and has 'cool' 2D characters. The use of colour and language in the text definitly works for its target audience. However im not sure that teenagers would be all that interested in the site past the age of about 14, even so if you can target them early on the message may get through better. I read about this is a web design magazine and decided to check it out, so i dont know how well thi site is being advertised. Are enough school students being made aware of the site??

Greenpeace My Apple Campaign

These adverts really intrigued me. At first i thought they were just another offshoot of the Apple iPod adverts, and well i suppose they are, but at least they are for a good cause. Greenpeace have (perhaps unfairly) targeted Apple mac users and iPod listeners in their bid to make people more aware of what they are doing to the environment. I think that they are clever in that people will automatically take notice of the fact that it is a kind of parody of the iPod adverts, however people may take offense over the apparent mac-bashing.

The 'Green My Apple' campaign has also set up a website that directly mimicks Apples. Apple rated low on use of toxic materials and recycling so it is directed at them as a company, not just at Apple consumers.

Protest Posters

In no other medium is Graphic Design so easlily and noticably able to subvert and persuade than in protests and activism. The CND logo is probably the most recognisable and significant visualisation of protest that has been created. The logo, free of affiliation and copyright laws has been used through the last 50 years for countless marches for peace.

James Montgomery Flagg in 1917 created the propaganda poster below of the US WW1 army recruitment drive. A powerful image that aimed to knife patriotism and pride into the heart of all Americans. It was then subverted in 1971 in the 'Campaign to unsell the war' as an anti-war message. By then the image instantly recognisable, was used to tell the opinions of the people back at their government. This i think is a highly successful idea because it is demonstrating visually to both the people and the government what they really think of the idea of going to war. It is thoughtful, honest and above all eyecatching.

Here is another similar idea, recycling images and ideas as a way of trying to reach the rememberance of the horrors of what the war caused.

Images such as the one below can be found on the website
A whole host of public posters aimed at telling it like it is about different issues.

Mesoamerican Art and Design

I have become deeply fascinated in the ancient history of Mesoamerica - thats ancient Mexico, Guatamala and Belieze - since visiting the Museo de Anthropologio (anthropology museum) in Mexico City. Previously I had come across Aztec and Mayan imagery, and thought it an interesting subject, however the visit to this museum taught me how to analyse the images before me and the reasons and symbolism around certain designs and shapes.

Most interestingly I discovered that the Aztec Calender's many patterns and symbols have meaning, but most importantly meaning beyond that of the Aztec culture. The Aztecs are well known to have conquered civilisations and stolen their cultural and religious icons. The calender, is acually not used as a calender at all but is a sacrifical alter known at the 'sun stone'. The face in the middle is the face of the sun (Tonatiuh) was the lord of heaven around which tokk place all daily or periodic phenomena. The crown, nose pendant, earings and neaclace showed that the god was wealthy and worthy. Wrinkles illustrated wiseness and maturity and the tonge like an obsidian knife indicated the need of being fed with blood and human hearts. These ideas have been followed through history, and have been taken from pervious cultures.

The faces of these dolls, ornaments were considered to be beautiful because they were original. When a child was young and destined to be a religious being (like a priest) or royal the parents used to bandage their heads up so that they would grow disproportionally, long heads that were flat at the back. They would also pierce their ears with enormous rounded earings of Jade or Gold - a trait from the Gods. People with disfigurements or disabilities such as Downs Syndrome were therefore considered to be of the highest order. They were looked up to not prejudiced against like most other cultures - this I think is rather a beautiful concept.

Mesoamerican artifacts have so much to show us about the lives and symbolism of the people that lived in what we would call a savage and cruel civilisation.

Mexican Art

I am showing these images as examples of the kind of artwork that is strew in the cafe's, bars, public spaces of Mexico city. It is mainly in the city that large pieces of artwork are found, or areas where there are a lot of tourists. These images i think are only a step up from the images you find painted on the street. Previously i have mentioned the street art and graphics that i found all over Mexcio. These pieces of art are similar in that the use of bold colours has taken precident over technical perfection.

I especially enjoyed this piece because of the bold use of earthy reds and browns. This is a good representation colour for Mexico, as it echoes the colours of their skin, the land they work, and the blood that has been spilled to make Mexico the independant country they are today.
The images mirror everyday life and the struggles that have been overcome. It is an overall representation of the people of Mexico.

This piece of artwork also demonstrates the Mexican' s love of colour and form. It has airs of cubism and surrealism but the meaning and emotion i think is easy to see. Mexcio, has a love for music - most of it Marriachi - but even the sophistiction of western classical music has a folowing here.

The colours and composition of both the pieces create visual harmony, a harmony echoed in the everyday lives of the people.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Ralph Steadman

Steadman is an artist and illustartor who is most renowned for his political and social charicatures and cartoons. Steadman worked on many projects with American journalist Hunter S. Thompson, where he drew illustrations to accompany his articles and books. Most notably for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. Steadman's illustrative method worked perfectly with Thompson's driven written style, much of Ralph's work revolves around charicatures of Thompson, the unmistakable bowler hat, cigarette holder and Aviator sunglasses. Infamous character Dr. Gonzo:

Steadman created the front cover for Frank Zappa's "Have I Offended Someone?" album:

I really like the work of this artist because he creates fantastical images and characters that deviate from the norm. The characters are ugly and their unattractiveness is embellished by the unprecise nature of his pen. I am especially drawn by the way that his illustations appear so rushed, as if he has something else on his mind, even the layout of the album cover for instance looks shoved together unthinkingly. The scrawling handwriting has become an icon in itself, appearing on the covers of books and albums he has illustrated. Even the DVD case and posters of the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas film have used this typography.

Simon Schama's Power of Art

I have only got part way through this book but already i am enthralled. Simon Schama takes you on the journey through the stories of eight different artists (Caravaggio, Bernini, Rembrandt, David, Turner, Van Gogh, Picasso and Rothko) closing in upon the turning points in their lives where they created some of the most powerful and unprecedented pieces of art that altered the course of art forever. Schama doesn't just analyse the paintings, he vivdly tells their stories, delves into their personalities, and captures the substance and spirit of the times they lived in from passionate Paris to the savagery of civil-war Spain.

If you thought you knew everything about the art of these artists, think again, Schama has taught me things i would never have deducted for myself.

Inclusive Design

Another concept that i have become fascinated with is Incusive Design. Inclusive Design has been driven by the realisation that in Europe, we are an aging population, we are culturally diverse, and some of the population has a form of disability. Much of design created, especailly graphic design tends to exclude these people. The idea of 'Universal Design' or 'Design-for-all' has been developed in the USA especially where the Viatnam war created huge numbers of disabled ex-soldiers.

It is not difficult to see that something needs to be done to allow the old, ethnic, disabled population more access to the advertising, packaging, even signage that the rest of us take for graunted. Most graphic designers (according to the design council) are male, young and white, and im sure none of them are blind.

In accourdance with this the Royal National Institute of the Blind is launching a set of guidelines specifically for the deign industry, aiming to encourage designers to produce material that is legible by people with sight problems e.g. caps type can be difficult to distinguish for people with very poor eyesight as they will normally recognise the shapes of the words.

This idea of inclusive design opens up a whole world of new and exciting prospects for design. It is a subject that i would like to work more closely with in future assignments. I am not so niave that i don't realise creating something that appeals to a traget market as well as not alienating those who have disabilities or are minorities is a near impossible feat - you cannot please everyone - but i would like to see how far this could be taken.

Sustainable Design

I have recently been influenced by the idea of sustainable design. Sustainable Design is the art of designing physical objects to comply with the principles of economic, social and ecological sustainability. This idea flows through all areas ofdesign from a flyer and corporate identity, to buildings, planes and cities. The aim of sustainable design is to produce places, products and services in a way that reduces use of non-renewable energy resources.

Of course we are all aware of the pending global warming crisis that governments (and film stars) fear is upon us. Sustainable design is already apparent in the fields of eco-houses, sustainable energy resources, recycling. However it is not so obvious in graphic design. Sustainable Graphic Design concentrates on the use of packaging, what packaging is made of, what is used to print the images and words that differentiate each product. This i think is an interesting area and one that all Graphic Designers are going to have to welcome sooner or later.

There is an interesting site that you can check out if you like the idea of sustainable design. This graphic design company have embraced using sustainable materials, inks and concepts, and have produced some pretty good work along with it.


This website i found really well put together. There is no fancy flash or motion involved but the use of colour, type and layout work really well in allowing you to naviage around the site easily. The site itself is also worth a look at as it provides information on up and coming hip-hop, soul, beatboxing artists as well as urban artists, designers and graf-artists. A must see for all those into the street and urban style.

I used this website when looking for inspiration in my D&AD work. There is a whole host of artisits and designers on here that i find inspirational like Christian Weber and Parra - who creates interesting typographical image

Why Not Associates

One of the first design companies that i came across when considering Graphic Design as a career and possibly the most influential to me in the part of wanting to be a Graphic Designer, were the Why Not Associates. Their work to me is the epitome of design. They use a range of materials and an enormous variation of techniques and skills. they can create something beautiful and enthralling out of nothing.

They work within most areas of Graphic Design, from corporate identity and branding to motion and monographs. They do a lot of work with typography and applying this to their different mediums.

Again another football advert, The Why Not Associates created a series of tv promos to advertise the coverage of the new football season by the BBC. The use of Typography in the advert shown on their website demonstrates an ability and knowledge of how typograhy can be used to evoke emotions, movement and atmosphere. This is especailly apparent when a goal is scored. the letters follow each other faster and become larger, bolder.

They also created the walk of Art at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, in collaboration with artist Gordon Young. This is a 100mtr pathway of names laser cut into the plate steel. This is especailly poignant for me because my Grandfather, a local artist, has his name inscribed there.

Completely deviating from typography, the Why Not Associates also have tallent in photography, publishing and an eye for layout. They have created books for London College of Fashion, Typography Now and many many more.

If i am honest i could rave about this company for hours. Instead check them out for yourself:

Nike - Rooney Poster

I am not an avid football fan and so it is only through faint patriotism that I am interested in the Endland Football team. However this poster for Nike instantly struck me.

The image is so powerful, use of the English flag as a focal point is instantly recognisable, as is the footballer Wayne Rooney. Rooney's expression mid-scream amongst the taught muscles of his body replicate a 'Braveheart' impression, as well as a sportsmans victory. The image is raw and compelling, not something that is usually found in slick sports adverts.

Perhaps most interestingly however is the controversy that surrounds this advert. Nike was attacked over the Rooney 'warrior' advert by MPs and church groups for being 'offensive', 'explotative' and 'tacky' (2006). It seemes it is the christ-like pose that provoked condemnation. Other people have interpreted it as a battle cry, as arousing war amoung football fans. Labour MP Stephen Pound commented "This is such a horrible image and is so horribly war-like that it can only be described as Nike being crass, offensive and insensitive as they try to hitch poor old Rooney to their commercial bandwagon." (2006). Nike replied by saying they had non of the above attentions, they were merely showing him in his trademark goal-scoring celebration gesture.

I am interested in Ethics in Advertising and so to me this advert has become all the more compelling. Personally I think that this is a Nike ad, a sports make. I think we can safely say that any deeper meaning below patriotism, passion and pride was unintended. What could Nike gain from religious symbolism except for perhaps more publicity over their advert?

Pound, Stephen (2006). Daily Mail - Nike Attacked Over Rooney 'Warrior' picture [Accessed online 4/9/07]

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Santiago Carbonell

I saw Santiago Carbonell's work at the Museo de Artes in Guadalajara, Mexico. I was struck buy the life-like photographic imagery he was able to produce with a paintbrush. The eyes of the faces he painted were a window into the persons soul. It was a s easy to see the pain, the joy, the life of the person he had painted through his dipiction of their eyes. His attention to detail and technical perfection is what he is reknowned for.
I was also interested by his use of 3D in the image above. The stigmata wound on her hands actually protrudes from the painting with rather crude, papier-mache. This i think could have been created more successfully but the disbursions and spraying of blood crete the impression that this is not her blood but the blood of the painting. It is an exciting effect that makes you delve into the possible meanigs in and behind the painting.

The Singing Ringing Tree

The Singing Ringing Tree, Burnley, Lancashire. Created by Architect Tonkin Liu for Mid-Pennine Art, the tree has replcaced two radio masts and has aprofile from Burnley. It is made of differeing lengths of pipe, and as the wind passes through them the tree sings differet chords. I think this is a gret way of making something functional and ugly into something beautiful and artisitic. The combination of structure, audiability and functionality makes this piece more exciting and a holistic experience compared to many usual sculptures.

I have provided a YouTube video i found as i do not have a ditital camera with video capabilities. The sound quality is not that good because of the sound of the wind, but in real life the sound is much more impressive. It would almost be calming if it wasnt so cold!

Southern Cross Station

Southern Cross Station in Melbourne, Australia is one of my favorite, recent architectural designs. On the 22nd of June, Grimshaw architects won the 2007 Lubetkin Prize for the most outstanding building outside of the European Union. The undulating wave-like roof to me is its most interesting creative point because it creates the impression of movement and continuance that relates to the usage of the building. As well as being striking it is also functional, Keith Brews of the Grimshaw team explains: "It's difficult to extract diesel fumes, but if you create a dome, they can move laterally. As the wind speen increases across the roof, the wind goes up the side of the domes and across the Venturi caps, which either allow some air through, or suck it (and the diesel fumes) up." (2007).

I would love however, to see the building in the context of its surroundings. I like buildings that emulate and facilitate the ambiance of their environment. In my home town for example a Tescos was built a few years ago with a similar but simpler curved roof. This destroyed some of the character of the old market town, with its wattle and daube 17th century cottages and edwardian town houses. Southern Cross Station is part of a wider docklands development and regeneration of that part of the city so hopefully this is not the case.

Mexican Street Graphics

Most of Mexico's advertising in the small towns and villages is street graphcs, typography and images painted onto the walls of shops and buildings. I found these more interesting than advertising found in the cities because they illustate the culture and artisitic qualities of individuals rather than multinational advertising companies. The artisits who made these were not instructed in the conventions of visual arts or the latest design trends, but their work belongs to a tradition that has been passed down through the years and across the country.

I think that the reason that enjoy and find so alluring mexican street graphics is that they are not perfect. the high-tech world of graphic design at the moment allows artisit to create 'perfect' design. These hand painted designs emitt the soul and personality of the person who created it. A crooked line, a mistake often has more fervor and sincerity.

To a foreign visitor from a western country where functional advertsising uses primarily photographs, some of the images seem a little absurd, immature perhaps. Even the content of some images are confusing and contradictory e.g. a roman ceaser eating a mexican torta. However it is this fantastic juxtaposition that goves mexican graphics their own distinctive identity and dynamic.

Many of the images shown here have been created on one fell swoop, without preliminary drawings or plans. This is difficult for me as a student in britain to comprehend because planning to me is of utmost importance. For me to create a piece of graphics or art, i find it necessary to create different preliminay versions before creating my final image, and even then changing it, often dramatically. It could be seen however that the mexican's casual creative procedure as either being original or impassive.

Finally i was most attracted initally by the usage of colours. Mexico is a bright, colourful country in the face of poverty and depression. People go about their everyday lives with more vigor and get-up-and-go than the citizens of our inifinitly more comfortable, weathly country. And this si think is refelected in the colours of their clothing, their houses and their street graphics.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Toshiyuki Kuwabara

Another flashsite that i really enjoyed was this one for 3D animator and illustrator Toshiyuki Kuwabara. It is simple and easy to use, but manages to showcase his work at its best. The links flow quickly and smoothly, with the different aspects of each page popping up or sliding across in a predictable yet decided way. There are no unexpected, confusing pop-ups. Even the typography has been chosen for its readability and duality with geometric, graphic shapes. The colours he has used work incredibly well together, and harmonize with the crisp, graphic detail ofthe 3D designs and animation clips.

I am not an avid follower of 3D design and animation, mainly because i think it is a bit beyond me. However looking through his site and is work has demonstrated to me that with the right ideas and software (and of course tallent and creativity) it can be done. He has created a simple character, and concentrated on the way he moves alongside the sets he runs through.

The only bad thing i have to say about this website is the lack of
sound. Can anyone else hear sound on this site? It is a shame because i think the animation as well as the website would benefit and keep the interest of a wider audience.

Cicatriz Clothing Website

This website aims to sell and exhibit its whares in an innovative and interactive way. The home page shows 12 boxes with video clips of a model wearing the t-shirts of the Cicatriz company. In turn each of the video clips shows the model actively doing something, for example in box 2 the model appears the unstick the logo from his t-shirt and hold it out to the viewer. In box 3 the model is thrown a t-shirt and passes it to himself in box 4, who in turn drops itt o the floor for himself in box 5 to catch from the sky.

I was impressed with this website for its originality. they are displaying and actively persuading the viewer to purchase something that is really quite mundane and everyday. Shopping for girls is often a pastime, a joy. But to many boys, buying clothes is a chore. The website is fun and correctly designed towards its target market. The shop is a complete integrated Flash solution with no annoying pop-ups.