Sunday, 24 October 2010

Design, Week 3 Lecture

Researching content…
It is important to research what is needed to be put in any commercial or informational piece. It is good to think about three factors when designing something like this, which are the subject, the audience and the message.

A Map of Pearl Lake,
This is a map of Peal Lake, which has points of interest for divers listed. When the designer was approached to make the map they would have needed to research lots of different information. Amongst others they include:
  • What and where are the points of interest? This could involve looking at previous maps (secondary research), asking people knowledgeable about the lake and perhaps even diving around the lake themselves (primary research).
  • How deep the lake is.
  • How will it be used underwater? Colours can get distorted underwater, and light levels may be affected.
  • Practicalities of the map. How big should it be for it to be workable and useable for divers?

On the Pearl Lake website ( it offers a black and white copy of the map as well.

Black and White copy of the Map,
This could be the version that divers are likely to use because of easy visibility whilst including the information needed by a diver.

By implementing the colour map on a dive, they may have discovered that it was unusable or inadequate for underwater reading, so the design was changed and developed. Kolb’s Learning Cycle explores that design process:

Kolb's Learning Cycle,
 A designer gathers research initially (feeling), they then reflect on that information (watching), consideration of that information (thinking), and then development/doing the work (doing). Then research is continued by implementing the piece in real life situations such as a trial dive, if it doesn’t work the cycle continues.

By researching what the content of a piece needs to be it allows visual communicators to create works that are appropriate to the application of it.

“Legibility indicates how clear text is visually.”

“Being clear enough to be read, readable, particularly for handwriting”

Legibility refers to how something is read. Something can be illegible, which means it is hard to read, and something can be legible, which means it is easy to read.

Don't Mistake Legibility for Communication by David Carson
David Carson is a graphic designer/artist who explores legibility a lot throughout his works. He said, “there’s many ways you communicate. With colour, texture, sound… ” (From An Interview With David Carson by Adam Banks,
“It’s trying to communicate an idea, and in doing that, sometimes something became a little harder to read”
- David Carson, from An Interview with David Carson by Adam Banks

This piece by Carson is illegible - you can’t tell what’s going on and what it’s trying to say. It could be because there wasn’t any real meaning to the words, or because the text was about communicating confusion/mayhem.

Screen Captures from the Catch Me If You Can title sequence
This title sequence by Kuntzel and Deygas features a lot of text that has been manipulated to create a visual piece however, we can still read it and know what it says. This piece is legible. As a commercial piece for a big film, they needed to communicate the crew and cast names, but they needed to do it in a way that was visually stimulating as a way to keep the audience’s attention. Different mediums mean legibility needs to be considered in different ways.

Research and Development

Understanding an audience can enhance visual communication...

As a photographer I am concerned with; how a piece relates to an audience; if it communicates the ideas in the brief I was given or if it communicates the ideas I created; if it is relevant to the target audience and if the piece(s) is visually stimulating. One person's stimulating is another person's yawn though.

Example? I remember talking about the (fairly) new John Lewis advert with some mates (we have other cooler conversations not about adverts too) and some loved it some hated.

A short timeline of John Lewis 2010 advert.

For the sake of this blog I got some online discussions about the advert too:

Eek said, “don't really like it, it's depressing. How it's someone’s whole life practically in two minutes.”
Posted: Sat 1st May 2010 at 00:52:46

But SarahPie said, “love it, it's a fab advert.”
Posted: Sat 1st May 2010 at 11:19:04

 - Taken from a forum discussing the advert:

These two people are probably from different audience groups, and will have different priorities and ideologies from each other thus making their opinions differ.

Theorists have categorised audiences as a way of segmenting the general population. Hartley came up with one demographic approach to segment audience groups:
  • Self-image
  • Gender
  • Age group
  • Family
  • Class
  • Nation
  • Ethnicity

As we have moved on socially, some subjectivities are less relevant such as class, which is now considered a redundant way to label people. The psychographic approach separates an audience into levels:

It is very important to understand which audience group your piece is wanting to target, vital if you work commercially. As artists we are concerned with how people will respond to our work and how it will be received, even if we make a conscious decision to ignore audience and create highly personal expressions. By understanding the audience, it informs our decisions when we create.

Observation, collecting, studying and exploring can contribute to a deeper understanding of the subject…

Everything is research; going to look at a piece of art; seeing some graffiti on the street; noticing the architecture of a city and even taking photos from your family holiday. However, it is only relevant to a visual communicator if it is consciously considered.

There are two types of research - primary and secondary.
Primary research consists of collecting original data from scratch. For example, you might go out and interview someone about something, or take photo’s of a place that is relevant to the brief/idea, or sketching a persons face as you sit on the train.
Secondary research consists of gathering information/data that is already out in the world as a way of clarifying or developing an idea. Artist research is a common form of secondary research, so visiting galleries or exploring their web pages is secondary research.

This is a piece of primary research I collected in a recent project I made where I explored gender. I wanted to understand other people’s ideas about gender so interviewed a few people who I had not known previously to this project:

As visual communicators, visual research is the most relevant.

An example of primary research in a sketchbook by Jill Calder
Jill Calder takes great pride in the primary research she collects, “I love drawing. I'd quite happily draw on anything” (

By sketching or photographing the scenes that inspire us, we collect the visual information that we can later adjust and apply in whichever setting we want, but it also records a sense of how we feel the atmosphere and environment to feel around us.

Research helps us gain a deeper understanding of whichever subject we choose to explore.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


Notions of originality...

As a creative, you find yourself striving for originality and individuality, but it's something that's much harder to come across than yer might think; I had a haircut a couple of years ago that I thought was amazing in every single way and individual, only for people to tell me how I looked the spit of Gok Wan... it's been a trauma that I've only recently gotten over. Moral of the story: people all over the world are having 'original' ideas every second of the day, so don't presume your ideas are completely and solely yours.

To be a true original, you need to know what came before you and what came before that. THEN you might be able to create something that you think is the next step in that chain. But then it's like just a new representation of an idea already out there no? NO! Well yes actually, it can be. All you need to do is look at Andy Warhol's Marilyn Monroe prints and place it next to David LaChapelle's Amanda Lepore photograph to see repetition/homage/development:
Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol and Amanda Lepore photographed by LaChapelle
Does the fact there is an obvious reference and influence make LaChapelle’s work invalid? It's a parody. Like Esquires' recent cover image of Ricky Gervais recreating another cover with Muhammed Ali:

Ricky Gervais recreates this cover of Muhammed Ali, but we get a very different meaning, which is down to Gervais' facial expression.

The fact that LaChapelle has photographed the cult and probably a less commercially well known person Lepore reflects the fact he is targeting a different audience to that which Warhol targets. The selection of models gives interesting semiotics for both pieces. Monroe represents femininity, beauty, glamour and class. Lepore represents notoriety, extreme surgery, created femininity, fun and reflects on the vibrant underground scene she is a part of.

Can recontextualised ideas be contemporary?

This is an idea that relates well to those notions of originality. Especially when looking at parody and homage.

Mario Sorrenti photographed Kate Moss tweekin’ the nipple of some fella for a YSL advert. If you were unaware of any previous works then probably you’d just accept that image at face value. However it is a piece almost identical to a piece called Gabrielle d'Estrees, by an unknown artist.

Gabrielle d'Estrees by an unknown photographer

Kate Moss in a 1998 advert for YSL by Mario Sorrenti

At the time of release, the portrait of Gabrielle d'Estrees was very controversial, but today the image of Kate Moss isn't shocking at all. Obviously, as times have changed and peoples ideas about how we should behave has evolved, we have arguably become desensitised to images of sexuality. An audience changes and, because of that, the way that people respond to a piece alters too. By modernising something like the d'Estrees image, using it in contemporary media like an advert for a high fashion brand and photographing current celebrity models, it makes it more relevant to a contemporary audience.

Sorrenti’s aim is in this picture, to SELL the brand YSL. The earlier portrait’s aim could be to reflect the sexuality of the women that were painted. The fact that the intention is completely different defines the pieces themselves and again gives new meaning to each piece.