Unit 7: Reflective Journal



In today's lesson we all put our four images we'd brought in on the wall and had to present them to our four groups. Here are some things we considered once doing so:


1. List successes that you found most inspiring

  •    - space: cildo miereles (room filled with talcum powder and a lone candle)
  •    - silence: david lynch's inland empire / anechoic chamber
  •    - order: carl kleiner (organising objects + minerals in a beautiful way)
  •    - interact: shadows of abusive father, encouraging public to intervene and protect child with their silhouettes 


2. Did the way in which the research was presented to you affect the way you felt about it? If so, how?

   - Yes, the better a student presented the piece the more information I was able to receive. In order to fully appreciate a piece you must understand it.


3. Evaluate your own performance in the research presentation activity - were you adequately prepared?

   - I had provided all the images, however I did not have enough information. This made presenting a challenge.

   Did you know enough about your research?

   - No, not nearly enough. I had some very basic info about some, others none at all. I have learnt that simply finding an image is not enough.


4.  From the list you made of most inspiring research, white 1 sentence proposal for a unit 7 project proposal idea.

   - Carl Kleiner: Deconstructing an object or thing, and then reconstructing it in another way to create something else entirely.



We were split up into groups and asked to each look at an individual object. We analysed our allocated objects and had to think about the different features of it and how it might link to one of the four themes (space/order/silence/interact). 

My object was an abstract necklace which uses the design features of a stethoscope (designed to be worn in the ears). It had a black and gold headphone-style band with orange rubber ear plugs.

I found my particular object interesting because at first glance I assumed that it was a set of headphones, however the object has a different function. It could however be argued that the earplug parts could be used to block out sound - but we do not know the strength of this. I find it ironic how the object looks like something that emits sound (headphones) when in reality it does the opposite (reduces sound). This object was originally put with the theme of 'silence' however it could be applied to my chosen theme of 'order' as you could argue that there is a sense of order or regulation about muting/the removal of sound.


Today I visited both the Damien Hirst 'Love' exhibition and the Hattie Stewart exhibition in Hoxton. There is something far more interesting and rewarding about seeing someone's artwork u-close and in real life. There might be small details that you may not notice when merely looking at a digital image. You also get more of a sense of the atmosphere and feel of the pieces all combined together in one room.

(Recaps of the exhibitions here)

After visiting the Hattie Stewart exhibition I decided to adopt this style of 'creative defacing' into a small experiment of my own. I noticed that a lot of Stewart's work consists of fashion magazine covers with popular celebrities/artists on the front. I therefore chose to work with the latest cover of i-D magazine featuring Rihanna, as I know the majority of people will be familiar with her. Stewart has the talent and ability to bring these serious, posed celebrity photographs to life, creating a new and magical aesthetic for each one. It could be argued that Hattie Stewart's work related to my chosen theme of 'order' in the sense that it is the complete opposite - it creates a colourful chaos.

As I drew straight onto the original cover in Photoshop I noticed that there are a lot more drawing skills required in order to have a successful outcome. Steward dubbed herself a 'professional doodler' but even to be able to doodle on that level you need to have very good drawing skills as well as a brilliant imagination. For my version, I simply added a few patterns and drew in Rihanna's braids. Even small changes such as change in colour and adding some small detailed patterns can show how much of an impact can be made to the original image.


Today I visited the 'Staying Power' exhibition at the V&A - showcasing photography of Black British experiences, in order to raise more awareness of Black British culture within photography and as photographers themselves. One photographer in particular caught my eye, Normski, as he would document a lot of the tings that I am interested in such as the hip-hop scene (just emerging at the time, 1980s), youth culture and sports/leisure wear. I wanted to create a typographic piece for this experiment by creating a small passage reflecting on one of Normski's photographs from the exhibition. 


In order to create my passage of text, I chose one of Normski's photographs which spoke to me the most. I decided to go for his portrait of the She Rockers as I felt it is a great representation of the emerging hip-hop culture in 80s London, especially amongst young women. From looking at the image, I drew different aspects from the image that I thought were relevant to the themes and creates a short train of thought-like passage:


 "the perms, the oversized hoop earrings, the bomber jackets, the baggy high-waisted indigo jeans, the three-stripe adidas high tops, the abundance of gold rings on each finger, the baseball caps, the CONFIDENCE. the emergence of hip hop in 1980’s london"


I felt that this passage of text was reflective of the themes I wanted to touch on as it points out all the different aspects key to the hip-hop movement of the time. I decided to layer the text over the original image in order to give it more context. I opened Normski's photograph of the She Rockers up in Adobe Photoshop and layered it over a white coloured page of A4. I wanted to keep a border around the image as I felt this made it look more interesting instead of just having the photograph on its own. I was considering what font to use for my text and I wanted to keep to the theme of rap/hip-hop and therefore after researching different suitable fonts I stumbled across 'Franklin Gothic Heavy' which was the font used for the RUN DMC logo - which I felt was very suited. I set my passage in this typeface and layered it over the image.

I wanted to go with stereotypical pink to emphasise the fact that the subjects in the photograph were girls (although at first glance because of they way they are dressed them appear like boys). I played around with different tones of pink to see which looked best against the background and also experimented with the placing of the text (i.e. within the margins of the photograph or overlapping) I eventually chose the overlapping text as you were more able to see parts of it against the white background and made the text stand out more.

One-day project plan:


After visiting that ‘Staying Power’ photography exhibition at the V&A I felt inspired by Normski’s work in particular. He focused his work on mainly youth culture and the emerging hip-hop culture in London in the 1980s. I myself am deeply interested in both Black British culture as well as hip-hop and the fashion that comes with it. For this one day project, I plan to take one of Normski’s photographs (the street portrait of the ‘She Rockers’) and write a small passage/train of thought about this particular photograph and present it as a typographic poster. I wanted to explore type and wording for this mini project as my final outcome for unit 7 will hopefully be linked to typography in some way - therefore this project will allow me to explore my options more in terms of type.



I felt quite lucky in the sense that I found something in the exhibition that I felt so connected to. Initially I was only going to use the text on it's own as a statement, but I thought that by placing the original photograph behind I would not only be giving the text more context, but because the image alone is so stimulating - I had hoped to create an even more interesting and stimulating piece. I am glad that I chose to use a white border around the image, as with the text overlapping onto the white, we are more able to see that there is text there at all. I like how some parts of the text are not entirely readable at a first glance due to the various colours in the background, however this encourages the viewer look more closely and in order to read the text, and therefore engage with the piece more.


We had our group crit which I found particularly helpful as it allowed me to see the variety in people's work and outcomes. There was one particular student's work that caught my eye which consisted of different elements/components of a letter all on different layers of tracing paper layered on top of each other. I found this particular outcome interesting as it really stripped down the letterform, which is similar to what I aim to achieve for my final piece in terms of deconstructing and rearranging type.

Some comments made about my work:

  • "It's a way to introduce what UK hip-hop in the 1980s to people with picture and words but maybe you can change the font of the words to make it more like hip-hop style"
  • "Your plan is really clear and I like that you have responded to the artist in the exhibition and included your personal thoughts, how it links to you as a person, graphic design and also your intentions in unit 7. I think it would be nice to have a page in your sketchbook showing how you came to the small passage (whether it was your own ideas about uk hip hop culture or things you have read/seen/talked to people about). The outcome is really simple and professional and it is good you have not just added things for the sake of decoration. I actually quite like the final one in your sketchbook - maybe this is just because the page makes the border appear larger so perhaps you might like to consider making it smaller especially as the text spills out (which I do like). I think once you have added your research on the exhibition and artist it will be a really nicely developed and simple project."
  • "The colour tone of the typography and the image work really well together. Some experimentation on the layout for this poster, maybe you can try to create a series?"

I somewhat agree with the comment about the typeface - although I did use the same typeface RUN DMC used for their logo, it is still quite a generic typeface and a lot of people may not have made that connection. I should have perhaps done more research into typefaces used within hip hip (especially in the 80s) and used one that was more iconic and more recognisable. However the simplicity of the typeface that I did use doesn't distract from the image behind too much, whereas a more complicated typeface might. I do also believe that a series of posters would have been interesting - with either more photographs my Normski, other photos of the emerging hip-hop scene, more contemporary photos of the scene or even photos I have taken myself.  


At the start of the day we finished generating our ideas for the 'object' project and narrowed our ideas down to just one. My ideas included creating a distorted/deconstructed mini sculpture of a letter. It would be painted like a cracked egg shell to represent the incomplete/broken form of the letter. Second was to create a plastic alphabet stencil using the laser-cutter with a deconstructed alphabet that I designed myself. My third idea was to create a three-dimensional letter similar to the channel 4 ident where the objects would only form the letter from a particular angle/perspective.

I decided to go with the ident idea as I felt that it would have the most interesting outcome, and had the most intriguing meaning as I wanted to explore the perception of the human eye (through a camera lens) as well as the components of a letter and whether they can still communicate when looked at from different angles. To begin with I wanted to have my shapes pictured on a pastel pink background however the only option I had was a hot pink/fuchsia colour, so I purchased a small sheet of it and photographed it with some objects on to see if I could somebody edit the tone/shade of the pink in Photoshop. I was able to make the pink the exact shade that I wanted however the excessive editing meant that the quality of the image was brought down, making it slightly blurry/pixelated.


I did some mini mock-ups of my design to be photographed with the proper set up and I was pleased with the outcome. After I had put together my shapes using printing paper I then set them up with the backdrop and proper lighting. Instead of just arranging the shapes on a page, I wanted to somehow suspend the shapes so tat you see different things from different angles/perspectives. In order to suspend my shapes I used wire tied to two stands with invisible thread hanging from it. I wanted to create a sense of depth as opposed to all the shapes hanging from one wire (this way it would look more interesting from different angles) so I attached half to one and the other half to the wire slightly behind. From various angles I was able to create really abstract images and I was happy with how effectively the invisible thread worked. 

I made my final objects a lot bigger than my prototypes, at 16cmx4cmx4cm. As the backdrop was already a nice shade of grey I decided to make the shapes out of colour instead of the backdrop (this may prove easier to edit as well). I found however that by making the shapes bigger, I limited myself to the angles the shapes could be viewed from without going off the backdrop. There was also a lot to consider in terms of the technical side of things. I wanted strong shadows from my shapes so I used two lights (without umbrellas). Using the DSLR with sync flash we had to set the ISO/film speed, shutter speed and aperture in order to make sure we get the best photographic results. We were also shown how to use a light meter, which showed us what shutter speed to set the camera to.


It's always interesting seeing other student's outcomes during the crit. After looking around I found one particular piece that I found interesting which was clothing care labels for the blind. This student had not only done something new and original but they had also come up with their own kind of braille for pictograms as opposed to words. My outcome got a lot of positive feedback, however I was sad to see that not everybody understood the message I was trying to communicate. Although I had shown different angles and aspects of my piece/shapes it was still unclear to some that the piece was intended to look like a letter (the letter E). However, I got very positive feedback on the presentation and execution of the piece which pleased me. I find that at times it is enough for a piece to be visually stimulating in order to be deemed a successful piece.


For this week's print project we had been asked to enter an 'unknown environment'. I visited the palm centre in the town where I live in Richmond as there is something about tropical greenery in urban surroundings that I find fascinating and uplifting. I had also noticed that a lot of my work does not tend to include any elements of nature (usually quite digital drawings of shapes etc) yet nothing rural. I took plenty of photographs around the centre and I narrowed them down to just three that I thought has the strongest elements that would look well when placed together.

After drawing my design onto the board, I found the initial cutting of my design rather difficult. I had not done anything like this before besides lino cutting in which case the material is a lot softer and more flexible. The fact that we had been asked to stick two boards together meant that I was able to cut all the way through the first board, leaving the surface of the bottom one underneath. This meant that I would have a cleaner outcome when I finish printing as the ink should not touch the cut areas.


Today I finished off cutting my board cut stencil ready to print. The process of cutting into the board proved rather difficult, leaving my hands very sore. The method is supposed to be like woodcutting, which is probably a lot harder to do as wood is a lot thicker and more difficult to cut than mount board. I found that it took me quite a while to cut deep enough into the board in order to print well which would mean that wood cutting would take even longer and be more challenging. I have never done wood cutting before therefore I would not know much about the process but having done a similar type of cut with mount board I can imagine how hard and tiring such a trade is. I was interested to see how my print would turn out as my shapes were cut rather deep, which I hope would come out very clean and without any mid-tones. 

Today was my first time relief printing with the press in the workshop, and it was interesting to see how quickly and efficiently we could get through all the prints in our group by working as a team (somebody would ink the plates, somebody else would place the paper etc). I was happy with the way that my print came out, when applied thickly, the inked areas came out very dark and the areas I had cut out left no marks at all as they were cut quite deep. If I had the chance to do it again I would have liked to maybe all more to the plate, more palms/more intricate illustrations which would be harder and take more time but I think it would look very effective, however working like that in a short space of time can leave your hands a bit sore. The only thing that did not go so well with my print is that I think I may have cut my boards too small and they were smaller than the paper we printed on, leaving a white border which I had to fill in afterwards.

During our crit in the afternoon I was able to see the variety of print experimentation other students had done. What students had said about my experiments (minus our relief prints):

  • More experimenting!
  • Good research of printing processes
  • Good choice of environment
  • Use of colour, maybe next week?
  • Go forward with your ideas and experiment
  • More description of the environment, documentation.

I had missed the first couple days of print week which mean that I was not able to partake in the screen-printing workshop. I had done a couple little experiments at home but I feel that I could have definitely done MORE experimentation and on a more complex level. I came to the realisation after looking at the amount of other students work that even if I miss couple of days, I really need to try harder to make up for the work I missed out on at home


Today as a class we had a brief workshop on how to do certain things in photoshop. We were shown how to create colour as well as black and white half-tone, which is usually used in newspapers, as well as shown how to do basic things such as using the marquee tool to select parts, changing colour, transparency and also removal of the background. I found all of this information helpful as for my outcome for this week I aim to create an illustrative poster explain some typographic terminologies. I would like to collate as many images I produced from last week and put them together in a poster to create a collage like collection of images.


To produce my piece, I started off my cutting out letters from neoprene in order to scan them in and layer other images on top. In addition to this, I used my lemon prints and wood press print from the previous week as well. Using photoshop and the methods we had been shown earlier in the week I was able to remove the background of these images and change their colour tone entirely, whilst still keeping all the details. This made an interesting effect when I overlapped the images. I am pleased with my final outcome for this however I do feel that if I had organised my time better and planned this outcome out in advance it could have been a lot stronger. I also think that a collection of these posters would be effective.


Today I researched the Memphis Group, a collective of designers from Milan (1981-1987) who specialised in Post Modern furniture and interiors. I have been seeing pieces very obviously influenced by Memphis but I never knew where they drew their inspiration from until now.

Their work involves lots of colour (predominantly pastels) as well as futuristic and 50s inspired shapes, and bold patterns including striped and little worm-like squiggles which have become instantly recognisable as their style.

Particularly in furniture and interior design, the style the Memphis created has the ability to disturb reality/subvert our expectations, which is a theme I have touched on previously with the distortion of letters and type in order to make them no longer legible.


Today I began brainstorming ideas for my project over the easter break. I really wanted to incorporate the style and aesthetic of the Memphis Group's work into this project somehow as I have always been interested i their use of bold lines, pastel colours and patterns as well as their strange and futuristic forms which I think would fit nicely with the theme of my project which involves taking apart and rearranging to create new and interesting forms.

I figured that I would like to create a zine for this project as  a lot of my work for unit 7 has been poster-based, and I like the sense of involvement the viewer gets when flicking through a little publication. Keeping to the theme of my project about type, I will aim to create around six or eight different illustrations to do with type, inspired by the aesthetics and the Memphis Group put across.

The title of my zine will be 'order/chaos' and each illustration inside will relate to either one of these topics. The illustrations will show repeat patterns, letters being taken apart and also just mere segments of letters.


I began to start planning my zine. Initially I was going to just go straight into creating each illustration on Photoshop, however I planned each individual one out in my sketchbook first (not something I usually do). Doing so proved to be so much easier and quicker when I came to creating each one of the computer. In my sketchbook I planned out exactly how many pages I would need and then proceeded to draw a design onto each page to create later. 

I wanted to create a variety of illustrations, each contrasting one another. They varied from repeat patterns made out of letterforms, to neat letterforms, to completely deconstructed forms. When playing about with my design for the cover I also realised that I wanted to change the title. To keep the theme but to find synonyms for the existing words. After looking at different synonyms for 'order' and 'chaos' I eventually chose 'harmony' and 'disorder'.


Because I had already planned out how each page of my zine was going to look like (not something I usually do) this made the actual production of my zine a lot easier and a more efficient process. I used Photoshop to draw up each design, and then used InDesign  to transfer my drawings onto a publication template. I was able to successfully print my zine out at King's Cross as well which I was pleased with as I have not been able to do this successfully before (either malfunctions of the printer or difficult access, resulting me in going to private printers which cost a lot more money). I was pleased with how my zine had turned out however I feel that it has the potential to be more. If I had allowed myself more time on this particular outcome for my project I would have liked to make the publication a bit longer and also perhaps include some text as well.


Tutorial with ann - next steps, planning out idea for final piece

With my tutorial I was able to to clearly see what I had done so far, and what it is I will have to do over the next couple of weeks - including a final piece. I had been told that I need to have more primary research as I had none so far. Over the next couple of days I will aim to take photographs of and record anything with a sense of 'order' or 'chaos' that I see.

Another idea would be to photograph any old/faded/vandalised street signs, shop signage where the letters have been impaired in some way. This relates to my theme of deconstructing and rearranging type as I will see different variations from how the signs were initially intended.

I have also been advised to look closely at the history of type, particular trends as well as the evolution of type and current trends at the moment; more contemporary type. I have chosen also to watch the documentary 'Helvetica' in order to learn more about the history and background of type.


I had my group crit today. At this point all I knew that I wanted to do so far for my final outcome was to conduct some primary research into old faded signage around London however I did not know how to take this idea further. One student suggested that I look for defaced street signs, perhaps rude ones, and maybe create a comedy/satirical outcome. I immediately took this idea on board and came up with this postcard idea:

My final outcome brief:

For my final outcome I have chosen to photograph either damaged or defaced street signs / signage around London (East in particular). I shall then select perhaps three or four of these photographs to create quirky, 80s style postcards from. The aim of this project would be to show a side to type that people would usually disregard / not notice - and show the way in which type can be broken up (relating to the title of my project 'Deconstructing and Rearranging Type').

The reason I would like to use 80s inspired graphics is because I am hoping that the geometric shapes and bright colours will create a juxtaposition against the dull photographs of the urban street signs.


For my final outcome, I went and collected some first-hand research by finding and taking photographs of damaged and/or defaced street signs or signage. Beforehand I tried to see what I could find online around London in order to make it easier for me to find, however the only one that I could source online from London was 'Fann St' in Barbican where somebody had scratched the letter 'Y' into the white of the sign so it now reads 'Fanny St'.

This meant that in order to find the rest I had to simple spend a day wandering around London in order to find such signage. I chose to look predominantly around East London, as in most cases areas in East tend to be slightly poorer than other areas around London and would therefore be more likely to have damaged/defaced signs due to more oppressed citizens and/or less funding to replace these signs.

Luckily enough (and not luckily) the road that I reside on, 'Buckingham Road' had been defaced a few years ago, with the 'B' scratched out in parts so it now reads 'Fuckingham Road'. The outcome of this is so messy and aggressive, you could say that elements of the letter have been removed by force. This could be the result of someone deeply unhappy with their life on this road, or simply someone who is desperate to make a joke. Sadly those two were the only actually defaced signed that I came across that day, however I was able to find a VERY aged coffee shop sign, along with several street sighs where the paint has chipped away and/or paint or stickers have been stuck over the top.


 After looking through the photographs that I had taken from this project I narrowed it down to just three that I wanted to work with. I had chosen the two defaces signs, and also one that has stickers stuck over it and paint chipped off as I believed these three looked the most damaged. i opened the images files up in Photoshop and I began to draw over the existing signs. Initially I wanted to try to match the type used on the signs (I used Times New Roman) however I found that this typeface made the designs look cheap and unfinished. I then changed all the type to Futura. Although Futura is not an 80s typeface (it came about in the late 20s) I feel as though similarly to Helvetica, it is a strong, clean, minimal and versatile typeface that can be used in a broad variety of designs. After applying this font to my work it appeared a lot bolder and clearer, and I was a lot more pleased with how my work was looking.


On this day we had out group tutorials. Looking around at other students work showed how broadly they were looking with their themes. One student had chosen to create a publication comparing the Japanese alphabet to the English alphabet, using clean beautiful typography and tracing paper in order to see the next letters underneath. I pitched my idea to the group however my tutor felt that my motive for using 80s inspired graphics was unclear. I was happy to hear from other students that they understood my reasoning behind it (to use as a contrast, for comedy/satirical value) but also to make the piece more illustrative. Upon showing my current designs to the rest of the group I also felt that the design work itself could do with improving, so this will be my next step over the next weekend.


Upon looking at my current designs there were small aspects that I changed in order to make them look cleaner and more professional. Before I had used a broad range of colours, however by narrowing down the colours I used to just blue, pink, black and white I was able to create a theme between the postcards, which would make them compliment each other a lot more when put along side one another. Finally I drew up a very simple design for the back of the postcards (simple space for stamp and dividing line in the middle) which I shall feature underneath my postcard designs. I printed them double-sided on 350gsm matte paper. I was pleased with the outcome as I felt as though they looked professional, and like authentic postcards.

Project Evaluation


Throughout the course of my project, I feel as though I have achieved that I set out to do in my proposal which was to explore the components of type, as well as the theme of order. However I would say that I could have explored these themes in a lot more depth. A lot of my work is very visual, however I would have liked to dedicate more time on certain aspects in order to add more meaning and depth to my outcomes. I did find however that my project had not changed or deviated from my initial proposal.


My research allowed me to engage in other artists’ work as well as getting closer to understanding their methods and the choices they made within their pieces. I have also been able to look at type a lot more closely and analytically than before, as well as seeing how type has evolved over the years and different trends over the decades. If I was to start my project again, I would try my best to organise my time a lot better. I would then use this time to conduct a lot more research, do more experiments and mini projects which would hopefully lead to better, stronger and more successful outcomes.


I feel as though my final postcard piece and my ‘object week’ pieces are my strongest, as not only am I pleased with them both visually, but I also believe they both communicating interesting ideas. However although I am still pleased with my other work, I am not as pleased for the reason that communicatively they are not as strong. Throughout this project I have found that my strengths are being aware of current trends within design, however at times I find that I have trouble justifying the design choices I have made. I have also found that I need to improve on my research skills as well as my time management skills.


If given the choice, there are a few aspects of my project that I think I could improve or take further. For example I feel as though the Normski poster I produced for our one day project would be effective as a serious of posters, as would my outcome for image week. I would also have liked to perhaps photograph the postcard for my final outcome in-situ.


Reflecting back on my work I definitely feel as though I could have done more research to aid my project. I would have liked to really study the components and trends of type in depth and perhaps design my own typeface. But not one that has recycled elements of past type but something completely new and original, not linking to any previous design trends. This would take a lot of time and research but I feel that this would be a very interesting outcome. 


I will admit that over the course of this project my time management skills would have been improved on. Although I was able to do everything I had set out to do, if I had planned everything better a lot earlier, I would be left with more time to improve on certain aspects of my project. I am pleased with my outcomes, however I do believe that they have the potential to be even more successful.


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