The moment I look at a piece of design work for the first time and say to myself ‘Wow! That’s clever. I wish I’d thought of that!” is interesting on two levels because one, I have the respect for the designer and the idea but that two, I am also chuffed with myself a little that I’ve worked out and understood the message being delivered!
Credit to the designer and credit to myself too!
Of course, I might need a little nudge in the right direction every now and then but when I understand the message clearly, I realise how obvious it is and usually, how simple and effective it is too. In fact, the simpler it is, the more annoying it is that I didn’t think of it first!
Design can be functional and solve problems, but it gets really interesting when you can fun and play with it to deliver a specific message or to make a statement.
When listening to this week’s podcast where our course co-ordinator, Susanna Edwards, talks to artist Sam Winston, it is clear that when we need to communicate any message, we should take in the world around us, use our senses and see what materials are available to us.
Talking about his own work Sam says ‘I was learning through touch. I think that is a really useful way of making, it’s actually basically moving into a physical embodied approach to something.’
If you are out in the world looking around you and understanding how things came to be or taking the time to watch and listen to your environment, it can only add richness to your perspective and surely therefore, add to the outcome of your work.
I really enjoyed reading the recommended excerpts from the book ‘A Smile in the Mind – Witty Thinking in Graphic Design’. (It’s such a shame it is out of print at the moment). It was fascinating to gain insight into how the designers approached a project but also how they came about an idea and executed it.
I particularly liked Abram Games poster for the War Office ‘Use Spades, Not Ships’ and Arnold Schwartzman’s 1984 Olympic Games poster. The everyday objects that we are used to seeing one way, are so simple and obvious yet, are used to give us a completely different perspective. Delivering the overall message with fun and meaning.Looking at these designs and designers reminded me of a book I have at home called ‘Guerrilla Advertising’ by Gavin Lucas and Michael Dorrian.
It talks about how the advertising industry can no longer always rely on the old style of media to get our attention, TV, press and poster. This means ‘Global Brands’ need to find more inventive and original ways to get their brands noticed.
Some examples include chalk goals appearing on brick walls in Amsterdam in 1996, along with the famous Nike swoosh. Nike wanted to encourage kids to create their own football pitch with minimal resources. Or where a billboard was used to advertise the magazine “The Economist”. It simply had a lightbulb on the billboard but as someone walked under the lightbulb, it came on. A small sensor was installed and triggered every time a pedestrian walked underneath.
Both of these examples get the audience to participate and in doing so, will plant the memory and knowledge of that brand.
As I type this, Sony have just launched the new PlayStation 5 and they have created a great advertising campaign whereby they have used the London Oxford Circus tube station signs and changed them to the PlayStation symbols. Again, it’s so simple but has a huge impact and will be something that will be remembered.
Bansky also has a clear and simple way to deliver a message. He has a signature style but uses his environment and what is going on in the world to make serious and fun statements or to raise awareness of current issues. Most recently he created a piece which appeared at Southampton Hospital of a child playing with a superhero doll that was a nurse. Simple, clever and thought provoking.
This week’s challenge is to communicate an emotion about where you live.
Sam Winston tell us in the podcast, to ask ourselves, ‘Why do we live here?’
I decided to use this as the starting point for the challenge. I moved to Basingstoke for work after leaving Uni, met my husband and we bought our first house in a new housing development on the outskirts of Basingstoke. We lived there for about 2 and half years and in that time, we got to know only our immediate neighbours.
The development was filled with young professionals like us, who worked all week and who slept or went away over the weekends!
I grew up in a village and I wanted to live somewhere similar especially when deciding to start our own family.
We found a house in Oakley, 3 miles outside of Basingstoke and have lived there for the last 16 years with our 2 children.
On our moving day, we had a delay with our keys and so the removal men had to wait outside our new property for a few hours. Our new neighbours kindly brought them tea and cake while they waited! I knew then that I was going to love living here!
The initial emotions and words that came to mind when describing Oakley were, friendly, supportive, belonging, community, kind, accepting and inclusive. Mostly in reference to the people that live here.
‘Nostalgia’ as an emotion also came up, because Oakley reminds me of where I grew up as a child and I wanted to give my own children a similar experience. Being part of a community – walking to school, taking part in local activities and having friends nearby. I started to think about the phrase ‘It Takes a Village’ and how, as a community, we all come together to give our children experiences – teachers, neighbours, friends, shop keepers and the local churches.
I was trying to make a connection with the phrase “It Takes a Village’ and an emotion, when I began to focus more on the word ‘village’.
Oakley has a population of about 5,300, which makes it more on the larger side of a normal village population, but it feels very strongly about keeping its ‘village’ status.
Being a short distance from Basingstoke town, there have been many jokes about Oakley becoming ‘Oakleystoke’ and since I have lived here, I believe there have been about 6 – 10 new housing developments built around the village.
There has been a lot of negative emotions around about these new developments but it’s not because the village isn’t open to welcoming new people (if that was the case, we wouldn’t be living in our house!) but more because it’s scared of losing its ‘village’ status. It doesn’t want to merge into becoming part of Basingstoke, preferring to keep its own identity and independence.
When thinking about an emotion that could describe the of people of Oakley in relation to the new housing, I decided on ‘Protective’. There is a lot of good work and support that goes on in and around the village and that wonderful sense of community is definitely worth protecting.
There are lots of possible ways to illustrate the word ‘protective’ – umbrellas, security, a parent with a child, protective clothing, a shield or a moat around a castle but I started to like a protective bubble, cotton wool or hands as initial ideas.
I wanted to include the village sign as it’s the first thing you see when you enter the village and thought the final piece could work without having to include the word ‘Protective’ or maybe just changing ‘please drive carefully through our village’ to ‘please protect our village’?
I couldn’t decide on one single image and thought that all 4 could work in combination or for example, in a campaign of some sort.
In summary for this week, the focus has been on messaging and how to deliver that message effectively with whatever resources are available. It would be great to always have that ‘Wow’ idea, which is really clever but if that doesn’t always happen, the message should be clear and not overly complicated.
I have realised that the cleverness of a message could be intellectual but that it can also be as simple as making a connection between what you are trying to convey and the world around you.
I need to open my eyes more and really begin to see what is around me to continue to make those important connections.
Edwards, Susanna and Winston, Sam. Podcast 2020. GDE710 for MA Graphic Design. Falmouth University.
Image – 7 days https://www.samwinston.com/on-darkness Last accessed 21st November 2020
McAlhone, B., Stuart, D., Quinton, G., Asbury, N. (2016) A Smile in the Mind; Witty Thinking in Graphic Design. London: Phaidon.
Lucas, G., Dorrian, M, (2006) Guerrilla Advertising. London. Laurence King Publishing Ltd
Image – Playstation 5 https://www.creativebloq.com/news/sony-oxford-circus-playstation-symbols Last accessed 21st November 2020
Image – Banksy https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-52556544 Last accessed 21st November 2020