Considering the history and work of design activists such as David King, what burning issue do you wish to bring/campaign to a public or specified audience’s attention? How will you shout typographically? Where will your typographic noise be seen and heard?
I wanted my final major project to explore the theme of Greenwashing. Greenwashing is essentially when a company or organisation spends more time and money on marketing themselves as being sustainable than on actually minimising their environmental impact. It’s a deceitful advertising method to gain favour with consumers and takes up valuable space in the fight against environmental issues.
Image of protestors outside fast fashion brand H&M / Credit: The Big Issue
David John King (born 1943, West London).
“I always saw things in terms of film: close-up, longshot, multi-pictures, giant picture bled off. Crop it harder than it’s ever been cropped before, if it works. Contrast it, use primary colours, wood letters, double-printing, triple-printing – fantastic!” David King, 1998
After leaving The Sunday Times Magazine, King designed many covers for Penguin Books and other publishers, such as Pluto Press, often based on left-wing and political themes.
In the late 1970s, outraged by the treatment of black people under the South African system of apartheid, he volunteered his services as a designer to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, producing many trenchant posters for the cause. Similarly alarmed by the racist language and actions of the National Front, he designed protest posters for the Anti-Nazi League, which was set up to confront the NF. King’s covers for the left-wing London listings magazine City Limits share the same ultra-bold manner of design, which became his signature style. King’s last major commissions as a graphic designer were the art direction of Crafts magazine, from 1984 to 1988, and book cover designs for Earthscan, a publisher of titles about sustainable development.
I particularly like David King’s use of a bold, Sans Serif typeface, and clever use of colour throughout his posters. Your eye is led from one corner to the other, urged to look all the information presented on the poster. They seem simple, but powerful and effective. The colour combinations and bold type grab your attention, working together as a series or standalone prints.
I wanted to explore more tactile approaches to the posters, using materials found around me, to produce a ‘quick’ and ‘effortless’ protest poster.
The simple use of type, placed in a tight layout emphasises the meaning of language and choice of words.
I enjoy the creativity of distorting text to emphasise or create new meaning. Sometimes it isn’t always obvious how the text is distorted, either by hand on electronically which add to the curiosity of the design.
The block text overlaid adds some context to the piece. The text is an extract related to greenwashing in the fast fashion industry. The text is factual information to educate readers.
I initially wanted to screenprint the text on top of the graphic, to add some depth and texture to the print. After some layering Photoshop, I decided that having opaque text may overpower and discard the graphic beneath. Because of the scale of the print, A1, I thought that the idea of having transparent gloss gel to for the type instead (almost like a Spot UV effect). My initial thoughts were that this idea would work for a more subtle approach — the text wouldn’t necessarily be fully readable to the viewer that it would be subtle enough to appreciate in certain lights. This also imitates the meaning of Greenwashing — that it isn’t always obvious to the consumer.
However, after experimenting with the clear gel, the text became completely illegible and disappeared into the paper/print. I experimented with numerous coloured inks to get the same dramatic effect in Photoshop, however none of the inks worked well enough.
After some tutor feedback, I made some simple changes to the text formatting. These changes created a much more dynamic design. Inspired by David King, I used a strong Sans Serif typeface, using the text in uppercase. I increased the tracking and leading of the text for better readability. Rather than centre aligned, I moved the text to the left creating a ragged right edge – a nice suggestion was that ends of the sentences are like the hanging bits of thread. The full stops were replaced with a Zapf dingbat, making a larger dot and adding continuity with the printed block ‘O’ of Conscious. The dot-to-dot idea also draws in the viewers curiosity, emphasising the text.
After several screenprinting attempts, I decided to digitally print the final design. The printer created a slight metallic effect on the text which was a nice surprise.