Visual Language — Final Major Project

Project brief:
• TMS proposes an exhibition of the multi-dimensional world of visual language as
part of the Margate Festival. You are the curator. Choose between the following
– An exhibition catalogue (could be Newspaper Club; Blurb book; postcards in a
box; folded brochure; etc)
– A one minute animation to be installed in a front of house display
– A broadsheet presentation of the design of the TMS space (include dimensions but
don’t forget the wow factor)

I wanted to challenge myself to create a series of posters which resonated to the environment around me.

Using local news headlines as the starting point, I stripped the language which had a metaphorical meaning and would work well as linguistic elements. To gather imagery for the prints, I went on a visual language walk in Margate, focussing on the specific environments in which the articles were describing. Taking photos, I cropped in on these to focus on texture, shape and patterns; the visual language of the environment I am referencing.

Below are my first iterations for ‘SURFACE COLLAPSE’, one of the prints in the series.

I wanted the text to fall in a linear approach in a way which looked as if blocks were ‘collapsing’ or falling apart. The news headline for this print was inspired by an article based a roof collapsing by The Lido in Margate. I wanted to use the environment in which the article was based on as the inspiration behind the visual language; colour; form; composition. Whilst on my visual language walk I observed the colours of the Lido Sands old tidal pool.

Lido Sands, Margate.

There were three photos focussing on different angles of the Lido; the Lido Sands (specially focussing on the broken tiles), The Lido’s red tip and finally a blue textured roof sitting adjacent to The Lido. The coloured text was a reference to Margate’s beach/sands and yellow tiling on the redundant Lido Sands. I cropped in on the images I took to focus on texture, pattern and colour. I experimented with different compositions, overlaying text and imagery to form a harmonious relationship.

From these initial iterations, I experimented further with the images of the blue.

Final design for SURFACE COLLAPSE
A2 printed onto canvas paper

I rotated the imagery to create a better arrangement with the text. This way, it creates a more three-dimensional graphical print.

The repeated the words create a rhythmic pattern and the careful placement across the page are composed in a way to compliment the images. My initial idea was to screenprint the text rather than have them digitally printed. But after trying a few attempts onto recycled paper, the ink didn’t quite have the same dramatic effect.

These are iterations for second print in the series titled BRITAIN BEFORE BREXIT. I wanted to compose the text across the page to loosely represent a British flag. I initially began the design using lower case type but after some experimentation, using an all upper case Sans Serif type had more impact. I used Arlington House in Margate as the backdrop, cropping in on the jagged architecture. I purposefully honed in on a window using red curtains, to tie in with the red text. The red colour text is symbolic with the British flag, and could be interpreted with danger or a threat. Furthermore, the grey hues from Arlington House emphasises the red type.

After these initial iterations, I felt the type designs mimicking the architecture in a linear, jagged fashion, worked with the most effect.

Final design titled BRITAIN BEFORE BREXIT
A2 printed onto canvas paper

I experimented with screen printing the text over the top of the images

These are iterations for my third and final print in the series titled GASTRONOMIC BLISS.

I began the designs with images at large scale which overshadowed the text. I wanted the images to present a journey involving the different textures, patterns and colours of Margate’s beach. The headline and inspiration behind this print was from an article review of the restaurant, Sargasso, which sits on Margate’s harbour arm.

The design where the images are smaller and sit side-by-side to one another creates a distinctive break in the use of type. The heavy use of text in these prints were deliberate to create a pattern which could symbolise the sea, sand, chalk, rocks; the beachscape of Margate.

Final design titled GASTRONOMIC BLISS
A2 printed onto canvas paper
Experimenting with screenprinting the text

The inspirations behind these prints explore the notion of Concrete Poetry. Concrete poetry uses graphic patterns of letters, words, or symbols rather than by the meaning of words in conventional arrangement. The writer of concrete poetry uses typeface and other typographical elements in such a way that chosen units—letter fragments, punctuation marks, graphemes (letters), morphemes (any meaningful linguistic unit), syllables, or words (usually used in a graphic rather than denotative sense)—and graphic spaces form an evocative picture.

Multidisciplinary designer, Ryan Carl, explores this idea in his work.

I particularly like this example from Paula Claire, titled Etherealight. The broken text evokes a sense of floating, the placement creates meaning open to the viewers interpretation. The text could symbolise floating, falling, connecting.

Paula Claire, Etherealight, 1985.

Below are the three final iterations, printed at A2 size. The three prints could work as a series or stand alone pieces.

From afar, the small typeface could be similar to the text on a newspaper.

The block, tightly cropped images mimic the tight repetition of the text, working together in unison. I particularly enjoy the simplicity of these prints without having to give too much away.


Colour Theory

Color theory is both the science and art of using color. It explains how humans perceive color; and the visual effects of how colors mix, match or contrast with each other. Color theory also involves the messages colors communicate; and the methods used to replicate color.

Tints, tones and shades are variations of hues, or colors, on the color wheel. A tint is a hue to which white has been added. For example, red + white = pink. A shade is a hue to which black has been added. For example, red + black = burgundy. Finally, a tone is a color to which black and white (or grey) have been added. This darkens the original hue while making the color appear more subtle and less intense.


Project Assessment—Visual Language

Title/sub‐title of project
Project Name TBC

Focus (my project is about…)
My project will be a response to the news headlines specific to Margate fitting in-line with the Margate Design Festival. I will take news articles from various news outlets and agencies to form the basis of my work. The brief would be words from the news’ articles and my posters would be an experimentation of colour, form/composition using the idea of the grid. I will translate the story into a visual print/poster drawing inspiration from graphic designers who influenced the International Typographic Style and movements such as  New Wave design and De Stijl.

Headlines so far could include:
Sewage row / No-swim Zone
Airbnb crackdown
Gastronomic bliss

Research considered so far (current position)
I have been drawn to the era of Swiss Design/International Typographic Style, De Stijl in particular the works of Wolfgang Weingart, Wim Crouwel and Karl Gerstner. During one of the Visual Language class exercises we were each given one word and some black strips of paper. We had to convey the meaning of that word using only the black strips of paper and no letters. The rest of the group had to guess what that word was from the abstract composition created. The idea was to focus on composition in the abstract without conveying the meaning of words, exploring the concept of rhythm; movement; weight; space. I would like to explore and experiment with this idea further, extracting headlines/words from the news articles and convey emotion through thoughtful compositions and colour.

Further development (what next?)
I will continue researching the movements of Swiss Design/International Typographic Style, De Stijl as well as techniques and processes employed by the graphic designers who founded or influenced these design styles. I will respond to this research by experimenting with different colour combinations — using various tools and materials (eg coloured paint, paper), compositional layouts using ‘the grid’, scanning and manipulating using Photoshop/InDesign.      

Book and resources list

Book: The Anatomy of Colour

Gerstner’s theory of ‘The Colour Form Model’ presented in his book, The Forms of Colour

Graphic Design Manual: Principles and Practice