Exercise: Areas of practice
“Collect some examples of graphic design you find interesting from a range of different categories – for example, design for print, design that provokes, interactive graphic design, information design, or design that persuades.
Use these examples to reflect on what types of graphic design you’re interested in exploring or the kinds of clients you’d like to work with. Is there one area you’d like to focus on or do you want to try them all?…
Can you identify any common threads in the visual feel of the designs you’ve chosen? Do they use similar visual elements, conform to a particular ‘style’ or have shared cultural references?
Summarise your results into descriptive keywords or a short statement that begins with I’m interested in graphic design that… and, using this text, design a postcard that references some of the examples you’ve found most interesting, for example by using a similar visual approach.
Your response to this exercise should be as much about developing your research skills as about looking at the designs themselves.“
I tend to collect a lot of graphic design that interests me – either on Pinterest, or physically saving print, and taking photos. I found it quite difficult to actually formalise all this ‘magpie’ behaviour into anything I can actually talk about! As I haven’t really thought about disciplines within graphic design, I hopped onto the Design Is History website for an overview.
They helpfully categorise examples like this:
- Identity and Branding
- Editorial Design
- Motion Graphics
- Socially Responsible
Looking at this list, I’m pretty much drawn to everything! But there are a few briefs I would find a little boring, they are maps, instructional manuals, typography for transport systems. I’m not so good at being very accurate and ‘functional’. My dream project would not be to design a highly legible new sans serif typeface. I can appreciate the effort, and elegance, but I wouldn’t want to do it!!!
So what am I drawn to? I love infographics (yes, I know, very similar to maps, but there are some very imaginative playful ones), anything that overlaps with illustration, websites, magazine layout, logos, branding and packaging. I sometimes drool over lovely packaging, or a beautifully produced mail order catalogue. I would particularly love to work on brochures or catalogues! (Is that weird?)
Here are some examples of work I enjoy
Pukka Tea – love the way the illustration continues inside the box
Photography Magazine – screams classy from the weight and feel of the paper, to the elegant minimalist typography
They have the budget to reproduce images on very nice paper, and make use of plenty of whitespace whenever they feel like it! Its a nice experience reading this magazine; I feel quite pampered by its quality as a reader… My only negative thought is that its very serious, and I slightly have the feeling that I’m excluded. I just don’t know enough about photography to be reading this very beautifully produced journal for proper photographers!
Seasalt – so annoying, I can’t lay my hands on a catalogue, but they always produce good ones, on very matt paper. I have a folder full of print examples I like, but having moved house, the box is currently hiding
I have a lot of examples on Pinterest here’s a few examples from my boards named ‘Graphic ‘Design Goodies’, ‘Packaging’, ‘Infographics’ etc…
I like the lovely simplicity of this bottle, its both elegant AND cheeky with the hand-drawn feel of the typography and illustration. The next image is about hand lettering. I used to really hate doing hand lettering – I know its terrible, but I didn’t have the patience and couldn’t see the point! (Much as I’m very impressed by folk who can do it!) It was only when we had to do a hand lettering exercise for the illustration course that I completely changed my mind! It becomes like meditation, and copying letter forms as accurately as I could felt lovely. So. I hope to do more.
Poster Design – looking through my Pinterest pics, I noticed I get drawn to quirky, hand-drawn and retro styles
And of course colour!
Here’s a poster thats very different in tone. What are they referring to? Life.
This infographic is called Around the World in 80 Hats. I really enjoy any design thats playful
And lastly, heres some packaging that combines illustration, and design, in a way thats original and appealing. This really only scratches the surface, as I could go on and on…
Designing a Postcard
I’m interested in graphic design that pampers, appreciates quality, delights, amuses, is playful and represents a company or organisation at its most personal and ‘best’. I think the examples I’ve been drawn to often show some sort of ‘human’ element, and have a personal touch that’s quite tactile, warm or humorous.
Graphic design can of course be used to make much more serious political or emotional statements. I had the opportunity to design and build the website for the Plymouth branch of the Samaritans a few years ago (now centralised into one large site so I can’t give you the link!) For me, I suppose again this is about a sense of human connection. Its the way that design can connect people that I’m interested in.
As graphic design is so strongly rooted in typography, I’ve chosen to work with lettering. I’m going to mainly use Illustrator, but I promise to attempt a small amount by hand!
I chose portrait for my postcard rather than landscape (don’t know if that cheating)
Sometimes its hard to even follow your own train of thought(!) but inspired by the poster ‘Yes of course it hurts’, I went hunting for Rumi quotes (the Sufi mystic chap) as they are usually lovely.
I felt I’d rather go for something about our intentions, rather than write words relating to design such as ‘typography’, ‘packaging’, ‘logos’ etc
Here’s the quote, which I hope is appropriate for this brief:
‘Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love’.
Whilst looking at Rumi quotes, I got distracted by another phrase, which was
‘My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that, and I intend to end up there.’
So I played with that too! Starting with a basic sans serif typeface
but I really wanted to use script…This is Chocolate Heart Free
Swapping to the actual quote I want to use, I’m thinking about where I want to place the emphasis…
And picturing the lettering in script
Back to the computer – I’m not keen on the strong diagonal pull
I like this better
And some experiments with colour (I have coloured inks, so may use them in a bit)
I like this, but I’m a little concerned I just don’t have the skill to render this by hand! So I’m swapping to another typeface, Qwigley. The colours are influenced by a number of retro coloured items I picked out earlier. To be completely honest I’m not actually sure if I like my colour choices below, but it was interesting to experiment.
And finally reversed out – I have recently bought white ink, so this might be possible, but I don’t know if I have good enough coloured paper!
OK. Now all thats left to do is try this on paper. Wish me luck.
Back again. So, I completely forgot my house looks like this:
Right at the back, behind some very heavy boxes, inside the cupboards, are some pens and coloured ink. Thankfully I was able to get my hands on some stuff I had elsewhere – maybe its a good thing to be limited by materials sometimes?!
This is brush pen, roughing out the shapes.
And pencil rough of the word Love on pastel paper (!)
And in white ink. Obviously the paper is quite absorbent, and I had to go over it in several layers. I stopped short of completing the whole quote, as i think it would have taken forever!