Coursework part 1 – Visual grunge

Visual grunge

  1. “Return to the previous visual dynamics exercises or make a new selection of typeface and zoom into some of the letterforms to pick up on its details. Try and pick selections you’ve not previously worked with.
  2. Use the shapes you’ve selected from your typefaces as a template to cut out existing pages of magazines, newspapers or photocopies. You might want to work at a larger scale to make things easier. This cutting will create new selections and unexpected juxtapositions of the existing content on the paper content. Explore what accidental opportunities it offers by layering and collaging your selections.
  3. Explore how you can make further selections through cutting out new layers, removing content by cutting away, simplifying the designs or adding in more layering. Try and focus on the unintentional visual qualities created through cutting and layering.

You may want to explore this exercise through physically cutting and sticking, digitally exploring collage by using digital tools and translucent layers, or exploring the possibilities of using both approaches.”

Looking at Grunge

David Carson is famous for this style of typography. I watched an interview with him quite a while ago, and from what I remember, he spent a few months as a student, before landing an unpaid internship at a surf magazine. Despite minimal training (or maybe because of it!) he broke all the rules, and developed a highly experimental and edgy style.



This is gorgeously anarchic, and reminds me of punk artwork (No, before you ask, I was too young to remember all this at the time!)



Rough quality images and messy typography which is really dynamic and bold in style

Andrew Krivine posters II

The sex pistols image of the Queen is now iconic, and has been re-worked many times


Modern book cover design


Eduardo Recife – digital retro style collage meets grunge


I can’t remember who coined the phrase ‘That Wicked Worn Look’, but here’s some examples of digital grunge from Smashing




If I am completely honest, before learning anything about graphic design, I found some typography that’s hard to read baffling at times – and most of all when typography is used purely as decoration. It depended on the context. The above examples cue you in, but its worth bearing in mind that we aren’t always ‘in’ on the ‘joke’ (unless I’m odd, which is always a possibility!) For some audiences, type has one function – to be read, and I think thats fair enough. Obviously a grunge style won’t always fit the brief.

To get started, I used a creative commons google search (with permissions set to ‘labelled for re-use with modification’) using the search terms ‘newspaper’ and ‘magazine article’. From this, I saved whatever caught my eye, and added some digital elements too.


I used this opportunity to add a few shapes and the arrows – I get SO irritated that Photoshop doesn’t behave exactly the same as Illustrator! So I’m trying to get a bit of practise in, otherwise it will annoy me every time.

A simple ‘lined paper’ background and my choice of lettering.


I used a clipping mask to cut out lettering from the Strand Magazine cover


And newsprint


Photos and effects added


Trying out newsprint


Next I cut out the ballet dancers



Completed Images



How does this differ from my reference images? Well, for one thing, all the typography is very neat. For a more ‘authentic’ look, I think I would need to add handwritten elements. I think I got the hang of layering OK, though I wonder if it lacks impact, as the colours are quite muted. (Though I do like them). I’m also not sure the right hand arrows should lead off the page.

At this point I decided to give this a ‘real world’ try. I referred back to my previous work more closely and tried to think about the negative space surrounding the letter forms. This time I searched for various subjects such as patterns, birds, fish and so on.


I love some of these patterns and textures…Here they are printed out


And some typography shapes



Experimenting with combining the two


Hmm…I thought I’d enjoy doing this, but I actually found it much easier on the computer! Oh dear.Its rather bland, theres not much difference in tone, not sure where I’m going with it.

I wrapped a piece of board in tin foil, and layered my pieces on top


And to complete, I worked up the image in photoshop, adding brush strokes and pretty illegible writing as decoration


Still not sure the composition is all that effective, but its quite pretty?!







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