Exercise: Seeking inspiration
“List three things you’re interested in, for example areas of sport, popular culture, cuisines, travel, or particular histories. Now find examples of graphic design, illustration, photography or other cultural artefacts that relate to your choices, for example football programmes, food packaging, film posters, etc. Try and avoid clip art that represents the items on your list and instead find real examples where graphic design overlaps with your areas of interest.
Gather your findings together in a visual diary together with your thoughts or feelings on what you’ve found. You may want to use some of the blogs listed above, OCA resources and/or wider internet or library searches.
Now refine or broaden your search and go again, for example picking up on a particular aspect or form of design. You’ll inevitably find things of interest along the way that you weren’t anticipating, so record these and perhaps use them as a new starting point. Reflect on what you’ve found – what’s inspirational or intriguing, what might be useful in your own design work or in your broader thinking about graphic design.”
My chosen topics are: Animals, Food, Music
I’m often drawn to work that has animals featuring in it.
I have a Pinterest board entitled Animal Illustration here it is: (NB you may have already discovered this, but if you hover inside this panel below, the cursor will turn into a little hand symbol, and allow you to scroll down through many images)
I’ve also recently started another board about ancient art and sculpture, which often draws my attention if its animal themed! For example, this Minoan vase featuring dolphins. I didn’t have a clue about Minoan art till I stumbled on it in Pinterest – they often depicted with beautifully stylised animals such as dolphins and bulls. I think they’re amazing and I’m quite surprised they remain more obscure than, for example, the typical greek vases with blokes running across them! I’d rather have one of these.
In fact, if can afford it, you can have this one – its a bronze reproduction Minoan bull.
I absolutely love the shape of the this Etruscan horse.
Early Iranian Pottery
We’re all very familiar with Egyptian cats, but what about an Egyptian hedgehog?
Or a golden fish…
My dog, Finn is a lurcher (Deerhound x Greyhound) and there is quite a lot of artwork depicting his ancestors…
The Greyhound family (Pinterest)
Detail of lurchers in Bruegal painting
I get really embarassingly enthusiastic about work that was crafted so long ago. I think its because these cultures and time spans seem so far away, and often so irrelevant. They are unknowable people from so long ago. I can’t speak their language and would find very little common ground – until you see what they made, and its just so beautiful, it makes time fall away.
And what about photographs of animals, particularly in a historical context: A British woman who helped bring Arabian horses to the UK.
Archived images from the National Geographic
Oh dear, poor circus hippo!
Refining my search on animals
I wanted to look at how animal images are used specifically in graphic design. It seems to me that some of the animal shapes on coats of arms, and for example, within celtics design begin the process of silhouette. But as we come up to date with some present day design examples, there’s plenty to inspire. I think this logo for the company Labrador is particularly good, with the lead reversed out against the dark of the dog – so clever.
As with Labrador, this recycling company use part of the animal to connect directly with the typography – in this case, the elephant trunk
Sometimes simplicity just works so well! These next three are from Design Bolts.com
Collection of animal logos (Pinterest)
Just when you think all brand identities ought to have crisp outlines…
This packaging design is just amazing!!! Love it, love it!
I started out my research for this section looking at quite eclectic categories, shown here on Pinterest. The images collected range from Victorian times – such as illustration for Mrs Beeton’s book of household management, fantastic modern novelty cakes, illustration and graphic design food related branding.
I decided to make a video of me talking about food packaging. (Warning: I’m talking about packaging for about 4 minutes. Seriously consider if this is really how you want to spend the next 4 minutes of your life)
Refining my research
I felt drawn to explore food related branding, as I had already spotted these when I was previously online, and taken screen shots.
Delicious. This site offers online recipes, with a simple clear layout with nice touches of accent colour.
Stoned Pizza, Braunton. The home page runs a video, as you scroll down the menu is displayed with impactful typography. I also like their simple logo, based of course, on the shape of a pizza.
Squires fish and chips, Braunton. I’ve always liked their logo with the little fish on the letter ‘Q’. Inside is well laid out too.
Jamie Oliver. As with many celebrity cooks and chefs, his name has become a brand, complete with website, cookbooks and cooking equipment.
I think you can see a theme emerging, which is uncluttered design, which is simple and clear to read, while having just enough elements and touches of carefully balanced colour to look inviting. The simple style with white background actually makes me think of a nice clean work surface, and freshly cooked food ready to eat.
I’d really like to show the layout of some cook books I like – unfortunately they are inaccessible at the moment while the kitchen is being re-plastered etc. If I can fish them out later, I will!
Music has always had a firm connection to graphic design, particularly posters and album covers. There is a gorgeous treasure chest of design in this area. Here’s a taster from another of my Pinterest boards
I am quite drawn to posters that rely on illustration, but I also enjoy pure colour.
Refining my research.
I decided to move from posters to album covers, and look in particular at their use of colour. Here’s one I love. As you can see, it fulfils its function perfectly, you will be unsurprised to learn that the music is described as ambient…the perfect circle with muted colour shifts, progressing to the deep blue ‘bass note’ at the bottom, anchoring the shape.
Tycho – Awake
Apparently the musician designed these himself. Sigh. Thats just too much talent for one person!
From the same source, I found this gorgeously colourful ‘mess’ of coloured string. Its a simple idea thats effective and draws you in immediately.
Liars – Mess
The x x
Again, this image uses a plain background, contrasting with a perfectly crisp ‘x’…but inside the x is a lovely shimmer of – perhaps oil on water? – however its created, its very striking with beauty and depth. It evokes a sense of delicate mystery which I think is very appropriate.
Another cover with plenty of colour, this time really playful and referencing 60s psychedelia. The cheeky, lively mood of this piece again reflects personality of the music. Although it appears to be crazy, you can easily see an underlying structure – the shape bottom left allows the ‘burst’ of line and motion to fan out from it. The beige and white give our eyes a rest from the brightness of the other colours, and the cogs, circles and flowers serve as repeating shapes that also help with a sense of unity.
Nicki Minaj – Pink print
There is an idea in graphic design, that you show it, or say, but not both (I’m paraphrasing Chip Kidd) But, who cares. This looks stunning. I love the shock of colour, the sense of movement and texture. To me, to works.
Its a little strange picking albums I may or may not like musically! But obviously, thats not the point of the exercise, and each one is a strong design. Of course colour isn’t the only way to draw attention to an album cover, but I would say the ones I have selected make very good use of it, and theres more goodies I’ve collected here.