Category Archives: Part 2

Part 2 Exercise: Altered pamphlet

‘A local university gallery is hosting an exhibition on artists’ books and fanzines and asks you to produce a small pamphlet. The pamphlet can take any form you wish, but should be produced in the spirit of an artists’ book or fanzine. In other words, it should question some of the expectations of regular publications by being more provocative or playful in the choice of materials, folding and overall design approach.

The pamphlet should highlight six different artists’ books or fanzines, artists or collectives that you’ve personally researched and selected, as well as some details about the university gallery and when the exhibition is taking place. 

Reflect on your experience of taking a more experimental approach. What have you taken from this way of working?’

First, I had a look at some Artists Books and craft objects. I absolutely love miniature things!!

As you can see below, these are little craft projects, which isn’t quite what we were asked to look into, but they are very sweet!!!

Miniature Paper Craft by Cameron Garland

miniature1 rainicorns miniature2 mini3 minimini2

From [author unknown]

This made me smile! Unfortunately I couldn’t find any more about it.


After much research, I decided on the following:

  1. Book of nails by Floating Concrete Octopus
  2. Giving Fear a Proper Name by Susan Kae
  3. Killing III by Denise Hawrysio
  4. Rorschach Comic by Mathias Schmieds
  5. Book Sculptures by Allison Glasgow
  6. Book sculpture by bookBW (Etsy)

Book of nails by Floating Concrete Octopus


Giving Fear a Proper Name by Susan Kae

38041992103895 Artist's Book - Giving Fear a Proper Name : Detroit; by Susan kae Grant; published by Black Rose Press; U.S.A.(Dallas, Texas); c.1984.

Killing III by Denise Hawrysio


Rorschach Comic by Mathias Schmieds


Book Sculptures by Allison Glasgow


Book sculpture by bookBW


There are 6 artists, which became my starting point in these roughs – exploring 6 sections of paper.


I found it easier to actually cut up paper and experiment…This was a sort of folding booklet in a ‘concertina’ type arrangement.




Paper folding…


I rejected this one, as its a little tricky to how how I could use the inside effectively


Just thinking about a book mark shape


In my original ideas sketch, I was thinking about 6 triangles that fold out into a square – with an image of each artists piece of work on them. Geometry obviously isn’t my strong point, because this makes them right angled triangles, so they didn’t fit together quite as I thought!

But lots of possibilities…

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I love this inner star/outer hexagon shape my triangles make. Who knew! (OK probably someone who is good at maths) Total surprise to me though!!

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Unfortunately the star/hexagon ends up larger than a sheet of A4, despite the folded squares only being 100mm across so I don’t think its going to work.

This is my next arrangement , and one I felt I could develop – its fold at triangles on the inside of a trifold leaflet.




I wanted to get to grips with laying out a trifold leaflet in Indesign… I sort of bodged one in my last Illustration course, and you can sort of guess and eyeball it, but it seemed high time to actually learn it properly. I found it helpful to measure an A4 piece of paper, work out my own dimensions, colouring each panel separately, so I could see how it all works.

Pondering on ripping the edges here.

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I have just signed up to the learning resource, so I dutifully found a series on making a trifold leaflet. Although the tutors are very thorough, I found it quite hard to digest, especially as he did all his measurements in points and used a huge number of guides, plus baseline grid, plus cap height lines etc etc.

I picked out what was helpful to me, but used millimetres for my layout. I did add a bleed and slug with fold marks, just to get some experience of how a trifold would be laid out for professional printing.


I then simplified, as for this exercise, I’m only printing at home!

I added some of the images I’d collected to my idea in Indesign and messed about with some deliberately wonky hand lettering

screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-09-17-52 screen-shot-2017-02-17-at-09-20-14

Here are my place markers for the folded triangles, and some text in Courier


These are the coloured squares ready to print out. On the other side will be images for each artist (one for each square)

trifold-artists-book-brochure-94 trifold-artists-book-brochure-93

Booklet experiments and planning

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I then had all my elements ready to print off and play around with…

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Once assembled, I took some pics

My Experimental Leaflet


img_3481 img_3480 img_3479 img_3478


Hmmmmm?? Well I really had a go at doing something a bit barking! But my impression now I’ve uploaded these is that they are too busy. Theres no need for the text in the centre – its a repeat of the title panel (and I could have added the dates there) Also, I think I’ve used an odd mix of tone and styles.


I don’t know how well the scruffy lettering sits with the images. I also roughed up Courier a bit by randomly inserting capital lettering or upping the points size from 13 to 15pts.

The leaflet at planning stage looks a lot more enigmatic and a bit more classy?


Oh well. Really fun to do, despite the dodgy outcome. I enjoyed ‘mucking about’ and throwing everything at this. I’m not too disappointed with how it looks, its an occupational hazard of experimenting. I think its a lot more disappointing when I’ve been trying very hard to be neat/pretty/elegant/original and it all goes wrong – this was meant to be experimental!

Heres my final idea: Why does a leaflet have to behave at all? What about one that looks just like rubbish?? Intriguing or stupid? Discuss.






Part 2 Exercise: All the world’s a stage

‘A regional arts company is staging a series of outdoor theatrical productions and musical events. They want you to produce a poster that reflects a sense of being in a real space through your typography and connects the theme of the production to the locations they’ve chosen.

Choose one of the following events, or choose your own to work with, and creatively develop the typography for the title of the production. Use objects and materials appropriate to the locations or other forms of physical typography. Try and develop some conceptual connection between the materials you choose and the content of the productions. The settings or themes might suggest a way of working, for example.

  • Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1596) performed in a botanical garden.
  • Handel’s Water Music (1717) performed at a local outdoor swimming lido.
  • Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) performed in the ruins of a local castle.
  • Arthur Laurents’ West Side Story (1957) performed in a derelict warehouse.The when and where will be added to the posters later on, so either leave room in your designs for these details or, if you wish, add them yourself.’

As suggested, this first lead me to the world of Stefan Sagmeister. he has done several Ted talks, which always give you a good flavour of a person. I really didn’t know that he’s actually got a good sense of humour along with some pretty crazy exploits…Not least carving into his own skin, and getting naked to advertise his services. He’s now teamed up and renamed his firm Sagmeister and Walsh, as he’s gone into partnership with a very capable young woman. I found their work very inspirational – it really does seem to push boundaries, and the Art Direction is great for the photographic work.

Here’s an example of their physical typography



Jessica Walsh – she has done several in this series, often by suspending the lettering on wire. This image is real, not photoshopped! (Well OK they probably added the sun flare afterwards but the typography was physically built for the photoshoot)


Internet search for physical typography – I was really interested to see the playfulness, and variety of materials used here. Some use negative space, or folding (the playing cards). Its useful to begin to think about materials and how to shape them into letter forms. Obviously some materials are delicate, others more rigid – so how does that effect how you might use them?


Sometimes though, people go the extra mile – Rhett Dashwood spent countless hours on google earth putting this ‘typeface’ together!


Netherlands designers Hijack Your Life created this on a cold windy beach


There seem to be endless possibilities, but I decided to go for West Side Story, partly because I thought it likely I could gather some relevant materials. I had a brain storm about warehouses…


Then I started thinking about what materials and textures I have available to me to photograph. (pretty good timing that my partner has just ordered a load of building materials)!





Packing tape and bailer twine


Brick, concrete and wood




Old paint


Old sink


I really wanted this exercise to be as little about my computer as possible and to take photos of my typography in situ. I also gathered together cardboard, chain, and started by stapling the black packing tape into letters – it worked well! It would have been fairly easy to do all the lettering with black tape, but I thought variety is more interesting….


I tried to use the sink and concrete blocks outside, but the wind scattered my letters immediately, and it wasn’t workable. Back inside, I haven’t done any silversmithing for ages, but I do have old wire, sandpaper, copper sheet and wirewool. The wood is arranged on the floor. The ‘0’ in story is a wooden reel of wire. I was pretty happy with this! However, I wasn’t sure if wood is industrial enough…


So I transferred by letters to a metal workbench, and inserted some paper under the wire elements to help them stand out . As this bench is a couple of feet high, I struggled to take a good image far enough above it, but it should be possible to edit.


My Posters





For the wood poster, I simply cropped and used curves to enhance the image a little. For the metal, I added my wood background from earlier, and edited some of the metal. I added a few fake shadows, and I hope it looks ‘real’.

These images were really fun to do! I prefer the (plain) wood…but as I said, I don’t know if it says ‘industrial’ enough? In an ideal world I’ve have access to an actual building…maybe find peeling paint and old bulky radiators. Or those huge chains they use to winch stuff. (Have you noticed in films those chains are usually conveniently placed for our hero to winch their way to freedom or knock a baddy unconscious. A huge melting furnace is even more useful (thats how they defeat the evil cyborg at the end of Terminator 2) and of course Sigourney Weaver dives into one in the third Alien film. I love her.



Sagmeister & Walsh interview

Part 2 Research point: Compare and contrast newspaper & website design

Compare and contrast the design and layout of a national newspaper with its own website. How have their graphic designers dealt with the differences between traditional and new media? Reflect on how the content has been structured and laid out on the page, how the overall website or newspaper has been structured to support you finding and reading different articles, and your overall experience of being a reader of this material.’

I don’t have a national paper to hand, but I do have The North Devon Journal, which is a big enough publication to have a decent website.

The Printed Newspaper


The news lines  are all in the black chunky slab serif. All the section headings have different a typeface reversed out, on these blocks of background colour.

5 columns, articles often divided vertically by these narrow strips of colour.


The teardrop/plextrum shape on “yesteryear” also appears at the top of the pages, as the page number.


Letters pages – 5 columns of text per page.


Lifestyle section using the same typeface as above for the ‘J2’. Four col text here.


Vertically arranged headings incorporating ‘J2’ and an arrow leading upwards. Double column for the images on the left, four columns used for image right.


As you can see, sometimes the page is spilt horizontally, with a different number of columns above and below. Sport – 4 columns text plus ads, then 5 cols below.


All the ‘Lifestyle’ sections have this typeface.


The North Devon Journal Website

The first thing you notice is that there are A LOT of adverts!


The main header for The North Devon Journal is the same typeface as the printed version, and the blue is a recognisably similar colour, but the news headlines are sans serif, as is the body copy.

As you can see, the page layout is entirely different – each news story is signposted with a thumbnail image, and the news headline contained in one column. Then each item is separated by a dotted line.


The entertainment/lifestyle section is not really recognisable as the same publication once you scroll down a bit


Most sections are laid out in the same as the main news though, with thumbnails that lead to each story. For example, heres the main sports section


When you click through to a story, its laid out like this – content on the left, ads on the right.


I think most differences are down to the fact that digital and print work so differently – with the website, you can see the main menu has grouped topics into sub categories;  this allows us to click on each item, which then has its own dedicated page. The issue of ‘space’ is different online. Its obviously quicker for a developer to use a consistent layout, with thumbnails of the same dimensions for every item, content can then be slotted into the same space, because its just a taster of the full article.

For each full article, you can simply add copy into a pre-determined width and keep flowing downwards as long as is needed and the viewer can scroll down accordingly. Paper can’t do this!

As a reader I would the website is easy to navigate and the articles are fairly easy to read, but there is a sense of clutter because of the volume of adverts. The printed version gives you the standard experience of reading a paper, its very easy to understand where you are, and what section of the newspaper you are looking at, and I quite enjoy good old fashioned feel of newsprint in my hands.

Its would have been nice if they’d managed to replicate the section heading fonts and maybe some of the appropriate colour headings, but its not surprising the body copy has changed to san serif – its just more common online, whilst print still favours serif. Whether this is really about legibility, or print/digital convention, I can’t say!

Part 2 Exercise: Your manifesto

‘Manifestos have long been used within art, design and politics as a way of publicly proclaiming a new position…

Develop a manifesto that celebrates and visually presents your position on reading, typography or any other graphic design and book related activity. This could explore reading and legibility as well as reading and the idea of the text. Typeset it to reflect your position. For example, you may want to explore the enjoyment of playful typography, the importance of readability through the typesetting choices you make or demonstrate your position by presenting examples of type you think is illegible, ugly or dull. Use your manifesto to say what kind of typography you think is good, interesting, bad or beautiful – and why. You may want to use quotes from other artists or designers as part of your manifesto.

Reflect on your own experience as a reader. What kinds of books or reading do you enjoy and how do other typographers help to support this? Celebrate these examples of good practice or innovative approaches by proclaiming what makes for a better typographical world!’

What totally grabbed me from our notes, was Bruce Mau’s ‘Incomplete Manifesto for Growth’. I really loved it – and I actually see for the first time why we are always being encouraged to explore more broadly. Honestly, its always frustrated me until now; we are told  – ‘do more research, spend ages experimenting, do weird stuff’ – and the poor student (or me anyway)  is left thinking “Yeah but how the hell does that get me closer to nailing the brief?!” After all, you have given us a brief. Its always felt like being asked to swim off in the opposite direction for no particular reason. So. I get it. The word growth works for me! And I don’t think the advice only applies to design.

I decided to go in two different directions with this exercise – exploring what I want, and what I don’t want to read.

Firstly I started with a collection of fonts I like, with some text that describes their characteristics


I wanted to see if its actually possible to combine multiple type (which is usually not a good idea) Conclusion: Its hard!

Obviously, there are a lot of elements to keep control of, and its hard to balance.


I took a break, and started experimenting with stuff that annoys me as a reader…

This is tiny 6pt type, and the (ironic) lettering:

“My creativity is way more important than your reading comfort”.



I then embellished further, repeating the wording in another illegible typeface called

‘Bad behaviour’:




And adding my own hand written text in red (pencil tool)


Returning to my other idea, I played with various things, such as altering the flourish at the bottom to squares and adding some colour…



Um, sometimes when you’ve spent ages on the computer it doesn’t look like hours of messing about getting frustrated that things don’t look quite right – but rest assured I spent ages! Eventually, I decided I’d got things looking reasonable though I’m not entirely happy.

My Manifesto

Poster 1:


Here’s a close up, which actually has possibilities of its own? I think it works OK in landscape


Poster 2:


mymanifestodecorative10-01 mymanifestodecorative11-01


I  gave in and simplified the number of typefaces I was using for this poster and cut the wording at the bottom a little.

I enjoyed making the ‘unreadable’ one the most – this one was a bit of a pain. Its only simple when you are far more experienced than me!







First Things First 1963-4

Bruce Mau

Part 2: Research point – examples of typography and typesetting

‘Identify some examples of typography and typesetting that you find satisfying to read. Look at typography and typesetting from the point of view of legibility and your ability to engage with the reading of it, but also from the wider sense of reading a text. In terms of book typography, it would be very frustrating if a graphic designer’s choices or style got in the way of the reading the text, but does Beatrice Warde’s argument follow for other forms of text? How does Jonathan Barnbrook’s approach – and that of other postmodernist designers – change how we read a text? Reflect on your chosen examples in your learning log.’

Beatrice Warde (1900-1969) was an American writer, and expert on typography. She’s best known for her essay ‘The Crystal Goblet’. She firmly believed that print should be legible, and that the reader be able to read comfortably without being consciously aware of the layout.

In a 1959 radio interview, whilst in Australia, she stated:

“The great thing about printing is it should be invisible. You should know what the author or the writer is saying, and not be adversely affected by any show-off-ism or ugliness or sloppy look about the medium through which his words are being conveyed”.

Sensible woman.

Graphic designer, typographer and film maker Jonathan Barnbrook (b.1966) trained at St Martins, and has (as you might guess) a more modern outlook.

His work is pretty well known – I particularly like his typeface Mason.


Maximum points for designing album covers and custom typography for David Bowie.


As a typeface designer, he enjoys not only designing type, but giving his work dodgy names for shock value: Moron, Bastard, Exocet, False Idol, Infidel, Olympukes. Can you tell he likes hanging out with Damien Hirst?! OK. To be fair, names such as ‘Infidel’ are directed at American foreign policy.

Jonathan Barnbrook believes in “design as a weapon for social change”. The ethics of design is an important and interesting debate….Um, I must be getting horribly cynical though, because I’d like to think his stance means he designs giant Greenpeace posters for free….But I’m not sure he does. I’m not saying everyone can or should work for free, but I don’t find political statements that moving or inspiring in isolation.


Anyway. Back to the point. Here’s some examples of ‘typography and typesetting that [I] find satisfying to read…’

Actually, first is some examples that I find uncomfortable to read.

Firstly an OS map. They have a lot of text to fit in, consequently its too small for my taste!


Its all centred, but its scattered about, with more capital letters than is strictly necessary?


Justified text with great big holes in it.


An awful lot of characters per line… Wiki always has a sprawling measure, I sometimes actually plant my finger on the line so I don’t get lost. Not good for my computer screen!


What about illegible text? I would argue its all about context. For example, the writing on the David Bowie artwork is clearly not intended to be legible – I think it looks great. BUT sometimes designers put arrange all the lyrics in a way that is barely legible, and that drives me crazy! If you include them, please make them readable. Some of us want to sing along (yes, even very tunelessly)

I love generous margins! (And the type on the right is bold enough to show clearly against the blue background)


Really clear chapter headings with plenty of white space


HUGE headings! And nice bite sized columns – but not too narrow.



You can’t get type clearer than this!


Obviously I’m not mad enough to actually spend money on Farrow & Ball paint. But they do have lovely design work. The point size is quite small, but the leading is generous so I can read it!


Again with the nice clear headings, and comfy leading.


Clearly marked text and images. Not cluttered.


Not the prettiest book on the inside, but a practical manual about digital layout. Based on the idea of keeping things simple and clear. A viewer wants to view information with no annoying visual distraction or confusing layouts and its the designers job to make life easier, not harder!


This layout by Andi Lozano is great – the body text is perfectly readable, which is the part that needs to be clear!


Not so keen on Balkan Sans. It looks cool, but I wasn’t sure it was in English at first. As a reader I don’t like typography where I’m asking myself am I supposed to be reading this? Sometimes my response as a reader is the opposite to my ‘baby designer’ opinion.


Again, design wise it looks great, but am I mean to read it? No idea.


Stop it now. I’m pretty sure Beatrice Warde would not be happy. I’m not either. What do you want me to do with this page? I feel ripped off if I pay for print that look like this!!! Yeah, yeah, its typographic Jackson Pollock. Its still just texture that takes up space in some sort of publication where I want actual words or image please. (Yes I am a grumpy reader)


Conversely, I like these and I don’t care I can’t read them!




Calligraphy thats elegant and actually still readable


I think we can safely conclude I’m not that down with the Post Modern grunge posse.

I feel legibility is the Most Important Thing…Except when its not.

This letter from my friends daughter has pride of place on my fridge. And its wonderful.












Exercise: Envelope patterns

‘A stationery company wants you to create a new line of envelopes that puts a modern twist on the tradition of having a single coloured pattern on the inside of an envelope. This pattern has always served the purpose of making it hard to read the letter contained inside by holding the envelope up to the light, but it has also become part of the visual culture of letters and letter writing. The company wants you to create a series of pattern designs that go beyond the need to simply protect the contents of the letter.

Create at least three or four different designs. Which do you think is the most successful and why? Make notes in your learning log.’

OOOOooooh this is such a lovely brief!


I mentioned previously that I have a lovely book on pattern through history, which is a great resource to look through. Moorish designs are gorgeous.


I love looking at historical pattern, such as this medieval one (left)

My Pinterest collection

I mostly save patterns I find appealing, but I also couldn’t resist a few horrible 70’s ones – I’m not a fan of brown and orange swirls. Yuck.

Some companies such as Anthropologie and St Judes champion a lot of print makers.My lovely friend Kirsty put me onto St Judes – she told me she’s obsessed with their fabrics – I can see why! She has an extensive mood board full of decorating plans, as she and her husband have just moved house. Can’t wait to see it.


I have a feeling my brother is friends with Mark Hearld. I must remember to ask him.


As you can see, the colour palette is very muted, and some designs are based on linocuts. I really like quite a variety of pattern from  monochrome, this subdued look, right up to bright colour.

Hand rendered can look very charming such as the work of Molly Hatch. She works with ceramics and fabrics. Its interesting she has commented that it can be quite hard to visualise 3D if you are used to only designing for paper and fabric. Obviously surface design for ceramics has a different quality to it, she says it can take a while to visualise what will work with this medium.


My Work

I made various sketches and doodles, and reviewed work from my general sketchbook to see if there was anything I might use as a starting point.


So…just looking at some rough biro sketches I did the other day, I could pick out a bottle or cutlery…Or a teapot ( or the great big square with doodles!)


What about a little water colour flower?


A pencil sketch could be developed


I have been playing with new metallic gouache paint – these are medieval influenced


Some pattern sketches


This is a little more deliberate – I was thinking about different styles floral, representational, geometric, typographic, abstract


I viewed a few tutorials on YouTube, particularly as I gather Illustrator’s pattern making tool is relatively new. As I have CS6, my software will pretty much do the work for you which does feel like cheating! I viewed both methods though, as pre CS6 is closer to manual printing, and all this is new to me.

And I also played digitally – this is not vector, its simple brush strokes, drawn with my finger on my iPad.


This is digital doodle with the pencil tool (because I never think of using it)


I built this up to see where it went


This space would work well for some designs but its too open for an envelope – you’d be able to see through the gaps.


So I added a heart pattern inside the gaps, and repeated like so. I did this the ‘long’ way, by duplicating, then entering in co-ordinates, to move the pattern a set distance.



Maybe I could reverse this out? Could be fiddly, but I’d like to see the pattern white.

I assumed that you could only use the pattern tool on vectors – wrong! I realised that by embedding my image, it worked perfectly on my flower. Object > Pattern > Make.  Then it allows you to adjust the tiling – this one is horizontally offset. Its old fashioned, but kinda pretty? Could be rotated diagonally? Maybe too much white space for an envelope?




Next I wanted to try a medieval style one, starting with my dog image. Unfortunately I played about with a silver background (it just looks messy in the photo). I isolated the image in photoshop, but its not perfect. I wish I’d thought ahead.


Anyway, once placed in Illustrator, I could tile the image again – this time with vertical offset.


I hopped back into photoshop and tidied the edges more – it looks a bit better on black, but once tiled the quality isn’t greatblackdog

Experimenting with changing the direction of the print inside and out


Next I repeated my experiment with my fish




My Patterns

These are the finished designs – however, either my eyes are going funny, or the images I used haven’t rendered well. I’m a bit disappointed, but lesson learnt that if you let Illustrator automate patterns, it probably should be vector. The first pattern looks crisper, and this is the only one that started life digitally!

Hearts Pattern





 Medieval Style Dogs


Medieval Style Fish




I loved doing this, but I don’t think I met the brief to come up with something that goes above and beyond! I also didn’t produce anything much that actually links together – these are mainly single images repeated. You can see with the white hearts its a bit of a bodge – I’d need to return to the single image to create a neater finish.

My favourites are the medieval influenced ones, particularly the dogs (although the quality is poor) I think they are a bit more original and bolder than the other two. The black background works well with the dogs.

Theres loads more I could do – experiment with hand printing, live trace some of my sketches, work up more designs, explore colours…

I think its highly likely I’ll come back to this topic, as I’d like to learn a lot more about it!!!



Exercise part 2: Soviet remakes

‘A film festival in Gdansk, Poland is screening a selection of classic Hollywood films as part of a retrospective on the cinema of the Cold War era. They want you to redesign the posters for these films in the style of Soviet film posters.

Choose a classic Hollywood film to work with; use the title of the film, names of the director and the lead actors for text, and any appropriate images that connect with the film.

Start by researching Soviet film posters and the Constructivist artists. Reflect on how they use colour, shapes and the action of arrows and lines to create strong visual dynamics. Think about their use of figure and grounds and how their work plays with layering to create visual depth. Also consider the integration of image, typography and white space within their posters.

Develop a range of ideas that fully exploits the visual dynamics the Soviet designers employed. Reflect on which of your designs works the most successfully in relation to both the film’s content and the style you’re working in and develop it as a finished design.’

According to the Tate; “Constructivism was a particularly austere branch of abstract art founded by Vladimir Tatlin and Alexander Rodchenko in Russia around 1915”. Tatlin was influenced by Picasso’s cubist sculpture, and indeed early Constructivism was often in 3D, and concerned with exploring which materials were fit for purpose. The ideas developed into different media.

In 1923 the Constructivists published a manifesto stating:

” The object is to be treated as a whole and thus will be of no discernible ‘style’ but simply a product of an industrial order like a car, an aeroplane and such like. Constructivism is a purely technical mastery and organisation of materials.”

The driving force was to produce work that was utilitarian and not ‘stylish’. The early work was supported by left wing ideals, and Trotsky was a fan. However, later, as the revolutionary ideals fell into dictatorial nastiness, Constructivism was viewed with suspicion.

Alexander Rodchenko and El Lissitsky worked are responsible for such of the graphic design we associate with this style. What stands out is the use of geometric forms, usually in cream, reds, and blacks, sometimes combined with photomontage.

When looking for images, I found a great deal of modern work that is – directly inspired by Constructivism. Heres a mix of original, and modern Constructivist inspired posters

Alexander Rodchenko


Generation X Modern album covers


Paul Sizer (2010)


Alexander Rodchenko


Georgii & Vladimir Stenberg, In the Spring (1929).


The Sternberg brothers produced some fantastic film posters



Tribute to the genre by Dog on Fire (Pinterest)


El Lissitsky



Russian Exhibition poster
(1929) El Lissitzky


I didn’t know that Kandinsky was pushed out by the other Constructivists, as they thought he was too much of a hippy (I think their word was ‘mystical’, but you get the idea)


Beat the Whites with Red Wedge (1919) El Lissitzky 

poster that inspired 1980’s “Red Wedge”.


This is a modern work by Kevin Chua, I really love it, horizontal lines act as a feeling of directional energy – an abstract version of blurred lines to indicate speed.


Poster urging Soviet citizens to become stockholders (1923) Alexander Rodchenko


Poster Advertising Leningrad Publishing House(1925) Alexander Rodchenko


Album Cover, Franz Ferdinand – You could have it so much better


I read an online article in the Creative Review sniffing about the number of art students and advertisers who appropriate the style without the politics.

However, just when you think commercialism has gone mad, the artist/designer who is responsible for this:

Advertisement for Saks Fifth Avenue (2009) Shepard Fairey


Is also responsible for these:

Say Yes! (2008) Shepard Fairey.



Constructivist stuff may be everywhere, but really, who doesn’t miss Obama???

My Work

As I’ve just watched a documentary about Audrey Hepburn, I thought she’d be an ideal subject – particularly as she had such an iconic image. Even better some of her images are available to use. Heres a selection:


These are mainly from three films, Roman Holiday, Breakfast at Tiffanys and War & Peace. I began my sketching my ideas on paper, mainly focusing on War & Peace as its less well known, to introduce a bit of freshness.



I felt some of the designs were moving away from using images as the main focal point and as its a film, you need images (especially of Audrey).

So I set myself the (awkward?) challenge of picking Audrey, a classic hollywood icon, in a lesser known film (lets hope its an extensive film festival) with only two images to choose from, which are both partial images that will have to be placed carefully, because they are already cropped …Hmm.

Here goes.

This is Audrey and co-star Mel Ferrer, isolated from their background in photoshop


And my choice of typography. I chose to work with Futura because its so crisp and geometric, but I also hunted for Soviet inspired ones…and I found Metro and Kremlin.


Kremlin is great, but actually I’m not confidant its instantly readable. As a reader, I don’t enjoy having to decipher text, so I’m not going to use it. (I know, apologies if I’m being boring… Its possible I’m mildly dyslexic and I get easily irritated over lettering!)


The Design

I really wanted to use a ‘sun burst’ pattern in my design, and the colours chose themselves, as I stuck to reds. Firstly I created the sunburst pattern, and added Audrey, flipping her image so she can sit on the right.


I discovered text is best altered by ‘convert to shape’ first, then I played with the different options.


I added the circle as its a sort of target, which then arrives at her face.


Finally I added the additional text, experimenting with placement. This first one is cluttered and not working well.




Theres too much fuzziness on her hat



I’m still not sure how much of the lettering can follow the direction of the rays.

My second design introduces Audrey’s leading man, Will Ferrer. Heres I’m just placing the basic elements.


Introducing a solid overlay, and a slightly transparent circle, to allow the text to have a solid background.



Maybe this could have been layered up further? Its not really what you’d call photomontage. I’m fairly pleased with my attempts though, and I’ve learnt a few more photoshop skills too.