Archives for category: Menus

The relationship between Image and Text is very strong, and has been evident throughout my entire creative life. To this day, I can’t remember an appropriate outcome (of mine) through GCSE Art, GCSE Graphics, A-level Art & A-Level Graphics that hasn’t used text and image. In my third unit for A-Level Art, I was looking at Kurt Schwitters and Hannah Hoch, both active artists throughout Dadaism. One of the pieces I was studying was ‘Blauer Vogel’ (pictured below, left), which translates into ‘Blue Bird’. The use of the text ‘Er und Sie’ (He and She), as well as other small cuttings from newspapers, such as days of the month, stamps, envelopes (etc) all relate to ‘relationships’ between a man and a woman. Without these words, this piece would lose a lot of contextual meaning, and would appear to the eye as a random collage of materials available throughout the 1920’s.

Another of my favourite artists that use text and image is Barbara Kruger. I first studied Barbara Kruger in GCSE Art, creating a piece about Michael Jackson with the same text layout (font, colour, background, general positioning) as some of her famous pieces. I could include many different Barbara Kruger pieces in this post, but I’ve choose one of my personal favourites; I Shop therefore I Am – which I believe was included in the lecture at some point, but I wasn’t in the lecture as I had a Job Interview at the time that couldn’t be rescheduled. This image has a very powerful meaning through the text, and would totally loose this if the text was removed. The phrase, making an emphasis on how the world today is so focused on the branding of clothes and the aspect of shopping for them. The hand ‘holding’ the text block makes it very personal, and the hand to me looks quite ‘young’ – quite short ‘fat’ fingers, indicating it could be a small child. This would show how our actions (the actions of people in the late 80’s) are effecting our previous generation, and how they are going to affect us. The format of the text is very bold and powerful, using a bold italic font of the widely known ‘Futura’ [which is used as many brand’s font, such as Supreme and Only NY (from my personal range)] on the bright red background in front of (mainly) black and white, simple imagery.

The use of image and text is extremely important in our magazine – as every page uses an image alongside a title and a text block. I found it very hard to incorporate the both into some pages, as our layout of A4 landscape spreads meaning we need to use at least 16pt type in our editorial – which there is quite a lot of, against detailed Illustrations and photography. Up to this point of very near completion, I am quite happy with how I am using the text along images – in a totally different way to Barbara Kruger or Kurt Schwitters, but I have tried to create relationships and keep the simplicity throughout every page, whilst still keeping things in as much of  a uniformed style as possible



As an overview, any design project – such as out current group project creating the magazine, can be summarized as a five stage process, and this links in to my first principle, Essential Milestones;

  • The Problem | The Client, User, Participant etc

For us, this was the brief we were given; to create a magazine based an any aspect of Birmingham. It didn’t make it any easier working in a group of people we didn’t know and had only just met – and to find common ground like this is very hard.

  • Ideas | Definition of the Problem, Our Thoughts, Research, Facts, Ideology, The Process etc

As soon as I got this brief, Ideas were being created in my head. As I hadn’t been in Education for near 3 months, my creative brain was bursting to go, so ideas and thoughts were being created just from the mention of one word, such as ‘architecture’ or ‘fashion’ (in Birmingham).

  • Visualization | Sketches, Drawings, Observations etc

In design, I am very good at visualizing what my outcomes may look like before I have even started. This doesn’t make me narrow minded in my development and experimentation, but gives me focus and something to aim for. After being at Uni for only two days, I was already designing for our group. It started with primarily sketches/hand-drawn logo and then I developed them on Adobe Illustrator.

  • Layouts | Organisation and Presentation of Solution

This is the point where I (we) are at now. I have recently started to finalize the style of our magazine, doing some drawn page layouts, and over the weekend have created (what may lead to be final) magazine page spreads.

  • Production | How to make you solution work in practice

Throughout the project I have always been thinking of how our magazine will ‘look’ on its final platform; Issuu, and I have done two trials to find out how it works, looks and feels. Incorporating the ‘template’ Issuu gives you into my design work will (I’m sure) give us a massive boost in how legit the magazine should eventually look.

All of these points/areas are evident when looking through my RVJ.

My second principle is ‘The Experts’. No-one can define that one designer, illustrator or photographer was an expect, as there are no rules or guidelines set in stone. People can have an opinion on who they ‘think’ is an expect from what they have done, said or created throughout their creative life.

My favourite ‘expert’ is Josef Muller-Brockmann.

“The grid system is an aid, not a guarantee. It permits a number of possible uses and each       designer can look for a solution appropriate to his personal style. But one must learn how to use the grid; it is an art that requires practice.”

“I still reserve the right, at any time, to doubt the solutions furnished by the Modular, keeping intact my freedom, which must depend on my feelings rather than my reason.”

“The use of the grid implies;
the will to systematize, to clarify,
the will to penetrate to the essentials, to concentrate,
the will to cultivate objectivity instead of subjectivity,
the will to rationalize the creative and technical production processes,
the will to integrate elements of colour, form and material,
the will to achieve architectural dominion over surface and space,
the will to adopt a positive, forward-thinking attitude,
the recognition of the importance of education and the effect of work devised in a constructive and creative spirit.”

After using pieces of Muller-Brockmann’s work at A-Level, I found the grid system within his work, that wasn’t fully apparent to me when I first looked at the piece (pictured below, left). The grid creates a rectangle which is blank – that ‘could’ be used for text, and the black rectangles used as it’s border, but no, Brockmann finds other areas to use type. The same goes with his other pieces, I love his use of Photography and how he then mixes type and design into it. Hands down, Josef Muller-Brockmann is my favourite designer, and I’d go far enough to call him an Expert.



The first principle I focused on was Delivery. There are many different platforms that Illustrators, Designers, photographers, Typographers etc. can use to deliver their communication, and this has a massive effect on the piece of work. There are so many different platforms that a designer can aim to produce for, such as Editorial; Magazines, Journals, Newspapers, Blogs, Publishing; Books, Posters, Leaflets, Digital based, such as Animations and Interactive Media, Fashion – patterns, designs for wallpapers and fabrics for fashion, Installations and Interventions such as environments for retail and architectural projects, and many more. In current times, a lot of these platforms are linked and intertwined – such as magazines, which could digital based – like us as students are doing for our group projects, or an actual printed magazine, where things like paper type/thickness/gsm and actual size are more of a reality. Illustrator Luke Brookes creates Illustrations that can (and have) been broadly used on many different media and platforms. Some of his recent work, photographed below, has been used on furniture for IKEA for the Rarekind 25th Anniversary Live Draw. Luke has also illustrated for children’s books, such as Mammoth & Co; Littlest Mammoth – The Journey Begins, pictured below. This shows how a creatives style can be easily be manipulated and they can easily select the appropriate format.

My second principle is Medium – looking at the forms that Illustrators, Designers, Photographers and Animators use to promote and represent themselves. In this very digital based age, most creatives will be using a digital means to promote themselves – whether it be a website, blog, online store or any (or all) of the wide range of social media platforms. There are also professional organisations, such as the AOI, that Illustrators use to represent themselves, along the many other bodies and organisations that represent all creative people. Creatives can also help each other out, by featuring other illustrators on their own blog/site. A lot of Designers/Illustrators still use the original methods to publicize themselves, such as postcards, flyers, leaflets; which would all include similar things to a website, but in an un-interactive form.  I think as a designer, I would use all of the above media, as each has its own benefits. A website or blog is more used when people are looking for you; if someone has seen a piece of your work in a magazine, they could find your name, search for your site and they would find you within seconds, whereas postcards and flyers can be seen to be you advertising yourself to the receiver, as they may of previously never heard of you or seen your work.


Photos were from Luke’s personal Facebook and his website and I have got permission off Luke himself to write about him and use the photos.

The structure of Narrative is a very long and complex process. Once you finalize your thought of making something Narrative based, there are many different areas you need to invent.

The first principle I am going to describe is Developing Character. When developing a character – whether it be based in a film, an animation or even a set of Illustrations, you need to define and develop this being into being an individual. There are many different types of character that will need to be considered, whether your filming with a hero and the villain or a cast consisting of a whole set of main characters. Factors such as emotions really need to be considered too. An emotion is an automatic value response – the audience will empathize with emotion. If Character 1 tells Character 2 that Character 3 is upset, there will be less empathy than if we see Character 3 crying, or any other form of sadness. As the audience, we engage with the character like they are ‘real’, so we can really relate to the feeling behind the emotion. As the plot develops, the audience will empathize more with the character depending on what they portray. If, for example, the character was on the edge of death, the empathy will increase as the character shows their survival instinct. This will help the viewer engage more with the film – and if that Character dies, it will ‘feel’ like their person has ‘really’ died, and that have not just gone off set. Acting has almost nothing to do with what the character says, its more about the action and emotion.

The second and final principle I wish to discuss is the Three Act Structure. Most films/animations will have a Beginning, middle and an End. This could also be seen as the setup, the confrontation leading to the Resolution. This acts like a long bike journey, with a slow, steady ‘straight’ section, leading up to the big up-hill climb, the decent down the hill; going fast, losing control, and then finally the road home, calm, resolute, back on the straight and narrow. Every film, tale, story (etc) could possibly be told through those guild lines. Stories such as Little Red Riding Hood, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and the Beanstalk, can all be told as a Three Act Structure – and the general story will still remain fluent without missing out too much detail and information.

Research in general is very important when we first receive a design brief. There are three stages to the design process, starting with the brief, then researching, development & experimentation and finally production – leading to the final outcome. Researching the practice and the content lead to our own research, and therefore these are the two principles I am going to discuss today. Researching our area of practice – whether it be Graphic Communication, Illustration or Photography is very important because we gather an insight into the processes and the areas of the subject.

The first principle, Researching the practice also requires a lot of in-depth knowledge. Researching how the Visual Communicators think is one the main areas of focus. How do they decide what colours, typefaces, media, shape and style of design to use? We can do this by looking, listening, reading, watching, experimenting and exploring. Each of these processes will help us find new areas to experiment with in our own designs. Nothing we do is ‘wasting’ time, everything can be used, but we just need to find the correct way to use it.

Researching the content is essential, as it will be one of the major factors which ‘sell’ our work. The audience is very crucial to research because if you design for the wrong democrat, it won’t engage (as much as it could) with the viewer. The topic and subject need to be well researched as it will lead us to find ‘what’ to include in our work. It will also help us find out what has been researched already, and therefore tell us what we need to find ourselves.

Taking elements from Kolb’s learning cycle, we create a diagram of steps to take when researching. Depending on your style of research, you could start on any of the points; Doing, Reflecting, Planning, Thinking, but eventually you will always make your full way around, often spirally back to the one you started at and doing the process again.

When Stephen Cheetham started designing his set of Illustrations to celebrate the best sneakers from each decade (pictures below), he needed to research an awful lot into the trainer-based culture. First of all, he needed to find the favourite sneakers from each individual decade, and then come to the decision about which to Illustrate. I presume he would have consulted many people that have collections from over many decades, seeking their opinion, as many of the sneakers he categorized were more than something you just put on your feet – for the people who collect and adore trainers, like me, they are an aesthetic item, an item with meaning and a rarity. He would have also needed to find the correct images of the shoes – that highlighted the shape, colours, material and branding, and then applied all of this into his designs. As well as this, I’m sure Cheetham needed to select the style he was going to create these illustrations in – because if his selected style has been used before, the target audience may have already seen similar Illustrations, and not paid as much attention.


There are many key areas to a reliable and creative process. You may find yourself suited to a particular couple as your creative life progress, but there is no doubt that all are crucial. Researching, practicing using Visual Vocabulary, finding inspiration and designing around your audience should be the main areas you focus on whilst designing. Gathering any type of data, if it is information, photographs or a piece of audio, will all help the advancement of your knowledge and understanding. The first principle I wish to discuss is Visual Practice. Through the ‘visual practice’ of observation, collecting, studying and exploring a subject, topic or theme, you will gain a deeper understanding of the subject. Each piece of information you gather is like another arrow for your bow. Paul Davis once famously said “Boredom is the enemy of the artist”. The more directions of design you have to pursue, there is a higher chance of creating a better outcome. The series of directions you can find don’t have to be drastically different from one another. The key is experimentation and development; to progress you need to fail, and then learn from your mistakes. Changing the method within your media could be classed as a different direction. If you’re using a high quality SLR camera to take photographs, will not venture into using film cameras, VHS or Polaroid. Each will give you a totally different outcome, and until you try them, you cannot truly see what they have to offer. The second principle I found interesting was Practices & Processes, which links in very nicely to the first principle; By understanding the various ‘practices & processes’ of illustrators, designers, photographers, we are able to progress and advance in our own practice. Many Illustrators and Designers find inspiration by collecting, collating, observing and/or drawing. Quoting Mark Wigan, from ‘Thinking Visually 2006’; “I couldn’t draw very well, so I had to stick stuff down” & “I get inspiration from anything and everything”. As you (and I) develop as a Designer, I will soon start to develop a personal visual language. This should come from Design to start taking over my life – by being open-minded, by working hard, doing sustained practice taking risks, and learning from my mistakes – and my triumphs. I will learn what works for me as a designer – and I hope to learn not to dismiss what doesn’t. Just because I’m not fantastic at (for example) Photography, doesn’t mean I should not take any photo’s, but to use them in the best way I can – and this will spur my own personal development and lead to better outcomes.

What is originality? What ‘creates’ originality? What can we define as ‘original’? How can we be original?

Originality is something which is impossible to find in Art & Design. We can look back over the years and find artists which have be dubbed as original, using styles, trends, techniques and structures others have done years before them. This works for most subject areas – you can never be truly honest in saying you’re totally original as someone may have done the same designs centuries, decades, year, weeks or days before you.

Then if we do find out someone hasn’t been original and ‘copied’ someone, what do we call them? Is the art a form of concept? Is it a fake; a ‘try-hard’? Or is it just a different way that the original art has been portrayed? Whenever we see a piece of design, we always create assumptions – what we think of the design, what it means, what we do different – especially as creatively-driven people.

One artist who is very current who has evidence of this in his (or even her, but I will refer to as he) work is Banksy. Nicknames the Art Terrorist, he has taken photographs, images and painting and applied his own style to them. The world famous graffiti artist has done many versions of the Famous ‘Mona Lisa’ – using her smiling face holding various weapons and ‘revealing’ parts of her body. All of these pieces hold a message to the outside world, but could also be looked upon to be more to do with Mona than we think at first – showing her imperfections. Banksy has not ‘recreated’ the Mona Lisa, so he is still being original, unlike other artists I could have mention, and I sure many of my fellow students will, but I wanted to show another side, whether it be right or wrong, of an artist using artists ‘idea’ as his own.

I’m by no means saying Banksy isn’t original – he may have been the first to bring this style to the underground scene, or he may not, but no-one can deny he was, and still is, one of the most influential artist on the graffiti-art scene, and has shown a lot of the world another side to street art.


Many students ‘learn’ to become creative. When faced with new tasks, many methods are taught to us to try and stimulate ideas. The problem lies when trying to remain creative, looking back on old ideas in your RVJ/Sketchbook and creating new solutions. The five principles we were taught about each give us a new method to create fresh ideas, solutions and pathways to go down when designing.

The first principle I have been looking at is ‘Overcoming mindsets’. Within design there are many rules. These could be set by a brief or the client, or even just the basic rules and disciplines of Art & Design. Asking yourself “How can I stretch the parameters of the rules” can often lead to a new thought process, which can lead to further experimentation and development, which all may have an effect on the outcome.

Christoph Niemann is a perfect example of this theory. He finds ways to challenge the rules by getting outside the ‘comfort zone’. His playful manor in design allows him to free himself from the conventions and preconceptions. His designs (images below) are all very playful and innovative; he plays with the context of the subject, and then portrays this through design.

The second and final principle I looked at was principle 5; Managing a creative environmental. Many creatives have a certain area they like to work. For me, this is anywhere where I am comfortable. Thinking about it, I work in so many different surrounding, I don’t have anything I can call my ‘studio’ or workspace. A few months ago, whilst I was at college, I would of said I do half of my work in my bedroom – basing that the work is digital based. My bedroom is simply laid out – I don’t have anywhere specific to work – i just sit on my bed, or lie against my wall. I think this is works for me as the environmental is familiar and calm. Sometimes I would listen to music or just watching the television – a film or a program, depending what was on. Now, when I reflect nearer the end of the project, I can see I hardly ever work in my bedroom anymore – I don’t know the reason, but I now prefer to work downstairs, in our lounge on the same table we eat food from. I find it a lot easier – purely because my laptop can be flat on a surface, a can have a mouse (and keyboard, if needed) installed, my portable hard-drive can lie flat and I also have room for my Phone or iPad to be lying around in view if I need them or want a few minutes break. To me, this is now the easiest and the best place I can possibly be when I need/want to work.


The RVJ; Reflective Visual Journal, is an indispensable tool for all visual creatives. In the lecture, the five tools of the trade were discussed. I have chosen to talk about the first and third principles – ‘Draw. Work by hand’ and ‘Develop visual language’.

Working by hand in my RVJ will be crucial as each project develops as it allows you engage a physical connection between your hand, eye and brain. Whilst doing projects I enjoy sketching by hand, as it gives you ultimate control on what you are working on – unlike a computer where some processes might be impossible – or just 10x easier to do on a piece of paper.

Leonardo Da Vinci developed his ideas by ‘thinking’ on the page. As you can see in this design (top image), there are many different sketches on the page. Even though we cannot fully understand his thought process whilst he was illustrating, it allows us to see how he engages with his creative mind and also the development of the designs on page. For both Da Vinci and us, the RVJ is a safe place to take risks and to ignore our self-conscious negative thoughts. The only way to move forward is to take risks and learn from them – whether they fail or succeed.

My second principle, Developing visual language, describes how thinking and working visually is a totally different process to thinking and working with words and text. Visual language enables us to make complex ideas and associations more understandable. Using visual rather than textual language is far more effective as it opens up a range of possibilities for a more creative response.

The Author Tony Buzan uses mind-mapping to note his ideas. His thought process is very visual using many drawings and illustrations in his work. As we can see in the (bottom) image, he uses quirky illustrations, colour, text and visual vocabulary when mapping his ideas, and this shows how a more creative response can be achieved. he also proves that Visual thinking is not limited to working with images as his text and descriptions are very in-depth, direct – but at the same time very simplistic. His word categories all have a strong relationship, but you have to think which words would have been thought up and created without the creative flair.