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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Design Canons: Information Design

Information Design creates a story out of critical pieces of data, attempting to translate it into a context we understand, thats relative.
Richard Saul Wurman; Information architect creator of access guides, making specific topics easier to understand. However with transition over to digital, many may argue these guides are now redundant. However this piece of information design, is intended to take over digitally, and through traditional media. Created to explore the concept of population, overpopulation and the effect its having on our ever expanding planet, economically, politically and environmentally. "This 5+ year initiative will deliver results via5 channels: web (including mobile), television (broadcast and cable), print, exhibits and seminars." Clearly Wurman aims this at wide audience from companies or individuals involved in globalization, to anyone interested in world news.  This puts into context the rapid increase of society, and how this will continue to change the way we live.
The top of the visual hierarchy, bright red, bold, large font draws instant attention to the numbers, which are the most important part as it forms the statistic of the worlds population, or 19 cities population to be exact. The image is split into 3 columns which partially hide 2 sections of numbers and the map. This may be due to the fact that both the first two columns could change at any minute, as the later displayed human counter demonstrates by exaggerating the amount of people coming into the world at any one time. The numbers still highlighted in red but smaller are second to take your attention, as it explains their meaning. Black sans serif type, in keeping with simple, minimalistic image, overlaying the previously mentioned columns. Finally the soft grey silhouette of the map is strong enough to be easily distinguishable from the background but does not interfere with the powerful statistic and thus reinforces it. 
The red type connotes danger, that if we continue like this our world may collapse in on itself. The grey of the map suggests that the land as we knew it is fading away, or being washed away by increasing sea levels. The white background emphasises this black fading to white, also a white background draws no attention to itself therefore promoting a strong visual hierarchy.
By employing use of multiple media platforms, once the gathering of data is complete you won't be able to get away from this piece of design. Already 10 worldwide partners are involved, and over the course of its progression the experiment will build hype, and gain publicity. Wurman has ensured all his bases are covered to reach the widest audience; digital as a portable device, print for those that still prefer old fashioned media, parents that don't regularly access the internet will most likely catch it on tv, and students or professionals will find themselves in seminars about it. There will be no escape, from this design it is a contemporary, ever pressing topic of discussion and debate that needs to be addressed.


Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ethics of Design

As a student practicing design with strong values and beliefs how can I sit on the fence when designing? Every design, every advert has its influence;  the ideology of Santa Clause, being rebranded from a man dressed in a long, green, fur lined, robe depicted as Charles Dickens, Ghost of Christmas Past. To German mythology reflecting the god Odin or Saint Nicholas known to bestow generous gifts upon the poor to save them from impoverished lifestyles, portraying him as a gift giver.

"Starting in 1931, magazine ads for Coca-Cola featured St. Nick as a kind, jolly man in a red suit. Because magazines were so widely viewed, and because this image of Santa appeared for more than three decades, the image of Santa most people have today is largely based on advertising." Cartoonist Thomas Nast drew Santa Claus for Harper's Weekly in 1862; Santa was shown as a small elf-like figure who supported the Union. This illustration of Santa developed for 30 years and along the way changed the color of his coat from tan to the now traditional red, and white that we associate with childhood.

("My Hat's Off to the pause that refreshes")

Coca Cola were perhaps the beginning of this capitalist snowball, sending the beverage overseas during the war, and creating international business. "Post-war America was alive with optimism and prosperity. Coca-Cola was part of a fun, carefree American lifestyle, and the imagery of its advertising - happy couples at the drive-in, carefree mums driving big yellow convertibles - reflected the spirit of the times." Or this was how it was supposed to be, the adverts of the 50s and 60s influencing an entire way of life in america; 50s suburbia, a utopia.

Individually I am more of a socialist and pro environment,  our consumerist 'needs' are destroying the beauty of the natural planet.  However I feel my beliefs are contradicted by being interested in advertising. Advertising promotes capitalism, replacing the old before its worn out, 'the story of stuff', 'consumerism a love story'.

The morals and ethics of design, the artistic style and development behind good advertising, and then this need to have the latest and greatest destroying the planet. Can I really sit on the fence? Would this mean then that my design may have a political agenda like Kennard Phillip's work.

Photomontage: Do we really need a third runway, in an already gigantic airport, with planes leaving every minute of the day, just to boost travel finance and thus the economy.

Photomontage: A comment on the bankers receiving compensation after they lost all of our money and we again have to pay. Which then relates to this capitalist society of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Benjamin E. Lippincott describes post modernism or capitalism to be individual and fascist in its learnings, in that it really doesnt give us much choice, it is not a democracy to decide wether a new version of an existant product is required. Unstable way of creating society geared towards the least urgent of human needs.  The difference between having a car to get from A to B and having a car to demonstrate personal wealth. 
The previous generation that has started this love of consumerism are essentially to blame for this moral degeneration. We have been brainwashed into thinking this is right, yet we continue this way of life because it's what we know, we have developed and grown accustomed to certain aspects of urban life but there needs to be less of a grip on materialism. By the time it takes any effect, it wont be a problem to those of us around now, however does this mean we should ignore the issue?

By using economically friendly printing and distribution methods, less packaging ect, or to produce good design, that can sit on the fence when appropriate and then make a political statement when necessary, is that then ethical design?
I guess I'll only really find out how strong my morals stand one way or another as i continue into this career path. I would hope that I can somehow change the attitudes towards the environment and consumerism through design, and still be recognised as successful. 
As graphic designers we are advocates of mass communication, and these messages have an enormous impact on ordinary people, every idea needs to be over considered.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Hells Angels - Book Cover Design

Back, Spine and Cover for Hells Angels by Hunter. S. Thompson. The final of 7 different designs.

(The blurb is taken from the original book.)

Thompson. S. H, 1967, Hells Angels, London, Penguin Books

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Logo Design

Quick brief: Design a logo for Smile an outdoor clothing range company for hikers/ climbers.

As hiking boots are vital to the activity I looked at designing the name around something to do with the shoes, and after a while of messing around with drawing boots. I decided incorporating the name into the tread would work well on the boots and on a label. 
The spacing of the tread needs some work, but as a quick design I think the idea works well.