What lies Beneath – A Typography talk by Dalton Maag

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This event was organised by our course programme director David Wrenne and was one of the best talks that I have been to in recent months. The talk was given by Bruno Maag, Dalton Maag founder and their creative director Tom Foley. They gave an sharp and really interesting insight into the way that they create their fonts. From history of typography to the science behind us reading it, all of which has given myself a whole new outlook on typography and the extensive process behind the scenes of the finished fonts that we see around us today.

It was interesting to learn that a bespoke typeface can take upto an incredible 4 years to perfect. There was me thinking that it was a fairly simple process! But when they stated talking about looking at the Chinese language which has 27500 different character types you start to understand the time scale and I hadn’t even considered the different variations and then more language options thats needed to be designed when developing. Let alone then having to take into account how to over come the issue of massive data amounts that would be needed. There is a clever development of open type code, that helps cut a bit of time, which allows the font files to behave smartly by controlling and making up the placement of the pixels – cutting down on the amount of megabytes needed to be processed. Clever stuff.

The whole talk was full of positive energy and I don’t think that I have ever witnessed someone as passionate about typography before seeing Bruno and Tom, it was admirable,  and you could see that they both immensely took much delight from what they do, and rightly so. They have completed some amazing work with the likes of Lush and Nokia, taking us through to the final release of their typeface and the hurdles that they had to overcome, such as appealability on a global basis and how it reacts to different interfaces. It is mind blowing the amount of work that goes into font design.

We were given little typography goodie packs at the end of the talk which enclosed four typefaces that they have developed. Funny enough we had started using the Objectiv font for our animation project prior to going to this talk. All the fonts  can be downloaded from their website https://www.daltonmaag.com/library

I left the talk with a lot more knowledge and understanding  of developing a typeface, aswell as smile on my face with the vision of Bruno Maag shouting BOOM across the auditorium.

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Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore

 

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As part of our research for our design as activism project we watched Al Gores Inconvenient truth. Even though it was was boardcast in 2006 it still has a some very valid concerns about environmental issues today. The film documents Al Gores aim to alerting to the public to the ‘planetary emergency’ due to Global warming, of which deforestation is one of the contributing factors to this issue. Throughout the documentary Al Gore reiterates how wonderful and amazing our planet is, yet we are slowly destroying its delicate eco system, he backs this up by showing scientific results and predictions, shown on graphs and very well made slide show. He makes arguments against all the scepticism surrounding global warming, making it very difficult to disbelieve the predictions in the documentary. A very powerful case is put across that something can and should be done to protect our planet, and its worth hearing!

“Future generations may well have occasion to ask themselves, what were our parents thinking? Why didn’t they wake up when they had the chance?” – Al Gore 

Since its release it has sparked a global interest in everyone taking responsibly for their actions in the world, there are tips that he provides on how we can make a difference to the future of our planet and points you to take a look at www.climatecrisis.net.

Overall a really insightful documentary. Has made things all the more realistic for myself, encouraging to know that there are some many people that have an ambition to make a change in the status quo of our human existence, and to stop exploiting our natural resourced for money and greed. Im looking forward to producing my own piece of work that conveys a similar message to stop and think.

Deforestation – Visualising our ideas

Looking at other animations was a way of helping us to come up with some ideas on pace and movement within our own animation. As well as admiring some really skilled animators out there.

This animation below, is a mixture of cute and horrifying, which is a Australian public service campaign by Metro trains in Melbourne to promote rail safety. The animation itself is quite simplistic. But just shows you that simple things can really have a impact. There is a case study that states that there is a correlation between an improvement in accident figures and the campaign. Making this animation highly effective to the viewer.

As well as the video distribution the campaign appeared on local radio, newspapers, and outdoor advertising, it also has an gaming app released a year later, it invites the players to avoid dangerous activities. The creators figured out the right way to reach a younger audience. The thing that I learnt from reading about this campaign is that the distribution is equally important as the creative side. The marketing team chose their distribution really well. The results speak for themselves with millions of views world wide.

This animation I really like, there is a likability to the character, which make me as a viewer feel something = gives a human element to it. This in marketing terms gives the animation power, because if a viewer can relate it creates emotions, these emotions have the power to make a difference.

Because of our limited knowledge of Aftereffects going down the simplistic route was a good option for us, plus we would be able to get our points across in a clear and precise way. We decided that by having the planet earth as the central focus it would be an effective way visualising the message we had to convey.

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These are the initial sketches that I did before coming up with our narrative story.

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I also made a planet earth in Illustrator as a starting point to work from. It took me a bit of time as I had not made a 3d object before in illustrator. But a few youtube tutorials later I cracked it.

However having done this, once I placed the 3d image into Aftereffects it was flattened to a 2d image again and I was unable to make it spin. Some more youtube videos later along with the help from one of my tutors Matt, we discovered that I was able to make a 3d global actually in Aftereffects. It was very satisfying to see my global spinning.

However before we came to the animation we needed to come up with our storyboard, to help us visualise our narrative. The target audience that we decided to aim towards was graphic designers, as they stand between a business and an audience, they have the power to shift the status quo towards more sustainable solutions within design. Design is about effecting a change, by aiding the development of green markets.

These are the sketches produced from brainstorming as a group. IMG_2545

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This slideshow below, shows the storyboard that I developed after our brainstorming session.

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However, as a group we came up with a slightly different narrative, we are going to develop this one further ready for the animation process. IMG_2547

Now to get started!!!

Design as Activism Research

For our research into deforestation we mainly used the internet to search for agencies and charities that are campaigning to save our worlds forests. The main ones out there are WWF, Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, world rainforest, the size of wales. We wanted to look into the kind of campaigns that they used to get their message across.

Here are few that the WWF have created to raise awareness for deforestation.

The two images with animals I find particularly effective, with the tagline ‘stop the chopping,’ they conjure up empathy for the animals.

Main causes of deforestation

  1. Urbanisation
  2. Greed
  3. Mining
  4. Agriculture – One of the main causes

The effects

  1. Carbon emissions
  2. Loss of biodiversity
  3. Effects the weather and water cycle
  4. Soil erosion

The are steps that have been put in place over recent years that many governments have adopted, they have started to preserve their forests, understanding the need to have them protects. Also the banning of illegal wood.

This campaign ephemera below is one that I appeals to myself. Its something a little different. The use of the real trees within these are clever. Its a lot more hard hitting than the use of just photographs of trees. Bringing a real element to it, which encourages us to have emotion. Emotion has the power to get the viewer to make a change.

https://www.behance.net/gallery/28146159/No-Tree-No-Animal

Activist and campaign design has changed some what over the years. Design activism as these Ephemera above, they try to bring about change by generating positive alternatives to the status quo. Making you think about your own position. Ultimately, most design activism is about better understanding the problem, rather than acting with certainty towards a single right answer. Giving the viewer something to think about rather than being told what to do.

Design Activism involves taking action that makes a claim for change on behalf of a wronged, excluded or neglected group —it is driven by the identification of a wrongdoing or problem that needs changing. This ongoing piece of work below by Douglas Coupland called Slogans for the 21st century  is another example of a design activism piece. He says wants to “try and isolate what is already different in the twenty-first century mind as opposed to the twentieth.” The seem some what humorous but are ironic and questionable. All have been hand painted on plywood  Coupland states, “If you were to attach a stick to each of these slogans and carry them in the street, would they read as protest or would they read as complicit guilt? For example, twenty years from now, were I to look at a picture of someone holding up a slogan reading ‘being middle class was fun,’ would that read as heartbreaking prescience or as rational acceptance of a by-then sociological certainty?”

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I find this work by Coupland thought provocative. Something that I want to gain though my own campaign, perhaps with the use of a clever tagline to go along side of the animation.

Initial Ideas – Design as Activism

As Im all for the environment my initial ideas was to focus on the effects that we are having on our home (the world). Sustainability is one of the issues that I feel is important to be aware of as a graphic designer. After reading Green Graphic Design – Brian Dougherty it has given me a better understanding of how I personally can make a difference. The book breaks down the concept of green design step by step, reframing the way that designers can think about the work that they create. If all designers thought this way when producing their work it could be a huge step forward for positive change, and giving us a more sustainable solutions for a better future.

My thoughts were to make green design mainstream – graphic designers have a major role to play in aiding the development of a green market place, the knock-on effects give the corporations an understanding that they too have a responsibility.

To go about this I thought of the possibility of making graphic designers into super heroes to save the world. Below are some initial drawings for a logo. I imagine a super hero with a cape flying around the world.

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All of us can embrace a green more responsible model for graphic design, we have the ability to shift the status quo, then making it the norm for future designers.

Unfortunately my ideas were a no go for our group. Perhaps something for a personal project that I could develop further in the future. Watch this space…….!

Joanna Quinn

As part of our field project we attended a talk by Joanna Quinn. She is a an animator, illustrator and director, currently running her own animation studio Beryl Productions. Joanna is a highly acclaimed figure in the world of animations, winning many awards and received Oscar nominations for her films.

Starting out in graphics, but soon changed to study Illustration, after having an animation project on her graphics course. Her first film made in 1986, won 3 prizes at the Annecy Animation Festival in 1987 which trust her in the international animation scene. From this she went on to make many films such as, Famous Fred, Canterbury Tales, also producing adverts for Whiskers and Charmin Toilet Paper.

One for the short films that she showed us Britannia (her first commissioned piece of work), which is a brilliant biting view of British Imperialism. It is an adaption of a book written by an American woman’ observation on the UK. It won her the Leonardo Da Vinc award in 1996, which was ironically presented by Prince Philip. Joanna talked about the process of coming up with the narrative of the film, from wanting to get all the political points across but in the end with the a few strong key drawings to progress with. The overall film shows Joanna ability to produce a beautifully  fluid and dynamic animation.

The process that Joanna uses consisted for 12 drawings per second. Having strong key drawings at the start and finish of each shot, with only showing impressions for the movement rather than a solid change of form. This gives her a unique outcome, she uses the same process throughout her short films.

Films like Britannia were made pre digital era, which made the process laborious, taking years to complete. Having said this Joanna is more than happy with continuing to use traditional materials, as she still prefers to draw on to paper, then scanning her sketches into programmes such as After Effects. The sketches that she produces are very organic, she captures movement beautifully.

The film Dreams and Desires with Beryl as the main characters, (which Joanna claimed to be her alter-ego) is a charming and humorous animation, I just love the dogs role in this. From talking about Beryl Joanna spoke about using real life to observation to influence her animations. Being based on reality she said they you can captivate the audience, as “everyone loves animation, you can expect anything can happen.” By putting real life situations in, you can write in a shock value or add more humour.

Overall Joanna gave a great talk about her career. She was quite an animated person herself, and could see the sense of joy that she gained from being an animator. Was a lovely insight to the animation world with some helpful tips. Im looking forward to producing my own piece of animation in the coming weeks.

 

4 Designers conference London

4 Designers was a fantastic full day event held in London on the 20th February 2017. It was split into four sessions which was chaired by Patrick Baglee. The speakers who were each experts in their field  and gave accounts of their influence and experience within the design industry. It was great exposure to the work and process of some of the leading designers in the country.

Matthew Shannon 

Currently working for Brash Brands as a Group Executive, Creative director and Group content director, perviously working for some of the highly respectable design studios within the UK, such as Metadesign and SAS first. His talk was very informative and he gave some sound advise. One of which was the process triangle (which I sketched out). To start at the bottom of the triangle when receiving a brief, to think = research, research is the key to ignite the brief. Rethink = interrogate your research, finally Do = design. By working this way he states that you make the creative process a whole lot easier. Giving substance to your final designs. He proceed to talk about 6 ways that he believes is an effective process to being a graphic communicator.

Approach To take a different view point from your brief, not thinking about your own personal preferences. To always be Agile, as you never know what is going to happen next, especially when it comes to technology, making sure that you are aware of trends to better your own work. Being able to Adapt, constantly learning to enable communication, work in different ways. Affects, to make a difference. To create content in a different way, to Alternate your delivery. Working Altogether to have the ambition to effect change.

His overall talk was quite inspiring, to effect change to be the change. Creativity is endless and we are the future. 

Joanne Davies

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Founder of ZAK and is an audience focused design agency creating big brand ideas for under 30’s. Their claim is to be “Makers, Creators, and Innovators.” Jo not coming from a creative background when she initially set up ZAK but previously worked in Marketing and as a PA, so she had a lot of experience working with people, which gave her a good insight in to the type of people she wanted to build her agency up with. Her advice was more focused on us as a person and what we can do to stand out from the crowd. “Find your personal brand,” what make us different. Be Creative – get into cultural things, have a passion and interest for innovation. Be Smart – Make things happen, communicate your  work effectively. Have Agility – be flexible and adaptable. Be Brave – Speak up, challenge status quo, think laterally. Be Ambitious – Have a drive for competitiveness to produce your best work. Be hungry for more. Be Grounded – Be down to earth, no divas or dramas.

When going for interview she gave three pieces of guidance;

  1. Make a strong first impression
  2. Live the company values – research the company beforehand
  3. Deliver excellence

If we considered going freelance or setting up your own agency, she advised not to head straight into it after university, advising that its worth gaining experience working in a studio environment, to work with real clients and briefs. Make connections and contacts.

 

Matthew Baxter 

Currently working as creative director at Baxter and Bailey in Brighton. Having worked for many UK and international agencies prior, of which included 3Deep, 300million, Tricket & Webb. Baxter and Bailey work for many non-profit charities, and promote arts and culture. One which I found most interesting was that he writes and produces a comic, aswell running comic workshops for children.

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Matts talks was probably my favourite talk out of the four,  as I related to his ethics and practices. He started off with giving us his stone cold pieces of advice, which he later went on to contradict.

  1. Know where your going  don’t know where your going, keeps you aware of what is going on around you
  2. Say yes to everything  Don’t say yes to everything, be selective, live buy your principles that guide the studio, design for good, make it count.
  3. Fake it till you make it Keep faking it, helps to you learn new skills
  4. Go places Stay local
  5. Dont do free work Sometime do free work, you never know where it could lead.

His advice initially was related to when you just starting out in the creative industry. The contradiction was therefore when you become more established in your practices. However he recommended that we should try and live by the following;

  • Always read the words – within the brief
  • Spell check
  • Spell check again
  • Be nice
  • Keep in touch

He had then put together a short video from designers that he had perviously worked with and what advice that they had that we might find useful. In summary;

  • Never talk yourself down
  • Over deliver, do something unexpected.
  • Do hard work and have a good attitude
  • Focus on what you want
  • Know it, research it, live it
  • Ask questions – even if they sound silly to yourself
  • Take advice – you can choose the advice that works best for you
  • Nurture your curiosity

 

Brian and James Webb

Our final speakers where a father and son duo, they were probably the most entertaining to observe, the banter between was comical at times. Unfortunately, my camera had run out of battery at this point, so was unable to capture the moment. They founded Webb & Webb together in 2003 and have many projects for the Royal Mail aswell as some really impressive book designs for the Harry Potter series. Most of their talk consisted of past work that produced, however the inspiration that I took from them was;

  • Adapting to change, be up with technology as it is developing so quickly
  • Enter every competition going – might take you somewhere unexpected
  • Avoid the obvious, do different from others in the market
  • Live the brief, know more then the client, become that expert

What I found interesting that even with all the technology around for design these days, that they were still using letter press in some of their book designs. Such a nice thing to see, giving the books an individual look which makes them more unique. Giving an insight to the importance of traditional practices.

 

The conference and the talkers were able to give us great exposure to the creative work and processes of the leading designers around at the moment. I have gained a wealth of knowledge and an insight into first hand experience into breaking the creative world. The advice given is something that I will be taking forward with my own pursuit to becoming an established Graphic Communicator.

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This was above the stage that I thought was quite apt for the talks that we had just observed.