Narrative and Voice

NARRATIVE AND VOICE

 

 

 

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These are the final outcomes from this project, where we had to create an idea for a wall piece to go on a creative agency that would promote sustainability or engagement with the environment. My project however led me wanting to create a piece that would encourage creatives to make positive work and work that benefits people and the environment rather than being detrimental. The concept I came up with was to use blu-tac secretly to create a message that would relate to what poster was put up on the wall, where it would stain into the wall. The idea and message can be seen further down in my project, where the final prototype can be found in my physical portfolio in the last plastic wallet. Please feel free to peel the poster and blu-tac off to see the concept properly. 

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Today we started the responsibility project for Narrative and Voice. Before the first day of this project however, I read through the brief and started to think about how this project could go and how I would engage with it. What I found when reading the brief, was that the project seemed very boring and limited, with there being not much room for ideas and imagination. However, having been briefed today I am happy to see how wrong I first was. The project not only allows us to incorporate something we care about and give a shit about but to also try to make an actual difference within design practice and how designers consider the environment and sustainability. Ollie's briefing and presentation was what changed my mind completely, as he showed the class different aspects of the project that had already been done, and the innovative ways designers had thought of to get people engaging with this subject matter. In the afternoon we then moved onto the British Museum, where we were sent to go and draw and image-make not only things to do with wall art and murals but also pieces we found engaging and that we had a connection to. What I found the most useful from that trip was to start to see how visitors and people in general interacted with work on the wall and how lighting, arrangement, and depth effected the time they studied the objects. I also liked thinking of how 'the medium is the message', and looking at how designers had greatly considered this both in modern and ancient times within the museum. Below can be seen some of the quick drawings and notes I took from the museum, as well as photographs of what I thought interesting concerning our project. 

 

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As well as looking at the museum's pieces in regards to murals and wall pieces, I also decided to think about 'the medium is the message' and how that will have to be something I consider deeply for this project as I could create a powerful concept and idea all around the physicality of this piece. Some examples of that idea that I found within the museum was the Throne of Weapons, which reused the guns from the Mozambique civil war, repurposing them and creating a poignant memory. El Anatsui's 'Man's Cloth' was another very powerful piece of work, intricately made but made by something which created the concept itself. The tin bottle necks were cut up and put together to form a cloth which highlights the consumer culture overtaking the traditions of his culture. Once having looked at this, and understood its importance within the project, we were then also asked to go back through the museum and to draw and capture one object which would provide a starting point for the rest of our work in these two weeks. 

 

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OBJECT STARTING POINT

At first I did not know what I wanted to be looking into, as I could not find an object which represented the ideas of my project more than just the concepts I have spoken about earlier. However, walking through the exhibits, what stood out to me the most was the popularity and almost celebrity status of the Rosetta Stone. And yet with this popularity, it was clear the context and story of the object was not being captured with the many hundreds of photographs. The visitors were simply capturing the object as some sort of token and proof. This was a shame but not necessarily the starting point I wanted for my project. BUT when I walked through the Gift Shop of the museum I found the further decontextualisation of the Rosetta stone through consumerism, where the object had been printed onto hundreds of different objects, from mouse-mats to travel card holders to rucsacs.

What I want to look at here and work off, is not the lack of context behind the Rosetta stone, but how designers have created work for which this object has then been decontextualised. How they have allowed their work to create this negative effect, where if ti had been done with more consideration and thought, then there could have been a very different effect.

I WANT TO LOOK AT INFORMING, ENCOURAGING AND PERSUADING DESIGNERS IN A DESIGN AGENCY TO CONSIDER THEIR WORK MORE CONCERNING THE ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY AND HOW THEIR WORK SHOULD DO GOOD.

 

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After yesterday, where I managed to get some idea of the direction I wanted to go down for this project, I now thought it relevant to go and research more creative agencies than I knew, and to ask them first hand about their behaviours towards the environment as creatives and as a creative practice as a whole. To do this Joe and I walked the streets of London from agency to agency, asking for any spare time they may have to explain our project and chat to them. We knew we would be asked a lot to book an appointment or send an email first, but we were going to go to as many as possible, trying to catch someone who could fit us in to their day. And it worked. We managed to speak to several creatives or team members from several different agencies and we began to see how they considered sustainability in the workplace and in there work. We managed to speak to individuals at Mr. President, The Corner and managed to speak to the Head of Security of BBH as we got swiftly kicked out of their top offices (which we found we were not meant to be in). What I was interested in asking, was seeing how they tried to incorporate sustainability and consideration for the environment and doing good into their actual work rather than just their lives, whilst Joe was more looking into the design studios' practices around recycling and waste. We both asked balanced questions and came back with a lot more insight into how our project should be aimed, and what needed tackling than if we had not gone at all. We may also be having a proper conversation with Mr. President about the project later in the week if they have time to fit it in as they were every interested in the project for their studios. We also spoke to the ECD of Google Creative Lab about our project, where as can be seen below he liked the ideas and our insight, but could not help us any further than that.

 

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Having done quite a lot of quick primary research for the project, which gave me the insight, problem and understanding of the project for me to then act on. But what I now needed to do was to go back through the brief and properly learn about and look into the fundamental ideas of the brief such as the 3-legged stool and greenwashing, or even Andrew Hall's essay. We had been introduced to some of these phrases and various bits of sustainability jargon in the briefing, but I wanted to properly understand them as I felt it would give me a solid and broad foundation to then research something more precise and detailed from concerning the subject. Having looked at the stool diagram, I realise I have always seen sustainability as something to do only with the environmental leg rather than all three; where I think it could be interesting to look more into the other two when trying to make the creatives aware and engage with this subject. Greenwashing is also something I had never heard of apart from at a talk at the D&AD Festival from Thomas Kolster, where the opinion on greenwashing was very different to most of the articles I have found here when researching. This is again something I think I am going to look further into as it could lead me to an interesting viewpoint; which seeing as he worked in a creative agency could prove to be more insightful than what is generally out there on the internet. I am also aware of his work to do with doing good in design and advertising, where he has written a book and started a movement called Goodvertising, which I think could be key to my ideas and how I wish to communicate to the agency.

 

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As just mentioned, I have attended a talk from Thomas Kolster at the D&AD Festival which was on his idea of Goodvertising and how designers need to consider the environment, sustainability, society and doing good within their work. The talk itself give me valuable insight as well as inspiration into his thinking and is something I am certain I want to incorporate into this project, where I might jump on the back of Goodvertising and use its thinking (which I agree with), to fuel my project and to give reason for why and how designers can change their attitudes and behaviours with their work. Below can be seen various different platforms of which I have researched further into this idea, where what I have noticed is in addition to the brief, is the idea of bringing in a positive impact to people and society more than just the wicked problem of the environment, although it could be argued that they all link and circle back to each other. Where having read and researched from this, I am going to extend the problem to all of the areas covered in Goodvertising, and encouraging creatives to better their work in this way rather than just what the brief states. What was really useful to also see within this part of my research were the examples of what he had classed as Goodvertising, and how he was showing that people are already acting upon these problems, and showing the positive impacts of that work. This was really good for me to see as it is what I want the creatives and agencies to be aiming for when I am communicating to them from the wall piece. SO MY BIGGEST PROBLEM THAT NEEDS TO BE RESEARCHED AND THOUGHT THROUGH IS HOW I CAN CONVEY THIS MESSAGE TO THEM. I think to be able to do this I should read more of the Goodvertising book to see his thinking more, as well as his discussions about how this can be done and the power of it being done. Kolster is basically the message that I want to convey, and he has already done my project  subject wise, but he has done it in the form of talking to people in large conventions and through his book, so my challenge is to see how with the physical restrictions and limitations I have, how can I create something as engaging and persuasive as a person themselves?

 

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I needed to start finding how others had already used wall pieces and art to convey an idea, whatever the subject, as my problem now was trying to realise my message. I started looking, from the advice of a tutor in the studio, at Stefan Sagmeister's Deitch Project, Banana Wall. It reads 'Self-confidence produces fine results'. Other than the scale of the wall and the mass of bananas, it may seem silly. However, what made this piece of work so interesting was the fact that after a few days the bananas all went brown as they became older, which meant the message blended into nothing, until a few days later than that, the message reappeared as the firstly yellow bananas turned a different shade altogether. Although I do not necessarily understand the connection between the bananas and the quote, I do think that the consideration of how the message was to be communicated in an unexpected way deserves some admiration (but did the bananas all go to waste?!). Having started to look at Sagmesiter, I then recalled a piece of work he talked about when speaking at the D&AD Festival on beauty. The work was a wall piece covering the walls of an underpass which was once avoided and mistreated, where the city needed it cleaning up. What Sagmesiter did was simple. He hired artists to paint the walls, and make the underpass beautiful. The results of this simple piece of work is what has drawn me to include this into my project; where successfully, the underpass began to be used much more and mistreated much less. But due to the message of YES on the walls illustrated in a beautiful way, people started to have wedding photos taken there! What was once a piss-riddled underpass became a shoot location for love. Again, these are just references that I want to consider and look back on when trying to ideate for my own project. The series of pieces of work also seen below are all the same, where the medium of the work and visuals all coincide with what is trying to be communicated, and thus have all become successful and many renowned pieces of work. I need to find a way to cleverly tell my message. I need to create the unexpected but with a connection to the creatives, that will make them think about and hopefully change their work for the better.

 

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One idea that I thought could lead to an interesting piece of work if done well, could be to use the scratch off material seen on scratch cards. It is a way that could enable me to have two messages given as well as forcing some kind of interaction and engagement with the wall piece. As can be seen on the two right images below, it has been used as an interactive advertising piece before, one for the scratch cards themselves, and one for a museum advert. The latter I am more interested in. What this medium could also bring however, is a sense of waste and maybe a link that is two connected to scratch-cards and somewhat defeats the message being created by the scratchy material itself. If I were to use it, it would be to reveal a message that would be made to shock and surprise the creatives, and almost force them to act on that emotional shock. I think that this could be a really interesting way to create a wall piece and to force interaction, but it is not yet quite connected to my idea and what I am trying to do enough to make it successful and effective. I may have to rethink what I am trying to say to create this unity between the medium and the message, but I may also need to see what kind of similar mediums could seem more connected and in touch with my message.

 

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As well as this idea of the scratch-card material and the previous research, I began to look at how some wall pieces effect me in my everyday life, and just to see what others had done in my own environment rather than famous pieces of work. I wanted to do this so I could see what it was I was missing and what it was that I was trying to gain in doing the project, or rather what it was I was hoping others would gain. What I have always found interesting with the wall type within my gym in London is the fact that although I could tell you they are there, I couldn't tell you what they said at all. They have literally just become wallpaper. And I think it is because of the dullness and flatness of the work, where they have only really been put there because the gym felt they needed to rather than finding something really engaging and something the designer gave a shit about. Ironically, my project is trying to direct these designers (possibly as well as clients) to giving a shit about what they make and do. However, the two examples within my daily life below were useful to look at in terms of the content of them, where I am both wanting to inspire and inform in some ways within my wall piece. From all of the reading and research and ideas I had come up with, I then also decided to write everything down almost as a personal reference and archive to look back at throughout the project. This can be seen on the top right page. 

What was really really helpful that I did today, was to basically sum up everything that I want to gain from the work, and the effect that I want the work to have on creatives, and to then also write down everything that is in the way of me doing this. It has not only helped me to clarify what I am thinking to others, but also to set almost a checklist of what I now need to do and how I am going to do it. What has also massively structured and helped my project is the discovery of an article on making ideas STICK, which is a breakdown of how to design a communicative piece of work that will stay in the mind of the viewer and will make them change or act upon that idea. The article itself and the main points that I wanted to take from it can be seen in the next section below.

 

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Knowing what I needed to do, but not how to do it was my issue. Where I wanted the medium and the communication to be well considered. And here is one of the ways I intend on doing this. I found the series of articles by chance as I was trying to see how designers persuade people to behave in a certain way, or to at least change their behaviour. To make them act. This article not only highlighted how it could be done but gave lots of detail into how to do it, in only a few steps. What I found quite interesting about the article is that it is in fact aimed at informing web designers how to create an engaging website; and yet these principles work well for any kind of design where my project will be bettered because of finding this, even if I already knew most of these ideas and tips, having it in writing in such a simple and sensible way makes my life much easier. There are certain elements of this article which I will use much more for my project and many of these parts are the things that I would not necessarily consider, such as the idea of an unexpected element, and how that will get attention and hold attention rather than making something that may be very clear but common and thus become wallpaper. Making my work have a story and be emotional will also create a deeper connection between it and the workers in the creative agency, and considering this in the next week as I develop my idea will definitely guide me somewhat to how I might phrase the copy of the work and how 

 

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Even with this structure and guide, as well as having done extensive research and simply trying to think of mediums that would reflect the idea, I was stuck. I could not think of anything that would work or that I felt confident in presenting to the interim crit as a prototype, and I had that crit the next day. And to make things worse, I had just been emailed that I was to be fined seventy five pounds because of having put two small posters up in my room at halls. Seventy-five pounds! Shit. The reasoning for this extortionate fine was because the blue-tack that I used had left damage to the walls, which consisted of about twenty small dots of the blue-tack's remains, where I later learnt that paint sucks in the oil from blue-tack to give this stain. I also found that most of the residents within my building were also being fined for this, where within my small cluster of six flatmates we were being fined two hundred pounds alone. And considering the halls houses almost five hundred students; they are making a killing from this (if people pay them that is, as we are all challenging these damages and the prices). Rant over. However, what it did lead me to as I was moaning out loud about the fine, was the idea of the blue-tack leaving a mark on the wall, and how the posters that I had put up on the wall had left that mark. And a beautiful and somewhat obvious idea hit me. What if I put up the work of the creative agency on their wall using the same pesky oily blue-tack, and wrote a message on top of the work to get the creatives thinking about the responsibility of their work; to then later take that down and leave the oily stain telling them to make that mark a positive one. To make a positive impact. It was perfect. So I got to working on a really quick and rough prototype to show the next day, which would at least help me to talk through my idea to the class.

 

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Having had this idea, I then made it into a prototype as quickly as I could just so that I could have something visual to explain what I would be describing in class the next day. The idea I showed was is below where I printed out a variety of The Corner's print work (knowing that they would be the agency I use), as well as then layering on top 'Your Work Leaves A Mark'. For now the design of all of that is just completely basic and to give some slight idea of what it will be made of work wise. Where I need to consider what work it will be, the copy that will be overlaid on it and how that it will be done. 

 

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This then made me move onto a different stage of the project; one more heavily concentrating on experimentation and testing rather than research. Although I will still need to make considered decisions throughout the rest of this work. What I needed to do the most at this point was to brainstorm everything that I needed to do and to research or test before getting to my final piece for the project. To do this I really quickly (whilst my pasta was boiling) wrote down everything I could think of that was not decided for my project already and anything that could pretty much go wrong to then ensure that the rest of the project was successful and that my final presentation was effective for the idea that I had.

 

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What I immediately knew I would need to do as the project was almost near an end, was to get as many experiments I could done in the time I had. The issue was that these tests would require days to work (for the blu-tac to leave its stains. But I would also need days to then create the final outcome, so I was torn between the experimental stage and the final creation. As can be seen below, I was more interested in purely testing what material the idea would work on and how that could be transported for my cart, where I knew I would be making more of a final prototype than outcome as I couldn't do this on an actual wall. I also decided to try and see how hard it was to create lettering and different typefaces out of blu-tac.  

 

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Having now started the physical experiments, I also needed to try and see what copy I would use for the actual message and narrative of the work. As can be seen below, I had some idea of what I wanted but just needed to refine it and finally choose something as simple but still effective as possible for the work. What I chose was,

'Our work leaves a mark. Make a mark worth leaving.'

 

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I then also needed to see what my poster was going to look like, and how to then lay that out in a way that would be eye-catching and simple, but not good enough to stay up on the wall of an agency forever, where for the piece to work best it would eventually need to be taken down, and I wanted this to be an unforced act, rather than asking them to take it down if it were a real piece of work. The poster was to have the work of the agency I chose (The Corner) on it to further personalise the message as well as to make it feel more relevant if it were to actually be put on the agency wall. The typeface I chose was impact as it was simple, known and effective.

 

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This is the final version of the poster that I designed to be half of the work, where I thought it was simple but effective and something that would not stay on the agency wall too long but long enough to have its secret effect. And even if it was never taken down then I think the message would still be coming across by itself.

 

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As soon as I knew the results of the experiments and what design considerations I was to make, I immediately had to start making the final prototype as the blu-tac needed time to leave a stain otherwise the project would not be at all effective. So I made the piece and left it for three days so that it could take effect, where as can be seen here, it did. I documented the piece using photographs in stages of taking the blu-tac off, where I was happy with the result but maybe not so much with the rushed outcome itself. 

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