david payne
written blog in response to ITAP lectures
(Intergrating Theory And Practice)

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ITAP Canon 4

It is said that one of the greatest graphic designers that ever lived was an art director, Helmut Krone, the pioneer of contemporary art direction and graphic design. Before Krone advertising wasn’t great; it was all very much the same and basic; all focus was around the product and how great it was, but Krone changed that. 

He understood the audience much better than previous art directors and knew they were much smarter; no one likes to be told to buy something and advertising in the 60’s was a perfect example of this bad advertising. When Krone came along he changed it using wit to advertise the products making it less obvious what the product is straight away and not forcing products on the audience. His adverts were more about engagement with the audience; using clever observation and most importantly advertising the truth about the product/service.

Some of Krone’s breakthrough work includes the ads for Volkswagen (VW), back then VW’s ad agency was DDB (Doyle Dane Bernbach) and I’ve decided to look at the ad agency’s work today who still have VW as clients. DDB’s executive creative director now is Jeremy Craigen. He has been at DDB since 1990 originally as a copywriter, he went on to win awards for his work including VW and other clients. He then made his way to the top through promotions; Director of Creativity to Creative Director to Executive Creative Director.


image to left is a Krone ad, image to right is a Criagen ad. both keeping the same simple witty design ethos, even using the same font. 

One memorable advert for VW is the “Singing in the rain, 2005” spot for Golf GTI; the idea is simple but witty. The ad seems to begin with what you think is original footage from the film Singing in the Rain, then suddenly the music changes to a more upbeat modern style (a remix of the original song by Mint Royale) and the film footage changes; the dancer goes along with the remix and starts dances in a modern street style. The product, the car, appears at the end of the ad with the dancer seeming to be going to his car to discover a traffic attendant/policeman there. The strapline appears at the end “The new Golf GTI. The original, updated.” A really clever idea getting the message across in a witty way; this is the new Golf GTI its still the great original car it was but we’ve updated it and its better!

Craigen has stuck to Krone’s method of design; getting a witty messge across well so that it isn’t obvious that its an advert by entertaining the audience and placing the product expertly.

for more information on how it was produced have a look here, technical thinking behind the problem is very interesting. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4312217.stm

ITAP Canon 3

The best pieces of advertisement work because of simplicity; it is a key factor in any design, less is more is the phrase, which I believe is a great way to think when putting any piece of work together. Overcomplicated design can become messy and a lot of the time the message can become distorted and lost. A clear and simple message is better than a vague or complicated message.

A great recent example of this in advertising is the work of Juan Cabral, Fallon’s creative director. His original ideas express the message in unique ways without overcomplicating the final piece of work. For example his work for Sony Bravia; what Sony wanted to highlight in the adverts was colour, the Bravia TVs had great colour and this was to be the focus point for the series of ads.

A lot of the advertising at the time for TVs focused on the technology and to be honest this wasn’t very interesting. Juan researched into the technology and found out, though common knowledge, that TVs used tiny dots (pixels) of colour, where the idea behind the advert came from. What simpler way to show this than use thousands of coloured balls. Juan’s idea was to film shooting thousands of bouncy balls down the streets of San Francisco; through editing the footage and setting it to the right music the advert was a huge success. Showing that stripping away everything down to the simplest form, coloured balls, works.

Other work from Juan that is notably another of his best pieces is ‘Gorilla’ for Cadbury. One of the most awarded ads of all time, everyone knows it. Again the use of simplicity is key to the ad, nothing more than a man in a gorilla suit playing the drums! A lot of people, non-creatives, would argue that its got nothing to do with Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, but the idea behind the whole advert and the series of ads that followed is Cadbury’s ethos of joy. Juan wanted to communicate the message of “eating chocolate will make you happy” in an exciting different way; a gorilla waiting and then finally getting to play the drums!

The way both these ads were executed carry on the theme of simplicity; the ‘balls’ ad was simply shooting and throwing thousands of bouncy balls and the ‘gorilla’ ad was just a man in a gorilla suit playing the drums. Both these ads could have used CGI but would of never looked as good. For example the gorilla could have been CGI and on a stage in front of a crowd, but no, strip all of that away and just have a simple method in a small studio space. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated, something simple.

ITAP Canon 2

Information design is an important and large part of graphic communication. As visual communicators our job is to communicate messages visually, whereas in information design the task is finding a way to display information in a clear, simple and sometimes in an exciting way. Nowadays information is seen across a variety of medium; print and the quickly growing digital platforms. The way we access and interact with information is changing rapidly, the digital world is expanding and user experience is a key factor for any designer to consider.


A good example of way-finding graphics is Legible London, by the Applied Information Group. The project sees 3 types of on-street signs cleverly designed to suit its environment, the information graphics are clear and very helpful, and using the ‘heads up’ style it’s easy to see which way your facing. More info here: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/microsites/legible-london/4.aspx

The only problem I can see currently with the Legible London project is the lack of digital application; I couldn’t find anywhere on the website digital versions of the maps or an app utilising the technology available nowadays. Legible London project is obviously just an on-street map project for now and it would be stupid of them not to use it in digital medium.


A really good example of maps utilising the digital medium is the Brighton maps available online to download from VisitBrighton and the app version available on the iPhone. A very similar style to Legible London that is clear and simple and works great as a PDF download that can either be viewed on-screen or printed out. The app works great as it keeps the same map style but introduces interactive elements like pinch-to-zoom feature to focus in areas of the map you want to view and a great feature to change your view to specify what your looking for; attractions, shopping and nightlife views displaying the same map but with different information on each view. Also a nice feature is the optional walking distance graphics available to let you know how far away everything is to where you are. The thing I found disappointing with the app is the lack interactive elements such as links to more information on certain attractions, which I thought, would have been quite basic.

Other digital platforms to look at in way-finding and map information graphics could be moving image or interactive displays you could find again in public places at information points. More common information points are appearing in the form of touchscreen points where user interface, accessibility and simplicity are key. Why not apply this to maps?

ITAP Canon 1

“the creative process is not performed by the skilled hand alone, but must be a unified process in which the “head, heart, and hand play a simultaneous role” Herbert Bayer.

This statement is spot on in the creative process and a great way of simplifying each stage. Initially you have the thinking process, the stage where you research, come up with your ideas and develop them; experimentation is a key part also the stage where you apply the “both sides of the brain’ technique” (play/evaluate). This first stage of the process in Bayer’s quote is the “head”.

“Heart” is where the designers own beliefs and ethics may affect the design; the way it looks, the way its made and most importantly the message it puts across. As designers we have the power to influence what people think and if a designer believes in something they can put it across in their work. This is more for what is known as expressive graphics; graphics to express, to debate and to opine.

And finally putting these two together, the ideas and beliefs, you make something. Which of course is using the “hand”; from everything you’ve found out and thought you can use your technical skills to design a final concept.

These final designs can come under a basic three categories; design for invitation, design for information and expressive graphics. Design for invitation is design that’s intended to invite the audience to something, persuade them to do something or to engage their audience. These sort of graphics are usually adverts; an offer, service but could also be communicating an idea. Designing for information has a simple purpose, it’s to communicate complex data or information to a certain audience in the simplest way possible. This can be anything from map/way-finding graphics, bills/letters, textbooks, info leaflets/brochures, etc. And expressive graphics, as touched on before, are graphics that communicate the designers or someone’s beliefs or point of view.

ITAP week 9

An image can say a thousand things. A standalone image can mean anything depending on who’s looking at it, it could mean anything; images are interpreted entirely by the audience. Change the context of the image; where it is, how it’s presented, what it says next to it can suggest something completely different to what you may have interpreted if the image was on its own. This is why context is an important aspect to consider during design.

During this lecture and looking at all the artist examples given, a photographic series came to mind; i remember seeing on the Creative Review blog a series of photographs of empty roads. Without the context the images are open to interpretation but with the context in place the images straight away have a very different feel about them. ‘Death Drive’ by Dean Rogers is a series photographing the places where ‘nine cultural heroes’ famously died in car accidents. Rogers photographed these places on the anniversary of the deaths, supposedly at the exact time and place of impact; giving the images a lot more meaning and great feel about them; this was the last place they saw as they died.

Jackson Pollock, August 11, 1956
http://www.bluntlondon.com/work.php?id=240 (last accessed 28th Nov. 2011)

James Dean / Sept 30th 1955
http://www.bluntlondon.com/work.php?id=240 (last accessed 28th Nov. 2011)

With the context in place the images are much more meaningful and the viewer can understand more clearly what the artist is trying to express. Without the right context the images can mean anything and easily be misinterpreted, making the images almost meaningless. This is the importance of context for any artist or designer; none or poor context can be an immediate fail; the right message won’t be received by the viewer; the work/design has failed to do what it is here for. As visual communicators communicating a message is the most important thing; if the context is right, a message will be communicated.

ITAP week 8

The first book printed in Europe was the Gutenberg Bible.

Printing is seen as one of the most technical advances especially from a visual communicator’s point of view. This type of printing was invented by Johan Gutenberg in the 15th century in Germany, although in China they had been mass producing books since the 9th century, but Gutenberg’s process made it easier to produce more copies of the same text quickly.

 (last accessed 22nd Dec.. 2011)

"The Ink: The ink used by Gutenberg was also a new development. It was not really ink at all, more like a varnish or oil paint. Unlike writing-ink it is oil-based, not based on water. Water-based ink would simply run off the metal types whereas the thick, viscous oil-based varnish sticks to them.
The Paper: European paper was made from recycled linen clothes. The paper used in the Gutenberg Bible was imported from Caselle in Piedmont, Northern Italy being one of the most important centres for paper-making in the 15th century.
The Type: Gutenberg invented a way of mass-producing individual pieces of type in metal (roughly speaking, one for each character of the alphabet, punctuation and other signs) so they could be set up to be printed on a printing press, and then be reused.
Composition: A compositor’s job consisted in composing individual pieces of type together to form words, lines, columns and finally whole pages. He would copy from a manuscript which he had in front of him, so had to be able to read.
The Press: The printing press was essential for making the whole process fast and so, ultimately, commercially viable. Also compared with rubbing it saved a lot of money, for one could use both sides of the paper.
The Gatherings: The Gutenberg Bible is described as a ‘folio’; this refers to how the paper has been folded. A book in folio is made up by sheets of paper or vellum folded once in the middle, making up two leaves (or four pages).”

text above taken from http://www.bl.uk/treasures/gutenberg/homepage.html
(last accessed 22nd Dec. 2011)

Design Workflow Diagram

ITAP week 7

Nowadays there is a massive variety of platforms that TV series, films, musicians, etc can use to promote their work and push out new interesting material. I find the way the music industry uses multiple platforms to extend the musicians work; in terms of visual communication you have the traditional music video and album cover, and if you’re lucky a ‘deluxe edition’ that may include a book of some sort. But by using the internet and digital platforms the creative possibilities can be endless.

Arcade Fire ‘The Suburbs’ album cover
http://www.caroline-robert.com (last accessed 26th Nov. 2011)

A good example is Arcade Fire and their latest album ‘The Suburbs’. You have the album artwork (collaboration between Caroline Robert and Vincent Morisset) using photography and handwritten text. Cleverly they pushed the use of this artwork to make listening to digital files more visually interesting; resulting in each track having its own individual image and handwritten lyrics syncing with the song. I really like this idea as it brings back the physical touch that we’re losing through digitalisation.

Morisset: “I thought about the relation we have with the vinyl cardboard cover or the paper booklet while listening to the songs. Flipping through the lyrics, looking at a band picture or a cool drawing related to a song while listening to it. With the mp3 player, we lost that. I wanted to find a way to get closer to that experience again.”

examples of individual images and syncing handwritten lyrics on iPhone
http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2010/august/arcade-fires-synchronised-artwork (last accessed 26th Nov. 2011)

The deluxe version of the album comes with an 80-page booklet (containing B&W photographs by Eric Kayne and illustrations) and a short film ‘Scenes from the Suburbs’ directed by Spike Jonze. 

All the singles released also have their own music videos as do nearly all singles do today, but Arcade Fire have employed the increasingly popular interactive music video that allow the audience to engage with the visuals. Such as interacting with dancers on screen via webcam movement and an interactive film by Chris Milk which uses google maps to show the users own hometown with other imagery through different pop-up windows. Really exciting stuff worth checking out for yourself.

click images below to watch short film trailer and interactive videos


images above from left to right:
(last accessed 22nd Dec. 2011)

ITAP week 6

A visual communicator needs to promote the work they do; get it out there so people will find them with the main goal to get more people to hire them. A lot of this work is self-promotional pieces showcasing their talents in their practice and most of the time can be more experimental than the work they would be commissioned to do by a client. Various platforms are used to exhibit their personal/self-promotional work, from internet based media; portfolio sites and the growth in use social networking, blogging, facebook, twitter, flickr, etc. This can vary to more traditional platforms such as galleries, self-promoting books, prints, free postcards, poster/flyers, even stickers.

Illustrator, Mr Bingo, uses various platforms well to get his work out there and the returns in commissions have been kind! Firstly he takes advantage of the social network sites; using twitter as place to say what he thinks and post images he uses as inspiration, sort of an online journal that he shares with the rest of the world. A facebook fan site which contains a mixture of current work and finished work, also he’s on flickr using it as a place to put images that inspire him; from collecting vintage postcards to handmade sign type he sees on a day to day basis. Most importantly is his website which contains all his work and acts as his online portfolio showing the various clients he’s worked for and the different types of media he’s worked with.

During the Haiti disaster he produced 2 screen printed signed postcards and sold them @£5 each with everything going towards the charity Haiti relief (raised £2485). From one point this is a selfless act raising money for a great cause with the illustrator not receiving anything for doing this… but he is receiving something. With everyone buying his mini works news quickly travelled round the web of what he was doing; appearing on various blogs and sites he has managed to get his name about to more people, which in some cases can lead onto commissions. This was a very clever piece of self-promotional work; giving something to a great cause but also advertising himself.

'Hait relief' postcards ready for delivery

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mr-Bingo/213800635968 (last accessed 8th Nov. 2011)

These various platforms show how diverse he can be and therefore more hire-able to clients; he’s illustrated books, magazine, newspapers, websites, adverts, prints, murals, etc. I think Mr Bingo most effective work using a platform to enhance its communication is a recent piece for the Byron Hamburger restaurant; he’s produced an illustration to cover 2 walls which has been painted in black on a white wall. This large scale piece will grab everyone’s attention (you can’t help but look at it because of the clean design of the restaurant) and is basically showcasing his work permanently. 

http://www.mr-bingo.org.uk (last accessed 8th Nov. 2011)

ITAP week 5

Legibility in means of visual communication is how successful a message is communicated; if it is legible the message is understandable and therefore seen as a successful piece of visual communication.

In visual communication typography has strong links with legibility; how readable is the typeface? Helvetica is seen to be the most legible typeface because of its simple and clean design. The popular typeface has sparked debate through its mainstream use, so much for Gary Huswit to make a documentary on the typeface including opinions of well known designers. I remember from watching the documentary at sixth form finding the work of David Carson. His work questions legibility and I find it interesting how far he pushes this experimental design most famously in the magazine Ray Gun, which he was art director. Most of the layouts in the magazine were highly experimental, avoiding the normal grid layouts and allowing the interesting style to explode.

Bryan Ferry spread from ‘Ray Gun’, issue 21, 1994.
http://typegeek.com/history/dingbats (last accessed 8th Nov. 2011)

The layout above is from the magazine Ray Gun where Carson has questioned legibility to an extreme by using the font Zapf Dingbats; a font consisting of abstract symbols making the article completely illegible. In the documentary Carson explains he decided to put the article in this form because it was ‘boring’ and ‘not worth reading’! This editorial experiment has produced what I think is a great piece of design and expressing the designers in an interesting way.

Visual hierarchy is another aspect important to visual communication; it is the way the audience engage with the piece of work. What do they look at first and last? As designers we can control the way the audience look at the work using size, colour and placement.

In terms of magazine design there is an obvious hierarchy; titles, sub-titles, body text, images, captions, etc. all have their place. Titles are generally larger and bolder so they are the first thing seen and give a brief insight to what the article is about. Sub-titles follow giving a bit more information, then obviously the smaller body text. Images can come either before or after titles depending on their size and affect.

Using a mock layout I produced while playing around in inDesign as an example to show visual hierarchy. The first thing the audience will notice is the photograph because of its size and more notably the left page; the big face. This is obviously noticed first because of the size of the photographs main content. Next is the title which is the largest text on the page which is then followed by the body text. If I was improving this spread I would firstly want the title text to be larger so it would be more noticeable straight away, possibly more noticeable than the photograph as the image seems to be overpowering the rest of the spread. I could do this by placing a larger title over the ‘face’ or making the background image smaller or more faded.

ITAP week 4

Research is an important to a designer; it is the initial stage of a project to gain a deep understanding of the chosen subject. Through thorough research, looking at it in various ways, the final work will be more meaningful as it is being portrayed in a full understanding, and not superficially. Visual research is collecting images, taking photographs, making drawings, making images, and reading…  it keeps us in a constant process of inquiry, making us want to delve in to the subject further. Visual research provides you with a collection of material to refer back to and use when coming up with ideas.

Research is important to any illustrator; a good example of this is looking at Marion Deuchars portfolio. She has a sketchbook section on her website displaying her primary research; drawings, collages, photographs. Putting this on her portfolio shows the importance of it to her and how useful collecting research is for reference and inspiration. Looking at her ‘sketchbook’ section you can see where she takes certain elements from her research and applies it to her work; a lot of her photos are of hand drawn/painted type on building which can be reference material for her own hand drawn typography.

http://mariondeuchars.com/ (last accessed 20th Oct. 2011)

Visual research is where designers gain their inspiration, through collecting, observing, drawing and then experimenting; that is why research is an important part of the design process and more importantly a designer’s life. A designer should be constantly thinking like a designer; seeing everything as inspiration and taking stuff (through drawing, photographing and collecting) they see as something they like and will inspire them.

ITAP week 2

We learn new skills everyday through personal experience; our curiosity drives us to investigate and try new things out to keep us up to date with our fast moving lifestyle. Our thinking patterns are subject to the way we’ve been trained; education teaches us the way things work from a young age and attempts to control us. This affects our thinking patterns and can limit idea generation; only looking at things from one perspective or in one direction. We need to remain creative and generate original ideas through various creative thinking processes that allow us to push ideas in unthinkable directions. Developing this creative thought is very important; the way you get to an idea is just as important as the final outcome.

Approach problems with an open mind and start with a fresh perspective. Release yourself from habitual behaviour which can lead you into rigid ideas; ideas with no depth, ideas that don’t make people think… dull ideas. Noma Bar looks at ideas from different perspective; his work will make people look twice and think about it, he seamlessly brings two different aspects into one vector silhouette. People can interpret the hidden messages in his images through looking at the image and thinking about it, they receive a satisfaction when they’ve worked out the image. This is a great way to put across a message because they’ve had to go through a thought process to get to there; so therefore as they’ve thought about it for slightly longer, than a straightforward message, it will stay in their mind for longer.

(last accessed 10th Oct. 2011)

Creativity is much influenced by everything around us, from advertising, images, music, people, etc. and the work an artist/designer produces can be heavily influenced by their working environment and personal interests.

The working environment is important to the artist/designer as it’s the place where they’ll make their work and also an important thinking place. The workplace can help creative thought and development of ideas; inspiring images stuck to the wall is a great way of improving a workplace, by having these images in front of you all the time it can constantly provide inspiration. Similar to this is collecting (the passionate activity of appreciation, selection and classification) which can provide a source of reference but also reflecting a designers own personal interest.

A good example of collecting is illustrator Mr Bingo, he’s always kept a large collection of vintage postcards that he’s liked or found interesting.  I don’t think it’s had a direct influence on his work but they could be used as reference points for his illustrations. Another example, illustrator/artist Tinhead seems to collect vintage images of landscapes which he frequently uses in his work, re-working them again and again to create a new image.

still from ‘BLAB talk - Mr Bingo’
http://vimeo.com/20786870 (last accessed 9th Oct. 2011)

tinhead’s work environment
http://blessingforce.tumblr.com/post/11118014378 (last accessed 9th Oct. 2011)

I’ve started a collection of images on my wall, anything really that I like, from artists/designers/illustrators work, random images, photographs and also some of my own work; so while working I can use these as inspiration. I’m also going to start putting up images related to the current project so I’ve got everything relevant in front of me while I’m working for direct reference.