Monday, 20 December 2010

Recycling Posters - Reviewed


As I will be designing and making my own recycling poster after Christmas, I decided to review some existing posters to help me decide on a design and to give me some ideas about what does and doesn't work when designing something that should influence people.
I found these posters on Google Images and decided to talk about them, as they are all images that grabbed my attention.

Poster One - Bottled Water

This is a poster from the USA which addresses the issue of recycling plastic water bottles. The poster opens with a list of facts about the vast amount of water that is consumed globally. After giving you such basic facts about water, the poster talks about the small number of bottles that are recycled. These facts are interesting enough to keep someone interested while looking at the poster, which is long enough to get the message across and urge the viewer to recycle.
From a design point of view, the poster is well designed using blue, black and white as a simple colour scheme. The images create a simplified explanation of the facts written in text, to make it easier to understand.
The poster involves the viewer with the tag line "It's Up To You to Change the World" which puts responsibility on the viewer to take action in a way that suggests "We've told you what impact your wastefullness has, now go and think about what you've done". As much as I tend to dislike posters that try to guilt people into taking action, I find that this one works very well.
The tag line is definitely something I would consider utilising in my own design, as it is very thought provoking and tag lines are a valuable tool in advertising. I'm not 100% sure I'd use a line like "It's Up To You To Change The World", but I'd certainly like to try and use an inspiring line for viewers of my poster to take away when they stop looking at my poster.

Poster Two - Recycling Saves Energy

Another poster that feeds you plenty of facts, this poster shows the effect recycling can have on saving energy. It's laid out in a more informative way than a traditional poster, and much like the previous poster, it uses images to explain the concepts expressed in the text.
Just like the last poster, the colour scheme is very basic and fairly easy on the eyes. The fonts are easily read and clearly stand out on the paper. My only issue with the type  is the handwritten-style font on the right hand side (under the big orange type). This text is slightly hard to read and doesn't really fit with the basic style of the rest of the type at all.
The layout is basic and leads your eyes across the page in the style it should be read, which avoids confusion, but the landscape style of the poster is off-putting as most posters are portrait and at first this different orientation can be uneasy on the eye.
In terms of what I would use from this in my own work, I would probably like to use a simple colour scheme like this poster (though I don't know if I would personally use orange, green and blues), because I like the uniform feel a set colour scheme gives.

 Poster Three - Cans and Televisions

This poster is much more basic in its design than the previous two. It invokes a less cheery mood, the harshness of the black background immediately grabbing attention, and it is much more minimalistic with only one fact on display.
The recycle logo, with the cans within it, is really eyecatching. The folds of the logo (where the arrow folds to make a right angle) are still apparent with a change in the colour and pattern of the cans.
The text on this poster is very simplistic - no special fonts or colours. The text is easy to read and could potentially be viewed from a distance without much involvement from the viewer unlike the previous posters which would require the viewer to get much closer to the poster. 
The fact on this poster - "Recycling a single can saves enough energy to power a television for three hours" - is a simple fact that immediately provokes a reaction in the viewer. This poster could potentially be placed in a cafe or a shop and the viewer may well have a can in their hand as they read it. The fact makes the simple statement that it doesn't take much effort to make a difference when it comes to recycling.
I would take inspiration from the recycle logo in this poster. I have toyed with the idea of doing something inventive with the recycle logo, and the use of the cans here is exactly the kind of thing I had in mind.

Poster Four - Recycled Poster

I like clever posters, and this last poster fits that criteria nicely. Still in a very simple style, it delivers just enough information to make a point. The fundamental message of the poster is to encourage people to recycle paper, and it displays this by telling you what the poster 'used to be'. The likelihood that every one of these posters was originally advertising a frisbee game is unlikely, but this design allows a lot of room for different versions. So many things are printed on paper: there is potential for a whole range of these posters ("This piece of paper used to be a restaurant napkin", "This piece of paper used to be a business document", etc).
The colour scheme is basic and the font is easy to read, and the hints of blue indicate the presence of blue bins all around you where you can recycle paper. This makes a statement that you may not have noticed the bins before, much like you may not have particularly thought the blue text was particularly remarkable.
In terms of the layout, I like how the text is shaped like one of the arrows on the recycle logo. At first glance, I didn't notice this and was very confused by the placement of the text, but the clever way it was arranged seems to further get the message across once you notice it. The style of the poster is clever and the eye is naturally drawn down to the recycle logo and the 'look for the blue bins near you' line.
My only real irritation with this poster is the indication that it used to be an ad for a frisbee game, when the folded up corner (indicating the poster's supposed past) clearly shows it used to advertise 'Soccer Practice'. A small slip up like that is slightly grating, and may make readers of the poster less likely to believe and act upon the message the poster portrays.
I would like to make use of the positioning of text in my work, because I find the formation of the text into the recycle arrow really inventive and clever.


I have learned a lot from these reviews. I already had several ideas for what I would like to do in my own work, but my reviews definitely gave me more feedback on what I should and shouldn't do to make my poster effective and interesting to look at. The reviews have helped me pinpoint aspects of design that grab attention and leave an impact on the people who view them, and this will help me create a poster which is informative, persuasive and interesting to look at.
My next step in the design process will be to draw some sketches and concepts for the design of my poster. I will begin to focus on the elements of design I intend to use. I will also start my sketches of small electrical goods which I will later work from to create my poster.

Design Proposal - Recycling Poster

This is a proposal for an upcoming project after Christmas, based around recycling. Many people know to recycle paper, plastic and other regular household rubbish, but may not realise the extent to which many other household items can be recycled. This poster should be focused on the recycling of small electrical goods, which many people do not realise they can recycle, and instead take them to landfill which is not good for the environment.

In the first week of my project, I plan to research artists whose work focuses on the environment. I will use artists that make use of rubbish to make their art (John Dahlsen, Steve Oatway), as well as artists who draw, paint and use other more traditional forms (Michael West).
I will also make studies of damaged electrical goods using traditional media (pencil, charcoal, etc). These goods will be the goods the poster is asking people to recycle, and will form the basis of work I will do in the future.

John Dahlsen is an Australian artist who makes sculptures based on flotsam found on the coastline in Australia. He has made work with plastic bags and recycled flip flops. I find his work particularly interesting because it transforms one item used for a particular purpose into a completely new item with a new purpose.

Human/Nature by Michael West -

Michael West makes paintings, sculptures and drawings based on the state of humans in the environment. He also makes a lot of recycled artwork, similar to John Dahlsen.

Steve Oatway makes sculptures from waste metal, in a similar way to John Dahlsen. He is an Australian 'junk artist' (much like John Dahlsen) who's motto is "Other people's trash is my treasure".

In the next week I will focus my research on artists who design posters, and look at the ways posters are designed to inspire a response and attract attention. I will also draw some layouts and sketches of possible designs for my own poster.

Once all of my research is done, I will focus my attention on putting together my poster. I will try out different techniques and use the sketches I made to create different images I can later use on a poster. I really like the idea of using the damaged goods to form a different image that will carry my message (e.g. putting together a collection of old mobile phones to form a recycling symbol when viewed from above).

My final poster will be made using the images I have created, in a layout that I have either chosen myself or found from another artist.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Dan Mumford's Incredible Drawings

Back when I took my Art GCSE, I found Dan Mumford. His work is stunning, full of detail and colour and strong lines. He is a huge inspiration to me and I have always wanted to draw to the same standard as he does.

Dan Mumford's work has been found all over the alternative scene. His work has featured in Atticus Clothing and DCMA Clothing, and he has done work for bands such as Protest the Hero, Funeral for a Friend and The Black Dahlia Murder.

Just looking at the incredible attention to detail in his work makes me burn with envy. It can take Dan months to perfect a piece, but each piece is of the same incredible quality as the next.
Dan describes himself as an Illustrator/Designer/Screen Printer, but I can only think of one word that truly sums him up: Genius.

Fitvibe Health - More Than Just A Poster, It's a Workout

If you ask a vast majority of people, they're probably not getting as much exercise as they need, and many ads for gym memberships these days are drab and boring. Shock tactics and scaremongery about obesity and heart diease seem to be conditioned into us and we're so used to seeing ads like that, so many of us just don't care.

So when I stumbled upon this gem of advertising for Fitvibe Health, I laughed and then smiled with pride knowing that surely someone got a gym membership based on this ad:

Just try and read it. Go on. Left to right, read it. And see if you're not at least smiling when you finish it.

Fitvibe's "Free Workout" ad finishes with 'How is this for a start?' in that way that suggests it's basically saying "You see how easy it is to exercise? Come on, you can do it, we gave you a head start." and that's a refreshing thing to hear. So many people think it's hard to fit exercise into their lives, but here Fitvibe has just given you a little workout of your own and you barely even noticed you were doing it.

I'd love to see more genius adverts like this one, that are not only effective but also very entertaining. Sure, this ad isn't designed with perfectly crafted fonts or interesting colours, but it does the job and makes you smile along the way. What more could you really ask for in an ad?

Stars - The Beauty of Typography

This is an interesting and inspiring piece of typography I stumled across on I Love Typography. As a whole, I like typography, but I find a lot of the time it's hard for me to get genuinely excited about a collection of letters.
However, this image, titled 'Stars' that I found has a much more inspiring, exciting approach:

This piece uses a quote from one of my all-time favourite artists, Vincent Van Gogh, which is always a point of interest for me. The quote itself is all about dreaming and that despite the fact nothing is really certain, the imagination is always there for enjoyment and freedom.

The piece itself is really exquisitely put together. I am not a big fan of obnoxious curly fonts, but the swirls and elegant twists that border this quote are perfectly placed and add to the 'dream like' quality of this piece.

At a closer look, you'll see that the lettering itself is made of tons of tiny stars:

This not only adds a brilliant 'distressed' look to the overall type, but it also fills me with a genuine sense of awe and pride that someone took the time to pay attention to the small details of this piece. Typography is often there to grab attention from a distance, and it's nice to have an artist pay attention to such a small detail in his work.

Lights and Bricks - Photography in the Run-up to Christmas

-- Originally found on [daily dose of imagery]

With Christmas just a week away, everyone seems to be rushing around in a mad dash to buy presents, food and decorations in time for the big celebration next week. With so much tension and stress around, it can be hard to stop and just look at all the wonderful things happening at this time of year.

Sam Javanrouh at [daily dose of imagery] has taken the time to capture one of these wonderful moments with todays photograph 'lights and bricks'. The photograph captures a moment where shoppers are still rushing around, oblivious to the lovely display of lights scattered above them like stars.

This photograph, taken at the Christmas Market in the Distillery District in Canada where the artist lives, shows the brilliant transformation an ordinary street makes into a world of busy shoppers and beautiful lights. The layout of the shot draws the eye down the street to the collection of bright lights and decorations in the distance, and the green and red tones on either side of the street add to the wonderful Christmassy air the whole photo takes on.

Just looking at this photo brings a feast to the senses. Bright lights and beautiful colours feed the eyes and the scene brings the sound of chattering crowds and footsteps along with it. This photograph plants you right at the heart of the Christmas rush, without even setting foot outside your home.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Google Reader

Google Reader is one of those "Oh, how clever" inventions that allows me to view all the blogs I'm following in one place, really easily.
As well as viewing them all in one place, I can also view them as one-by-one blogs by clicking on the blog titles in the sidebar.
The Reader is quite an efficient way to view blogs, and it's definitely a feature I will make use of.

Is This Shade of Grey Acceptable? - Genius Street Art

-- Originally found on NOTCOT.ORG

Street art is a phenomenon that, by now, has been made popular enough that everyone's used to it.
Who hasn't seen all of the brilliant work Banksy made himself famous with, or the familiar 'OBEY' poster popularised by Shepard Fairey?
But British street artist Mobstr has an incredibly new and different look at the covering up of street art:

Street art, of course, is an often overlooked artform by the majority of people who see it merely as vandalism. The covering up of genius pieces of street art is well discussed these days, and it's nice to see someone like Mobstr addressing the subject, instead of just creating his art and hoping it will stay put.
Street art is a temporary artform, and without the beauty of photography Mobstr's work would probably have never been documented. It is a crying shame that such genius pieces of art must be covered, but, as Mobstr remarks, some people are content with living in a world made from shades of grey.
And besides, without unfair rules in place, what else will we rebel against?

The UCAS Fair

On the 29th of November we went to Manchester for the UCAS Fair there. This fair featured universities from across the country showcasing only their arts-related courses.
My intentions, on my way to the fair, were to find courses in photography. I like design, but I feel my skills lie in the photography area, and I enjoy photography much more. I was open to new ideas, but I had a fair idea of what I was really looking for.

I looked at a lot of Photography courses. These days, almost every university runs a course in Photography, but every course I found seemed to be totally commercial - photographs for advertising, leaflets, magazines. I don't dislike these photographs, but they certainly don't grab my enthusiasm immediately. I like photography with a story and a meaning.

I then found Northumbria University. There were lots of interesting photographs up around their stall, and once I was drawn in, I asked about their course. The lady I spoke to described it as "Fine Art Photography", though the course is actually called "Contemporary Photographic Practice".
I asked what the course entailed, what was I going to be doing during my time, and the answer I recieved sounded perfect.
"You take your time to discover the subject matter that interests you, and then you can base all your briefs around the subjects that interest you the most. If you like portraiture, we won't try and force you into landscapes."
I was never happier. The idea of taking my own brand of personal, emotionally charged, inspiring portrait photos was a prospect that had me giddy. I continued to ask and everything I discovered just seemed to click very perfectly.
I remember walking out of the stall with glee saying "Thats the one, that's the one!" over and over to myself.

After my joyous encounter with Northumbria University, I'd discovered that my chosen artform had a name, Fine Art Photography, and I no longer had to trawl through commercial courses to find another decent one.
I found another, very similar course at Nottingham Trent University. This course was just 'Photography' by name, but the subject matter was very similar, allowing personal growth and study within an area that genuinely interests me, as opposed to trying to enjoy a subject I greatly dislike.

Out of the two courses, I would prefer Northumbria University based purely on how perfectly the course seemed to fit with me. Both universities are close to home, but far away enough to allow me my own independance, which is another important point for me.

Upon leaving the fair, I was filled with much more determination to succeed at my current course, knowing I now have a realistic goal for my future to work towards.

Why I Followed: san francisco daily photography

The last blog I followed was san francisco daily photography, a blog from a photographer who takes his pictures around San Francisco.
As you may have guessed by now, I have a huge interest in photography, and this blog has some beautiful, inspiring, moving photographs which tell the story of daily life in one city.
As the title suggests, the blog updates every day, which will give me something to talk about on a daily basis. Admittedly, some of the photos are not to my tastes, but most of them are well done and can inspire a blog-worthy response from me.

Much like the [daily dose of imagery] blog, this blog's focus is on the photographs. Links are around the photographs and very little comment is made.
The one thing i do dislike is the 'previous' and 'next' link buttons which are found on mouseover of the photographs. They don't particularly fit in with any colour schemes or themes on the blog, and they obstruct the photographs slightly.

This blog is definitely the most inspiring and moving blog on my list, and is always the first one I check upon signing into Blogger. Expect a lot of inspirational talk if I come to blog about a photograph from here.

Why I Followed: Kuriositas

The next blog I followed was Kuriositas. Kuriositas has a bit of everything - art, animation, photography, science and architecture.
My main reason for following, however, was because Kuriositas is the first blog I have discovered which posts short films and animations found around the web. As someone with a growing interest in film, I am over the moon to find a blog based around short films, as opposed to a lot of the 'movie review' blogs I came across before that only reviewed the big Hollywood blockbusters.
Short films, animations and music videos are my main interests as a growing filmmaker myself, and checking out Kuriositas will definitely inspire me for future projects of my own.

The blog is laid out in a column style, using white, orange and blacks/greys for the colour scheme. The blog also includes a header, and there are links to the various 'topics' used in the blog (There is, for instance, an Animation link and a Short Films link, both of which i will probably use a lot!)
Out of the few column stye blogs I've seen, this one probably inspired me the most with my own design as I used the basic white/black/grey scheme, my own header and a hint of colour (in my case, blue).

Out of all the blogs I have followed, this and NOTCOT.ORG will probably be the ones I blog about the most, based on the quality and frequency of the content.

Why I Followed: Sketches and Doodles by Edwin Rhemrev

The third blog on my list is Sketches and Doodles by Edwin Rhemrev - a blog written by a concept artist who posts sketches and drawings. I like his work because of the style - almost like a children's book - an the variety of media he uses for his work (some are in pen, some are in Photoshop, etc).

The blog's layout is very basic- black and white in the same column style as my own blog.
As with the [daily dose of imagery] blog, the focus is on the content and a simple layout assists that concept nicely.
The whole blog is lit up by the colourful, creative drawings it features and this compliments the simplicity of the blog nicely.

I find Edwin's drawings inspiring and enchanting, and I hope to blog about them in the future.

Why I Followed: NOTCOT.ORG

The next blog on my list is NOTCOT.ORG - a blog described as "For your ideas, aesthetics and amusement".
The blog posts pieces of brilliant photography and a lot of product and graphic design pieces that have what I call the 'Oh That's Clever Effect'.
There is some comment made on each piece posted, with a link to the original location the piece was found. In the future I can imagine posting a lot of things I find on this blog.

The blog is laid out in a grid, with each post represented as a polaroid photograph. Previous pages are found at the bottom of the page.
Again, if I wasn't so obsessed with writing a lot, I'm sure my blog would look a lot like this!
I did take some inspiration from NOTCOT for my colour scheme, though, using cool greys, blacks and white.

Why I Followed: [daily dose of imagery]

The first blog on my Blog List is [daily dose of imagery] - a photography blog/site that posts a new photograph every day.
Admittedly, the blog lacks much 'comment' on the images posted, but the images are inspiring and well-made, and I can usually find a lot to say about the images I see there.

Layout-wise, the blog is simplistic, and puts 100% of the focus on the photographs. The actual blog lacks any real colour, but a pale colour scheme helps bring out more colours on the photographs.
There are a lot of links above and below each photograph, but they do not impose on the content.
The 'day before' and 'day after' buttons that let you switch between posts are a little bit easy to miss, but they don't get in the way of the photographs, which is a big pet peeve of mine.

As my blog is more text-based, I didn't take much layout inspiration from [daily dose of imagery], but I will probably respond to their photographs a lot in the future.

Monday, 22 November 2010

BA (Hons) Graphic Design/Photography at University of Chester

The third course I found was a BA (Hons) course in Graphic Design with Photography at University of Chester. This is a joint degree course, which, according to the course information, is:
"A combined honours degree enables you to combine two subjects from different areas, or two subjects that are complementary, and is ideal for those students who wish to keep their options open. At the University of Chester, two subjects can be studied equally or in a major/minor combination."
This choice of major/minor or equal study of both subjects allows the modules to be split according to what students want to study, which is perfect for me. I like both Graphic Design and Photography, and would like to look into furthering my skills in both subjects. A joint degree would be perfect for this, and would allow me to study more or less of either subject as it suits me.

While the university lists a small list of facilities for photography, there certainly aren't as many avaiable facilities as the previous two places I had found. However, photography studios and darkrooms are still available on this course, and those are particularly interesting to me.

If I were to study this course, I might consider studying major Photography and minor Graphic Design as a way to phase myself into a career in Photography. However, I might find a career in Design is more interesting, and this course allows me to take that option also.

To get onto this course, I would be expected to get between 200 and 240 UCAS points, which is roughly a MMM grade on my current Extended Diploma.

BA (Hons) Photography at Leeds College of Art

The second course I found was a BA (Hons) course in Photography at Leeds College of Art. This course lasts for three years and is a full Degree course.
This course is very similar to the Photography (with Video) course at Leicester College, but it is a full Degree and doesn't include the Video units.

Like the course at Leicester, this course allows students to experience various areas of photography:
"The course addresses contemporary practice in four main areas:
    * Journalism/documentary
    * Fashion/lifestyle
    * Advertising/commercial
    * Gallery/Fine Art
Thought-provoking modules will provide you with opportunities to explore both commercial and personally creative work.
The course structure enables you to work within your chosen genre, resulting in a portfolio of work that is relevant for specific areas of employment/progression upon completion of the course."
 I like the way this course allows you to study within your area of choice so that your work is relevant when looking for a job, but I don't know if I am that certain about the area I would like to work in, and would certainly not want to start working in one area to later wish I'd chosen another. These are, of course, questions I would have to ask before choosing to apply.

In terms of facilities, the university offers a lot of resources:
"You will have access to 35mm, medium and large-format cameras, medium-format digital back and digital SLRs. You will also use our fully equipped lighting studios, two large darkrooms and 35mm, medium- and large-format capabilities (black and white), colour film processing and Hasselblad negative scanner (from 35mm to large format). We have two computer suites with Apple Mac G5s, all with up-to-date industry-standard software. A digital video-editing suite and a range of DV cameras are also available. We provide access to all the necessary specialist library publications and contemporary journals."
The resources include plenty of equipment I would be interested in working with: lighting studios, darkrooms and a wide variety of cameras (including 35mm cameras which I would absolutely love to work with!).

Details on UCAS points needed and other qualifications for this particular course are not listed, but I would easily be able to find this information out if I decided to apply.

Photography (with Video) at Leicester College

Taking a look at my options for courses after college, I found 4 courses that interest me.

The first of these four courses was Photography (with Video), a Foundation Degree course at Leicester College. The course lasts for two years and is a vocational course that can be turned into a full degree.
I find the course really interesting because I have a keen interest in both photography and video, but the fact it is a Foundation Degree is not quite as satisfying, as I was hoping to find a full Degree course that would cover both Photography and Video.

In an ideal world, I would like to be a freelance photographer after I have finished education, and this course clearly lists freelance photography as a career I could get into from this course.

The course features historical and contemporary photography techniques and study and offers a chance to experience editorial, fashion, studio and creative photography before choosing to specialise in one particular genre. I am not 100% sure which genre of photography I would enjoy the most, which is another positive point about this course - the chance to experience a variety of choices before making a final decision to specialise. This is also another reason I chose Photography with Video, as I am interested in both and am not sure which I would like more, though I have more experience with photography.

There are plenty of facilities available for use at the college, including:
"Full range of photographic equipment ranging from medium format/large format cameras through to the latest digital SLR's
Industry standard photographic studios
Black and White film and print darkrooms
Traditional hand print colour darkrooms
Digital Imaging centre
Apple Mac G5 studio
Learning Resource Centre"
All of this sounds very interesting to me, especially the darkrooms as I have never used a darkroom before and the process interests me greatly.

The course requires only 80 UCAS points and seems like a very interesting pathway to a career in photography or video. If I had to decide right now, this would probably be my first choice

Monday, 15 November 2010

Body Type: Sang Bleu

- Featured in Eye Magazine, Summer 2009 (Author: Keith Miller)

Sang Bleu is an exquisitely designed magazine - a heady mix of fetishism, art, philosophy and popular culture

I love tattoo art. I love design. I love typography. And I rather like fashion design, when done well.
When I stumbled upon Sang Bleu featured in Eye Magazine, I was blown away by the brilliant work on display. Sang Bleu, while a tattoo-focused magazine, is not your typical BMEzine or other tattoo 'mag'.
Sang Bleu is extroadinarily well designed, laid out with care and attention and written with profound insight. The typefaces of the B&P Typefoundry are also featured throughout the publication.
Keith Miller of Eye Magazine describes Sang Bleu:
"The magazine's many photo stories range between a slick, fetishy eroticism, with leather bra'd Sapphists tussling in nightclub lavatories, to a more detached, documentary or even anthropological approach. Where clothes are worn, which is by no means everywhere, their maker is cited at the bottom of the page in a nod to the conventions of the fashion press."

Sang Bleu's editor-in-chief Maxime Buechi explains:
"it's not an end, it's a means...We use tattooing and other underground cultures to talk about other things."
This view is definitely echoed throughout the magazine, with articles ranging from simple narratives to deep philosophical essays. There is real commitment to the tattooed way of life in Sang Bleu, and this relates perfectly to the commitment and die-hard determination of many tattoo enthusiasts. Sang Bleu really shows the art behind tattooing, the lives behind the ink and the stories the tattoos tell. The photography is stunning and inspiring, and compliments the text well. 

Being heavily into tattoo art, typography and photography, I can't see how Sang Bleu could not be a brilliant showcase for all three of these things.
As Keith Miller correctly states in his feature in Eye Magazine:
"It's the commitment, this potential abjection, which makes tattoo culture something other than 'fetishistic', in the rather glib sense that stockings and corsets are fetishistic."
Sophistication in an aspect of life many do not consider to by sophisticated at all, Sang Bleu is much more than a tattoo magazine, it is a true insight into a lifestyle, a thought process and a way of life.

Interested in Sang Bleu? They have a blog here.

Andy O'Connell: The Estate We're In

Journalist Gordon MacDonald posted an interesting analysis of a photography project in the magazine Photoworks this past October. The photography project is titled 'The Estate We're In' and was created by Andy O'Connell.

The project features photographs from around London, taking a look at the corners of the city that are sometimes overlooked by passers-by. The project could be described as documentary photography or as artistic photography, but as Gordan MacDonald remarks:
"they have elements of both defined modes of photographic practice - but they are neither, they are simply (and complexly) photographs".

The article begins with a tale from MacDonald's teenage years when he worked as a journalistic photographer, armed with a camera and a flash, seeking photographs of prisoners being driven to court in their police vans. He uses this tale to discuss the various styles and uses of photography:
"One reason could be that photography has its own history, which is often its main point of reference. It has many modes, which include porn, pack shots and documentary; these all go towards our understanding of this history and all contribute to our relationship with every photograph we view"
MacDonald makes a strong point. Photography has had such a wide range of uses over the years of its existence, and each one of these uses impacts us when we view a photograph.

O'Connell's photography has a simplistic elegance that comes across in every shot. The curling shapes of the tire-tracks in the grass in Joy Ride, Tulse Hill Estate are eyecatching and interesting to view.

There is, as Gordon MacDonald points out, "a level of slow careful observation that raises them above 'straight' documentary photography" in the photographs of this project. The photographs are more than just devices through which to tell a story, they are also stories in their own right, works that catch the eye and linger for a while until that story has been told.

Intriguing as the above picture is, my eye is also drawn in by the composition of the shot. Whether intentional or not, the strong line where the door meets the wall draws the eye across to the letterbox.
The photographs, which mainly seem to focus on criminal acts, give another, more creative approach to crime. When discussing this, Gordon MacDonald says:
"These creative accidents are clearly not the main intention of the crimes' perpetrators, but are one of the more positive outcomes and O'Connell seems to relish these moments of black humour in this dark place."
And indeed, adding this other dimension, a lighter view, to crime and squalor in a big city is something we should all take note of. Taking the lighter view, a more creative look, to the lives of these people is surely what creating good art is all about - looking at things differently.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Restless Times: Art in Britain 1914 -1945

As well as the Abram Games exhibition, we also visited the Millenium Gallery for an exhibition called 'Restless Times: Art In Britain 1914-1945'. This exhibition featured art from a period where Britain was defined by the devastation of two world wars, and as a result, a lot of the work was very powerful to express the feelings of the British at that time.

One of the pieces that caught my eye was a piece called 'Speed Underground' by Alan Rogers. It was part of a campaign to restore interest in the London Underground system. The poster is very eye-catching and I immediately sat down to draw my own sketch of it:

Alan Rogers' original - Speed Underground

My sketch - done in graphite.

I also really loved a piece I found by an artist called Julian Trevelyan, called 'Rubbish May Be Shot Here'. This piece is photomontage/collage and is another piece that really caught my eye:

I love this piece because I feel it is a statement on the feelings of the British people in 1937, when the work was created. The people perhaps felt like they were useless and rubbish, thus creating the image of a landfill-type site filled with people. I also like the way the sky is painted with the various dark tones to create clouds in the sky and the pollution created by the chimneys. It gives the painting an industrial feel which helps with the feeling of oppression the people express.
I really like the statement this image gives, as well as the way the message is presented, and it definitely inspires me to look further into collage and photomontage in the future.

I enjoyed the Restless Times exhibition, though I found it harder to take in because of the sheer amount of work available, and the prohibiton of photography. I did enjoy the Abram Games exhibition more, but I found the Restless Times exhibition very interesting and insightful, and it definitely inspired me to look at new techniques to use in my art in the future

Visit to the Abram Games Exhibition

On the 18th October, we headed out on a trip to Sheffield to visit two exhibitions. The first was an exhibition called 'Restless Times', which I will cover in the next post, but the second was on the graphic designer Abram Games.
Abram Games is well known for his poster work, which included many posters for recruitment in World War II. A lot of these recruitment posters were on display at the exhibition, as well as many other pieces of advertising for The Times Newspaper and ads for holiday destinations like Jersey and Blackpool.

While at the exhibition, I took plenty of photographs of Games' work. I particularly liked this piece that was on display:

I found this piece particularly interesting because of the shell's shape which forms the 'J' of 'Jersey'. The colours were minimal, as was the design, but it got the message across clearly. Games' personal motto was "Maximum meaning, minimum means" and this was clearly on display in all of his work.
One of the things that fascinated me in particular about this piece was the 'work in progress' sketches that were on display near it:

These are very helpful in understanding Games' thought process as he was designing the Jersey poster. It always amazes me to see the 'behind the scenes' of an artist's work, so I can learn from it when working on my own artwork. One of the big things I noticed (and liked) about these concept sketches was how random and messy they are, which makes the ideas seem much more spontaneous and chaotic. I am fascinated by the image this conjures of Games at his desk, struck by an idea and scribbling furiously in response. It feels very special to be allowed into an artist's mind and placed on the journey from inspiration to product with them.

It was hard to choose a piece that truly illustrated my admiration for Abram Games' work, but I feel these photographs showcase the pieces that spoke to me the most at his exhibition.