Tuesday, 21 December 2010


The last two months have been spent getting to grips with the two main programs I'll be using for the course: Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I had no experience of either and felt a little overwhelmed when opening these programs for the first time: it was a bit like opening a book written in a foreign language.

Although there are many online resources available I had no idea where to start, so I decided to use one of the many books on the subject - 'Teach Yourself Illustrator in 24 Hours'. Even though this seemed the most user-friendly of the books available, learning to use the interface, getting use to the selection tools and creating paths was a challenge. I studied a chapter an evening and by the end of November I had finished the book and felt that I'd at least got to grips with the program.

For Photoshop, I found the book 'How to Do Everything in Photoshop' to be the most helpful for my purposes. Once again I set myself a month to finish the book and familiarise myself with the program. I found Photoshop a much easier program to use - I'm unsure if this is because it is inherently less complex or because I was now familiar with the interface (no doubt a combination of both). Learning Photoshop was much more enjoyable and I was frequently surpised by what this program is capable of. Helpfully, the book also introduced me to Adobe Bridge.

I am now eager to push on with the three postcards and it is a relief to be returning to the 'course proper'. I have set myself the deadline of the 30th January and will be allocating each postcard 10 days work.    

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A Beginning

I have started studying Graphic Design with the Open College of the Arts. This blog will record my progress, constituting my learning journal. I will also post my jottings on here so it can also act as an edited sketchbook.    

The first assignment for my course requires me to design three postcards that say something about:
  • Who I am 
  • My interests in graphic design
  • My wider cultural influences or interests
The word 'postcard' immediately made me think of the saucy seaside postcard. This also reminded me of my own childhood/family holidays and so feeds quite naturally into the first part of the assignment. I would like to portray my family in this postcard, so doing this whilst keeping a lid on the 'saucy' aspect will be a challenge. I'm aware that this may prevent the idea from being realised in the way I would like, but am intrigued by the challenge of striking this balance.

In terms of my interest in graphic design (g.d.), I've spent a lot of time recently reading about the history of g.d. and what constitutes 'good design'. Trying to fuse these two strands together gave me the idea of the London Underground Map, with each line representing a g.d. movement and each station a designer within this movement. I know it's been done before with Simon Patterson's Great Bear amongst others, but I think I'll stick with it as it meets the brief perfectly, (and it should be fun).

The final part of the assignment - a postcard refelecting my wider cultural influences/interests - has been difficult to hone into a single idea. This is mainly becasue there are so many films, albums, books and individuals that have influenced me. Using a film poster, album or book cover seemed too obvious so I needed to do something 'extra' with it. I thought about incorporating my name into the title and putting myself into the film poster but this seemed lazy/easy: it was a dead end that didn't actually 'say' anything to anyone other than me.

I then started playing around with the idea of Adobe in the title as this is what I'd be using to alter the artwork of whatever cover/poster I chose. At the same time I wanted the artwork itself to communicate to the viewer a comprehensive range of the artists who have influenced me. I also wanted the artwork to be iconic and familiar so that the changes would be more powerful as a result of their unfamiliarity.

I used mind maps with areas of sport, music, film, literature (see above). The Beatles (my favourite band) were in the mix (although not Sgt Pepper - too obvious; and it would just changing photos anyway) and as soon as I thought of Revolver the 'v' jumped out and linked up with 'vector'. Changing the images and illustrations from the Beatles to the people that have influenced me would be a sort of 'revectoring' so why not do this and change the title to Revector. 

I got the album out and was pleased to see a good mix of illustration and photography. I stated to think about which writers, artists, musicians, etc. I wanted to use, but the idea still seemed a bit weak - it seemed to dilute the power of the album cover. I then decided I would use only bands/musicians, and then thought it would be fun to use only those bands or musicians who have released albums since Adobe Illustrator was released.

I studied the large illustrations on the cover and decided to with Thom Yorke for Lennon, Brian Eno for George Harrison, Noel Gallagher for Ringo Starr and Badly Drawn Boy for Paul McCartney - Uncompromising Musical Genius, Avant Garde Endlessly Curious Experimenter, Odd-Looking Innocent and Melodic Tunesmith respectively. As far as possibe I'm going to try and group my other musical influnces around these four images. I thought it would also be a nice touch to replce the Parlophone '£' sign with an Adobe 'A'.

I'm pleased with the three ideas I have in place and it's now just(!) a matter of realising them. I'm aware that they are all pastiches of existing designs but as I learn more about the principles of g.d. I look forward to creating some completely original designs of my own.