Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The word on the street

The task was to produce a short movie containing photos of "found letterforms" - examples of signs, posters etc. The movie was to contain a soundtrack which would echo the theme being created.

Most of the images I have used are examples found on the street - more specifically in rougher, run-down areas of places I have recently been - off Oxford Road in Manchester, near Preston Bus Station, and around Whitmore Reans in Wolverhampton.

The soundtrack chosen is background noise - recorded cheekily whilst people were working in the base room (however my friend found out I was doing this, hence her comments around halfway through). Using background noise was meant to show that these examples of letterforms are found in everyday life, and are looked at as mundane - mundane like the soundtrack. The transitions are also simple for this reason - I wanted the viewer to be aware of the images, and to consider each photograph as the most interesting thing on the screen.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

"She kicked and screamed while I held her throat"

Sinister title... Bear with me.

Our latest illustration project is a fantastic one - to design a CD cover (front and back) for music of our choice. The possibilities were endless, and the rules simple: no X-Factor.

I chose a well known band, but a lesser known triptych of songs, referred to by fans, and indeed the band themselves as "The Murder Trilogy". The band? The Killers.

"Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf", "Midnight Show", and "Jenny Was a Friend of Mine" (featuring the line "She couldn't scream while I held her close", but often modified to the above post tiel by the lead singer) tell a chilling story of a jealous boyfriend who discovers his girlfriend is having an affair, and events take a turn for the worse, with him killing her. The details of how he comes to the point of killing her are sketchy (in true Brandon Flowers style the lyrics are mysterious and complex), but what little we can tell can be pulled out from the lyrics, which is where I began in terms of designing the sleeve for the trilogy.

"Bourbon" does what it says on the tin - the soon-to-be murderer discovers the soon-to-be victim's infidelity, and turns to alcohol, working himself into a drunken state.
"Midnight" is the least clear lyrically. Dark and fast-paced, if you weren't aware of its connection with the other tracks you wouldn't be sure of what it was describing, such is the open nature of the lyrics. Once you discover what exactly Flowers is singing about, you realise there's more to the lyric "I took my baby's breath/ Beneath the chandelier/ Of stars and atmosphere" than first thought.
"Jenny" then describes the murderer's interrogation by the police, but doesn't offer much more information on the murder itself. "It has something to do with water... But he didn't drown her" added Flowers helpfully  in an interview.

To keep with the mystery, I didn't want to give anything away on the cover, and my idea was to present a shelf (lifted from the title of "Bourbon") with Bourbon, a happy couple photo, and car keys (reference to "Midnight"'s "Drive faster boy" lyric) on it. On the reverse of the cover the bottle would be empty, the picture face down, and the keys gone. This creates the subtle change, and mystery that the songs portray.

I realise I've gone all fine art on this one, but I feel it will work better than sketching it out - real objects create a real outcome, and the lyrics in the songs chosen feel as though they're screaming for a some sort of real solution.

I'll sign off here, because to be honest I could talk about these songs all day. I'll post the finished artwork when it's done... I can practically hear the baited breath...
These shots are by no means finished - text has to be added, and I want to be able to add shadows and texture to the background.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Why? Just felt like it

My girlfriend is very talented in a number of ways, but art isn't really something in her arsenal. I'll stop short of posting the drawing of a house she did for me a few months ago (with a handy label saying "a house" next to it - very useful), but she has asked, several times, for me to post some colouring in her and I did last weekend.

With her not really sharing my passion for design, this isn't something we usually get to do together. When she suggested buying some of those felt-outlined colouring boards whilst out on Salford Quays, I jumped at the opportunity. A cheap night-in doing something arty - me all over. We justified buying them by getting one for her nine-year-old sister too, although it was we who were more excited by the prospect of an evening of colouring pens and felt.

Looks good eh?  She didn't go out of the lines once.

Here's mine, seeing as it's my blog and not Fi's:

Radio Types

I've really enjoyed reading Simon Garfield's "Just My Type" recently. A geeky book for font enthusiasts, it does what you'd expect - tells interesting stories about various typefaces, type designers and the like. It has, however, added an irritating geekiness to my latest project.

The book speaks of little tips for recognising fonts when you see them, comparing not being able to place a font with not being able to name a song that's stuck in your head. So, when completing a task like the one below, I frustrated myself by examining every serif, every counter, every tail, in order to better ascertain which fonts I was dealing with.

Anyway, you must be in suspense by now, so here you go (apologies again for poor images, they were too large to scan and the lighting in my room is poor):

The work consists of sections of different type cut out from the Radio Times, and arranged in sets of three so that they get steadily more complex, and still look as though they belong to one another. We were provided with the titles "The Long Road", "Flight Delays Today" and "Journey to the Moon", and the numerals, along with series of dots. The rest of the text isn't meant to make sense, and the areas of texture and colour are there to represent imagery or photographs.

As tedious as this exercise sounds, I've actually found it enjoyable - far more so than if we were given sensical type to use. It allowed me to be creative with shape and layout, and to explore how type can be used as image.

The titles we were given were set in Futura, and several adverts I cut out from were in Helvetica, Avant Garde and Frutiger, but I admit defeat in identifying the typeface used for the main articles - I'll have to polish up on my serif typefaces.