How To Read An Image

Today we had a lecture with Cath Davies on ‘How To Read An Image’, we looked at a film poster and an advert. We looked at hierarchy of an image and how an audience can understand for themselves what is the key points and most important part of an image. We also looked at how to depict an image and what connotations and meanings these elements can have to create a certain message for the target audience. By looking at this I have understood how everything has been done to attract the target audience, and how when I create an image my peers should be able to depict the image and understand why I made the decisions of the layout and design.


Cardiff Photos

We got into groups of 4 and allocated 4 words; Greenest Gem, Theatre of Dreams, Biggest Small City and CuriousCITY. We had to represent these words by capturing these meanings around Cardiff. The statue of the lion represents ‘Greenest Gem’ this is done by the green leaves of the tree and the green distressed surface of the statue and his eye. This photo is quite literal although by showing the nature within the photo it suggests how nature is in a built up city but also the wildlife and nature within the city. For ‘Theatre of Dreams’ we have captured an image of an alleyway where there are lots of bars and clubs. The way that street is curving round draws your eye into the ‘Theatre of Dreams’. It also shows the quirkiness of the music and pub culture in Cardiff and the idea of how this can be someones personal ‘Theatre of Dreams’. I like how the vibrant colours have been captured in the shot and how they really bring it to life. For the ‘Biggest Small City’ we decided to take photos of the arcades as Cardiff has so many hidden arcades in the city centre and think this is such a nice quality to Cardiff. The way that the image is captured makes the arcade look much bigger than it actually is, I think this is using the space well and really coming across as the ‘Biggest Small City’. Our final image is ‘CuriousCITY’ and this is my favourite photograph. Along the castle wall there is the bunny rabbit that is peering over  the wall, the way the bunny is peering over creates a real ‘curious’ feel to the photo and is very quirky. The building in the bottom left hand corner and the traffic lights still keeps the element of the ‘city’ in the frame. This task has shown me that as graphic designers how simple it is to include your own images by capturing a photo and editing it on photoshop and how effective it can look.

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Annie Leibovitz

Anna-Lou Leibovitz was born in Connecticut 1949. Leibovitz studied at the San Francisco Art Institute although grew a love for photography. She later worked for the music magazine Rolling Stone in 1970 then got promoted to chief photographer in 1972. Leibovitz has shot a a number of Vanity Fair covers of portraits of celebrities. During 1980s, Leibovitz also worked on a number of high-profile advertising campaigns, then in 1991 she was the first woman to have more than 200 photographs which were exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. She photographed black-and-white portraits of American athletes Summer Olympics in Atlanta which were published in the book Olympic Portraits. Leibovitz published the book Women in 1999 she photographed a range of images of women from Supreme Court justices to Vegas showgirls to coal miners and farmers. She’s also published the book American Music along with exhibitions Annie Leibovitz: A Photographer’s Life, 1990-2005 along with a book, aswell as another exhibition Pilgrimage. She’s worker with Marks & Spencer advertising to calendar for the tire manufacturer Pirelli. 

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Type Specimen Poster Feedback

Today we put out type specimens on the wall to present them to the group. We got into pairs and gave each other feed back about what we thought was good about their poster and what could be improved. When everyone had completed this task with their partner we presented our posters to the group getting feedback from everyone and the tutors.

On my poster they liked the strong layout of the design showing the heavy slab serif font and how it clearly fits in the grid system. They also liked how the heading ‘Rockwell’ was split in two as it is interesting. Although the whole poster is black on white, they thought that I could improve this by using various tones of black and white to show hierarchy. By changing all the elements to different shades of grey and the having the heading and context in black I think that this shows how the heading and information is the most important part of the poster, it also creates depth of field in my poster. Another element that they thought I could improve was the last line in my second paragraph was a widower and they thought that if I changed this is would look better. Therefore I have extended the first and second paragraph so it looks more visually appealing.

I liked this exercise as you were able to see everyone else posters and how varied they all are. I also liked how I was given feedback from my peers and tutors and given the opportunity to improve the poster using this constructive criticism.

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Gothic Style

People usually expect a stereotypical visual idea of what goths wear or how they look, for example black clothing, black hair, black lips, lots of jewellery etc. Some of these could be consistent within the goth style although they could be modernised and additions to these motifs. “to outsiders, it appears fairly consistent with a predilection for black clothing in a combination of faux-period, punk and fetish styles, elaborate jewellery, „vamp‟ make- up for both sexes and dyed hair, also frequently black” (Spooner, 2006, p96)  ‘Vamp’ make-up challenges how it is meant to connote femininity and help make someone look even more beautiful. Goths whiten they’re face, this highlights the undead but also how in the victorian times it was seemed to be more beautiful if you were pale.

The gothic style and sub cultures of goths originally came from the traditional victorian style. This is evident in the corsets and lace that they wear, the shape of the dresses often worn by goth has a similar style to the victoria dresses. “elements of Victorian fashion, such as mourning dress and corsets, became incorporated into Goth style, precisely because (from a modern perspective) they seemed desirably „dark‟ „romantic‟, „mysterious‟, and „macabre‟” (Steele, 2008, p105) Goths drew on the Victorian style although they modify some bits and discarded some of the look.

The gothic style isn’t just based on the victorian styles but also influenced by the gothic literary and cinematic tradition. This suggests the horror behind the gothic style, for example could be influenced by Frankenstein, Count Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. “ a subculture that derives its visual style and preoccupations from Gothic literary and cinematic tradition which first emerged in Britain in the late 70s” (Spooner, 2006, p94)  This represents the horror side of the gothic style, this can be seen in the stitching in the clothes representing the way that frankenstein put together body parts, the undead and corps etc. This is also seen in the jewlerry that they wear and motifs that they wear. The use of jewllery worn represents the victorian style, although has been modernised by the way that they wear crucifix, spiders, cob webs etc. this also highlights the idea of undead and insects that eat away at a corps. Lots of the materials and fabrics used in the dresses are torn and teared, this could suggest the bodily decay after deaths.

There are a range of different sub cultures of the gothic style these could be distinguished by punk, techno goths, fetish goth steam punk, piercings, brightly coloured hair etc. These sub culture have all emerged from the traditional victorian look. Other materials that goths wear is pvc, this challenges the victorian materials that they use which suggests the way that the goths have modernised and the pvc connotes the fetish sub cultures well as studded jewellery and collars usually worn by the fetish sub culture. “important influence has been the fetish scene. PVC and rubber skirts, tops, corsets and collars for example have all been among the most popular styles of clothing for Goths of both genders” (Hodkinson, 2007, p262) 

This session relates to my practice by the way that you can look at traditional and existing designers/styles and how you can incorporate this with new ideas by looking into the past and putting a modern and innovative twist on your own work eg in posters, adverts, type, illustrations etc. I like the way that the gothic style has challenged the traditional victorian gothic style, this has shown me how you can look at traditional design aspect and ‘break rules’ and modify traditional pieces in my own way. Also by looking at a varied of case studies as a source of inspiration to create meaning in our work, not taking anything from the past but having it as influences and modifying it to create new meanings. By looking as the gothic literary and cinematic tradition it has shown me how influences can come from anywhere, not just a existing designer but looking at literature, sources of inspirations, many disciplines, looking at movies, historical styles, stereotypes, novels, articles.

Smells Like Teen Spirit – Identity

Jean Paul Gaultier designed a garment for Madonna’s 1991 blonde ambition tour. In constellation we looked at the outfit she wore for the song ‘express yourself’. The navy pin striped suit is stereotypically worn by a business man which connotes power. The slits in the suit by the breast area is provocative, by doing this to the suit it suggests how she is a strong female. Gaultier would have research into the history and tradition makings of a male navy suit to see how he wanted to challenge the stereotype.

Madonna is wearing a pink silk corset underneath her suit jacket but over the top of her suit trousers. By wearing it like this as well as having the slits in the suit jacket it is not suggesting that she is a hiding her femininity but wearing a suit, it is embracing female dominance, this is challenging gender stereotypes. The pink satin material connotes the femininity of Madonna. The belt on the corset and the bra enhances the female figure. The corset comes from the Victorian time where the women would wear cosets underneath their dresses to make their breasts larger, and waists smaller. They did this in order to attract and please the Victorian dominant male figure. Gaultier would have looked into the traditional corset design and modernised it to create this striking piece. The way that the Victorians used to push their breasts up in the corset to create cleavage would come across as ‘inviting’. Gaultier has challenged this by creating a cone shape for the bra, this creates a contrasting look that the Victorians traditionally used. The spiked breast look uninviting and suggests aggression and female dominance ‘stay away’.

Gaultier would have researched into his client to see what outfit would best represent her and the blonde ambition tour. Madonna is famously known as being a strong female figure and I think Jean Paul Gaultier has captured this well in the garment worn.



Letter Press Workshop

We had a workshop where we were shown how to use the letterpress machine, I was in group Underware and had to chose a sentence or phrase that represents Underware, my sentence was ‘they publish about type’. Underware is a type foundry that focuses on humanist and script style fonts.  In the workshop we learnt how letter pressing was an old way of being able to print on big scale and used for mass production i.e. newspapers. I found it surprising how heavy a full letter press can be and interesting how when they had finished printing with the template they would melt it down and recycle it to print something else.

Tom the instructor went through the machines and materials that we would be using to create our letterpresses. We began by choosing a typeface and fitting it in a cage making sure the sentence was upside down so it would print correctly and assuring that it was tight so it would be able to print well. I then fixed my cage into the letter press and printed onto various types of papers using a dark grey ink and a red ink, I really like the contrast of these two colours against each other. By printing onto different papers you were able to see how your printing would vary depending on the material printed onto but I was also able to overlay the sheets of papers to create different outcomes.

I really enjoyed using the letterpress machine as I think it is such an interesting way of printing as you can see the type coming together and can see the aesthetics qualities of this technique. I will definitely use letterpress again, the preparation is a bit fiddly and time consuming, although when you have prepared your cage it is so quick and simple.