FMP – Designing The Briefing

Once the research was done, concept was figured out and content was on the move, it was time to do the hardest part of this project, the design. In terms of style I was always fairly confident in how I wanted it to look, but the most difficult process would be figuring out how to fit over 100 articles onto one sheet of broadsheet newspaper.

I always have an idea in my head of how the design is going look, if only a vague one. Most of the inspiration for the style came from The Independent resign, directed by Matt Willey. Even though it is no longer printed, it still stands as a beautiful piece of editorial design that manages to condense a lot of information while still being expressive. I was particularly a fan of the large serif headlines that drawn the attention to different articles.

Using placeholder text I started to explore different designs and layouts for the front cover. I quickly landed on the font FreightPro for the display, which is a very prestigious and bold typeface, especially in capitals. For the body copy I used A2 Type’s Antwerp, mainly at a light weight, as it is an incredibly intricate and interesting typeface that fits in perfectly with the style I was going for. Once again, having a style in mind always helps speed up the design process. I definitely could have explored more styles but figuring it out early allowed me more time to write the articles and figure out the typographic system.

After creating a visual style, I then started experimenting with different layouts and and compositions. The front page was going to have the bulk of the articles, while the inside was going to cover the stories in more detail. Unlike previous projects, I started to record all of my design attempts and break down the parts that I liked about each one. In terms of speed, it may have slowed me down a little bit but it allowed me to create a much more refined core design so I am definitely going to practise it in the future.

In the end I condensed over 120 articles down to the bare essentials, so needless to say that was one of the most time consuming parts of the project. However, as the articles were broken down over time I was able to keep working on the design and refine the typographic system.

 

The final design is probably one of the most intricate pieces of work I have ever put together and I am fairly proud of it. There are still improvements that could be made, but through my process and also from the feedback I received from my tutors I was able to create a strong piece of typographic design that was successful in what I wanted it to do.

Along with The Briefing, I also wanted to create a process book that would dive deeper into what my project is about, along with how I actually created the one sheet newspaper. In terms of design, the process book is far more expressive and bold in comparison to the more refined and detailed newspaper. This is mainly due to the fact that I was tired of designing in an intricate way and just wanted to create some expressive. The final design of the process book ended up standing alone as a strong piece of typographic design and I am pleased with how quickly I was able to come up with it.

This project has turned out to be one of my strongest, which I think is mainly due to how much I enjoyed breaking down the problems in modern news media. It got a bit tight time wise towards the end of the project, an area that I could always improve on, but in terms of the design and execution, I am very pleased with the final outcome. It will definitely go down as one of my favourite projects but I think the personal freedom of the brief allowed for that. I will definitely continue to pursue the concept and maybe see if there is a similar area of media that could use the same treatment.


The Big Idea: Creating a manifesto

After designing my posters it was time to create the manifesto, or more simply put, a book. With editorial design being a personal strength of mine I always find myself looking for excuses to use it in my projects. I used to think this was a bad thing, but now I realise that all I am doing is practising and evolving my style. Still, it is always good to push yourself out of your comfort zone, but I feel like I already did that in this project with the screen-printing, so I was looking forward to getting stuck in with some editorial.

In terms of content the books are fairly simple. I wrote an introduction to the subject matter, then had a different section for each of the four men so that I could really explain who they were and why they did those horrible things. Then I decided that the book really needed a conclusion, not necessarily on my thoughts on the subject, but a conclusion that explained the downfall of Nazi Germany. I felt as if this would be a more fitting conclusion and allowed me to add in my own views and opinions throughout the more fact based text.

Before designing a book I always look for inspiration. Sites like Pinterest and Abduzeedo are great resources if you are looking for really interesting projects. However, when it comes to editorial design Matt Willey is a designer I am constantly coming back to.

What I really enjoy about Matt’s, and the other designers he works with, design is the bold and expressive use of typography that is placed on simple layout. It shows confidence in design while still keeping a sense of class and beauty. In terms of breaking up the flow of the book, the full spread section pages are fantastic and the use of type really allows you to take a break from reading and just look at the letter-forms.

For more experimental editorial design, I drew a lot of inspiration from Circular Magazine 19, designed by Domenic Lippa and Jeremy Kunze. Each page is completely different from the last which creates an incredibly exiting piece of typographic design. In terms of colour this magazine moved away from what I wanted to do, except for the black and white pages which always look beautiful.

I wanted my book to be bold and typographically expressive, but at the same time very sinister and vicious to reflect the dark subject matter of the content. To keep it consistent with the posters I continued to use Lexia, which by itself is a very expressive and impactful typeface. For the body copy I used Crimson Text, which is a very beautiful serif typeface that works well on black backgrounds due to the weight of the roman forms.

The above spreads are some of the first I created during the initial design stage. It was very much a case of playing around with imagery, colour and style until I found something that I liked. The spread on the right, which made its way into the final design, immediately struck me as the style I was going to go for.

The red was an obvious choice for the colour, not only because it matched the posters but it also portrays the violent theme of the book perfectly. However, over time I realised that the book needed another colour to add variety. To achieve this I did two things. The first was to pick another colour, which turned out to be a cold blue to match the atmosphere of a lot of the content.

Below is what I presented, a long with the posters, in my final presentation. The feedback I received was very positive and the only advice I was given was to keep going.

The next technique used to add more colour was to introduce a lot more black and white pages, sometimes even creating entire sections that only used this colour. Just by doing this the book immediately started to feel more dynamic and exiting to look at and read.

Of course as time went on and my editorial skills started to improve I found myself constantly tweaking and changing the design of the book. In the end it has turned into a project that I am very proud of, not just in terms of design but also for the idea behind it. This project has allowed me to improve my skills in both print and editorial design while at the same time pushing me outside of my comfort zone. In terms of improvement, I feel as if I could have spent more time on the actual content of the books. However, it is probably something I shouldn’t kick myself for too much as I am trying to create an engaging piece of design, not a page-turner.

Below are some of the final spreads of Artifacts of Obedience, to see the project in its entirety head to my website – tobycottrelldesign.com

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FMP – Dissecting the news

After some more brainstorming on the use of information in newspapers I made the decision on what will be created for this project. I am going to take some of the largest newspapers in the UK and condense them down to a single sheet of paper. By doing this I will not only show how much excess information there is in newspapers, but also how one sheet of paper can communicate the exact same thing as over 90 pages. Just like the initial idea generation process, I feel as if I reached this direction fairly quickly compared to other projects, which is great as now I can crack on with the research as early as possible.

The first step of the process is the research, so I went out and bought some of the main newspapers in the UK and started to break them down. By using marker pens I was able to section off parts of the newspaper that I thought were useful, like statistics and actual communication of the story, compared with the parts that I feel are unnecessary.

Actually sectioning off the newspapers visually aided me greatly in realising the scope of this project. Every single newspaper, from the Telegraph to The Sun, featured so much unnecessary space and content. However, these newspapers are also trying to make money so it is understandable why they allow so much room for large headlines and advertisements. That’s why I decided that I wasn’t going to use my project as a proposed alternative to newspapers, but instead as a form of information design that eludes to the use of print media in the digital era.

Along with visually dissecting the newspapers I also had a look at the actual content featured inside of them. By comparing the number of articles compared with the number of pages I was able to figure out how many articles each paper featured per page.

The Daily Telegraph – 2.1

The Sun – 1.4

The I – 1.6

The Daily Mail – 1.0

The Guardian – 1.1

Obviously there were some variables, for example the Telegraph is far bigger in size compared to the majority of other newspapers, but this still gave me a good understanding of how efficiently the newspapers are using their space.

As the project progresses I will continue to dissect the newspapers in order to find new information, but the next big step will be figuring out the style of the newspaper and creating a typographic system. I am very confident in the direction that the project is going in and the research I have conducted so far has given me some very interesting results.


FMP – The Age of Information

The last project of the course has finally kicked off, the Final Major Project. It is a very exciting time and I am really looking forward to spending the next month exploring my subject and hopefully designing something great.

As it is such a big project I have been thinking about what I wanted to do for the past couple of months, but due to other projects I have never really started to plan it out until now. Initially I had the idea of creating something around Hip-Hop music, as it is a genre that I am a huge fan of. From my experience Hip-Hop, or Rap, is always misinterpreted as an aggressive form of music that targets a younger crowd. However, the truth is that a lot of the music features experimental instrumentals with incredibly poetic lyrics that tell dark and complex stories. I wasn’t sure what the outcome was going to be but I was definitely leaning towards the concept.

When the actual project kicked off I started to do some more planning. I began my brainstorming by dissecting what the real issue was with the portrayal of Hip-Hop, miscommunication in media. This led me to start thinking about how news is communicated to us, including the very current issue of ‘Fake News’. I was much more at ease with this subject and as I thought about the modern forms of journalism and news media it came more apparent that this is what I wanted to spend the next 6 weeks focusing on.

The first tutorial with David and some of my peers was great as the feedback I received helped me to gain some direction. The evolved idea is now going to focus on the excess of information that is present in our society, or as I like to call it, ‘The Age of Information’. By looking at how current news formats (newspapers and websites) communicate to the public, I am going to attempt to deconstruct and re-imagine the way in which we consume news media. Conceptually, I think that this idea has a lot more strength that the Hip-Hop concept as news is such a core part of modern society.

In terms of idea generation, this has been one the most confident brainstorming periods I have ever had. I came up with my ideas relatively quickly and threw away the ones I didn’t like as soon as I could. I then took those ideas to peers and lectures to strip everything else away until I found the exact direction I was going to take this project in, which is a system I am definitely going to keep using in the future.


The Big Idea – Screen printing propaganda

I had done the research, figured out my concept, it was then time to figure out what to create. However, just like the competition project, the research stage was going great but figuring out what to apply it to was the part I struggled with.

I am constantly looking at my portfolio and thinking about what I need, or what I can improve upon. I think that this method of thinking is good in small bites, as its always positive to try and diversify your work. But when I start to deconstruct my portfolio too much I start to lose sight of what I am really trying to achieve with my work. I don’t have any video work, illustrations, paintings, animation, web design (not until the competition deadline is over), UI design, packaging or product design. But to me that doesn’t really matter, as nearly all of the projects I have in my portfolio are ones that I have enjoyed and I am proud of all of them. I delved into many different areas of design during my time in London, and although I could complete any task to a professional standard, I always feel as if I am doing my best work and improving the most when I am doing what I am most passionate about, editorial design.

So after a slight diversion in research, I figured out that I wanted to do something print based, and seeing as posters were one of my initial ideas I decided to run with it. Sticking with my concept of portraying the dangers of obedience by using the four Nazi officers; Eichmann, Heydrich, Mengele and Himmler, I came up with the idea of creating five informative posters on each of them. Each poster would feature one of the four men, and then the fifth one would summarise what I had found. In terms of composition, I have always been a fan of posters that feature a strong visual element, paired with small typography that can be read upon closer inspection, which is apparent in the images below.

However, after a tutorial with Ian and Kuba, it was suggested that I strip down the information on each poster and just focus on the visuals, with the fifth one being more informative. Ian also had a good idea of spelling out the word ‘Obedience’ on the posters so that it could be read out when each poster was placed next to each other, while also keeping the subject on obedience.

Listening to the advice given and using the inspiration I had found, I created a rough draft of what the poster would look like. I wasn’t pleased with the draft at all, and it actually made me start to doubt the concept. The idea was to have the giant red letters cover the face of each of the men to portray the negative role that obedience had on them, but the composition wasn’t working for me.

eichmann-poster

After some more tutorials and some great advice from Matt, I took a completely new approach. I decided that I was going to create four posters, not five, and use them as a form of advertisement for the research manifesto, which I decided was going to be a book. A book was the perfect way to show off what I had found as there are so many fascinating facts about the lives of these four subjects. Also, there was a lot of potential for some incredibly striking designs through exploring the dark nature of the subject matter. So in a sense, the posters would be a brief visualisation of my research, and the book would be a more detailed version. It was such a great feeling when I finally figured out what I wanted to do, although I am slightly annoyed that it took me so long to get there.

If I was going to make some striking posters, I knew that screen printing was the way to go. It is such a raw and beautiful visual style, and I thought that it would be good to make the most of the facilities while I was here. I also knew that if I was going to be making posters about obedience in Nazi Germany, propaganda was the way to go.

For inspiration, I found two great examples that use a regular black print with a distorted red overlay to create an disturbing visual outcome. Moving on from that, after to talking to Nigel from the print studio about what I was doing he showed me an incredible book with original French screen printed propaganda posters. The rough and simple compositions were so powerful and beautiful that it inspired to create something that carried the same effect.

The final posters are a compilation of everything that has been found so far. The halftone images, as suggested by Tom Martin, are split in two to represent the the effect obedience has had on each of these men. Lexia, a beautiful typeface from Dalton Maag, is a bold and clear slab serif that lends itself perfectly to this style of design. Each poster orders the viewer to read the research manifesto in an almost Dadaist fashion. In an exhibition environment, the books would be placed below each poster in a small container.

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The actual screen printing process was incredibly inspiring, and Nigel was brilliant at re-teaching me the process while also helping me to evolve the project and experiment with different styles. Also, he managed to create a red ink that matched the Pantone red that I had been using in the books which was pretty great. Below are some photos of the entire screen printing process. Due to time constraints I was only able to create one A3 poster for the final review, but after some practise I will print each poster in A2 in preparation for the final exhibition.

 


The Big Idea – Moving forward

My initial research on the dangerously obedient Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann has lead me down a fascinating path. After the first week of research I wanted to find more people like Eichmann, who were the middle men in some of the most horrific events in history. However, the most complex and plentiful examples came from other SS Officers. Men like Josef Mengele, Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich were all high ranking Nazi officers that were heavily involved in the organisation and execution of the Holocaust.

And just like Eichmann, all of these men were raised in cultured and talented households of musicians and academics. They were successful in school, played instruments and sports and had personal hobbies and interests. However, once they joined the SS it all changed. They became sinister and heartless men who caused the death of millions of people. And from my research and the theories of others, it can be argued that these traits are a result of an incredibly strong nature of obedience that was instilled by Adolf Hitler.

Another scary part of Hitler’s Nazi Germany is the ‘Wehrmacht Oath’, or as its more commonly known, the ‘Hitler Oath’. The oath had to be taken by every German citizen and soldier, where they state – “I swear to God this sacred oath that to the Leader of the German Empire and people, Adolf Hitler, supreme commander of the armed forces, I shall render unconditional obedience and that as a brave soldier I shall at all times be prepared to give my life for this oath.” It’s this kind of obedient nationalism and harsh authority that has drawn me to this subject the most.

I am still brainstorming and generating ideas around what the final outcome is going to be, but I am pleased with the research that I have found so far. Just like my previous projects, I am trying to do as much research and planning before going straight to the design process in these bigger projects, and I think that my work is better for it.


The Big Idea – A week of research

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Last week the new project titled – The Big Idea – kicked off with an great introductory briefing from Ian. Before the project started I was sceptical about the premise of the project as it seemed fairly ambiguous but after Ian’s lecture I understood the huge creative potential that was present. The goal of The Big Idea is to take a word from a specific list and interpret and visualise it in a creative and original manner. There were a few words that I considered but in the end I chose ‘obedience’, as it stood out the most as a catalyst for some thought provoking and imaginative design work.

I have spent the last week researching and deconstructing what obedience is. The initial stage involved looking at the multiple definitions of the word, with the most relevant one coming from the Cambridge Online Dictionary – “doing, or willing to do, what you have been told to do by someone in authority.” The key word in this definition is authority, as there are many different types of it. For example, obedience can mean following certain laws, therefore the authority would be the government. Moreover, obedience is prominently found in children and animals, with the main authoritative figure for them being their parents or owner. From this I made my own basic definition that defines obedience as the act of ‘following the rules’. These rules can be set in place by people you respect, like teachers or parents, or they can be passive rules that are an outcome of certain cultures and religions.

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Once the definition had been established I moved onto some psychological essays and academic theories on obedience, a research technique that I started doing in the last project. There are plenty of theories and studies online and in the library but while I was looking through them I found an example that stood out from the crowd. The study was on a man named Adolf Eichmann, who was a logistical genius that essentially organised and planned the Holocaust during World War II, killing over 6 million people. What is most fascinating about Eichmann is the fact that he was a seemingly normal and intelligent family man, which was proven by multiple psychiatrists studying him and declaring him sane. So the question is, how could such a smart and well-cultured man cause so much pain and horror?

Adolf Hitler Inspecting His Troops In 1937

During his post-war trial, Eichmann expressed his confusion when he found out that so many people, especially Jewish people, hated him and his actions. We have to remember that it wasn’t Eichmann that wanted to exterminate people of the Jewish faith, it was Adolf Hitler. All of Eichmann actions were a product of Hitler’s Nazi Germany, and therefore he was obeying the rules set in place by the fascist regime. In Eichmann’s prison diary he stated that, “The orders were the highest thing in my life and I had to obey them without question.” Simply put, he was just obeying orders. The actions of Eichmann created an event that will go down in history as one of the most horrendous acts of war, and it was all due to one man obeying the rules put in place by his superior. However, it wasn’t just Eichmann that followed these rules. Millions of German citizens supported and assisted Hitler throughout the war, and just like Eichmann, they all obeyed the horrific rules that were set in place by their superiors.

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The study then focused on an experiment done by the American scientist Stanley Milgram. Intrigued by the obedience present in Nazi Germany, Milgram created a famous experiment that attempted to find whether or not the obedient nature present in the German population was entirely unique to them. To do this he created an experiment which tested how much pain American citizens would put someone through if they were told to by an authoritative figure. The conclusion of the experiment showed that obedience to authority was could be found in anyone, especially if the person didn’t think that the responsibility of their actions rested on them. If Milgram’s theories are true then the actions of Eichmann can be blamed more firmly on Hitler’s authoritative role instead of Eichmann’s immoral choices and agenda.

Adolf Eichmann is such a fascinating example of the dangers of obedience and how powerful an authoritative figure can be. I think that using people like Eichmann is a perfect way to define what obedience is in a very real and disturbing way, and I am going to continue my research by finding similar examples in major historical events. I have spent the past couple of days brainstorming the different ways I can visualise what I have found and the actual content of the project. Currently I am leaning towards a creative print outcome, excluding a publication or book as I already have a fair amount of editorial design in my portfolio. Hopefully the upcoming tutorial will help me to figure out what the outcome is going to be so that I can start bringing this project to life.