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.


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.


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 – A week of research


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.


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.


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.

Penguin – Designing some book covers

After some extensive research on book covers and the themes of the book, it was time to start designing a cover for Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Through my research I had uncovered quite a few angles that I wanted to focus on, so I made the decision to design two covers for this project and decide on which one I wanted to go forward with.



One of the first ideas I had revolved around the impact that the murders had on the town. The Clutter’s were incredibly well respected in the community and their deaths came at a huge shock to everyone. I experimented on ways to try and visualise this unlikely event through a multitude of visual solutions but the idea just wasn’t clicking.



I then decided to focus on a different idea, which looked at the role Capote has as the author. The fact that the murders, and his relationship with killers had so much of an effect on him was one of the most fascinating aspects of the whole tale. I wanted to try and visualise not only his powerful role as the story-teller, but also the slow decay into sorrow that the events caused him. To do this I tried to create a visual that was striking and bold, but at the same time gave an idea of what the tale was about.

The final product is fairly flawed, however it is only an initial draft. I think that the visual effect of Capote is very eye-catching and strong, while having him grow out of the house hints at the idea behind the concept. Although, after a useful group tutorial with Anna Bhushan, it became apparent that I was trying to accomplish too much with the graphic.


Typographically the cover is a lot stronger and I think I was successful in creating a good visual hierarchy. In order to improve the design I am going to have to re-visit the graphical element and try to simplify it by focusing on either the house or Capote. However, I am still proud of the descending effect so even if I don’t use this cover design, I will definitely experiment with the technique.

The second concept is in my opinion, and in the opinions of my peers, the strongest. The concept focuses on visually representing the two killers as snakes. Not only are snakes dangerous, deadly and hidden in plain sight, just as the murderers were, but they are also cold-blooded. Another correlation that was brought to my attention in the group tutorial was that one of the killers has a large tattoo of a snake, which was another strong connection to the story.


The final design uses a more classical type that is a better representation of the times, and features the snakes intertwined within the type and each other. This visual effect represents close and disturbing relationship of the killers and their significance in the story. I also wanted to add a bit of violence to the front cover and make it seem more gruesome and obscure, so I created an strange portal effect that removed the heads of the snakes and placed it on the bottom of the page. The red circle is supposed to vaguely represent a pool of blood, but I still think that some more work is needed to polish it off.

After some more deliberation I decided to add in a dark paper background to bring the elements together. The snakes were taken from a picture of an old science journal so they blend in nicely, plus the dirty effect adds to the dark and disturbing nature of the cover design.


I am fairly pleased with the covers I have designed for this project. In the end I have decided to focus on the second concept as I think it is a more unique and visually interesting approach to the brief. The final review will hopefully give me some better insight on how to improve them and I look forward to seeing what the feedback is.

Penguin – In Cold Blood


Now that I have chosen Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood as the book cover I am going to design for this project and done some research into the original artwork and other personal covers I am a fan of, it is time to find out the key concepts of the book. Unfortunately due to other deadlines I won’t have enough time to read the entire book in two weeks, but there are other methods that I can utilise in order to deconstruct it.

To kick start my research I read a general synopses of the plot of the book and what it is about, along with some segments from the actual text itself. What was immediately interesting was the role that Capote plays in telling the story. As it is a non-fiction novel you can recognise the angle and focus of Capote’s writing. As the author he has so much power in regards to the way that the events and people are perceived, and his obsession with the two killers fascinated me. He didn’t just dismiss them as deranged killers, instead he tried to form relationships with them to truly understand why they would have done this.


Another interesting factor to take into consideration arose after watching the film ‘Capote’, which focuses on Capote’s experiences and relationship with the two killers while writing his book. The emotional toll that the events took on him (especially witnessing the hanging) was detrimental, and an angle that I think would make for an interesting cover concept.

Looking past the author, the actual events that took place in that small town where horrifying. According to Capote The Clutter family were adored by many throughout the community and could be seen to have a sovereign status (much like Capote does as the author). One of the residents said “Of all the people in the world, the Clutters were the least likely to be murdered.” This shows the impact that these gruesome murders had on the community. No one could have expected it to happen, and the fact that the killers were from the town created an atmosphere of mistrust in everyone. I think the fact that anyone could be a killer capable of such brutality is a terrifying thought that is provoked in the book. What is clear from Capote’s writing is that the town would never be the same again.

This research shows that there are plenty of routes that I could go down, and themes that I can explore. I am still unsure as to what to focus on, but I know that it would unwise to just create one cover that looks at a single theme. Instead I am going to do some exploration with different styles and try and find something that works best. Obviously the goal of the book is to reflect its contents visually, but if I can find a way to tie in some of the key themes of the book as well it will definitely increase its quality.

Real World – Starting a Real World

For the first project of the the final year we have been tasked to come up with an idea that will make Cardiff Metropolitan University a healthier place to study, whether its from making the campus more environmentally friendly to creating a diverse and accepting student community. The clients are the staff members that are helping to spearhead the new ‘Healthy University’ programme, meaning that contacting and meeting up with them has been very easy so far.

The whole project must be completed in a group of 4 or 5, with each group being assigned a specific area of the ‘Healthy University’ programme and a target audience. My group of 4 have been given Health and Well-being, with the target audience being students.

It is always interesting working in a group as there is so much potential for great ideas but there is a big risk of them getting buried in the chaos of group discussion. Luckily the group dynamic has been very exciting so far, with each of us having a good idea of where we want to go with project.

The initial process of getting to the real problem with student health and well-being went very smoothly as we discovered fairly quickly that the general idea of a strong and healthy lifestyle didn’t necessarily fit in with the perceived student lifestyle. From our own personal experience, our research online and asking other students we were able to uncover that most people love the university lifestyle which is obviously a real problem.

So we thought that we had a good game plan which focused on peoples bad-habits and helping them to gain a solid rhythm in their life by encouraging them to make small changes. This idea, although good, has been moved lower down the list as we realised that the University is already doing a good job of encouraging people to be healthier.

This meant that we changed our focus to something else. After a productive meeting with our client, Emma, we discovered that one of the real problems was communication from the University to the students. This changed our entire mentality to the project. Instead of trying to get people to make changes in their lifestyle we thought that a better idea would be to make people happy while they were on campus.

Mental and physical health is always an issue in any organisation and the University has a great support platform to help people, but there is no point in having that support if no one knows about it. So our new goal is to create something simple that will engage students and make them have fun, while still raising awareness for the support that the university offers.

Overall the project has gone fairly smoothly so far. We have come up with some great ideas and the effort that we have put into doing the research and discovering the core problems has been invaluable. I think that sticking with our ideas and creating something original are the key factors while moving forward in this project.

The Hidden History of Cardiff | Subject/Field group project | 3rd – 23rd February

Credit to Mitchell Scott for the front cover

Credit to Mitchell Scott for the front cover

On the 5th of February we started to work on the first project of the term, making the ordinary extraordinary, specifically focusing on the theme ‘hidden city’. My group, which includes me, Mitchell, Geraint, Amy and Rhys, started to brainstorm ideas and figure out what direction we were heading in. The initial ideas were set around creating a collaborative compilation of all our work, with the main focus being the hidden history of Cardiff. We all gave ourselves a location in Cardiff that we could create the work around as we felt that the group all had different graphical and artistic styles. We wanted to then put all of our work into a book which would have included all of our work, along side facts and statistics about Cardiff and comparing the old and new.

As we started to get on with the work, which was going well, we had a mid-project tutorial with Ray. We presented him the idea along with some of the work we had already produced, but he felt that the project would benefit more from creating one piece of work which showcased all of our skills instead of it just being a compilation of our work. He particularly liked one of Amy’s original ideas, which was to create a map of Cardiff which would include information about each area in an info-graphic style. Here are her original sketches.


After some discussion we decided that this was definitely the best route to go down and we all felt like it was manageable in the two weeks we had left. The main idea was to create a book, in the shape of the map, with each area being highlighted and having its own page that would show statistics and information about it. We decided that each area would be singled out by removing the other areas, and then using that blank space to put all of the information in. The original map was changed slightly as a lot of the locations were quite small meaning that we couldn’t put in a lot of information, not enough for an entire page anyway. To fix this we combined a lot of the map, so that we could feature information about multiple areas in one space. To kick off the creative process Mitch created a vector map of Amy’s sketch, and also assigned us the areas that we could each do.

11004098_1030554666959356_1198559850_nMap of Cardiff

Once we had our locations we were able to get to work, which was pretty exciting for me as I love to create info-graphics. The main area that I had to cover was on the West side of Cardiff, luckily there was a good amount of content to include as St Fagans is a very historical place. The only problem with everyone creating their own info-graphics was that we all had different styles, which could make the book look messy and unprofessional. In the end a lot of our graphics came out the same, as I came up with a good style that we could all follow. Which can be seen below.

City Centre Infographic St Fagans Infographic

I tried to go for a very simple style that would clearly show the main facts of each area, while including images and icons. The group seemed to like it so they also created their info-graphics in this style. Although some of the areas had too much information to fit in the small spaces therefore Rhys and Mitch created graphics which were more text based, which also meant them changing the font from Helvetica to Georgia.

Cathays Whitchurch

Once we had all completed our info-graphics and were happy with them we went to the print studio on campus to get them printed out professionally. We had them printed out on A4 and then cut around the black borders so that they were all relatively in the same shape although it was quite messy, ideally we would have liked to get them laser cut but we didn’t have the time. We bound the book together using some of my string so that we had a prototype to show everyone during our presentation.

In conclusion I feel like the group project was very successful and we achieved what we wanted. Even though we changed ideas mid project, we still came out with a good piece of work that we call contributed to equally. We always communicated and shared our ideas. There was always a fairly positive atmosphere as I feel as if we all wanted to do good work that would impress people. There were a few strong personalities in the group, which was good as everyone would always share their opinions on things and didn’t mind it if people disagreed with them. I think that personally I did well as a group member, I always communicated with the group and made sure that I never accidentally took the wheel and went with my own ideas without consulting the group first. All of these factors definitely played a huge part in creating our final piece, which I am very proud of, and I know the rest of my group are as well.

Making the ordinary extraordinary | Group Project | 2 – 3rd February

We have finally been given a project following the theme ‘Making the ordinary extraordinary’, which will be a group project taking place over the next 3 weeks. There are three sub-themes; hidden city, power & technology and migration. We have to choose one of these themes to base our work on, I went for hidden city as I thought it had the most potential for creative ideas.

Everyone was split into large groups depending on what theme we wanted to do. In those groups we talked about what angle each of us hoped to approach the project from. My idea was to look at Cardiff’s infrastructure, potentially the layout of the power grids and sewage lines, and then see if it was possible to see the similarities they had to an actual map of the city. To find the other members of the group we chose people who had similar ideas to ourselves, which surprisingly wasn’t too hard to do. There are five of us in the group, it includes myself, Rhys Buge, Mitchell Scott, Amy Dunstall and Geraint Jones.

We got together as a group Monday afternoon and most of Tuesday to brainstorm and come up with ideas, as the goal for the end of Tuesday was to come up with a proposal explaining the message we are trying to put across with our work. After putting all of our ideas together we came up with what we think is a good angle on the project. The basic concept is that we want to look back and compare the history of Cardiff to the present day. This is going to include as much information as possible, including crime stats, architecture, people, fashion, population, infrastructure, maps and even how society has changed over the years. This means that we will have to gather a lot of research, and we know that this optimism could potentially be quelled by lack of information on some of the topics. We have only just started thinking of what we could make but we know that it is going to be a series of pieces of work, not just one outcome. I am looking forward to this project, and i’m sure the rest of my group are as well.