On the 30th October, as a group we met up in college to get feedback on our designs which we had gone away and sketched out, develop and refine ideas and finally to make our pieces and test out the printing process. This was really useful to make sure we were on the right track, and be able to see other peoples thought processes and approaches to the task.
In this blog post, I wish to explore what went well, not so well, and what I would improve if I could do the project again. I’ll be dissecting each page I created.
Visual Communication –
MPN – I think this design communicates the messages I wanted to get across and meets the brief well. I used redundant imagery, which the reader would expect to see, in the form of a hand drawn bird and a letter held under the birds wing. This obvious placement of imagery visually aids the reader to help better understand the purpose of the article. I think the typefaces used could have more contrast between them, and this would help make my design more eye catching and interesting to read. I do like how i’ve contrasted small caps with lowercase letters, however the impact of the sans serif typeface is a little bit lost and the bottom of the page. I think I maybe should have aligned the “MPN” on one line, and had mobile pigeon network below all on one line. This would not only free up space on the page, but given a stronger alignment, and the segregation between the two different texts would be more clear. With MPN aligned from top to bottom, the text is a little bit lost and makes readability harder.
“Don’t Get a Dud Spud”
I had fun working on this article. I liked the general concept and ideas seemed to just flow naturally throughout the development of ideas process. In terms of imagery, I wasn’t completely happy with my illustration just off center of the page. My artistic abilities are very limited, however I think the idea of a lightbulb squashed into a potato would work well if executed with a bit more finesse. I also think I could have paid closer attention to the hand written type and what purpose it actually served in the design. It worked well when I used it in a sign context to the right of the page, as many signs are handwritten. I do however like the heading typeface. I think it works well and almost reminds me of an old war propaganda poster. The typewriter font makes it easy for the audience to capture a sense of the article. I don’t however like the centered alignment of the three lines, I wish I had stuck with a stronger left alignment, as I think the eye is drawn to the letter A and detracts from the rest of the text. If I were to improve on this article, I would change the alignment of the header, and pay more attention to the type used below the heading, as I think I could have strived for stronger contrasts, thus making it a more interesting and appealing design.
Again, I had a lot of fun making this piece. Ideas were easy to come by and I had a strong visual image from the outset of what I wanted to design, though wasn’t adverse to change and development along the way. The bold shadowed stencil used for the heading, in my opinion, works well and stands out center aligned at the top of the page. However I think the typeface used could have conveyed more of a message, maybe something more serif implying age and formality, or perhaps an army stencil that would relate back to the ideologies of the zine. I like the serif typeface used on the can, though I think the words may be a bit lost across the thumbprint. If I were to improve on the design, I would move the text on the can above the thumbprint so it looks less hectic and muddled in the middle.
“Don’t Get Left In the Dark”
I think out of all the articles I produced, this is the one where all the typefaces compliment eachother the best. I like the use of used cut out type from a newspaper. The serif typeface increases the readability, however, the jumbled formation of the type and the different point sizes give it a more rough look, almost mocking the conventions of the serif typeface. I gathered inspiration from the sex pistols, a punk band with the same DIY attitude I was trying to get across. I also like how the glow stick type is light weighted and thin, like fragile sticks. This typeface contrasts well with the free flowing hand written looking stencil used in the other articles on the page. There is clear segregation between each section and this is done by the different contrasting typefaces. I don’t however like the illustrations used. The dangle a candle illustration should be bigger and more prominent on the page, as its quite a funny feature compared to the other two more generic ideas. I could have developed more original ideas to generate light, and this would in turn have given me a more interesting design by the end.
In this project, I found the research really interesting. I feel I have strengthened my knowledge of the historical background of type and print and how it has evolved over time. I can now identify different styles of typefaces and pick out key features that defines the typeface. I found effective and interesting resources which really aided me in my development. With this background knowledge, I was able to pick out characteristics of different typefaces and implement them in certain parts of my design effectively. If im totally honest, I didn’t really enjoy this project as much as I’d hoped. I found it quite fiddly, and difficult to get a perfect design due to the vast amount of variables, such as the different point sizes in found type etc. Also as previously stated, i’m not the most accomplished artist, so hand drawing things actually frustrated me as strived for perfection often. Also looking at a wide range of examples of type and how it is used to express certain feelings and ideologies before being read.
I looked at many different examples of type in books, magazines and newspapers. I did this to gather ideas for what might work well in my own articles. In this blog post, i’m going to explore what might work well in each individual design, and why I’ve chosen each example of type.
MPN Article – After playing around with type on a template, I wanted to dissect what worked well and what didn’t work so well. I like the general idea and concept of the design, with focus on the main image in the center, however I think the typography doesn’t pose any impact on the reader. I do however like the bold, shadowed type used for the MPN Logo. I think the ‘get your beak on’ text should be moved up, and maybe using a a sans serif font, all in lower case. This will give the piece a more personal feel, and gives strong contrast to the other bolder sans serif typeface.
other typefaces I looked at but rejected:
I cut out this typeface from an Arsenal magazine I had in my bedroom. Although I like the appearance of the typeface, I don’t think it works well in relation to this project. This modern geometric sans font is too light weighted to stand out enough on the page, and the point size is too small. for a tagline i think it needs to be bold and less rigid and formal for the MPN article.
I like this typeface and what the messages it shows, e,g hand written – persoanl, love, red-passion love. However for the purpose of this article its a little too free flowing and the texture of the font, in my opinion, won’t add anything to my design. I want something big and bold, but casual and smooth.
I looked at my stencils to see if there was anything I could use for the tagline. The first type on the page i think is too formal too use, however the second typeface looks fun. The strong contrast between thick and thin strokes adds contrast in relation to the shadowed type, that has no contrast between thick and thin strokes, and is all uppercase, opposed to the lowercase above.
I want to draw attention to the “Glenda Slagg” typeface. This Egyptian slab serif typeface used is quite effective as a header and gives strong readability from the strong block like serifs. Although this works well on this page, I don’t think it will contrast well with the other typeface I want to use. On this page, the hollow looking typeface contrasts well with the line below, being a sans serif bold black typeface.
I like this Roman typeface. It looks like typewriter font. I can replicate this by using my alphabet stamps that look the same as this. I think for the text at the bottom of my design it may contrast well with the rest of the fonts in the design.
“Dont Get Left In The Dark” article:
Again, I looked at different combinations of type for this design. I had quite a clear visual image of what I wanted to achieve, however I looked at different examples in magazines and newspapers to find the best combination.
I looked at the type on the front cover of this Private Eye annual. Although bold, the typeface is quite dated and the varying point sizes would make it hard to fit onto an a5 document.
Although, if enlarged, this typeface could look effective as a title. However, it looks very childish and comic like, which is where the typeface is found, in a Beano comic!
Bold, modern type used in newspaper headlines stood out and makes the reader aware its an informative piece. I like this typeface, I think if cut out into individual characters, and stuck down with glue in a jumbled fashion, it may resemble existing peices such as the sex pistols iconic punk look. As you can see in the example below, the type has been jumbled together in varying sizes and weights, creating contrast between all the letters and drawing the audience in with its crude design.
The main image I plan to place centrally, with type above and below the image. I feel like the heading needs to be bold and be the most prominent on the page. With this in mind, I searched for a big bold sans serif typeface that would stand out from the rest of the type, and be read first. The point size of the heading should also be larger.
I looked at lots of different typefaces for the heading, here are some examples of what I rejected:
I liked the font used on the front of this Beano magazine. Its big and bold and the reader is instantly drawn to the text, with the imagery placed below. Although the geometric sans typeface is quite pleasing to the eye, and is along the lines of what i’m looking for, I think the rounded corners of the typeface give it a childish edge, and may not have the right connotations for my product that although is tongue and cheek and funny, its directed at an older audience
I was also drawn to this typeface, an advert placed at the bottom of a newspaper. The bold sans serif typeface stands out and when contrasted with a lighter weighted font below. Again its slightly distorted, and the x-height is very slightly different for every character, which gives an informal feeling to the design. I think for the purpose of my design, it may be too gimmicky for something thats supposed to come across quite serious, but with a funny underlaying feature.
I explored different printing techniques which would aid me when making my pages for my zine. I looked at the history of printing and the different techniques used:
Wood Block – The oldest for of letterpress, wood block printing has a long history in both Europe and Asia. An image is carved into wood in reverse, inked up, and paper is then pressed down on top, to transfer the image onto the paper. I looked at an interesting resources to gather information about wood block type www.woodtype.org.
Moveable Type – Invented in the 15th century, moveable type is individual characters being arranged to make meaningful words on a letterpress. The type can be made of either wood or metal, and is hand crafted by craftsman. This technique meant that that printers could publish multiple copies of lengthy printed materials and books. It remained the most common printing technique until photo typesetting was invented around the 1950s
Letterpress – Still alive today, Letter presses work on a much smaller scale these days normally by specialty shops. A relief printing technique, where many copies are produced by repeated direct impression of inked, raised surface against sheets.
Phototypesetting – A process that became redundant after the invention of the personal computer and desktop publishing software. A photographic process to generate columns of type on a scroll of photographic paper
Offset Printing – Still one of the most commonly used methods of printing and is often called lithography. Its created by using plates generated for each colour in the printing proccess, CMYK. Some projects may require only two colours, where as 4 colours may be used for others. Offset printing is a lithographic process, based on the repulsion of oil and water.
Flexography – Doesn’t work with the standard plates of offset printing. Instead of repelling water, it uses water based inks which dry quicker and allow for faster production times. Essentially is the modern version of the letterpress that can used to print of almost any material such as plastic, metallic films, cellphane and paper.
Engraving – One of the most expensive and time consuming of all the printing techniques. The engraved image is first carved by hand or machine onto a metal plate. The engraved grooves are filled with ink and then paper is pressed onto it. The result is slightly raised, crisp images and saturated colours that are nearly impossible to reproduce with other techniques.
Thermography – This process involes laying ink down, adding thermography powder, then using heat to raise the image slightly off the page. The result is similar to engraving, though the final product has less finer details than the engraving process that are hard to spot to the untrained eye, but other professionals would pick out, however this proccess is more cost effective than the engraving technique.
Silkscreen Printing/ Screen printing – A design is laid on top of a screen (originally made of silk, although many different materials are used now) which is coated with photo emulsion and exposed to light. The exposed emulsion hardens, and the rest can be washed away, leaving a stencil that ink can be pulled through using a squeegee.
Inkjet – Most common solution within the modern day household, inkjet is the most feasible solution for small print runs. The process involves the printer communicating with a computer to digitally retrieve the image. The printer sprays ink onto the paper, usually using 4 to 8 inks in a CMYK process and can produce richly saturated colours on a variety of materials.
Digital – Uses toner, which instead of being absorbed into the paper, sits on top. while the quality of print has increased significantly since the original concept came about, it can’t match the quality of offset lithography in small details and colour-matching
I did a couple of test runs for my designs to see how they would look on paper, and whether I should change the type or the imagery. I found this useful to visualise the end product, and it helped me develop new ideas, and aided my learning in relation to the relationship between typefaces, and there role in the history of type. I was hoping to use a variety of printing techniques including:
- Hand drawn type and imagery
- Moveable type – Alphabet stamps & letraset
- Existing type – old newspapers, Beano/Dandy comics.
Here is a mock up, good for testing ideas.
I took a look at the history of zines to see what inspiration I could gather, and understand what zines stood for in relation to the history of type and the printing process.
1930 – “The Comet”, supposedly the first science fiction fanzine published
1930-1960 – Mimeograph duplicating machine available, a stencil duplicator that works by forcing ink through a stencil onto paper.
1944 – Xerography invented – A printing and photocopying techinique that works on the basis of electrostatic charges. Used in photocopiers, laser printers, and fax machines.
1961 – IBM Selectric Typewriter introduced – it transformed the speed, accuracy, flexiblity with which people could generate a written word, and help create the first keyboards and use of computers.
1960’s – 1970’s – zines charactersized by synergy between outspoken politcal comentary, literary experimentation, and rock critics.
1960s – inexpensive offset printing was created, and would be used to create alternative newspapers and underground comics.
1967 – The Underground Press Syndicate was established – A network of countercultural newspapers and magazines formed by five underground papers
- The east Village Other
- Los Angeles Free Press
- Berkeley Barb
- The Paper
- Fifth Estate
The people involved hoped that the sydicate would sell national advertising space, however this never happened.
1970s – Punk rock zines burst onto the scene – Punk culture included its own fashion styles, and a alternative view on film and visual art. The movements DIY attitude towards not only publishing, but music, lead to a massive boom in the creation of zines, who seized the medium of self publishing. Punk culture has a big role to play when it comes to zines, most have punk roots.
1980s – The photocopier machine is becoming increasingly popular with zines makers and self publishers, which Kinkos copy shops beginning to pop up. Mike Gunderloy published the first mimeographed “Factsheet Five” zine review list.
1990’s – Desktop publishing software began to emerge, and zine makers began to use this medium to self produce inexpensively, and distributed via the internet.
As part of my research into zines, I looked at a website called ‘Doodlers Anonymous’. The website was founded to celebrate the love of doodling and drawing. Everyone does it whether it be on the phone or just picking up a pen and some paper and drawing your surroundings. I took inspiration from the website where amateurs and professionals showcase their sketchbooks of random doodles.
In relation to the zine project, its encouraging to see other peoples sketches, and I want to be able to sketch my bird for the ‘MPN’ article.
I looked at several artists, but one that particularly caught my eye was Chris Piascik, who displayed his sketchbook filled with mainly interesting combinations of type. but also small little redundant embellishments that relate to the subject of the artwork.
I also drew inspiration from a a zine on fantasteek. A simple design that used different coloured papers and high contrast in the dark illustrations and the bright paper.
The design below on the left of the double page spread, has a really interesting contrast, and i like how all the text and imager inside the black box is the same as the yellow boarder. This gives the impression it has been cut out and I think looks really eye catching. There is also strong contrasts in every line of the text. This makes it really interesting to read and the different styles and weights compliment each other well.
The type on this page at the bottom is interesting. Relating to computers and looks very dated and old. very ‘blocky’ type, almost pixilated. the banner at the top has different depths within each word, strong contrast between formal serif type, hand written sans serif type, also noticing the difference in capitals.