First Things First – Article Review

Key word: Priorities

I have chosen the word priorities as my keyword as the article speaks about the direction designers apply their skills and imagination into a world of consumerism, which now has carved the name for what designers do. ‘There are pursuits more worthy of our problem-solving skills’ the article goes on to list ‘unprecedented environmental, social and cultural crises demand our attention. Many cultural interventions, social marketing campaigns, books, magazines, exhibitions, educational tools, television programmes, films, charitable causes and other information design projects urgently require our expertise and help.’

It has made me think about my priorities as a graphic designer, what I want to do with my own skill set when when I undertake design work in future. It has also made me think about peoples thoughts about the design profession, if they think we are consumer driven designers after the next pay check, when we could be using our design skills for cultural crises and campaigns.



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Will Bradley

Will Bradley was an illustrator and artist during the Art Nouveau period, his work aesthetically drew heavily from the Arts and Craft movement and Japanese block printing.

The video below shows a comprehensive slideshow of his work.


Printing and graphic arts underwent rapid changes in the United States in the late ninetieth century. Bradley took ideas from the arts and crafts movement, art nouveau and Japanese designs.

Will Bradley relates to art nouveau because he used flowing natural curves in his designs. He also used whiplash curves which had also been born from the art nouveau movement which resembled curves form a crack of a whip.

His main work was for magazines, designing both covers and interiors. Bradley also designed posters for publishers and other companies, often of fashionable women in natural surroundings.

Colour lithography for printing large scale posters were being rapidly improved which created a rapid poster craze throughout the United States.


A striking, high contrast poster using black, red, and the white of the paper. The bicycle club logo is repeated in a pattern to create a background, with cycling silhouettes ibradley_1_lgn the foreground. The thin white spaces between the different figures help to separate and define them.

The eye is drawn to the bright red areas, so Bradley has used this to highlight the most important things like the cyclists and dates. The font of the text is thick and straight, making the already very rigid composition more solid.

The softer wing logos in the background are more delicate, helping to soften the piece a little.

This poster (right) is more flowing and smooth, using the stylish whiplash curves and organic decoration prevalent in Art Nouveau. The scene depicted is less direct with what it is advertising, instead being a beautiful scene to attract viewer attention.

The contrast in detail and texture makes the image pop, with the densely lined hair and plants sitting right next to the block coloured skin and background. Many of the curls and curves spiral in towards the woman who is the focus of the image, drawing you in.

Again, important points like the first letters of words are highlighted to make it easier and quicker to read and absorb information from the poster. The simple plant decoration in the corner fills what would otherwise be white space, preventing distraction from the actual content.

Poster for The Chap Book 1895

The chapbook was a magazine that often featured illustrations such as this one. The large, smooth shapes with vivid colour are reminiscent of Japanese woodblock prints, a common influence to Art Nouveau design. Smooth and powerful curves also flow through the image, making it feel organic and lively.

The garments the two figures wear bloom out like flowers, inspiring thoughts of plants and the natural world. The areas with the most detail are the platters of fruit, and through drawing the eye towards them attention is also brought to the faces of those carrying them. Their subtle smiles could perhaps be to intrigue you and make you wonder their thoughts.

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 14.41.38.pngThe Modern Poster 1895

This poster uses minimal colour to avoid distraction from the intense pattern of the peacocks feathers, with their syncopated curves typical to Art Nouveau. Animals and plants were commonly depicted in design from this movement.

The little variation in colour near the top helps divide the image into the body and tail, their styles being quite different. Abstract curves in the top right draw more attention to the detailed head of the peacock, and thus the start of the title above its head (THE MODERN POSTER). Little plant motifs are again used in the blank space in the text box to fill it and avoid attention being drawn to its blankness.

Early Graphic Design – Art Nouveau

Key Factors from powerpoint:

  • The development of department stores, mail order catalogues, and mass-production of goods. The sudden appearance of so many goods on the market meant that manufacturers needed to brand and advertise to show people what they had for sale and why anyone should favour it.
  •   The rise of innovation in machinery and technology especially the development of lithographic printing and large rolls of paper. This meant that larger, coloured print runs could be done much more quickly and cheaper and so posters and magazines suddenly became easy to produce. These could include advertisements.
  •   The popularity of the Art Nouveau style meant that people wanted to buy posters so that they could have art on their walls. The craze for the poster meant that magazines published give-aways and poster packs and this made Art Nouveau even more popular creating a demand for more posters and magazines.

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 14.22.57.png

Brands that originated around this time: Heinz, Cadburys, Fry’s chocolate.


New inventions in printing meant that lithography could make coloured printing faster and cheaper. It started using stones as printing plates, using water and oils. Metal rollers were developed in the USA making the process so much quicker. The paper rolls over the rollers, or as many rollers as colours are needed. Later rubber rollers made the process even quicker and cheaper.

Printing presses also developed through Linotype (literally a line of type) where a line of type was created and molten metal poured into the mould to form a “slug”. Monotype machines could later create while pages of type from a keyboard and these were used up until the 1970s. These inventions made the printing of books, magazines and newspapers far easier.

Invention of massive rolls of paper helped to speed up printing. This was enabled through the discovery of chemicals that could help manipulate the making of paper. Chemicals also helped the inking processes, enabling the ink to dry faster and so speeded up the while process of printing.

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 14.29.09.pngThe bicycle gave women a lot of freedom at the time. The bicycle in the poster was representing modernity, a new form of freedom. The poster shows the woman ‘disturbing the peace’ by cycling through the geese which are running away. There is a couple in the background that look like farmers due to the clothing they ware wearing, hunched over looking onwards to the lady on the bike.


In this contextual studies lesson we were covering Impressionism from around 1860-1910. I found this lesson quite insightful as it has been a long time since I have covered impressionism in depth like this.

Modernism (movement) – modern art, new visual communication. (Tate)

modernity – the quality of being modern

Here are all my notes from today:

Impression Sunrise – Monet

3Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 13.32.46.png or more word to describe this artwork: unfinished, brush strokes, limited colour, shapes.

After looking at this painting I firstly noticed the visible brush strokes

Impressionism broke traditions and allowed artists to paint ordinary things like landscapes and  people working. Like with most new art movements people detested this new kind of painting as it wasn’t what they were used to. ‘Impression used painting to do what photography could not, photographs capture the visible, immobile facts, but they do not capture the essence of the moment. Impressionists did not want to represent a fixed moment in time; they wanted to create the impression of a moment passing through time (’.

Photography disrupted art, people thought the ‘camera couldn’t lie’. People began to start thinking that art no longer had a role to document events.

The Birth of Venus – Cabanal:

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 13.46.14.pngQuick comparison: More detailed, faces and body language, no visual brush strokes (Impressionists wanted to show bush strokes). We discussed the term illusionistic, meaning the context of this painting cannot be real despite the realism from the painting. The body language of the woman is very exposed, it suggests glamour, she is passive,  allowing the viewer permission to look at her even though she is naked. However when the artwork would be displayed in ‘salons’ where this painting would make women feel uncomfortable, due to the fact the artists has painted the perfect pure woman, which also objectifies women.

We discussed if the sexes were swapped and this was a man in this pose it would make him look weak and feeble.

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 13.58.54.pngthe male gaze is the act of depicting the world and women in the visual arts and in literature from a masculine and heterosexual point of view, which present women as objects of male pleasure”.

Olympia – Manet

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 14.09.03.png

VTS: I thought originally thought it was of an important woman with a slave. However thinking of the time period it would of been a servant.  I thought of importance from the jewellery she wears, the flower in her hair and the servant holding the large bouquet of flowers.

‘At the Salon of 1863, The Birth of Venus was one of a multitude of female nudes. Bathed in opalescent colors, Venus shyly looks to the viewer from beneath the crook of her elbow. Two years later, Manet presented his now renowned painting Olympia at the Salon as well. Today both hang in the Musee’d’ Orsay. Unlike Venus’s ethereal-like palette, Manet painted Olympia with pale, placid skin tone, and darkly outlined the figure. Her only seemingly modest gesture is her placement of her hand over her leg, though it is not out of shyness- one must pay before they can see.’ (

Above is a piece of text that I found very interesting especially thinking back to the salons where the art is showcased that Manet 2 years later showed his work in the same salon as Cabanal. The people were outraged when they saw this, they hated the way the model looked out of the painting into the viewers gaze, they questioned the woman hygiene calling her dirty from brownish marks on her body.

The public recognised the woman for what she did, prostitution. This was a common thing for women to do especially in Paris in the 1800’s as poverty was a big problem so women done this for survival. As the woman isn’t in such a passive position and she is actually staring out to the viewer the male gaze doesn’t apply, perhaps even challenging it.

Manet was a realist – bringing what is happening to the publics attention.

James Rubin writes of the two works: “The Olympia is often compared to Cabanel’s Birth of Venus, for the latter is a far more sexually appealing work, despite its mythological guise… It is evident Manet’s demythologizing of the female nude was foremost a timely reminder of modern realities. The majority of critics attacked the painting with unmitigated disgust…: “What is this odalisque with the yellow belly, ignoble model dredged up from who knows where?” [And] “The painter’s attitude is of inconceivable vulgarity.”

The Stone Breakers – Courbet

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 14.20.15.pngworking class – clothing ripped, dirty

real father and son working, cannot see their faces, blocked view of viewer and painter. This is not an illusion, this is real.


Paris Street Rainy Day – Caillebotte

Screen Shot 2017-11-15 at 14.30.31.png

modernity in the sense of the topic. Caillebotte’s painting was based on photography. We discussed a few points of why: on the far right there is a man that has been heavily cropped out, something that is very unusual in a painting, this can be seen with a pair of dangling legs under the umbrella near the centre. In comparison with Monet’s Impression sunrise this is much more detailed with less visible brush strokes and less emotion in the painting relating to impressionism capturing a feeling that photography can’t.


Branding: Options Brief

I have now received the brief for Branding and are option Illustration or Photography. It is important to note that whatever I choose for this brief I will need to stick with in Project X.

We are to design a double page spread for a new first edition of a magazine called ‘Science’. The ethos of the magazine is to present complex and difficult scientific topics in plain language and easily understood narrative so that it can bring science to the ordinary person.

The choice of articles:

Of illusion and delusion: Why we ignore science and have faith in the imagined

Magic Girl Power: From Carrie to Matilda to Hermione – the empowerment of girls through magic in fiction

Spooky action at a distance: Quantum entanglement and why it seems supernatural

Cyclops Uncovered: Scientific sources of monsters and magical creatures

Alchemy for the fuel age: The search for cold fusion and its conspiracy theories

Ghostbusters: Does ultrasound cause apparitions?


Negative Space

I have recently been discovering some effective uses of negative space in logo design. This can be an engaging design technique, incorporating letterforms and illustrations can help combine the context of the brand into the logo.

Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space occasionally is used to artistic effect as the “real” subject of an image. (

Below are some discovered on pinterest:


Exhibition Reviews

Type Archive: Wolpe

(Toshi Omagari who was present at the exhibition had digitalised the typefaces by Wolpe below.)


Before visiting the Type Archive I had a quick look online about Berthed Wolpe’s work and the typefaces he had designed. Wolpe wasn’t a designer I had heard of before. I had a understanding of each typeface designed before entering the exhibition, however it was good to see how these had been incorporated into design work to give me a whole new understanding of each typeface and the message he wanted to convey through each one.



To see original productions drawing for the Alberts typeface was very interesting especially seeing the measurements and intricate hand drawn work, something that is is very overlooked in design as we are now used to grabbing typefaces we feel fit and not thinking about the history and story behind them.


Seeing the typeface being used from London street signage to Sainsbury’s packaging to a series of album covers was useful to see how robust it was. The copper patterns of Alberts created during the original production press made me think back to the early stages of typography and back to my learning about letterpresses, again something about the history of type I want to learn more about, as I feel I need to understand it fully to understand the typefaces I’m using in my design work.


digitalised by Toshi Omagari

Wolpe Fanfare



One of my favourite typefaces from this exhibition by Wolpe was Sachsenwald.

A blackletter, gothic script typeface that originally fell into the genre that the Nazi regime turned into its signature script in 1930s. Which failed to ignite passion for black letter in wartime Britain.

My keyword/takeaway from this first exhibition would be history. Being the first exhibition we visited it made me think a lot into type history and processes that I started to realise I could easily overlook it.


St Brides Library:


South London lettering arts is the next exhibition we visited. We have been to this exhibition before but this time with some new pieces that I had not seen before.  (left) This is one of my favourites pieces from this exhibit. The use of black letter, gothic styled type instantly conveys feelings of propaganda and constructivism. This is also reinforced by the black and red colours, a common combination in propaganda, the star that is centralised and cuts into the text, and the illustration. The illustration is really effective, built up of small white shoes on a black silhouette showing a soldier pointing out at you, similar to the classic American ‘I Want You’ with ‘Uncle Sam’.

Thinking of typography this has shown me how much information a typeface can carry and the history behind it. From the first exhibition looking into Berthed Wolpe’s typefaces, especially Sachsenwald where the Nazi’s used the similar style of type as pictured above in their regime, where extensive propaganda was used to spread the regime’s goals and ideals.

(Attilio Medda – Propaganda)

House of MinaLima:

This was my least favourite exhibition of the three, mainly because I have never seen a Harry Potter film (which seemed to be a sin to the rest of the group) however I didn’t take in the typography around me and the context it was used for.

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