FMPPosted: May 12, 2017
So, this is the Final Major Project. The last project, not just of the year, but of university as a whole. I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly!
Ideas and Research
I felt like I was really struggling to come up with an idea at the start of this project. I don’t know whether it was the pressure to think of something substantial, as this was our very last project at uni, but it just seemed like I couldn’t think of anything that was good enough/could work for a 6+ week project. Everything I was coming up with was either something I had previously done a project on, or just something I didn’t think would have enough substance/hold my focus for the whole project.
In one tutorial, while people were trying to think of things I was interested in, I mentioned something about language and creativity. I think the conversation then went on to puns, but it was then brought back to something slightly more serious.
I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with the English language, particularly in things like music and jokes. Both music and jokes use a lot of double meaning to add humour or wit. I also regularly watch watch Don’t Flop, a rap battle channel on YouTube. I don’t watch these videos because I’m an angry, drug dealing youth from the ends. I watch these videos because they show some of the most creative uses of the English language I’ve come across in modern society. Unlike the restrictions of social media (140 characters), the limitations of fitting your verbal assault into a rhyming scheme or sometimes just a few bars seems to breed creativity in the battlers.
I took this idea of creative language and I came up a lot of possible routes for it, so that I could settle on exactly what the content would be at a later date.
I started doing research and found that a lot of articles were actually saying that creativity in our language seems to be dying off, one even saying that our language is devolving. When thinking out it there are some pretty obvious example of this in our society, one being a rather unique world leader.
This made me think that maybe my project shouldn’t just be able creative language as a whole, but that it should be about trying to encourage people to use more creativity.
I knew before the project even started that the I wanted to do a book or magazine because I haven’t done any proper typographic/layout work before. Now that I had settled on doing a project about language, I was definitely going to do something like this. I then started looking at pieces of layout/editorial design for inspiration and to try to figure out what kind of style it was that I like because I’ve never done any myself before.
I noticed that a lot of the designs that I liked were using a lot of white space and used a bold, sans serif. Before starting to design any spreads, I decided to choose which typefaces I would be using because I thought it would make the designs process a bit smoother, having one less thing to worry about.
Using articles found from my research, I then wrote the content for my book. I originally wrote 6 chapters, but for a better flow to how it read and due to the length of it, I decided to take one of these out.
Before starting this project, I had an idea that I really liked for exhibition. The idea was to have a book that was part printed and part projected. Body copy, and things like page numbers, would be printed onto the pages of the physical book, but the more visually interesting, expressive typography could be projected and therefor animated. I loved the idea of having a physical book that could animate because it would have been so striking and interesting. The problem was that the book would have to know which page the reader was on to be able to let the computer know which pages it needed to project. I had no idea where to begin with this. When I realised this could work perfectly for my book about language, I went to speak to David (and most importantly Matt) about just how feasible an idea it was. Rather disappointingly, it wasn’t, at least not for the time frame I had.
I was quite frustrated because I was struggling to think of an idea that I thought would have impact in an exhibition, but I then realised that I could compromise a bit and adapt the idea to work with posters. I had no idea what these posters would be, but I thought it could be cool to have physical posters that could animate. The best part of this idea was that all I would need was posters and a projector with a looped video, meaning I wouldn’t have to code anything!
As I thought the book would take the longest to design and I wanted to make sure the posters and book had the same look and feel, I wanted to design the book before doing anything for the posters.
I started work on the book almost as soon as I had gotten it written (did some visual research and picked out typefaces first). It was quite an unnerving and uncomfortable task for me. Most of the work I’ve done in the past (both in and out of uni) has been either quite illustration based, or it hasn’t really required much handling of type. The majority of the time, I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing, I was just creating things and hoping that they worked.
I could tell that some of the spreads weren’t working straight away, but I could only tell that others were working once somebody (usually David) pointed it out. As well as layout design, I think I was struggling with the typographic side of the design. I knew a little bit about typography, things like widows and hanging punctuation, but I still felt like it wasn’t really enough and that I didn’t really know what I was doing. One tutorial in particular, where David told me that I need to fix my rag. I had no idea what he was talking about! So, I did what I did throughout this project when I was confused about typography or layout design, I went and asked a few of my course mates that I knew were more comfortable with this kind of work than I was.
During a tutorial, it was suggested that the designs of the 3 posters should be taken from the more expressive spread designs in the book. For the presentation, I designed print versions of all 3 posters and made animated GIFs of two of them.
I went through quite a few iterations of certain spreads before the book was ready for the presentation, but I had managed to produce a 68 page book that I was fairly happy with. There were still things to change before it was ready for exhibition, but it was nothing major.
I’ve had quite a lot of trouble with my posters. Since the presentation, I have animated the third poster and put all 3 into a video, ready to be projected (The black border is to stop the light from the projector from showing on the wall around the posters, when on display in the exhibition). I have also created print files for the posters, without the expressive typography, ready to be projected onto. The only problem is the projector. I’ve tested projecting the video onto A2 paper (the size of the posters), but if I match the width of the two together, the projection bleeds off of the paper by about 60/70mm. Now, I know that the dimensions of the paper and the white spaces in the video are the same, so that means the projector is stretching my video. This means I’m not going to be able to have these posters for my submission, but I’m going to try to sort out the issue before the actual exhibition.
I made quite a few changes to the book between presentation and printing, although none of them were very big. I think the most challenging part of this post presentation/setting up for exhibition time has been printing. It just seemed like yet another in a long line of things I’ve had no idea about throughout this project. Printing was different to the other things I didn’t know much about, with the other things I at least had a little bit of knowledge.. I knew nothing about printing. Things like paper weight and needing your number of pages needing to be a multiple of 4 were completely alien to me. And, actually, I think this is all stuff we REALLY should have been taught about (and I’m meaning more than just one or two workshops in first year). Thing like how to correctly setup a document to print and even the finer details of what the different paper weights and types are should be things we know by the end of our final year, but I went into this project knowing none of it (slight exaggeration, I mostly know how to setup a document to print).
Printing has also been very stressful because, as of writing this, I am yet to receive my books from the printer, so I’m really worried that I’ve messed up somewhere along the line and it’s just going to be a mess.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my work for this project. Despite feeling lost and confused throughout the majority of this project, I think I’ve managed to produce a book that looks good. Although it’s been very stressful, I think I’ve learnt a lot too, mostly from my course mates. I definitely feel much more confident with typography and layout now, although I’m still unsure what I’d be like with proper editorial work. I’ve been very reluctant to call my work editorial because it’s all type based and has a lot of expressive typography in it. I feel like working on something like a magazine, that would require imagery and much bigger bodies of text, would be a completely new challenge. I think that after uni, I would like to try working on something like a magazine to see just how different it is. I also want to do something like a magazine because the research for this project has sparked a real interest in magazines and editorial work in me.
It feels very strange to think that my time at university it over now, the time has gone incredibly quickly! Even though I don’t feel that my technical skills have improved much over these 3 years, I do think that coming to Cardiff Met has changed that way that I design and definitely the way that I think about design. I feel like I think for myself a lot more now, no longer just emulating designs I like. I also think I now place an awful lot more importance on the thought behind a design. I used to think that a great design was great just because it looked good, but I now see that it’s more than that. A great piece of design looks good and has a reason why it looks the way it does.
As a whole, I’ve enjoyed my time here.
Thank you for having me.