Monday, October 25, 2010

Various things I like

I like this design for Journal Deluxe and it's use of overprinting spot colours. It creates quite a dynamic effect and the wave effect is something I'm going to try and apply to the 'Drink The Kool Aid' Jonestown design. I think the really simple geometric nature of it works really well and the different distances they travel across the page creates quite a dynamic effect. I don't think the colours work particularly work, they've gone for 'complimentary' red and green, but I personally don't like the way complimentary colours go together. It seems almost kitsch, like it harks back to the kind of design in the seventies.

This is an example of how extremely simple design can be incredibly effective. The circular shapes create a strong visual presence, and the use of colour (or lack there of) with everything reversed out against it avoids the objects getting lost in loads of white space.

This design by Moshik Nadavad works because it's use of a large amount of negative space, within which sits very clear and regimented design. The cults brief I started seems to be working on a similar principle, though this is actually a much more dynamic and irregular layout to mine, almost simulating elements of collage, in fact it reminds me of some of the work Vickie Simpson produces.

I couldn't find a credit for this design, but I thought the way the symbols worked created quite an interesting and ambiguous aesthetic that I want to capture with the spot varnish elements to my book.

This branding/map design uses very nice typographical choices and a strong logo constructed from a simple tear drop shape. The pattern that it creates as they're overlayed provides something a little more visually stimulating than the use of a tear drop on it's own might.

The thing I really love about this piece of design is the use of geometric shapes combined with very well gridded typography. There are a few thing I dislike, for example the red stripe down the side of the page of body copy. It feels like they were trying to avoid having a blank white page but haven't come to a satisfactory resolution of this problem.

I found this image but I couldn't find a credit. The simple shape and colour presence is again what works, and I think this simplicity is somethign I need to refer back to whenever looking at my own design practice. Throwing too much at something or trying to be too complex can often be a hinderence to a brief, rather than a success. The use of serif type here actually really compliments the design, I wouldn't normally ever use a serif font in my work, but I guess there are a few rare occasions where it may be appropriate.

Finally some more research on identity. The angular shape is a really strong and simple shape thats quite dynamic and it applies well across a range of products in various colours. Again, this shows how effective an ambiguous symbol can be, as long as you get the shapes right you can actually say a lot with not much.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cults, facts and figures

Peoples Temple

-'reaching a maximum of 3000 members'-

-death toll 914-

-Spiritual leader- Jim 'Dad' Jones.

-Spiritual home. Jonestown Guyana

-Core beliefs= Mixture of Communism, Socialism and Pentecostal Christianity

-founded in 1955

-ended 1978 (at the time of the Jonestown Massacre)

-The use of cyanide-laced Grape flavoured Kool Aid to kill its members has led to the phrase 'Drink the kool aid' which means to blindly accept or believe in something without questioning it.

The Manson Family

-Peak membership around 100:

-death toll 7-

-Spiritual leader- Charles Manson

-spiritual home- Spahn Movie Ranch-

-core beliefs- Hippie based doomsday cult, predicting a race related end of the world

-founded in 1967

-ended in 1969

Famous quote' Now is The Time For Helter Skelter'- Charles Manson was obsessed with the Beatles and believed the recently released White Album was a coded message aimed at the Manson Family, instructing them what to do about the coming apocalypse. Helter Skelter was Manson's term for the uprising of the Blacks, the murders he committed were an attempt to bring about the 'Helter Skelter'.-


-Peak Membership 10Million and growing-

-Death Toll: 0 known deaths

-Spiritual leader: David Miscavige, formerly founder Ron L. Hubbard

-Spiritual Home: Gold Base/int. base San Jacincto California

-Core beliefs: The study of the mind, which like Buddhism is an eternal reincarnating presence. Also the belief that a long time ago in a galaxy far away, a Warlord called Xenu who enslaved a race called the Thetans who were thrown into a volcano o our planet. Their spirits then possess the bodies of humans and cause all their unwanted pain and emotions.-

-Founded 1954-

-still going strong

-Famous Quote- "We are not a cult" stands out after watching the Panorama investigation into Scientology, whenever they were challenge on accusations of being a cult, they would also respond with the same defensive 'We are not a cult'.

This last one I've chosen, not because it's destructive like I had intended with all of them, but because it's ridiculous. If I use this one, then I have one mass suicide cult, one homicidal cult, one thats become/becoming institutionalised and one that is absolutely absurd:

The Raelian Church

Peak Membership: 70,000 worldwide (allegedly)

Death Toll: 0

Spiritual Leader:Rael (Claude Vorilhon)

Spiritual Home: The as yet unbuilt Elohim Embassy, a proposed embassy for the Aliens to land.

Founded in 1974

Still going

Quotes: To describe their God-character, the Aliens that came to populate the Earth at the birth of man, they describe them as the Elohim. 'Those Who Came From The Sky'. It has quite an obscure twang to it, and it definitely sums up their bizarre beliefs quite well.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Rationale and that

Cults brief, research

Listverse handily has a list of their top 10 cults. This gives you a little bit of background on each one. The more interesting ones are the ones where murders and suicides have occurred: Jim Jones' Peoples Temple, Heaven's Gate, Aum Shinrikyo, The Manson Family, The Order Of The Solar Temple and The Branch Davidians. All of which have committed atrocities either against others or within their own cult through mass suicide.

I also have a real interest in Scientology because their beliefs are so unusual. They are also quite topical at the moment so it's definitely worth using them as an 'access level' cult for the general public to get to grips with the concept quite early on.

At this point, it might be a good idea to list all the information that might prove interesting for others to read or know about:
-Population (at peak)
-Core beliefs (and religion they broke away from)
-Death toll (own member and other people)
-Why they're considered a cult
-Their logo/icon/symbol

And then I'll have to look at different ways to present the information through a bit of contextualisation and messing around.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Informing my design direction


These are all examples of spreads that I've looked at from unexplained mystery and UFO books I've been looing into, I think the grainy photography and the monotone/duotone imagery is a particular staple of this kind of book. I really really like this aspect of these books and want to pay homage to it in my book. At the same time I want to make something that looks modern, simple, almost Swiss in it's design approach. Something that reflects the culture industry that surrounds the book fair that it will be distributed in. With that in mind, here are some examples of contemporary design that are influencing the decisions I am making about my book:



This redesign for Elegentia by Vast is lovely. It's very simple and the colour of the type reflects the tones of the photograph nicely. The simplicity and modern approach immediately says culture. It's something I really, really want to try and encapsulate through my own design.

Socio Design

I like this work by socio design because it uses a halftone one colour print which reflects the old magazine stuff I looked at at the start of this post, but the type's clean setting with a large amount of plain negative space around it makes it look very clean and very minimal, again something I want to capture with my own work.

Rolling Stones-Exile On Main Street

The simple colour palette and use of negative space is why I quite like this. Something about minimalism and use of negative space that really says sophistication. I think it's that it doesn't make a big fuss and the lack of 'showyness' makes a statement about restraint.

Konst & Teknik

Again, this Konst & Teknik book called 'Sol & Luna' or sun and moon is really stunning, it uses the monotone photographry that I'm into and the cover's simplicity is really appealing and very Swiss. I love the clean nature of it. It says sophistication.

Mikael Floysand

I like the cleanliness of this, I also like the way shapes have been manipulated using the multiply tool. The triangle becomes a tool to display a quotation without taking up any additional space. It's a clever tool to preserve the lovely white space that surrounds the body copy, unfortunately it does compromise the legibility of the text. This is something to bare in mind if I were to employ this technique.

Julian House

I chose this because it's minimal, but it uses bold colour and really unusual shapes to make something simplistic but really unique.


This set of magazine layouts by Homework demonstrates how simplicity along with bold typographical choices can be used to create quite a sophisticated look that reflects contemporary culture successfully. Throughout the process, I need to make sure I keep in mind this sophistication that I need to the magazine, to avoid getting too showy with it.


This is a lovely use of duotone to create a really strong identity and sophistication. The spreads themselves perhaps have a little too much going on for my taste and for the magazine I'm doing but they do some interesting things with layout.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

UV ink responses

So these are the responses to my earlier posted inquiries about UV inks:
'Hi Ben
We do have such products but they are very expensive & only brought into order as follows:

UV-luminescent inks: They will glow only under exposure of black light (365 nm). So these inks are invisible under normal light and are colored under black light.


Phosphorescent (glow in the dark, after glowing effect) inks: This kind of inks will be white under normal light and collect energy under day light. In the dark they will emit the energy and will glow in the dark.

Cost Per Kg approx. £250.00 plus shipping & VAT

Best Regards
'- This was the response from a proper screen printing distributer, obviously thats ridiculously expensive and I figured that spot varnishing would become my only option. Then, however I found some water-based ink from blacklight world and their response was:
'I don't see a problem with your question. However the BLUE ink I would use only to show up bright on black paper. Keep in mind Im not a paper expert and different paper chemicals could cause different effect which is why I highly advise some experimentation with your paper or products to insure success.
Our Red & Yellow are for hand stamping and would not work well on paper especially black.

Thank You
So, this is looking up because it's about £14 for 200g of UV ink, which should be more than enough, or at least I hope it will be. There's also some glow ink that Jonny wants so we're probably going to order together, as well as go halves on some paper stock when it comes to it. Which is great. The fact that the best one to use is blue is helpful because it can help define a colour scheme or code with the book it's self.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Print finish:UV/Blacklight/Spot Varnish

Ok, so I set this on my weekend action plan but I've only properly just sorted it out. The screen-print rooms have spot varnish stuff readily available, which is fine. They also have UV reactive ink, but it shows up in sunlight. They told me that as long as I find invisible ink that is black light detectable and waterbased, it should eb fine to mix with the binder and work effectively. this website seems to stock this, but there's a few things I'm not sure about it, so I emailed them and I'm awaiting a response:

I was curious about your Black light, water based ink. How visible is it without a black light (I need it to be as invisible as possible)? Does it work under black light even when it's on darker surfaces? You say it's not permenant, but if I were to put it into a screen printing binder and use it on paper that wasn't to be exposed to water, would it last?

Thank you in advance.


Hopefully this goes well, otherwise I need to start thinking of a contingency plan.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Layout and such

OK, so this isn't exactly 'detailed research' into grids, but I've re-evaluated that perhaps that should be done practically, whilst I'm working the layout for my book out. Anyway, here are some layouts I enjoy and why I enjoy them.

This is for a book commemorating the first year of the Baltic art gallery in Newcastle being open. It's got a very clear and rigid two-column system, creating a balance between text and photograph on each individual page. It also appears to be divided into two rows, where the type ends on the recto side, the photo and sub-header end on the verso side and the type begins. It works because there's plenty of negative space around the text and photographs to allow them to breathe and the type and photographs aren't competing for attention.

I like this because of the way the illustrations interact with the type. It's clearly a modular grid with 2 columns, and 4 rows, though at various points the text and or/illustration is allowed to fill two rows, creating a bit of a dynamic feel within what otherwise is a very well ordered and rigid structure.

This is Vice magazine, throughout the magazine the structure changes from 1 to 2 to 3 columns, often balanced against a full page of photographs. I really like the way the 1 central column works, surrounded by white space. There's a minimalism to it that, to me, creates a really sophisticated feeling, where you become aware that this is an arts and culture magazine, not simply something trying to cram as much information as it can in.

This was created by Norm & Berg, and whilst it doesn't look at grids particularly, I thought I'd include it in this post because it's minimalism and creative choices in typography really showcase it as an art book/magazine that has a lot of creative freedom. I want to ensure that my book isn't too bogged down in the information and is allowed to be visually expressive too!

This is a spread from Newwork Magazine. I love how simple and spacious it is, the grid system seems a little irregular, with the square being off centre. I don't really have much to add, it is really the aesthetic of the piece more than it's structure that drew me to it.

Both of these spreads are the work of Amelia Roberts. They're quite dynamic because not only do they have columns that run a long horizontally but on the recto pages there's also a column on the edge of the page that runs vertically, meaning the type runs down the page not across it. This is a nice way of breaking up information and creating a hierarchy. This vertical text is clearly not part of the main body and is to be read separately, it's positioning and angle involve having to alter the way the magazine is read, ensuring that these are probably read last. I also love the symmetry in the bottom spread, it's quite an unusual way to layout work and when putting a spread across two pages, there shouldn't be anything very important in the very centre of the image or it might get lost in the binding and folding process. I also like how the top spread is balanced using the tool of brightly coloured triangles to anchor the space together into something unified.

I chose this for a few reasons. Firstly it has a very clear 3 column grid that it sues simply and effectively. Second the type for the headers is very unusual and is the kind of thing that I've been looking at in regards to the typeface brief that I set David Gasi. Again as a publication, despite being more packed than the other art magazines and books I looked at, this exudes culture and art.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Interviewing my target audience

I conducted a few casual interviews with my course mates about conspiracy theories, I figure they're my target audience, given that the fair is based in Manchester school of Art. I did do this on Thursday like my action plan on the practice blog said, but I've only just got round to scanning them in.

OK, so firstly, I talked to Emma Price, who had a bit of basic knowledge about some conspiracy theories, mainly 9/11 and she'd heard some stuff about the Illuminati. SO I asked her if she was at all fascinated by them, she said yes and I asked her to elaborate. For her, the idea that we might be being fed lies and that people are always questioning what is the established truth is fascinating. I then asked her, given that I'm producing something visual, if the words 'conspiracy theories' and 'secret societies' brought any imagery to mind. She responded with low budget documentaries, websites and forums. Whats important here is the idea of deception and challenging established truth and that being what fascinated her. I think this is significant and my design needs to demonstrate this in some way. Whilst I understand the association with visuals of low budget documentaries, websites and forums with this very underground movement, I think to recreate this would be to sacrifice good design and even the saleability of my book.

Lauren was quite unique in her views. She has nothing but an awareness they exist and is not interested in researching them at all. I think she sees the fascination in questioning established truths, but she also sees a lot of them as nonsense and doesn't want to buy into them. When I asked her about visuals, she mentioned secret signs and symbols, before adding that the exclusivity and mysteriousness of them is childish and immature. It was quite interesting how dismissive she was of them. It's fair to say that Lauren is probably not in my target audience, and she's never going to buy into the concept of my book. I'm sure there'll be a few of these at the book fair it's self and they'll most likely skirt round my book.

Ian was also not particularly interested, he had a basic awareness of their existence and why they're there. I think he liked the idea of questioning established truth, but he also felt that most of them could be dismissed as entirely fabricated quite quickly. But he did appreciate it from a psychological perspective. In terms of visuals he said crop circles and unusual symbols, which is good to know because it's the kind of thing I'm looking at right now.

Dan said that he only really hears about conspiracy theories through hearsay and the media such as films. He says that they fascinate him because he likes to speculate about what might or might not be the truth, but at the same time he accepts that they're mostly nonsense. When I asked him what he thinks of visually, he said Freemasonry symbols, before elaborating that he knows a Freemason and confirming that there is absolutely nothing weird or unusual about them as a group. He, like me, is drawn to the curious signs and symbols and the ambiguity/mystery behind them. I think in general, the responses I'm getting suggest that even if visually they don't think about signs and symbols, they're attracted to the mystery and intrigue there is surrounding conspiracy theories and this is something to capitalise on.

Jonny was great to talk to because he spent the last year really really getting into them so he had loads he wanted to say. He said the intrigue in whether we're being lied to or not was what started it, but he cautioned me that a lot of the time it's a paranoid person with little evidence and the belief that they exist only fuels what may be a dangerous condition. I think this is possibly true and a very fair comment, however I don't see there being many genuine believers at the fair, I think it's likely to be intrigued and curious people. He said that visually he immediately sees the illuminati symbol as well as various signs and symbols of secret societies and some new age symbols like the third eye. He also says that it makes him think of the typical grey alien from films and movies. I think Jonny typifies the more hardcore of the people that are likely to be interested in a book like mine, so the fact he suggested that signs and symbols are what he thinks of is really supportive of the direction that I'm heading with this anyway.

Ollie had little interest in Conspiracy theories, he researched Big Foot once, which I thought was quite a comical answer. He said that he is a bit intrigued though, and the fact that you will never know whether it's true or not is what he thinks fans the flames of speculation about such things. When asked to think about the subject visually, he said he thinks of robes, ceremony, secret signs and symbols, which again is another encouraging interview in terms of the way I'm starting to go about things.

I asked Hannah and Paul together. Paul doesn't like conspiracy theories at all, he feels that they're a denial of fact and hard evidence. Hannah liked the secrecy and the idea of knowing something you're not supposed to. When asked how they would interpret them visually, they both thought about the Moon Landing, Area 51 and Roswell, before Hannah mentioned the Illuminati logo. To be honest, the was on of my first interviews and I was finding it hard to coax the information I wanted to get out of them, but Hannah's comment about secrecy is very telling and useful. My conversation with Will was very useful, he said that the idea fascinated him mainly because of the idea that 'what we're being told is only true because we believe the people that tell us so are truthful.' which again comes down to the idea of mystery and this hidden truth. I guess this might come across as egotistical but on that note, I feel like people's interest comes from the idea of wanting to know more than someone else, or a truth that not many people are aware of. When I asked him what he sees visually, he said X-files, classified files, technology through the ages, so sort of Da Vinci style things, and iconography. Thats probanly the most varied response I had but iconography, signs and symbols does seem to (thankfully) be a recurring thought through most of these conversations, particularly those with an actual interest in the subject matter.

I guess I got a few mixed results, this exercise was useful really in clarifying what I thought about things as much as it was about getting other people's opinions. It was also good to get a few reasonably in depth conversations about the subject with people who did and didn't have interest in them to understand how their mind might work. Finally, it was significant that the theme of signs and symbols, particularly pertaining to the illuminati symbol, came up. This sort of confirms that my concept might be heading in the right direction.

Important words/themes from these interviews:
-Hidden truth
-Challenging what we're told is the truth.