Online portfolio and print on demand catalogs for Graphic Design and Animation graduates from the Department of Design 2012. On this page you will find our conference presentations, and by hovering over the menu groups on the left you can read contextual documents. You are welcome to attend our Grad Show, opening on 29 November 2012 at 6pm, and daily from 30 November to 6 December 9.30am – 4pm.
After working closely with ‘Esther Melody Band’ designing their EPs and other band material; I was asked by them to design an album with fifteen illustrations that express each song from their new featured album ‘Edge of Time’. This has involved an in depth investigation into line, typography and colour in relation to imagery, which seeks to express the feel and the message within the music. Through this graphic style developed by me their brand has been enhanced through illustration.
To investigate line, typography and colour in relation to imagery which expresses the feel of the music and the message within the music.
Investigate body language in order to ascertain how meaning and emotion is conveyed physically in order to inform my illustration practice based on the band members.
To investigate other various illustrators who use mixed media and to analyse their techniques through the lens of graphic design to see how they convey emotion in order to inform my illustration practice. (eg. This illustrator uses plenty of white space and uses water colour in this way, what if I combined that technique with how this illustrator uses composition and paint).
To understand the expression of colour and its context and connotations to inform my illustration practice.
Explore the use of line, water colour, and layering to convey the narrative value inherent to the clients music.
Investigate various cd/album designs to evoke an understanding of how graphic designers portray musicians and their music in order to inform how to construct the album design for Esther Melody Band.
The over arching themes in this album are about the relationship struggles we have in our lives- the triumphs, the let downs, and how we’re all waiting for something whether it is for the person we will marry, the fulfilment of our dreams or a change in circumstances. This central focus of the album on emotions and relationships led me to mould my visual decisions in accordance with these themes. As such, I focused my illustrations around the band members in order to most expressively show the emotional intensity present in the songs.
This has enabled me to establish a strong sense of the emotive elements present in the lyrics, creating an intellectual and theoretical neighbourhood that overlap. One of my research topics I looked into was body language in order to understand how emotion is physically expressed in the lyrics. Patrician McCarthy in his book ‘The Face Reader’ states, “We express our feelings, our thoughts, and our moods on our faces. Along with body language our faces are integral in non-verbal communication, just as tightly crossed arms indicate anger and non-cooperation, a tensely set jaw and narrowed eyes convey those same emotions”. (1)
This was a profound and very in depth research topic for my project this year, examining the way we all convey our thoughts and emotions physically. From here I began identifying what would be an accurate depiction of the songs through physical expression. From here I directed the band members based on my research to convey and capture their poses with photography. This established a strong base for all of my illustrations and allowed for a naturalistic illustrative style to emerge.
My investigation into body language laid a solid foundation to begin creating the illustrations. I then sought to find the best methods to illustrate the music looking for illustrators whose imagery was emotive and personal – a style which is fluid in its media application; free, simple but layered in its details.
As I continued my search for inspirational illustrators I began noticing a pattern. All of these illustrators were using similar techniques such as wet media, scribbling, layering and splattering. They were drawing upon their feelings – an inner energy lead by heuristics. Florian Nicole explains the way he creates his emotive imagery, “I create an image that retains its freshness from the first paint stroke, the expressions of the line have to be very free hand and spontaneous, while keeping a rigorous drawing. So I use fast techniques, like a ‘bic’ large brush, water colour and chines ink. I draw pictures as if I wrote a song, with the same tool, the same energy, the same freedom, erasures, lines, scribbles”. (3) This was exactly the type of techniques I was looking for to inform my own illustrative practise. From here I extracted the key techniques and emotive elements, and while listening to the songs, combining them to create a true feel of the music, all the while finding my own illustrative style.
As a consequence of my research and analysis I decided to undertake an extensive exploration of the use of line, water colour and layering in order to convey the narrative value inherent to the clients music. During my exploration it dawned on me how complex our relationships and how layered our emotions are. In an effort to explore this visually I investigated tones and colours to convey the layered feelings within the songs. For this reason I decided to undertake research into colour theory.
As I began my research I quickly recognised the relative nature of colour and how colour works hand in hand with its subject. Viv Foster in her book ‘Colour Matching Handbook’ explains that “colour is a relative value in image-making and its pictorial significance depends upon other aspects as well as on the context provided by the subject. Expressing mood and emotion through colour is a relatively abstract exercise more dependant on colour interactions than on external influences and associations”. (2) For example in the illustration below the flower on the left is flooded with the colour red, but that doesn’t mean that it is reflecting war and violence. In contrast to the illustration of the knife on the right, the colour red is applied with its subject to look like blood – violence and death is clearly communicated.
She continues “colour helps to define space and form – we use colour cues as invitations or warning signals, we appreciate its purely decorative functions and respond consciously or sub consciously to its emotional appeals”. (2) Because of the relative nature of colour I decided to take a more intuitive approach allowing the method of heuristics to lead the way.
While critiquing and analysing my illustrations I started to reflect more on my research. This was a real turning point for me as I increasingly became aware of how foreground and background were used by Florian Nicolle to create a more complex and layered image that seem much more unified and detailed. Because of this I began to experiment with various textures through digital manipulation, bringing about a stronger feel of each of the songs as well as the layering within our relationships and our emotions. One outstanding and consistent element within the songs was the notion of time. All of our emotions, our problems, longing, hopes and ambitions develop as time passes by. For this reason and because of the way texture can bring various visual and atmospheric qualities, I began playing with digital manipulation to explore how faded textures can convey this.
Finding suitable typography to go with the illustrative style I was creating turned out to be a simple but complex task. I began by setting up a mood board of typographic styles and then exploring and experimenting with the type with my Illustrations
My understanding of the brand as well as the feel of the album gave me a good idea of what I was looking for. It needed to fresh, rigorous and hand rendered to keep with the visual aesthetic of the album, but to balance the function it needed to be practical, readable as well as commercially eligible. For this reason I chose two fonts ‘VTKS mural’ for its free and expressive paint like quality, and ‘Dekar’ for its readability but also clean, timeless expression.
My research also involved undertaking an investigation into various album designs to find out the best way to portray the band. This involved me looking at how other graphic designers portray musicians. While researching I found that almost all of the album designs I came across had a combination of photography and typography and only very few were illustrative. I saw this as an opportunity to fill a unique space in the market of album design. All the most striking albums I researched had a good balance of function and aesthetic. The graphic designers were consistent in their applications of typography, space, balance, texture, and colour.
I have found it a complex but simple task to convey the feel of the music and the musician but it all comes down to the selection of typography, texture and colour and its interaction with the subject matter. Working on this album I had to keep a few things in mind, notably the function and aesthetics of the design, the best way to house the illustrations as well as working within a budget. For this reason and in light of my research, the band and I agreed that a ‘Wallet’ type album design would be the most suitable.
From working with Esther Melody Band, I have strongly developed my skills in visually expressing the emotive element of music and the musicians that create it. This has established a unique way of working through mixed media establishing bridges between graphic design, illustration and digital art with the finished result being a completely fresh product. This project has been very effective in gaining knowledge of how to use texture, line, colour, layering, unity, balance and rhythm but also balancing the expression of it through the rules of graphic design and its elements and principles.
Overall the graphic style I have created has added value to the Esther Melody Band brand through illustration and has successfully embodied all that I have set out to achieve. As a result of this project I feel I have found an illustrative style that I wish to persue more within the nieche of album design. The medium of album design would be ideal for me to continue to work with in the future, allowing me to further explore and develop my illustration practice, draw upon the creative offering and energy of talented musicians and use the finished product to further promote my own artwork.
(1) MaCarthy, Patrician. (2007). “The Face Reader”. Ligare Book Printer, Sydney, Australia. Print.
(2) Foster, Viv. “Colour Matching Handbook”. Oceana Books, 6 Blundell Street, London, 2004. Print.
(3) Nicole, Florian. Behance. 16 Jan. 2009. Web. 5 March. 2012.