overproduction kills the planet

Using the text and images from your illustrated essay consider other ways of presenting this information.

The introduction of my essay states: “this essay aims to analyse propaganda, to understand how this form of communication works and explore its use throughout history starting from the seventeenth century, focusing primarily on the impact that it has nowadays as a strong communication system. Consequently, the role of graphic designers in propaganda will be analysed paying particular attention to different forms of communication methods discussing different aspects of the campaign run by Adbusters, “Buy Nothing Day”. Furthermore, two designs from this campaign will be compared concentrating on their visual appearance and how the two different styles succeed in promoting the cause against overconsumption.”

Therefore, I started to think how to visualise the phrase “overconsumption kills the planet” with the use of photographs. The purpose of the designs I was going to make was not to persuade people to buy less or show them what overconsumption causes and how it produces numerous risks to the environment. The posters simply visualise a phrase whose meaning is known and conveys a strong message the way it is, no clichés are needed, people will visualise the sentence by themselves.

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Consequently, I needed to take four different photos, one for each word, and then compose them in order to form the phrase “overconsumption kills the planet”. My aim was to mainly use natural materials, which can be found in nature, nevertheless, I reckoned that an artificial element would work great on the composition as well. Our planet is not healthy and overconsumption is one of the causes that makes it so. Representing each word using natural elements would have meant to fake this problem, to hide it, on the other hand, the use of the warning red and white ribbon a symbol of danger, emphasises the presence of man. However, only one design out of four shows the influence of man, meaning that our planet is big and there is still much to preserve on it.


It seems easy. It is not.

Taking these four pictures was challenging, many factors worked against me and, at a certain point, it seemed that nature, ironically, did not want me to make this project.


DSC_0176As I said before, one of the four words presents an artificial element, a sign of man’s presence. The word “overconsumption” therefore was cut out of a red and white warning ribbon and photographed  in a natural environment surrounded by trees. Nevertheless, I initially wanted to take the photograph with the beach as background but as the wind was strong, taking the picture of the shaking ribbon not firmly tied between two iron bars became almost impossible. The trees, however, blocking the wind created the perfect situation for the shoot.




DSC_0018Writing “kills” was probably the funniest and the most tiring part of this project. Walking along the seaside earlier on the day of the shoot I had the idea to use the beach as background for visualising the word. The plan was to write it using an italic type by taking a long exposure of me running on the beach while holding a torch pointed at the sky. It had to be pitch dark, so two friends and I at 1am on a Thursday night started to walk toward the coast to find the perfect location. Two people would stay on the top of the  cliff with the camera while I was down at the beach writing the word. Therefore, before starting to shoot I drew each letter in the sand as a guide to follow while running. Afterwards, as my friend was pressing the “bulb” button to take a long exposure, I was running while holding the torch pointed at the sky, following the path I had previously drawn. After a few attempts we managed to get the right photograph.

The initial plan was to take different exposures of the letters and later combine them together with Photoshop. However, since we were not able to keep a smooth and constant focus and the waves on the sea in the background were moving irregularly I opted to take a single long exposure. 



DSC_0158After shooting peanuts for three days I came to a conclusion that squirrels are not very collaborative when it comes to taking photos. The photograph you can see above is one of hundreds of photos I had attempted to take. My first idea was to take a photo of a squirrel while it was eating a peanut which had the DSC_0020preposition “the” written on it. Consequently, I went to the park at 7am on a Friday morning with a full bag of peanuts that I previously “customise” writing “the” on each of them with a black marker. However, apparently at that time squirrels are still sleeping. After a while, they start coming down from the trees and I was ready to start taking photos.

Unsuccessful. Squirrels are used to eating very fast and they probably even go back up the trees not to be disturbed. Some of them would eventually start fighting. These problems made everything more difficult, even impossible.

I tried this method for a couple of days, but it did not seem to work.

I decided to engrave “the” onto three peanuts using the scalpel and then photograph them. Engraving on peanuts turned out to give a better result than writing with a marker, producing a rough type which looked more natural. However, the desire to take a photo while the squirrel is eating the type was still present. I made a final attempt, and it failed miserably.


(no squirrels were harmed making this project)


When I was planning this project I wanted the final four pictures to show italic type and also all capitals type. I would alternate the two styles, therefore, “overconsumption” would be written in capitals, “kills” in italic, “the” again in all capitals and “planet” in italic. For “planet” I had to find an easy method to draw italic letters, possibly on a flat surface. The day this task was given to us, walking on the beach and I found a piece of charcoal. I hid it under one of the numerous beach huts and write down its number, thinking that that piece of material could become useful for the project. It did. I was planning to write with the charcoal on the groyne and wait for a wave to pass by to take the photo. On Monday morning, the wind, blowing at 60km/h, created the desired waves, perfect to shoot the photograph. After struggling to find a dry wood surface to write on I finally spotted the right place.



The upper part of the “a” was later fixed with Photoshop as in the original picture it looked like a “d”

To conclude..

I have always tried to experiment different design techniques for this unit “Visual Thinking”. Making this last project taught me that even the simplest things can become tricky and difficult to make so consequently, they may require more time you would have expected. However, despite this, I had fun shooting all these photos and I am generally satisfied with the final result. I would like to thank my friends who help me shooting some of these pictures and Arts University Bournemouth that provided me a good camera gear.




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