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.

“overconsumption”

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.

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“kills”

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. 

 

“the”

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.

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(no squirrels were harmed making this project)

“planet”

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.

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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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Type and the Spirit of our Times

The first step

At the beginning I struggled to find a news regarding something I care and I could talk about, a problem which is occurring at the moment and involves different people or even an entire nation. I knew what I wanted my work to be about so I started my research exploring different national broadcasting media websites such as BBC News, CNN and The New York Times. On the BBC’s YouTube channel I came across a video titled “Virginia TV news crew shot dead on air” which to be honest it initially didn’t grab my attention as I was used to listen news reporting these kind of events which nowadays they unluckily occur too often. Nevertheless, I could look beyond the simple news, I was already thinking how I could have developed a statement beginning from this specific occurrence. Therefore I decided to start my research.

Virginia TV news crew shot dead on air – BBC News

I listened the news few times trying to capture and write down useful words and phrases using black ink, which was practical to give contrast between the most significant information and the less important.

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Deep in the topic

The news, that talks about two TV presenters shot dead during a live interview in the U.S., Virginia, made me reflect about the current gun laws situation in the United States. Beside this incident other many mass shootings have happened during Obama’s presidency and so why has nothing changed yet? Which are the obstacles that stop the President Obama to pass a law about guns?, I asked myself.

I sought information to answer these questions mainly from the BBC website.

Why Obama is powerless to reform gun laws

Obama admits US gun laws are his ‘biggest frustration’ 

By donating money into the Political Victory Fund the National Rifle Association (N.R.A) supports the election of pro-gun politicians which influence most of the lobby groups in Washington. Therefore it is easy to understand how money plays an important role in the future of the American people’s life. The N.R.A also tries to protect the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution that reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”.

The National Rifle Association is the main reason why Obama is powerless to reform gun laws. He says it himself that he feels frustrated that an advanced nation as the United States of America does not have sufficient common sense gun safety laws even after repeated gun violence events.

Experimentation

To better illustrate what has really happened during 6 years of Obama’s presidency, I created a graph which shows all the mass killings relevant details including for each event the sentence o words I found most significative, taken from the speeches which Obama holds after that a tragedy occurs.

IMG_1112Combining different materials such as white leather which forms background and a red wool twine I could create the base of my graph that I then completed with the addition of text. The question mark situated at the end of the graph questions: “what will happen next?” to express an unclear future that, for now is not likely to change.

To push myself out of my comfort zone I decided to try a different technique of design, using black ink which I am absolutely not good at it. The idea of the work is to communicate a message to the viewer, to aware him of the situation of the United States of America regarding gun laws. Therefore I made a poster using nothing more than ink a sponge and a paper cutter. The final piece didn’t work, it had no meaning, so I scanned it, cropped it and worked on it with typefaces on Illustrator. The idea wasn’t bad, the final result was decent but it still didn’t convince me.

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An idea, the idea

I wanted to represent how I personally see the current situation regarding gun laws in the United States of America and their relationship with the people who got involved in gun shootings. The concept had to be direct, simple but powerful, which captures the viewer attention. Thus, after several attempts and failures, I came up with an idea I found appropriate for this project. Taking inspiration from the concept of a game called Jenga, which expresses instability and anxiety while being played I created a similar version of it which, as an illustration to insert into a poster I thought it would have been perfect to represent the problem I was trying to express.

The process

The wooden tower is composed of 26 black bricks and a red one located at the bottom. On the main facade of the black bricks, the quotations of the survivor/witness who got involved in the mass shooting were printed in white as well as the date and location when those tragic events occurred. These bricks represent the fear of the American citizens that, with the N.R.A (represented by the red brick at the bottom of the tower) form an unstable system, a Nation ready to fall down, only supported by the President, Barack Obama. The font used for the quotations is Helvetica bold, easily readable, direct and neutral, perfect for this role.

After I watched several interviews of the gun shooting survivors I decided to write down the quotes I found most significative and that better express fear to capture the attention of the viewer.

Sources of the quotations:

“The first shot hit me in the face and it went down into my throat”

“He was there to shot black people”

“I honestly can’t think of any kind of person who would intentionally hurt a little girl”

“He was so nonchalant… like he was playing a videogame and showed no emotion”

“I was just terrifying, I was having a hard time breathing”

“This is probably the worst day in the history of this town”

“We got down on the floor… start trying to find other people”

“I saw a laser coming across my eyes”

“She tried to climb back on the wheelchair and then he shot her”

Here below a quick step by step process on how I made it:

IMG_0783I firstly planned how I wanted the tower to look like and then I numerated each brick to remember the sequence. After that I started applying 3 layers of black paint to the wood to create contrast between it and the white text I applied later on. For the brick located at the bottom of the tower I cut and stuck red adhesive paper.

The colour black represents fear, the fear the people experienced during the shootings while the red of the N.R.A. brick symbolises alert, danger.

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After tracing on paper the shape of the wood bricks which face the viewer, using Illustrator I filled them in black and then added the quotations.

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To finish I stuck the quotes I had printed before to the wood and built the tower ready to be photographed. After trying different shooting angles I got the shot I was looking for so that I could start to use Photoshop and InDesign to edit the Photograph and add the remaining text. Initially the idea was to keep the American flag as background but then I decided to remove it since the white and red stripes would have made the text difficult to read because of their strong contrast.

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Before and after the use of Photoshop. The American flag in the background was removed and some colours were made darker to make the text more readable.

The final poster

After using Photoshop I started to work with InDesign. I applied a 5mm on each side and then I created a golden rectangle which helped me as a guide to position the headline, image and the captions.

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The golden rectangle here highlighted helped me through the layout of the poster.

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The headline had to be made with a massive, bold, “shouting” font to get the attention of the viewer. I had to choose between five different fonts, Helvetica Bold, Futura Condensed ExtraBold, Gill Sands Bold, Impact and NewsGothic LT Bold. I chose Futura Condensed because to me it seemed the most appropriate for the headline.

For the captions I used Gill Sans. I increased the leading to make it more pleasant to read and better looking. In other parts of the text I also had to increase the space between two capital letters since they almost form a one single new word.

The final poster:

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On the other side of the leaflet I wanted to give more details about the topic of fire guns in the U.S.. GUN NUMBERS and PUBLIC OPINION ON GUN LAWS are two subject matters I researched about. I consulted several websites and books to acquire more, detailed information and to get statistics to create the two graphs.

The first one shows where all the mass shooting since the 2005 to present occurred providing basic information about the name of the city, the state in which it is located, date and how many people were killed and injured.

The second chart, a lot simpler reports the data of the same survey conducted in the different years. The increased percentage on December 2012 tells us how the public opinion about the introduction of stricter gun laws changed after yet another mass shooting.

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Information sources:

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The Huffington Post: Connecticut Gun Control Law Sharply Reduced Gun-Related Violence, Report Says

CNN: Death and guns in the USA: The story in six graphs

Council on Foreign Relations: U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons

PewResearchCenter: A minority of Americans own guns, but just how many is unclear

ABC News: United States gun violence debate: a look at firearm laws and statistics

After I have been working on this project for more then 4 weeks the time to print the leaflet has arrived. Here below the final result.

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