Ficciones Typografika Poster Series

Following on from the first Burning Questions Session with Sarah Boris, I revised my monkey calligram for the selection process.

Gorilla version of my confused monkey

As I was googling monkey images, since, as soon as I start to draw anything, it quickly becomes apparent that I don’t actually know how, gorillas came up. I think gorillas are cool. You would’t start a bar fight fight with a gorilla… I also like drawing them. I don’t get to redact enough documents or draw enough gorillas, so I took the opportunity to get some gorilla drawing done..

Honestly, I prefer the way the hand looks in my earlier version, but I forgot that the posters were supposed to be portrait as well as having colour restrictions. The more muscular form of the gorilla was meant to help me fill two thirds of the poster, as there’s some thing called the golden ratio or something. I read about it in a book. Useful things, books… So from what little I remember, if the composition of an image is split into three sections, it is more pleasing to the eye. That’s why I left the white space above the gorilla’s head.

Digital version of my poster

It became too problematic to construct the gorilla’s face solely out of the word ‘sense’ so I used what Hollywood has been using to crap all over source material for years: artistic license! I basically gave him a confused face. The letterforms are jagged and I added a filter to give them some sense of being the gorilla’s fur. The question marks, are, as you’ve no doubt noticed, a last minute addition which probably take away more than they add. I guess I wanted to have a little helvetica running through my set of three posters? I don’t know.

So the colour restrictions for Ficciones Typografika were: black on coloured paper. The options of paper colour are white, yellow, blue, green and pink. As it was no big deal, I mocked up all the colour variants, with yellow seeming the most appropriate to run through my entire series.

White background gorilla. My Initial favourite
Yellow background gorilla. It seemed more appropriate at the end.
Blue background gorilla. I like this too. I feel like an Aldi commercial…

The monkey poster was the concept I was focusing on developing the most, but I decided to throw another couple of hats in the ring. It gave me the opportunity to be more dismissive or experimental with the other two I did.

Am I art? Hand written text, background visible, banana outlined, variant

I immediately liked the idea of the artwork itself asking the viewer if it was art. Again, it ties into the art vs design debate. The choice of the banana on a plinth is twofold. Firstly, it synergises with me having a monkey in another poster who is confused. It could be that the banana is asking the monkey if it is art, as it is on a plinth in a gallery. The second reason is a delightful anecdote I will share with you.

During my time on the foundation course I was on immediately prior to starting the illustration degree, I observed that someone had left an empty coffee cup on one of the plinths that populated some of the corridors. There was construction work taking place in the building over the entire year, so it could have been left there by builders finishing lunch, or it could have been an art student’s take on consumer society and the importance that coffee has in the lives of people who’s day doesn’t started until they’ve had their first cup.That cup stayed on that plinth for the rest of the year. I brought this to the attention of some colleagues, who, like me, could not bring themselves to remove the paper cup either. Such is the power of the object as artform and the confusion that can follow when everyday objects are removed from their familiar context. Maybe that Marcel Duchamp guy knew what he was doing with that urinal…

I bet you didn’t get all that from looking at my picture did you? Am I right? Eh?

No background, no banana outline, digital type variant

The second version is a more minimalist version. Good design is about using the least amount of elements to get across the complete message, so anything that can be stripped away should be. I think that’s a core difference between illustration and graphic design. Illustrations usually benefit from being lavish, extravagant or having more detail. That of course, is by no means an absolute rule, and many illustrations fly successfully if the face of what I’ve just said, but more stuff equals more effort, and more effort equals dedicated practitioner worthy of more respect, no?

Anyway, all asides aside, here’s the third poster.

Banana skin with helvetica background

Two pictures using bananas. Now you see the reasoning with the choice of background colour. Banana equals yellow. Please juxtapose that sentence with the above paragraphs to give an aggregate mean of my intelligence, ha ha. As the narrative continues, the gorilla takes the banana, leaving the skin, and the question ‘does it matter’ is all that’s left. Honestly, art is for people with the time and money and effort to waste on it. If you’re happy admiring the banana as a symbol and considering deep meaning, that’s fine. If you’d rather eat it, that’s fine too, provided it’s your banana and you don’t simultaneously attack someones livelihood and commit theft and property damage and whatever absurd crimes you would be committing by eating someone’s bananart.

‘Does it matter’ is a question I ask myself all the time of all things. Does it matter that Kim Kardashian is famous for… whatever she’s famous for? Does it matter that Scotland almost left the United Kingdom and now the referendum on the UK leaving the European Union could leave us all in a perilous predicament. Does it matter that I still haven’t see Guardians of the Galaxy or One Piece? Does it matter whether that coffee cup was art or just one of the builders mocking art by leaving his rubbish in a place that would cause people to hesitate? Does it matter whether you or I have the answers to those questions? Yes, no and everything in between…

Hand written text variant

The lack of formality that comes with using hand formed text synergises with the sentiment of the question. The question is both intended to keep all things relative to each other when considering what is truly important and also a little bit nihilistic. Just a little bit.

The decision of whether to use the first or second image comes down to ‘which looks better’ or maybe more accurately ‘which looks like I put the most work in?’  This is not just the student looking to avoid being reprimanded by his tutors, but the ‘professional’ looking to avoid giving the client an excuse to further undervalue his work. Having the confidence to show work that will garner disrespect but be more truthful to the message is a difficult prospect, especially as someone still formulating their style, tone and abilities.

That’s more than enough esoteric ramblings for today, so how about I leave you with one more burning question: Ninjas or Pirates? And yes. This one does matter.


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