Jennifer K. Oliver

Speculative Fiction Writer

Category: MA Graphic Design

Keyword Research #2: Shapes

For our second week task we were asked to find three things to discuss at our conference call:

1. A literal example of our keyword
2. An abstract example of our keyword
3. Another artist’s interpretation of our keyword

For my literal image I went with a basic geometric pattern:

For my abstract, I chose two different pictures. First, geometry in nature (it is everywhere!):

Second is a quick drawing I created in Illustrator. I wanted people to look at this and tell me what it reminded them of or what it evoked in them.

A few key words that jumped to my mind when looking at this design: mystical, mathematical, spiritual, abstract, fantasy, ritual, cosmic. Some of the other ideas and words that came up when I showed this to my fellow students: circuitry and constellation (which could also lead to zodiac). Hoax is another interesting connection, as this could also represent a crop circle. Insignia also comes to mind, leading to an organisation or gang.

The different ideas depend on a person’s interests, beliefs, and connotations they have absorbed elsewhere.

Finally, my third entry is a piece by artist Manolo Gamboa Naon, which you can see on Behance hereManolo’s piece blows my mind. I can stare at it for ages and get drawn deeper and deeper. It feels almost like I’m looking down onto a strange and colourful cityscape. The faint grey lines all over it are like many pathways and possible directions people can go, with the larger circular shapes like buildings with their own networks and pathways within them. This is one of those pieces where I get totally lost and absorbed. Manolo is a creative coder who also makes video games, which is possibly why when I look at this piece I see a landscape and a place to traverse and explore.

Credit: Manolo | Beehive

Keyword Research #1: Geometric

My chosen keyword for the first module assignment on my MA is geometric. I am interested in how geometry is used to create pattern, symmetry, and definition, and also how it is used to create mood and imply meaning (rather than using text). Geometric design has risen in popularity in recent years, from logos and artwork comprised of mathematical shapes, to complex mandala and tangle designs, and I would like to find out why and what it is about geometric shapes and patterns that appeals to so many designers.

I first became interested in concentric and geometric patterns when I spent three months in Southern India in the year 2000. When I arrived in Tamil Nadu I experienced the Pongal Festival, a four-day long harvest festival which is an extremely important Hindu celebration. Many people draw kolam designs on the floors of their houses to bring good fortune and give thanks. The patterns are usually drawn in coloured chalk or rice powder. This was my first obvious exposure to mathematical shapes used in spiritual art.

In recent years mandala designs have become popular, particularly across image sharing sites like Instagram and Pinterest. I find the art of creating mandalas relaxing and have dabbled in digital and hand drawn designs. This is a type of design that I would like to explore further, and discover new ways of incorporating them into my work where they give meaning and significance. Many people see repetitive patterns as a way of stress therapy. This has given rise to the term and drawing style Zentangle, another form of drawing where repetitive shapes create complex patterns.

I also plan to explore naturally occurring geometry; for example: honeycomb, leaves, shells, spiderwebs, snowflakes, wind-blown sand dunes, fractals found in geodes.

Induction Week – Paper Challenge

My MA in Graphic Design officially starts this week, but last week was Induction Week and we were set a small, fun challenge to take a piece of paper and make something with it. There were no boundaries on what we could make, only that the paper was the feature of the piece and we didn’t use anything else to decorate it. There are some lovely submissions to the challenge up on our Pinterest board, such varied and inspired work. I was a little worried that mine would come across as silly, as I didn’t dig too deeply to come up with the idea – it struck me that Hallowe’en is just around the corner and I wanted to create something playful and fun. So here is my spooky house, complete with monster.

I used sticky foam pads to layer the elements and the original plan was to shine a torch up through so that the different layers were backlit, but I ended up posting it during the day so the lighting was wrong. Still, it was fun to make this, adding a new element each night after work. Looking at this now, I can see many things I could have done differently and refined more, but at the same time I didn’t want to fret about this mini-project too much.

Our first assignments were posted and I am considering my chosen keyword that will form one of my projects. More to come!

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