Grids act as a tool to help give consistency and order to page elements such as images and texts.
“It allows you to think less about basic design principles and more about finding a design solution. This allows you to design at a more advanced level, being more able to think about advanced concepts like page rhythm.”
Applying grid and format:
Define the size of the page
Define where the text will be placed
Choose a font (best to stick to one and play with the typeface)
Test until you are satisfied with the type
Decide how many units/columns you want your grid to be
Create and apply grid
Redefine the type area – play with certain composition and layout
Check how easy it is to read, how heavy it looks and how the type is positioned. Check on the gutters and leading.
There is no set rule on the number of grids you can create. However, the less divisions you have the more articulate and minimal your design will seem. The more divisions you create, the more complex the grid becomes to work with in keeping consistency. On the other hand, the more flexible your grid becomes, giving you various choices to play with your composition. There are multiple grid systems in the design world, but they each have their unique personality and uses. The final choice is up to the designer to articulate and choose what fits their design purpose the most.
Column Grid Column grids are good to use when discontinuous information needs to be presented. It can be dependent or independent from each other, and crossed over by images/graphics, creating a different visual layout. One column might be used for text, another for images, and another for captions or quotes. This gives the page layout flexibility when organising texts onto the page. You can separate blocks of texts by placing them in different columns yet show a flow between them. It should also be able to accommodate legibility, too narrow of a column can make reading difficult.
Examples of a Column Grid System:
A symmetric column grid has all columns the same width. For example, the most common symmetric column grid will be found on printed newspapers to help organise information and stories.
An asymmetric grid has columns proportionally thinner or wider than others.
Modular Grid Modular grids are like column grids but has consistent horizontal divisions from top to bottom in addition to vertical divisions from left to right. Between the column, row and the gutter creates a module. It allows you to arrange text in many various ways, thus this is good for complex projects that require more control than a column grid. The beauty of modular grid is that you can replace or add any module without affecting the rest of the system. Giving the whole page a consistent and structured aesthetic.
Herb Lubalin is a spirited American designer who has won wide recognition for his innovations in advertising, publications and books. At the age of seventeen, he entered Cooper Union and was enticed by the world of typography. He was captivated by the various interpretations one could execute by changing one typeface to another. Lublin is one of the pioneers of expressive typography and an influential figure in the ‘creative revolution’ that has transformed American advertising in the 1960s.
”You can do a good ad without good typography but you can’t do a great ad without good typography.’’ – Herb Lubalin
Lublin once declared that a good art director should know the strong points of every one of the many typefaces that existed and how to use them best. However, the existing typefaces were not good enough for him, thus, creating his own. Lubalin designed four typefaces: ITC Avant Garde Gothic (1970), Ronda (1970), Lubalin Graph (1974), a slab serif and ITC Serif Gothic (1974). One of his prominent faces was ITC Avant-garde. It is also mostly known for being a revision of art deco. He customises serifs, ascenders and descenders to his liking.
Lubalin puts the stress on bold headlines and graphic simplicity. For example, he used flashy layouts and strikingly elaborate graphics for a magazine called Eros, which carries a more sensuous content.
Lubalin took Modernism into the palm of his own hands with the use of geometry and tightly constructed compositions. He also adds slight humor, sensuality and flourishes. For example, his hand lettering for The Sound of Music Programme to the whisper-thin justified stack for Cooper Union. He was also commissioned with a project for Sprite in creating a new package, logotype and ad. He also did graphics for everything from Bazooka bubble gum and Chicken of the Sea tuna to Ebony magazine.
What caught me by surprise was that Lubalin holds a stand in the use of graphic design in advertisement of products or services.
“I don’t particularly like to advertise products and help clients sell products that I have no particular use for. And very often I turn down a product because I just think it detrimental for people to buy certain products.” – Herb Lubalin
This got me intrigued that there are designers out there that still holds there morals to the ground in the belief of pure graphic design, to communicate your own voice, choice and beliefs. He also rejected Swiss modernism in favor of a more humanistic ‘graphic expressionism’. He felt that it did not fit in with American culture and imagination. This idea links back to Erik Spiekermann’s manifest on how fonts must be altered and varied to ones culture. The different lifestyle and perceptions may affect the people’s opinion on a certain typeface. Hence, it is important to have designs stylized into cultures for it to be understood, absorbed and well functioned. Lubalin commented that the Americans react to new ideas and that they are a “concept-conscious society”. Thus, the creation of graphic expressionism by Lubalin.
In 1979, Lubalin wrote an article for Print magazine and said: “Graphic Expressionism is my euphemism for the use of typography, or letterforms, not just as a mechanical means for setting words on a page, but rather as another creative way of expressing an idea, telling a story, amplifying the meaning of a word or a phrase, to elicit an emotional response from the viewer.” He illustrates human emotion through impactful juxtaposition. His constant search for something innovative and fresh made him one of the most successful art director/designer of the 20th century.
(Yet another designer that I found myself adoring.)
Although I am not 100% satisfied with the final outcome, I had enjoyed the process and experience in the creation of my zine. I have learnt a lot from this experience and to keep in mind to further push myself out of my boundaries for future projects. Even though I managed to capture the essence of an economical and banking concept I wanted to show in reflection of Shenton Way, many times along the way I had certain ideas but had no idea how to carefully well execute it. Things that I would like to improve in my Zine is how I curate my narration as well as the cover page. I feel like I can make it more alluring in a certain way without revealing the name of the location. I could also take the texts out of the 2-3 page as it was commented to be distracting and the graphics has shown this well enough. Upon completion, I had encountered some printing obstacles which led me to understand the importance of multiple test prints and the play with different types of paper. It was frustrating when the designs were not aligned or cut off during printing where u have to digitally readjust during this stage. My zine also came off with a white line across the middle where I was not sure how to get rid off… This tested my patience which made me visit the printing shop twice. For my final, I had to cut bits of the ends to create a proper alignment between the double spread graphic design. If I have a project similar to this in the future, I would like to break my comfort zone in trying different styles of graphic form. Nonetheless, it was an insightful and memorable experience where I would love to do again!
Thank you Mimi for all the guidance and push! I will try to take more risks in my future projects to expand my range of stylistic designs. I appreciate your patience and teachings in class. I enjoyed this class very much 🙂
Initially, I wanted to focus on the form, shapes and patterns of the buildings to represent Shenton Way by looking at cubism. This would also convey the movement of a fast-paced, growing atmosphere. I wanted to also capture the organised and steady rhythm Shenton Way gave off with the buzz of the workers. I first researched some graphic design that gave off a messy and hectic feeling. On the other hand, I went off to pinterest to collect some inspiration in creating a moodboard. However upon research, some of the graphics gave off an upbeat party vibe instead of a paced working vibe.
I first began looking into the architecture elements of the building, be it the use of lines, colours or shapes. I started looking at the photos I took in Shenton Way and started sketching and illustrating on Illustrator. I collaged my photos on Photoshop and morphed it into a 360 degree view to make it interesting- rather than a plain landscape vectorised illustration. I was inspired to do this when I saw an Instagram post similar to this:
Adding on, I created a building made with blocks of squares and rectangles to show the reflective-glass features on Shenton way buildings. Mimi commented that my overall design was inconsistent, separated and it looked more like an architectural zine. She advised me to bring out a narrative story on Shenton Way to make the zine more appealing. How do I balance my vision of the place with my ideas and also express Shenton Way from an outsider’s perspective; I wondered. This got me into a ‘designers block’. This led me into further research on more graphic forms of the economy and banking in Shenton. I wanted to give off the essence of the economical growth in Shenton Way, since it is designated as the financial and banking hub. It is also a a symbol of Singapore’s rise to a modern nation.
I experimented on designing the cover page by playing with the idea of a building with office workers intertwining in the title. However, upon completion, it seemed boring and uninteresting so I decided to scrap it off. (as shown below)
After consulting with Mimi, I decided to take another look at my photos I took in Shenton Way. I think one of the obstacles along the way was drifting off with the idea and concept you initially had, ignoring the actual essence of the location and the photos you took. I also re-looked at the write-up I wrote for Shenton Way. This gave me a new and clearer picture on how I wanna stylise and design the zine.
MAIN PICTURES I REFERENCED:
Shenton Way is known as Singapore’s Wall street- banking and financial hub. When I break down these words ‘finance’ and ‘banking’ – currency exchange comes into my mind. Hence I focused on the idea of currency exchange. I depicted this by creating vectors of the different currencies of the world: Yen, Euro, Dollar, Pound, Won and of course including the SGD (showing Singapore’s first president, Yusuf Ishak since the location is in Singapore). I also added office workers walking around and pushing the currencies to portray the financial office life around the area. Moreover, to make it more of a narrative I included a character, a deer, to represent me wandering around the place. A character that is out of place and holds the curiosity of what goes on in this area. As a whole you may think that the deer does not fit into the scene and feels unnecessary, but this is what I wanted to portray. This led to the graphic design below.
Keeping in mind that Shenton Way is a symbol of Singapore’s rise from “a small fishing village” to a modern nation. I wanted to portray this, as well as the new bus interchange built to serve commuters in the Central Business District in June 2017. Thus leading me to design an economical graph with iconic buildings of Shenton Way and the bus interchange. I also added overlapping text to add a sort of glitch or the messy incoming information and data that goes in the offices of Shenton Way.
For the last double page of my Zine, I decided to incorporate my favourite spot in Shenton Way, where I unexpectedly came across. I left the photo raw as I wanted to show the beauty of the raw land where its is under construction that may be built on for a future building. The allurement of the flat land before a rise of new modern buildings. This spot is from the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre rooftop garden. I decided to work my graphics on it to shows the element of ‘growth’ by using the crane and the office workers inserting coins into a piggy bank. Furthermore, I wanted to add my thoughts into this page by inserting a comment by the deer.
Overall, I chose to do a double-spread page for all my pages to create a landscape to give a bigger impact on the location. Moreover, I chose a colour scheme of toned-down solid colours crossing over to pastel colours to make it vibrant to reflect the lively energy in Shenton instead of a systematic monochrome colour scheme – implementing complementary colour pairings.
I did not want my cover page to reveal where my location is and what the zine is about as I felt it should be shown through the graphics on the pages. Thus, it should only give a sneak-peek into the direction of the zine and an introduction of the character.
The first draft of the cover page (shown in the initial stage) was plain and predictable – not abstract enough. Thus I designed a cover where it shows the overall essence of the location without revealing the name of the place. Upon my completion of the design, I still felt like it was lacking and could be further improved but I was stuck on ideas for a double spread cover. Thus settling for the less. I feel like I can do better!
Onto the printing stage! Mimi suggested that we head over to RJ papers to see what they had to offer. To my surprise, they held collections of wide varieties of paper that made me overwhelmed with my choices. Being indecisive, I tried my best to cut to 3-4 different types of paper that I liked. It also surprised me how cheap it was even though I am buying 8 sets of each. I am definitely coming back in the future for my future projects. The aunt over there told me to buy more since I came this far and the price was very reasonable. I thought 24 A4 sized paper was more than enough for test prints and my final zine. Little did I know, during my test print, I used up 16 out of 24 before my final! I must say test printing is so crucial, which tested my patience in aligning and colour correcting the designs on paper. It is also an important medium to match with the concept of your graphics that can further emphasise your ideas. Nonetheless, i enjoyed the whole process in the creation of my zine!
Different textured paper + Different printer printed off a slight differentiation of colour and shading:
Different marks are visualisations of different forms of meaning.
Thin Lines suggest frailty or it can also convey a sense of small elegance
Thick Lines suggest boldness and strength
Horizontal Lines suggest calm and steadiness
Vertical Lines suggest stability, especially when thicker and bold actions
Curved Lines expresses fluid movement and is rather dynamic in direction; differs when the curve is small or large
Zigzag Lines create sudden excitement or quick movement; it can also suggest nervousness
Experimentation in class using different materials with black ink/paint.
During the start of my experimentation, I have not chosen 6 specific emotions yet and was exploring with the different marks different material makes.
I started with using a rubber band with ink to create a line splattered effect. I quite like the outcome of this (image shown below) as it produces different print each time I ‘pull & release’/sling the rubber band around the sheet.
Moving on from using the rubber band and creating textures on the paper, I used a small piece of crumpled paper to experiment what mark it would make.
I also experimented with placing a long chain on ink and subtly dragging and smacking it on to the newsprint paper. It created a sort of repetitive yet asymmetrical pattern. It somewhat resembles a pacing movement… maybe it could fall into the emotion of anxiety?…
Taking a piece of a broken disc, I made small tore marks on black inked paper to represent the emotion of irritation. The emotion of irritation would drive me to tear and break things out of releasing my frustration within, resulting the mark made below.
Comparing tore on ink and without:
I feel like the tore without ink has a clean cut vibe and does not show much of the emotion ‘irritation’ whereas the tore with ink shows the emotion much more, emphasised by the dry brush strokes.
Over here, I used bubble wraps with black paint to stamp on paper to mirror pacing steps from the emotion, anxiety. Splattered watered down paint using a brush to explore the different mark it produces.
Paint on masking tape:
Using a palette-knife with ink to create an explosion-like to make a firework structure for the emotion, zest.
THE 6 EMOTIONS
Zest Definition: great enthusiasm and energy My Interpretation: a burst of great energy; an imitation of fireworks. I used a palette knife black paint on acrylic paper to create the lines, creating a circular lined shape. I tried experimenting with ink or splatting paint on paper but it did not mark off the way I pictured zest.
Surprise Definition: an unexpected event +/- My Interpretation: To me, I like to see surprise as a positive noun. I had interpreted this surprise into something bubbly and positive. Therefore, I experimented with different materials to create round bubbled circles in the light of positivity, adding on a range of different sizes and style of a circle to represent the different surprises.
Affection Definition: A gentle feeling of warmth and softness. My Interpretation: the feeling of wholeness; brings about a soft fuzzy feeling. Instead of using round and smooth curves or lines, I wanted to show the fuzzy feeling you get from affection as well as an interaction piece where the viewers can touch. Affection is something shared between two or more people, so I created a ‘3D’ form where it is more interactive, which is by using cotton as it is a soft and puffy. By covering the whole sheet with cotton, it suggest the wholeness from an affection.
Sadness Definition: sorrow; unhappy My Interpretation: faded out; grey. When I think sadness, I think of a mellow grey field. This lead me to water down the ink or paint and I wanted to bring in the dripping/flow effect of the stability yet toned down feel as the emotion creeps on you. It is not a sudden emotion but a mellow calm emotion that slowly weighs you down. I experimented this on a plexiglass acrylic but it did not capture the grey tone as much as the acrylic paper, which is why I had chosen to use at the end.
Irritation Definition: the state of feeling annoyed and slight anger
Through irritation, it is that slight burning annoyance in your heart that would lead you to drive a pen crazily on a paper that rips it. This is the picture of the emotion, irritation in my head. I tried creating scratch/ripping marks on wood and acrylic paper but it did not show the effect I had in mind until I tried it on newsprint paper. The crumpled effect it gives with unclean tears. I added the marks of black watercolour paint using a dried marks to show the rough ‘scratch’ effect to emphasise the negativity of this emotion.
Nervousness Definition: easily agitated; anxiety My Interpretation: fidgety actions; pacing back and forth. When were nervous we tend to bite our nails, fiddle with our fingers or an object, or even walk back and forth out of panic. I wanted to show these actions on a print when this emotion comes and we suddenly start to panic. First, I experimented with metal chains, repetitive slice marks and zig zag cross lines to show the jitters, tangled up conscience and the continuous pacing of our steps. At the end, I came about using a bubble wrap with black paint (with some diluted black water colour paint to show the faint conscious grip we have and a moment of anxiety). It mirrors the pacing of our foot steps back and forth, all around crossing the same marks all over the sheet till its no longer a simple white sheet but a lost of thoughts that is all over the place.
FINAL MARK MAKING OUTCOME
Overall, I had enjoyed this project although it was quite difficult for me to express emotion without colour. I always pictured emotion with colours better than printed words or marks, so, through this project I learnt how to express different emotions through a variety of experiments with different mediums, medias and tools to create the mark of an emotion b&w. Especially with positive emotions, I learnt to think more out of the box on how to show the emotions, through various experimentations as it is quite hard to produce the coloured images/ideas in your mind and printing it out as a black and white form.