Inspiration and References
Last semester, for another one of my projects for another module, I did a zine that was part fashion magazine and part product design catalogue.
You can see the weird fashion magazine here
I had a lot of fun making this fashion magazine and I really reaaaaaaally wanted to do something along a similar vein for this project.
Thus likewise for this project I too looked for inspiration from fashion magazines like ELLE magazine and Vogue
Something I noticed about fashion magazine spreads is that they work better as spreads rather than singular pages. Although the picture usually fills only one page of the spread, there is usually something that connects the two, in the examples above, it is usually the type.
For this vogue spread, I thought it was a smart use of typography. Although, they are separate pages, they work as a spread as the form of the J mirrors that of the model clearly. I thought this was an interesting Idea that I could also adopt.
Similarly, I was also inspired by Hirohiko Araki, author of the popular manga Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Hirohiko Araki too has been known to take inspiration from high fashion and fashion magazine and has even been called upon multiple times to collaborate with the fashion industry.
I was also really inspired by his use of tertiary colours such as green-yellow and purples to create really exciting compositions.
As you can see, I was really excited to make a fashion magazine, there was just one problem, the zine is meant to convey a place.
The thing is, in the previously mentioned module, I had also created another zine that was Inspired by national geographic.
You can view the weird Zine here.
Because of this, I tried turning to National Geographic for inspiration.
Although national geographic covers and spreads had less shock factor, I thought they conveyed the “spirit of the place” really well, which is essentially what we are going for this project.
And that is when I got the “brilliant” idea to merge national geographic and fashion together and show the beauty of the land in a fashion-esque way.
Based on my presentation and my research (view here), I was pretty clear on the key aspects that I wanted to present in my zine. Instead on focusing on abstract forms(which was a requirement for this project, I focused on the abstraction of the idea of the place (trying to depict the spirit of the place)
- Hidden Gem. How the place was obscure, a pocket of hidden beauty in our city.
- The endless battle between man against nature. How, the place was once a forest until man built upon it. And when it was abandoned, nature took back what was theirs. But soon after man once again encroached upon the space and populated it with graffiti.
- Change. This was inspired by how different the place looks when compared to the photos my sister took of the place 7 years ago.
Eventually, I decided to focus on the first two idea for my zine.
When I created my rough sketch for my zine, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted.
For the Cover mage, I wanted an image of the place with fashion magazine font. The image will show the entrance of the place, as if the reader himself was going to enter the place.
For the first spread, I wanted an image of the doorway the fills both pages of the spread. This is symbolic of leading the reader in, the reader is entering this new place. Overlayed on top of this image would be ink splatters, which is meant to represent the numerous graffiti that litters the place. In this spread I would also want to include text, something poetic that embodies the place.
For the second image, I wanted to use actual abstract forms by borrowing patterns that I have observed from the place. Patterns on one page would spread into the other page and slowly change into the other pattern. This would represent change.
The last spread, would feature an image of man encroaching upon the place and mirroring this image is a page that features typography. This spread would also include the entries I obtained from the quest book. The words will take the form of a tree branch that spans the spread.
Lastly, the back cover would feature a figurative image that is a personification of the place. The image will a women that is pierced with rusty nails. Despite this, she will have a serene expression on her face.
I knew the task was going to be tough, but I really wanted to challenge myself. Especially since I was still not that adept at using illustrator.
I will be the first to say that my first try did not go smoothly. At all hehe.
When I started working on the cover page, I immediately realised that I had one major problem. Most of the photos I took while at the Istana were in landscape mode as it was easier to capture more elements within more photograph. This made it difficult to use these images for a zine as a zine is in portrait orientation. I could zoom in into the photos, however they end up not looking as nice (apparent above). So I knew that I would have to return to the Istana for a third time to take more photos this time in portrait mode.
Regardless, from this first try, I thought the national geographic-esque border worked really well with the fashion magazine font (Didot, thin fonts usually conveyed elegance) I also thought that the pale colouring that almost fades into the background(due to the nice rays of sunshine) was also nice for some reason. Thus this were two elements that I would definitely decide to keep.
Moving on, we go to spread 1 try 1. Working on this spread, I realised how problematic my art direction was going to be. This was because I was not only trying to gel together fashion and landscape layouts, but also photography with illustration. As you can see from this picture, the elements did not really gel together.
Furthermore, I thought landscape photos would have worked if the image spanned the whole two pages of the spread. Even then the photos did not work as the central focus of the photo will land in the gutter of the magazine. A neater layout would be if the main focus of the spread could be contained within a page. Thus this solidified the need for portrait photos. Even if I wanted a photo to span both pages in a spread, I decided taking two portrait photos side by side would better. This way I can compose the image in the same way I would compose the actual page, creating a nicer photo and spread overall.
One good takeaway however was that I knew what poem to use for the “Poetic Line” that embodies the place. I decided to go with Dylan Thomas’ ” Do not go gentle into that good night”. The poem was about how one should not accept death so easily and I thought this embodied Istana Woodneuk well, as despite everything that has happened to it, it is still remembered and standing tall.
My initial attempt at the back cover also did not go that smoothly.
I took reference from Hirohiko Araki’s body poses, but despite this, the figure just looked plain wrong.
Furthermore, the placement of the font was problematic. Initially, I wanted the “Back Title” to be at the bottom of the page, to contrast the front cover, but it did not look nice being in front of the model in that way. Similarly, I wanted the continuation of the poem to be on this page, but it obviously can’t be right smack in the middle like that. Overall, I think text can’t be in front of the model Image is this makes it look messy overall.
From my first go at the project, I realised that my art direction was problematic and I actually stressed for weeks afterwards thinking about how I should fix it. I knew what I wanted but the key problem was that I wanted to work on a loooooot of things and the key to this zine’s success was to try and make everything gel together.
Test printing also made me realise that I need to print it on slightly heavier paper, 100gsm as the colours look really off when printed on 60 gsm paper.
2nd try WOHOO
After going back for the third time and taking a lot more photos, this time making sure that they were all in portrait, I had an easier time making this front cover. I thought this was already suitable, however Joy suggested that I add more graffiti to this image as it was mean to mirror the personification on the back cover.
For the first spread I decided to use colours instead of making it just black for the ink splatters. I thought this worked much better than black as it made the composition much more exciting and it was a better representation of the colourful graffiti. For the colours themselves however, I decided to make my own colour pallet rather than use the actual colours found on the grafitti as most of the colours were primary colours and I thought that was harder to work with. Instead I used tertiary colours inspired by Hirohiko Araki. For the arrangement of the ink splatter itself, Joy suggested that I rearrange it to mirror the growth of the plants more rather it spiraling towards the middle as this leads the viewer’s gaze towards it, making them expect to see something.
I also decided to remove the first line to the poem and decided to add it somewhere else as it would look too messy otherwise. The plant growth in the picture and the ink splatters already make the composition quite chaotic (though at this point it was still decent). Adding the font would just throw everything out of balance.
At this point, my third spread was still very rough but I thought the layout, that is an image on one page of the spread and a letter that fills the other page, was working very well. However, instead of this I, I would use an I that had serifs as that made the letter I look more like a gateway.
For the back cover I decided to give up on trying to work with illustrator and try my hand at digital painting. By week 12 I only had the head done, but it was definitely looking MUCH better than my illustrator try. I was actually starting to get hopeful that my zine will look pretty decent.
With that being said, of course with just a head, I was not able to create a decent back cover. This however made me realise that I need to change the background colour to something darker.
for the body posture and character designs I used Hirohiko Araki’s characters as reference.
As you can probably tell by now, I absolutely love Hirohiko Araki and his work. It is absolutely ridiculous, yet so beautiful.
Eventually I was able to create a full figure that was actually decent.
The tattoo for the character was created using the graffiti found at the place. Most of the forms were also inspired by motifs and patterns I found at the place. Looking through the photos I took, I tried to pick out the patterns and motifs I could use.
The jewellery were inspired by the railing patterns at the main staircase. I also decided to use a pale greenish hue as that was what the railings looked like due to the rust. On top of this, I added oranges and browns to make it look rusty.
For the patterns on the clothes, I was inspired by the architectural motifs found on the second floor. To make the colours consistant, I decided to make it the same shade as the necklace and add a rust texture.
With this, I was ready to compose the back cover.
For the front cover I added more graffiti. To be precise, I added the same graffiti that I used to create the tattoos for the character on the back cover to create more connection. The image I used was one of the Istana peeking through the vegetation. It was first sight I saw and I thought it only fitting for it to be used as the front cover. I am putting the readers in my shoes, it is as if they had searched for the place themselves. I thought how the title of the magazine was half hidden also reflected how you had to squint and look carefully to actually spot the place amongst the trees in real life.
For the first spread, I rearranged the colour splatters to mimic growth of the vegetation more. I made sure that the door way is framed nicely in one page while most of the ink splatters were concentrated on the other page to make things neater. The ink splatters also point back to the door way, leading the eyes nicely. The doorway is my way of telling the reader that we are now entering this new hidden place. As mentioned earlier, the colourful ink splatters represent the numerous beautiful vibrant graffiti at the place.
For the middle spread I decided to use patterns that I picked out from the place. The rectangular patterns were the same architectural patterns found on the second floor. The curvy patterns on the other hand were patterns of the railings found on the second floor. They are slightly different from the patterns on the main staircase.
For this spread I also decided to create dichotomy between the textures. For the first page, I decided to use soft water colour patterns and textures to represent the calming second floor.
For the 2nd page, I decided to use rough textures to represent the grit of the first floor and how I felt really uncomfortable while I stayed on the first floor.
But for the texture used, I actually used parts of the wall on the second floor, as it was able to give a nice concrete texture.
Lastly, there were ink splatters used on this page too, as I wanted the two pages to still come together as a spread despite being opposites of each other of sorts. Thus a common visual element would tie them together. The poem was also added here as it served as a nice marker for the midway point of the zine and it did better in a neater pager overall.
For the last spread, as mentioned waaaay back at the start, I decided to use a picture of “man” encroaching upon the space. This image is then mirrored by the I on the next page. The solitary “I” forms a gateway of sorts. I’ve used wall textures in the images I took of the place to fill the I to make it look more like a pillar that supports a gateway. The ink blotches were also made to mirror the plant positions in the previous image. On top of both images is a plant vine growing across. I used ink platters to add to the image of the plant as it added more energy to the image, making it look as if it was actually moving. This plant vine represents nature taking back the Istana when it was abandoned. The words (words from the guestbook I left there) that overlay the vine represents man once again trespassing on the space.
Lastly for the back cover I made the purple much darker and I decided to add the text behind the character in the same way fashion magazine covers do.
I think this makes the image look much neater as a hole. For the background I also added texture. The texture used was once again of the walls from the pictures I took of the place.
This image is a personification of the place. Genderless, and still standing tall and proud despite everything that has happened to it.
The zine also could be read from back to front. Reading it from back to front, you would see the character, then the letter “I”, then the words to Dylan Thomas’ poem. In this way, the place itself is telling you that it would not go so easily. Also, reading it back to front, you would see the image of a human in a doorway and then the last image you see is a greyed out image of an empty doorway. This also changes the interpretation of the zine.
The quality of the print itself turned out fine and the pages were aligned. I made sure to create separate files which had the images in the middle of an A3 canvas so that I am able to print properly. However, I did manage to screw up the arrangement despite planning the layout. I accidentally printed the front and back covers reversed, so the back cover became the front cover instead.
Project 2 has been quite the emotional roller coaster. It was really difficult to try and marry such different themes and try to fit everything that I wanted into the Zine. This was also my first project where I received very mixed replies from my classmates. Some thought that I had a very strong art direction and did very well, while others think that the art direction was totally wrong. Some were also salty that I decided to use photography. Despite this, I still stand firm with my choices and truth be told, I think I did pretty well. Especially when considering what this project started out with and how horrible my first attempt looked. And I am honestly really proud of myself.
That being said however, I do agree with joy how the zine could still used a little ore fine tuning. The first cover and the back cover (though I am really proud of the back cover) could use a little bit more work. They looked far too different from each other. Maybe you I should have illustrated the front cover too. The ink splatters also give the whole zine a nice gritty feel and it was a nice visual element that tied it all together. The front and back covers could definitely also have included ink splatters. As Joy also mentioned the middle spread could be improved with the arrangement of the organic patterns also being more organic.
Overall though, I really thoroughly enjoyed myself and had a lot of fun because I challenged myself and manage to create this zine in the image I wanted it without conforming to anyone else’s image.
Thank you so very much for taking time to read this and have and absolutely wonderful day 😀