Tag Archives: Layout

VAROOM – Research and Ideation

HELLO EVERYONE and hello to very next assignment (aka ‘Varoom Cover Design’). Well, I have definitely heard of Varoom publishing before but I haven’t actually taken notice of their content/layout style. So I got curious and attempted a quick search on google! So here are some of the existing cover design/style I found on google. Pretty interesting, very simple graphics and at times, very abstract too. I was surprised cause it was nothing like I imagined a design magazine cover to be. Varoom’s layout is surprisingly quirky and “freestyled” almost. Did another quick search on their branding and here’s what I found: “Varoom magazine is renowned as a hub of discussion for the illustration community, and an advocate for innovative approaches to the practice.”

Their new editor, Olivia Ahmad, describes the intention for each issue as being “a live reflection of what is happening in illustration at any given moment… presenting new work and giving insight into how it’s done, but also asking questions about it – why make it? – what does it mean to people?” – Cool stuff. It’s really more than just an aesthetically pleasing cover, there’s more to it. Okay with that, let us move on to our process! 

Now, I selected “obsession” amongst the two other topics and let’s start. What does obsession mean? As on Dictionary.com, they defined the state of obsession as being:

Obsessed with someone or something – “She cared for him with a devotion bordering on obsession”
An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind 
Some of its synonyms also include fixation, compulsion and passion.  My understanding of obsession goes in two different way, one being a positive feeling, the other being the opposite. When someone is overly obsessed, their interest has become compulsive, they begin to lose control over themselves. I decided to focus on Yayoi Kusama and her obsession over dots. I am pretty sure this is quite a famous household name by now, but what does it truly mean to be a Yayoi kind of obsession? 
With some research, I found out that her obsession over dots visually approximates the hallucinations Kusama reportedly suffered as a child, in which the entirety of her surrounding space was covered with repeating patterns. Besides being very instagrammable and photogenic (her installations), many people failed to see that it comes from a very tragic place – her childhood, a period of her life less than idyllic. 
When Kusama began to see hallucinations as a child, her way of coping with the bizarre phenomena was to paint what she saw. She says that art became her way to express her mental disease. This most notably is seen in Infinity Net – a painting based on repetitive patterns. 
This is what Yayoi has to say based on her very painting – Infinity Net: “With just one polka dot, nothing can be achieved. In the universe, there is the sun, the moon, the earth, and hundreds of millions of stars. All of us live in the unfathomable mystery and infinitude of the universe. Pursuing philosophy of the universe through art under such circumstances has led me to what I call stereotypical repetition.”  
With repetition of dots, it gives us a sense of the boundless and endlessness of our infinite universe. To Yayoi, when we are born on this planet we call home, all in all, everything around us is to be represented in circles. The moon is a polka dot, the sun is a polka dot, the earth where we live in is also a polka dot. Yayoi also suggests that everything that makes up of this entirety of the universe can be represented in dots/circles. I found this information to be truly intriguing, as to how a “mentally ill” artist views the world to be as blatantly honest yet a realistic realisation of an idea I have never thought about. Cool. 
With this piece of new found information, I decided that my layout on obsession will focus on the above concept of circles and dots as space. With that settled, we can now move on to our target audience!!! 
Let’s go! 
Say hello to our first persona, Leanne! She’s a graphic design graduate and has an absolute free-spirit. Read on more about the details of her below. 

PERSONA #2 – Caithlyn!

Essentially, when it comes to who I think will be attracted to my magazine design, I think of these qualities

  1. Design enthusiast/ Art students (someone who collects/looks upon design editorials & magazines for inspiration)
  2. Love for bright colours! 
  3. Youngsters aged 21 to 35 

Moving on further, we’ll look at the mood boards I have created for my final concept.

Illustration style: Stylised, colour blocking technique

Colour scheme: Mainly I am looking into primary colours like deep blue, red and yellow perhaps. The mood board below is pretty much self-explanatory!

Finally, here’s what I have for my quick thumbnail sketches (x16): 

Among all these sketches, I put a star beside some of the idea/concepts which I prefer! Try and spot them, haha.

Finally, here are my 3 quick sketches before I move on to finalising my concept for “Obsession” for Varoom. I will also include a short write up on the scenarios that you see below! Read on if you want to find out 🙂 

Layout 1:

This is Yayoi Kusama the great peering into the mirror which diverts her to an alternate universe which she calls reality. In this layout, the idea revolves around her not being able to find a sense of belonging in the world where she belongs – her miserable childhood was of no help, her detrimental parents – especially the mother who does not support her artistry passion/dream. She longs to move away and get out of the “hell hole” which is why I thought of this concept. A place where she finds comfort in – an alternative reality of Kusama. Trippy.

Layout 2:

This is Yayoi Kusama morphing into a planet. As mentioned in the short introduction of her above, I wrote about her vision of the world. A place where everything is in form of a dot – this includes the Sun, Moon and earth. As well as everything and anything that constitutes the entirety of this galaxy/universe/milky way etc. I was very inspired by this revelation during my research phase because I never thought much about her works at first. To me, it was just a compilation of many dots – something that fascinates the youth because it is very “instagrammable”. Now after I found out there was actually more to it, I wanted to create a piece of work in a reflection of her ideology. So here it is. 

Behind her is many other planets as well which I feel helps to better frame the composition of the cover. Instead of putting circles and dots on everything, I wanted to tell a story, something that is a good representation of Yayoi Kusama herself. Yup!!! 

Layout 3:

Finally, this is her on a road trip. A documentation of her escaping her home, her family because she found it extremely suffocating to be a part of them. All the expectations she had to live up, and people trying to tell her what is right and what is not. In this layout, Yayoi is on a getaway to the wonderland of dots – a world uniquely hers to live. I mean, instead of replicating her works, I want to share a piece of what I learnt about her as an artist and the life before she was famous and actually “made it”. So that is that! 

Click “here” for my final documentation, and last but not least, thanks for reading! (to be updated, stay tuned)