3.1.1: Orange: Visual Dynamics

‘l love every minute of my life… I squeeze it like an orange and eat the peel, because I don’t want to miss a thing.’ Huguette Caland

I chose ‘Orange’ because I wanted to start this series of projects with something bright and optimistic. Initially I had worked with ‘Lost in Blue’ from my first visit to St Ives in March – a time when the weather was fairly consistently cold and rainy and the atmosphere very tense with uncertainty of a No Deal Brexit. My work at this time was pretty depressing.

But then in the second visit in July there was an exhibition by Huguette Caland at Tate St Ives that really inspired me with her bold abstract shapes and bright colours – though I also like her thin pen and ink drawings. I enjoyed her playful innovative approach to sexuality and enjoyment in shocking what was at the time a male-dominated art establishment. And the quote below seemed to sum up the more lively and optimistic side of my somewhat bipolar psyche.

NOTE: I am not sure why some images have a watermark with my name and some not. Need to remove from all images.

Developing the Concept

This project was the first of three warm up exercises:

TASK Using an image, text, a flat block of colour and a limited colour palette, create as many text and image combinations as possible.

I decided to take quite some time over because it was a useful framework within which to explore Project 1.3 Creative Design Toolkit in much more depth and also significantly develop my practical skills and experience with the many stylistic possibilities of Adobe Illustrator.

I started with a review of the work of Huguette Caland to understand a bit more about her work. From this I selected a palette of orange, red, warm yellow contrasting with turquoise, dark brown and black. I also did an Internet search on ‘Orange’ to look at the different cultural interpretations and uses in graphic design. I experimented with ideas and acrylic colours on large A2 sheets in my Cornwall sketchbook to loosen up before working digitally.

Version 1 Define It

My first attempts were rather standard graphic design that interpreted the task in a rather uninteresting way – though I did experiment with distortion of the text, different text effects and image trace in Illustrator. This looks like an advert for oranges and the meaning of the text is lost – particularly in the final version where Love and Eat are the same size and the eye seems to go straight through to the orange. The first line of the much plainer text in version 3, without any attempt at illustrative manipulation, lets the meaning through much more clearly, without competition from ‘eat’. The first line containing the real essence of the meaning of the rest of the text.

Version 2 Make It Bold

In ‘Make It Bold’ in order to give prominence to the text, I swapped the solid colour block to make that a large orange circle, initially with a grain texture, and reduced the image to a very small logo by Hugette Caland’s name. My initial attempts were uninspired – looking like cork mats and the text did not stand out in red, but using the other colours with that design looked strange. So I decided to go back to my sketchbook and play a bit more – doing a large orange/red/yellow acrylic painting with sponge and fingers like Caland’s ‘Red Sun’.

Going back to Illustrator I removed the texture from the circle, and put a bold ‘I’ in the middle as the ‘backbone’ of the meaning – the woman in charge of her life and reactions to it. The diagonal strokes into the centre were discovered when by accident I used a very wide stroke on a dotted art brush when I was experimenting with different brush settings. I used the bold and showy Broadway font with some distortion and kerning to vary the text. The logo I put on its side in black – Caland was Lebanese – and this attracts attention to her name. I am quite pleased with what I managed to achieve here in Illustrator. Though if I was not tied by the task in brief and my aims to work in Adobe Illustrator, I think this would have been a very interesting starting point for a much more dynamic joyful treatment in paint – using also the lipstick and chocolate for the text that I experiment with below.

Version 3 Let’s look at the real thing

Let’s look at the real thing raises the question of what is meant by ‘real thing’? Just the image, or the meaning of the text. In the first image the eye is attracted by the big orange, but then does go to try and make out the meaning of the turquoise text – more in this simple image than in the more manipulated ‘Define It’ version. I also like the simplicity of the version with the large rather anonymous text.

Version 4 Introduce Time Motion Sound

Version 4 Introduce Time Motion Sound was a bit of a discovery – aiming to draw typographic inspiration from Dave Carson. Unlike Photoshop, Illustrator has no motion blur and no matter how I experimented with the other blurs and feathering, it was difficult to simulate motion.

But when I was experimenting with clipping masks I discovered that the pixelation of the background image introduced motion. I then exaggerated this through changing the font to Acumin Pro condensed black italic -thick enough and slanted enough to show the image through. I then set the type to narrow tracking and leading and resized the text block to the full width of the frame and horizontally centred. This produces a dynamic triangular bird-shaped block of text. I contrasted Magneto Bold for Caland’s name to preserve the sense of ‘magnetic’ motion.

Version 5 What is the Key Moment

This variation focuses in on the verbs – with the final eating as the main moment. In the final version I kept the other text consistent as Myriad Pro, just emphasising Love and Squeeze through colour, size and tracking. The colour block was transformed as the orange drips from the squeeze. To emphasise the main moment: EAT, I chose a ‘fat’ font – Franklin Gothic Heavy. I needed to make the letterforms more symmetrical as a ‘fat block. I set the tops of the E and T to the same width, and altered the kerning to make the bottoms touch and adjusted using the character panel and touch type tool. The orange logo vertically centred on the orange drips to make the bottom corner point. ‘the peel’ was aligned with the diagonal of the A to emphasise it and set in a justified text box in line with the orange. The kerning was then altered by eye to make it roughly consistent. Huguette Caland was put in a softer brown colour to differentiate from the harder black text.

But although the emphasis on EAT makes sense in terms of the visual dynamics, maybe I need to rethink the semantic change of emphasis from Loving Life to Eating Peel and do a new design focusing on Love.

6 Create a Variation

Inspired by Tomato, Verson 6 variation originated with 5 the Key Moment. But experimented with variable font Acumin and black/white contrast with coloured outlines to see what that would look like. The next version experimented with manipulating the type.

7 Connect Play, fantasies and daydreams

In version 7 I decided to go back to playing with textures and ways of using physical media to create letterforms. I had very much enjoyed doing this in Assignment 5 A to Z from Armageddon in Book Design 1. In my A2 sketchbook I experimented with lipstick (love), chocolate orange foil and chocolate orange segments as a brush.

Taking these into Illustrator, I then converted these into brushes and fills.

These still need quite a bit more work eg experimenting more with types of path for the lipstick text, incorporating the foil as fills to the orange text (kept getting an error message to clipping mask because the text is warped), and making the straight text on the chocolate image drippy. I would also like to experiment with a style more like that of Sarah Fanelli’s ‘Onion’s Great Escape’ using these same physical experiments. But this was fun and a way of working I enjoy.

8 Combine seemingly arbitrary content

This variation was a lot of fun to do, but raised many questions about what might be meant by ‘arbitrary’.

I maintained certain rules like the limited colour palette where it was possible to experiment with many random variations, only altering colours through different blend modes. The background mosaic grain I selected because it suggests snake skin – not oranges. In the case of fonts there were too many, so I selected ones that might in some way suggest the opposite of the meaning of the text and laid things out to also suggest something different e.g love is Chiller far apart. Squeeze was more arbitrary in that I selected a contradictory font and then set the tracking to high as opposite of squeeze. But had not altered the text box width and so it came out in a tangled lump that I quite like. I adjusted colours and effects through blend modes to preserve a reasonable label of contrast and legibility. I did four versions just changing the background and adjusting the colours. The black version is the most ‘arbitrary’ in the sense of getting furthest away from meaning of the text. I also like the art nouveau feel of the turquoise version, though it would need more purposeful work to achieve real impact.

Assessment, learning and further Versions

I found this exercise enjoyable and useful – the apparently random order and near repetition of some of the versions eg bold/obvious, define/real thing, time/key moment etc and alternations between them in the list order made me think much more deeply about ways of doing things differently. Inclusion of versions like ‘arbitrary’ gave me license to really do something different that I would not have tried if I was just left on my own to think of variations.

As I was doing a lot of work on each version in order to learn Illustrator skills, I was quite tired and getting a bit stale by Version 8. I will return to this project again in Assignment 5 when I have improved my Illustrator skills in the Visual Research module and had a complete break to come back again fresh.