SYMBOLS AND HOW TO USE THEM

Over millennia, humanity has used symbol in order to communicate ideas, linguistics, ideas and ideologies. These can be seen dating back into the times of the cave-dweller, through cave paintings and ancient symbols depicted within architecture, riddled into the land upon which modern humanity now roams. Visual symbolism, having taken such an abundance of forms and medium, has now been divided into three varieties and types – Semiotics, Semiology and Mythology. Semiotic variants of symbolism act as a vehicle by which designers communicate to their audience through with visual symbols, for example, the image is not just a symbol, it is also what it symbolises, for example, the symbol representing the Olympic Games, an internationally known symbol, both recognized and associated with sporting competitions. The term Semiology is used to describe visual linguistics and the nature of said linguistics. It is the cause within general visual linguistics, regarding visual linguistics depicted as a sigh or a symbol. A sign is divided by two elements; a signifier and a signified. The signifier describes the sound image that relates directly to an idea, meaning that the image or sign itself, has no meaning directly, however, provides links to other ideas. For example, a lightbulb as a visual symbol can be used in order to depict an idea, therefore Semiology through symbol takes place. One must also remember that one sign can carry a multitude of intricate and widespread meaning, this is called ‘Denotation’, it is the direct connection between the signifier and the sign. Overall, the conceptual value of symbols have allowed communication over thousands of years for a growing humanity. Symbols act as the very backbone for what has come of the human race and it’s achievements – everywhere symbols can be seen, depicted upon manhole covers, logos, technology and road signs alike.

Alice In wonderland

Whilst going to view the Alice In Wonderland exhibition, numerous striking factors worked both in favor and against the exhibition itself. The venue itself, was remarkably fitting, as a major hub of literature. However, upon entry to the exhibition itself, I was presented with a dark area of a room, behind a stair case. The placement of the exhibition almost undermined the importance highlighted within the exhibition. Whilst the imagery was fantastic, demonstrating the history of the illustration of Alice In Wonderland, the poor lighting conditions and reflective glass proved much difficulty whilst attempting to view the illustrations in great detail. The interactivity of the exhibition offered an attempted dream like aesthetic, offering bold typefaces juxtaposed with the curves of the decorative line work. While these efforts were very much appreciated and added to the sense of atmosphere, they almost acted as a gimmick playing on the aesthetic and basis of the story itself. In this respect, I feel that the exhibition would have benefited from a more subtle approach to inducing a feel atmosphere into the exhibition. Again, the potential of such atmosphere may have worked on a larger scale, but again this is the fault of the cramped space in which the exhibition was situated within. The use of a larger space would have been better reflective of the sprawling story, alongside the sprawling nature of the illustration styles used to depict such a story, passed down from generation to generation. As a whole, the content of the exhibition was fascinating, however when placing it within such a small environment, the whole event became underwhelming as a whole thus creating the atmosphere of disappointment; a feeling not usually associated with the story ‘Alice in wonderland’. With all of these upsides and downsides, the visit was entertaining and provocative.

Comix Creatrix

Upon first impression, prior to entering this exhibition, the title itself acted as a point of interest, as it presents the biggest show of exclusively female artists in the UK; showcasing a vast array of work, dating all the way back to female illustrators of the eighteenth-century. A huge and breathtaking variety of illustrative genre was presented within the exhibition, increasing the interest and genuine curiosity into the field of illustrations. This exhibition to me, presented an overall atmosphere of triumph and an overall emancipation of women’s art over time, as it has been previously overlooked over the centuries. Various artists show casing in the exhibition were already known to me, due to prior exposure through the medium of social network. A personal favorite of mine was the series by Philippa Rice – whom created the book ‘Soppy’. ‘Soppy’ compiles her very popular and widespread web-comics, that depict the less documented and illustrated highlights of a relationship, focusing on the less romanticized aspects of human relationships. These depictions show the couple illustrates moments such as working in silence together for one another’s company, quieter moments and quiet/intimate moments within the relationship. What was most striking were the strong color-schemes, depicting all of the situations in red, black and white – an aesthetic choice I have used prior to seeing the webcomics and continue to use today. Not only this, but the simplistic nature of the illustrations, juxtaposed with such strong colors represent the simple moments portrayed within the comic perfectly, with so much depth and atmosphere to take in whilst viewing the work itself. When taking into consideration the historical importance of this exhibition, when regarding women’s rights and Feminism in the modern day, this exhibition was hugely influential and inspiring to myself and as I can imagine, many other individuals also.

Stereotypes

Stereotypes have been implemented in graphic design and illustration for centuries. The idea of a stereotype highlights the various components of the individuals culture, stature, position in society and outline location and a sense of time too. Stereotypes, can be friendly caricatures, or negative forms of widespread discrimination. The creation of a stereotype through illustrative means can either be incredibly damaging or supportive but is this just a case of lesser evils? The very idea of a stereotype, outlining various attributes of an individual, or groups ways of living can prove damaging if presented negatively. The idea of a stereotype is seen time after time within the world of television. For example, the character ‘Vicky Pollard’ presents the stereotype of the ‘Chav’. Whilst viewers may not realize, this stereotype can provide, perpetuate, and somewhat bolster any prejudice regarding class and the way that the population is perceived, especially on a large scale without the population even realizing. However the viewpoint may be taken into consideration that individuals may take pride in stereotypes such as these despite its dangerous lean into total discrimination regarding class and condition of living. To take this further, we must think about the individual responsible for the creation of the artwork/illustration/Tv Show. The situation of Vicky Pollards character is a useful example. When considering that the tv show was put out by the British broadcasting company, potentially by individuals whom are more fortunate than others the message can be viewed as bitter and a slap in the face somewhat to communities such as those now referred to as ‘chavs’. To broaden this topic, the depiction of women in illustration stereotyped as they are, is hugely damaging in terms of equality. Overall, stereotypes are a means by which negative exposure is circulated, even when intended as positive.

Punk graphic design

Punk Zines are a derivative of the original pulp fiction method of publication. Pulp fictions were introduced in the early 1900s as a method of communication via cheap and resourceful materials. The users of these ‘Pulp fictions’ were predominantly science fiction enthusiasts whom required the cheap and available method of production for the newly emerging style that formed styles within science fiction that are still seen today in action movies and comics. As time progressed through the 1970s, the usage of the pulp fiction began to change. The fanzine was adopted by members of the Punk subculture as a method of publicizing information that would otherwise be rejected by publishing companies and magazines. This detachment to a company, or magazine offered the individual the chance to ‘Liberate themselves from the stifling opinions of the traditional arbiters of taste’ (Sabin and Triggs) giving an uncensored platform in which one could spread their creative wings. During this time, the punk aesthetic grew in symbiosis with the zine, implementing somewhat ‘cheesy’ and ‘kitsch’ gaining momentum from the ironic imagery of the queen, taking clippings from newspapers to create a sort of ransom note like aesthetic. The once Pulp fiction had now been transformed into a means of circulating political ideologies, music and Illustrative/typographic imagery. While the zine promotes freedom of expression and anti-censorship, the creator would often pick and choose things to place within the zine itself, contradicting its free and loose nature. Over the course of time, the implications for zine making changed. For example during the 1990s, the Zine was used in order to promote equal gender rights as a platform for the feminist ‘Riot Grrrl’ movement to inform the masses in an equalist crusade. The fashion of the ‘Zine’ is currently still at large, bolstered from the internet, distributed worldwide.

Where is Illustration

Illustration is not only a flat representation of something real or imaginary, it is a vital ingredient towards what powers modern day society and culture itself. Illustration is a part of our everyday life, to the extent to which we no longer recognize or notice. Throughout centuries and even millennia, humanity has relied upon illustration as a source of order, open communication through a series of co-ordinated lines to formulate a direction, or an image. Illustration is everywhere, meaning, it can be perceived anywhere at any given moment thus creating a multitude of meanings with every contextual lens available. An example of this can be viewed through the medium of ‘Hidden Illustration’. Hidden Illustration refers to ideas surrounding installations such as’ Nazca lines’, illustrations of which can only be seen via an image from a satellite, or an airplane (from above). When considering that illustration can take this shape, other planes of reality can be discussed when viewing an illustration, stressing that perspective is vital when observing, as the ‘Nazca Illustration’ would look incredibly different to somebody approaching the installation by foot, therefore misunderstanding the concept of the Nazca Line Drawing without prior knowledge of what it is they are seeing. Our need and desire to communicate through line work has translated directly to the growing popularity of tattoos. Individuals decorate themselves with tattoos in order to express a passion for a an idea, or a subject matter of much importance within the individuals life. This proves illustrations many forms, and the whereabouts of graphic design. It is at the mercy of the creator, and can be placed in situations of ephemeral nature as well as a more permanent nature. Illustration is deeply rooted within human cultures, acting as a bridge that breaks language barriers altogether, demonstrating mass cultural interconnectedness.

WAR ILLUSTRATION

Over time, Illustration has often been utilised through times of great economic turmoil, and war. Journalists would usually portray the battles and trenches that they were reporting from, or through a secondary source of what the soldier would depict and describe around the war-zone. Fortunino Matania was an Italian artist noted for the realistic portrayal of the trench warfare which took place over the duration of World War One. Fortunino Matania’s painting for the Blue Cross entitled ‘Goodbye, Old Man’, depicts a realistic painting, showing a British Soldier sharing a last farewell to his dying war horse, this is a fine example of the extent to which Matania’s paintings present emotion. Over time, passing World War two, other artists such as Henry Moore chose not to depict the war zone itself, but the direct effects that the war would afflict upon the citizens of London, by presenting the viewer with movement riddled drawings showing the London citizens whom took refuge within the tube systems below the surface of the city. This shows that the various methods of depiction of time and place are both valued just as much. War Illustration is a fine example of Illustration being used in a setting whereby it could be used in order to create sensitive responses to such a controversial subject matter. Over the passing of time and World War two, technological advances began to directly affect the extent to which illustration was implemented in order to depict the worldwide and global political ongoings. Photography and the internet are prime examples of technological advances in the field of communication which continue to undermine illustration. As a result of these methods, propaganda art and political art is more circulated, as illustration and depiction of war itself must now compete with such mediums as the internet.