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Shouting For Syria

I graduated in 2013 and started a small design studio with a fellow graduate at the start of 2014. We have a couple of good clients who give us regular work. One of them does a lot of stuff to raise awareness of the situation in Syria and, obviously, try to get people to raise money.

The work is not especially creative and everything goes through endless panels and focus groups.

What's happening in Syria, along with Gaza, Iraq and Ukraine is incredibly fucked up. There are a lot of dark forces at work and sometimes people get confused about who the bad guys are. The simple fact that innocent civilians are paying the ultimate price is THE issue here. I want to do work that expresses the horror that we all feel, as well as the anger and disbelief. It's like so much awful shit is going on that people almost get desensitised.

My project will hopefully show our clients what can be achieved if they killed the committee process and stopped playing it safe with the message.

This class has inspired me to go back to working with real, messy materials on a large scale, using the computer just to add any finishing touches. Oh, and I will strive to avoid just pinching Victore's style (although I may imitate him a bit as part of the initial process, until I find my own voice).

***UPDATE***

This stuff just arrived from Graff-City. I only ordered it yesterday so very impressed with that. No excuses now - time to get messy. Oh, I will need some paper...

***UPDATE***

I just made my first "marks" by spilling a shit load of ink over my hands and desk! Guess I should find a funnel small enough to fit into the hole in the pen...

RESEARCH

I have been looking at some type that I like. It's research. 

I love all the stuff Mr Bingo does, partly because of the awesome swears and partly because of his lettering. The man don't give a fuck. 

Jamie Reid's stuff is great but perhaps it will always scream SEX PISTOLS. That's not necessarily a bad thing though.

This piece from Adbusters is really nice.

This isn't hand-rendered but I like how it ignores any typographic rules.and looks like it has been done on a photocopier (it porbably was).

Alan Kitching has done some lovely type-based stuff, although the letterpress thing has been done to death in recent years.

These movies all have great logos...

PLAY

This afternoon I decided to take the plunge and make my first marks. You really do just have to throw yourself into it or you will most like overthink and then never start. When I was in a band I was crippled as a songwriter because everything I wrote had to be the next Smells Like Teen Spirit or Debaser. Never again. Incidentally, Cobain apparently referred to Teen Spirit as Nirvana's "Pixies song". 

So I went outside with my new Molotow 10mm dripstick, a champage cork and some matches. And some nice thick A3 cartridge paper I never got around to using at uni. These are the results...

Tomorrow I will buy some other stuff - paint, rollers, tape etc and try something totally different. Hope these aren't too repetitive. I quite like some of them and would like to maybe mess around with them in Photoshop at some point.

PRACTICE

I didn't get a chance to go out today to buy new stuff to make marks with. Tomorrow I am going to Homebase to buy a cheap wallpaper seam roller which I will customise with various loom band configurations. Could be interesting. I did do some work on the project today though. I started thinking about slogans for the Syria poster; something shocking but also totally honest and from the heart. I came up with:

  • Thank fuck you don't live in Syria (spare a thought and some cash for those that do)
  • Blah blah blah something about Syria give us some money

The second one plays on the fact that people don't bother reading charity posters, so why make the effort to write something good? Another idea I had was a blank space with "insert picture of dead children here" with some text below saying "or give us some money so we can help protect them".

I tried writing the first one out a few times and realised that I am shit at cursive writing and that it doesn't just happen by itself. So I found an online resource where I could print out some sheets and practice...

This one is great - you write out the sentence and then print a bunch off, leaving blank lines in between. The idea being you trace the first line, to get a feel, then freehand the next line. I feel it is already starting to come together:

I then had a go at doing one myself on A3 using a brush pen:

I am pretty happy with this for an early effort. Tomorrow I will try the same text but with various implements to get some more interesting marks. I can't wait!

Oh and I also gave my guitar Alan the Victore treatment...

MORE PRACTICE

This morning I successfully filled my Molotow markers and thought I would have a go at writing Syria a bunch of times. I drew a few out in pencil first to get a feel and use as a guide then went to work on them:

Some of them are okay and certainly much better than anything I had tried before starting this project, so that's a result. Some of them were more interesting than others. The one below reminds me a bit of the writing at the start of the awesome movie Drive:

For the next one I just used one ragged corner of the pen to get a thinner line:

The next one is so chunky that it is not really legible. Could be a nice effect for some other projects but I don't think it is right for this:

The next one is pretty nice but maybe a bit too clean. I need to fuck the nibs up a lot more so I am less in control:

I think the next one might be my favourite. There are lots of little artifacts and the rough stroke has a dynamism to it. I really love how this word looks in cursive - especially the way the y flows into the r. Beautiful.

The next one is a bit chunkier again and yet it is still perfectly legible. It has a certain rustic charm but it's not my favourite:

After doing all of these I felt that I had the hand movements pretty much committed to memory, so I decided to be brave and try one large on a new sheet of A3, without any pencil guides. I was pretty happy with the result:

I think I should have applied a bit more pressure at the start and I am not entirely convinced by the bottom of the S:

My favourite parts in terms of pure mark-making are definitely the i and the a. 

All in all I am really happy with my experimentation so far but it is all a bit safe and restrained. I will get some different materials and do some more tests to see if I can stumble across some happy accidents. 

Sorry if this a bit dull and repetitive for anyone who has taken a look - I am trying to be thorough in my documentation. I guess I got into this habit when I was a student, showing every single step of the process.

SOME NEW STUFF

I just bought a load of stuff from the hardware store and tried a few things out in the garden. First I put some loom bands on my little wallpaper roller. It looked like this:

Pretty cool huh? I felt pretty pleased with myself. Then I tried using it and the results were not too good!

And here's a close-up:

Next I tried using masking tape for a different look entirely...

Turns out this "Frogtape" brand masking tape is really good and leaves a nice crisp line:

I am not totally convinced that either of these tests were very successful. It was nice to get outside for a while though, because I doubt I would have see this lovely butterfly in my cramped office:

When I got back inside I wrote the word Syria on a few glasses and photographed the shadows they cast:

I think they are pretty encouraging. I am going to use some spotlights and photograph them properly - that's my next step with these. They are certainly different to the other stuff I have tried. 

DIFFERENT BRUSHES

I just tried writing with a cheap Muji toothbrush and while quite tricky (and messy) I think the results are really, really nice:

I love the splatter effects. Reminds me of the work of Ralph Steadman.

I then tried some stuff with red ink and a really cheap crappy brush I bought a long time ago. I think it was 12 brushes for £1 or somethin and you can tell - they were a bitch to work with:

Then I decided to add a few red flicks to the ones I did with the toothbrush. I know it's a bit of a cliche having the word Syria splattered with "blood" but cliches are tried and tested so why the hell not?

I am really happy with where this is taking me. I have some more of these cheap toothbrushes, so perhaps I will chop into the them to get a few different lines. Results to follow...

Okay so I did a load more just now. Here are some more using the seam roller but with a thicker elastic band:

Then I decided to do some more with the toothbrush:

Then I went back to my big Molotow marker. This time I cut into the nib a whole lot more to get a more interesting line:

I love writing with these pens! The lines are fantastic. I want to write all my favourite (swear) words now!

Here's a composite image I made in Photoshop...

And now I am done for the day - it's beer o' clock!

UPDATE - 17th September 2014

I am starting to feel a bit lost with this project now. When am I meant to stop playing around and make an actual poster? Surely to come up with a mark that is uniquely mine may take years of experimentation, if indeed it is actually possible to be truly original. I looked back over the brief and looked at some of the stuff James posted about doing ugly stuff etc and did the following:

These were all done using the big fat Molotow 611 marker with a custom nib. As were the following:

Again I have been writing actual words, which I think is missing the point, so I then tried just doing something more abstract...

This has awakened a desire in me to produce more abstract stuff. Other than that I am not sure what I am doing any more. Should I just put some logos on some of these and call them posters?

*confused*

I AM GOING TO TRY REPRODUCING THE ABSTRACT IMAGE I AM USING AS MY COVER PHOTO ON AN A2 SHEET. I AM GOING TO USE A TOILET BRUSH. I HOPE IT IS NOT SHIT.

UPDATE - 22nd September 2014

I couldn't find a cheap bog brush and didn't want to use our one (for fear of debris) but I found a fuck off great paint brush and also a nasty plastic brush thing I use to clean the wheels on my car.

There it is all set up and ready to go. Exciting, huh? I used the big fat brush first but it was too good and it gave a solid clean line - not what I was after. So I went over it again with the scabby wheel brush too. I did three paintings in the end and this was the best one:

It's not as refined as the little one I did originally with the toothbrush but it is okay. I will sign it and get it mounted nicely and hang it on my wall as my first abstract piece! Here are a few closer details...

UPDATE - 29th September 2014

This is the best of the photos I got of the shadow from the Syria glass. It's not quite what I was after but it is okay. Not sure where to go next with this project.

UPDATE - 7th October 2014

I just did an art "inspired" by Tracey Emin's "Woman With One Tit". It took me less than a minute, which is less than half the time hers took, so I win. Limited edition prints available for £5. Actually, I will do you an original for £6.50.

All joking aside, I actually do quite like this and might even put it on my wall!

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