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IDIOM E S Chapalain Julie Visual Literacy

How to undertake a personal project with the skills I have learnt ?

•  Comment engager un projet avec les compétences acquises ? The first thing I thought about was about take an interest in my experience as a French student in England. Indeed, since I have come to Leeds, I have been confronted by many situations that are very different to the French culture, I suppose (which also include the way I have been raised in the north of France). I have started to reflect on differents cultural values, considering different cultural approaches as being someone with a culture to the country he lives in : dealing with the contrast between our two cultures.

 The begining

•  Le commencement Of course, in my case, France and England are not so far from each others : they both are western countries from the same continent and relatively close geographically, still, there are many exploitable differences between them. I have dawn an exploration on the vision offered by each culture backward everything. By culture, I mean food, architecture, religion, clothes, language, etc. I first wanted to create several handmade edition (about A5 format) : each one would have shown a different kind of disparate vision. I initiated several directions when beginning the project. I began doing compzrative research of fake-friends, idioms, religions and clothes.

After divers exploration and researches I realised that the initiated directions were a bit arduous: in one hand, the medium choosen to express my ideas was maybe too intimist, indeed the audience will have a close relation with the production, especialy because of the size contrary to a big poster visible to everyone at the same time, which signify that they can discuss about it simultaneously. In an other hand, I found out that my aboriginal idea was too vague, so I decided to narrow it to deal only with idiomatic expressions.

The balck colour represent the French version while the green represent the English one.

For example, I have been startled by the waiters’ appearance. In England, a good number of them are wearing tattoos, piercings and dyed colorful hair. In France, that kind of stuff are rare to see. I remember when I passed an interviews to get a summer job, the director used to warn us “No piercings, no tattoos, no eccentricity : it doesn’t look serious”. I’m not judging anything here, just noticing. I got the same

reflection about the famous club Halo, situated in Woodhouse Lane : when people told me that the church was in fact a club, I was surpised. I ask my relatives to confirm my reaction : we don’t think that will be possible in France, because the country is probably too attached to the religion, I mean there will be some catholic protest agains’t the idea.


•  Idiomes An idiom is a combination of words that has a figurative meaning, separated from the literal meaning. Idioms are, in my opinion, the most expressive way to present a tongue because it is a strong cultural indicator of a language. Each expressions come from a cultural context proper to a country, a culture, demonstrating a vision of the world. All my work is about a duality created between the confrontation of two languages. There are estimated to be at least twenty-five thousand idiomatic expressions in the English language. The fluency of the English language is largely questionable (as every languages), despite it being a chief first language taught in schools. I assume that playing on the concept of ‘unfathomable idioms’, is a go way to suggest that language can be a strange thing. The questions I asked to myself were the following ones : how to begin an enriching dialogue between the English and the French languages ? Languages which are both engaging in their own way, a culture including a unique vision of the world.  How to begin a mutual exploration of the vision they can both offer throught a culture and a graphic language ? It is from these questions, which give rise to communication problematics, that I have developed my graphic work.


•  Références In parallel of starting my work, I looked for references, people who already works on this topic, at least about the complexity of languages. I have found some artists and graphic designers which use this problematic as an experimental tool.

All this researches and investigation helped me to clear up my arguments. Deals with language is not an esay thing, especially if the idea is intended to a wider audience. Throught thoses analysis I have been able to highlight several points and took inspiration from the communication tools used by thoses creators and designers who, in accordance to their target, have been capable to convey a complex and deep message in a clear and simple approach. In this way I could assume ownership of their reflectives works.

The Hinglish project is a typographic work gathering latin and hindi typography. Because of the set up system, it is possible to phonetically pronunce a hindi letter with the latin letter superpose on it. However, the hindi alphabet get more letter than the latin one, so these system cannot permit to learn everything. But the goal is to remove the mystique surrounding on each letter in order to begin an approach of the Indian culture. The typographic shapes are combining with each other in a really surprising way.

Mélanie Poinsignon is a plastician artist. She realized a serie of researches around languages and translations. Her work The Das Gift is interesting because of his relation with the space. She is using anamorphic folding : when you place yourself on the left you can read in English “The Gift”, and from the right side “Das Gift”, the fish in German. When you look at the work from the middle, the letters get mixed up. She is offering two reading because of the polysemous wealth of her production.

“L’institut du monde arabe”, the institute of Arabic world, is celebrating is 25 years old. This museum got the desire to reafirm his passing role of cultures, languages, beliefs : a place dedicate to human. The Studio C-Album was in charge of the graphic communication. More than 200 words had been choose to evoke the Arabic world. Each poster is composed in two part : the Arabic word and its French translation. At the junction of the two languages, news shapes, colors are created to constitute a rhythm. It’s a great identity about cultural plurality.

Yoan De Roeck, with Dizionario, is presenting the result of a project made about comparing the similarities between French and Italian languages. Because of the resemblances between those latin languages, Yoan De Roeck manage to combine two possible reading in ones. He makes appears the

Meike Willner - German idioms

distance you can set down between languages by presenting a work to two differents targets : French and Italian speakers. Its permits to the public to compare, understand and correlate their own way to write and speak their language.


•  Lisibilité The difficulty and risk encoutered during my work process, was that I was kind of proclaming myself as the French spokesperson. I wanted to stay objective, do not have any judgment but only reviews. All my concept is about having two possible reading in one. That is why I illustrated both languages on one support requiring a tool to make appear one of the two reading : filters colours. The filters colours will be used to reveal one language and hide the other, and vice versa. The skill I have been developing those last month was the screen printing, that is why I really wanted to include it in my project. The final piece is then an illustrated screen printing poster containing two filters colours. Of course, before ending up with the final piece I had to reflect about several visual communication’s problematics. First of all, identifying the right idioms to work with : I had to find English’s idioms which find a French equivalent. However, during the process, I had to give up on many ideas because the final result wasn’t enough explicit to be used. The most important element in my project is to do with the understanding : I am already dealing with two different languages, which could be suficient confusing, that is why I need to be clear, distinct and coherent. Here is the draws I have abandoned because the meaning wasn’t sufficient clear, or simply because the impact wasn’t as strong as I wanted it. In this way I choose easy and figuratives idioms.

DENIED IDIOMS ENGLISH ONE Beating around the bush


Tourner autour du pot


Turn around the pot

Talk the hind legs off a donkey


Être un moulin à parole


Be a talking mill

Avoir des oeillères


To have blinkers


Being narrow-minded

Être bien en selle


Standing good on a saddle


Having a good situation

Fer à cheval




Being lucky

Plier son parapluie


To bend the umbrella


Être pris la main dans le sac


Be catch the hand in the bag


Catch somebody redhanded

Tu peux te brosser


You can brush yourself


Go to hell


To die


Donner sa langue au chat


Give your tongue to the cat


Throw-in a the towel

Ça coûte les yeux de la tête


Cost me the eyes out of my head


It cost me an arm and a leg

Va te faire cuir un œuf


Go cook an egg


Go fly a kite

Vendre la mèche


To sell the stand


Spill the beans

Il pleut des cordes


It’s raining ropes


It’s raining cats and dogs

C’est du chinois


It’s chinese to me


It’s greek to me

Avoir un chat dans la gorge


Having a cat in your throat


Having a frog in your throat

Comme deux gouttes d’eau


Like two drops of water


Like two peas in a pod


•  Typographie After being done with the idioms selection and made the illustrations, I had to think about a really important point : the readability. I first start to work on several fonts for each expression, to finally notice that was making the reading more complex. That is why I decided to assign one typography to one language : then the public can easily associate a language to a font and distinguish the different linguistics element. I have made the French one less legible than the others because, paradoxically, this one is not destined to be read. Surely, the public will be an English speakers audience, then the French language is surperfluous here, it is just an indication to show a different spelling in antoher language.

Literal translation from French to English

English typography

French typography

Screen printing file

•  Fichier sérigraphique After finishing the layout, I needed to prepar the file, separated in three different layers, for the screenprinting process. As I said before, there will be three colors, so three screen : • The English language • The French language • The literal translation of the French language in English Separating the layers wasn’t as easy as I thought : it is a laborious task to visualise the final result on a computer screen, because the only test I could do was on an inkjet printer. Obvioulsy the result is not the same with the screenprinting, I mean there is not the superpostion effect I wanted and needed to get in my final project. There is here the separated files I used to get my final poster, in order :

Black layer

Red layer

Green layer

Final result



•  Couleurs In screenprinting the superposition and registration is essential. I had to make several test in order to check which colour was more legible than the other to put on the top. The choice of the colour was made because the red and the green are complementary colours, but also because of their optical virtue. To make my colours filter system work, I had to make several colours tests. Theoritically, the public is suppose to manipulate the filters to make appear one of the two possible reading. To make it work, the screenprinting ink was suppose to be as close as possible as the colour of the filter. I made differents mix and shot in order to find the right one. Suppositionally, each colours should be complitely invisible through the same colours’ filters.


 The audience

•  Le spectateur Concerning the scenography, I wanted to make the audience be a part of my work by manipulating it. I think that the impact of the message I want to convey will be more influencial if the public can take part and be a player in the piece of work. I chose to handle the both filters colours next to the poster with a sign inviting to the using/ usage. Certainly, the brunt of my work on an audience was considerable because all my reflexion is based on the discovery of another culture, another language and way to think, incarnated by idiomatics expressions. My reflexion is all about the need to bring about reactions from the public. During my researches, I was interrogating several person (room mates, teachers, friends or British acquaintances) to find out which kind of feedback I could create. Thanks to that, I was kind of expecting to get the audience surprised by the French way of personifying an idea or an action, which is disclosed by illustrations. By means of that sort of reaction I can explain my point of view : the public is now in the position I find myself constantly. Indeed, they perhaps will perceive the French expressions as curious, different and bizarre. My communication goal is to raise awareness of the composite characteristic of languages by picking up some points that people are not conscious of. I am inviting people to reflect on their own language and its communicative function by examining a different one. In any case, basically, my project is about mixing two idea, two images in one to show two cultures in one support. I just want to demonstrate how a culture can be such settle down in a

country that you do not notice it anymore, unless you travel to discover antoher one. I think throught this work, I reach the position of a designer. During my process I had the occasion to ask questions to myself I never had to do before. To progress in my researches and my work, I had to put myself in the target’s place, which is not an easy work to do. Thanks to this work, I gain a new knowledge to get myself conscious about some cultural and languages points I never thought about before. I have learnt things about myself and the world around me. I can say that I acquired now another state of mind and another key to understand my neighbour. This work is part of my life experience, the fact to travel, meet new people, learn a new language, de facto, another culture.


•  Bibliographie

A Avery Tex, Symphony in slang, 1951

D De Pury Sybille Comment on dit dans ta langue ? Pratiques ethnopsychiatriques How do you say in you language ? Ethnopsychiatriques practices edition of Epêcheurs de penser en rond, 2005 Di Sciullo Pierre, «Qu’est-ce que tu dis ?», «What are you saying ?», movie, presentation of the Kouije font, 2006, with Juliette Cheval projet=14&lang=fr&id_gabarit=0 De Roeck Yoan, Dizionario, 2004

M Maione Marco and Maillet Tristan, Typographic Project, 2011

P Poinsignon Mélanie, The Das Gift

T Studio Thonik, The Best of Wim T. Schippers, Book design Publisher : Central Museum Wim T, 1997 php?idnr=801,802,803,804

V Van UHM Marin, Similarities between European languages, 70x100 cm, 2008

W Wismann Heinz Penser entre les langues, Think between languages, edition of Albin Michel, 2012

Z Zucker Samantha, Introduction to linguistic relativity,

Visual literacy essai  

Idiomtic expressions

Visual literacy essai  

Idiomtic expressions