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How has narrative been expressed in graphic design in the last four decades? Over the last 4 decades’ technology has had a massive impact on society and this has meant we are able to create stories with software like Photoshop, Illustrator and Tumblr blogs. I am going to consider how artist’s express narrative techniques and how narrative was expressed over the last four decades with technology moving forward with what artists consider to be refined pieces of work, this may mean things like making sure that they are completely happy with what they have created but most likely the idea of feeling like they have expressed the story that they want to express in a well thought out manner. Going all the way back to 1980 to roughly 2016 I want to see how much technology has been used to really improve the way narrative has been done over time. The reason why I want to find out about how narrative has been expressed in graphic design over the last four decades or so is because I find it really interesting to see how they managed to create really mesmerizing narratives without the technology we have now in 2017. 40 years ago in the 80’s / early 90’s computer soft where was at the start of what became a revolution of change in the technology available to graphic designers. The production of things like mac and adobe soft where meant the beginning of the industry we have today. Graphic artists didn’t have the technology we have now 4 decades ago but they worked around it by using their drawing skills and other techniques like print making for example to create the same effects we would have just at a couple of clicks of a button, things took twice as long to create but this didn’t meant the work wasn’t at a high quality as back then the idea of having a perfect piece of graphic design was something that only highly skilled artists could achieve but as technology advanced everything else advanced with it such as how long it took to create a piece of graphic design and how the final work looked as now we have the technology to create clean cut pieces of graphic design. Everything was a lot bolder and pastel colors were key for getting the general public’s attention this wasn’t the same for a lot of graphic designers though as looking back to what designers were making things were either bold and colorful but you also had some people stepping out the box and introducing some dark and uncommonly seen aspects to posters for rock bands. This contrasts what I have personally done with my own work, this does show how design ideas and inspirations have changed over the last 3 decades. My three artists include Oscar Parasiego, Johan Thornqvist’s and Tjitske Oosterhout; they are all different in their own ways which is good as it means you can see different forms of narrative in their work. my first artist Oscar Parasiego is known for using photography and Photoshop to create pieces of narrative art which expresses cutting people out of images and then replacing the missing person with another setting to show emotions to look at how it can express how we feel inside as people. He explored the way peoples mind and feelings can be expressed in artwork. His theme is really interesting as it really pops out as work that will make you think, when looking online he said his work is about immigration and he said ‘When someone is living abroad for a long period of time the person starts modifying behaviors and habits to adapt to the new environment,’ This really makes his work stand out a lot more as the story he is trying to express has got a deep meaning behind it that you maybe wouldn’t notice at first. When looking at the narrative behind my two examples of his below it is clear to see that he is trying to express the same thing but at the same time not the same thing, firstly looking at my first example there is somebody sitting on a bed but there’s no clear features of them, to me the narrative of this is somebody feeling invisible to the world and just trying to get though life. While the second example to me expresses a creative block, when you have a creative block you often feel empty like you’ll never really get out of it.


My second artist it Johan Thornqvist who is well known for his work with illustrations and photography sometimes together but most of all just singularly, if you look at the example below you can see that he has taken inspiration from real life places/settings but he has used illustration to express a story and in this case it looks like my example has a love story behind it, they are on an adventure going to escape from the real world. But if we look at my second example you can clearly see that he has taken a photo, edited it and then added an illustration to the original photo. The theme of this artist is defiantly illustrations for sure this obviously really works with Johan’s work; it really fits in with the question of how has narrative been expressed over the last four decades as Johan’s work goes back to 2009 when he quit his old job at an add agency. Narrative is important for Johan’s work as that’s the whole point of illustrations, to tell a story that needs to branch out to all ages and really make you imagine what’s going on in the story. Illustrations on their own as they really do have a way of expressing a story without needing the use of photography to help it out in any ways, I think this is a good thing as the illustrations alone are really beautiful and do tell stories really well and nearly effortlessly.


Finally my last artist is Tjitske Oosterholt, he works with distorting the identities of his models in his photography which is interesting as his work is similar to Oscar Parasiego’s but it is different in its own way which makes it stand out on its own this is good as it means his work has individuality, looking at my two examples of his work it is clear to see that there is a key focus on manipulating images to turn them into narrative pieces, this has been clearly done on Photoshop but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, unlike my other two artists he has gone for quite a simple idea but there has clearly been a lot of time spent on this work. The narrative of these two photos to me express firstly wanting to completely obscure identity itself but also mostly in the second piece of work the movement of the person and possibly how they are feeling.

My question that I’m focusing on in this essay is “how has narrative been expressed in graphic design over the last four decades?” I chose to answer this as I felt like it fit into my three artists and would really be interesting to think about how this has been done over the last four decades this is due to the vast changes in technology though out the last few years; if we look at Oscar Parasiego’s work and Johan Thornqvist’s work there is a strong difference between them which is interesting as they both express narratives in quite a strong way but obviously they both do that in their own ways. Firstly, words I would use to describe Oscars work are simple, interesting, opposites, edited, magnified, complex and thoughtful this is because when you look at his work the first thing that comes to mind to me is someone thinking about something of maybe showing what their personality is without saying it or making it obvious, this means having to look at the images for a while and trying to figure out what settings their body has been replaced with. This is only my opinion though and what I think Oscars stories could possibly be portraying though out his work but to someone else it could mean or seem like something else entirely. On the other hand we have Johan’s work which is very different and has another way of expressing narrative without photography; words I would use to describe his work are interesting, adventurous, unique, dreamlike, atmospheric, strange and cartoon like. I chose these words because when I look at his work I feel like I’m reading a kids story book but with only one illustration to tell the story, this is a very mature way to tell a story but in a child-like style which is interesting.


If we were to look at Tjitske Oosterhout’s work and look at the words I would use to describe his work which are dark, obscure, movement, creative, unique, distorted, blank and bleak. I know it seems like the other two artists are very different to this one and that’s true, this is because this artist uses photography to then be able to edit his work to his idea and plan for his final narrative piece. The thing that makes this narrative different to my other two artists it the fact that this work is the oldest artist, this has a significant factor in answering/looking at my question as it is obvious to see that this narrative isn’t as strong as my other two which is good as it shows how technology has really advanced in the last few years. If we look at all the artists and we think about how they’ve been made its clear to see that they are all made using computers, two using photography and Photoshop to create their final outcomes but one choosing to use illustrations to create a narrative story. The interesting thing about my three narrative artists is the themes they are all focusing on, Firstly we have Oscar Parasiego who chose to go with a simple theme for his narrative work which is magnified views within missing people and what people represent on the inside. With research online this is what came up when looking for what his inspiration is for his work “I am I and my circumstance, and, if I do not save it, I do not save myself.” By Ortega y Gasset’s Meditations, this is really interesting as it really makes a difference to how you see his work. His work is really interesting as it shows us a story of someone and who they are, there is a good example of this in his work which shows a figure in a house with a normal background but inside the person there is trees and a forest like scene which to mean means ageing but aging with grace like a tree does. This is done really interestingly as if we went back four decades ago instead of using photo shop for this this would have been photographed the same both photos one of the person and one of the forest like view and then with a scalpel the person would have been removed and the other image put underneath the original photo. Secondly we have Johan Thornqvist’s who chose the theme of imagination and how we see the world, this is a really interesting concept for narrative and really stands out as a strong narrative theme, this is only because his strongest thing is looking at concept art for our imaginations and how we see the world. The viewer gets a good idea of how he works which is good as when looking at work by artists you really do want to find out where they are coming from especially with their work as it can change your whole perspective of things too. The really clever point about his work is that he takes something that we identify with children’s books and turns it into a piece of narrative work that anyone can identify in their own experiences. A good example of this is one narrative piece where a child is on a bed floating in space with balloons and it is clearly expressing this child’s dream in an illustration that looks beautiful. It does set a good standard for narratives especially illustrated ones even if they may not be the best made illustration. If this was going to be made four decades ago then it would have been done free hand as it wouldn’t have been able to be made/created on a computer which isn’t all bad as most of the time free handed drawings on paper turn out just as well as ones drawn on paper. He has tried to capture that childhood feel with the illustrations as it really gives the person looking at it a good idea of what it may be about.


Finally looking at Tjitske Oosterhout’s work we have work that is set to the theme of distortion of the human form but using Photoshop to edit the original photos that were taken. This work isn’t as interesting as it could be but it’s just because it doesn’t come across as good as the other artists that’s been looked at; If someone who was interested in this theme or topic was to look at this work they could probably give a very detailed definition of what it is and what the story is but that isn’t as easy when if somebody who didn’t like it tried too. This work is very much based of how we see others and what we may not see when we first look, it could be telling a story of how the girl in the image looks normal but deep down inside her there is something that makes her very much different from others. If this was to be made four decades ago then this would have been photographed the same but instead of editing the image the photo probably would have been smudged with paint or pencil to create the same effect as the original. Over all though out this I feel like my three narrative artists do explore my question quite a bit obviously not in the way of being four decades old but definitely with how they can and could have created the same work but without using the technology we have now days. This would be the outcomes if our technology hadn’t improved in the last few decades which we don’t realize until we don’t have it because of small reasons. When looking back on my own work I realized that I took a lot of inspiration from all three of my narrative artists, If I was to create my own final outcome without use of Photoshop and a mac then I would have used photography and the illustrations would have been done on their own and then transferred onto the final book cover, I would have also distorted her features with ink and stencils. The whole reason I chose to include all three of my artists wasn’t intentional it did just seem to happen whilst I was coming up with an idea and concept for what I wanted to do within my work and as known by many things like that happen all the time when creating things. The whole idea of answering this question that I set at the beginning of this wasn’t nessarly to answer it but to more to think about how different things would be if we didn’t have computers and the vast range of technology that we have now days unlike 4 decades ago when computers were merely a new thing that people expected to be a big thing now days but they didn’t see it in such a vast scope; that’s the thing that’s strange as it could happen again but with something else as its already happened before. The thing that really interested me was how you could possibly make the same outcomes that my narrative artists created but without the technology that we all use now days to create our own work/ narratives. The idea of narratives in the artists I looked at were all different and this was because I wanted to look at different things, the one artist who stuck out to me the most was Johan’s work as I really loved the way that his work came out of the page in a way and really made me interested in the narrative of it all in the first place as that at the end of the day is what is meant to happen when looking at narrative work, over all I would say I have a good understanding of what narrative is and how it was created four decades ago, this is useful for future work and also good just for general knowledge as it could come in useful when I next need to create something narrative based and not just on a computer as we can’t always rely on computers and technology to be there and to have everything we need there and then especially for course work.

How has narritive been expressed in graphic design in the last four decades?  
How has narritive been expressed in graphic design in the last four decades?  
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