RACHEL PRICE SENIOR SEMINAR | SPRING, 2012 | NORTH GREENVILLE UNIVERSITY
BANNER: 8’ X 2.5’
SPEECH: I remember looking through an old edition of my mom’s ‘Art & Man’ magazine when I was young. I fell in love with the pop culture issue that featured artists like Andy Warhol and Barbara Kruger. While looking through the pages I was mesmerized by the bright primary color pallets, bold outlines and use of modern advertisements so common to pop art. I still see Warhol’s famous rendition of the Campbell’s soup can hanging on my bedroom wall for years. It wasn’t till recently, this semester specifically, that I realized how this post modern time period along with its artists would inspire many concepts for my show. As inspiration for the quotes in my posters, I drew from the concepts of postmodern artist Barbara Kruger and her reconstruction of advertisements combined with blatant statements. Her oversized, eye-assaulting conglomeration of brands seems to float past the eye, which numbs the viewer to the original meaning just like advertising does today. Like her, I chose images paired with irony to challenge the viewer with a refreshed awareness of the marketing world around them to responsibly buy the products they need and not to be fooled by the fleeting ‘identity’ the brand attempts to trade. Warhol was also inspiration through his A prominent subject in our culture is that of marketing and advertising. We are confronted daily with advertisements that blindly float past our vision almost everywhere- the internet, billboards, magazines, stores, TV and even our doorstep. Ads often present us with a need we didn’t know we had and attempt to make us feel incomplete until we obtain it. As consumers we can easily fall into the trap of false advertising and purchase items just because the packaging is enticing, the model has the perfect body, or we desire the ‘lifestyle’ that is being sold to us. This product seems to offer us some higher form of status, a solution for a problem or can simply make us happier. However, strip away the outside shell of the packaging, lighting and other enhancing elements and you end up with a simple, overpriced product. Usually this product is cherished, used and showed off for a few weeks and then just becomes another used object in our closets. The style becomes outdated, the fabric tears and suddenly the product becomes undesirable. We attempted to purchase a happy
feeling and ended up in the same mindset we were in before the impulsive transaction. Had we taken a little more time to analyze the product itself and not it’s veneer and persuasive packaging we might have saved ourselves some money. If you look around, this problem spreads into many areas of our lives. How many hours do you spend browsing facebook, sitting in class, or walking around town and find yourself analyzing, labeling and comparing yourself to others? It happens to all of us. But even further, how many times do you choose to look past the ‘appearance’ people put on and get to know that person better? People go through a In the development of all brands and advertising campaigns a logo is designed. Pages of drawings, concepts and visuals are drawn and re-drawn until the desired look and feel is obtained. From there- design elements, taglines, ephemera and packaging are designed. The logo was comprised of stylizing and placing the letter ‘B’ of BRAND back to back. This formed the circular logo with two arrow shapes pointing inward, which supports the tagline ‘look beyond it’. I designed the signature font that contains gaps in the letter stroke to implement the gestalt principal. This act of visually filling in the gaps echo’s that of the advertising world. We are presented with a need we were originally unaware of and are manipulated to fill in the empty spots with the marketed item. Again, design elements such as the directional arrows in the posters are meant to direct your attention to a certain spot, controlling your line of vision. The logo inspired the large circular design in the background, capturing your eyes in this repetitious cycle of seeing and buying, seeing and buying. As I delved deeper into the science of marketing and began analyzing the network of thought behind our impulsive purchases I formulated a three step process to our decision making. First in the confrontation, second the observation and third is the action. There are two types of buyers, classic and romantic. The classic buyer observes the product for what it really is, whether they need it to live, and analyze its physical quality and durability. The romantic buyer responds impulsively to flashy ads and store atmosphere, falling into the trap that marketers so carefully lay. Add a few stressors in the shopper’s personal life…problems at work, a breakup, deadlines or arguments and tada: a purchase is made based on the lie that ‘this product can make your life better’. In fact, I’d go so far as to say we believe the product can make US
better. It can change what we look like, it can persuade others that we are a certain way. This is when I began to notice how much outside appearances tie in with how we respond and interact with people. Aren’t we more impressed with someone who dresses nicer, looks better and acts kinder to us? We would rather talk to them over the less attractive people, or people we find difficult to get along with. The same steps I mentioned before find their way into our minds and personal lives, which can lead us down a dangerous and judgmental road if we aren’t careful. I divided my show and it’s works up into three corresponding steps to help take us along this process. We are exposed to advertising wherever we go. Try to imagine a day when you are not visually assaulted with some form of add. Even if you turn off the TV and stay indoors there are adds popping up on our phones, in magazines, in the mail, and your mind would more than likely be reminded of some commercial or billboard you’ve seen in the past. My four posters and banner introduce us to the beginning stage of confrontation. They contain bold eye catching statements and large imagery to hold your attention. They mimic the ads we see daily, they all have something to tell us, something to sell us. Ads are meant to stick with you; they are designed in such a way to create a memorable first impression. But then we see something, a small asterisk in the corner of the page which instantly directs our attention downward. Does this item pictured actually do what the statement says it does? We want to know the side effects, the problems or the ‘catch’ to this seemingly flawless product. We squint and read the tiny print at the bottom and realize that in order to purchase the product we need to know more about it. It wasn’t obvious from looking at the ads, but you are now being required to look at the actual product and decide weather it’s something you really want. Similarly, when we meet someone for the first time we always put on our best first impression. Interviews, social events, classes, church, whenever we leave our homes really… are all places where we smile and wear nice clothes, shake hands and say great things. First impressions, even negative ones often leave us thinking about the interaction and maybe wanting to know more about that person. We must go beyond whatever they presented us with to find out more about them.
This leads us right into step 2 where the viewer is challenged to visually ‘unwrap’ products. This is done through my manipulation of typical packaging in my sculptural piece. This piece, which I’ve entitled ‘Fast-food Fashion’ is meant to juxtapose the fast paced temporary life of food against the similarly fleeting world of fashion and trends. I’ve re-contextualized items such as accessories, shoes and outfits by repackaging them in food containers, thus highlighting their temporary disposableness. You can begin to understand these products better when they are stripped of their original persuasive setting of a store, model, bright lights and vain hype. Suddenly these items are no longer seen as desirable or ‘in style’…in fact you question weather you’d want to buy them at all. The satirical labels and nutrition facts begin to further dissect what we hoped to obtain through purchasing these items, but quickly demolish any happy feeling or sense of self-enhancement you might have gained. In the same way I’ve taken packaging that is desirable such as the perfume bottles and filled them with gross liquids and dirt. You would never pay $50-$80 dollars for that! But it goes to show that all you are getting is a tablespoon of scented liquid, what you are paying for is the label, façade, and pretty glass bottle. Again this ties into the process of looking beyond what we see in others. Does someone’s less than desirable clothing or mannerisms prevent you from knowing that person better? Or vice versa, do we only pursue a certain friendship because we are attracted to what we see? We must continue to look beyond the appearance and analyze, when, how and why we judge and label others so quickly. Step 3 offers a solution to this problem of looking only at appearance. While the key to ‘looking beyond it’ is found differently from person to person there are some important aspects and facts to consider. So you’ve seen the ads, the exterior, excitement and publicity. You’ve gone deeper and analyzed the product itself. If you’ve approved so far then your decision is carried out through the action of a purchase. What now differs between the marketing world and real world is the longevity of the product vs. the person. Material things fade. Our world and its stuff is subject to time, gravity and chaos, all created things gradually moving toward a state of disorganization. The things we buy will break, become outdated and donated. The only thing that lasts are the relationships we make, the friendships we cultivate and the
lives we get to be a part of. Even after the lives pass or are taken away from us it’s the memories that stay pure and untouched by our worlds constant change and decay. It’s the hard fact that you can make a difference in someone’s life not through what you wear or own but by who you are to them. This is what matters most and this is what you have to do: Look Beyond It. Looking around yourself to others and invest in the things that don’t come with a price tag or shiny box. Stop only observing the surface and stopping there.
ARTIST STATEMENT: Why do we as a society choose to purchase certain items? Advertising crucial in our culture and we are confronted with different forms of advertising daily A significant tool in the marketing world is beauty and the promotion of different lifestyles When we as consumers fall into the trap of false advertising we become a ‘product’ of society: we wear, use and display certain products in attempt to tell people who we are. Through my work I want raise awareness of the lies in advertising, I want the viewer to question their intention behind their purchases. Are we using the item to fill a need or something we feel is missing in our lives? Do we recognize that this issue of only looking at appearances carries out into our personal lives? I raise a challenge for consumers to question what they are doing when they fall into the trap of the artificial nature of advertising. We need to face advertising and how it deceives us into thinking that the exterior is what really matters. I developed a campaign focusing on these concepts and a logo based on my tagline: ‘beyond the brand’. The logo was inspired by two stylized ‘B’s placed back to back. I designed a simple font with gaps in the strokes to remove any recognizable letterform. The gestalt principal of closure is applied when our mind fills in the gaps in the character, visually creating an appearance of the whole. In a sense, this is what our mind does when looking at ads. The ad presents us with an unknown need, and we ‘fill in the gaps’ by applying the advertisements significance to our lives in the form of a purchase. This visual statement is carried out through the combination of the poster imagery and blunt statements that mock our spending rituals as society. The fashion industry is a strong example of constant change; it is where lifestyles are sold. I was inspired through the flashy yet fleeting trends in fashion and the photo editing process of advertisers to generate my imagery. Thrift stores contain an extensive selection of brands, trends from various generations, therefore eliminating any target audience or promotion of any specific lifestyle. After visiting many thrift stores and purchasing used brand name products, I photographed the items under special lighting to contrast how they are typically found after a few months of ownership: outdated, disposable and donated. I changed some items drastically in color and shape, a similar process done to models in magazines. As inspiration for the quotes in my posters, I drew from the concepts of postmodern artist Barbara Kruger and her reconstruction of advertisements combined with blatant statements. Her oversized, eye-assaulting conglomeration of brands seems to float past the eye, which numbs the viewer to the original meaning just like advertising does today. Through images paired with irony, I attempt to challenge the viewer with a refreshed awareness of the marketing world around them to responsibly buy the products they need and not to be fooled by the fleeting ‘identity’ the brand attempts to trade. On a deeper level, I also challenge all of us to look past the ‘first impressions’ of others and get to know the people around us better. Of course-we all desire love, respond to beauty, and pursue happiness, but these are qualities found somewhat deeper than in the things we put on.