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Unit Brief ‘Visual Thinking’ focuses on extending your visual awareness, individual creative language and understanding of contemporary practice while examining the fertile and complex semiotic and aesthetic nature of word, image and object. You will examine these relationships while engaging with broad and experimental creative processes through a series of workshops, demonstrations, seminars and critiques provided across the courses in the School of Visual Arts: Fine Art, Graphic Design, Illustration and Visual Communication. This unit has been designed by the Course Leaders across the School to give you a unique opportunity to test and expand your range of skills and to combine materials and processes in different ways.

You will undertake a short diagnostic exercise to evaluate the skills and knowledge that you have acquired; skills that you desire, skills that you feel would enhance and complement your practice and those that would challenge your thinking. Your evaluation will indicate which of the workshops and seminars on offer you will undertake so that you are able on completion of the unit to be able to understand your practice through a trans disciplinary experience. You will present a body of work enhanced through an understanding of a broader visual context.

Through studio practice this unit introduces you to the symbiotic and expansive relationship that exists between theory and practice in the visual arts. You will develop an awareness and understanding of the related key themes and issues, placed within relevant social, historical and cultural contexts. The unit will provide you with a strong foundation for your studies by enabling you to develop research and study skills within relevant critical and theoretical frameworks. In this unit you will become a proactive learner, working both independently and collaboratively.

Task One Brief: Task One (Week 1) Distinctive Characters: Typography as a Semiotic Resource. Typography can be used as a powerful vehicle to transmit ideas and notions of culture, gender, history, materiality and value. The function of typography is to communicate a message so that it effectively conveys and reinforces meaning. In the early 20th Century Beatrice Warde in The Crystal Goblet ascertained that typography should render itself invisible and be subservient to the content. In the 21st Century digital intervention has allowed greater access to typographic technologies and no longer is typography judged on its ability to remain within these constrained parameters. Typography as a semiotic resource in its own right is capable of transmitting meaning. The study of semiotics has been used by academics to analyse and deconstruct Post Structuralist Theories. If we look at the work of The Semiotic Alliance on we can see how semiotics are used within the commercial sector to help some of the world’s biggest brands find fame and fortune. If we go much further back in history to the Middle Ages we see how religious and secular texts use Illuminated Characters to accentuate meaning, reinforce understanding and establish hierarchical construction. Even the use of colour is codified to provide particular emphasis and meaning to the texts. Working in groups of two choose an initial letter from the following set and based on the terminology and glossaries contained within the brief create a word that is related to the unit - you can produce it in caps or lowercase. After careful planning and research you are required to design and make a three dimensional initial character that communicates the meaning of the word. The model can be made of found objects but must finally be wall-mounted.

N A T L H U I S N I V I G K 300mm high MTRPEASRAEIOICTE S O U C E Y S 150mm high


My Distinctive Letter

Initial Ideas


300mm High

Word Ideas for (L) General: Ladder Lemon Lime Leaves Levels Lights LED Lamp Lantern Laser Lines Linear Levels Leen Loops Ligaments Loose Loo Lighter Linguistic Lego Land Landscape Lake Lagoon Lavender Leak Leep Little

Legal Laminate Laptop Lukemia Liquid Ludicrous Leader Legend Lens Lollipop Log Lodge Lengths Long Ludo Lanky Lottery Lazy Lothario Lethargic Lethal Lavish Luxury Legs Lit Loth Love Leant Lag Learn

From an extensive list of possible word ideas, myself and my partner have narrowed it down to our top 5 favourites.

Lemon Letters Lollipop Loops Lego

Laugh Lost Lock Latch Lure Lounge Laver Leather Limp Letter box Lead Litter Loaf Lable Lane Language

Countries/ PLaces: London Leeds Luton Lourdes Liverpool Los Angeles Luxemburg Latvia Lithuania Las Vegas Lisbon

Typography: Letters Leading Letter Spacing Ligature Lucinda Grande Letter Gothic

Here we have started our idea generation, by thinking of words beginning with the letter “L�, in which could become the basis of our 3D letter form.

3D Type

To start the project, I felt the best way to get a real taste of what we were about to embark on was to visually depict the kinds of things associated with 3D type and so my first step was to research into existing examples. From my visual research, I gathered a range of stunningly made pieces of typography, many of which spurred me on to look and think outside the box. My partner also conducted visual research in which we compiled.

3D Letter L Type

After looking at 3D typography in general, we thought it was most appropriate to narrow down the search more specifally for the letter form, L. We came across some very well executed examples, which were extremely aesthetically pleasing and although the words which they represented did not start with the letter L, the visual process helped us to gain more of an understanding of possible materials, scale and triggered further thought.



As a partnership, myself and Conor decided that from our list of five favoured ideas, the possibility of a strong concept, may lay behind the word, Lemon. We believed that the lemon as an object would allow for a high level of maniuplation, with the obvious choice being to carve it. We came up with the idea together, sketching ways in which the visual could be presented, focusing on method and scale. At this point it was early stages and hard to tell if it was a successful plan so we only entered the process with an experiemntal approach. Pictured to the left are three experiments in which we produced, as part of our development process. Our aim was to play around with slightly different arrangements, starting with carving a serif letter L into a whole lemon, then progressing onto creating two variations of fully carved visuals placing sliced lemon into the shape on an L. We believed our initial experiemnts could be deemed as a success, but when discussing further ideas, we agreed that something more relative to the project brief should form the basis of our letter.

Chosen Word In response to our first idea, we have decided to go with our instincts, on the basis that we thought a word with more relavance to the brief would play a far more effective part in the visual element of the letter. In fact the word we have now chosen as the theme of our letter form is, Letters. I don’t think we could get anymore relative with our choice if we tried. At the stage of deciding on our word (Letters), myself and my partner had yet to come up with a visual idea to represent it, but with further internet research we soon came across something that we both extremely liked as a process and end result. It was in fact Conor who first discovered these examples but was quick to correspond, at which point I agreed and was happy to develop that Idea. The influence for this idea can be seen on the next page, which presents two variated pieces of typographic stencil work. One stil in process and the other a completed typographic stencil lamp, with both portraying stunningly crafted visuals.


From these great examples we then thought about how we could design something similarly beautiful, but in the context of our letter L. We have decided to mirror the approach of the stencil and use it as the basis of our 3D structure, using individual letter forms, with the negative space eventually being cut out to create the stencil effect. For this to work effectively, we must scale it up, with the proportion and accurateness critical for successfulness and must think about layout in which to create the L shape structure.

Idea Influence

Planning To start the process of creating our 3D letter, it was important to ensure we were developing our idea methodically and so the first stage was to test our concept with a quick mock up. On illustrator my partner created a mock up net of the letter form stencil, in which would form the character. Placing individual letters onto an L shape net template enabled us to see how the type would have to be layed out. As this was a test it didn’t matter so much about how neat the attempt was. It was then printed, cut and folded so that it fitted together as a completed shape. At this point we didn’t worry about cutting out the negative space to create the stencil as the purpose was to solely see the shape of the net itself. After concluding that the net was a success in its representation of an L shape, we then wanted to find out if the idea of te stencil had been carried out with as much ease. The same net as before was printed for a second time, but as we printed on standard A4 printers and the format was fairly larger, we had to contend with the net being seperated onto several pieces of paper. This meant we had to glue the section together before cutting to enable a complete template. Using scalpals, myself and my partner cut out the stencil. We then traced the stencil onto a more suitable material and cut once more.

Presented here is the result of the experiments described on the previous page and presents a very rough mock up of what our letter should look like. We were able to produce this prototype with a foamex material, which enabled stability, but was very difficult to work with due to it’s tendancy to snap. The things we can learn from this first attempt is that the template works as a formatted letter L shape, but at this stage it was apparent there were changes needed to be made to the layout of letters, regarding flaps for folding.

1 Mock Up st


We developed the design further by highlighting that the process of actually producing and cutting the stencil should be made far easier and accurate. Our solve for this situation was the availablity of a laser cutting facility located at the University and so allowed us to get our next attempt professionally made. Before this though, there needed to be a few alterations to the format to enable a better finish, but once improved we were ready for attempt two. Being first time users of the machine we were instructed how to use it, and told the appropriate settings for card. The process was extremely quick and accurate although for some reason it did not cut fully and so left us with some added scalpal work afterwards.

2 Mock Up nd


Presented here is our final net layout for our letter L stencil design. We have taking on board all the issues which we have encountered so far and feel this is now completely finalised ready for production. Finding out that some of the flaps were un-needed and some letters were out of place on the previous trials, they have now been put right and is ready to be laser cut, with the hope that it cuts perfectly this time.

Final Design

The final 3D model, alongwith the two other developmental pieces for this project can be found in Conor Kelly’s body of work box.

Presented here is our final outcome for the distinctive letter project, where we have produced a 3D representation of the letter L. The L reprsents the meaning of letters and I believe that our interpretation clearly portrays that with effectiveness. It has taking myself and my partner three attempts to make sure we have got the production spot on, but it has been a process which has been one of method and development. Overall I am delighted with the outcome and feel it is a far better result than first expected. The 3D model will now take centre stage within the next project, where the visual and the meaning of the chosen word combine to create a postcard.

Task Two

Brief: Task Two (Week 2) Postcard Produce an A6 postcard with the image on one side and a brief description of word on the other. Resources: InDesign, Photoshop, Layout and pre-print specification

The first task within this project, was to photograph our already created 3D models, with the intentions of the images being used to produce our postcard. To do so, we didn’t just want ordinary photos and so with the aim to capture near professional standard images of our letter, we had to make sure the set-up and surroundings were suitable. With an open style soft box lighting set-up, we were able to provide perfectly suitable conditions to shoot quality studio standard photographs. It was essential to get the photographic stage spot on, due to the fact if the photo was poor, then thepostcard would follow suite. Fortunately myself and my partner worked well together to ensure our images were of a required standard to match the beauty of the 3D letter L.


Postcard Finals

Presented on the following page are the two final postcard designs chosen by myself and Conor, showing two varying pieces of imagery, but with the same line of text. I am really pleased with the way in which these postcards have turned out and would definitely say the early development and experiment in the project helped secure a quality final.














Final postcard design can be found in Conor Kelly’s body of work box.

Task Three Brief: Task Three (Week 3) Letters in the landscape - A lexicon of urban typography

This unit begins with a visit to Poole where you will identify, collect and photograph, examples of vernacular letterforms in the town. Your images could be literal interpretations of details of road signs, hand painted signs, neon signs, fragments of words, individual characters, manhole covers, gravestones or shop-front signs. Documenting these typographic havens is crucial to rebuff the constant threat from planners and councils that choose to subvert local history and ignore the rich traditions of vernacular heritage. Alternatively, you could choose to record a slightly more challenging abstract collectionof ‘hidden signs’ drawn from architectural forms, found objects, and unintentional typographic structures.

You will be working teams of two and planning which letterforms you each photograph in order to create a lexicon of vernacular letterforms. Remember, you will need a full alphabet It is important that you keep accurate notes for each of the pictures: ie Photographer, Location, Date, Description before returning to AUB and uploading your pictures to hard drive.You will then go through a process of picture editing and retouching in readiness to prepare layouts for the book they will be published in.

Letters In The Landscape

Technical specifications: Trimmed size: 300 x 300 mm Four Colour Pix to be saved as 300dpi CMYK Tiffs. Binding: French Fold

My Letters In The Landsape group is: Ryan Young Rosie Thomas Sam Jones Kasia Poplawska

On the 23rd January the entire group of graphic designers, took to Poole quay on a one day photographic trip. The aim of the trip, although the fish and chips were lovely, was in fact to work as a group of four in which we had to hunt and explore for some of the most unique and obscure typography. The basis of the trip was to capture high quality images that would later go onto becoming the sole contributer within our “letters in the landscape� books.

Trip to Poole

My Edits

My Edits

Selected Pages

Selected Pages

Selected Pages

Selected Pages

Finished Book

The final version of this book can be found in Sam Jones’s body of work Box.


27/01/2014- Lecture Notes: David Welch- Power And Persuasion (Book on Propaganda) -(Organised promotion of ) information to assist or damage the cause of a government or movement -Spreading of ideas, information or rumour for the pyrpose of helping or injuring and institution, a cause or a person. - Allegations spread deliberately -Noam Chomsky Jowett and O’Donnell -Proffessor Jerry Kroth- Youtube *Propagate- Spread - Reproduce, breed, grow Types of propaganda: Black White Grey Big lie- adapted by Hitler and Stalin It doesn’t have to be the truth (Distorting)


0ooh Ahhh Mmm

20/01/2014- Lecture Notes: - Notions of taste, aesthetic jodgement ad consumer culture - Our relationship with objects and how we respond to and give value to “Things.” - How our aesthetic judgements and purchase decisions..... * Neomania Edward Bernays- USA James Twitchell “Less is more” Function Baudrillard Kitsch

24/02/2014- Lecture Notes: Alien film (Ridley Scott) 1979 Jacques Lacan- (The real- 0-6 months) (Need) - (The imaginary- 6-18 months) (Demand) -(The symbolic- 18mnths-14yrs) (Desire) Julia Kristeva- Powers of Horrow - The chora - The abject Barbara Creed- Archaic mother figure Judith Butler- Gender trouble 1999 Gender is performative Performativity is not a singular act, but a repetition and a ritual

Cinematic Bodies


Japanese Book Binding

Thank you


Ryan Young Visual Thinking  
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