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What is it about graphic design that inspires and motivates us?

When we look at a piece of artwork, the artist wants us to have some kind of emotional response from it and to generate a reaction. Sometimes we have the intended reaction, but we can also get an oppositional reading of the piece. In this essay I will look at what factors in a piece of artwork provoke a response from the viewer and also what it takes for art to really inspire a person and spark their creativity and imagination. I want to find out whether particular styles of art are more successful in creating a more imaginative and inspirational piece. I will also ask the questions; can we really decide if a piece of art is inspirational or does it depend on the views of the individual? Do images need to be highly manipulated and surreal to give a greater impression of imagination? What sorts of images inspire people most? Are there any limits when it comes to the perception of imagination? In this essay I will refer to artists such as Luca Molnar, Yinka Shonibare and Patrick Boyer, all of which are artists that I believe have created imaginative pieces of artwork that I have personally found inspiring. The oxford dictionary defines the word “inspiration” as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” Art is clearly something that can be inspirational to people as it is the product of creativity. However in this essay I want to investigate whether pieces we claim are more “imaginative” are more inspirational than art that os classed as more traditional, such as the Mona Lisa. The Oxford Dictionary defines the word “imaginative” as “having or showing creativity or inventiveness.” The word inventiveness suggests to me that techniques used and pieces created should be unique and unusual and are not typical images you see every day. An artist I have decided to study for this essay is Yinka Shonibare. He is different from the other artists I have studied because he creates 3D pieces and uses very different techniques, whereas the artists Luca Molnar and Patrick Boyer more commonly create pieces for print that are either hand generated or manipulated on computer software.


A specific piece I will look at is “The Swing” by Yinka Shonibare. I have chosen to look at this piece in detail because I believe it provokes a strong emotional response and is inventive. I think it puts across a similar message that I want my own project to put across. The piece reminds me of freedom and because it’s an image of someone in a surreal looking situation, it looks like it could be something from fairytale. Also the woman’s body language suggests she is happy as I can imagine that she has thrown her head back with laughter and feels free to express her feelings. The way the woman’s slipper is suspended in the air and has flown off her foot suggests freedom. Also, the way that the vines at the bottom of the piece look as though they are trying to cling to her, but she has managed to swing away from them could indicate that she is escaping something constricting. This is an inspirational message and could inspire people who are trying to escape from a way of life, strict religious values or any other environment where they feel as though something is holding them back. When we start to think about someone’s personal background we realise that it can very much be down to an individual or a specific group of people and their own thoughts and feelings about why they believe a piece of work is inspirational. I wanted to look more closely at Shonibare’s use of fabrics. He uses elaborate and extravagant fabrics that create a fashion that is not seen in everyday life. His use of fashion and material in his pieces helps to emphasise my point of


imaginative work and inspiration being linked because his work is separate from reality and creates a positive energy. Shonibare has used a number of different coloured fabrics and patterns and hasn’t kept a specific colour scheme. This makes the piece a lot more colourful. I think the use of colour plays an important role in provoking emotion from the viewer. Most colours have connotations. For example we could associate red with anger or seductiveness and blue with tranquillity or sadness. They can have a variety of meanings depending on the way they are manipulated and used in a piece. When something is more colourful, people often link this to being more creative because it shows that the artist isn’t afraid to explore a range of colours and textures. I also think it makes the piece more risky because it isn’t keeping to any specific schemes. This inspires me because I feel as though it is acceptable to think outside the box and therefore push my own creativity to the limits. In this piece Shonibare has used the colour orange. Orange is a bright and cheerful colour that can be associated with things such as the sun. The use of orange gives the piece a positive vibe because it does have a link with objects that make us feel good and therefore because of this I think this makes this piece more inspirational. I think the use of computer technology has further pushed the limits of how imagination can be portrayed through graphic design. Software such as Photoshop has meant that images can be manipulated in a way that no longer makes them seem “average”. For


example colours can be easily changed and real images can be manipulated in a way that makes them unrealistic and surreal, which could be a described as being more imaginative. I have chosen to look at Patrick Boyer’s work because I think his art is a good example of how Graphic Design can be imaginative and inspiring. His work creates a positive and vibrant energy as well as being very dynamic. His use of techniques and image manipulation often creates a surreal look, clearly illustrating his use of imagination. Patrick Boyer uses computer software to manipulate images. Artwork done on computer could be argued to be more “creative” because the boundaries of what can be done are far wider than what can be done by hand, therefore having a higher possibility of creating something inspirational. You can combine both traditional arts with computer based art by scanning pieces and then manipulating them with software such as Photoshop and Illustrator. Patrick Boyer combines hand and computer techniques in many of his pieces. I think when art is done by hand it can feel as though it has more energy because you are able to see the brush strokes and pencil lines made by the artist. It also has a “raw” feeling because it’s been applied directly to a material and then put on display for people to see. I think this kind of energy can be inspirational because it feels “real” and it allows people who are unfamiliar with computer techniques to appreciate the time, effort and skill the artist has put into his work. I chose to look at this piece by Patrick Boyer designed for the company “Sloggi” because I think it is a good example of how different techniques can be combined and how they are successful at creating an inventive and imaginative piece that works to inspire people. I like this piece of artwork because of the techniques used and the use of colour. I like the way that the textures and the background have been created by hand with


watercolours and then scanned onto a computer. I also like the way this has been mixed with computer techniques most likely created with Adobe Photoshop. The images of the bikini are actual photographs. Like Shonibare’s work, Patrick Boyer has used bright, positive colours and I think this is vital in making a piece seem inspirational. A limited colour scheme of black and white would have much darker connotations that may be suitable for an edgier piece, but not necessarily for an inspirational piece. I have also chosen to look at Luca Molnar. Her artwork is strong example of how techniques can be combined to create an imaginative and creative piece of artwork. The below quote is from Luca Molnar which I think helps to support why I have chosen to study her in this essay. “My works have a very futuristic feeling most of the times. I find it fascinating to create images of something, which doesn't even exists in our world yet. However at the same time I'm inspired by ancient cultures such as Egypt, Maya or Celtic. I love mixing futuristic elements with very old symbols.” From this piece we can see how heavily she has manipulated the images on computer software such as Photoshop and Illustrator. It has allowed her to create an image that would not be able to be seen in reality. She has said herself that she enjoys to create images of something that does not exist in our world yet, therefore she has had to use her imagination to create her artwork. The sense of creativity and imagination is clear in her work because of this and the use of software like Photoshop and Illustrator has meant that she can translate her imagination into her artwork. I think the composition of the above piece is very fluid across the page which is something I’d associate with the imagination escaping the mind; it gives the sense of being dreamlike especially with colour scheme of midnight blue and deep purples.


After looking at the above artists, I have come to the conclusion that all three can provide an imaginative and inspirational piece, even though they use different techniques and styles. I believe that Yinka Shonibare was able to do this successfully and he didn’t use computer software to create his work. He managed to create a surreal and inspiring piece in 3D, a real life environment. However, I do believe that the possibilities of his artwork is still somewhat limited without the use of computer technology. An artist like Luca Molnar would be able to take Shonibare’s work and push it even further, maybe creating a final piece that looks totally unreal and out of this world, but overall showing even more imagination and therefore becoming more inspirational by proving that possibilities are limitless. I think that Patrick Boyer most successfully answers my question around what images are most inspiring and the use of colour. He often creates pieces that haven’t got a colour scheme, confidently including bright colours in his work. I think naturally bright colours improve a person’s mood and creates a positive energy. Being inspirational is a positive action and therefore I think it’s not surprising that Patrick Boyer’s work could be classed as inspirational purely because it provides such a positive energy. Whether its inspiring someone to buy a product or just catching their eye and making them appreciate the work, I think Patrick Boyer has done this most successfully out of the three artists I studied in this essay. He also creates the most surreal images out of the three artists I have studied and this is mostly due to how well he can use computer software, again supporting the point that new technology is actually helping to translate the imagination into something visual in an easier and more effective way. The above piece where the woman has a number of images, mostly flowers, as her hair to me is highly imaginative. It’s something that you would not naturally see in reality and therefore has been the product of the artists mind. However we do not doubt the image or think negatively of it because its bright colours and seamless editing look inviting and so well manipulated, that we almost believe it to be real in whatever world she may have come from. I found that researching and analysing the artists in this essay has helped me greatly with my own coursework project. The question I asked for this was relative to my chosen theme. I am trying to encourage people to be more


creative and therefore trying to inspire them. From this essay I have learnt that bright colours are a definite factor to include. The piece to the right is one of my design ideas which was greatly influenced by Patrick Boyer, with some hints of Luca Molnar too. I used a range of colours both to make it eye catching, but also to give it a vibrant, positive feel. I used images like flowers and butterflies because after looking at Patrick Boyer’s work, I realised that these images are inspirational. This is probably due to them having some kind of symbolism. For example flower could represent how the mind can blossom and become something beautiful. The butterfly could be a symbol for freedom because of its wings. This could also be combined with the mind being beautiful and delicate, much like their wings. In conclusion, I feel that I successfully managed to answer the questions I wanted to investigate. I feel that I know have a much clearer idea of what makes graphic design inspirational and motivational, but also realising that the mind is very much an individual thing and although I have come to an overall conclusion, there will still be some cases where an individuals perception of the imagination is different from my own.


What is it about Graphic Design that inspires and motivates us?