Tuesday, 2 December 2014

OUGD401 Planning & Structuring an Academic Essay (Study Task Four)

In this seminar, we were showed a presentation that tought us how to answer the essay. I found the seminar incredibly helpful and it will definitely be useful when I begin to write my essay.

To write a successful essay, I should:

- Consider the question carefully.
- Ask relevant sub-questions.
- Outline what you know already in a mindmap.
- Hypothesis - what will you aim to argue?
- Read with purpose.
- Direct research with hypothesis.
- Use contents pages and indeces.

When planning the essay, I should review and organise my research and put the not so relevant findings to one side. By doing this, it will help me to decide what to include and what to leave out of my essay, which should, in turn, avoid me going off on a tangent.

The essay should be structured along the lines of the following guide:

INTRO - Address the question, why is it important? How will you answer it?
MAIN BODY - Build argument, ideas in sequence to make persuasive argument. There should be one main point in each paragraph.
CONCLUSION - Summarise your arguments and evidence, show how they answer the original question.

My essay should enforce the following guidelines:

- Write in third person (Objective - facts).
- No sweeping statements.
- Evaluate information sources.
- Analysis and conclusion must be well reasoned and justified.

We were then set a task to create an essay plan for our own essays. My plan can be seen below.

What is the relationship between branding & the consumer self?

INTRO - Introduce question & 1920s in America.
MAIN BODY - What happened in the 1920s? How were the items sold? Design of catalogues? Advertisements? New, updated items - re-released? How it is still happening today? Boom's impact on society? Analyse brand from then and now and compare? How the brand could work now?
CONCLUSION - Overview & sum up the relationship.

OUGD401 Tutorial

In my tutorial today, I discussed with Richard my idea for my essay and my idea for my practical work which I have previously talked about on this blog. He said my idea could definitely work but I have to keep my essay focused on the art-side of the 1920s instead of the history context, however I can research into it as much as I like as long as I keep my essay concise.

In the tutorial, Richard gave me a couple of starting points for my research. One of these is a book called 'No Logo' by Naomi Klein. He also told me that I should look at this website and start building a glossary for my essay. The website that will be useful for this can be found HERE.

Monday, 17 November 2014

OUGD401 Hypothesis Based on Concept

I think branding definitely has a huge impact on the consumer, espiecially today as the branding of a product is usually aimed at it's specific consumer, such as Pot Noodles are aimed at students and the lower/middle class. If a products design isn't slick, then generally it could be regarded as tacky.

Consuming as a whole was at an all time high in the USA in the 1920's, straight after the First World War. This was some-what due to the fact that mass production came about, which meant that things, such as cars and radios, could be produced very quickly, and also cheaply, meaning they could be sold for a lot less, and therefore it opened up a consumer society in which lower class people could actually afford things that originally only the rich could.

Styles and fashions started forming, people began to feel the need to purchase every new item to improve their identity. New products were being produced, and this method of consumerism is still used today in every company, such as Apple. This method of bringing out new, desirable products is what makes consumerism work and benefit the economy,  for example Apple have brought out about two new iPhones per year for the past four years, making consumers want to spend money on flashy phones to enhance their identity, even when they don't exactly have the money. This also is impacted as the new updates that Apple bring out for each phone often eventually slow down the phone, so the consumer will want to upgrade to a new, quicker model.

OUGD401 Harvard Referencing Relevant Books (Study Task Three)

I went to the library and found 3 books that are relevant to consumerism and my chosen topic.

(Kilbourne & Pipher 2000)Kilbourne, J. & Pipher, M., 2000. Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group.

(Remington & Bodenstedt 2003)Remington, R.R. & Bodenstedt, L., 2003. American Modernism: Graphic Design 1920 to 1960, Laurence King Publishing.

Pincas, Stephane (4 July 2008). A History of Advertising. Cologne, Germany: Tashchen GmbH Publishing.

I think I would find it more beneficial if I look deeper into the history side more than the advertising side first, as I feel like this would give me a bigger knowledge.

OUGD401 Mindmap / Brainstorm

In todays seminar, we created mind maps based on our chosen topic. I decided, as I already know which route I want to go down with my research and essay, that my mindmap would be really focused around the 1920s. Below is my mindmap. I found it really useful getting some ideas and research down on paper, and it was also useful talking to other people that are also looking into consumerism, as we brainstormed ideas and helped each other.

OUGD401 Group Critique

I decided that the topic I am most interested about looking deeper into is the question about Consumerism, as I find it really interesting and also I love looking at advertising and slick design, such as Apple and Carhartt. In the group crit, we discussed whether this would be the right choice for me and what I would look into specifically. I decided I would look into the 1920s in America after WWI, as I find the Economic Boom and the creation of mass-production. For this, I could also look into the Economic Bust.

Simon suggested I should look into the economical system that is informed by consumers, and Jessica suggested that I should look into the catalogues that were used, as it was in the 20s that everyone started buying from them.

I think this would be a really interesting topic to research and create an essay about. In terms of practical work, I was thinking that i could take a product that was sold back then that isn't today and give it a total rebrand so that it would be desirable today. After the group crit, however, I think it would also be interesting to look into the catalogues and maybe redesign an entire catalogue with the products. I will need to research into them to know if this is possible, however, as I'd need quite a lot of products. However, I could also use products from today and put them into a catalogue format, as I think this would be really interesting as generally catalogues don't really work today as the internet is a lot simpler to use. I could look at maybe creating an app.

OUGD401 Consumerism, Gender Roles, Society and Politics


We have been given some more topics that we could write our essay and create a body of work about. One of the topics is Gender representation. The question is 'To what extent does advertising construct our ideas of gender?' In the seminar, we discussed the past depictions of women. A quote from Berger 1972 is 'men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at'. I think this quote doesn't really apply these days as Feminism is talked about so much more and women respect themselves more. I think the quote is a bit stupid, as women didn't have a choice in the past as they were literally expected to find a man and then tend to all his needs. Women don't get dressed up to impress men these days, they do it because they want to.

If I was going to look into this topic, I would look into the campaign by Guerilla Girls, who make really bold, striking posters and advertisements stating facts about the lack of equality for women. Advertisements played a crucial part in the selling of certain products, such as cigarettes, for which they would use women in their posters, although aim the posters at men. I think this whole topic would be really interesting to look at, as advertisements have definitely used women to sell their products, although they have also changed the mindset of men, and basically made some feel like they deserve the woman.

Even women's magazines these days are still aimed at trying to make yourself more presentable for a man, not for yourself. I could look into the artist Barbara Kruger who created the print 'Your Body Is A Battlefield'


The question based on consumerism is 'What is the relationship between branding and The Consumer Self?' We have been given the name Karl Marx (1818-1883), who, after researching, I found out created the theory of Marxism, which forms the foundation of communsim. The summary we looked at went over certain areas of history, such as 1876 with the "stanley" range cooker, which I have already analysed a couple of weeks ago.

We also found out how commodity culture perpetuates false needs. The ways that companies manage to do this is with aesthetic innovation, planned obsolescence and novelty. Advertising basically conceals the background history of the products it is trying to sell. In other words, the context in which a product is produced is kept hidden, for example Nike uses sweat shops where they pay their workers minimum amounts, however sell the product for extausionate amounts and pocket the profit. Another way is that products are given human associations, such as products themselves can be perceived as sexy, romantic, cool and fun.

If I chose to base my essay on consumerism, I will look at Frankfurt School (set up in 1923) and also Herbert Marcuse who wrote "One Dimensional Man" in 1964. I can also look into Adbusters.

Both the consumerism and gender roles could definitely link into one another, which I might find useful when choosing a question as these are both the topics I am most interested in, however I am unsure if I would want to look into gender roles as it makes me really angry.


The question based on social and political change is 'Discuss the role that Graphic Design has played in Political and/or social change in a specific perious in history.' This question could be really interesting as I could look into propaganda posters, which I looked at when I took history and found really interesting.

I could also look into change within graphic design, such as the trends like modernism, bauhaus and postmodernism. I think it'd be really interesting to look into the 60s and 70s and into the really expressive art and advertising that were created, that were heavily influenced by drugs and the music industry.

OUGD401 Modernism and Post Modernism


One of the questions we have been given for our possible essay is based around Modernism. The question is 'To what extent have Modernist design principles influenced contemporary Graphic Design?' To help us get an idea of how we could go about answering this question, we were given a seminar with a brief introduction into Modernism and an introduction into some of the graphic design that has been a strong influence in this movement.

We were given some books that could be useful for further exploration of the topic, one being Rejection of ornament (Adolf Loos, (1908) Ornament & Crime) and also Form Follows Function (Louis Sullivan (1896) 'The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered').

According to the modern age, no font other than Grotesk fits the movement, however this is critiqued by Tschischold. Modernism is an internation typographic style. It uses a lot of grids and rules to create the perfect display and generally abandoned the use of drawn illustration in favour of photography. There are a few graphic designers that I already know a little about that used modernism, such as Wim Crouwel, who I looked at in college, who created the 'new alphabet', which I thought was really interesting as the letterforms, although highly different, were still readable.


Another question that we have been given the opportunity to write an essay about is Postmodernism. The question is 'How did Postmodernism impact on Graphic Design practice?' Postmodernism is characterised by exhaustion, pluralism, pessimism and disillusion with the idea of absolute knowledge, however some principles do overlap. Postmodernism started around the 1960s and was dominant in the 1980s and 1990s. I have also looked into an artist that was highly respected, whos work was created using the postmodernist method. His name is David Carson, who has a very bold and abstract way of working. 

After learning a little about the two, I am not so sure that I would like to base my essay and practical work around either of them, especially postmodernism as, although I really enjoy some of the posters, the way the work is created seems very cluttered and makes me feel a bit on edge. I wouldn't really like to look more into modernism, as I find the topic quite challenging, and I think I would be more successful creating a body of work and essay on something that I find incredibly interesting, instead of just a little bit of interest.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Modernism & Postmodernism (Study Task Two)

Modern Poster:
Designer: Josef Muller-Brockmann

This poster is a modernist poster. This is clear as the type is all left alligned and a modern typeface is used (Helvetica). It's also apparent that it's modernist because a grid system is used and stuck to closely. It also has a great focus on negative space and it's very legible.

Postmodern Poster:
Designer: David Carson

This poster is a post-modernist design. We know this because the type doesn't follow a grid system and there isn't a great focus on legibility. It's also apparent as the type is overlayed ontop of each other to create layers, and there isn't a grid system.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

OUGD401 Comparative Analysis (Study Task One)

‘The Uncle Sam Range’ was designed by Schumacher and Ettlinger in New York in 1876. This specific date is key to the advertisement as it celebrates 100 years of independence in the USA. The aim of the advert is to sell a cooker, which means that it is targeted at men as in 1870 the male would have definitely been the breadwinner. Similarly, the poster created by Savile Lumley in 1915 is also targeted at men, specifically middle class men that have yet to take part in the war. 

Both of the posters are incredibly patriotic and use glory and wealth to try to manipulate the audience to conform. For example, in ‘The Uncle Sam Range’, the main colours used in the poster are red, white and blue, which are the colours of the USA flag. Also it’s key that Uncle Sam is the host, as he represents a humanised USA. The poster by Lumley also uses patriotism, such as the soldiers that the son is playing with have the British uniform. The designer of the poster was also clearly a patriot as he refers to World War I as ‘The Great War’, which is important as the war had yet to end at the date it was published. This shows that he is insistent that Britain will win the War. The technique used in both of these posters is called propaganda.

‘The Uncle Sam Range’ uses goals and aspirations to try to sell the cooker. For example, in the poster can be seen a black man cooking. The black man represents slaves and wealth, which makes the audience feel that if they buy the cooker, they will become incredibly wealthy. The poster is very status-focused, which is also important as in 1876 there was a true belief in the American Dream, something that this poster has tried to manipulate and exploit to sell the cooker. This poster uses hopes, which is very different to the poster by Lumley. Instead of trying to make the audience feel inspired, Lumley makes the audience feel ashamed and guilty. This is because the aim of the poster was to get more men to join up to the war. The type on the poster is key to this, as it reads “Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?”, which engages the audience as the word “you” is an interrogative. 

The poster is intelligent as it makes the audience think ahead and wonder if their children will idolise them if they do not participate in the war. The little girls face on the photo appears to be in shock, meaning she has learnt that her father was a coward, contrasted with the look of disappointment and guilt in the fathers face. It is also key that the father is looking straight ahead, towards the audience, as it is a direct address and will make the viewer feel more shame and guilt, therefore he may consider signing up for the war.