‘I believe that in design, thirty percent dignity,  twenty percent beauty and fifty percent absurdity are necessary’ – Shiego Fukuda

In an age when materialistic tendencies are next to godliness, it’s unsurprising that we’ve become a greed-filled world who is hell-bent on having the latest iPhone more than we would be world peace. Cue ‘Adbusters’. This non-profit making group of activists, artists and educators tackle real-time worldwide problems that are affecting western cultures.


Fig 1. The Adbusters Mar/Apr 2012 cover

In March/April 2012, their magazine hit the stands with the iconic image of a stacker hamburger slapped on the front cover (Fig. 1). Why? Because ‘Adbusters’ believe we have become a culture of greed and what better way to say it than with the whole ‘eyes are bigger than your belly’ approach. This being one of the less shocking examples, Adbusters are a company that uses a shock-effect.


Fig 2. A pie chart showing America’s spending, 2012

 Much like Fukuda said, absurdity is the main ingredient for a piece of graphic design to impact its intended audience. With influences such as war, discrimination and government spending for their imagery, Adbusters take the stories that are swept under the mat by large corporations and express them in a very public and effective manner. I believe that not only are the group putting an emphasis on our spending, but also the spending of people in higher positions (Fig 2.).


Fig 3. A McDonalds menu advertisement

 The Adbusters image in question (Fig 1.) references back to the McDonalds saga that is ongoing in this group’s publications. They seemingly attack large corporations to try and uncover what they are hiding and it is obvious who is being targeted in this image campaign. The iconic burger beef and burger make-up has been  copied – yet, not the absence of salad. Normally, in the generic pictures we are presented with are of well photographed burgers, that have been dolled up to the nines for hours on end just for one image (Fig 3.). This is not the case in the Adbusters cover. What would normally be a light, well-constructed food item has been stripped of its selling points and we are presented with a stacked burger, full of grease, melted cheese and again, minimal salad.

We could all agree that the foods we see in McDonald’s images are never really what we get in real life. The well positioned lettuce is only a mere dream when you open the box to see it hasn’t been lovingly pieces together, more thrown in. This is what is being said to us. We are a nation of materialistic consumers and we are being presented with the idea that we are being lied to, much to the benefit of large companies.


Fig 4. German propaganda from WW2

The main question is, is this just glorified propaganda? It would seem like a very ethical group of individuals are trying to offload unheard of stories onto us, with good intent but if we look back onto pieces of design with the same function (Fig 4.), we could argue that it isn’t actually as ethical as we once thought because – in honesty – we could be presented with a biased interpretation.


MCDONALDS, http://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en/food.html [Accessed 26th November 2013]

ADBUSTERS. (2012) Are We Happy Yet? Issue 100 (March/April)

DESIGN HISTORY, http://www.designishistory.com/1960/shigeo-fukuda/ [Accessed 26th November 2013]

 ADBUSTERS, https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/100 [Accessed 26th November 2013]

‘Activities such as graphic design are expressions that indicate the diversity and richness of any given culture’ – Alice Twemlow

Every four years, a country throws on its gladrags and invites thousands upon thousands of tourists to its capital. The Olympics is a quadrennial event that brings much tourism to the chosen country. In 2012, we were lucky enough to host but four years on, in 2016 we pass the torch to Rio.

Brazil Olympic Games Emblem

Fig 1. The Rio 2016 Official Logo

 The logo for the games was unveiled shortly after the new year in 2012, way before our games had even started – let alone finished. It was controversially claimed that the logo, created by Brazilian company ‘Tatil’, mimicked Matisse’s painting ‘The Dance’ a bit too closely.

One of the positive aspects voiced by the public was its use of colour, not because of its vibrancy but its inoffensiveness and that it would seem like the people depicted in the logo were somewhat united. It’s ironic really that in just over a year, the united feel of the country was slowly declining and the only thing that people liked about the logo was being ruined by their own people.


Fig 2. The Rio riots are too out of hand, 2013

But are the riots the fault of the people after all? Or should we blame those in higher positions? It would seem unfair and unethical from an outsider’s perspective that a government would much rather fund an upcoming event such as the Olympics than sort out its own crisis (Fig 2.). The riots began as peaceful protests but are becoming increasingly more unnerving as time moves on.


Fig 3. – The Rio 2016 Official Pictograms

 It would seem, then, a terrible time to show off any more money thrown away to the Olympics, yet they did it anyway. On November 8th, the official pictograms for the games (Fig 3.) were released by the committee.


Fig 4. – The Rio 2016 Official Typeface


Fig 5. – Christ The Redeemer inspired the Typeface

 When the story hit newsstands, the reception was a lot more positive. It was said that the blue shapes in which the illustrations are place play homage to the ‘rolling Rio landscape’ and the typeface (Fig 4.) that would be partnered with these was inspired by the shape of the Christ The Redeemer (Fig 5.) statue, Rio’s most notable landmark.

It would seem strange then that the planning committee would put such an emphasis on the wellbeing, history and unity of the country in the design process leading up to the Olympics when in fact it all seems to be lost in the violence. Maybe the over-emphasis of togetherness is almost a rebrand for city and is maybe, another chance in disguise. A lot of huge corporations overcome minor hiccups or large publicized problems by rebranding their businesses so the games may have just come at the right time. Like Twemlow said, graphic design can indicate the diversity and richness of a culture, even if it means lying to everyone else’s faces. Though this may be the case, I don’t particularly agree with it. I feel they need to set priorities and sort out the important aspects of their country, instead of putting on a show for the rest of us.


http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/jan/10/rio-brand-olympic-games-logos [Accessed 13th November 2013]

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/16/violence-rio-de-janeiro-protests [Accessed 13th November 2013]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_AXVPK8rxc [Accessed 13th November 2013]

TWEMLOW, A. (2006) Being here: local tendencies in graphic design. What is graphic design for? Hove: Rotovision: pg. 23

http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2013/november/rio-2016-pictograms [Accessed 13th November 2013]

http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/11/2016-olympics-pictograms-rio-de-janeiro/ [Accessed 13th November 2013

‘My art originates from hallucinations only I can see’ – Yayoi Kusama

 I believe that if you are a designer, something you should always aim to do through your work is to externalise all the emotions, feelings and thoughts that are going on inside. Yayoi Kusama does just that. She is a Japanese artist and writer who has a firm stamp on both design and fashion industries alike. She has become well known for her obsession with polka dots, a lot of the time explaining why but is never really understood.


Fig 1. – Kusama’s 2012 Louis Vuitton window display, Selfridges, London


Fig 2. – A late-2012 installation for Louis Vuitton in London, Selfridges


Fig 3. – The Installation of Kusama’s designs at Selfridges, London

I admire that an artist can be skilled enough to almost associate themselves with something so common as a polka dot, it’s almost some kind of self-promotion. The main reason I began looking at Kusama’s work was due to her window installations for Selfridges and Louis Vuitton (Fig. 1, 2 and 3). As I said in my previous blog, I am very much interested in advertising and I feel like this can link in nicely. Window displays are something that I would very much like to get into if the chance ever came up.


Fig 4. Vuitton X Kusama 2012 Collection prints


Fig 5. Pop art – Andy Warhol

I find it very skilful that a designer can create such impact with such a small colour palette. In most, if not all, of Kusama’s designs (whether its displays or printed graphics) there are two main colour choices (Fig 4). A lot of the time, the pallete will be made up of a tone colour (black or white) which she applies to the polka dots and then a bright, more vibrant choice which acts as a background. It is no surprise that one of Kusama’s main influences is pop art veteran Andy Warhol (Fig 5.). Although in style, the pair differ, the bright and eye catching colour choices remain very closely selected. Her style not only has references to 1960’s pop art, but also claims homage to the minimalistic art movement. There is not much content to a lot of Kusama’s outcomes but she still manages to put her own stamp on her pieces with her use of colour and chaotic shape placement.


Fig 6. Kusama in her mirror installation

I admire this artist for her passion. As I said before, she is very much into her polka dots which no one else seems to understand. She has taken an internal passion and succeeded in selling it as her niche. It doesn’t just stop dead there either. Kusama takes her polka dot obsession away from just print and window installations but is also famous for her light installations (Fig 6.). I find it inspiring that a subject so simple can have so many different outcomes, using a variety of media. It has given me at least a few ideas to take away and try in my own work, maybe on a smaller scale. It proves to me that sometimes, simplicity is the key in creating an impact.


http://www.warhol.org/ [Accessed 13th November 2013]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SB1RJ-g9po [Accessed 13th November 2013]

APPLIN, Jo (2012). Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirror Room. London: Afterall Books. pg21-28

 http://www.vogue.co.uk/news/2012/07/09/louis-vuitton-unveils-yayoi-kusama-collection [Accessed 13th November 2013]

http://www.socapricious.com/2012/09/yayoi-kusama-x-louis-vuitton-at-selfridges/ [Accessed 13th November 2013]

‘The consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife.’  – David Ogilvy

Ever since I can remember, have been heavily influenced by the strategies companies use in order to reach out to their target audience. My maturity through graphic design has been shaped mainly by two aspects; branding and advertising. I remember as a child, I would draw up static advertisements for toys lying around my room, or even sit on paint for hours on end trying to achieve a good-looking advert.

Fig 1. The 2007 Cadbury ‘Gorilla’ advertisment

Being so heavily influenced by on air advertising, I am constantly presented with inspiration when watching television, on YouTube or even at the cinema. It feels that when I enter the sector as a career, finding influential pieces won’t be too much of a chore. I remember being very impressed by Cadbury’s two thousand and seven advertisements (Fig. 1) which depicted a gorilla playing the drums in front of a purple background. It stunned me and almost made me see the industry in a different light. I was presented with the idea that you can go as far away from the product in question as you can – as long as the audience is somehow impacted.


Fig 2. Kit Kat’s bench campaign

 When first beginning to take more of an interest in graphic design, advertising was always at the forefront of my mind, although, I was very naïve. My lack of design maturity showed because I, as I guess most people did, narrowed the subject down to on screen and billboard promotion. My eyes were well and truly opened for me when KitKat’s bench advertisement (Fig. 2) hit the streets. New avenues of experimental design had in an instant come flooding to me. It seems like a simple enough idea now it has been done, but back when it was released, myself and I’m sure a lot of the public would have never seen anything like this before.


Fig 3. Frontline flea treatment shopping centre advertisement

  I was then introduced to what we call in the design world as guerrilla advertising. I know that the main purpose of a company using a designer to advertise is to get their product or service known and in the public eye. This design style suits me down to the ground because I’m not one to design something that won’t get noticed. The concept of this form of advertising that I love is that it basically demands to be noticed, it doesn’t present a product, it waves it in front of you until its blue in the face.

I was amazed at the scale that most companies will work at for something as simple of being noticed. The Frontline flea advertisement (Fig 3.) was a new breed of idea that actually incorporated consumer into its campaign. There’s no running away from something you are literally involved in. This brings me back to the quote at the beginning of this entry. It’s all about the consumer. They lead you in making something successful or not – which is what I like about this section of graphic design. The main concept of this career is to build a brand relationship with your target audience – much like a wife.

I believe that my design style has somewhat matured. I am settled now in the field of graphic design I want to partake in and the examples I have given are only a snippet of exsiting designs and campaigns that have influenced my journey to date and I’m pretty sure there will be more to come.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7T305WqPYaM [Accessed 27th October 2013]

http://www.orderfulfilment.co.uk/guerilla-marketing-2/ [Accessed 13th November 2013]

TWEMLOW, Alice (2006). What Is Graphic Design For?. Switzerland: Rotovision SA. 14, 94

http://www.creativebloq.com/inspiration/print-ads-1233780 [Accessed 13th November 2013]

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/240379698830937266/ [Accessed 13th November 2013]

http://www.designweek.co.uk/news/thomas-cook-unveils-new-sunny-heart-branding/3037282.article [Accessed 27th October 2013]

EPICA (2008), Book Twenty One: Europe’s Best Advertising, Switzerland: AVA Publishing SA, pg. 32

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHtEyDrD4oA [Accessed 27th October 2013]