For our first project of the fall 2015 semester, we graphic-designers-in-training were asked to design a black and white self-poster over the course of three weeks. The requirements:
- Use a black and white photograph of ourself taken in a retro photo booth
- Use found type for either our initials or first or last name
- Use a photocopier to reproduce all elements, which could be repeated, enlarged, or reduced as much as we liked
- Formatted 18×24
With just one image and our found type to work with, nothing more and nothing less, we were encouraged to rely on our creativity and resourcefulness to create compelling posters. Though the project presented quite a few interesting challenges, I really enjoyed the process of designing my first poster.
The first challenge, of course, was to hunt down a black and white photo booth and successfully capture a poster-worthy photo. For me, this involved two photo booths, five sessions, and twenty total images to choose from. I wanted to take a photo that would capture the essence of my personality; which is, decidedly, a very difficult task!
I eventually settled on the only photo in which I am using a prop. I still wasn’t sure if just one image could even cover the half of someone’s personality, but I liked the eye contact and the ways the sunglasses placement could be interpreted.
The next challenge was blowing up the image to a size I wanted to work with. I was worried about losing a lot of image quality through photocopying and enlarging, but luckily a photocopying angel at Staples helped me successfully turn my tiny photo into an 8.5×11 image. For my first poster idea, I decided to place four 8.5X11 images on my 18×24 foam board, in varying degrees of contrast and saturation. The image with the least amount of contrast was paired with the largest copy of my initials, and the image with the most amount of contrast was paired with the smallest copy of my initials.
Thank goodness this class is all about process! At our first poster crit, I was blown away by the creativity of the other students, and inspired to take my design to the next level. Before starting design school, I had never had the opportunity to revise a project after presenting it. Being able to respond to critiques to produce a better design solution was a first, and I was grateful for the opportunity to change things up.
This time, I studied the work of Polish designer Roman Cieslewicz for inspiration. One image in particular got my attention. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this work in particular would inform the way my poster would progress.
Having made over a dozen photo copies of my image, I decided to just let myself have fun and cut and reassemble my image however I pleased. I had just bought my first olfa knife, and I have to admit, I was excited to play with it. I cut the image up like a wild woman, taking my head and hand out of the background, the sunglasses, my eyes, my mouth, everything. Then, I started collaging. Suddenly, I realized I didn’t have to work with just one image; I could take one image and reassemble it into as many images as I wanted, thereby displaying not just one, but various facets of my personality.
Inspired by the Cieslewicz design, I used multiple copies of my hand to simulate motion, and placement to convey different movements.
After the second crit, I decided to play more with the scale of the images, and also to work more with the negative space. The general consensus that the images were placed in too ordered of a way for such an abstract poster. The size and placement of the type was bothering me too, so I decided to replace them.
My final task was to find a way to arrange my name on the board. Before photocopying, I tried horizontal and diagonal placements, with varying degrees of separation between the letters. Nothing felt quite right.
I decided to go ahead and photocopy the type while I thought placement over. To my surprise, when the copy of my type came out, it was exactly what I was looking for. The random placement felt entirely appropriate for my poster.
The last challenge was scanning my foam board to create my final poster. Without a large enough scanner, I had to scan it in four parts, and then knit the images together in InDesign before sending my final poster off to the copier. Each scan had a slightly different level of exposure, so the black background came out uneven. In spite of that unforeseen little obstacle, I kind of liked the patchy feel it created.
Overall, I was pleased with my first-ever poster, and I loved seeing all the final posters lined up side-by-side!