Self Portrait Poster Project
This was my very first project for our Process & Skills class & even to this day – despite having completed a number of other projects through the semester – it still remains my favourite.
The assignment was to create a black & white self-portrait poster (18” x 24” in size), by making use of only 3 elements, and these were – B&W photo(s) of ourselves taken at a photo-booth, our initials OR first/ last name which had to be found type only and last but not least, a photocopier. No form of digital use/ editing was permitted.
Initially, this made me happy. The reason being – I wasn’t quite keen on using any sort of digital form or method to produce the poster as I didn’t quite know how to at the time, and preferred to use a more lo-tech, manual approach. However, when I actually got to it, I realized it was much harder than I had anticipated.
I began my process by making a short but surprisingly successful trip to ‘Urban Outfitters’, where I headed straight to the store’s self-operated photo booth machine and started confidently clicking photos of myself. Little did I realize that I ended up leaving the store with a bunch of photo reels – that weren’t all that bad after all. (not what I had expected!) I was satisfied with the photos, and wouldn’t have to make another trip to the photo booth anytime soon, unless absolutely necessary.
Meanwhile, I started collecting my found type. I decided to go with my initials rather than my entire name. I hunted through a number of books, magazines, newspapers and other publications, as well as store windows, restaurant décor, or even delivery parcel bags. I narrowed down my search and selected the ones I liked most and felt were most suitable, and held on to these to take with me to the photocopier.
The next step was Xeroxing. Xeroxing. I don’t think I had ever really had a situation in which I had actually, physically photocopied something myself, particularly large-scale or for a project. Initially, I hesitated, when I didn’t receive much help from the Staples staff members and was left alone with the photocopier to continue the remaining part of my project process. Though, after several tries, and a couple of failed attempts, I managed to get the hang of it, and photocopy my photos as well as type to the size that I required for my first draft. I ended up having a lot of fun varying the proportions, scale and contrast of my pieces, and made friends with a few of the Staples floor staff in the process as well!
The photocopies did not turn out to have the best quality, but those imperfections are what made me construct my very first (and somewhat consistent till the end) concept.
My concept sprung from the fact that I had various different types of pictures of myself, each showing a different ‘side’ of me/ my personality, & a lot of different type to supplement that. Thereafter, I formed my concept of ‘self representation: identity fragmentation’, and began sketching alternative page layout options for pasting my elements. I explored options such as ‘light/ dark’, ‘introvert/ extrovert’, ‘humble/crazy’, ‘inside/outside’, etc. only to deduce that each of these were a part of ‘figuring out who I was’, and representing me as an individual, and hence I incorporated almost all that I had found into making my first draft.
After our first class crit, I received feedback – that my idea was great, however there was a lot going on! There were too many components present, and I needed to simplify my poster in order to convey the concept clearly. This led me to my second stage of sketching once again, making more mock up drafts, and iterations. (No wonder this class was named ‘process’ & skills – I could already see why) Despite a ton of manual work, I enjoyed improving my piece and was eager to make it better. I further developed my concept by creating layers with the type & photos. I enlarged just one of them, which I felt gave out a strong message visually, and balanced the background layers at the same time. I used my found type to reflect this as well. I also lessened the number of photos, and initials throughout the poster, to keep it cleaner – while still keeping my main message intact.
The feedback I then acquired was to have a value difference between my ‘shout’ face and the background components, keeping everything else the same.
My final poster turned out exactly the way I predicted it to, and there was a big sigh of relief (across our whole class) on the day of our Final presentation. Everyone had come a long way, and the end results showed that clearly.
For this project, I was inspired by a lot of different poster styles, when having to research polish posters as part of our homework – including punk, grunge, and Russian, but the main inspiration for this particular project came from within. It was a project about myself, showing the different parts of me through limited visuals, and that’s the reason why I was inspired more and more each week to build on portraying myself – who am I? What’s my purpose? What do I want to say to the world? – through my poster.
I thoroughly enjoyed this project, even though there were a number of constraints, because it was more than just creating a piece of artwork – it challenged me to my fullest ability.
Check out some of my final images + process work here!