The Value of Communication


When given the brief ‘Choices’ for my first rotation in Visual communication, there were various potential directions that I could explore. Through helpful group mind map work, I swiftly decided that life defining choices was an area that excited me the most. From my chosen two potential directions of ‘Animal Cruelty’ and ‘Smoking’, I found that I had more visual ideas and concepts for smoking through my explorative mind maps. Personally I’m not a smoker and never wish to become one, however I do know of people who regret taking that life defining choice of smoking and of its fatal effects. In my sketchbook, the visuals I found really captured my imagination and led me to produce small sketches of initial concepts. Passive smoking was an issue I knew little about compared to someone actively smoking and was shocked by how its affects are consequently as damaging as an active smoker. Learning that children are the most vulnerable to second hand smoking was a slightly uncomfortable topic which I knew the visuals would need to express. Immediately I knew this was my initial direction for my project.


To visually communicate the dangers of passive smoking, I knew I would need to choose two designers that would excite me and challenge me to create some interesting visuals. I did struggle slightly to begin with when sketching out ideas and directions through illustration as I had never approached a brief like this before. However I found the illustrator Amy Dover truly exciting, giving the viewer a darker focus on nature and challenging the way we view our natural surroundings of animals, insects and much more. Dover’s refined intricate style is perhaps more in my comfort zone of drawing and I felt that inspired the more darker quality of my ideas to come. Then I discovered the graphic designer Bureau Mirko Borsche, who’s visuals interested me more due to the style being so different from my own. By making quick sketches I experimented with Borsche’s harsh, colourful and yet simple marking making which was out of my comfort zone but led me to some interesting ideas.


Initially I felt slightly lost as to how to illustrate, I began with practicing my chosen designers styles with my chosen topic and found that I spent too long being a perfectionist rather than exploring as many outcomes as possible. From then, I changed the graphite pencils that I overly love using and began using fine liners on tracing paper for a more quicker approach to nearing a refined idea. This rotation immediately was unusual for me with the loose mark making and short deadlines but I actually found that I produced some interesting small sketches that led me to refining my idea quicker. As the sketchbook started to take shape, my initial research pages were definitely too cluttered making them look messy and detracting from the main focus of my sketches which is the main form of development. I understood that white space made each piece of work a new idea, approach and space for a brief annotation.


Materials and Media

Through development and designer research I knew that exploring their techniques and combining my own known strengths would lead me to some interesting visuals. I began exploring, I found that fine liners worked well for creating suggestive lines, shadowing, cross hatching and by adding water gives a more dramatic darker look. towards the end of my sketchbook fine liners were the main starting point of each sketch, after that i began to explore colour with inks and watercolour palettes. Borsche’s use of colour was exciting for me, I’ve personally always been quite reluctant to use colour, I find it quite challenging and almost daunting. To begin with I overused the watercolours and inks, making it to appear more like a colour me in drawing which did not work well. I realised that the colour had to be used sparingly and to suggest highlight, shadowing and to emphasis the expression my illustrations. To save time,  Jill Greenberg’s photo series ‘ End Times’ of crying children would be the base of sketches for passive smoking. Greenberg’s photos enabled me to adapt them to my topic. I produced some initial ideas of a child’s mouth stuffed with cigarettes. This for me visually communicated everything I wanted to say about passive smoking, the discomfort, suffocation and the many health problems that follow.


The refinement of this project would ultimately be down to small changes of media and style. I explored lettering that could be incorporated into my illustrations, I made them short and childlike and even played with punctuation for suggesting a voiceless child. However I realised that the illustrations alone communicated the dangers of passive smoking visually and to add lettering over them could degrade the quality and meaning to them. For me it was about communicating how a child’s voice is not heard, they are vulnerable and don’t have a say in the matter.

After I had made this decision refining my outcomes came more easily. In the end, fine liners outlined and shadowed the important parts of the child’s face and cigarettes. Then watercolour was subtly used to emphasis the child’s discomfort with pink tones and blue for contrast. I made my outcomes medium sized across a double page spread off and off centre. By having more space underneath theres more of a focus on the lower part of the illustrations which is the most important part and creates depth.

The final outcomes.


In conclusion I feel that the predominantly the seriousness of passive smoking has been communicated well through my sketches. I struggled to get into this project effectively and therefore could have used that time to produce more ideas and concepts. From the beginning my sketchbook, my unsureness of the project can be seen in its untidy clutter of research and mind map work. However once I understood the meaning of visual communication and how it can be used as a tool to comment on anything, I then was able to enjoy the process of exploring new techniques, artists, media and challenging myself. I do feel that the cigarettes perhaps aren’t realistic enough, I worked into them a bit more but they should have been drawn better. This may have been due to the fact that I had drawn it from my imagination where as I traced the images of the children quite accurately and the contrast can be seen more easily because of this. I feel I did use my time moderately well, I feel the results could have been better and more variations of ideas and exploring them would have been useful for refining my outcomes. However in all I have thoroughly enjoyed this project, I like challenges and this made me realise that i should not doubt myself in medias I have already tried and until now had disliked.

Thank you for reading.




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