From the beginning, I knew Earworm would be my preferred route choice when given the list of non-words that had not yet made it into the oxford dictionary.

The brief task given was to design a poster of my non-word, Earworm. Making sure to communicate the meaning effectively to it’s viewer. The design had to include the hashtag #oxfordspreadtheword and the the oxford dictionaries logo. This would be included in the design template which would come at a later stage. Firstly thorough research would be met by creating a visual mind map.

Here my initial thoughts and collected secondary resources would reflect my ideas on Earworm.

Earworm – a catchy tune on loop stuck in one’s mind on repeat


In my mind I initially reverted to thoughts of headphones and earphones as they are aiding visuals to music but felt they were too common or obvious creatively when trying to think of more interesting and unusual ways to communicate this word.

Another task which would help me uncover more interesting techniques of communicating through advertising was to select ten interesting creative adverts for various products and causes. This was particularly helpful and made me more aware of how humour, colour and composition play a major role in communicating for brief task effectively. I found the Westone headphone creative advert selection very helpful due to the topic being so similar to my set brief word.

By also collecting various secondary visuals from Pinterest, this pushed my understanding of my non-word further. I began to sketch some of the images and change them in small ways by either adding headphones or earphones.

I briefly looked at Dafont.com for inspirational fonts that communicated the style of the word or how I envision it to look like. I chose a very loose of brushstroke and style which I feel shows how the word would look visually.

To develop my thoughts and ideas, I drew up to eight initial thumbnails with fine liners and aiding appropriate colours.

At this point, I decided to make my thumbnails and sketches into visuals by taking primary photos of my friends wearing earphones whilst being stationary, dancing and looking uncomfortable. I felt it important to show that the word earworm is neither a negative or positive but a word that is perceptive and depends on the feeling or situation.


I decided my preferred design direction would be to draw on top of my photographs with continuous line drawing using line liners. They would then be manipulated in illustrator by adding colour.


However after having explored this idea approach I decided that I preferred an earlier explored idea. A spinning vinyl and player placed on top of a head. This idea communicated earworm much more effectively explaining that its a tune you can’t get out of your head, constantly on loop.


By firstly sketching my idea out and then scanning it into illustrator. I made various versions of the same design by explored different colour schemes. I much preferred a catchy, trendy and eye catching colour scheme. Mostly made up of blues and pinks. I did also explore, orange, purple, green and other colours but when getting constructive criticism, the preferred colours were the pinks and blues I felt worked well.

This outcome was developed further in the template by compositionally aligning the design in the centre above mid way of the page leaving room for my typography below.


I feel my outcomes were particularly successful due to helpful feedback and thorough research into my word. I explored font again and found a better suited style and played around with layout and colour to compliment the overall design. I believe the outcome communicates earworm effectively,  and the colour scheme is eye catching and complimentary which makes it hopefully more memorable.

My skills in illustrator have improved and I have learned the importance of crucial feedback as it helps refine and make your outcomes stronger and answer the brief more effectively. A weakness in this project would be being unable to decide the design direction as I had so many ideas I wanted to explore, therefore choosing one that didn’t communicate the word as well as another but due to good feedback this error was corrected.


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