Monthly Archives: April 2011

Redefining a Course


The purpose of this proposal is to develop a comprehensive History of Graphic Design course at the Barbados Community College (BCC) on the current Bachelor of Fine Art (BFA) Degree programme in Graphic Design. The new course to be implemented should address the needs of Caribbean Art Students particularly in the area of Graphic Design and should be implemented in January 2012.

My Tools for Success: Transforming the Idea of the Course Into a Reality

The ‘Mind Map’ has already been implemented based on a lecture I delivered in ‘Structuring Creativity’ module entitled, Barbadian Landscape – Attitudes | Iconography | Vernacular | Lifestyle. Areas in orange can be expanded and discussed at length with colleagues.

Detail from the Mind Map on Barbadian Culture - Lifestyle and Advertising are Interrelated

The interviewing of professionals will be of the utmost importance in order to acquire information regarding Caribbean culture from a broader perspective as well as from a local level i.e. the Barbadian context. Utilising the powers of ‘Observation’ we will study how students are working and what topics to cover, which must be reflected their practice. Based on the students who have undertaken the current History of Design courses we will make an investigation into what they felt was missing, what could be improved and so on. Our ‘Testing & Prototyping’ will require us to develop a short questionnaire based on their impression of lectures and whether they think that they are beneficial to their practice. We will develop a predefined set of criteria, which will give us quick feedback and suggestions on how we can improve the course.

Due to the nature of the content, Service Design tools such as ‘Character Profiles’ are not applicable in this instance as the user is determined i.e. the student. Also ‘Games’ may not be an option, as we will be focusing on the delivery of historical information, timelines.

The service design tools will be supplemented with:

  • Reading material on culture studies
  • Texts on preparing design projects
  • Texts on Graphic Design curricula
  • General reading material on Graphic design, Advertising and Typography will be an asset to the project preparation
  • Journals
  • Digital articles
  • Any other visual material sourced via the Internet
  • Attending exhibitions pertaining to visual culture
  • Observing the History of Design lectures at MCAD to develop the tutor’s personal and professional development.


Barthes, R., 1972. Mythologies. 1st ed. Hill and Wang    ISBN-13:  9780374521509 Barthes shows the reader that daily life is full of meaning through media such as film, magazines, pastimes, photographs etc.

Chadwick, W., 1995. Confessions of the Guerrilla Girls. 1st ed. Harper Collins Publishers. We would like to include the Feminist Movement in the course as students are not aware of the importance of this movement. It will also mirror the practical work they undertake in advertising such as ambushing, guerrilla tactics, viral marketing etc.

COLLYMORE, F. Barbadian Dialect. (Reference details could not be sourced) More and more Barbadian poets, playwrights and singers, embrace our nations language by using it in their songs, plays and poems. In fact, many comedies such as ‘Laff-it-Off’ and ‘Bajan Bus Stop’ are written in the Barbadian vernacular. Research will be conducted on its origins as well as how it is applied in contemporary advertising.

CROW, D., 2003. Visible Signs: An Introduction to Semiotics. 1st ed. Watson-Guptill Publications Incorporated.  A contemporary and digestible text on the meaning of images.

Meggs, P., Miller, A., 1998. A History of Graphic Design. 3rd ed. Wiley, John and Sons Incorporated The History of Graphic Design course will draw specifically from the Industrial Revolution (The Machine Age) to contemporary trailblazers in the field. The course explores the relationship between design and its audience. Students are introduced to the semantic and syntactic aspects of visual communication through relevant case studies of Graphic Design. Where relevant, the course will draw from unique historical periods relevant to the context of the Caribbean.

Pieterse, J., 1998. White on Black: Images of Africa & Blacks in Western Popular Culture. 4th ed. Yale University Press.This is a scholarly piece of writing on the representation of negroes from the Nubia of Africa to Aunt Jemima in the USA.


Organise topics in blog. I have a variety of interests and would like in the future to post a combination of student work and images that reflect my other interests outside of design.

Work on injecting more of my personality in the blog. I have been primarily focusing on class projects, I have not spent time on my other interests. I am not a stuffy person by nature and I feel that so far what I have written in my blog generally does not reflect the others things I would love to talk about.

Include more video recordings. I am not clear on how to convert Quicktime movies to the formats Word Press requires. I have been able capture a few recordings during the semester and felt that I would have added some dimension to the various topics covered in my blog.

Include my Facebook and LinkedIn tags. Ultimately I wish persons to become familiar with my work, whether it is to acquire a new client or simply to collaborate with persons in design related fields.


Simone Davis – Managing Director and Head Designer of Designers Coast – Mrs. Davis has worked extensively in the area of Graphic Design and the packaging Barbadian products. Specifically in the area of Packaging, Designers Coast is transforming the design landscape of Barbados.

Marcia Burrowes – Head Lecturer of Culture Studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI) – Questions related to Caribbean Culture and Barbadian culture will be formulated to make clear how media uses culture in the region to create social change.

Michael Piggott – Design Manager at the Barbados Investment Development Corporation (BIDC). The BIDC works with micro businesses and product development. I would like to discuss with Mr. Piggott how are we as a nation to move forward in the area of design, technology and product development.

Andrea Wells – Cultural Officer of the National Cultural Foundation (NCF). Mrs Wells is highly knowledgeable on the subject of our Crop Over Festival. The notion of celebration and its origins from slavery will be fully explored with her views.

Emma Saba – Copywriter and Creative Director of Virgo Communications. From transforming the ground breaking campaign ‘100% Bajan’ to ‘Bajan Fuh Real’. Why this has occurred and the challenges involved in defining Barbadian identity in advertising and manufacturing.

The aforementioned people will be contacted via email and telephone and it is expected that interviews will be set up.

Bridges to Cross

The obstacles we are currently facing in the area of theory, point to present teaching staff not being fully equipped with enough references and reading material to allow the programme to expand. My background is in the field of Graphic Communication. Although I am informed in some areas from a historical perspective, I need to improve my knowledge on the subject of Advertising History and in some cases to refresh my skills in Graphic Design History. Currently I teach and lecture in practical courses such as Typography, Studio Practices as well as coordinate the Design Internship and Professional Challenges in Design course, the latter looking at the social, professional and ethical issues which designers must face on a daily basis.

Future Assignments

Of particular interest is the role of Advertising in Barbados, analysing advertising from a local perspective within the past 10 years. There is no written documentation on how advertising has developed in Barbados. The research will involve interviewing designers, creative directors of agencies and consumers to assess the value of campaigns and the results: How can a campaign change an attitude or mindset? How has a campaign encouraged the transformation of a nation? I aspire to create a lecture series unique to the Caribbean and Barbadian experience which we hope to incorporate into the BFA’s Curriculum. Topics and/or issues to be addressed include:

  • Advertising in Barbados: An Agent of Social Change.
  • (Visual) Packaging Barbados for Export
  • Introduction of Alternative forms of Advertising (Passive Communication Versus Active Communication)
  • The Role of Local Vernacular
  • Multiculturalism of Design: A Discourse on Colour, Iconography and
  • Symbolism
  • The Advertising and Representation of Negro Slaves
  • Packaging of Products – From the Moorish Apothecary Jar to Aunt Jemima
  • Cuban Graphic Design in the Golden Age
  • The ‘Cult’ of Ché Guevara and Bob Marley
  • Women in Graphic Design and the Feminist Movement

Rationale and Context

Students will be encouraged to question where do we position ourselves from a global perspective. Topics such as: What does it mean to be Caribbean? What is the Caribbean aesthetic? How does the work produced abroad influence how we approach design from a regional viewpoint? This acquisition of knowledge when delivered to students will encourage them to contextualize what occurs in the region and around the globe and will inform their practice. Furthermore to get more specific about issues such as what does it mean to be Caribbean – we need to gravitate towards questions of representation such as the way in which we are represented, and specifically how visual imagery affects identity formation. Also, we should question who creates and disseminates these images. Essentially, we should foster in up and coming designers to become more critically aware of approaches to their practice.

Legendary and Folk Heroes of Barbados depicted by a student at the Barbados Community College

Danielle Archer responds to a brief on branding an airline. A direct flight from Barbados to Africa brings to mind the concepts of Garveyism. The connotations are great as she explores national and personal identity, political underpinnings and a return to the Mother Land. (Zion)


The goal is to become more knowledgeable in Design education and in turn disseminate the information to the students and staff on the Graphic Design programme. In addition to supporting the area of theory, the knowledge acquired is highly transferable to practical application with regards to the tutor researching and developing studio projects for classroom instruction.

Our target is to meet the needs of the student and the demands of the design industry. Within the area of design practice a number of courses are taught to prepare the student for the world of work and to become life long learners. We have implemented courses in design, the art of typography as a functional and aesthetic form; Advanced Studio practices where students learn the art of research, methodologies, self-assessment and evaluation. Along with developing the practitioner, we encourage dialogue and reflection and that the student should strive for their personal best. The student regularly presents projects to an audience, which encourages preparation, articulation and confidence. In addition, there are courses that we conduct where persons from the design industry talk with the students on the challenges in the world of work, and encourage students to develop professional business practices. The student is the biggest potential, as they are the future of design.


Linda’s Treasure

Service Design Tools Employed

A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood. Charlotte Davis Kasl

After thinking about it for a minute Linda came to the conclusion that her most treasured items are two keepsakes from her two daughters Charlotte and Hannah.

Tucked deeply into her purse she pulls them out revealing her tiny treasures of her daughters’ childhood. It is no surprise like any other parent Linda is highly animated when she talks about her daughters. Linda says, “These objects make me feel good!” Her little pocket of treasures contain a photograph of both daughters on a trip to Spain to see their grandparents, A quaint hand made card with a pressed flower on the cover from one daughter and a faux gold ring from the other. Reminiscing she smiles and recalls when the two objects were given. The handmade card and ring were given on separate Mother’s Day when both daughters between the ages of seven and eight. These are the reasons that she holds Mother’s Day close to her heart since receiving both gifts. The card is quite touching not only because effort was made to create it, but, it’s the words contained inside. Though incorrectly spelt which coincidentally adds to its charm one can’t help but go ‘Awww…’

Linda's daughters

On one of the pages it reads, ‘ I hope the sunshins and I bet it is very exsiting for you xx,” The faux gold ring is wrapped individually and on opening has left behind its imprint from age. Her youngest daughter’s inscription reads, ‘A special gift for the worlds best Mum love from Hannah xxxx.’ ‘Real’ collected treasures are those rare and special moments when someone shares their most intimate feelings about an experience or their feelings for someone and at times the object becomes the symbol of that memory whether good or bad. Linda was asked to describe in one word her treasures and she responded, “Precious…”





CONTEXT: Reflection on Treasures

Although Barthes has presented his theories of denotation and connotation of images related to advertising, it can most certainly be applied here. The objects or treasures in themselves are perceived as literal before we take a closer look at the true meaning.  The symbolic message and literal message work together so that we make sense of it all. As Barthes can be quoted, we have within Linda’s treasures a ‘floating chain of signifieds’. Interpretations of the treasures are made up of an internal bank of signs drawn from a range of personal experiences, knowledge, activities etc. As these interpretations unravel, the language must incorporate an element of enlightenment and surprise, which builds greater interest in the subject.

The Photograph of Charlotte & Hannah

The initial message of the photograph is that it serves as a record (from a literal perspective). This outdoor summer scene has been captured and as Barthes demonstrates has become ‘mechanized’, a construction by the hand of man. The children are not active, but face frontal with the elder sister’s arm draped over the other. Both girls are certainly aware of the camera with Charlotte appearing protective of her baby sister. Charlotte quite possibly has been coerced to grin and to drape her arm over her sister’s shoulder and Hannah looking direct, almost with a quizzical expression waiting to hear the next instruction from the photographer?

Treasures on Mother’s Day – Why they are extra special.

The act of giving is special and is heightened on special occasions such as Mother’s Day in this instance.

Charlotte’s Card

  • The Pressed Flower a symbol of tender love and beauty, longevity and the act of savouring something precious.
  • At the tender age of 7/8 she has decorated and packaged an object to convey feelings of love and respect for mommy dearest.
  • She gives instructions on how to explore the card, so that Mum does not miss all the effort that has gone into preparing the card. Charlotte deliberately controls how the gift is to be read. Charlotte’s scattered text navigates the Mum through the meaning of the gift, causing her to avoid some meanings and receiving others. Barthes describes it as: ‘… It remote controls him towards a meaning chosen in advance.’ By Charlotte purposely controlling the text, it sheds light on what is being communicated revealing certain signs such as the aforementioned ones.

Hannah’s Ring

  • Symbol of love
  • Wrapped in paper for extra care. She has wrapped it in pink paper
  • She has already acquired cultural baggage whether it may be seeing the rings on her parents fingers along with other factors that communicated a ring has value.
  • Gold representing the highest value according to Hannah

The Interview

Both parties were comfortable in the dining area of the Bed and Breakfast , the home and family business of Linda and her husband. The actual interview took place in I managed to sustain the interview for half an hour on which we started to discuss more things of a personal nature with regards to her family. I was beginning to wonder if I had asked enough questions since my notes didn’t seem that long. It was only when I really sat down and had a good think, all the elements were there ready to be interpreted. This project certainly felt less about being an academic and became more of a mixture of the latter, intuition and ethnography. It is actually quite amazing what information you can unearth in half of an hour. Linda and I will be going for a cup of tea before I leave Dundee!

‘Snoop!’ …Quick!

While Linda was taking a phone call in the other room, I had myself a wee snoop.  A combination of wanting to appear cultured and family oriented came to the fore. Apart from feeling airy and looking tidy, the dining area is carefully decorated with specific objects on display. Of particular interest are the books positioned by the lounge area. They are propped upright front view, so on walking into the area the covers are facing outwards. Books on the Queen Mother, Australia and Kenya suggest they are quite well traveled or aspire to be so. I couldn’t figure out if there was a genuine interest in the Queen Mother or if this was for the visitors. Glancing around the room you will find some sculpture, a Maori Warrior, and a couple of African pieces. The walls are decorated with a subtle floral, which match the patterns of the textured tablecloths. Two drawings from Hannah are in the dining room a testament that Linda wants to surround herself with family, even though the dining area can be described as a ‘public space.’ These drawings are obviously treasures too harking back to childhood; what seems to be an extraordinarily happy time with her daughter.


A drawing from the youngest Daughter Hannah hangs in the dining area of the B&B.