Author Archives: s o l o s t u d i o

About s o l o s t u d i o

Graphic Designer and Tutor

Baby Steps: Barbados’ First Gay Community Poster on Same Sex Abuse

BARBADOS’ FIRST GAY COMMUNITY POSTER on same sex abuse is finally here.

Devoid of acts of violence, which is not initially noticeable according to some health care providers, this is the FIRST positive step in terms of recognition… survivors of same sex abuse have some where to turn to.

The research demonstrated that health care providers need to exercise more empathy as well as ensuring that survivors report abuse.

BABY STEPS… It is indeed subtle. Hopefully, the next step would be to build positive dialogue on the issues which can facilitate more projects locally on recognising the gay community. The research was conducted at the St. Philip Clinic. Posters are to be placed in clinics island wide. Do send your questions or comments.

Creative Direction – solo+studio (Shelly Mayers)

Photography – Andrew Hulsmeier

Makeup – Colour Coded

An initiative by UNFPA and the Ministry of Health.

Gay Community - Size 18" x 24"

Women with Children - 18" x 24"

Teenage Boy - 18" x 24"

Fathers and Their Children - 18" x 24". Fathers need more intimate relationships with their children. Tell them what is right and what is wrong.

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Raising Money for a Degree Show

Textile Students at ‘Duncan’ (DJCAD), like any other students are in the same situation. In order to have a quality show, they must raise funds if they want to exhibit at New Designers. A combination of entrepreneurial and team spirit allows them to make a whooping £300-400 a day over a 3-4 day period by selling second hand garments which the students themselves donate to make this event happen. It’s a charming little affair of strung up lights, upbeat music and tea cakes crammed with other fellow art students looking for bargains and of course to diversify their ‘artsy’ wardrobe.

It would be fantastic if this model could work in Barbados at BCC. Barbadians are not accommodating when it comes to second hand garments. The significance of second hand garments means one may be begging or have nothing and most people would tell you they have donated clothing to the salvation army and natural disasters. Mind you, the Salvation Army no longer accepts clothes because they have too many. Our history as a former nation of slavery means taking second hand items means ‘you have nothing’. Our pride gets in the way of seeing the usefulness of purchasing second hand items of this nature. Furniture auctions are rather popular. What is the difference between buying a used garment and stealing your sister’s dress from her closet? I need to expand more on the nitty gritty.  I will continue this later…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Redefining a Course

Aim

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.

TEXTS

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.

UPDATE BLOG

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.

CONTACTS

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)

Goal

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.


Bingo. Fun, Yet Odd.

Mecca Bingo Hall in Dundee's City Centre

On being ushered inside a mammoth hall I sat quietly at and table and watched my surrounds, feeling rather awkward on how I should behave myself. As a new game is about to be played the hall goes abruptly quiet and the announcer begins the game of bingo. The average age of persons around me range from 55-75, although younger folks could be spotted occasionally.

There is a contradiction between how bingo is advertised and how the people actually look and behave in the bingo hall. Brochures convey happy 50 something women (the kind that shop at Debenhams) on the cover all happy and smiling in a group appearing social. ‘Good times to be had at Bingo!’ with your pals is what is being communicated; when in fact the least thing you do is talk and if socializing takes place it looks like everyone is huddling at the McDonald’s style seating. Bingo particularly for the elderly can be in fact a lonely game.

Bingo membership kit and bingo card

There are plenty of elderly people who appear to be blue collar with lower middle class. The code of dress ranges from the modest to the outlandish or amusing. I found quite a few ‘Bingo Grannies’ with multiple gold chains hanging around their necks. Remember when gold chains and medallions were popular in the 1970s? AND you had to wear them outside your shirt?

It is obvious that great effort was made to create a warm and inviting experience with red, yellow and orange hues, yet the flyers themselves are bubble gum pink emoting exuberance which was the opposite sensation experienced once inside the hall. The design of the main hall is plush with geometric architectural features that feel kitsch. I have obviously just made a harsh judgment on taste.

There is a relaxed demeanor of both staff and bingo regulars and there is no running or loud talking… operational best practices to all in attendance… and an exemplary model of codes of behaviour.

A musical interjection lets everyone know when the next game begins. The music in this setting should be lighthearted and friendly but sounds like what one would hear in an elevator or a variety show. I did a bit of checking and variety show in the 60s and 70s in Britain, were hugely popular. To the elder generation, hearing that style of music may refer to youthful time in their life. This is where symbolic value becomes important, not just what in means in the moment, but what it signifies to those in past times. I simply did not connect with the Intercom music, finding it tacking and out-modish. Most current bingo players would have been in their 30s and 40s when variety show were popular.

And finally that amusing and resounding grumble that emanates the interior, when someone wins a game, whether its £10.00 or £100.00 before resuming the ‘huddle’ position. The atmosphere is relaxed until the numbers are called.

New Bingo players huddle and listen for numbers and relay how stressed they feel when they are playing the game. These students relay that the numbers are being called too quickly.

Once you have entered the cultural field of Bingo, ‘habitus’ infiltrates the newly initiated bingo player and they assimilate the practices of that field (i.e. bingo etiquette). Behaviour is controlled, by reflecting on acts of self, and those around me to make sure I have met the criteria of positive codes of conduct, which in turn demonstrates that I have acted in ‘good taste’. The self is assessed to make sure that I have met the approval of fellow bingo aficionados.

 


Transient Bus Station

Everyone checks the schedule board to see when the buses are departing.

The floor design is a long narrow passage – acts like a thoroughfare.

2 kinds of commuters

  • The early ones accustomed to their schedule are seated and quite relaxed, they might swing by the kiosk.
  • The late ones who move at a quick pace to get the bus – no running was noticed.

Not a rowdy place

First come, first served for the bus. No rushing when queuing.

Not that much staff around.

It doesn’t feel like a place to hang around or rest for a while.

The design is austere, mostly gray and white.

I feel bored and impatient at the bus station

I couldn’t wait to leave and by the expression of most commuters they couldn’t wait either!


Service Design Tools

Under the heading of Testing and Prototyping I found of interest the ‘Wizard of Oz’ methodology where a design could be tested in a detailed manner by observing the interaction of the potential user without revealing the evaluator’s presence.

Sometimes the constraints and budget of a design project does not allow one to explore fully the potential of the user. Recently I completed a project for Kiwani’s Pride of Barbados, which involved a mascot and simple display to attract kids around a storyteller. The objective was to encourage children that reading is fun. Although the client happily accepted the final product, in hindsight it would have been nice to test my mascot as well as the display. Testing and prototyping has immense value and it’s a shame there was no time or money for both parties to truly benefit from the responses of children in a focus group.

Lily the Ladybird

Display Board - Let's Read: A proactive statement encouraging kids to gather around and listen to stories.

Nice result, but perhaps this could be improved through testing interactivity/ level of engagment.

On the flip side, the ‘Character Profiles’ tools I have heavily used in the Design Futures module to develop a detailed profile of the Post-consumer.