24 Mar Design in these times
Centre For Imagination invited Rupali Lamba, a social media consultant to host a mini zoom series on graphic designing and social media for Upper Years at Woodstock last semester. During her sessions, she vividly presented what lies at the crux of the design as a medium, and the elements that drive it. This section of the workshop explored the magnitude of graphic design as it’s seen in not only advertisements, posters, book covers, websites, propaganda and social media, but also in products and packaging of everyday things- from “toothbrushes to coffee”, as said by Ms. Rupali. Everyone wants you to consume.
Colour, of course, plays a pivotal role in graphic designing, as explained in the previous sessions. Colours, along with fonts and images, identify with a person in various ways and are subjective in the sense that they are seen differently across cultures. Seen through a wider lens, colours such as blue and white are put together to provide a more universal message, often being used by governments in most parts of the world. Similarly, as discussed during the workshop, warm colours like red and yellow are often combined in many logos of fast food companies, like McDonald’s and Burger King. However, seen more personally, colours represent different things to different individuals, like how Ms. Pike mentioned a “slant-blue colour that has a lot of grey in it”, which reminds her of the bedrock and gorges in Ithaca, New York, where she was brought up. Mr. Nandakumar, too, expressed how the combination of crimson, black and white attract him the most. Ms. Rupali hence proved how colour theories are relative, but they nevertheless build a particular mood and atmosphere for everyone, making them integral for graphics.
If someone asked you, “what comes to your mind when you see the yin and yang sign?”, you’d probably say something along the lines of “good versus evil”. What if you saw a long black tick mark? You’d say, “the Nike symbol, obviously!”. But Ms. Rupali gave an alternate example that breaks such associations. A leading design firm, Pentagram, used the red and white ‘men at work’ street symbol, and wrote under it: “I like work- it fascinated me- I can sit and look at it for hours”. So, as expected, what Ms. Rupali said next is no surprise, “take universal symbols and make them your own”.
The group of participants together with their instructor made a quick poster of air pollution, aimed at persuading people to join a zoom call to spark a necessary conversation around it. This purpose was first clarified, then the facts were put… the date of the zoom meeting to take place and the name of the event. Images were soon pulled up from the internet, the unanimous favourite being a picture of “smoggy Delhi traffic” (as said by Ms. Pike again!), alongside ferociously burning garbage, industrial fumes, and relentless forest fires. An eye-catching headline was selected- “Inhales. Exhale.”- following which an uncharacteristically calm and fluid font was chosen purposely to oppose the visual. This created an ironic, sarcastic tone that surprised us all. The font clearly altered the impact of the piece, though the message would remain the same regardless of the font used.
Finally, the practical side of graphic design was further shown through none other than Adidas! Ms. Rupali thus shared with the group Adidas Brand Guidelines, ranging from their importance of creating a dialogue between communities, rejecting the status quo, promoting sport and street culture, centring originality, providing different tones and a “work-in-progress” aesthetic. Here, brand guidelines equal global communications guidelines, and this is precisely what Ms. Rupali conveyed from this session- that graphic designing, whether used in posters, book covers or websites, acts as a way to globally communicate ideas, values and ambitions.
It was great to have her with us and we hope to continue experimenting with innovative and engaging topics such as these!
By Asta, Class of 2022