Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Can Graffiti be Considered a Wallcovering?

As part of an earlier module the question 'Can Graffiti be considered a wallcovering' was the title for a presentation in which we had to argue the points for and against. I initially thought this would be an easy question to answer but after doing research it became clear that the answer wasn't as straightforward as I first anticipated. Here are some of the points we considered when trying to come a conclusion:

When comparing graffiti with a more traditional wallcovering there are some obvious differences. Firstly, graffiti’s natural environment is on the exterior of objects such as buildings or trains. Wallpaper however is traditionally used on the interiors of houses or public buildings such as restaurants or hotels.

Anti graffiti laws have been established making it illegal-this was mainly due to the publics feeling of disconnection with what had been drawn or written. In contrast, wall coverings intended for the interior walls of houses are not illegal-your house is your property and no one has to see your interests and beliefs unless they enter your home for example.

Graffiti is permanently on view to the public whether they wish to see it or not, where as interior wallpaper is much more private.

Absolute zero degrees are a design company that have covered beach huts, caravans and garages in a repeat pattern design. Repeat patterns are extremely common on interior wall coverings designs but are virtually non-existent in graffiti. All three of these buildings would be popular choices of location for graffiti artists, however their covering looks completely different. Absolute zero degree’s style would not look out of place on a wall in a house and has been designed with fairly neutral colours. This is rather aesthetically pleasing to look at and probably looks attractive to many people. However if the same beach hut had a political message sprayed onto it in paint, reactions may be very different.

When considering the subject of graffiti, we have discovered there are many different areas to it. All around us there are what seems to be examples of a simple tag, to huge walls covered with elaborate pictures. Stencil art also has its own individual look which can be seen extensively through the work of Banksy.
Graffiti only appeals to a relatively small audience and this is why it was banned in the first place. Whether it is considered a wall covering or not it may be viewed as less of an eye sore if more people can relate to or gain more from it.

In view of this in relation to the question: whether graffiti could be considered a wallcovering or not depends on each individuals taste. If they hate the style they will deem it as vandalism, if they appreciate what has been sprayed they may be able to consider it a wall covering.

Through discussing these points amonsgst others we were able to come up with the conclusion that it is difficut to give a straightforward yes or no answer to the original question as there are so many different areas under the umbrella term graffiti. Wallcoverings are generally mass produced where as graffiti designs are more of a one off. Finally, another way to look at it is that graffiti may only become a wall covering if someone chooses to have it there aside from those who originally produce each piece. This theory is applicable to wall paper designers. They design and make the wallpaper, but it only comes into use if someone (another member of the public) chooses to have it there, and as graffiti is illegal and does not get commissioned, perhaps this is the big difference.

Here are some examples of graffiti from around the world:

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Primark, cheap trash or meeting a market need?

Primark stores can now be found all over the country, famous for their cheap prices. Primark stocks clothes for not only men, women and children but also has a large beachwear section and stocks items for the home from bed sheets to candles. Primark has recently become much more prominent on the fashion map with many more upmarket designs being copied and sold for a tenth of the price.
Primark is accessible to everyone, whether you want a few simple t shirts or a going out dress. Perhaps the unfortunate element here is since anyone can afford it you're pretty much guaranteed to see someone else wearing your rara skirt or stripey t shirt. I personally love Primark for its floral skirts and cardigans that you can purchase for less than a tenner when Topshop has the same ones for £30, but I can't help thinking what Im saving in money I'm losing in quality. When I tried on a skirt in there the other day the clip at the top of the zip popped off before I'd even got into it but I bought it anyway as I thought for £6 I can't go wrong. Had I been in Topshop I would have left it there as I wouldnt have expected it to break.
Other hight street shops such as H&M and Zara don't always stock clothes that are entirely to my taste but I can see their appeal to other people that perhaps prefer more feminine clothes or like different colours to me,but in Primark I think its fair to say some of the clothes are just covered in bad, tacky designs which are made more appealing by the fact they are so cheap, which does occassionally make me think that all Primark does is stock is cheap trash which I buy into from time to time.
Whether Primark knowingly does this or not, it is a great shop for buying fancy dress outfits. I've gone out as a golfer, a cave person and a french person and the majority of the outfit has come from there.
With such cheap prices the makers of these clothes cannot be getting a great wage or working in the nicest of conditions, but if we, as buyers want some bargains I think its important to accept they aren't going to be made in working conditions comparable to that of the latest Gucci dress.
I think most people I know, particularly girls would not walk past a Primark without a look so I do think Primark is definitely filling a space in the market but you really do have to sift through some of the rubbish in there to find the good products.


Whilst reading the printpattern blog earlier I came across the American store Anthropologie. It is part of the Urban Outfitters company but is apparently aimed at sligtly older women selling a large selection of homewares. The articles for sale seem to be the kinds of things you would buy if your taste is eclectic and you like a mix of everything. Much of the subject matter the hand stiched lamps, tea towels and cushions seem to be floral or of birds which I find very appealing and I particularly find the beautiful green and blue colour schemes attractive. Many of the products combine print with stitch work, a style of working I hope to develop myself in the future. I am hopeless with a sewing machine but if I only achieve one thing this summer it is to become more competant in this area.
Here are some examples of the gorgeous things for sale:

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

A Few Thoughts

One question which seems to arise on a regular basis when chatting to new people is 'What do you study at uni?' When I reply printed textiles and surface pattern design the response is normally 'what's that then'.... To be honest, when I finally decided to study something art based at degree level, the courses I initially looked at were Fine Art and Contemporary Art Practise. I had no background in textiles whatsoever and it was only when looking through prospectus's that I discovered more about what it is and it began to look appealing. Looking back on it, I did well in my fine art A level at school but my work never really demonstarted any out of the box or shocking ideas. It repeatedly lacked any political messages or feminist views which are two topics that seem to be everywhere in fine art today; for example in the work of Tracey Emin. Instead, I looked at producing work that was aesthetically pleasing, made use of patterns, and colour was important to me. When I discovered there was a course that suited all of these traits I think thats when I decided textile design was the one for me. I'm into fashion and love beautiful design work and the thought of being known myself for producing a successful collection of wallpapers or next seasons must have print is something very exciting. Textile and surface pattern is so up to the minute which is thrilling and it's seen by everyone everywhere, from clothes to wallcoverings to soft furnishings to gift wrap and cards, the list is endless. I feel the potential for getting a job in the design field when I graduate from this degree is favourable and this particular area of design is so fast paced there is always the need for something new and exciting and a new way of working.

Another frequently asked question is 'why do a degree at all?' I think this is a valid question to ask and I think sometimes the answer lies in what subject you are taking. I'm doing a degree because there is no way I could get the experience anywhere else. It is very unlikely I would be able to have access to any of the facilities we are lucky enough to use on a day to day basis anywhere else as they are too expensive. The advice we get on our work is invaluable and gives the student the chance to explore countless ways of working and hopefully develop a personal style. A degree also helps you to refine your skills and then go onto specialise in a certain area. However, I don't think a degree is necessary, for example if you want to work in a job that is labour intensive such as building the only real way to get into the business is to actually do it. Sitting in a lecture theatre wouldn't be the most effective way of teaching. On the other hand, a doctor couldn't simply learn how to cure patients as they went along. A huge academic grounding is necessary which can only be gained from an intensive degree.

A reflection on the final project

It's now only 5 days until we hand in our final project so I thought I'd reflect on what I've done. In terms of exploring different processes I feel this is my most successful project to date. I have used CAD extensively but also really tried to get into my drawing more than before; I particularly enjoyed drawing my main themes of boats and buildings. I felt the shells, fossils and beach huts I initally researched and drew became a bit redundant as I wanted to focus on my more successful drawings and not over complicate my work with more ideas than was necessary. I have then produced some designs on the laser cutter and used fabric for the first time this year by printing onto it using the digital printer. Both CAD and laser designs feature in my final collection which I have decided I don't want my designs to simply be wallpaper (although I think some of them owuld suit this purpose) but perhaps more as a partition in a room or only featuring on small areas of wall as all of the designs are quite busy. I think my laser cuts would work well in this interior environment if they were made out of something more sustainable than the paper I have used to show my idea and also if they are on a bigger scale, again as a partition or to stand infront of a window as the holes in the design can allow light through but also allow you to look through them. Here are a few of my final CAD designs, but they don't seem to upload in the correct colours but they still give a good idea of the kinds of compositions I have been creating.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Final Project

We are now three weeks in to the final project this year and I thought I'd reflect on what I've done so far. I've been very busy drawing and have come up with a set of 20 drawings of buildings from Robin Hoods Bay, as well as a number of drawings of boats, fossils, beach huts and shells. Initially I was very keen to design wallpaper but now I'm not so sure. I think I can see my designs suiting a fabric, but for what purpose I haven't decided yet. I've been developing compositions on CAD and now want to look at the idea of using cutpapers. Here area couple of my designs:

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Final Project

Tomorrow we will be starting our final project of the year and the content is entirely up to us. I've thought a lot about what I wanted to base my project on and what to design for. I think I've chosen wallpaper, and for the theme, my heritage. I've grown up in one beautiful village by the coast called Robin Hoods Bay. I love the beach and this area has a large one. What is more, all of the buildings are oldy worldly and somewhat higgldy piggldy and many different colours besides the generic brick or stone. I have taken lots of photos of the beach and these buildings and hope to develop a range of designs based on this building/coastal theme. Robin Hoods Bay is also a fossil hot spot and I think they could be very interesting objects to study. Here are some photos from in and around the village.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Clarissa Hulse

Whilst having a CAD lessson the other day, Julie told me to look at the work of Clarissa Hulse and to check out her cushions at the design shop called Area in town. I did and I LOVE her work! Her cushions and throws are exactly what I can imagine having in my own home when I'm older, although they are a little expensive to start buying now on my student budget. Much of her work is in the form of a silhoutted images with strong emphasis on botanical images and colour. Here are some of my favourite designs.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

My wallpaper project so far

I'm now about half way through the Wallpaper project and thought I would share what I feel has influenced me so far. In terms of the re-inventing traditions element I am still keen on the Whitworth gallery exhibition called Flights of Fancy which I have already written about. I am trying to keep my work broad in terms of the ways different designs could be displayed on walls. Some are simply borders, others are feature walls and some are motifs I have yet to develop! I am hoping at the end to come up with a set of designs that can be combined to form a very busy wall or walls or be kept relatively simple with just one focus area. CAD is always an important part of my work especially for developing an idea, even if it doesn't feature in the final outcome. My colour schemes in this area are bold and bright much like Rachel Kelly's interactive wallpaper. Further area of influence are Johanna Basfords wallpapers and a drawing I found on the Leeds college of art website by a former textiles student.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Linda Florence

Whilst flicking through my Wallpaper book gathering research for the current project I came across Linda Florence. She designs bespoke wallpaper for both domestic and commerical interiors including the wallpaper in selected Ted Baker stores. Her work is built up of layers, a factor which makes it stand out to me, along with her use of colour: the greens, golds and blues really appeal to me. I want to try and employ her use of layers in my own wallpaper designs.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Flights of Fancy and Rachel Kelly

As part of this current module I visited the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. I have never seen as many samples of wallpaper in my life. It was so interesting to hear the history behind certain samples and how styles have evolved right up until the present day. The flights of fancy exhibition, which we were given a tour around, has definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities and ways of designing wall coverings. It showcases decorative wallpaper from the period of the 1920's and 30's. Although the very figurative prints of very colourful flowers that dominate this collection are a bit too feminine for my own taste there were some stunning paintings. The idea of having borders running either along the bottom or top of a wall with occasional bursts of flowers blooming from the foot of the wall really appeals to me, and has got my mind thinking about the ways in which slightly different designs on the same theme can be combined to each persons own taste.
Rachel Kelly is a designer working at the moment who has created her own idea called ‘Interactive wallpaper.’ She offers the client the chance to essentially decide where they would like each of her designs placing on a wall which offers individuality for the customer and means her products may appeal to a wider audience. I love this idea and is an scheme I may wish to apply in my own work for this project through having a collection of designs that work both on their own or combined with the others. Here are some examples of her work:

Monday, 4 February 2008

Lucienne Day

Whilst discussing the Festival of Britain in Critical Studies the other day, the name Lucienne Day came up in conversation. Her design career spans a massive 60 years but the fact her work is so original and innovative ensures it is still relevant today. Her best known design is Calyx (first 3 images below) which was launched at the Festival of Britain. Not all of these colourways are too my taste,although I am very keen on the purple one. The pattern is a repeat but its seemingly random nature makes this harder to spot which I like. The shapes themselves are very simple but I think it is the subtle differences between block colour and the more striped effect and each shapes size which keeps it interesting.

Here are some further examples of her work, which can now be ordered online in the form of a digitally printed fabric.