Part 1: Critical Incidents
Throughout this project, I was continually generating content through Reddit and found that the content I received was far more in depth than simply ingredients. Those who are commented began to have arguments surrounding different foods and dishes. After speaking with both Jo and Travis, it was important to incorporate these conversations between people because of the interesting discussions that arose. The conversations were being led into different topics and aspects of the culture of both that country as well as the culture of the internet. As well as this, these conversations were interesting for me to read and felt that this could not be overlooked. These are some of the conversations that have occurred throughout the comments –
this incident was an important turning point in my project as it changed the way that this publication would present the content. My focus shifted from solely focusing on food culture to beginning to consider how the responses I was receiving would be represented as these responses were unexpected before this point. Originally my intention was to use the information I received after filtering it for the ingredients that I would represent. However, after finding that these response were far more in depth than I had expected, the direction of my projected shifted to finding a way to represent the comments as a whole in an unfiltered way.
The interim presentation during week 11 was a really critical one for me. After the feedback I received, I had the moment of realization that I needed to take a totally different direction to the one I had been aiming towards. Due to the vastly different content I had been receiving through my content generation, I had found that it is continually getting more and more obscure as conversations begin to branch out into different topics and debates appear among commenters. The internet culture is heavily prominent in my content and the visual styles I have been working with up until this point were not representing the content in the right way.
Instead of creating a magazine publication which was my original intention, I decided to create a zine instead, making the entire aesthetic of the zine low tech and embracing the mess of the content I was receiving. After speaking with Jo and Travis, I decided to take more of a scrapbook aesthetic and began by doing a rough physical prototype of what this could look like.I then continued to bring this into a digital form and began to experiment with this new visual style.
This incident was particularly significant as this changed the direction of my project and the way in which I was representing my content drastically. Incorporation this visual style represented the way in which the internet functions within the vast amounts of information which thereby showed the diversity of the answers that I received from my questions. It represents the original intent of online culture which was to share and spread information and the visual style of vaporwave is a visual representation of the early internet.
Whilst designing my final spreads I found that the cover of the zine was a particularly difficult aspect to capture. This cover needed to encapsulate the contents and the visual style of the book in a concise way in order to appeal to the reader. In doing so the title of this zine was also heavily debated. The first name that was considered was ‘The Reddit Edit’. This name encapsulated the nature of the zine, however, did not reference the main topic of the zine which was food. A tagline to this would assist this issue, however, it would not be able to connect with the audience if the reader was unfamiliar with the platform of Reddit. At this point in the design project I needed to choose whether I wanted this zine to focus on food culture or internet culture. The final name that was chosen was ‘Foods of the World – as told by the internet”. This name best represented the contents of the book as well as the visual style and would appeal to the audience as they are able to connect with both aspects.
This was an incident that was an important one to consider when bringing together the zine to represent both the content and visual style. The cover was a particularly significant spread as this would be the first part of the zine the audience would see, therefore needed to bring together all of the aspects of this design work.
Part 2: Learning from the Design Experience
Generating content was a key aspect of this project as this is what determined the overall design of my project. Gathering content early on within this process allowed me to discover how online users responded to my initial question and demonstrated the manner in which they replied through the internet. Initially I was unsure of what kind of responses I would receive but found that the manner of response was quite similar across different countries. There were both serious responses as well as joking responses which is expected as the anonymity of Reddit allows users to respond anyway they like without serious repercussions. The most surprising aspect of the responses were the amount of detail and length commenters went into about not only the ingredients they use but why they use them and why they are important. Responses ranged from a few words up to approximately 350 words as well as further discussion between the commenters.
The generation of content was a significant aspect of this project as it was a crucial aspect of this publication and was highly successful in representing both food culture as well as internet culture. This project demonstrated that content does not always need to come from professional sources but can come from online users which could also be considered more reliable in some ways as these users are not influenced or pressured to produce the content.
Pushing the boundaries of publication design
Throughout this project, I have also discovered that publication design can be explored further than just traditional forms such as magazines and books. Zines are an interesting form of publication that allow for all kinds topics to be explored in a creative way that is not limited by structures. The zine I have created through this design project represents an aspect of the internet that is not one that is usually seen in traditional publication. By bring together the internet and print media, I have gained a new perspective of both of these forms of communicating information as it demonstrates how language and tone differs across platforms.
Exploring a new visual style
This design project allowed me to explore a new visual style that I had previously had not experimented with. Discovering vaporwave, cyberpunk and seapunk styles has diversified my knowledge as a graphic designer. As these are a fairly new style that have only been around since the early 2010’s, it is still being explored through the online community. Applying this style through my design has allowed me to see design from a different perspective in which mess is viewed positively through embracing the look of the early internet while still incorporating modern internet culture. The remixing and modification aspect of this visual style has also allowed me to incorporate new ways of working in InDesign to create new work by including both existing work as well as my own original work.
How might you apply this learning to future design projects
These three aspects of the design experience I feel have been crucial to my knowledge and understanding of design. This project has given me a greater understanding of the link between content and visual language and I feel that I will be able to apply this learning to future projects by exploring content and the way it is created to then create the right visual language through my design work. I also wish to experiment further with publication design and ways in which image and text can be put together on a page by exploring further into zines and applying my knowledge into this form of publication. Researching into different visual styles will also be crucial to apply to future design projects and the way these are relevant to both the content, as well as, the target audience and the medium.
Describe 2 alternative outcomes and discuss your rationale
The alternative outcomes of this project could have potentially been the original concept that I had explored. The first being the photographs with the text overlayed on the image. This approach was the original thinking behind the project and the way in which I wanted to represent the content. This combination was often used in the design works I had researched, however this approach was not suitable for the content that my publication needed as it did not visually represent the content in the right way.
Another alternative outcome of this project was using a more physical scrapbook form while still maintaining the photographic element. This design concept gave a more physical representation of the online content as it had comments on paper giving it a more analogue look and feel. It represented the idea of bringing the platform of Reddit into the physical world, however, this method still did not demonstrate the mess of content and the internet culture which was a key aim through this project.
Based on your experience how might you approach a similar design situation in the future? Why do you think this?
This experience has been a learning curve that has enabled me to look further into zines and how these are set apart from other forms of design. In the future, I would approach a similar design situation more openly by considering a greater range of design solutions that may not be traditional forms of publication design. Further research into zines would also enable me to improve upon a similar project in the future by exploring different ideas and content and how these a represented. Zines have a huge range of design solutions and I would explore these solutions in any future project I do with zines as well as in publication design. I believe that this is a key aspect of designing in publication and this project has demonstrated to me that exploring different visual styles in order to visually represent your content is key to a successful publication design.
Based on your experience how might you approach a different design situation in the future? Why do you think this?
This design project has provided me with a new perspective on publication design which I can apply to other projects in the future by exploring different approaches from one that have already been explored. This experience has demonstrated that vastly different forms of design such as the ones I explored can be brought together in interesting ways. Based on this experience I would be more open to exploring different pathways of representing ideas and information as well as exploring ways to encapsulate cultures. I believe that this experience has taught me that different aspects of culture can be brought together and exploring this through design can create interesting and original works.
How might the final outcomes and the thinking to emerge from your design project prepare you for industry or post graduate study
This project has created a new understanding of the range of publication design and has given me new ways to think about and consider the types of publication I can work in after completing my studies. This project has challenged me throughout the entire process as my design concept developed into a more abstract form than I had originally intended. Embracing the mess of the internet through a publication was a challenging task as this went against the traditional forms of publication but allowed me to push the boundaries of grids and structures. This project has been a great foundation for me to delve further into publication design in the future as it has challenged me creatively to be experimental with publication design, especially through the form of a zine. This design concept has also enabled me to discover user generated content through online platforms and the significance of the internet which is an ever-growing form of content with the increasing rise of social media.