Your Choice gives 3 briefs to choose from. Brief 1 and 3 sparked no interest for me, so it was an easy choice for me.
Brief 2: Promotional Design.
A youth theatre club is performing a production of Abigail’s Party. Mike Leigh’s tale of suburban taste set in the 1970s and explores middle class aspirations and preoccupations.
You will need to acquaint yourself with the play if you don’t know it already, as they are particularly keen for it to have a 70s feel. The play will be touring local theatres for a month performing every Friday night and Saturday matinee.
Produce a poster (A3 portrait), a flyer (A5 landscape, double sided) and newspaper (A6) to promote this event. In addition they would like their A5 programme cover to continue the design theme.
I was not familiar with Abigail’s Party, so I rented it from the library, and looked it up in Wikipedia.
I made a note of my initial observations.
Next, I googled existing promotional work and my image ideas to expand on my impression of the show and of the 70s (I was born in the 80s, so have no memory of it)
Decor and hairstyles/fashion were the things that stood out to me from watching the play, so I felt that this would be the direction I would go in.
Design ideas / Brainstorm
I also felt that the word ‘party’ would need to be strongly acknowledged.
I considered using quotes from the play, so looked up ‘retro speech bubbles’ to see how to make this idea fit in with the 70s theme.
I wasn’t sure that this would be very eye-catching, and thought that bold images with the right colour theme would be stronger.
From here, I decided to make a font sheet and mock up some of my ideas so that I could see how they would translate. At this point, I thought that the ‘faces’ idea was the strongest. I liked the idea that something simple would give the impression of the era.
I really enjoyed making the characters, but wasn’t sure at any point how it was all going to work together. I liked the hair styles, and I eventually decided that even though this is based on the BBC version, it would become clear who was who. I placed Beverly in the middle, as the centre of attention, but once I started adding other elements, it just didn’t seem to work as well as I had hoped.
This was a strong image, but it needed to be more than just a record. (Notes below)
Playing with fonts and thinking about how I would be adding text to the design.
Notes on Mock Ups.
I had got to this point and felt that I was missing something. My design was not progressing, so wrote some notes to help work out why.
I went back to the research stage.
I thought that I could use elements from a few of my ideas, I still liked the idea of bold, basic shapes/silhouettes. I tried some punk and disco style mock ups.
I put together another font sheet for my punk idea. The first font sheet was already quite ‘disco’ orientated.
I decided to go with the images from the last image mock up sheet. They seem like the most fitting route.
I had decided early on (whilst watching the play), which colours I think would be most suitable, so now it was a case of working out which shades to use and an overall composition for each promotional design.
From here, it was trial and error getting all the relevant information onto each piece with a strong hierarchy.
I used the current month and my local theatres to fill in the gaps in the information.
A5 Flyer (front and back)
I adjusted the contrast and converted to greyscale t make sure that it was clear when printed.
A5 Programme Cover
I looked up programme covers. There seemed to be 2 possible routes – A production version or a programme specific to that theatre. Obviously the latter was what I needed to recreate for my cover.
A5 Programme Cover
This assignment turned out well. I’m confident that the design definitely has ‘a 70s feel’ and that each design has all of the required information.
The brief was very open, which I think makes it a little harder because of the possible number of avenues that I needed to narrow down, which I struggled with. I felt that I was juggling between waffling on and ending up with an irrelevant outcome and not exploring enough possible routes. I’m glad that I went back and added to what I had already done, because my final pieces ended up a lot stronger than they would have, had I stuck with my first couple of ideas.
I feel that my process is getting stronger, I’m asking more questions of myself during the early stages of the research, which in turn has strengthened my design process.
Response to Tutor Feedback
I feel that I had achieved the requirements of the brief, but my tutor questioned a few elements of the design that I agree were important to address:
The title, the busy background and the choice of font made it hard to read.
Does the ‘factual’ info need to follow the same theme/font?
The ‘party’ element in my design is clear, but what about the underlying story?
I think that I was focusing on the ’70’s feel’, which took over a little. I wanted to include all of the elements that I had considered, which led to a very busy design. Reflecting on what my tutor had pointed out, and going back to the design after stepping back for while put this into perspective for me. I felt that I could include the elements that I wanted by changing how I put it all together. I also needed to consider how I would add something to the design to portray or suggest the underlying dysfunction of the story.
I referred back to the poster for ‘A Country Wife’.
It shows a clear contrast between the two sides of the story, giving an indication of what the story entails. This is what I needed to achieve with ‘party’ and ‘dysfunction’
I added a crack to the record, and realised that I could add a spilt drink without over crowding the design, because the drink was already there. I wanted to add an element of dysfunction (the broken record reflecting the relentless arguing between Beverly and Lawrence, and to some extent, the failing/broken hearts at the end of the story) The spilt drink, points to the general dynamic of having this particular group of people together – things that are said and the way they behave towards each other are messy like a ‘spilt drink’.
Next I wanted to make the title a lot clearer. I could put a plain box of colour behind it, but this was my least favourite part of the A5 programme design, so I decided to have a plain background to the whole design. I could still use the wallpaper by adding it to the label part of the record, therefore not sacrificing what I considered a strong part of the 70s design. This way, I also get to keep my choice of font for the title. I considered adding a drop shadow in an attempt to make it stand out more, but because the font is made up of a series of thin lines, this just made it harder to read.
With these changes in place, I reflected on the font used for the rest of the information. Really, the only other bit of info that should have a theme is the theatre company name. I used an idea from earlier in my design process to create a logo. This can be added to each publication and builds a brand in doing so. This leaves the choice of font open for the rest of the ‘factual’ information. I wanted something more legible than my first choice, I went for a basic script. My reasoning is that people used to handwrite out party invitations. It’s a loose connection, but still relevant. It looks a lot clearer.
My feedback was invaluable and, as usual, I underestimated how much so! I think that reviewing my design and looking further into my research and the meaning behind the images I designed has led to a much stronger final piece.
Final Designs for Abigail’s Party
Front / Back A5 Flyer