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Exercise 23 – Museum Posters

For this exercise I went to the local National History museum in Dublin to do some research.  I took pictures and then added them to a group of pictures I had already from the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

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For further research I noted the type of posters that the museums had used in the past to promote itself.  These were widely varied and interesting and had a range aimed at different audiences.

The younger audience had posters that were bright and fun and always had movement in them.  The informative posters seemed to be aimed at general audience and some that had a slight ‘research’ or ‘information gathering’ slant to them seemed to be aimed at secondary schools.

I decided to do a mix of posters, one aimed at the younger teenage audience and one aimed at a general audience.  Looking at the images collected via pinterest and my own photos,  I got a sense that an action poster would stimulate interest in some way as you’re visiting a museum full of stuffed animals.  An animated form is often how the animals are depicted to show off their skills or main features.

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The two animals that appealed to me most were the skeletal form of the Irish Elk and the feathers and colours of the peacock.  The Elk dominated the entrance points of both museums in Dublin and Edinburgh and the antlers were amazing to see.

The peacock was featured in both museums too, but the presentation in the Edinburgh museum was far more animated and gave a side to the character of the bird that many might not consider.

I wanted to inject humour into the posters that would appeal to the audiences they were aimed at.  The teenage audience I felt would engage with the nod to ‘I’m bored’ and need to get away from my family vibe.  The peacock reference to ‘Fight Club’ I hoped would appeal to the contradiction of a beautiful flashy bird fighting and willing to get messed up.

Photoshop was used for the entire exercise and no preliminary sketches were used as it was photo manipulation that I wanted to explore.  Various effects were achieved through experimenting with layering and opacity.  I had a sense of ‘fanzine’ and ‘gig posters’ for the teenage audience and a sense of ‘3d’ colours for the peacock to mimic the iridescent effects of the feathers.

As a mix of photos were used from both museums I did a mock up of posters for both of them to see what they’d look like.  The typography was difficult to get right, and I am still not entirely sure if the colours are 100% right for both posters, but they’re included to give a sense of the spacing that was considered for the information that would go on posters.

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They are different posters but still feel like they’re a part of a family of posters as the colours are quite similar.  The attitude in them is gentle humour which helps to link them, but they are not strongly from a set of posters for the museum.  I think that would have worked if I had kept to one theme – fanzine/gig posters or 3d iridescent – and echoed the effects of that through all three.  The family would be more coherent in it that way, even if the audiences were different.

The reasoning behind the positions of things in the poster are outlined below:

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I like the way they’ve turned out though and feel that they represent what was the original idea in my head.  If I went for a stronger fanzine/gig poster for the elk head and antler, then a monochrome poster with accent of yellow/orange or red would have really worked.  Maybe even a more handmade feel using torn up paper and photocopies would have worked better.  There are a ton of ways I could have gone with that, and I know that had I started in the thumbnails part and explored that idea it might have panned out.

There are steps that I often miss when doing an exercise, simply because I throw myself in and get started on the research and digital drawing.  Thumbnails could have helped me, even digital ones, to explore more options and maybe make a stronger family of posters.

I’m still happy with the end result but I’m aware that I missed out on a crucial stage on this exercise which may have helped me come to a better group of images.

Out of curiosity I went back and simplified the two posters by removing the gradient and colour background.  The results are interesting in this case I think much better!  I noticed as I was posting up the images, that I hadn’t stepped back and really ‘observed’ them and their readability!  They were both very dark looking and it occurred to me that if the posters had to be printed then they may not be easily read.

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The removal of the colour gradient and background definitely gives the peacock poster much more energy and the overlap of the feathers is more obvious.  The antique wallpaper background with the elk head helps to give the parchment look to the poster but the red lines help you focus better and are modern.  They both appeal, but maybe using less layers would be useful for the future.  Simplified versions to make it easier to read the key information on a poster works.