Sunday, 1 November 2009


A Study of 2 Illustrative and graphic images

Dan Mumford - The Devil In

Dan Mumford is a freelance illustrator/designer/screen printer who is based in a studio in London. He does almost exclusively work for Metal or quite underground Hardcore bands. His work is all quite similar in technique and subject matter, mainly consisting of images made up of very intricate and complex veins or tentacles.

This piece ‘The Devil In’ is another of his album artworks for the bands EP. The technique used in his art which produces such a visually stunning outcome is what interests me in his art mainly. It is very layered and complex, with a mixture of pencil, paint, pens and Photoshop to produce his work. You can see the layers which he has built up, first the pale yellows and orangey background, then the purples, the moon and finally the black on top. This allows him to make large amounts of very detailed screen prints which can be used on a variety of media. This helps produce his client’s prints and various apparel like t shirts and merchandise. Being able to produce all these various outcomes helps with the advertising and financial side of his career, and can also help develop his work into newer media and contexts.

The purples in this piece indicate a dark moonlit scene which helps give the overall impression and atmosphere of it. They also are used by the aeroplanes which makes it look like an explosion or some sort of fire. This is interesting because portraying an explosion or fire with purple is clearly not the usual colour, yet it is the form and position of these purple sections which give the planes the look that they are falling or burning out of the sky.

Featured in the foreground are a male and female sitting on a bench watching the aeroplanes. The way the girl is positioned (head on mans shoulder) shows affection for him and they look like they could be some teenagers dating for example. But the scene clearly isn’t very romantic- they are watching planes burn and fall out of the sky. This gives the piece irony and more depth. The fact that the purple fire is even coming out of the ground all the way to the sky makes it seem as if this is on a huge scale, it even covers part of the moon. This gives the piece a very apocalyptic and dark feel which is common in his work.

This image helps define the younger generation and gets art into more mainstream culture. The fact that a lot of his work is for popular bands helps get his art recognized and popular and therefore helps promote. This is an important aspect of graphic design and illustration which I think needs to be looked at with a lot of the artists I study. Techniques and ways of promoting and selling art across various mediums like CDs, screen prints, apparel etc shows a variety of skills and is an important thing to focus on for a modern designer like him. Looking at this part of the artist’s life is also important for a young artist like me to take into account and learn from, and will allow me to also promote my designs or art across a broad spectrum of media and clients.

Saul Bass- Vertigo

This is a poster for the film ‘Vertigo’. Vertigo is a 1958 Psychological thriller by Alfred Hitchcock. Bass has really captured the feel of the film and the title especially with the whole sense of falling this piece gives. The signs and ideas shown (mainly falling) within this piece is what I will aim to evaluate mainly in this section.

The spirals hugely help this feeling of falling, and the fact the line drawing of the woman is slightly more tilted than the male shows that they are both spinning downwards. This falling could mean a variety of things; they could fall in love, or it could be falling of another kind like a downwards spiral and a more morbid theme. This could include death or murder for example, something that indicates going downwards and giving a more serious and dark feel to the film.

The fact that the man is block coloured in black may suggest something about his character, perhaps he is a dark or evil character, or on the other hand he could be a bold person. It looks like the woman is dragging him downwards into a reddish hell. Maybe this means that his character is metaphorically dragged down by a woman, this could mean held down or manipulated through love or other means. The woman though isn’t filled with colour and is just a transparent line drawing. This could symbolize that she is going to die, is dead, or maybe has a transparent or hollow personality. Also they are interlinked/layered on top of one another which is another indication that they are connected in some way, as I mentioned earlier this could be a link of love possibly.

The characters do look like they are falling, but what into is debateable. The middle which they are falling into is bright white, and the spirals all point to this white section. So perhaps the bright white centre indicates heaven which suggests that the characters may die in the film. But then the outside is quite a dark red blood like colour. This also represents death and hell as it is that particular shade of red. So whether they are going to heaven or hell metaphorically is uncertain, but the signs are tilted towards the notion that either one of them will die, both of them, or that death is a recurring or heavy theme throughout the film.

All these signs can be indicating hints about the film before people see it. This is a good quality for a film poster to have, as it will drag in the viewers and make them question what these signs mean and how it will affect the film. Will the woman die? Is the woman dragging the male character down somehow? It’s these questions that give a sense of intrigue and excitement to make people want to see this film. This is perhaps one of the reasons it is such a successful film poster and an extremely important quality in advertising. This piece is both a piece of art and a piece of modern design in advertising.

Also the composition of this piece is important. A large circle in the middle with a smaller oval shape inside it can be seen. It is quite symmetrical until the part with the woman. This may indicate that she changes the story in the film or somehow disrupts order, as this is shown in the image. She is placed just to the side and helps to make the piece less symmetrical, although this is to good visual effect; it keeps it more interesting and adds an extra section to break from the fairly boring symmetrical form it would be without the woman.

What the oval is in the circle is unclear, but it does add to the visual outcome and makes the piece seem less empty. I am uncertain of the meaning of the oval (if any) but it does help structure the piece and keep it all tied together visually in the middle. The spirals all point to this and they look as if they could be literally attached, so this helps give a focal point for the eye. The piece almost looks like an eye itself.

The text in this piece is also very important. This is a huge trait of Bass’ style. His modern and innovative lettering is very forward and ahead of its time for the 50’s. A lot of other film posters or any designs at the time have, in an attempt to stay professional and serious looking, used fonts and typefaces that are just that; Too serious. Bass breaks from this tradition and offers something beautiful and fresh with his lettering. The unparallel lines and rough playful looking type is something refreshing and new, and provides us with something different to a lot of other designers. At the same time as being this playful it still manages to convey this serious message and is very punchy and ‘in your face’. It is clear, concise and easy to read from a distance (this also benefits this design because it is something that may well be seen from further away).

In conclusion, I have taken two quite different designers/illustrators and studied them individually. They are two very different pieces, yet show great skills and techniques that can both be merited for in the way of structure, form, font, technique and visual communication.




Lecture series