donny nguyen.
donny nguyen.
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norwegian wood

my entry for don’t panic‘s poster design competition for the film adaptation haruki murakami’s norwegian wood. jonny greenwood did the score! i’ll post more about the design after the competition closes at the end of the week. enjoy.

space issues 3

for the third iteration, i wanted to use blocky lettering to imply the issue at hand. after playing around, the sketches i ended up with reminded me of the first things first manifesto. i was really taken with the lettering used in the original version so i used a similar version here, at the risk of contradicting the manifesto’s intent.

part of what i love about the lettering is the contrast not only of the widths of the stems to the negative space between them but to the space between letters as well. what really makes the letters shine for me is the angled terminal at the top of each “t.” i really wanted to try and work that into my design but it just didn’t make sense to.

the curious thing about the lettering to me is how the space between the letters really influences the perception of the height to width ratio. when spaced so closely together, as in the original manifesto, the letters seem quite tall. as you might see above, the lone “i” above seems quite comfortable on its own but its length seems to be emphasised when placed with the rest of the letters in “issues.” anyway, that’s an aside.

the group of designers, photographers and students essentially pledged to devote their skills to higher purposes, specifically over hawking wares for the sake of consumerism and nothing more. this poster might not suggest the opposite since there really is no great purpose to the poster. as with the others, this one’s just supposed to cause a smirk maybe and be ephemeral. and if people like it enough, sure i’ll make prints. but i recently worked on something where i was told, why bother put the all this thought and effort into something if no one’s going to get it? well, like the manifesto kind of suggests, it’s about doing a good job but i think that a good job should be done on everything you do.

if i put effort in and something isn’t communicated well, then it wasn’t as good a job obviously. but the challenge is to make that communication work, even in something as silly as this. the real irony is that you probably got none of this just from looking at the poster, unless of course you’re familiar with the original 1963 manifesto.

i chose yellow specifically because i don’t use this colour enough. in trying to keep things simple, it’s tough to use yellow on white but why not put it on black? sometimes yellow is perceived as cowardly but i think it works in an ironical sense here. i don’t think it’s cowardly to admit that you have issues. on the flip side, yellow is also perceived as bright, happy, and cheerful (especially in contrast to the usually negative black). again, nothing wrong with admitting that one has issues. accept it and move on, right? finally, i chose to imply the space issue but simply leaving space there. you can either see the space for what it is was intended or you can fill it in an personalise the poster by admitting to  your own issue.

space issues 2

the border is there just to show the overall grid and layout. i decided to dead centre this to create the underlying space issue (at least one of them). i thought about absolutely evenly spacing the letters over the entire layout but i like the word search implication. i can’t help but try to string together different words by starting somewhere in any which direction. wasn’t that some alternate game to traditional word searches? i can’t quite remember. i have a terrible need to keep working on this to make it more interesting but i just want these to be very quick, ephemeral, and playful without too much going on.

space issues 1
i feel like i’ve been conjuring up some quite complicated concepts and the execution of these ideas hasn’t been very great. for my next design related things, i just want to come up with a simple idea, plan things out very minimally, and study the repercussions of the initial planning and the more spontaneous decisions that seem to always occur come development time (not to mention the more traditional aspects of space, form, etc.). hopefully the execution won’t suffer as much with less to work with.
i swear riding on the tube to and from work is slowly making me develop temporary fits of having space issues and i just thought it would be funny to take the idea further. i like the idea of a self referential design that still talks to the owner/viewer. i have a few ideas as to how to implement this concept in different ways so there will be a short series of posters by the end of this. perhaps three or four in total, they’ll all typographic in nature. lately i’m really struck by just how much we look at letters as accepted “shapes” without (having or) taking the time to appreciate the forms that compose the letters and gaps and spaces in between.
since this is the first of these posters, i’ve left it as basic as possible. no colour, no texture. i wanted to use letters large enough to not only overflow outside of the boundaries but also start to create an ambiguity between the positive and negative space. sans serifs like these tend to need a fair bit of white space to breath but i still think this is quite readable, given the anti-letter-spacing and size of the type. this size also helps to bring the negative space to the forefront, especially since the similarly shaped forms tend to lie in loose groups.
i might look into letterpressing these at some point as well, depending on how happy i am with the series. enjoy.

a little while ago i was asked to design a poster for a 10 year high school reunion. the basic need was to convey the message of fundraising through the fees for the event and use the school colours and/or emblem. i wanted to convey a sense of identity despite it being difficult to visually depict that with a few hundred people who belong to one graduating class of a rather old school. of course, the students collectively comprise the identity of any class and this was the basis for my design.

i’ve become fond of the idea of purely using text in illustration so i thought i would give that a go. my immediate thought was to use a classic fingerprint image integrated with a paw logo the school used at the time. instead of a fingerprints, the image would have pawprints. instead of typical lines for the prints, i would use peoples’ names arranged along the paths where the fingerprint lines would go. to push it a bit further, the fingerprint paths would spell out the school’s intials and the year of the class but hidden among filler lines (i guess you could call them)

the concepted paw came out as follows:

now, the organiser thought all this effort might be lost easily considering that facebook would be the primary group event site and the image would be rather small. i thought about ways to make these ideas more obvious which led to some slight modifications. hopefully you see what i meant with the hiding of the initials and year.

however, with art, i’m usually not a fan of being blatant with everything. that way, i like to think the re-view value is higher as you might find something you didn’t see in the first place. true, this is just a silly poster for typical event but i guess it’s just the way i try to work, ha ha. 

the organiser wasn’t overly convinced though so i thought i would try another approach. grad photos were the other way to identify people and the organiser actually wanted to try to incorporate a group photo into the poster. i had some notions about trying to use images that are reminiscent of the late 90s. cd players. giant cell phones. cassettes and walkmen! an idea that never quite came to fruition was doing a hand-drawn poster as if it was done by a student for a semi-formal or something. 
polaroids were the only thing that would work with the whole identity theme and the group/grad photos so i took every grad’s photo and made it look like a polaroid. i spliced up the desired photo so that it spanned several polaroids as well. finally, the group photo ended up being arranged to form the palm of the paw. each digit was a mishmash of the different grad photos.

the group organising the event ended up liking the original text based idea so i just needed to add the title and slogan. i thought about a couple of ways to do this too.

claw marks!

i preferred the claw mark idea but the consensus was to go with this, voila:

in retrospect, the claw marks were a better idea but the number of words in each line kind of prevented that from looking better than the more classic arrangement. i’ve gotten some positive feedback on this which definitely helps to tell me that my choices helped more than they hindered. of course, feel free to blast me now; the bad is just as welcome as the good. just try and be nice about it please, lol.