Dadaism- An art movement? Or a joke?

In the early 1900’s  the concept of controversy was taken to extremes with a movement known as ‘Dadaism’. However, instead of being ‘inappropriate’ due to aspects such as nudity, Dadaists would use humour and ridicule as a protest against WWI in a satirical manner. Their argument demonstrated that they felt that the war was ridiculous and irrational and therefore produced art that rebelled against all rules of art that had previously been made. The whole point of the Dada movement was to be pointless, to have no reason, which emulated their thoughts on the war. The question “what is art?” was deliberated over. Are everyday objects art if they are place in an artistic context? Marcel Duchamp explored this question when he exhibited his ‘ready-made’ artworks, one of which was, simply put, a urinal on a plinth, named ‘Fountain’. This is a prime example of the mockery that Dadaists set out to portray. It suggests that the War was so ridiculous that the art that they produce is normal in such a world.


Marcel Duchamp ‘Fountain’

“I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.”

― Marcel Duchamp

The film below explores the question “what is art?”. It looks at how ridiculous some art pieces can be, similarly to the Dada artists. However, it does show that this movement of the early 1900’s has had a significant effect on the contemporary art of today:


Lectures by Donna Leisman


The Importance of Good Typography

We’ve all heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, and whilst we all try not to, it is human nature to make a quick judgement on the first appearance of something. So when designing a concert poster, book cover, advertisement etc. it is very important that we ensure the first impression of the subject is the best we can make it.
Within communication design, it is imperative that when type is being adopted, it is used in the correct way. Contemporary typography can be divided into two separate groups. The first deals with designs that require an informative and almost sterile style that is often used for advertising, poster design or book covers, where it is very important that the text is legible to communicate the ideas and information. This is created in a precise, and some may say more graphic approach, often using computer software. The other group takes a more lax approach to legibility and is designed to provide an emotive portrayal, often far more illustrative in appearance not necessarily required to be legible.
Good design comes down to good typography. A design can be ruined simply by bad placing, scale or choice of type to what would otherwise be a successful design. These aspects including others such as weight and colour can completely change a message or emphasis on a subject. Below are two simple mock ups that I created of a hypothetical instance where type can completely change a design/image, for better or worse.

Example of Bad Typography

Example of Bad Typography

Example of Good Typography

Example of Good Typography

As you can see above, the first image is an example of terrible placing, colour, scale and choice of type.  To begin with, the title reads “The Big Book of Patrick Hook” rather than “The Big Book of Birds” and the word “Birds” is left to the side by itself. This may seem like a very fundamental mistake to make and I have deliberately exaggerated this in my example but it might surprise you how often this kind of situation occurs in real life design which therefore affects the accuracy of information. In the example of good typography the title and author are separated to ensure a clear division between the two. The placing of the typography also leads the eyes diagonally across the page from the top left to bottom right corners which encourages the audience to take in all aspects of the book cover rather than focussing on just one section. The colours of the first piece are appalling; they completely clash with one another, are too brash and blend in far too much to the background image. When creating designs for an informative purpose, the designer must ensure that all words are legible and furthermore, are read in the manner intended. In the second image I have used a far more subtle dark grey which isn’t as harsh as black, yet is dark enough to stand out within the design. This ensures the book design stays elegant and sophisticated, which therefore will appeal to the appropriate market. Lastly, the typefaces used do not work well together at all in the first image. Contemporary typography often shows us that different styles of type can work very well together on the same page, however there is a skill within this that must be employed. Type must never be thrown onto a page and be expected to look good, it should always be thought through carefully and planned out.


Illustrative Typography

Above is an example of a more illustrative approach to typography. As explained previously, not all words need to be properly understood but instead the focus is on the image as a whole, in the above case, a horse. This kind of typography tends to be far more visually appealing and interesting in composition and is often created this way to cleverly convey a message. In this particular image, some of the words are upside down, and in obscure positions but are done so to create a convincing silhouette of the horse. Through my own research and experience, I have found that creating this more illustrative style of typography can often be far more interesting and rewarding, however depending on the brief/project it is not always appropriate. A good designer will not choose the best design for their boss, nor for the art critics of the world, or for themselves, but instead for the audience that it is ultimately intended for.


Lectures By Donna Leishman

Hellar, D & Talarico, L (2012). Typography Sketchbooks. London: Thames and Hudson. Introduction.

Contemporary Illustration

Illustration today is a very difficult subject to define. Some may say that it sits in a no-mans land between fine art and design due to the vast number of styles that have emerged over the past decade. This range has allowed the discipline to enter a plethora of opportunities in different markets. There is therefore a high demand for more unique styles to be developed and matured. Work that once seemed modern is now seen as being too digital and clinical, whereas individual and dynamic styles are becoming far more popular.  Clients are now looking for personality within styles and quite often quirky humour. To be successful, illustrators must continue to observe and adapt to whatever is in fashion at that time whilst adding their own unique ideas to it. For example, the repetitive pattern and swirls produced by vector graphics was a popular choice a short while ago, but is now being avoided as it is seen to be outdated. As computer software becomes updated so quickly, it allows for new ideas to be continuously explored. As there has become such a vast encyclopaedia of design and techniques that are always evolving, it would be a very difficult job to try and define every one individually. However, here are a few styles that are very popular yet very different in subject, technique and style.

Typical example of vector graphics that is becoming outdated.

Typical example of vector graphics that is becoming outdated.


The word collage originates from the French word ‘coller’ — meaning glue. Traditionally a collage would consist of cutting out and gluing down many different materials, for example, handmade paper, newspaper, fabric, and photographs. Collage allows the artist to create a completely new scenario, often rather surreal and eclectic. Positioning of the elements within a collage is very important to create the correct viewpoint, as the slight movement of a photograph could change the whole perspective of the final image. Collage is also effective when no narrative is needed as it allows for ‘cut and paste’ impression. Although traditional techniques are still used, they are often combined with photoshop techniques to create a more modern style. Photoshop permits options of textured appearance, change in colour and proportion and much more. However, some may argue that this modern day approach lacks in substance as the final piece would be completely 2-dimensional and not give as much impression of depth compared to a more 3-dimensional handmade piece.

Heather Landis 'Lead the Way'

Heather Landis ‘Lead the Way’

Emma Rios "Bombass and Parr" Book Cover

Emma Rios “Bombass and Parr” Book Cover


Manga is traditionally a Japanese genre of comic books and style of illustration. It is one of the most widely used styles in Japan today and is becoming more and more popular throughout the world. Manga has been in used as a style for centuries, evolving throughout the decades, yet the fundamental aspects of drawing remain the same. These detailed illustrations are primarily used for Manga comic books, but if successful enough, are animated into short episodes or even films called Anime. Traits of the Manga style include whimsical and colourful backgrounds and the characters facial features are often very similar, portrayed with large eyes, a small nose and a small mouth. To produce this style, the artist usually draws an initial line sketch and then renders the image with computer software programs.

Manga Illustration by Nobuhiro Watsuki

Manga Illustration by Nobuhiro Watsuki


When most people hear the word ‘typography’ they will usually associate it with the clean and precise lines of graphic design. However, recently there has be a far more illustrative approach to type where more imagination has been put into making the words look more appealing to the eye. Quite often artists will shape words into an associated image so that the image actually contains the word. As the message is already being conveyed through the actual words, the illustrator may often convey a second meaning, or reinforce this message through their visual approach to the typography.

Sam Bevington 'Sugar Skull'

Sam Bevington ‘Sugar Skull’


This contemporary style is quite often illustrated using black ink and watercolour but can be created using a multitude of mediums. It could almost be described as impressionist in its spontaneity and allows for excitement and fluidity in imagery. It is not a perfectionist style but instead uses its mistakes to add character to pieces as ‘happy accidents’. These illustrations are often isolated on a background of crisp white or cream paper and create an impression of being drawn in long fluid lines rather than many sketchy marks. Illustrator Christina Drejenstam explains,

“I draw almost exclusively in black and white with one accent colour, I also like to leave a part of the picture incomplete for the viewer to fill in.”

Lines that don’t meet fully against one another is another trait that loose illustration possesses which adds to the style. From an early age we are taught to keep colour within the lines but loose line illustration allows the artist to oppose this rule and create a feeling of freedom. The impression of movement that loose line illustration holds reflects the ever-evolving aspect of this style as well as contemporary illustration as a whole. 

Christina Drejenstam Wine glasses

Christina Drejenstam Wine Glasses

(Unable to find reference material as research was carried out previous to blog assignment.)