Negotiated Major Project
My NMP is finally finished and what a relief! It has been a long journey of experimenting with styles and playing around with hundreds of ideas! For my NMP I worked with two of my friends to establish a collective called Mutton Boon. Whilst the ethos and ideas for Mutton Boon have changed about a hundred times, one thing that has been constant throughout was to create designs and products that take advantage of printmaking and the handcrafted.
I went down many different routes in this project so this blog post is a way to explain my process from start to finish and why I decided to change ideas so often.
At the start of the project we set out to create a collective that created a range of tee’s and prints. For the first few weeks we really struggled to find something to create that made us feel unique. We spent a lot of time exploring printmaking techniques but was producing designs that were quite common (like aztec patterns). Time was getting on and we needed to start creating visuals and outcomes. We decided the best approach was to put a constraint on our work. Sometimes having such an open brief can stop ideas from forming as you don’t know where to begin. This is where the minotaur comes in. We needed to make a more restricted brief so we picked a story we know very little about. What we ended up doing was a story about the Minotaur, a half man half bull that lives in a Labyrinth. All of us knew very little about this which allowed us to create designs based purely off the research we had found. I will admit it was challenging.
Our first attempt at producing a zine was… well far from amazing. We produced outcomes which we felt weren’t very strong. However, we were starting to form ideas that would actually influence our final outcomes. The week later we managed to produce a set of work which created starting points for our final outcomes.
I produced three different directions that I wanted to take the project in. The first was exploring the branding of an American Hockey team called “The Minotaurs”. The inspiration came from this because I felt the minotaur would create a fantastic mascot for a sports team and I really like the design of American sport team logos. The second direction was illustrated type. I had created the word “plagued” out of what could be interpreted as bubble gum (intentional) or as flesh with sinewy bits. I am obsessed with typography and wanted to explore a hand drawn type route. The final option was illustration. I had started to produce a playing card using a minimalistic geometric style that was all about clean, precise lines.
I decided to go down the route of the minotaur sports team. The first changes I wanted to make were to change the logo I had made and begin developing it. Alongside that I wanted to create the team’s hockey kits, design an official mascot and then produce a range of merchandise. After a few weeks of going down this route, I realised it wasn’t working for me. The idea didn’t really do much for me, it wasn’t clicking in my head so I scrapped that approach and went for the illustration route.
I liked the idea of playing cards. I think the illustration of the Kings, Queens etc are really nice and I wanted to have a go at making my own. This eventually led it’s way into tarot cards. Tarot cards were originally designed to be a game which then got this association with the occult and some people use them to tell the future. I was fascinated by them because of the way they are illustrated. Each illustration is full of symbolism which relate to the card’s meaning.
I began creating designs for tarot cards which linked to major parts and characters of the Minotaur story. I created illustrations full of symbolism to represent the personality traits and to tell the story. However, it got to a point where all I had were tarot cards, and I didn’t really just want a pack of cards for my final show. After a seminar, I decided to try and take this symbolism and apply it to clothing, and to see where I can take that.
I spent a while trying to create unique symbols to sum up the tarot cards. However, I found it a struggle to come up with a lot of unique icons and I also felt this was taking too much of a tarot approach and was moving away from the minotaur.
I then looked into hand drawn illustration. Whilst this isn’t really my style of working as such, I do enjoy drawing. I spent a few weeks exploring illustration styles and began drawing a range of outcomes from paper money to illustrated wallets. However, the choice of style really wasn’t clicking with me and it was only a matter of time before I went to the more familiar minimalist style.
I liked the idea of symbolism and the way you convey a theme, message or idea from a small image. I also liked the idea of creating unique symbols, as some of the symbols I had produced earlier were far from original. Eventually I came to the idea of creating a micro site/app that creates your own coat of arms, based on your personality. This coat of arms would be completely unique to you, and when applied to products would allow you to “Wear your own brand”. For this I created a range of different icons which all slot together to create the coat of arms. The more icons I created, the more combinations of icons.
Alongside this I created a product range which represents medieval armour, to tie it in with the coat of arms. Each coat of arms would have a unique pattern which could be applied to the clothing. The style I went for was a clean, precise style similar to that of the playing card I did earlier. Unfortunately I only got this idea a week before my hand in. So it meant I had to spend a week creating the outcomes for my idea which I felt did limit experimentation and meant I could only push it so far. However, at the same time I am really impressed with what I managed to produce in such a small amount of time, and I think with a bit of tweaking in time for the show, could potentially have a product range that I would be happy selling.