I decided to use guerrilla gardening (a group which, without official approval or permission, plants up bits of neglected urban land to beautify the area) as my theme for the London transport posters.
As a start I tried to work through the steps from the carrier bag exercise:
Range of Ideas, divergent, convergent
I decided my imaginary client wanted to introduce Londoners to the concept, intrigue them and encourage locals to join their group or set up their own.
My first thoughts were for a series of portrait orientated posters, which can run as a series going up the escalators in the tube. In addition some long, thin, landscape style posters to run along the side of some local buses.
I did some research and found that a man Richard Reynolds had set up a group in Lambeth. I had a look at his blog, in particular for imagery, fonts and visual appearance. The blog is not terribly attractive. It uses a brown background with green, yellow and white text. There are rather a lot of different fonts in use. There is a nice sunflower logo in yellow and the name “Guerilla Gardening” in what looks like Clarendon.
The body text is in a quite friendly serif font, but it is not very readable (possibly Charlotte or Daily News)
There are some banner fonts on some of the images which are similar to Trade Gothic, in a variety of colours. Mainly the blog gave me indications of pitfalls to avoid.
However, there was a handbook which looked to have a professionally designed cover. The title was in a similar font to Trade Gothic. I liked the placing of the text on the image, with the author’s name and subtitle in pale blue also nicely placed.
I did primary research by taking photos of flowers in a local park and pavements.
It seemed to me that the whole key to the images was going to be the contrast between gritty, urban, grey, straight lines and colourful, beautiful, organic shapes. Also about individuals rather than anonymous organisations (like councils and London Transport).
I made a quick series of sketches of street furniture, people digging and flower shapes.
My usual process is to start with the image and then dump the text on later as an after thought so this time I thought I would start with the text. I thought about substituting images for some of the letters but couldn’t get it to work.
My idea was to use the text as though it was written on the pavement. I made three mock up posters.
I used an image of the pavement and then experimented with various fonts in different colours. One of the problems was getting the text to be eye-catching enough. I tried it in black, white, orange and green. I tried lightening the pavement background.
I had decided on the text: “Guerilla Gardening” , “in a borough near you”, “join us or start your own”.
I put together some mockups, I made 3 posters that weren’t “finished” and stuck them up on the wall, imagining going past them on the escalator. It was a useful exercise as it highlighted for me how they needed to work together.
The first thought I had was that in using the the image of the pavement slabs the receding lines had a big impact. I felt that the lines needed to slant in the direction of travel to work best, the idea being so that the commuter would feel engaged, as though the posters were a message to themselves as they walked along the pavement. The writing was meant to give the impression of a chalk message on the pavement.
I found the white chalk showed up best on the darker pavement, but the green text of “Guerilla Gardening” showed up better on the lighter background.