This is the final project in Visual Narrative “ Zine”. As the word visual suggests, in my project I’ve used a variety of techniques such as collage images, sketches and also paintings. My objective is to produce a zine that showcases the richness and wealth of the Persian patterns. The zine is part of a series of monthly zines that target a variety of artistic issues. The audience of my zine are people who are interested in beauty and uniqueness of patterns.
Like all projects, this project is both enriching and challenging. For this reason, I had to be well prepared to produce a zine that is eye-catching, informative and meets the needs of the persona audience I created. As a matter of fact, this was one of the most important things I learned from this project. In general, people study the audience’s likes and dislikes and then decide on the kind of product. That is to say, the product exists because the audience demand it. In this project, I created my persona, i. e my audience, and then I tailored my product to live up to their expectations. This was not an easy thing to do at all. But it was my main driving force to carry out a research about patterns. I started by borrowing books from the library about patterns in general and slowly drifted towards Persian patterns when I discovered they are rich and colorful. My readings broadened my knowledge and deepened my understanding of the Persian patterns. Persian patterns are rich in color, loaded with flowers, full of geometrical shapes and different types of designs. In addition to creating my persona and investigating the Persian patterns, I learned something about the product itself. Although zine is not something new as I later learned from the course, it took me some time to come to grips with it and become familiar with the concept; something which I found really motivating.
Equally motivating, but also thought-provoking and tiring, were the challenges I faced in this project. To begin with, I wanted to have an appealing zine from A to Z. I was determined not to repeat myself in a pattern or a collage image and to surprise the audience with a somehow different technique in every page. So, I had to have a lot of ideas and material to choose from. Another challenging thing to me was designing everything by hand. This represented a change of habit for me. I prefer designing by computer and printing copies, probably unlike many students. In this project, I had to either design by hand or print images and then rearrange them in a certain way. So every pattern had to have a sort of hand touch. Still another challenge was the selection of material. Experience has revealed that material sometimes becomes different after printing and negatively impact the quality of the product. I had to be careful with the selection of the sort of material that does not fade or lose its glitter after printing. To meet this end, I had to carry out few experiments. The most important one was when I used a transparent paper, but after scanning, it became flat and lost its transparency; something which made me remove it because it affected the rest of the images.
However, challenges become strengths when work is complete. Although I was relieved when I finished the zine, I felt that this project added a lot to my knowledge and experience.
Visual narrative is a story told through various types of media such as photographs, videos and illustrations. The topic of my story in this pop-up book is the hijab. My objective is to showcase the different kinds of hijab worn by women from across the world. This is not an easy thing to do especially if you wish the audience to clearly see the difference in colors, styles and patterns in Hijab. For this reason, I carried out a lot of experiments to first present an elegant and informative product and second to use particular visuals that would catch the attention and interest of the audience. I learned a lot from those repeated experiments while sketching the ideas to include in the book. The idea started big. At the beginning, I wanted to focus on fashion and trace its history in the west during a century. However, my professors advised me to be more specific and relate my narrative story to my region. Therefore, I had to narrow down my idea and confine it to hijab in Qatar and the region. In the process, I learned how to turn a flat 2D product into a more appealing 3D product that the audience can see from different angles. Also, I learned several techniques of how to create pop-up objects and discover which ones would work better for this particular project. This has truly enriched my knowledge and crafted my skill in turning illustrations into real objects. My greatest concern, however, was to have an impact on the audience through these visuals. Images are more expressive sometimes than words, because they are loaded with information and details. In addition, they allow the audience to see for themselves and interpret or understand the story of hijab in their own ways. The fabric I added to the illustrations comes from various materials used in hijab and it is meant to produce a similar effect: It will hopefully have a deeper effect on the audience, especially those who do not know what hijab is. The book cover is made from fabric and bears a significance: The material wraps the front and back covers of the book and the title, thus serving as a hijab itself.
To further grab the audience attention, I asked two questions in my first spread: “What is hijab?” and “do all women wear the same type of hijab?’ Though I provided a quick definition of what hijab is and a hint to the second question, I provided deep and comprehensive answers through visuals in the pop-up book.
By the time I reached the final product I realized that the project needed more and more effort than I thought it would. But, at the same time it was useful and inspiring for the coming projects and I am glad I had the chance to work on this pop-up book.
This project is totally new to me; this is the first time I design an invitation to an exhibition. On the face of it, things seem simple and easy but in reality the project is demanding and challenging in many ways. An invitation in general is something which people read to have the information they need about the target event. Not many people pay attention to the other details such as the colours, the type, the paper, the layout, etc… So the challenge was to create an invitation that look special in every respect, content and layout. The purpose is to make the audience not just read the invitation but keep it with them as a piece of artwork.
I challenged myself to live up to this task and stretched my imagination to its full potential to come up with an invitation that is original, eye-catching, and artistic.
The intention behind this project is to encourage people to go back to the old common practice which is to print invitations and send them by post. With the advance of technology and the fast growing pace of social media and social platforms, people are no longer interested in hard paper. With his project, we wish to make people feel once again the beauty and charm of touching paper. It requires a huge effort to draw the attention of people to a matter such as this. That is why the project was really challenging, but fruitful and illuminating at the same time.
Having decided on every detail and prepared the needed material, I went on to print the prototype white on black in bigger size. I still wished to leave the viewer with the impression that the painting is drawn by hand, so I left the pen a bit loose in the platter. As a matter of fact I tried this technique in a previous project and it worked perfectly well. Unfortunately, it did not produce the same effect here. Many components were left out and did not appear in the printing at all including details about the exhibition which should, of course, be clear to the audience. The reason why it worked before and did not work now is that with the previous project it was mostly patterns and illustrations, but with this one it includes a lot of type and a lot of information. Fixing this little problem was as easy as one two three. I just had to tighten the pen to make it still.
The final thing I had to do is the cover. Again, I hoped to create something special. I drew the illustrations by hand based on some elements from the artist’s work and used the same colours he used in his paintings. The outcome showed a colourful cover which contrasts with the only black and white accordion inside. I opted for this in an attempt to mix the impression the artist’s two exhibitions left me with: The gallery exhibition was somehow sad and lacks colours while the Al Muthaf exhibition was really colourful and full of life.
In order to see how difficult implementing the idea can be, I started experimenting with it; first I began building the layout (the accordion) without any sort of illustration, it was easy I may say.
Having the layout ready, I started imagining its final shape when I add the illustration and decide on its size and shape. As soon as I started working on the illustration, I showed it to my Professors to have their early feedback on the kind of style I am using. They encouraged me to continue with the selected style. In addition they boosted my confidence when they showed their satisfaction with the “smart idea”, as they called it, of selecting components or elements from the various paintings of the artists and compiling them into one coherent piece, built piece next to the other but become one whole clear painting once the accordion is stretched to its limit.
Once my work is complete, I had to print it. However, I did not really want to use a regular printer and print a normal copy. Instead I opted for platter because it gives a particular texture leaving the viewer with the impression that things are drawn by hand. The colours that appear after printing are not random; I selected most colours based on the artist’s most used colours which are blue, red, green and black.
The outcome did not really appeal to me; honestly, it did not live up to my expectations and was somehow different from my imagination. Yet, I showed my professors the prototype. They were not really against the outcome; on the contrary they liked it. But they had few recommendations. Most important of all was their advised me to print the design on a bigger size in order to clearly show the details which they found interesting.
In the course of the discussion with my Professors I suggested using white type and illustration on black paper. For me this is more appealing and falls in line with Azzawi’s style.
Since this is the first time I work on a similar project, I had to look for some kind of inspiration. I surfed the net looking for samples of interactive paper-based invitations. I needed to have an idea about few things related to this project, most particularly the layout.
I had in mind three initial ideas I shared with my Professors. The first idea was to create a stamp. This stamp will carry information that align with the message Dia Azzawi invokes in his paintings. The stamp will make invitees travel to Iraq and Palestine, the places where the artist lived and form the essence of his work.
The second idea was to create a puzzle which invitees have to put together ; when the invitees put the pieces together, they discover that one piece is missing. The idea is simple: In the paintings of Dia Azzawi there is always something missing; lack of security in a country devastated by war. I wished to invoke a similar feeling in the minds or hearts of the invitees. Not having the complete set of pieces for the puzzle leaves them with a feeling of disappointment and maybe frustration. The feeling is different of course but the analogy is the same: As human beings, we are insecure and frustrated when we lack something, however small, in our lives.
The third idea focused more on the artist’s work; I wanted it to be completely derived from his paintings. Again, the idea is simple but more demanding his time. I selected a number of paintings by Dia Azzawi, looked carefully at the details in those paintings, and then picked out a component or two from each painting and placed them all in an accordion-like paper, thus creating a series of connected pieces of work that are related and reflect a great deal of the artist’s work and style.
Feedback from my Professors was positive, but they pointed out that though the ideas are good they are difficult to implement. They advised me to carry out some experiments to see to what extent the ideas can be practical or understood by people.