Profane Magazine

In this month’s Stack Magazine subscription, I received issue eight of Profane Magazine, which combines amateur obsession and French eccentricity. The pages are filled with artists and collectors, who seem to be inspired by something greater than a need to make a living or seek personal fame. Hobbies are the theme that runs throughout.

On the opening pages of the magazine, I thought the fruit paintings worked really well. They are evidently created using oil paints and are bold, fun and playful with the exaggerated brush paint marks giving them greater character and a larger sense of expression.

I was very much drawn to the first chapter entitled, ‘Starting Over’. I am really interested in bringing back creativity for children, especially in an age of technological overload, instant gratification and school pressures. The chapter explores ESAT Ménilmontontan, a French initiative to integrate disabled people into the labour market. The images show students creating paintings and ceramic in what appears to be a non-judgemental and encouraging environment of experimentation. I love the fact that the space is dedicated to artists with mental and psychological disabilities, who are creating in order to feel better, visualising their ‘infinite inner-self’. This showed me the benefit of capturing this creative independence and capacity for creative freedom.

When I was flicking through the magazine, I marked pages that I thought could act as visual inspiration for future projects. By the end, I had a whole book full of post-it not page markers which reinforced how strong the publication’s visuals are. In my opinion, what worked successfully was the fact that in every section, all of the imagery in that chapter linked together, following the same theme or colour palette for example. The chapters were also made obvious by their clear colour sectioning and full-page title page which also explained the key points of the upcoming section.

Having a physical copy of this magazine will be a great source of reference next term when I begin to talk to a printer about my own visual final report outcome. The printed magazine is smaller than A4 which I liked and I also think the paper quality and feel of the magazine is tactile and therefore links to their ‘create, collect, enjoy’ motto. The front cover is almost soft with a layer of texture and the inside is an uncoated craft-like finish which I feel works really well. The craft and texture focus creates a more personal result and makes it more enjoyable to flick through.



Elementum Magazine

This month’s Stack magazine is a complete juxtaposition to the previous loud and often chaotic prints from previous months. This one is a publication that I probably would have picked off a shelf myself – it has a slower pace to it and a clean composition with nothing to distract from the copy or imagery.

Although this magazine doesn’t have the same playful aesthetic as others or occupy a similar cultural space, this one is more idiosyncratic. It fills its pages with stories about nature and the environment. I think the fact that it is isn’t particularly political or spiritual works well as it provides the audience with a sense of escapism to the stark headlines surrounding this issue/topic.

I enjoyed reading some of the longer articles as they were often poetic and had a quiet and soft tone of voice, revealing what it means to love in a particular time and place.

The overall publication reminds me of an English countryside, embracing the timeless nature and British identity. The negative space around the page elements infers the open land that surrounds us and the idealistic view of the outdoors which has a calming effect.

Some of the pages have no imagery to support them; however the spreads are balanced by subtle illustration which is something that I hope to take forward into third year. The drawings, although simple, really help to visualise the text and summarise the key discussion points. They are beautifully embedded which also adds to the flow of the publication. I intend to use this magazine, alongside a couple of others that I purchased recently to use as templates for layout in my final visual report.

Each chapter heading has a dedicated block-colour page. This colour palette is continued throughout the section and reflected in the illustrations / photographs that, within a particular chapter, all have the same artistic style. The different styles of art create a subtle divide between the chapters.


Aftermath: Nottingham Contemporary

MA Photography, Graphic Design and Illustration students responded to issues and concerns raised by the exhibition Still I Rise: Feminisms, Gender, Resistance to create new work that connected to them.

I always find it fascinating to witness all of the opposing interpretations to the same brief – it was evident that each individual had responded to a different aspect of the exhibition. This infers that certain sections of the original display had had the most impact on them. What I love about art is the idea that there is no right or wrong, with each individual simply expressing their personal emotions and understanding about a particular subject matter.

The responses all involved diverse practices, including 3D, illustration, animation, graphic design, textiles, etc. One piece that stood out to me was, ‘Somewhere in between,’ a mixed media installation which looked almost like a space-age suspended meteor rock with different surface temperatures – warm and cool tones occupied different sections. I am still unsure how this was crafted; however the projected light against the dark background highlighted the delicate creases and folds. It gave off mixed messages and unknowns, which I interpreted as a symbol of how we defend ourselves, alongside dreaming of stranger worlds.

‘In Knots’ and ‘Biomimicry’ I also thought were very successful, although one was a tulipwood installation and the other ink on paper, they both obtained a striking balance and poetic nature between full and empty; I am always drawn to the more minimal outcomes. They also reminded me of the connection to mother-nature and motherhood as an overriding theme.

I thought the repetition of imagery was powerful and really emphasised the message. These created patterns which are what drew the narrative inside of my head. How I perceived these, will more likely than not be different to anyone else who looks at the same piece – I believe it is all determined by the stories we want to believe, largely based on our own experiences.


Extinction Rebellion and Activism

As suggested in this week’s Five Things, I listened to the Stylus Future Thinking podcast focused on Extinction Rebellion. The protests across the country over the last year have highlighted the importance of taking action to tackle climate change and the urgency of halting further environmental destruction.

Although I believe that activism can bring about meaningful change, I feel that there are ways to go about it, rather than making a statement by tying oneself to railings for example. I also feel that large planned marches are made even bigger by those who attend only to get an Instagram photo seeming to be a part of the community. The buzz and energy surrounding such an event drive people to the streets when they would not normally give the cause a second glance. However, when they have their desired photo, they do not stick around to support the actual cause. This demonstrates a lack of awareness about the true meaning behind the protests and little desire to be part of the solution. A large proportion of the protestors at the march appeared to be on their phone which to me infers they are beautifying the idea that ‘time is running out’.

If passive ‘clicktivism’ could be overruled by the number of peaceful and motivated active members of society, I feel we would be more likely to see a change and get the message listened to by the individuals with power that need to wake up to the impacts.

On the other hand, 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg has had an instrumental role in initiating the recent school protests and spoke eloquently discussing the possible ways forward. This would have inspired the younger generations to learn more about what small changes they can make.

With regard to the fashion industry, I feel that fast fashion could be slowed by the rise of a rental culture. Cars and properties are rented with no second thought, so why can’t this be applied to clothes. I still think there is a stigma around second-hand clothes or garments that have been worn by someone else, however circulating the resources that we already have could drastically reduce the fabric waste, energy and water used to produce them, not to mention the impact on the environment.


Independent Magazines

One of my feedback points from my Summative Christmas hand-in was to consider the finer details of a printed document to improve the standard of my work. I decided that the best way to do this was to explore a magazine store, looking for publications where the layout, composition and content appealed to my aesthetic preferences.

Exploring such a store, it was definitely easier to decide what did not work for me, compared to picking out ones that I was drawn to visually. I knew that I did not want a magazine that was crowded and bold and that had a heavy uneven composition. I enjoy prints that are simple and clean with a muted colour palette and uniform layout.

I came away with two publications: Design Anthology and Milk Decoration. Both magazines have a very different finish, the first having a book-like finish, printed on heavy matt paper and the latter having a glossy typical magazine cover with thinner matt paper pages. Unintentionally, the two prints have an interior, architectural, travel and art focus which certainly fits my interests.

Design Anthology, in my opinion, is a focused editorial with a more sophisticated tone of voice and cleaner-looking finish compared to other design magazines that I have seen, whereas, Milk Decoration aims to inspire contemporary, urban, individuals in matters of decor, design, travel and lifestyle. I enjoyed the displayed seasonal favourites, especially their latest discoveries that were found on during travels, or during a chance meeting. This reinforced the idea that inspiration and insights can be found anywhere.

What I think works well is that fact that both make the subject matter accessible to a wide audience, providing a reading experience that transports the reader to the desired location as well as providing endless inspiration that is unlike anything in the mainstream eye.

Buying these two magazines has allowed me to conclude the type of layout and finish that appeal to my style. I intend to continually refer to these two prints when constructing and printing my future visual reports. They have a good balance of text and imagery; although the imagery has a great hierarchical stance, the two elements complement each other effortlessly, continuing the subtle narrative throughout. I have since followed the two brands on Instagram so I can be continually inspired every time they post.


Castle Fine Art Stamford

I went home for the weekend and my parents and I took a visit to the new Castle Fine Art space on the Stamford high street. We went on the day of the Lawrence Coulson grand opening so there was a definite buzz about the gallery – champagne was being given and the sales experts were very well dressed and welcoming. It was great to see paintings coming to life in front of your eyes.

They certainly instilled their passion in every customer who walked through the doors while we were in there. We were very much first-time browsers; however the gallery obviously attracted the more seasoned collector. The gallery appeared to be designed with comfort and ambiance in mind – with the main aim of getting guests to stay longer and consider a purchase. The space has plush sofas and private viewing rooms that equip the customer with everything they need to find their perfect piece.

Similarly, the sofas also make the space feel homely and invite the guests to imagine themselves looking at the art in the comfort of their own home. The pieces that I saw would certainly make a statement in a home and therefore I feel that if the customer had an empty space, the home could be built around the artwork, making it unique to the individual.

What I think worked really well was the fact the furniture makes the viewer notice the art, with each piece making an individual impact, no matter the size. It also allowed the contrast between each artist’s work even more evident.

I was drawn to Coulson’s work in particular. During A Level Art, my preferred media was oil paint as I enjoyed seemly blending the colours together. Lawrence uses a simple pencil line to map out the composition, and then he applies oil paint before blending it with his fingers and again with a fine brush. Although layering is used, this is not evident to the eye; it appears so smooth with no brush strokes visible and creates an effortless finish.


Talking Tastebuds with Jack Harries

Being a massive foodie myself with an interest in nutrition and health, talking Tastebuds by Venetia Falconer is one of my favourite podcasts. The podcast is all about food and I enjoy listening to how it fits into the guest’s lives and wellbeing. This episode in particular resonated with me as it explored such a vast number of current issues.

Jack Harries is someone who really inspires me; he is a filmmaker, environmentalist and passionate storyteller and overall just a humble individual. I admire him for being driven, ambitious and for fighting for what he believes in; he recently got arrested after protesting with Extinction Rebellion, at the International Petroleum Conference in London.

He chose to take the quite radical act of protesting as a result of being terrified for the state of our future. I agree that we are running out of time and this annual conference where the biggest names in the gas and oil industry meet to network and figure out how to make more money is destructive. I personally put this down to power but the government needs to start thinking about our planet over profit; I really feel that we have the resources, we just need the right people in charge to put a stop to the negative impacts.

As a result of reading about the destructive results of our behaviour, I often overthink every action when it comes to sustainability. Jack put it perfectly stating that you have to be realistic when it comes to making changes – it is near impossible to live on the planet without making an impact. Whereas, I now feel that as long as people have a good intention then that is a great place to start.

I loved how honest and open Harries was in the interview, sharing his experiences openly. It was amazing hearing a male talk about veganism and mental health which are often taboo subjects, especially for males – it is often seen as diminishing masculinity. I have found that the hardest part of dealing with a mental illness is the stigma attached to it, but listening to open conversations like this one could really help to spread awareness and stop people from suffering alone. We all have a secret life in a way, one where we are dealing with different difficult things but no one speaks about it even though so many others are going through it as well.


Living Minimally

One of the trends we identified we named, ‘Modern Minimalism.’ Through our primary and secondary research we noticed a ‘less is more’ approach to fashion with focus on quality and elegant designs. We wanted to explore how minimalism can be applied to all aspects of someone’s life and therefore I watched the Netflix documentary, ‘Minimalism’.

We are now in an age of continually filling a void with stuff and material purchases; as a society we always long for more. We never seem to be satisfied with what we have. The accessibility of products via the internet and constant upgrades I feel is a large part of our dissatisfaction. From experience, I know that you cannot buy happiness and I now look for happiness in simple things and experiences with friends and family.

The documentary explores the idea that every possession you buy and own needs not to have a purpose, but to bring someone joy. I see this as justifying whether something adds value to your life and this lead to the process of letting go of excess. Previously, the more stuff someone owned the more successful and wealthy they were. I believe that we need to reimagine what it means to be successful, rather than constantly looking for more material wealth in our lives.

Overconsumption is a huge issue and I really concur with Juliet Schor, “…we need to be the materialists who really care about the true materiality of goods. This to me is looking for quality over quantity where the resources are ethically sourced and made and are durable and timeless.”

This mindless consumption needs to stop. I feel that if brands offered less options and limited choice, it could start a shift in buying habits. For example, a cafe in Norfolk is tackling sustainability by limiting choice and offering the best quality limited menu to avoid excess packaging and food waste. Rather than having a whole cabinet of ice cream flavours, they offer a small selection of ice creams on biodegradable sticks.

Living a simple life can help us to move away from the chaos around us. If we live deliberately and find value in each decision, we can lead a life that is satisfying for ourselves and the people around us. For me, minimalism is choosing quality over quantity, practicing yoga and meditation to distract negative thoughts and having digital detox’s every now and again as I now do not feel the need to be connected all the time.


Nottingham Contemporary – Daniel Steegmann Mangrané

The word for world is forest.

Image result for Nottingham Contemporary - Daniel Steegmann Mangrané

Image result for Nottingham Contemporary - Daniel Steegmann Mangrané

Daniel Steegmann Mangrané looks at how diverse mediums and technologies can represent aspects of the Mata Atlântica.

Mata Atlântica, I now know is a rainforest stretching along the Atlantic coast of Brazil. Steegmann Mangrané provides a study into how environments can be portrayed, and in doing so, highlights the impossibilities of representation.

The Gallery that I enjoyed looking at was Living Thoughts (2019), a showcase of glass and epiphytic plants. Mata Atlântica is rich in biodiversity and is one of the most important biodiverse areas on Earth. However I have learnt that it is highly endangered, with only 7% of its original surface left. These hand-blown branches which species sprouting out and attaching themselves to them could mimic the layering of different species that occur in the rainforest.

The hanging branches gave me a glimpse of the dense, natural environment. The installation was so simple and minimal, hanging from the ceiling but surrounded my white walls. There was nothing to distract from the beautiful branches, each as intricate and unique as the next. The work did not need any dressing; it spoke loud enough for itself and had an impact on me.

It opened my eyes to how complex the environmental eco balance has become with environments being subjected to conflicting pressures, e.g. economic, ecological, geographic. It made me rethink the beauty of nature that is so often overlooked in our busy fast paced lives.

In my self-promotion project, I would like to combine the natural world with hand-crafted elements to create a business card and visual identity that captures attention but in a subtle way.


We Live on a Plastic Planet

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I brought some magazines back from Berlin and there were several articles inside exploring similar issues revolving around plastic. We are encountering plastic everywhere and it is hard to do without. Plastic has become the biggest burden on our environment because no plastic is biodegradable.

150 million tons of plastic waste is floating in the oceans. I didn’t realise that these will soon turn into microplastics as they often swirl around the oceans for serval decades, breaking up into small pieces. This decomposition process releases bound chemical toxins that then enter the food chain.

LANIUS are a brand I discovered in Berlin and they are finding ways to reduce micro plastic. Their #noplastic movement is working towards developing sustainable packaging alternatives. They are testing pergamin paper to test purely plant-based products. They also use organic natural fibres such as cotton and wool.

300 million tons of plastic are produced worldwide every year, which is an alarming amount. Upcycling is a more frequent occurrence now which I am glad to see – tapping into the circular economy. Recycling plastic into new pieces and using old fishing nets and other sea waste could be the way forward and an amazing step to cleaning some of the oceans.

I believe that if clothes were designed for the intention of the next generation, rather than tomorrow’s fast fashion, we would have longer-lasting clothing.

Brands that are thinking more sustainably and looking to make their textile chain more ethical are the ones I feel are the most forward-looking, making their concern for the environment an ongoing process, rather than something for publicity.


Palm Oil and the Pursuit of Beauty

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The section of the Stack Magazine, It’s Freezing in LA!, that I was most interested reading was the chapter on Palm Oil and the Pursuit of Beauty.

As a consumer, I have made the conscious effort to avoid food products with Palm Oil in. However before reading this, I was naive to palm oil being used in beauty products. Reports continue to be released with the cosmetic industry disappointing consumers with their unethical practices.

I now realise that palm oil is in most lipsticks, and its production is increasing the destruction of native areas of biodiversity landscapes. I am amazed that more than 27 million hectares on the Earth’s surface is currently comprised of plantations of palm oil trees alone.

As a society, we are willing to do a lot in pursuit of what we perceive visual beauty is but I feel that it is now we can also express our identity through empowerment. Commonly used raw materials are directly contributing to the environment’s destruction but we have the individual power to start doing something about this. I believe that the cosmetics industry is only one piece of an environmentally destructive puzzle. But as consumers of beauty products, demand lies in our power so we as a collective can start a change.

Organic makeup could be the way forward. Lush seem to be ahead of the game for this. They have phased out its use of palm oil and are experimenting with packaging free stores, which I was excited by when I visited in Berlin.

I understand that prices are determined by the cost of the raw materials; however, for some people the expensive more ethical products are just not accessible to them at their current premium price. This is why I hope that brands are looking at how they can cut their costs and pass these savings on to the consumer. Without lower prices, I really don’t feel that the large proportion of consumers will switch their already loved products.

Education here will be key. If increasing numbers of cosmetic wearers become aware of the extent of the problem, there could be a gradual shift away from products damaging the natural world. I am making a choice to buy less, but buy better, saving my money for quality products from brands I trust. Furthermore, I am absolutely sure that many females have far more beauty products than they actually use.

I now realise that beauty is killing the environment and I will no longer turn a blind eye to the ingredients included or the brands’ attitudes towards the growing issue.


It’s Freezing in LA!

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This month’s Stack Magazine was an independent magazine about climate change. I was really pleased when this came as although I enjoy getting magazines on topics that I wouldn’t select myself, it is also great when one comes and it is something I am very interested in.

I loved how impassioned the publication was, dedicated to raising awareness of the effects of climate change in a visual and informative way. I liked the layout of the magazine with key points in red in a large font and separate to the main body of text. This is something I want to take forward when producing my visual reports – highlighting the key take-away points from each page.

They have looked at a specific reference to inspire this issue – wildfires that ravaged California last year. This has reinforced the importance of supporting ideas with cultural references and looking in other sectors for inspiration. This is shown through the consistent camouflage-style graphics that run throughout.

The magazine gave me a fresh perspective on climate change. I have been often put off from reading around the subject as too often environmental discussion uses remote, technical scientific language, or too heavily focused on activism. They use accessible vocabulary which is another point that I aim to keep in mind going forward.

I liked to read the two sides of an argument – engaging with the challenge of climate change, but also focusing on making a positive impact. Although eye-opening, it is also optimistic. This magazine especially has made me reflect on the importance of portraying different perspectives about an idea.