Stage Two: Applications
The experiments that were carried out had no preconceived idea of the outcome, but only sought to deduce a cause-and-effect relationship. While these experiments were carried out of curiosity, the purpose is to see them as methods that can inform communication design practice. Upon applying them to completed projects they would cease to be fully experimental. This line of thinking by Bil’ak (2010) suggests that these works were only experimental in the process of its creation—when completed it becomes a part of the body of work it was meant to challenge—and that is the goal here.
The following projects serve as an answer to the question of applying experimental methods to production-oriented design, and to state that the search for innovative solutions in unexplored territory is key to advancements in the field of printed communication design. Using the same common digital printing systems, the various methods that were recognized seperately are also combined to create these fictional purposes, inspired work, and reintepretations of existing applications.
Putting Methods to Work
The first two projects involved applying these newly learned methods to a commercial context. Taking the method of laser printing wood sheets, it was decided that this would work specifically well for a product packaging. I chose to reinterprete the tea packaging of a japanese company Ujinotsuyu—creating boxes lined with laser printed wood (Figure 9.0).
Being usually considered a specialty material in the commercial printing industry, printing on wood usually requires methods like screenprinting, hot stamping, or embossing. Laser printing on wood basically lifts any colour limits, and allows quick production times at high volume. It is also suited for packaging or items that are often subjected to regular contact, due to the fade and wear resistant nature of laser printing. Aside from a slight difference in material costs, it bears the same printing costs as paper.
The methods of both printing on folded paper and overprinting were used to create flyers for a small press festival in Brooklyn, New York known as Paper Jam (Figure 10.0). The first print of the distorted line graphic was done before folding the paper and cropping to size, after which the event name and details were overprinted on the folded sheet. With this, whether fully opened or folded, there is a disruption in either the line graphic or text, communicating the concept of a ‘paper jam’ in either configuration (Figure 10.1).
The shifting form of the flyer involves viewers in the printed product through interaction with the paper form, creating a more memorable experience—how could one forget a regular looking flyer that folds out into a peculiar shape? This simple format engages more senses than a regular flyer, giving users an experience through both sight and touch.
Work Inspired by Methods
The appearance of text printed with colours similar to the paper stock it is printed on being barely visible inspired the use of this method to bring awareness to mental illnesses. Mental illness is a dire issue, but still largely ignored by society due to surrounding stigmas and lack of education and experience with such issues.
Excerpts were extracted from Jessica Walsh’s social effort and website titled Let’s Talk About Mental Health to create a booklet titled Invisible Illnesses (Figure 11.0). This booklet contains three sections showing the journey of individuals suffering mental illnesses — from darkness, to acceptance, to hope.
This concept is communicated via page colours of each section becoming progressively brighter, and the printed quotes becoming more visible (Figure 11.1). This also an analogy of people becoming more aware of the issues faced by people fighting mental illness, and letting go of stigmas. The black pages were printed with the laser printer (Figure 11.2), while the other blue pages were printed with blue ink through the Risograph (Figure 11.3).
The laser printing on tape experiment inspired the idea of using the crossed tape as an imagery to highlight the issue of media censorship and restrictions to freedom of speech. This came to mind as it is a prevalent issue in my home country of Malaysia. Pasted over portraits printed with inkjet on grey paper to resemble newsprint, the bright coloured tape provides a striking visual focal point, highlighting the fact that media censorship is a pressing issue that demands our immediate attention (Figure 12.0).
Taking inspiration also from Malaysian designer activist Fahmi Reza’s Kita Semua Penghasut (translated as ‘we are all seditious’) wheat-pasted clown caricature of the Malaysian Prime Minister across various locations, this low-cost method allows for high volume printing, allowing installations of large walls of posters, or pasted across a wide geographical area—creating an arresting form of communication. Given the likelihood of the government tearing down materials of this sort (not to mention arresting those responsible under the Sedition Act 1948 to silence, harass and lock away), high volume and quick dissemination are critical in ensuring an intended message is constantly communicated.