Before I begin to work on anything new, I want to examine my practice. The tools I regularly use give an insight into this. Today I am looking at….
I like to begin with looking at the definitions of words at the beginning of a project.
When looking at the word “label” I found the synonyms most interesting:
All of these objects are ephemera. They are only meant to be used for/are only useful for short amount of time. Stamps/tickets/labels etc. can be both very mundane in design and can be beautifully crafted. Perhaps the latter is in order for print based objects to compete with the digital sphere. This is where my interest lies.
I collect ephemera. Tickets from journeys I have been on and experience I have had, stamps from all over the world, leaflets and catalogues with a design aesthetic I like and postcards etc. Often the ephemera I keep has a sentimental value. This has made me wonder …Does the fact we can touch it mean it has a greater affect on us ? Taking boarding cards for planes as an example. I would definitely keep the official traditional card tickets and probably keep the flimsy paper version you print at home. But would I save and store the digital variety that are becoming ever more popular? What will the effect be on our society as we begin to digitalise everything? Will we lead less cluttered and more environmentally friendly lives ? Or will we create an unsentimental generation who are only capable of communicating in the digital sphere? (Funny writing that on a blog) Something to think about…
Anyway, back to my love affair with the label…
The label is so important that I included my label maker (a very exciting recent purchase) on a list of 40 things that inspire me most. My ephemeral exhibition project looked at collecting and organisation. From the beginning of the project I was looking at how people arrange their collections and in order to make links between the 40/40 (objects that inspire my work) I designed a label asking certain questions of the pieces. Once all the objects had been labelled I was able to create infographics to determine certain questions I had about my collection.
The labels I added brought my sketchbook work from the 2D into the 3D and introduced an element of interactivity. The idea of synthesising the dimmensions became an important element in the final outcome. As this year has progressed, I have realised despite having graphic elements to my work I do not want to reject the 3D for traditional 2D graphic design. The label has become a symbol of where my practice currently lies.
On a recent trip to the Oxford Museum of Natural History and the Pitt Rivers Museum the curation drew my attention more than the pieces themselves. The various handwritten labels used to document pieces enhanced the work. They connected the viewer with the curators and the collector. The labels dated from 1880 to 1980 and were each unique and seem to be purpose made for the pieces. I bought a postcard showing the variety of labels and documented several of them in my sketchbook.
After this, I began to think about how artists and galleries label works in an unobtrusive manner. Perhaps it is time we ventured from the the black and white printed cards. I found the way that this was done at the UWTSD Artist in Residence Exhibition especially interesting.
The label, the old fashioned hashtag, connects objects/images/art work and relays vital information. A label is a design challenge. It must deliver information clearly but also be aesthetically pleasing and not detract from what it is labelling.
Some ideas for the future…
- challenge myself to redesign the mundane ephemera
- look at how the “non-art” parts of an exhibition are curated
- Leave a label trail around places I visit
- Collect some beautiful ephemera and create an Instagram feed to appreciate it
- Design and make labels for next year’s work
- Research how touch affects feeling of sentimentality and nostalgia