Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Collaboration // Retail Graphics : Sugar Skulls

You can purchase blank sugar skulls from the site below, molding our own sugar skulls to work with could be a really interesting method of production. Creating 100/200 of them to be arranged on top of each other inside a frame, they themselves could become the pigment, making a huge skull out of lots of tiny little ones.



 As the restaurant wants their original wall painting/graphics re-doing, Me and Sadie have decided to stick with their original theme of a mexican map. Below is some research I've done into Mexico, and styles of map we could look into.

Mexican Maps


Collaboration // Retail Graphics : Mexico

As me and Sadie have changed our brief, from working with shop interiors to restaurant interiors, we have made a significant jump with our contextual research. The restaurant we are proposing work for is a Mexican restaurant and wants us to look at sugar skulls and the Mexican day of the dead, this means that we can link in our previous research into anatomy with a theme that is coincidentally based around the same subject matter. The back of the restaurant has a Mexican map stretch out across the wall that the manager wants re-doing, below is some research I've started to conduct at gathering research into Mexico.

Brief information about Mexico

Mexico (Spanish: México), officially the United Mexican States , is a country in North America, lying between the United States of America to the north, and Guatemala and Belize to the southeast. Its extensive coastlines include the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Mexico has nice and warm weather, unique food, art and archeology, pyramids, museums, Haciendas, 6,000 miles of shoreline, superb architecture and 21st century cities, weather from snow mountains in the Sierras, to rainy jungles in the Southeast and desert in the Northwest, lots of golf courses throughout the country, excellent fishing, world top destinations like Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, and Patzcuaro. Mexico is ranked 7th major destination for foreigner visitors, according to WTO.


Mexico City - Capital of the Republic, one of the three largest cities in the world, and a sophisticated urban hub with a 700-year history. In Mexico City, you will find everything from parks, Aztec ruins, colonial architecture, museums, to nightlife and shopping.

Acapulco - A sophisticated urban beach setting known for its top-notch nightlife, elegant dining, and nightmarish traffic. Many of the older (pre-1990s) concrete structures have suffered tropical decay.

Cancun - One of the worlds most popular and famous beaches, known for its clear Caribbean waters, its lively party atmosphere, and its wealth of recreational facilities. During Spring Break it is noted for drinking, sunburns, and debauchery.

Guadalajara - A traditional city, capital of Jalisco state, and the home of mariachi music and tequila. Guadalajara is blessed with perpetual spring weather and its colonial downtown is graceful and sophisticated.

Mazatlan - Lively Pacific coast town, Mazatlan is a shipping port, a transportation hub with ferries to Baja California, and a beach resort destination with miles of sandy shore. It is a popular Spring Break destination due to its variety of affordable lodging options.

Monterrey - A large modern city that is the commercial and industrial hub of Northern Mexico. Monterrey enjoys a dry, mountainous setting and is known for its high-quality educational and transportation infrastructure.

San Luis Potosi - Located in central Mexico, a colonial city that was once an important silver producer, but today, relies on manufacturing for its economic base.

Taxco - In central Mexico west of Cuernavaca, this nice steep mountain town was once a major silver producer, and now has a strong place in the trade of decorative silver, from cheap fittings to the most elegant jewelry and elaborate castings.

Tijuana - Mexico's busiest border crossing for pedestrians and private vehicles, and a long-time bargain Mecca for southern Californians due to its proximity with San Diego.


Day of the Dead : is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in other cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it is a national holiday, and all banks are closed. The celebration takes place on November 1, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. They also leave possessions of the deceased.

Sugar Skulls
How are Sugar Skulls used during Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) today?

Sugar Skulls are often used to decorate the ofrendas on Dia de los Muertos which is November 1st and 2nd. Smaller skulls are placed on the ofrenda on November 1st to represent the children who have deceased. On November 2nd they are replaced by larger, more ornate skulls which represent the adults. These decorative skulls have the name of the deceased on the forehead and are decorated with stripes, dots and swirls of icing to enhance the features of the skulls. These designs are usually whimsical and brightly colored, not morbid or scary. Feathers, beads or colored foils are "glued" on with the icing to create highly ornate skulls. Some companies manufacturer small, edible skulls to be eaten during the holiday and many artists sculpt, paint or create beautiful and ornate skulls to be used as decorations, jewelry and cloth design.

What are Sugar Skulls?

Sugar skulls are exactly that- skull-shaped sugar. Traditional Sugar Skulls are made from a granulated white sugar mixture that is pressed into special skull molds. The sugar mixture is allowed to dry and then the sugar skull is decorated with icing, feathers, colored foil and more. While the ingredients of Sugar Skulls are edible (with the exception of the non-edible decorations you may add) the skulls are generally used for decorative purposes. However some small sugar skulls that are made with basic icing are intended to be consumed.

Where were the first Sugar Skulls made?

Dia de los Muertos was an Aztec ritual that celebrated the lives of those who have deceased. The Spaniards who invaded Mexico tried to eliminate this seemingly offensive month-long holiday with no success. Dia de los Muertos was eventually merged with the Catholic All-Saints day and All-Souls day on November 1st and 2nd in an effort to make the holiday more Christian.

According to Angela Villalba from the Reign Trading Co. sugar art dates back to the 17th century when Italian missionaries visited the New World. Mexicans during that time period had very little money and learned from the Catholic friars how to make decorations out of an ingredient they had plenty of- sugar. Molds were made of clay and the sugar decorations were used to adorn the church as well as ofrendas and gravestones. For the Dia de los Muertos celebrations the sugar was pressed into Sugar Skulls and each sugar skull represented an individual and their name was often inscribed on the forehead of the skull.

I found these prints below, this is exactly up mine and sades street in terms of composition and media, they've used intricate layers of colour to build up a detailed series of Mexican sugar skulls. I want to stray away from the self explanatory obvious subject matter and produce something more abstract but this is a really good example of the work I'd like to produce.

Celebrate the Day of the Dead a little earlier this year, with this great set of prints from London-based studio, Telegramme...

The graphic design and illustration studio kindly sent CR a set of their latest printed beauties, the Calavera Summer Series.

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Universes Pupils // Hemp Fabrics

Using Print based medium create, brand and design a new and innovative clothing company that uses ethical modes of production and distribution based around skateboarding culture and current trends.

-A print based investigation of retail and garment design with a focus on hemp and natural fabrics, looking at unique cuts of apparel.

In terms of my personal brief, I want to look into sustainability and ethical materials, Today we roam around in hundreds of thousands of miles of cotton, I want my clothing company to promote environmentally friendly fabrics, specifically looking at hemp.

What Is Hemp
Hemp is a term reserved mainly for low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) varieties of the plant Cannabis sativa. Of the approximately 2000 cannabis plants varieties known, about 90% contain only low-grade THC and are most useful for their fiber, seeds and medicinal or psychoactive oils. Hemp is one of the earliest domesticated plants known.

In modern times hemp is used for industrial purposes including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, construction, body products, health food and bio-fuel. Hemp is thus legally grown in many countries across the world including Spain, China, Japan, Korea, France, North Africa and Ireland. Although hemp is commonly associated with marijuana (hemp's THC-rich cousin), since 2007 the commercial success of hemp food products has grown considerably.

Interesting Facts about hemp
For Starters:

-Farmers around the world grow hemp. Legally. And they've been doing so for thousands of years. View a timeline of hemp throughout history.

-Hemp is a plant grown from a seed. It can get up to 15 to 20 or so feet tall. It is an annual, herbaceous, long fibre plant similar to flax (linen), jute and ramie.

-It's the sister plant to marijuana but it won't get you high. However, it's good at doing almost anything else except making you 'high'. You'll learn more about its versatility in this document.

-Although hemp and marijuana are both from the cannabis species, hemp contains virtually no THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.) If you smoke hemp you will likely get a headache. You will not get 'high'. Its THC level is less than 1%, whereas marijuana may contain between 5 - 15%.

-Its seeds are pressed for oil that can be used for food (salad dressings, supplements, etc.), industrial lubrication, diesel fuel, paints, varnishes and more.

-Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa L.

-Hemp is among the oldest industries on the planet, going back more than 10,000 years to the beginnings of pottery.

-The Columbia History of the World states that the oldest relic of human industry is a piece of Mesopotamian hemp fabric dating back to approximately 8,000 BC.

-For more than a century, hemp was legal tender to pay American taxes.

-Over 600,000 acres of hemp grow worldwide today. Over 8,500 acres were grown in Canada in 2008.

Fibres, Fabric & Clothing:

-The agriculture world’s longest and most durable natural fibres are hemp’s ‘bast’ fibres, contained in the bark of the plant’s stalk.

-CinemaSpace, in Montreal, is Canada's first cinema to use hemp fabric to cover its seats.

-In 1853, the first pair of Levi’s jeans was made. Due to a fire in the Levis archives (San Francisco's Great Earthquake and Fire - 1906 ) it can no longer be proven, but many believe the first pair of Levis were made from hemp.

-The word canvas (traditionally made from hemp) comes from cannabis (Latin). This word comes from kaneh-bosem, Hebrew for ‘aromatic cane’.

-Un-dyed hemp fabric will not rot and won’t fade in sunlight.

-Hemp is anti-microbial, anti-mildew, naturally UV resistant and readily takes on eco-safe plant-based dyes.

-Frequently blended with cotton, silk, tencel, bamboo, spandex and other fibres to make a wide variety of fabrics with various attractive properties. It is also an efficient insulator keeping you warm in winter and cool in summer.

Compared to Cotton:

-Environmentally, hemp is a safer crop to grow than cotton. Cotton is a soil-damaging crop and needs a great deal of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

-Cotton crops in the USA occupy 1% of the country’s farmland but use 50% of all pesticides. "The pesticides used on cotton, whether in the U.S. or oversees, are some of the most hazardous available today," says Doug Murray, Ph.D., a professor of sociology at Colorado State University who has studied pesticide use on cotton overseas.

-1 acre of hemp will produce as much as 2-3 acres of cotton.

-Hemp is 4 times warmer than cotton, 4 times more water absorbent, has 3 times the tensile strength of cotton. It is also many times more durable and is flame retardant.

-Many high fashion clothing manufacturers have produced clothes and footwear made with hemp. Some of these include: Nike, Converse, Armani, Patagonia, Polo Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta and many more.

-Hemp fabrics were once far more expensive than cotton and other fabrics due to limited supply, but increased demand and availability in recent years have lowered the price considerably.

-Hemp breathes well and wicks moisture away from the body better than cotton.


I've done alot of research into wholesale suppliers of hemp within the u.k and sources abroad in China, In comparison to cotton it seems rather hard to get hold of! There's suppliers out there but negotiating an overall price for a bulk load seems to be quite difficult, I've done some research into different places that just stock meters of hemp material. As a compromise I could collaborate with some of my friends in fashion/textiles and get the t-shirts made from scratch ready to print on.

The companies below, I've emailed to inquire about wholesale prices. As I'll want around 10/20 shirts to keep costs down I need to buy in bulk so finding a cheap but reasonable supplier is essential. My mandatory requirements are 10 printed t-shirts, but realistically I think half of them will turn out to be test pieces and mock ups.


The website below sells all sorts of hemp products including, rope, webbing yarn and sheet fabric. I want to keep the packaging as ethical as possible, and sticking with a consistent hemp theme I was thinking of using the yarn to tie tags and labels to the garments I produce. 

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Collaboration // Retail Graphics : Shop Research

On Friday me and Sadie ventured into town to start gathering ideas and opportunities for our shop exhibition/retail graphics brief. Our main port of call was Urban outfitters purely because this had been a shop that stuck in our minds in terms of creative and diverse ways of arranging and manipulating a shops interior.

Me and Sadie had found we slightly jumped the gun in terms of starting research and producing practical work prior to finding our audience. We thought that if we could find a store who was willing to let us produce work for them it would really help us to define our subject matter and target market, helping the design process run much more smoothly.

We tried to chat to as many shops as possible proposing our ideas and the brief we had written, we had a lot of positive responses but we found finding the right people to talk to was hard in bigger more commercial stores. In Republic we got chatting to one assistant who gave us the details for the head office and showed us a couple of big walls that he personally felt were very empty. If we could pursue an opportunity with Republic I think we could produce some intriguing work for them, we plan to take the details we received and put together some proposal boards to take down to their head office.

Below are a few images of the interior of Urban Outfitters on the high street looking at the existing ways they use retail graphics, installations and artwork to decorate and emphasize their brand.

Below are again some images of Republic, one of the stores we had the most positive response from. We noticed that some of their signage for the changing rooms didn't necessarily correspond to their signage and way finding for other aspects of the store, this could be something to think of in terms of proposal boards.

Best, is a small independent clothing store that's just expanded to having a 3rd floor. They're small and have a much more personal aura rather than a big commercial high street shop, so I would feel much more comfortable producing work for them. We were shown around and pointed out to specific spaces they suggested we could work with, however it seemed like we would be only given the opportunity to re-design their way finding which wasn't exactly what we had in mind.

Below are a few pictures of On the wall, a shop that sells a selection of prints and t-shirts, not exactly a clothing store but always worth an ask. We got chatting to one of the managers who said they wanted knew signage producing, however it was using their existing design, so me and Sadie would be left with nothing to produce.

Below is a window installation and Louis Vuitton, good example of creative window display.

The images below are from a small clothing shop in the arcades that's actually owned by all saints. When we planned our brief me and Sadie wanted to work with the subject matter anatomy and mechanics so when walking past the window we immediately stopped. The walls were decorated with photocopies of Victorian newspapers that were tea stained, old photo frames and animal skulls.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Collaboration // Retail Graphics : Subject Matter

So far me and Sadie have had multiple meetings discussing our brief, talking about our ideas for wall pieces, exhibitions, installations and research.

High street shops entice customers into purchasing their products, by providing an environment that can become associated with the act of buying into their label. Explore how retail graphics, installations and exhibitions are used within shops to suit and compliment the shops content, layout and aura.

-A mixed media investigation of retail graphics and shop interiors with a focus on anatomy and mechanics. Using screen-print and laser cutting we want to look into multi-layered posters, wall hangings and 3 dimensional pieces of print. This will be proposed to a high street shop tailoring our ideas to a specific audience.

Skill set: Digital Illustration, Hand Rendered Illustration, working to exhibit, screen-printing, laser-cut

Below is some research into the sort of areas we'd like to exploring, clarifying our proposals for experimental print methods and subject matter.

I came across the artist Josip Kelava who is a graphic designer who works with both type and image. Me and Sadie had discussed focusing our project on Anatomy and mechanics so the illustrations in the publication below really caught my eye.




These double layer prints caught my eye because of how detailed they are, In terms of illustration I feel as if I use the same principals, focusing on intricate details and line work.

The Graffiti artist below Nychos dismantles his subject matter and separates them out into anatomical layers, i.e the skin, muscles arteries and capillaries, veins, and bones.


Another massive inspiration, is Leonardo Da Vinci, his anatomical drawings are something I've previously done research into and they still amaze me. I think his initial sketches are really good reference material in understanding the body in terms of drawing, proportion and position.

Another graffiti artist that came to into my mind was Roa, He paints mainly black and white characters, looking at animals and anatomy. Even though we want to focus on human anatomy I thought some of his pieces were really relevant.