(Part 5/Words and pictures/Working for children/Educational strip)
Exercise – Educational Strip
I often go into the local community college and walk through the personal development area. They have some very interesting posters on display about aspect of life as experienced by teenagers.
I would like to tackle this exercise from the point of view of Mental health/dealing with hormonal change. It has long been recognised that is takes quite some time during adolescence for the surges in hormones to settle down to ‘normal’. Flashes of anger and moments of despair, total love or total hate of someone or something or somewhere are not uncommon.
I would like to create a strip which deals with this problem. It is possible to channel these extreme reactions into positive activities. To do so, however, means the adolescent themselves, as well as the family, have to recognise and accept what is happening to them.
I want all the images on my strip to be visible at the same time therefore it has to be a concertina leaflet of manageable proportions. I have started with a sheet of A3 and folded it in half lengthways then reduced the height by half. This has then been folded into a concertina of reasonable size. (41.5cms x 8.4cms. This gives me 8,4cms x 14.9 to draw each image.
It occurs to me it could also be reproduced as a wall chart/poster for use in the personal development area in schools.
How the leaflet would be folded:
First rough ideas:
Each ‘problem’ has its own strip. I have thought of four to start with but there could be many others.
The four problem areas are:
Possible layout for one leaflet:
My thoughts are to create images to illustrate 2 ways of inappropriate flares of anger then two reasonable things to be angry about. For example Bad; being pulled up about not adhering to house rules, Bad; reacting aggressively towards a teacher. Good; starting a campaign related there not being sufficient aid for local rough sleepers, Good; speaking up ( angrily if necessary) about world poverty, lack of sanitation in third world, etc. Good; being angry about deforestation in Brazil (and doing something to counter it).
This formula can then be repeated in a whole series of leaflets/posters using, any extreme hormonal surges common to teenagers.
Love – not drugs or drink but family, friends, hobbies, pets etc
Hate – not family and friends but injustice and inequality
Despair – something on Facebook
or lockdown but lack of funds for NHS or world poverty (and do something)
Its all about re-channeling the bad side of the hormone eruption into a good side
This is proving to be more complicated than I anticipated. I have to find a way to include the direction to ‘do something practical’ following the green arrow. That is to say, don’t just despair about something sad in the world, think how you can help to make it better.
I can’t decide whether to write overall issues in the squares or narrow it right down to personally identifiable incidents. For example , Despair – could be
Despair = self loathing, self harm —- sexism, racism
These are general wide terms and maybe too removed from the individual therefore personal ideas might be better, eg
Despair = Nobody likes me, I am fat I’ll stop eating —–- older children end up in care as people only adopt babies, women still stoned to death in some countries
But if I do that there needs to be some indication about how the young person can do anything at all to stop women being stoned in another country.. Maybe I should come up with an idea ‘nearer to home’.
I enlisted the help of my husband to sort out my ideas and the following diagram is the result of a lengthy brainstorming session in which the diagram was repeatedly altered.
Eventually I began to see the wood in the trees and sorted out some main headings which can be used on the ‘bad side’ and the ‘good side’.
The whole point of the leaflet is to help young teenagers to cope with the onset of puberty. Mental health at this stage can be an issue which now open and familiar to most teenagers.
Hormones surge and can cause extreme reactions eg despair, hate, anger, love etc. I have taken these heading and looked at how they can be expressed in terms of teenage behaviour, then further narrowed them down (to have an accompanying image) to situations with which they could be familiar. That is the left side of the leaflet. On the opposite side I have suggested areas into which the extreme reactions could better be focused.
Having carefully set all these out I am wondering if what I have done is a bit like telling a child who doesn’t like his dinner to think of all the starving hoards in Africa.
However, I am going to pursue it as I would expect the reverse side of theses four folded strip leaflets to have information to explain how all of these goals could be accomplished eg websites, helplines, campaign information, phone numbers, etc. as well as helpful mental health information about ‘how to help yourself.’
The writing in the large rectangles describes the image that would be there – nothing too complicated – just a simple image to attract attention.
There will be colour but not much in the way of background, it is the figure which is important. The leaflets need to appeal to both sexes so I will create a female character who will appear on each side and also a male character.
The brief does say young teenagers but as there is a massive difference in physical, mental, social and emotional development across the teens, my choice of characters will appeal to older teenagers too. It is better to target the older audience as the young ones aspire to be older but that does not work in reverse.
I have decided to use the last leaflet in the series of ideas I listed above which is LOVE. This is as strong an emotion as Anger and can easily be misplaced – crush on teachers, inappropriate online relationships, it can also be wasted on addictions and that is what I will portray.
Here I have shown the thumbnails developing the images for this leaflet.
I have created a boy character to convey drug taking while the girl is near paralytic with drink.
On the ‘good’ or ‘rechannelled’ side the boy is sorting the recycling out while the girl has joined a march to save the rain forests.
Maybe its a bit trite or idealistic and lacking in humour, but hopefully it would provoke some discussion in the target audience. I got a bit overwhelmed by the immensity of the idea I had but I still think there is value in the concept.
In actual fact, although the characters are older I think the leaflets could have some significance to younger teenagers before their ‘fall from grace’.
The visual grammar of the sketches is easy to read and provokes clear visualisation in the mind of the reader. Hopefully there will be some identification with the situations and a personal significance identified. Although there may be some controversial differences in their interpretation of the message, sufficient verbal audience interaction will be instigated and validity identified in the graphics.
If the characters are viewed as caricatures of teenagers-as-viewed-by-adults, then perhaps there will be perceived humour amongst the teenagers themselves. There would be irony and metaphor if we christened the boy and girl Janet and John although this injected humour would pass over most of the under forties who never encountered the original pair!
I have used Sharpie pens to colour the character in. They are simple and bright and in no way detract from the purpose of the illustrations.
A character is also required for the front cover of the leaflet. Obviously I will have to use both of them and any one of these drawings would serve that purpose – each giving a different slant to the idea. However, in the interests of variety I will make a further image of Janet and John being nether ‘good’ nor ‘bad’ to go on the front.
Following is the leaflet displayed – opened out into its five sections. The title page will be on the reverse of the Drug picture followed, hopefully by all the useful information the teenager might need to help them deal with intense emotions caused by excesses of hormones and potentially affecting their mental health and behaviour.
For the cover I have drawn Janet and John almost back to back. They are placed in stereotypical teenage poses. The boy has a hand in his pocket and holds his phone in his other hand. He is carefully not looking at the girl.
The girl holds her arms across her body as teenage girls have done from time immemorial. It is a ‘contrived casual’ look with the left foot outstretched in a not convincingly comfortable position. She appears to be oblivious to the boy.
Here is what the printed, folded strip looks like – small, simple, easy to understand and slip in a pocket. Obviously the serious information for the back of this pamphlet would be provided by the project client.
My reflections on part 5
I have enjoyed this section of the course and again learned a lot. However, I have spent far more than the allotted time on these exercises.
As ever there has been lots of scope for creativity of which I have been able to take full advantage. The opportunity to create a cartoon in the style of The Week was a good illustration of this. I particular enjoyed creating the characters for the extinct biscuits. Making the actual box was a personal triumph.
I always look for what further development might occur after an exercise. Having established 3 new travel guides I could see they could be part of a whole new series. Similarly, the inventive zigzag pamphlet for adolescents could be part of a huge series of self-help guides. A set of childrens’ books could be commissioned by the extinct biscuit company.
Research and idea development
There was a good deal of developing, testing and evaluating needed to complete this unit. Each time a task had to be carried through to a physical conclusion these processes were essential.
Making the biscuit boxes, and designing images for beakers in the assignment are particularly good examples .
Having to write a brief before starting falls into this category also. This is a task I did many times when interviewing clients for Garden Designs so I understand the principles.
With regard to working with children, it is impossible without research into learning styles, learning speeds, progressional steps, etc I felt that was important in the ‘writing for chidren’ section.
Visual and technical skills
I have demonstrated visual and technical skills in this section.
Visualising how something will turn out is an essential skill for a designer. It was very important in Garden Design and that skill I have transferred to artefacts and artwork. All kinds or technical skills are developing which are not immediately artistic – making a box, preparing a mug for transfers etc. Visualising how a word ‘looks’ – ‘big/little, etc was an excellent exercise to satisfy this criteria. I felt my example of ‘fin’ was a worthy one. Extending previous work was a rewarding exercise and good learning project. I printed a T shirt and suntop design from images I had previously created for other exercises.
Creating a brief, or taking on someone else’s brief and carrying the process through development to a finished artefact is putting everything into context. Using my design and artistic skills to make images for objects other than 2D drawings has been very rewarding. Putting a design in a different or entirely new context has been an excellent opportunity for development of self-directed study in directions I would not previously have thought to explore.
References for Part 5
Amery, H and Vanags P, Rome and Romans, Usbourne, London, 1976
Andrews, J Ed, The Story of Where You Live, Readers Digest, London, 2005
Beaumont S, How to draw Fantasy Art, Arcturus, London, 2013
Blyton, E, ABC with Noddy, Purnell, London, 1959
Donaldson,J, The Gruffalo, Macmillan, London, 1999
Ed, The Art Book, Phaidon, London 1994
Ed. Ladybird, The Marrow Mangler, Ladybird, London 2006
Evans, A C , Realms of Gold, Cassell and co.Ltd. London, 1934
Hall A, Illustration, Lawrence King, London, 2011
Hargreaves, R, Mr Happy et al. Thurman, London, 1971
Hawkins, C, The Granny Book, Colins Picture Lions, London 1984
Heller S & Weidemann J, Ed. 100 Illustrators, Taschen, Cologne, 2005
Hyland a, Ed. The Picture Book, Lawrence King, London, 2010
Linley M, Cartoons and Caricatures, Robinson, London, 2013
Male A, Illustratio, Bloomsbury, London, 2017B
Noble I, Bestley R, Visual Research, Bloomsbury, London, 2011
Robinson, J, Dear Teddy Robinson, Puffin, London, 1967
Scarry, R, Best word book ever, Hamlyn, London, 1964
The Week, Dennis Publishing Limited, 26 March 2020
The Week, Dennis Publishing Limited, 04 May 2019
The Week, Dennis Publishing Limited, 19 October 2019
The Week, Dennis Publishing Limited, 12 October 2019
The Week, Dennis Publishing Limited, 15 February 2020
The Week, Dennis Publishing Limited, 07 December 2019
The Week, Dennis Publishing Limited, 07 March 2020
The Week, Dennis Publishing Limited, 28 September 2019
Etsy on mugs:
Royal Worcester mug:
Mugs from zazzle
Sabre Tooth Tiger
Biscuits in advertising