My Water Conservation Poster

Never have I started a project so excited and then ended on such a “meh…” note. Today we had the critique of our water conservation posters. This was my final version:

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But let’s take a look backward to see how I got there.

First, we had to model our poster on the style of one of three commercial poster designers: Alphonse Mucha (Art Nouveau), Cassandre (Art Deco), or Jason Munn (Surrealism).

Mucha and Cassandre are known for more complicated and detailed artwork, but their concepts are usually on the nose, while it’s the opposite for Jason Munn: his artwork itself is very minimalist, but the concepts are very clever. He specializes in doing visual double entendres. I chose Munn.

It took me a long time to come up with a concept. I wanted to do something about the environment aspect of water conservation, but I couldn’t think of interesting, moldable shapes besides the water droplet. I finally chose one of my earliest ideas, which was a garden hose twisted to form a dollar sign, even though I didn’t like focusing on the monetary aspect of it.

This was an early sketch:

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Then I tried drawing it on Illustrator. I used my paintbrush tool to kind of draw it freehand. I turned this in for my first draft and my teacher was like, “What is this?” She saw the hose but the dollar sign looked too abstract:

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So I started working on a more obvious version. Also, I needed to give the hose some texture. I started working on a pattern that I could use to apply to my hose. I did a simple striped pattern, and I asked my classmate, Helen, what she thought of it. She said when she thinks of a garden hose, she thinks more of a criss-cross diamond pattern. That was a great idea. But that proved much harder to make than I thought. The lines wouldn’t line up, or there would be weird gaps where the pattern repeated itself, or there would be strange white lines separating the area. It took forever, but somehow I managed to get it close as possible (you’ll notice in the final drawing how there are still gaps).

Then I started experimenting how I was going to draw this. My first thought was to use the brush tool, but I had to keep my hand real steady or I would screw it up. If I lifted my hand, the pattern would look off. Then I thought, why not use the pen tool and apply the pattern to it? And I drew this:

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That leak at the top is supposed to take the place of the top bar/line of a $ sign. I thought of removing the leak, but then figured it would make look like a simple “S”. I asked my teacher what she thought of it so far, and she said it looked a bit messy. Jason Munn is known for very simple, but perfect, precise shapes. She said my garden hose needed to conform more into the perfect $ shape.

So I tried tracing a real “S” but I’m not too steady with the pen tool. When I would get the bottom half perfect, the top half would look terrible, or vice versa. Finally I decided, the bottom half looks perfect, so I’m just going to duplicate that and flip the other side around to form a perfect “S.” And it worked. My teacher also said my leak didn’t look very Jason Munn-ish, so I tweaked that as well:

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I experimented with many different sizes and shapes (long/skinny/short/fat) of the hose, and even drew several different nozzles (you can see two of them above) then I spent a whole day thinking of the tagline. My first idea was “What are you leaking?” or “Excuse me, you’re leaking” (to symbolize leaking water AND money) but I thought that could be interpreted as medically gross. I had other ideas like “Spot The Leak” or “Water Less” but a text from my brother convinced to just go with my first ideas. To make sure people wouldn’t misinterpret the tagline, I added the paragraph of information below, and I had a couple of friends look it over for me and offer suggestions.

And finally I had to settle on a background color. I went through 50+ shades of grey (ha!), blue, green, yellow, brown, but I never got the “Eureka! This is it!” moment. At the end I just chose a yellow because yellow and green are the color of money in the U.S.

Here is my final version:

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Overall, I’m not too happy with it. I spent weeks working on something that looks like it could be done in less than a day. I was expecting my classmates to give me a harsh critique, but they were pretty apathetic/silent and didn’t really say anything. I don’t know, I feel like I’m losing my creativity. This project should’ve been up my alley; my personality and creative work are usually pretty cheeky, and this was the perfect opportunity to show it off, but I just had artist’s block. My teacher did make me feel better by saying that if I had added more details, I would’ve moved too far away from the Jason Munn aesthetic. I guess I just wanted something that would make people go “Wow!”

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