Exploration with Materials

As part of the development process much experimentation is expressed, sometimes divergently although equipped knowledge, research and experience. The MA project is an underground zine; therefore, the best visual design will take a postmodernist view using traditional media as well as digitality to blend styled variants that will work into the project.

This blog entry will focus solely on the backgrounds for the front and back covers I am working on for documentation of process and experimentation methods. I feel if I were to go into the logotype, the layout design, etc. that the point of this message would be overshadowed by noise.

To achieve a grunge connotation, and for a hint of texture I set up a canvas and created four looks layering and photographing as I went, I also played with shadow and light. Using broad brushstrokes all moving in the same direction with acrylic paint has given me something that I can work with, something that I can photograph, place and use as an additional layer inside digital media.

Fig. 1-4 Shappee 2018 (Background textures for MA project) Photograph by author

During the course of the project, additional backgrounds will be set up, some more rustic than others, some using collage or digitality worked in, however before this step is viable, the entire process of research, ideas, a theme and layout must be in place before determining what type of background will be appropriate for the visual expression and of the piece. I feel it is important to wait as each spread and its meaning determines the look of the background.

This was a good experiment. I think I will consider deeper meaning and less obvious application of the message, although I don’t want to have to help the audience understand.

The research that has informed this experiment and has contributed to my practice lies in;

  1.  Styles – an historical account of street art as seen in a graphical context, exploring design solutions that have been targeted to youth in the industry of popular culture. (Schlee, S. 2005)
  2. Inspiration – the works of David Carson. The layers behind the work have provided inspiration for my project, easy to overlook and focus solely on content, has informed my practice as to the attention to detail that makes up the paradigm.
  3. Media – to place emphasis on materials and explore meaning is constructed visually and the influence different cultural periods, styles and technologies have had on graphic design, in regards to the methods of representation visual communication has on culture. (Crowley, D. and Jobling, P. 1996) and
  4. Meaning –  the zine culture itself. From the origins in early 20th century science fiction, to the more immediate roots in ‘60s counter-culture and rapid explosion of punk, bringing out Dadaist theology and the many paradoxes of the constructed identity, this is an exploration of a cultural movement based on authentic expression. (Duncombe, 2008)

Ongoing research continues to inform my practice of how styles, mediums and processes that are specific to these cultures can be transitioned into solutions that communicate on a global platform.


Crowley, D. and Jobling, P. (1996) Graphic Design Reproduction and Representation Since 1800. Manchester University Press. New York.

Duncombe, S. (2008) Notes for the Underground: Zines and the politics of alternative culture. 2nd Edition. Microcosm Publishing, Portland, OR.

Schlee, S. (2005) Fadings: Graffiti to Design, Illustration and Much More. Ginko Press, Inc. Corte Madera, CA.

Shappee, M. (2018) Background textures for MA project. Acrylic on canvas

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