I have been researching colour to help me with the decision to either 1. take inspiration from the original colours of the objects i.e buzzy bee (which would be primary colours) or 2. alter the colours to convey a particular tone or mood. If I alter the colours of the buzzy bee I would be destroying the iconic nature of it, yet I am not a huge fan of bright primary colours. I will experiment with desaturating and adding grain to the image. The red of the bee on the other hand evokes ‘danger’ and commands attention which is what I want. I like the use of analogous colour schemes in design or using subtle variations in tone, shade and tint (which is common in a lot 60s spy posters).
I found a tutorial on how to use selective colour to create a ’60s’ style image that I will probably play with.
I also had a play with Adobe Colour CC, which helps you through all the colour rules.
I found a website called colorhunter, where you can upload a photo and it will give you the color palettes, which will help integrate the rest of the images.
For my piece I want to cast a shadow of the one of the buzzy bees over the Pacific. My purpose for this is to engender an ominous dread from an otherwise chipper toy and also to create depth in my image. I have read that creating realistic shadows are rather difficult, due to the various elements of inconsistencies in the shadow. I researched a few tutorials on creating shadows and finally came across this article about the benefits of a ‘cast’ shadow over the decorative ‘drop shadow’ which will allow me to distort the shadow of the buzzy bee around the spherical shape of the Globe. The tutorial also instructed us to experiment with casting shadows, to see the direction, shape and size of the shadow. See my experiment below.
Since I am appropriating a couple kiwi icons (the buzzy bee and no8. wire), in order to subvert ideologies of Godzone, and to blow the whistle on its sinister underbelly I thought it would be good to do some research on these icons.
The Buzzy Bee
Hailed as New Zealand’s most iconic toy, and embroiled in myths of kiwi inventiveness, this unsuspecting toy actually was appropriated from an American design in the 1950s. The eyes of the buzzy bee can then represent the partnership of two of the ‘Five Eyes’–New Zealand and the U.S.A. It will be fun subverting the unsullied.
No 8. Wire
The No 8. Wire was a popular wire used on farm fences, the backbone of ‘fortress New Zealand.’ It was also used as a practical accompaniment to ‘she’ll be right,’ as the kiwi bloke used it to quickly fix problems in fencing etc. It is synonymous with ‘kiwi ingenuity’ a mentality still ruled by the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ aka exceptionality on a leash. There are claims that one is able to ‘do anything with No. 8 Wire,’ well I would like to use it to suggest spying ‘tapping into wires’ and using that mentality to fix the bridge between us and the superpowers.
I don’t come from a design background so I decided to look at some of the most effective designs for inspiration. The following are few things I learnt.
1. Avoid cluttering the entire space, there is something to be said for empty or minimal space around your main image.I can see this effectively utilized in George Lois’s designs.
2. Using analogous colors or just a variation of tint and shade of a color are very effective in creating a harmonious design. It’s something Kinfolk magazine do very effectively.
3. The importance of utilizing familiar ‘everyday’ objects to create a subversive message, as excellently executed by Kyle Bean, who molds modest household items into domestic horror.
I have been researching 60s spy posters, graphic art and cold war photography and have created a collage of my favourite pieces. Looking past the surplus of scantily clad females, and dapper looking men in suits, I noticed some inspiring themes in geometrics, color and the iconographic eye.
What I am inspired by:
I noticed a strong reference to geometric shapes, especially circles, spirals (radial symmetry) and regular rhythm lines. These symmetrical geometric shapes suggest eyes, venetian blinds and mystery, accentuating the spying theme. I want to create something beguiling out of symmetrical geometric images, to lure the gaze into my image.
I also noticed a lot of colour blocking, with just 2-3 colours, this makes for a visually coherent balanced image. It does strip the image of it’s realism, turning it more into a graphic piece, so I am not sure I want to mimic this. I love the 60s aesthetic of overlaying a black and white photograph with one color. If I replicate this I want it to look authentic, not garish and obviously manipulated.
I also looked at the photography of Herbert Bayer, as he superimposes eyes over the landscape, creating a sense of paranoia. I like the roughness to the superimposition, although I would need to prove that I was doing it on purpose, otherwise it will look like I am just really bad at photoshop.