In October 2015 my sister got engaged and asked me to create the wedding invitation. This was when I was still very much an amateur designer however I appreciated the opportunity to create such a meaningful and significant design so I nervously took on the challenge. I had previously designed an anniversary invitation which wasn’t as high profile which was well received so I took inspiration from that.
To begin with, I was shown a few different examples that the client liked particular elements from and then was asked to create something that was a combination of the different preferred specifics. I began by studying what worked with previous wedding invitations, what style of font and how ‘frilly’ the style would be.
All example styles I had looked at were uncomplicated in design with a plain background and printed in black only. Each had a combination of large script and smaller serif or sans serif typeface and they were all aligned centrally. I took these design elements and created an invitation which was then tweaked as requested. I had to think about the interaction the receiver would have with the invitation and RSVP card, how they would perceive it and if it was easily understood how to fill in the response.
Once I had created the final draft it was sent off to be printed. I checked all details and once I was happy that it was as it should be the rest were ordered.
This was the first time I had done something so high end. It included the processes of collecting the different preferred design elements and combining them to create the final wedding invitation and also keeping in constant communication with the client to ensure what I was doing was exactly as they requested. I felt it was also important to consider how it would be received when posted to the guests and how clear and self-explanatory the format was. Finally I then had to get the first proof copy printed, choosing the correct paper and communicating with the printing company leading to the final product being mass produced.
This opportunity helped me to understand more about the audience of the design and how it would be received. It also gave me the chance to interact with a printing company, thinking about what format files are needed, sizing and paper, things I had never taken into consideration when designing on screen. Creating a wedding invitation was also a good opportunity to work to a client’s exact needs and wishes, communication was a vital part of the design process as they had precise requirements with the design and wording to be included.
Our first lecture with Dr Simon Bell was focused on the psychedelic period (late 1960s), looking at why people of that generation had their particular view on the world and how this had an impact on the posters made in that time.
We initially looked at the 1960s, trying to understand why it was such an important era for graphic design. Up until about 1966 it looked back to the 1950s (post war times), 1966-67 had a life of its own, then the rest looked like the 70s. The overlap meant different creative styles could live side-by-side, responding to, and in turn generating, sub-cultures who could become easily defined and targeted. If your audience is very wide, your work can become bland and difficult to design, because you simply don’t know your audience.
So why were posters from that era so difficult to read and unlike how you would expect a poster to be designed? In the mid-sixties, much of the youth had grown up listening to the stories of current events such as the Vietnam War, the assassination of prominent figures (such as John F Kennedy and Martin Luther King) and the Civil Rights Movement. This shaped a troubled society who were very inward-looking and self-absorbed consequently trying to find a way out, which happened to be music.
This was a very closed society who did not want to be involved with the government. Artists recognised this as an opportunity to create posters that did not need to be read to be understood, the posters weren’t trying to broaden a community or sell things to as many people as possible. Instead they acted as reminders to those already in the know about the events, reinforcing the exclusive and self-absorbed union of the hippy generation. This meant the text could be hand drawn, almost illegible to those glancing at the poster and the designs could be extremely colourful, with a lot going on and no single concept.
This lecture really got me thinking about psychedelia, a word I had never even heard before! It made me realise that a posters function isn’t always simply to sell a product or make people aware of whatever it’s trying to tell them. Design can be used for the exact opposite of what you may think. Perhaps sometimes it’s most effective that way!