Sunday, 12 October 2014

Freedom of expression


Sorry - another crappy phone-photo, but I was wandering through Waitrose last night, and stopped to admire myself in the eight convex mirrors covering this Champagne bottle box. How clever they are, to personalise the packaging to include images of the potential buyer.

My only criticism would be that the convex mirror image is not as flattering as the ones you get from the mirrors in women's clothing outlets - slightly distorted to make you look slimmer than you actually are, with a warm tint to counteract any hint of deathly pallor.

Not that we need any excuse to buy Champagne, of course - Churchill could justify it as suitable for any occasion - but sometimes we need a clincher if hovering on the brink of a decision.

I'm always banging on about the honey-coloured blurb on the boxes of whisky brands - the sparkling streams filtered through beds of smoky peat, etc. - and this is the visual equivalent.

When I was a layout artist, they made the mistake of giving me free rein to design a simple sticker which went on the sides of the boxes containing finished print runs, because I had been to art school.

All this sticker had to do was mention the name of the printing company, and how they could be contacted for future orders.

I asked if I could put them to the trouble of using two colours instead of one (in the days when two zinc plates had to be made for two separately registered runs) and they said that they were a printing company, so of course this could be allowed.

I set to work, and took up a theme which I had been exploring just before leaving college, which depended on the juxtaposition of complementary colours, and how they interact disturbingly with each other when viewed from a distance.

My sticker was a series of radial lines of alternative pale red and pale green, but with a very intense hue, and the wording was put over the top of them in an even paler green, which meant making three plates instead of the two they agreed to. They printed about 5000 of these things.

The finished result was not only utterly unreadable, but made you feel slightly ill just to look at it.

Artists shouldn't always be given a free hand if there is a job to be done.

22 comments:

  1. those mirrors make me look slimmer? really? oh dear oh dear.

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    Replies
    1. Sorry Marianne, but the truth will out.

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  2. The 60's underground newspaper IT (International Times) used to print coloured text over coloured photos, rendering the articles completely unreadable. We used to buy IT just to look cool. I went to IT's first birthday party at The Roundhouse, Paul McCartney came dressed as a phone box.

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    Replies
    1. AND we used to try to read them under red light bulbs!

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  3. Can't believe you couldn't lay it out in colored (coloured) pencil to begin. You know, the prototype.
    I haven't seen any striking packaging in ages. I must frequent the wrong aisles.

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    1. No, half the fun (and sometimes skill, but not in this case) was to guess what it was going to look like in colour.

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  4. When I want to drink champagne I neither notice the packaging nor the mirrors. There is no brink for me. I just do it.

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    Replies
    1. I just ask for it 'in a plain wrapper'.

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    2. I thought my comment was very poetic but you have ignored it unless your Tesco comment was directed at both me and Cro. I do not shop in Tesco.

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    3. I absorbed it, I didn't ignore it.

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  5. In Germany most women's changing cabins (is that right?) have horrible light - I can't understand that, because it makes you wish to make your testament, your LAST will, instead of buying something as superficial as clothes.

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    Replies
    1. A comedian once commented on the horribly bright lighting in changing rooms, which is especially unpleasant when trying on bathing suits. But then she said: "Yeah, as if sunlight is going to be any dimmer."

      But I do like the changing rooms where they "flatter" you. Because then I think: "Hey girl, not looking too shabby today!" Hehe

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    2. I am currently on the committee to re-vamp the Ladies toilet at The Bell pub. I mentioned good lighting for the mirror, and the chairwoman of the board said that women didn't want good lighting for mirrors. She said she actually had friends who smeared their mirrors with vaseline to make the image softer. I was deeply shocked.

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    3. Are you sure you didn't misunderstand the use of the Vaseline?

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  6. Replies
    1. Thank you, Rachel. I wasn't going to bother.

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    2. I thought Britta would appreciate increasing her knowledge of the English language and its idioms.

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    3. Just so long as she keeps her charming accent.

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  7. Replies
    1. Not these days, when it is all on a computer screen in real life and colour.

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