Back to School – Part 4 – Tribal Shapes

Last week brought three new MIID Summer School briefs. I’ll be honest; I was considerably less-enthused about these, than I was about the first briefs for each track. (Speaking of those first briefs, you can peruse everyone’s posted results for round one in all three tracks, here.)

This week, the over-arching theme that encompasses all three tracks—from Beginner through Advanced—is Confluence, the merging of disparate elements to create something new.

Again, I’ll be honest: Confluence is not my favorite theme/style, when it comes to pattern or surface design. It is difficult—really difficult—to do well, and even then, tends to have a frenetic, patchwork effect that doesn’t appeal to me, much.

That said, it doesn’t matter what my personal tastes are: if an art director hands you an assignment, you go for it, and with gusto.

So, I’m starting off this week’s posts with my work for the Beginner track’s Tribal theme. I felt skittish about this one, and not just because it wasn’t an obvious match with my personal style. The idea of using a community’s very distinctive artwork and applying it to a new purpose makes me feel a bit like a poseur. How could I use the beautiful, bold graphics that were offered up as inspiration, without dishonoring the group of people who’d created this whole style as a fundamental part of their culture?

I decided that I’d apply the shapes and colors to something very basic: the alphabet. First, I completed some quick sketches to nail down letterforms.

Rough alphabet sketches by Jessica Southwick

Rough alphabet sketches

Rough alphabet by Jessica Southwick

Rough alphabet

Then, I fiddled and faddled with it electronically, playing around with color and graphic elements.

Finally, I ended up with a fun alphabet that could be used in a variety of applications, including as a nursery wall print, on wrapping paper, or as a fun stationery set. (I’d love to get some of these options mocked up, but for now, they live only in my noggin.)

"Tribal" alphabet, by Jessica Southwick

“Tribal” alphabet

Next up, the Intermediate Track, Brief 2. I’ll give you a hint: “Grrrrrrrrr….”