Sunday, 10 January 2016

Polkadodge sign

In a bid to increase my portfolio, a suggestion was given that I could look at past “Roses Sudent Award” competition briefs, to be able to showcase some design ideas I have.

I chose a brief which instructed me to “HELP SPREAD THE WORD”
 Create or select a ‘non-word’ and help it claim its rightful place in the Oxford English Dictionary.

BRIEF "Many great new words, or neologisms, have been classified as ‘non-words’ as they have not yet made it into the Oxford English Dictionary. Rumour has it, these words have been consigned to dusty obscurity and have been written on 6x4inch cards, filed alphabetically in a secret vault in Oxford owned by the Oxford University Press. Your task is to help these words find there way into common usage, enabling them to achieve their ultimate goal of a place in the Oxford English Dictionary. You can choose one or more ‘non-words’ or even create your own."

The word I have chosen is “Polkadodge”: the dance two people do when they try to pass each other in the street.

I like this word as it conjures up images of people breaking into dance with complete strangers while just walking to work or doing their shopping.  It makes me think of a more fun place to live, rather than the head down and march society we seem to live in nowadays. I would love for this word to have mainstream usage and claim its place in the dictionary.

My first thought was to run a competition, for people to film themselves doing a polkadodge, and giving a prize to the best dance with an unsuspecting stranger. However, this meant I would be limiting the word to only people ‘in the know’, rather than exposing as many people as possible.

With this in mind, I thought about how to maximise who would hear the word.

Road signs are a classic example of something that millions of people stare at every day, so I looked at how to get polkadodge into a road sign for pedestrians. I researched traditional road signs from the highway code, and looked at how I could introduce a polkadodge sign. The sketches I came up with fit this theme well, but I found them to be too serious  which is not the tone I wanted for my revival of polkadodge.

However, I liked the exposure that road signs get.

To try and keep the sign idea, but inject more fun, I then thought about places with high pedestrian traffic. I love going to music festivals, but getting from stage to stage is always a struggle due to the high volume of people. Music festivals are organic places, which typically try to use natural materials and are usually set in fields and farms.

I decided to make a road sign with a home made feel that is less prescriptive than traditional road signs. I wanted to keep the farm feel so chose a wooden post as my material. I then found a scrap pallet in a fly tipping area which I dried out and ripped apart.

I wanted to make the design of my sign a tongue in cheek warning, asking pedestrians to keep left but if caught out in a polka dodge, pivot in style.

When it came to designing the word ‘polka dodge’, I found a free font online called 'Antipasto'.  I chose this rounded font because I knew I wanted to distort some letters to be dodging each other, going around in a circle. 

Using Adobe Illustrator, I have stretched and altered the letter ‘d’ and ‘g’ of dodge, so that they have arrows moving around each other. I then put shoes on the ‘o’ and second ‘d’ to characterise the two people polkadodging. I’ve used a gradient colour to portray the movement.

I’ve then created a second section ‘KEEP LEFT’ which has again made use of distorting an existing font Phosphate. I have made it unrecognisable from its original form by isolating individual anchor points and stretching them out to follow the shape of the arrow. I had originally attempted to use the envelope distort tool but found that this bent the letters in a way I wasn’t happy with.

The third section ‘if caught out, pivot in style’ used some similar techniques of altering a font called QuimbyGubernatorial, moving anchor points to add loops and swirls into the ends of letters, to be able to then add arrow heads to signify the pivots and turns people take when they Polkadodge.

Once I was happy with these three sections I have printed this onto the wooden planks from the pallet.  I’ve done this printing the design onto paper backwards, then using PVA glue I've stuck this to the wood. Once the glue was dried, I was able to scrape the paper away, leaving the printed design behind on the wood. This has given it a weathered look as some of the ink came off with the paper. 

This effect was really easy to achieve. It lost some quality of the design but I feel that this adds to the authenticity of the sign.

If I were to be using these at a festival as per the idea, I would create multiple different signs along this same theme.  I wouldn’t want exact replicas of this sign because I think again that it adds to the home made element for them to all be different and quirky.


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