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Graphic Design Essay (A-Level)

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” Discuss.

By Natalie G.Published 5 years ago 9 min read

Edgar Degas is an artist that I always loved as a child. I remember taking ballet classes and seeing Degas’ ballerinas for the first time, in which had a unique effect on me. It was during my ten years that I read this particular quote of his and it really got me thinking. This quote later deeply inspired my graphics theme as my intent was to show what you want to say to others and what you make others see. Having researched a development of this concept I decided to focus on Double exposure, with a focus on a visual interpretation of our heritage, where we come from and what we want to make others see on a very subjective level. After all, when we look at an image we all see something individual and an image is always open to interpretation or manipulated by the artist. Double exposure in both the photography and graphic design space is a relatively simple technique that offers amazing results if it is properly explored and worked with. Exploring my theme, through Photoshop my intent was to manipulate my images, achieving a concept that emphasizes my theme greatly through the use of several natural landscapes and buildings. Through the technique of double exposure, I explored this quote closely, as I attempted to make people see a variety of images through my work.

The double exposure technique can be developed in several ways as usual and commonly used portraits turn into something fascinating. Likewise, commonly used landscapes and skylines may be manipulated and morphed into something beautiful and they are blended into an individual image forming the perfect illusion. Double exposure is a simple technique that anyone can work with, but not everyone can create something unusually magnificent. Through the exploration of long exposure, and double exposure I have reached a new perspective in creating artwork through Photoshop and Illustrator. It has allowed me to use my photography skills, by taking portraits of people close to me and developing a final outcome that is not only appealing to the eye but that also sends my message across. This technique has helped me portray several feelings in my work, like passions we have of reading, for example, or the beauty of nature. The theme of ‘Where we come from’ simply refers to our roots, our home, where we feel a sense of rootedness and is portrayed through the technique of double exposure as I immediately felt that by having an individual’s silhouette in the place we come from, or the place we desire to be, is a way to convey the personality and passion of an individual.

The art of double exposure, specifically, the atmospheric, ghostly effect, is said to have been created accidentally. A photographer, when shooting with a film camera, should always remove the lens cap or open the shutter only once to ensure a sharp image. However, one error can lead to revealing his or her light-sensitive medium in two separate compositions. To many people, the result may appear to be a mixed-up mess, to other creative photographers it leads to an artistic potential and new possibilities. As early as 1890, the double exposure was being used as a new technique. The origin of the work entitled “The Ghost of Bernadette Soubirous” is unclear. But this image, which depicts the saint, dressed in white, seemingly vanishing through a wall, was a very deliberate use of multiple exposures. By the early-20th century, avant-garde photographers were experimenting with the technique. Georges Méliès, was considered the father of special effect in filmmaking and he begun making ghostly figures a significant part of his silent horror movies. Alvin Langdon Coburn used double exposures to blend two slightly different exposures of the same subject for a surreal, hallucinogenic effect. In experimenting with the art-form, some of the early photographers discovered double exposure photography more or less by accident, and the trend continued: Whereas half of the photographers would spend all their time trying to avoid ghosting and double exposures, the other half started exploring what could be done to create some truly magnificent artworks incorporating the phenomenon into their work creatively. One of the characteristics that became especially popular was the ability to run the same film through your camera twice, for delightfully unpredictable results. From here, the next logical step was to turn double-exposure photography into a collaborative effort: One photographer would take a set of photos, pass the film onto another photographer, who would use the same roll of film to take a set of their photos.

In the exploration and development of my theme I created several pieces of work with silhouettes of people that are close to me and pictures of myself. With these silhouettes I blended the figures with landscapes and buildings, in which a person may come from or be inspired by that specific place or landscape. In addition, I created outcomes of two different places blended into a person or two, portraying the multicultural society that we live in today. This theme really inspired me as it touched me on a personal level, like no other theme has before.

In my opinion, having a sense of belonging and a home is very important especially when you find it in more places than one and perhaps even finding it in a person that makes you feel like home, is even more important. Perhaps our parents are from two different places, or we desire to be in a place we were not born in. Through my work I wanted to depict how people may desire to live elsewhere whether or not because the place they live in does not fulfill them or does not make them happy. In contrast however, the place we come from will always be our home even though it may not always fulfill us, I did not use my own home, Cyprus, Limassol, in my work but instead cities I have visited and aspire to live such as, New York, London, Copenhagen, etc. These cities have great and mesmerizing landscapes and the photographs I took, have been used in my work. Therefore, the use of photography was a tool I greatly developed. My aim was to not only take a photograph but to make it, personalize it, create it.

Graphic design and photography are two things tightly connected as art emerges from both of them combined. Most graphic designers use photography to manipulate photos to communicate an idea. The image is the main thing portrayed and It must reflect the message conveyed, and through photography I was able to experiment with a multitude of shapes, sizes, shadows, backgrounds and layouts. Photography is essential to graphic design. Without it I would not have discovered my passion for graphic design and in particular, the double exposure effect technique. Photography has been utilized as a key component of advertising as it has an emotional component to it, that makes people experience a lot of different emotions, feelings and even relive some experience and awaken new ones.

The saying, ’A picture is worth a thousand words,’ emphasizes the fact that photography is needed since images can communicate a concept. When I see a picture that has been manipulated in ways that I cannot always understand, it urges me and inspires me to develop my own photographic image. Photography is not something easy, as you need skills such as, identifying the right point of view, having the right amount of creativity and adding the right elements, like the perfect lighting, models and landscapes. In order to take an effective and inspiring image you need to capture the right moment, and that photograph will determine the quality and level of your work. Photography is an important tool as it is important to take specific photographs and is the backbone of my working process. Designers need this tool in order to direct the shoot the way they want in order to obtain images that will work for their purpose. These past two years I have created photos that I have further manipulated on Photoshop and Illustrator. Primary research is very significant as it has guided me as an individual to create something unique and different. Then came my research and I soon realized that researching artists was invaluable to the development of my theme.

Aneta Ivanova is an influential artist, whose work I was very inspired by. I was greatly informed by her work and I began my study based on the mesmerizing portraits she creates. On most of her photos she is her own model and this simplifies things as she knows what poses she wants exactly- and I similarly did the same thing by using myself to make my own images come alive. Ivanova is a 24-year-old self-taught and self-employed photographer. Born in Varna, Bulgaria she currently studies in Germany. She was firstly interested in shooting experimental self-portraiture in her home, followed by the discovery of fine art and fashion photography. She finds inspiration everywhere around her, through reading, listening to music, looking at art, going for long walks and even dreaming. She is a very relatable artist that led me to develop the technique of double exposure. The recurrent theme in her work is her ultimate source of inspiration, the ocean, which can be seen in her work. The ocean seems to be one of her biggest fascinations because of the way it is so unpredictable and powerful. It can heal us at some moments but also can destroy us in others. Ivanova shoots self-portraits or portraits of her sister and she feels that an image does not need to be explicate. “I believe that an artwork should not be explained, it should be asking questions rather that giving answers.” For her, art is something that is happening inside the person who’s creating or viewing it. I can relate deeply to this artist as I similarly believe that art comes from within, and what is important is the feelings and emotions it provokes and what messages it conveys.

Ivanova being a very recent artist, uses photography as an escape from everything. Through her work a lot of emotion is revealed, from the drowning effect in ‘Under The Waves’ to her passion for taking photographs of buildings. Personally, I relate to her to a great extent as she grew up in the art world, since her mum is also an artist. Similarly, my own life has been given this boost as I was deeply inspired by my own mum that has sketchbook after sketchbook and canvas after canvas and seeing them gives me a whole new sense of the world, as I get to see the world through my mum’s eyes. Art has become a lifestyle for me and being able to tell a story through a single image is very majestic to me.

Creating something that speaks to you on a personal level is one thing, but creating something that makes people understand what you are trying to say and what you are feeling is another. I believe what makes each piece of an individual unique is the ability to make an outsider feel like they are you. The most important thing about art is telling your story and revealing your message and feelings without uttering a word.






For more of my photographs and edits visit my websites:




About the Creator

Natalie G.

Instagram: _nataliesenses_

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