Monthly Archives: September 2011

Melt-CLASS #3 HW-Graphics Ad Critique

In the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF’s) approach towards raising awareness of global epidemics, the first thing that drew my attention to this advertisement was the manner in which the ice cream cone contained some swirling colorful ice cream. It looked like a delicious mouthwatering mixture of blueberry and vanilla flavors, although what was interesting was that it was dripping down the sides of the cone.  It was only upon closer inspection that I realized that this was in fact a globe that was melting. This hugely significant image quickly becomes the focal point of the advertisement and is further emphasized by the solid dark background, solid plain color of the cone and the somewhat surreal halo of light that appears to emit from it. Created by the advertising agency VVL BBDO, the mission or the purpose behind this complex ad is “to halt and reverse the destruction of our environment”.

The creator’s unique choice of symbols in portraying the earth as a scoop of ice cream melting on a cone is a literal way of expressing the issue of global warming. The globe appears to be in motion, with the ocean and land blending into one another, partially dripping down the cone and slowly dissolving away symbolizing the devastating impact of climate change. The use of certain color palettes, movement techniques and textures, serves to create an aura of depression and sorrow. This, in combination with the gradation of blue hues and values around the cone, adds to the dramatic effect of a crisis that is gradually unfolding. In addition to these elements, the employment of a dark plain matte background evokes a sense of balance and unity within the picture. It serves to simplify the message it is trying to convey, by avoiding the chaos of different colors in the background. It also provides the stark contrast that is needed to highlight the importance of the issue and lends the picture an almost eerie quality.

Naturally, an excellent graphic ad would not require words or texts to convey its message. At first glance, this advertisement gives the viewer a sense of reassurance because of the food it is depicting. It plays on the fact that everyone loves ice cream, a traditional comfort food in most societies, and so immediately draws the attention of the onlooker towards this apparently surreal melting ice cream cone surrounded by a halo of light. Ice cream is typically associated with frivolity, feeling good and enjoyment. That’s why I think the semiotic devices that are embodied within this concept are so clever and thought provoking. On the one hand, you have a symbol that is associated with light-heartedness and joy and yet it is being used to dramatic effect by denoting an issue that is extremely serious and depressing. The signifier in the piece is the image of planet earth as being the ice cream part of the cone and what is signified is the concept of global warming. This is something easily and immediately perceived by all the people exposed to this advertisement, which is what makes the ad so very effective.

Another part, which I found very intelligent and interesting, is that there is almost a naive carelessness that has allowed the ice cream to melt and drip in the first place. This is symbolic of the casual approach that we have had towards the issues of pollution, burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. An adult’s instinct when he/she would see their cone dripping would be to immediately wipe the drips from the side. This is exactly what the ad wants us to do. It wants us to act with urgency before the whole scoop of ice cream melts away. It appeals successfully to our instinct to act.

When it comes to judging the piece, just the mere ability of capturing and drawing in the audience would classify it as a good advertisement. It’s evident that a lot of thought and planning went into displaying the overall concept that shows in its execution. Although the subject matter is far from unimaginative, it conveys a valuable principle and idea effectively. The layout of the issue simplifies the concept to a range of viewers, without any limitations such as gender, nationality or age. That being said, it affects the audience in a way where it urges them to expand their knowledge on the topic and inspires them to help reach out for the solution. All in all, the ad effectively proves one of many WWF missions, contains various elements and principles of design, illustrates a clear statement and most importantly, provokes the audience to make a change.

Source (for the picture):


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The Dress of Mystical Sovereignty, critique piece-HW #2

Yoruba’s People

“Egungun Mask Costume” 

Yoruba’s Peoples “Egungun Mask Costume” is a brilliant fabrication that clarifies certain African tribal rituals. Created to honor the dead and ancestral spirits, the color filled costume is believed to encapsulate the power of the deceased. While in some masquerades the spirit takes control of masker, the rest use the costume as a form of entertainment or as representation of wealth. Made out of layers of different overlapping fabrics, beading, and golden threads the costume depicts several elements and principles of design.

The selection of organic and geometric patterns within the fabric and the cut of the dress allow the viewer to imagine the rhythm of the dancer and the movement of the dress. As the music plays the dress flows, from side to side the dancer goes, the sharp sides of the dress and the rich color palette grants the dancer significance and authority. The avant-garde design allows the masker to unleash what’s within them without being judged, seeing as they’re masked from head to toe. No matter how intense or extreme the moves are the dancer is never revealed creating a sense of mystery and wonder.

Not only is the color palette rich, but it also represents loyalty, importance, harmony and power. As the deep colors of blues and greens contrast the reds and yellows they combine together to create a composed dress and balance out one another to achieve symmetry and equality. The piece may seem chaotic and loud, however, as you pay close attention to the detail it holds, you learn to appreciate the piece rather than straying away. The spiraling cut of the dress as it flows down, also portrays the image of the dancer as the pieces of fabric fan out, flashing the colors as they move, twist, and turn. Moreover, unity is presented within the piece as the shapes and lines combine to give a picture of harmony and union.

The abstract dress contrasts the ideal image of a typical dress. Large and exaggerated, the costume contradicts the mainstream norm of a simple and minimal uniform worn in today’s modern world. That being said, African customs when it comes to art and clothing differs completely from other regions of the world. Their use of embellished sizes, various textures and distorted proportions represent their confidence and faith in their traditions and beliefs.

However, if I had the opportunity to buy the dress, I would most probably not. The reason behind that is, not only is the dress a work of art but a symbol of Yoruba’s people’s culture and ways of life. Therefore, for an individual from a different society, the dress would hold no value other than having a balanced composition and excellent execution. Nevertheless, taking into account the tools used to make the dress leave the viewer with an impressed and awe-struck impression of African culture as a whole. But, most importantly, the stories and values the dress holds. Carrying along the historic tales from generations past to generations to come. Teaching them about their culture’s beliefs through the form of art, and lastly, sharing the memories the piece of colored fabric seizes.

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The African Voyage, Museum Trip #1.

Rufus Ogundele
“My Cathedral”

Although the points in Ogundeles piece are not obvious, he uses certain techniques to allow it to fall under the criteria. By creating abstract shapes that are similar to one another he uses similarity to produce points that design a path that encase each other. Despite the negative spaces, the mind conjures, or gestalts, the main image due to the proximity of the shapes.


Afewer Tekle

“Homage to Russian Ballet”

The lines in the piece Homage to Russian Ballet are clearly evident. Yet, not in the way lines would usually be displayed. The scattered black horizontal and vertical lines creating movement within the piece could symbolize the delicate and elegant dance routines of the Russian Ballet. However, it could also symbolize chaos and mystery as it covers the rich colors behind it.


Twins Seven-Seven

“Sea Ghosts 3”

        Twins Seven-Seven’s two-dimensional piece is mostly created of soft lined organic shapes, and while it may seem that there are some geometric shapes, as you look closely you notice that they are not. The approach to the piece is a realistic approach seeing that main emphasis is not a fictional creature but a real animal. Nevertheless, the variety of textures, shades of color and sizes of different objects in this specific piece does not create the allusion of it being three-dimensional yet it makes it rather flat and more cartoon like. 


Sokari Douglas Camp

“Large Study for Masquerader”

The first word that came to my mind when I saw this piece was dance. Camp uses certain brush strokes to create rhythm to trick the viewer to think that the character is swaying from side to side. She also uses compositional movement to ease the viewer’s eye to wander throughout the piece, and instead of stiff and ridged paths, she creates curved abstract brush strokes to create serenity and calmness within the characters movement.


Ben Enwonwu

“Storm Over Biafra”

In the Storm Over Biafra, the artist depicts the emotion that rushed through him as he lost his homeland. The overall dark color palette symbolizes the deep and powerful surge of emotions that the citizens felt as their countries sovereignty was being torn away. The blue clouds represent their state of depression, anger and sadness as it covers away the happiness, peacefulness and joy that the yellows and whites bring in. Enwonwu uses the cold color palette as a representation of evilness and isolation that contrasts the warm palette that signifies comfort and homeliness.


Nupe Peoples


The patterns within this piece resemble geometric shapes, seeing that they are structured and defined. Despite both sides mirroring one another, the spiral patterns create an aura that the shapes are competing to see which flows and branches out more. On the other hand, the spiral patterns on the top emphasize the movement and the flow.


Asante People, Ghana

“Pendant (Akrafokonmu)”

The texture in the pendent is obvious to the naked eye. Classified as “tactile texture” and being three-dimensional allows the viewer to imagine the feel of the pendent. Just by looking at it the observer can sense that it is uneven and rough in texture due to the shapes engraved within the pendant. However, the gold material itself, if not engraved, would have a soft and smooth feel to it.


Efik Peoples, Nigeria


Due to the balance and the equality of shape and weight of the horns on both sides labels the piece as being bilateral symmetrical. If the mask lacked any technical detail and planning it might have resulted into tipping over. Therefore, the identical distribution within both sides must have been an important factor in the composition of the work for it to be symmetrically balanced.


The Alaga of Odo Owo

“Epa Helmet Mask”

        Resembling ancient art, the figures in the mask symbolize hierarchy and importance. The distorted proportions of the sculpture represent importance and greatness. Although both sides are proportionate to one another, the main emphasis is the mother figure; her centered position portrays strength and significance she holds amongst her surroundings. 


Papa Ibra Tall


Although it lacks in color, the rhythm within the piece acts a strong substitute for its simplicity. The powerful unity the artist illustrates, as he merges the horse, a symbol of loyalty, and man, as one is clear from his title of “Horseman”. His brush strokes help form rhythm as he creates a path that circle around the horse and the rider. The rhythm that he follows triggers the viewer’s emotions as they feel of rush of serenity and peacefulness.


Ouattara Watts

“Ka Cabala Vodoo”

Despite the bright textured red background, the viewer’s eye immediately notices the wooden plank and text in the middle, the point of emphasis. Although both colors contrast each other, the simplicity of the wooden piece compared to the shades and textured red in the background compels the onlooker to pay more attention to the out of place 3D plank. The unusual text it holds conveys a sense of mystery and wonder but the placement of the wildlife animal leaves the audience to imagine and question the story behind it.


Gerard Sekoto

“Boy and the Candle”

The manner in which Sekoto portrays the boy in the painting all work together to form unity. The artist uses a blend of colors and values in the piece to create an atmosphere of peace and serenity. The candle also embodies a sense of unity, calmness and comfort, which complements the concept of innocence within the boy.

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