A is for... March 24 2020 1 Comment

Thank you for coming to design school. Please read the whole post before you start on your own piece. Your big project is to design (and illustrate) your own Alphabet poster, but I will break it down into 26 projects. That seems like a lot of work, but in each project we will do something different and the aim is to have fun with it and learn something about graphic design along the way.

There is one rule in my graphic design book that I need to share with you before you start, and it is: Don't be fussy! In order to make something, you sometimes have to let go of the idea that it has to be perfect. So try to just have fun with it and don't be hard on yourself.

So first of all you need to pick something that begins with A... Astronaut...  Airplane... Alligator... I picked Apple. I used to design surface patterns (these are patterns that are printed onto things, for example on fabric) and I often made prints with apples in.

For our very first project, we are going to be playing with composition.

Composition is the way we place all the elements we use in our picture. So in my A is for Apple picture I am going to have at least the following elements: the letter A, the apple, and maybe a leaf attached to the apple.

The best way to play with composition is by making sure all your items are separate so you can move them around. A lot of the time graphic designers do this on the computer. But today we will be making a collage. We are also going to use a phone. So you can make lots of different compositions with your elements and each time you can take a photo, and you can look back at it later.

So here are the things you will need today:

* A piece of paper to make some sketches, and a pencil or a pen.

* A phone with a camera! If you haven't got one, you can ask your parent or carer if you can use theirs.

* Some coloured pieces of paper (could be cut from a magazine or newspaper or anything. Check the recycling!) or some pencils or felt tips or paint or crayons to make your own coloured paper.

So let's start with some sketches. Remember I said you can't be fussy. Well, you definitely can't be fussy with a sketch because a sketch is just a sketch. That's why sometimes I have to make them on the back of an old envelope or on a receipt.

Think about the shapes you are going to use, and think about your letter that you will add as well... And then cut all the shapes out of bits of paper. You can draw on the paper first or you can just start cutting (remember we are not being fussy). I call this drawing with scissors and it's a very nice thing to do.

So here are the pieces I cut out...

Can you see how the apple at the bottom right looks like a peach? :-)

To make my letter I just cut some strips of paper.

This is where the fun begins...

You can now start moving all your items around. Try out some different backgrounds... And have a think about how much background you would like. Remember we are taking photos, so your background could also be the table, or your floor or a big or small piece of paper. When you have 5 or 6 or more photos you can have a look to see which one you like best... Here are some of mine...

I quite like the middle picture with the yellow. I turned one of the shapes I cut around and found the lovely blue colour :-) Remember you need to add your letter as well. I made a very simple capital A with 3 strips of paper.

The picture in the middle was made on a big tray with the lovely grey and white pattern :-)

When you have had a look at all your pictures you can also use the crop tool to play with the composition a little bit more.

If you want to make a final piece, you can stick all your elements on the background that you like (maybe not the table) using some glue. You can also make a final photo instead. Often when I am happy with my composition, I still add some little details. For example: the apple could have a little colourful sticker on it. Or you could add the words 'is for apple'.

I won't share my final picture with you. Sometimes when we make things we get very distracted with the work of other people and that takes away from the fun a bit. That said... I would love to see what you made! Please email your picture to info@onneke.com or send it to my Instagram or facebook page and I will put a little gallery together.


If you stick with me at design school and you make all 26 letters, I will help turn all your pictures into a poster for you at the end so you have your very own alphabet poster.

Thank you for joining. Pop back for letter B soon. I will try to have it up on Thursday.

Keep safe,