Mental Health Survey

As part of my SDP, I created a survey to gain knowledge of people’s understanding of mental health issues. I collected the most results from people around my own age as this is the age range I hope to target with my zine. These were the questions that I asked:

  • What key words, images or thoughts spring to mind when you hear the phrase ‘mental health issue’?

  • What would be your definition of a ‘mental health issue’?

  • Do you feel that there are stigmas or preconceptions surrounding mental health issues?

  • Have you ever experienced or witnessed any negative attitudes towards those with mental health issues?

  • How do you think the media portrays those with mental health issues?

  • What methods would help people to gain understanding about others suffering from mental health issues?

These questions will hopefully give me an idea of the ideas people have about mental health issues and so will help me to target specific preconceptions.

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Hearing Voices, Seeing Things

Image

Hearing Voices, Seeing Things: Art & Mental Health by Bob and Roberta Smith and Jessica Voorsanger.

 

The project involves artists and the Serpentine gallery working with various groups of people with various mental health issues. This furthers the question I hope to discuss ‘what actually is a mental health issue?’. The project features a range of issues from memory loss conditions to behavioural problems. The project aims to increase awareness of mental health issues by using art and art therapy to challenge preconceptions and stigmas.

Art and artists can give those with mental health issues a language and a voice to get their thoughts across. It allows them to explore their feelings and express themselves. Many used humour as this makes the difficult topic seem more light-hearted. It led me to think of the phrase ‘laughter is the best medicine’ which I hope to incorporate into my work somehow.

Results 30006

“In the art world mental health is often viewed in terms of the curious drawings, perverse sculptures or unsettling texts made by patients, rather than the experience of a condition itself” (page 19). Instead of treating mental health issues as a curiosity, I hope to help people to realise just how common they really are.

“Mania, melancholia, existential angst and myriad other psychological states have come to be represented by aesthetic or intellectual tropes and motifs” (page 19). Some issues can have very few outward symptoms and so do not conform to some more extreme expectations of ‘mental illnesses’.

Results 30007

“No amount of empathy can dissolve barrier between observation and experience” (page 21).  I hope that having personal experience of anxiety issues will help me to have an insight and break down that barrier as I have been on both sides. The book talks about the case of ‘us and them’, however, that will not be the case for this project. I hope this will mean my approach is much more empathetic than patronising. I hope that I can get people involved somehow during the project, whether that be through interaction or contribution.

Many find it difficult to discuss issues such as these as “decades of political correctness have taught us to avoid direct mention of any condition beyond ‘normality’” (page 25). I hope to confront these issues and aversion to discussion head on.

Results 30008

One of my favourite projects from the book was one that involved young carers. The artist gave the young people a disposable camera each and allowed them to explore their local area almost allowing the audience to then see life through their eyes.

The book was really useful in opening my eyes to the broad spectrum of mental health issues and ways to combat them.

Notes for Final COP Essay 2

a)    relevant social, cultural and historical contexts

b)    form of the artefact in terms of shape, line, materials, texture, volume, weight etc.

c)    purpose and functions of the artefact

d)    target and/or potential audience, and their social status

e)    past and present significance

 

Don’t Buy It by Kimberly Cross

Anti-Iraq war poster, 2003.

Came as part of the surge in less famous designers creating anti-war artwork in their homes, was on Cross’ website anotherposterforpeace.com where all material is available to download for free and are all copy-right free. Project gained momentum and more mainstream and experienced designers got involved.

After all, the Pentagon and the White House know how to market to the masses, so why shouldn’t the same slick tactics and polished imagery be used against them? “They’re using branding as a way of promoting their war agenda,” Cross says. “I thought, ‘I know how to do this. Let’s beat them at their own game. Let’s make peace the new black.’ ” Culture Shocked, San Fransisco Bay Guardian.

Target audience are mainstream people so no profane language used in posters.

 

Daddy, what did you do in the Great War? By Savile Lumley

From 1915, “During the First World War the majority of British Army recruitment posters were conceived not by government officials but by printing companies. Adept at commercial advertising they applied the same persuasive skills to army recruitment. This now notorious poster was published in 1915 by the London printers Johnson Riddle & Co. It arose from the director Arthur Gunn’s own feelings of guilt at having not volunteered himself. Seeing the persuasive potential of a child’s awkward questions to a shirking father in peacetime, Gunn commissioned a poster picturing such a scene. Although Gunn joined the Westminster Volunteers shortly after the poster’s publication, the poster became the source of much bitter trench humour on the Western Front. Such was the resentment towards it in post-war Britain that its creator, Savile Lumley, a children’s book illustrator, is said to have disowned it.”

Before conscription so recruitment posters were vital.

“tone of emotional blackmail” V&A collections website.

Colour lithograph on paper.

Parliamentary Recruiting Committee were the publishers.

Text embedded in image – necessary to portray point/aim of poster.

Very personal message, targeting potential soldiers.

Become infamous.

 

Eddie Adam’s Saigon Execution

Vietnam War: 1956 – 1975, between communist North Vietnam and government of Southern Vietnam. South was supported by anti-communist USA.

The photograph shows a uniformed South Vietnamese soldier, Major General Ngoc Loan, shooting a prisoner in the head.

35mm lens camera, black and white.

1st February, 1968.

It seems as though a brutal and savage crime is being committed against a civilian and so was used as anti- war propaganda.

This man’s name was Nguyen Van Lem, but he was also known as Captain Bay Lop. He was an assassin and a member of the Viet Cong (North Vietnam forces), and leader of the Viet Cong Death Squad. He had been targeting and killing South Vietnamese National Police officers and their families.

He was caught at a mass grave of around 34 men, women and children.

Photographer says he wish he hadn’t taken the photograph as he “killed the general” with his camera. “Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths.”

Played vital role in changing perspectives of US war involvement and played small part in ending the war.

It won the Pulitzer Prize for spot photography.

Photographer worked for Associated Press and had no idea how much of an impact it would have.

Appears to be a grainy action shot, seems extremely authentic and leaves you in no doubt of what is happening.

The target audience of Associated Press would have been Americans, however photograph was used by anti-war Americans and also the Northern Vietnamese troops to show brutality.

 

Bibliography:

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/03/the-story-behind-the-man-who-was-killed-in-the-famous-saigon-execution-photo/

http://www.cah.utexas.edu/db/dmr/gallery_lg.php?s=3&gallery=eddie_adams

http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O74621/daddy-what-did-you-do-poster-lumley-savile/

http://www.sfbg.com/37/31/x_culture_shocked.html

The Times, April 2014.

Brief, Context & Rationale

Brief

I aim to create a book or zine to raise awareness about mental health issues and combat stigmas surrounding them.

 

Context

Mental health issues affect almost everyone in society nowadays. Many people who face a battle with themselves due to the mental health also face another battle, one with the society around them that does not accept or understand what they are going through. There are many stigmas and preconceptions surrounding mental health and medication for these issues, and many of these stigmas are unfair and detrimental to the sufferers. It is estimated the 1 in 4 people will suffer from some sort of mental health problem throughout their lives.

Whether people are affected directly or indirectly, a greater understanding of mental health conditions would benefit the whole of society. Those indirectly experiencing the effects of mental health problems on their friends and loved ones would gain an understanding of what people are going through and would be given the guidance to see and discuss these issues in a more positive light. Those experiencing problems directly would gain the comfort and knowledge that those around them are there for them and are not judging them.

 

Rationale

I aim to carry out the project in an empathetic and confrontational way. I aim to do this by finding out what preconceptions people already have and challenge these. I will use humour in elements of the project. My target will be people of teenagers and older, and people with and without mental health issues. 

Visual Exploration Evaluation

I found this module as a whole difficult to get into at the start of the year. I think this is because the tasks seemed slightly pointless and did not link or connect to anything at all. However, I enjoyed each task as a separate workshop. I also missed the screen printing workshop initially due to illness so had to go and do my screen print later by myself which I struggled to motivate myself to do but eventually completed it. I will work harder next term to ensure I do not miss things.

I enjoyed working in the group to carry out the zine project and think that ours came out well. We collaborated well and shared the workload equally. Making the zine has led me to have a keen interest in zines and I have gone on to re use the techniques I learnt. I enjoyed making them as it was a very hands on and practical project which involved going out and gathering material (photographs) and then making something physical. I much prefer this type of task over more computer based work, I think this is because I come from a product design background rather than art or graphic design.

The typography was interesting as I have never done graphic design before so I learnt a lot. The opportunity to get some practice using InDesign and other software was invaluable to me as using computers is not my strong point. I hope to use the skills gained more in the future by having a go at some more hand drawn typography for future projects.

The screen printing was really enjoyable once I got into it and I learnt a lot as the technique and methods are quite long and complex. I have since been back and done some more prints as I enjoyed it so much.

I hope that in the future I stay on track and do not have any more absences as that will ensure me to get the highest grade I can. I know that it is only through my own fault if I do not achieve my potential so I will do everything to ensure I attend every session.

Triangulation Task – First Things First Manifesto

First Things First was a manifesto created in 1964 by Ken Garland, a British graphic designer. During a meeting of the Society of Industrial Artists in January of that year, Garland, also a photographer, writer and educator, asked to read out the manifesto he had come up with, hoping to change the outlook of designers worldwide. In Looking Closer, Bierut calls the manifesto “a plea for a shift in designers’ priorities” (1999, p154). Garland hoped that designers would reassess the commercial work that they do and put more of their valuable time into pro bono work. Garland was countering the consumerist culture that had been established during the 1960s through Britain becoming more wealthy and affluent. His call to arms managed to gain 21 signatures from his colleagues and fellow designers. In 2000, almost 40 years after the initial publishing of the manifesto, Adbusters (a Canadian magazine) republished the manifesto. 33 signatures were gained from designers who agreed with the original sentiments of the manifesto and who also felt that the issues Garland had discussed had gained significant relevance in today’s society.

An important issue regarding both the 1964 and 2000 publishing is how necessary the manifesto was. In 1964, Britain was flourishing economically and so people were generally living more luxurious and consumerist lifestyles. This meant that advertising campaigns were battling to grab the attention of everyday shoppers through bill board signs, newspaper magazines and, as televisions became widely available, televised adverts and promotions. With newspapers, magazines and the product packaging itself being the main ways messages were put across, graphic designers were being snapped up to create the most eye catching adverts possible. In 2000, society had become even more materialistic and so the re-issue of the manifesto had become ever more necessary to make designers realise that in the advanced era we are in, money should not be the ultimate goal when there are so many other issues to address and promote. It is possible that the manifesto is even more relevant for the more recent societies who are subconsciously affected by advertising almost every minute of their day. In Looking Closer 4, Rick Poyner states that the situation is ‘incalculably more extreme’ than 50 years ago as so many designers ‘are engaged in nothing less than the manufacture of contemporary reality’ (1999, p6). As an extreme a statement that is, it is impossible to deny that advertising surrounds our every movement and so it can be fair to say that more time could be spent carrying out non-profit, charitable work without the advertising agencies falling to their knees.

Another important issue is the advancement of technology since the first issue of the manifesto. In 1964, technology was starting to take off for mass-production however it was nowhere near the scale that it was at in 2000. Mass-produced consumer goods were becoming increasingly available and popular but the capability for fast, widely-distributed advertising was not anywhere near to the level the recent millennium has seen. Computers and lightning-fast software have allowed graphic designers to be able to create effective work in minutes, with seemingly no increase in the amount of pro bono work carried out. This is another reason that the 2000 re-issue of the manifesto was so relevant.

The 1964 publishing came at a very important time in the world of design. Design had only recently begun to be seen as ‘a confident, professionalized activity’, meaning that it was now a more than acceptable career path and was a respected profession. This is one of the reasons why it is such a shame that the manifesto did not cause more of a shake up amongst the new brigade of creatives. The manifesto was intended to change not only their mind-set, but also their actions which it did not seem to do.

However, this is where another issue arises: how is it possible to judge to successes and pitfalls of each publishing of the manifesto? There is no certain way to judge how many people read the article and were prompted into giving a portion of their time to pro bono work, especially not when it comes to smaller, unknown designers. Although the advertising industry was not negatively affected, there is no definitive evidence that more designers did not pick up their pens or go to their computers and help a local charity or advertise a charitable auction for example.

The manifesto also seems to focus heavily upon what each designer should not be doing and work they should be avoiding rather than giving ideas and specific, helpful guidance on issues which they could spend their time addressing. Garland advises designers to ignore the ‘high-pitched scream of consumer selling’ (1999, p154) but there is little to help them gain understanding of what is classed as work with a positive social outcome.

It is impossible to disagree with the idea that people should do things to help society and not conform to the consumer society, however, society would not function in the same manner if designers were not willing to work for advertising agencies. Advertising may often be a tempting image of an overpriced, inessential product, but, it frequently advertises things that are not essentials but may be extremely important. Another possibility is that an advert could be for a cheaper alternative to a household product, which would thus give the poorest of society the chance to save money on goods. Although ‘detergent, hair restorer, striped toothpaste, aftershave lotion… pull-ons and slip-ons’ are not necessities in life, they do make many people’s lives slightly better or easier.

One of the main issues with the manifesto is that it expects designers to have to comfort, luxury and financial stability to be able to pick and choose the work that they accept. Consumer advertising is often well-paid and provides job stability so that designers can afford to live. Charitable work is more often than not expected to be done for little to no money as the charities aim to make as much revenue from a campaign. Although there will usually always be a graphic designer ready to accept the occasional unpaid job to boost their CV, many designers cannot choose to work for free when rent and bills need to be paid. This brings up another point surrounding both manifestoes: they were both signed by very middle-class designers. It would have been possible for them to take time out for unpaid work and it could be argued that the manifestoes seem elitist and shun the lower classes of designers.

Although both issues of the manifesto were created with the best intentions of changing the way society and designers work, it seems as though neither had a very large impact on the way they think and approach projects. Although social design is becoming an increasingly popular field of design, the advertising world still seems to be thriving, despite Ken Garland and the original 21 signatories’ efforts.

 

Bibliography:

Bierut, M. (1999). Looking Closer 3: Classic Writings on Graphic Design, New York: Allworth Press

Bierut, M., Drenttel, W., and Heller, S. (eds.) (2002), Looking Closer 4: Critical Writings on Graphic Design, New York: Allworth Press

Bierut, M. (2007), Seventy-nine Short Essays on Design, New York: Princeton Architectural Press

Narratives Evaluation

The book part of the module was really interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I used skills and knowledge gained previously in the year (the zine task) to create my book and covered a story which I am very interested in. I enjoyed the hands on and practical aspect of this, especially going and binding the book by hand. I was really pleased with the final outcome.

I think that I could improve on recording my work as I go. When I first handed in I was criticised for not showing how I got to my final images which I have now rectified by editing my posts and including my sketchbook work and any rough images. I have since begun to record my journey more as I go. Using InDesign so much was very new to me but it helped me to practice with it.

I really did not enjoy the film part of the module. I really got on with most of my group however I was made to feel as though my input was unwanted. I was originally in the film and then other shots had to be redone which meant I was then cut from the film. I also tried to edit numerous times and was not allowed an input. I pride myself on being a good team player but this group dynamic did not work. I suppose this is what you learn from each project, who you work well with and who you do not and I still gained a lot from the experience.

I would have liked to have gotten more hands on with the filming as I have since done some documentary filming and really enjoyed it. I am hoping to further my camera skills over the summer.