Written communication – Making, researching using words, publishing and new discourse

Module 2. Brief 2. Week 5.

Brief 2. Visual Writing.

This second brief is focused on visual writing, writers, designer, authors and their target audience. There will be a selection of podcast interviews with authors and those who work within the industry. 

I will be asking myself, why do graphic designers choose to write editorial content?

With publications such as, ‘Oh Shit, Now What?’ by Craig Oldham, we can see designers unleashing their personal struggles and frustrations coming through as guides and ‘introduction to..’ books, using their skill in design to present it in their own unique style. 

How has online tools and modern technologies encouraged designers to self publish? With the ability to print directly through a printer or bind themselves as opposed to going through publishers has cut out the middle man. This has inspired those on the fence of writing a book, especially when it’s not their main occupation, to just go for it.

Week 5. Graphic designers who write and publish

This first week of this brief I will be investigating the output of international’s publishers. How has the form and design of their publications cater to different audiences, such as the comparison of working professionals against students?

I will be looking at the importance of developing a tone of voice. How does designing a publication urge us to do this? Colour, typeface, paper, form; how do these components aid communication successfully?


This weeks lecture with Stuart Tolley explores a number of areas of design publication which allows me to explore the many different styles of outputs. What is the link between graphic design and writing? What is the history and theory of contemporary visual culture. Through making, researching, using words, publishing, and new discourse, what drives a designer to write about visual culture?

Stuart started off our lecture by exploring a range of historical publications that many designers can recognise as classic pieces within this area. Publications such as BLAST. A piece that stood out from the crowd as the form was a piece within itself. A first of its kind,  but one of many more to come that followed the style of using publication as a form itself.

Distyl, a poster and book, a dated but recognised piece once again that is attractive and works as a design piece alone.

In 1958, Switzerland based design agency, Neue Grafik, came up with a new style of design, objective graphic design. This style used typography and photography to communicate facts. It didn’t matter what the subject was, the design needed to be sober and simple, radically simplified, photographs over illustrations, as this works as fact and proof. As opposed to manipulated information. (Which all links in quite closely with last week with manipulation in the advertisement industry).

This style is extremely plane and stripped back. Quite similar to Ikea’s stripped-back style. Straight to the point, facts, clear, no lies. Only delivering the truth. Objectivity was driven by the violence and propaganda that was seen through the war. This rational work was a movement to promote honesty in advertising and marketing.

So why do designers produce and publish themselves? Adrian Shaughnessy originally Graphic Designer is now co-founder of Unit Editions alongside Tony brook. 5 years into working as a design agency, they became frustrated working with publishers. They now work to the ethos of “designing books, for designers, by designers. They aren’t publishers, they produce pieces of work rather than churning out work.

They are well known for publishing identity manuals. These were old fashioned brand guideline documents. Before the internet, if you were creating an identity, you couldn’t simply make a pdf, you would have to make a chunky manual that is also a guide – information design. They had so many of these manuals, they didn’t know what to do with them. Original manuals, tactile, every material is amplified. It takes you back to see a world of design that we have never had the opportunity to understand.

Oh shit, now what?! This is a book I hold dear to me and is one of my centrepieces on my bookshelf. As someone who struggles to read large portions of text, I found this piece not only attractive but easy to read. Short sentences and conversation style text allows the reader to feel part of a discussion. The thin columns guide your eyes through the text with ease. The contrasting colours printed across the pages surprisingly work with the text. The paperweight makes each page special.


How can content, format and production communicate a narrative in the most effective way?

This week I am looking at how visuals say nearly as much as the written word. Words are powerful but how they are presented can make them mean very different things. There is great importance in how we present them. From the paper it is printed on, the style of publication and the bind, even to the narrative that the words are portrayed in. When writing a publication, the way the text is presented is something that has to be thought about from the start. This will help guide the language that is used and vice versa. By thinking about the outputs and your audience and how they will perceive the text will help you to change the outcome it has on the audience. Noticing this will allow you to select the best option to get the response you want.


01. Research the writing styles mentioned in the task (children’s book, manifesto, news article etc).

Each of these written disciplines have a different tone of voice, which we want you to research, as it will help for tasks in the coming weeks. For example, a children’s book will have a simpler, easy to digest tone of voice, compared to a manifesto, which is persuasive and direct.

A news story.

A news story will cover all of the 5 Ws and 1 H: Who What Where When Why How. News stories tell the reader what they need to know in the shortest possible way. When writing your news story, be as succinct and precise as possible.

A children’s story.

This would include stories, books, magazines, and poems that are made for children. Modern children’s literature is classified in two different ways: genre or the intended age of the reader. It would be simple language with clear direction and understandable terminology.

A launch document for a new brand.

This would be a timeline-based roadmap that clearly communicates the deliverables in relation to time.

A love letter.

A way to express feelings of love in written form. Whether delivered by hand, mail, carrier pigeon, or left in a secret location, the letter may be anything from a short and simple message of love to a lengthy explanation of feelings.

A business plan.

A formal written document containing business goals, the methods on how these goals can be attained, and the time frame within which these goals need to be achieved.

Image result for diary of a wimpy kid pagesA diary.

diary entry is a section of writing that has been organized by date. The entries within your diary are how you organize the thoughts, feelings and opinions you are pouring into it.

Diary of a wimpy kid is a good example of the use of diary entry as a style of writing for a publication. A narrative through thoughts, feelings and experiences.

A manifesto.

A public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or candidate.

A speech.

A formal address or discourse delivered to an audience. Sharing information audibly that could be both formal or informal.

02. Write the first two paragraphs (400 words) of an original/new article in one of the styles mentioned.

Which of the aforementioned styles (children’s book, manifesto, news article etc) did you connect with? Write an article in that style. I suggest writing about something of personal interest / location.

Following on from last weeks topic of environment and climate change, I feel like this is a topic that I am going to focus on. For it to be a news article it needs to have information and share a story of some kind. For this reason I decided I would write a diary entry about the climate crisis we are currently in.

Dear Diary,

It’s getting worse. Nobody’s listening.  

We are losing animals by the thousands every month, the rate of extinction is getting higher because of us. Why does nobody care?

This is an emergency but nobody seems to be acting like it is. I just don’t understand. What do you think I should do?

The older generations seem to just be ignoring everything that is happening around them. Why are we the only ones who care?

We are the generation who will be affected by it all and yet they don’t want to help us survive, or the generations to come…

The world is heating up! It’s as if they don’t know that if we get to 1.5’C of warming that we can no longer turn this around.

BUT we still have a chance. All we need to do is come together and make small changes. 

I am eating less meat. By cutting down even by a couple of days a week I am making a big difference. If everyone tried to have even just one day a week without meat there would be such a large impact on the industry. It limits your carbon footprint and saves precious resources like fresh water and fossil fuels. 

I have reduced the amount of wasteful packaged products I buy. I used to buy bottles of water and juice all of the time but I have realised it’s just so pointless! I have a few bottles at home that I can reuse. I have now got into the habit of taking a bottle with me no matter where I go so I don’t feel inclined to buy a drink unnecessarily! The same with plastic bags… I don’t need to buy bags as often as I did as I try to remember my tote bag or bag for life as much as possible when going out to the shops.

Most importantly, I make sure I recycle. I can’t help using paper, plastic, or glass, but I can always make sure anything that I am throwing away that it no longer usable I recycle. It is sometimes difficult at home because not everyone does it, but I encourage it as much as I can and that is all I can do.

If everyone made a few small changes like me we would be in a much better position! I hope they start listening to me.

03. Type set your article. We suggest using InDesign (although you could use Illustrator, if you prefer).

We want you to consider the style/design of your article and not just write it in Word (or similar). Type set your article and consider typeface selection, leading, point size, kerning, indents etc.

Screenshot 2020-03-01 at 15.37.10 For this idea of a diary I thought I should typeset this text in the most corresponding way; in the style of a diary. I want to produce this digitally, at least for now anyway while I am developing my content and still producing ideas for this project brief. 

So to mock this up I have made a typeface from my own handwriting. This already makes this piece so much more personal.

I believe I want this piece to be from me so for now, I am going to use this typeface. However, my idea could change so it is from the viewpoint of a small child or more controversially from someone of an older generating and see their point of view.

Screenshot 2020-03-01 at 15.36.58

I have then typeset this to look like it has been written in a diary. With coloured paper, which when printed I would want to be recycled paper of some form. I have also produced some doodles to go with the them of the content. This helps as visual aids to support the narrative.  

04. Draw a sketch to demonstrate how your article could look if published as a book, magazine, publication.

We really want you to think about how paper, format and materials can enhance your article. Remember the tone of voice you’ve chosen (children’s book, manifesto, news article etc) and which paper, format and materials could be used to enhance your article.

I did not want to do something as simple as have this as a diary notebook. Looking over the different styles of publications that I could use, I got stuck on a zine. Something small, innocent, that has a clear and simple message that can hold a short text that is only 400 words. This also allows for a poster that could help promote the message that I am trying to spread about climate change.


This week I have investigated a number of different narratives and tones of voice that are used for visual writing. Leading on from Brief 01, I have continued the theme of looking at the climate crisis. For this week’s challenge, I wrote an article informing the audience of the current situation we are in. I have written this in the style of a diary entry. Very innocently spoken and simple terminology. Speaking from thoughts came quite easy to me as instead of speaking to a large crowd it was as if I was talking to myself.

This weeks project has given me insight into how the language and content of the written language can mean so much to the visual one. I think this was a good start at seeing what I can do with it. The next few weeks will be a much larger jump into this area of design.

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