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A Study of Space and Shadows // Emil

A Study of Space and Shadows // Emil
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Of the sticker designs I’ve worked on so far, most of them have a wabi-sabi spirit to them. To balance the line in the BK style I was asked to work on a design that was inspired by Bauhaus.

Bauhaus originated as a design school in Germany and was active between 1919 and 1933. But the spirit of Bauhaus was in the ideology that was taught and spread around the word. The idea was to marry the arts, craftsmanship, and mass production as a union of creative expression. They emphasized beautiful design that was centered on practicality and usefulness.

I wanted an idea that incorporated both the ideology as well as the iconic visual design cues of Bauhaus. But as Bauhaus encompasses a large scope of ideas and imagery, what was originally one project split into two visual directions. Thinking of how they could be used, one direction moved with the intention of “adding” to the page and the second with the idea of “subtracting” existing elements.

The “Addition” stickers drew inspiration from the fun and colorful elements of Bauhaus design. Primary colors were a favorite of the movement. Taking into account the limited print technology that was available at the time, I opted to shift them into a muted “vintage” palette. Balancing the colors we chose simple geometric shapes that could be easily incorporated into planners, and mirrored shapes that could be used as tabs.

I wanted to create flats of color that had a sense of character, so I opted to paint it traditionally in gouache. Gouache was a favorite medium of designers (pre-photoshop) for its ability to create clean shapes and flat colors. When paintings are scanned, adjusted and printed, the computer processes the color and texture in all its minute inconsistencies. When printed, this results with a different energy than if I had opted to create perfectly flat colors on the computer. A very small difference but I think it added to the overall expression of the final product.


On the opposite end of the same movement I wanted to create a design inspired by the iconic architecture associated with Bauhaus. Walter Gropius was an architect and the founder of the Bauhaus school. His style influenced many architects and focused on highlighting materials and rigid forms. What I was specifically drawn to though, were the shadows within the structures. I feel like the open space gives falling light and shadows their own voice on the floors and walls.

Because the idea was to open up space I was especially thinking of how they could be used on a planner with a busy layout. I enjoy the practicality of my Jibun Lite weekly spread, but I’ve found myself more than once wishing for more open-ness in the rigid format. I also find that with the already busy layout I’m reluctant to add decorations to the page and making it hard to read. But I wanted the stickers to complement as many styles of planner as possible. I chose a size that was the width of the A5 slim Jibun column, which also fits within the width of the Hobonichi Cousin weekly columns. I set a graphic divider on the stickers matching the width of the B6 slim Jibun columns, so that they could peek out a little from the edge like a tab of sorts.

I decided on graphite to imitate the way shadow transitions into light. I used 602 and pearl blackwing pencils to build up gradients as well as to create line-based graphics. I arranged these elements to match the size and intended partition of each sticker, while also creating an overall playful arrangement of light, shadow, and line.

The “subtraction” design was a bit more experimental, and at the beginning of the process I was unsure if the idea would work (White stickers for a white planner?). But I feel like the end result came out open and airy. The partition creates a suggestion for how they can be used without having an absolute rule.

Through this process I often asked myself if they were too experimental or simple. The interesting thing about designing something like stickers or tape is that the finished product is not the final design. They are meant to be used and arranged on a page, which makes them just a single element of another person's composition. I’m looking forward to seeing how other journaling creatives find ways to use them in their analogue process.

Text and photos by: Emil 
Where to find Emil: @everydayemil

Read other stories by Emil : Here

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