Another project that’s bubbling under Mission Flash is a poster design competition for the Chaumount (I pronounce it Cha’mone but I’m a philistine) Festival. Here’s the brief and linkage to the festival.


The Chaumont Festival team wanted to refresh the student competition, embracing the diverse media that feature in graphic design output: publications, printed objects, video, interactive productions, etc. in light of this, the judges wanted to invite the students to think about an essential component of graphic design:writ ing.Writing can put words to what images cannot explicitly say or convey. But this statement overlooks the role that the designer’s choices can play in reading practices. The same text, in different media and with specific page or screen layouts, will be read and appropriated a result, there will be not one but multiple readings; not one reader, but readers. Formatting text and choosing a mediumtherefore amount to devising reading scenarios. and this iswhat the jury hopes to read, discover and test!entrants are free to choose their text, although it is best to avoid casually choosing a text – as if for some laying-out exercise.The text can be in english or French. Whether it is is written for the occasion or borrowed, its title and source should be mentioned.and now… Get “texting”

Righto then. Here’s my first draft. I’m considering an A0 size screen printed poster but it’s still a work in progress. Brief explanation of the concept below it.

Chaumont Festival poster

For this brief I have chosen to focus on the generalizations made about different nationalities specifically the French and the English and reminding the viewer that we are all individuals whilst as human beings we are of course the same. The text that I have chosen is self-written and is based on The Treachery of Images by Rene Magritte. In this painting of what is ostensibly a realistic looking pipe, Magritte has written below it “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” – This is not a pipe – which appears to be a contradiction. However, it is of course not an actual pipe but a painting of one. Magritte’s work  intended to challenge observers’ preconditioned perceptions of reality and this, along with the French language used for the text has informed my poster design.

My text reads: “je ne suis pas un rosbif” I am not a rosbif in French and: “and I am not a frog” in English. Both ‘rosbif’ (roast beef in English) and ‘frog’ are mildly offensive, almost accepted insults from the French to the English and vice versa. Both have long histories, so long in the case of ‘frog’ that it’s original meaning has been lost. Likewise, do we really know why the French like to call us rosbifs?

For me to say “I am not a rosbif’ one would assume that I would need to be English. I have chose to turn this assumption on its head by writing the text in French. Likewise, to say “and I am not a frog” one would assume that I was a Frenchman – but this is written in English. Who is who and why does it matter? In addition to this conundrum the whole situation could be reversed. Could this be a Frenchman saying that he isn’t a ‘rosbif’? He isn’t of course but neither is the Englishman. He is an Englishman. Again, this also applies to the denial of being a ‘frog’. This never ending conundrum is represented by the two white circles within the poster. They overlap in the form of a Venn diagram. One circle represents France, the other England. They are individual in nationality but intersect as human beings.

The typefaces I have chosen for each line of text also enforce these ideas of generalisation. The French text is written in the style of ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe’. Magritte was, of course Belgian but the language he uses is French. My text is both a play on his words and written in it’s style. The English text is written using Gill Sans type. I have used this typeface as it is known to represent ‘Britishness’ because of it’s use by well known institutions like the BBC and Penguin books.