I’M A TAXIDERMIST!

As mentioned in my previous post, as part of my online survey on deceit, I posed a rather personal question asking, “What is the biggest lie you’ve ever told.” The majority of respondents entrusted me with their darkest secrets and divulged an abundance of information ranging from confessions of false loves, extra marital affairs and the most bizarre confession of them all was a respondent masquerading as a taxidermist! This not only made me laugh but question why of all things a taxidermist?! An airline pilot, yes, a football player, certainly, but a taxidermist; hardly the most sought after profession. I couldn’t get this out of my mind and it provided me with a great opportunity to have some fun with creative experimentation.

I began by researching the profession of taxidermy and discovered the meaning of the word, according to Edwards,(2006) derives from the Greek, meaning, “movement of skin”. This definition was the catalyst in the creation of a series of experimental typography pieces. I started by cutting and moving various parts of the letterforms to typographically represent the taxidermy process. The first is more broken and distorted but still has a high degree of legibility. The second is rather more refined and was inspired by the antlers of a stag, one of the more common animals favored by taxidermists. I also intended the letterforms to give the illusion of layering, a visual metaphor for the many layers of deception involved in this untruth.

sketch 3

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The next step in my process was to create a short creative writing piece which would become part of the overall design layout. The respondent divulged that they told this lie at a party and I imagined how this conversation might have gone. The result was a one way dialogue, intentionally tongue-in-cheek, and hopefully quite amusing to read. I think this added personalisation to the lie which further referenced the complex social paradox, that I discussed in my previous post, one of judging and frowning upon liars but then being equally willing to participate in a lie.

I then began to search for images that would compliment my newly created typography and fanciful anecdote, and my immediate thought was that of a large grizzly bear. I continued with online visual research and discovered a popular Victorian taxidermist by the name of Walter Potter who had a bizarre fascination in dressing the preserved animals in quaint human clothing and posing them in scenes of marriage and card games. All very odd! I then came across a wonderful image of a stag’s head, which was the perfect match for my typographic treatment.

I experimented with a number of layout options and typographical arrangements, producing 8 variants in total. All of which I think work, to some extent, on a creative level but through feedback from my tutor and a series of consultations with my colleagues and peers I decided to refine the stag’s head piece and that this would become the chosen spread to feature in my survey report.

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Upon reflection I do feel there is merit in my unused typographical solution and I plan to try to use this styling at another juncture in my research. The cut and distorted letterforms could equally represent a distorted truth and therefore it would still be appropriate to consider further experimentation. In summary I believe I have created a layout that is appropriate in both aesthetic and content and one that ticks a large number of boxes on my personal checklist for desirable design. I plan to continue working in this vain, researching and evaluating outcomes regularly and it is my hope that in doing so I can produce many successful pieces by applying an evaluative criteria for desirable design.

Below shows the refined layout as it appears in the survey report.

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References:

Edwards, K. (2006) Taxidermy.Net: What is Taxidermy?. Available at: http://www.taxidermy.net/information/whatis.html (Accessed: 25 April 2015)

Images:

B&B Taxidermy.com, (2014). bears_taxidermy_001.jpg. [image] Available at: http://www.bbtaxidermy.com/photo_galleries/north_american_taxidermy/bear_taxidermy/index.htm [Accessed 26 Mar. 2015].

BlackBear_Close.jpg. (2015). [image] Available at: http://www.eveninsurance.info/taxidermy-pets/ [Accessed 28 Mar. 2015].

Cattelan, M. (2015). donkey. [image] Available at: http://www.horstundedeltraut.com/2012/08/equestrian-contemporary-art-donkeys/ [Accessed 26 Mar. 2015].

Potter, W. (2014). Walter Potter: Rabbits’ School, 19th century (photo: Errol Fuller). [image] Available at: https://curiouscongress.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/pat-morris/rabbits3/ [Accessed 26 Mar. 2015].

Potter, W. (2015). A cigar-smoking squirrel from Walter Potter’s taxidermy tableaux The Upper Ten, created circa 1880., Courtesy of Blue Rider Press.. [image] Available at: http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2014/04/walter-potter-creepy-taxidermy [Accessed 15 Apr. 2015].

Taxidermy-Deer.jpg. (2015). [image] Available at: http://www.taxidermy4cash.com [Accessed 26 Mar. 2015].

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I’M A TAXIDERMIST!

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