Assignment One: Part One

INTRODUCING YOURSELF – Design a series of at least 3 postcards (final size A6) that say something about who you are, your interests in graphic design and your wider cultural influences or interests

I started by making lists of everything that came to mind regarding who I am, my interests and influences. I tried not to censor myself, even when things didn’t immediately seem relevant.

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I was eventually able to group WHO YOU ARE into the following:

  • Animals/wildlife/natural world
  • Love of space/science/maths
  • Creative (drawing/writing/performing)
  • Consuming (film/music/TV/literature/art) – a cynical name for such a category, perhaps.


Being the over-thinker that I am, I found the idea of 3 postcards to be too vast and therefore overwhelming. Postcards are used for so many things. I decided to do some research on the history of postcards and the variety of postcards found today in the hope that I could narrow things down a little. I have also created a Pinterest board, where I have gathered examples.

  • Greetings cards
  • Tourism
  • Advertising
  • Invitations



The first thing that came to my mind when I thought of postcards was the American State postcards, and other tourist postcards that I have either received or sent myself from abroad. I found many examples of these online.


I thumbnailed some initial ideas for a tourism postcard and a postcard series based on a book (the jacket, and two inside pages).

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I went back to the list I made at the beginning and narrowed down my graphic design interests and wider cultural influences/interests.

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I would very much like my three postcards to work well together, however, I would also like their form to follow their content, so the following process did require a bit of back and fourth. I was looking at ideas to see where they would take me, but holding off on diving too far into a concept that would only work in isolation. About halfway through these initial sketches I decided that the answer to the question about my interests in graphic design would be in the execution of the postcards themselves.

Final list of ideas for all three postcards

  • data
  • film or gig poster
  • packaging
  • pictograms
  • book jacket
  • graphic novel
  • map
  • road sign
  • “state”
  • transit map
  • tarot cards

I usually thumbnail a lot more, but I felt like I needed to experiment more with an idea’s potential before I did this.

One idea was a road sign. I printed off some examples and stuck them in my sketchbook. I went off the idea immediately. I explored some ideas briefly, in case they ended up inspiring me. What I was drawn to were the icons on the signs, something that may be of use later in the assignment.

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I then looked at packaging or advertisement for a product.

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A “state name” postcard (the ones with text and each letter containing an image) initially seemed perfect. However, I think in order to pull it off, it needs to really look like the examples I gathered. Whilst this would be an interesting technical challenge, I think it would be quite uncreative.

A “state map” postcard was the one that had me most excited.

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I normally would not do such detailed drawings at this stage, but I found it was the only way to explore the ideas potential, as my rough sketches are too rough for me to get a real sense of them. Also, I found that drawing would help me generate more ideas, or expose gaps in knowledge. I got to this stage and realised I would need to do more visual research of maps.

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I looked at transit/transport maps. I think these are fascinating. I’ve read a little about them before, but if I went down this route, I would definitely do more research. My thoughts are on my sketchbook pages below. I really liked the “murder-wall” style map. With yarn representing different lines. The strange thing was, whenever I looked something up, such as “embroidery subway map”, I would find it. I collected more visual research here.

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As you can see, I started to think about cross-stitch and embroidery

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It is at this stage that I decide that the map has a lot of potential, and look to one of my original ideas, which is for a set of postcards that replicate a book or graphic novel. A cover, a map, some sort of contents page, perhaps. I am a bit concerned that I haven’t explored the other options fully enough, but I think this gives plenty of scope to answer the 3 questions and I can try out lots of variations before i commit to the final designs.

Whilst exploring this idea, I shall also be looking at types of paper and gathering sources of inspiration for how I might possibly execute these designs.


I decided at this point to do a few experiments to see if I could even remotely achieve the a cross-stitch effect using Illustrator. It was quite fiddly, and I’m not sure how easy it would be to edit (I think I would have to have the design completely finished before even starting to use Illustrator – except perhaps for some colour changes). I think they are quite good, and there is definite room for improvement, as you can see in one of the images, I am experimenting with the stroke widths and opacities. I think I’d prefer a smaller stitch size, too. I didn’t have much luck creating the fabric. This is something to bear in mind.

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Looking at cross-stitch, I stumbled across merit badge tutorials. I realised they are a perfect mixture of things I love.  As you can see, above, I gathered some reference material.

I also, went back to the purpose of the assignment. I think I have explored enough options and have settled on 3 postcard ideas.

  • Merit badges
  • Map
  • Field Guide/diagram of things you will find on your travels or that you need to take with you- which I haven’t actually explored outside of my head yet, but I think it will go well with the other two postcards, and can incorporate things I have already looked at. 
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Continue to Part Two