Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Arts & Humanities research posters

So I told you all in the previous blog that I'd been inspired to start thinking about my next poster more visually, right? It seems like the time has come to put this into action, because shortly after my last blog post an email came round advertising the TECHNE Student Congress on Digital Humanities at the beginning of January, with a specific call for posters. The plan which will now be translated into a real product is to re-do my poster from the November conference via the medium of stick men cartoons. I don't yet have anything new written that I'd like to present in poster form, and in any case thought it would be an interesting experiment to give myself the chance to 'do it differently' (as one so often says after a particular event or presentation). It's all part of the learning. My inspiration comes from various quarters, but honourable mentions must go to Heather Isaksen who is an excellent lampoonist herself but on top of that got me into the work of Hugleikur Dagsson whose books often cause me to erupt into rib-aching laughter.

This was the version I presented at the end of November:

I was pleased with its content and felt I had successfully managed to isolate one strand of research in the chapter I've just finished, but deliberately kept the visuals unchallenging because in my first ever poster, at the bottom of this post, I tried to spend a lot of attention on both style and content and ended up doing both rather badly. Baby steps, I say. Now here's the storyboard which I drew hurriedly during the November conference and have added a little to since then (apologies for my lack of image editing abilities which means I wasn't able to rotate the image - it doesn't seem to be a simple HTML code but requires CSS or something):

As you can see it's roughly the same poster as version 2, but more visually appealing I hope, more humorous and more creative. Hopefully if I keep going down this route I may one day win a poster prize, as there always seems to be a competition near these things. Until I did some further research today I thought I would either draw the cartoons by hand or use MyPaint, or Microsoft Paint when I go home for Christmas and can use my parents' desktop, but I've found some great advice online here which suggests drawing by hand, scanning and then using Inkscape. It all sounds quite doable, but of course I am time-limited so I may have to stick to PowerPoint - we'll see.

Another awesome repository of information for all things research poster is a man called Colin Purrington's blog here. There's still not that much out there for the humanities specifically, and what there is seems to conform to the rules of boring loudly disparaged by these two whizzy science-based blogs, and I subscribe, at least in theory, to the idea that it's not because we may be more text-based or whatever that we need be boring and ignore the principles of good design. I probably did do that, in my first poster:

But I like to think I can learn from the experience! If this next one comes out looking nice, I may be able to use it for the next @ObjectFocus event in April which will look specifically at cartoons. Although I seem to remember it'll largely be about the materiality of this medium which has been overlooked, not their print content. But who knows. And so Christmas is starting to look a little less relaxing!

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