Category Archives: Assignment 2 – Point of sale display

Assignment 2 Reflection

A long time after this assignment I’m looking back, having moved on a bit in terms of my approach to illustration, and wondering why I found it hard to tackle? I’ve come to the conclusion that my view of supermarkets and the food industry has hampered my ability to complete this assignment in a straightforward way. Knowing this, if I were to start this assignment again, I think I would find better, useable, results.

My view

To me the food industry is positioned in an impossible moral position – it is a business and requires profit which is driven by investors; consumers buy food in order to stay alive and they need the right diet to do so while staying in good health. Changing the formulation of a food product, perhaps by adding more salt or sugar (or both) to make it taste more appealing, affects sales and thus profits.

My handicap

To me everything in a supermarket is propaganda: a distortion of the ‘truth’ (if there is a truth) to support the mythical benefits of a product. This runs quite deep in me – at an unconscious level even.

This doesn’t account for all of my struggles – there were other issues too – but I can’t help feeling that the final outcome is simply ‘what I see’ when I look at supermarket advertising.

The Answer

The answer is that I need to find a way around this handicap – perhaps by getting other people to help provide different views to my own – so that I can still tackle a brief like this without being quagmired in my own prejudice.


Assignment 2 – Post Feedback

The Brexit Option

At the end of this assignment I made a connection between the EU Referendum and my attempt to use political division to sell veg.

Post-Feedback, and now also post-referendum, and the majority voted for ‘Leave’. Since that vote all hell has broken loose in politics and we seem to be heading for a repeat of the Poll-tax riots as the nation’s youth take to the streets to oppose the successful majority.

One of the things I noticed was the prevalence of symbolism surrounding the EU flag:

EU Flag

Each star represents a member state… except that there are 28 member states and only 12 stars. The concept still holds but it ceased to be a littoral count when it became too big a number. So the concept remains that a star represents a member state, at some level.

The press have started publishing graphics and illustrations in their features and editorials that alter one star (usually near the bottom right) to represent Brexit – Britain leaving the EU.


This appeared on the Times Higher Education web page. Showing a single star fallen from its star-shaped ‘slot’ on a background suggesting leather, which perhaps gets across a suggestion of ‘establishment’ or important state buildings.



This photo effect shows a star blowing away from a tattered flag and perhaps suggests a different and negative opinion about the state of the EU… it’s a rather unhappy flag, but one star is free!


Shutterstock make this image available – a tearful eye where one star is carried away in the teardrop.

It seems common to use the lower right star!

The Poster

At some point in the last few days it suddenly struck me that the two opposing factions I was representing with my Strawberry and Aubergine campaigns might be the Leave and Remain voters. It’s not really that clear cut because I was following a purely hard-line nationalist idea and the EU referendum can be approached from many different viewpoints… Federalist / Nationalist / Economic / Imperialist (if that’s still possible) / Ecological / Cultural (talking art rather than race).

However, a strong thread of the ‘Leave’ and ‘Remain’ compaigns has been about immigration and free movement of people between member states. This single issue falls in perfectly with my two ideas as does the ring of 12 stars… which could become a ring of 12 aubergine tops with the right slight of hand.

Proper Strawberries


Working through this image to create the effects that I’ve researched earlier – the light a nd dark of the shapes of the strawberry and start of a specular highlight where the skin will ‘shine’ because of it’s slightly waxy complexion.


Filling in the rougher contrasting texture of the countryside and the table. Adding Stalks and highlights and lowlights on the pips.

I’ve added the sky to not be distracting. It’s not ‘perfect’ – there are whisps of white blended in and it fades to white on the horizon.


A little bit of shadow under the stalks to help make them lift of the surface of the fruit, a specular highlight whose edges are shapes by the presence of each pip. Also the stalks now drawn on the visible strawberries in the punnet.


Coming back to this a long time after first attempting to draw it I must have gained some experience in Photoshop that I didn’t have at the time… or maybe it’s not Photoshop… maybe it’s just a better understanding of what I want, or how to get it.


I’m working reasonably fast now but producing the result that I want without worrying about it.

Probably I’ve learnt to trust more what I see – when I look at the work as I produce it I’m more confident that it is (or isn’t) what I want… as opposed to “worrying that it might not be right”, but not being able to tell!

It’s said that art and design is about learning to see… this is it!


I’ve added textures to the punnet because I don’t like to leave these things as flat colours – it diminishes the idea that they represent something in your memory. In this case these punnet are made slightly roughly… they’re not supermarket-perfect packaging, they are more ‘real’ and I want to evoke that sincerity of product by  putting those textures in.


Winter Aubergine – Commentary

Breaking News

This is both part of the second assignment and ‘Meta Study’ – my own deeply reflective look at how I work and how I can change how I work.

I had this idea that I could get inside my own inspiration. In this case my tutor responded to my frustration about having to do more “Fruit and Veg” with encouragement about “using this frustration creatively” to sell the stuff to the masses, who are obviously resistant. This led me to thinking about just how much pressure I could put on them… without thinking about what is usual… what is more extreme?

I’ve created a scenario where “mafia” tactics are being used by supermarkets. The veg is taken hostage and will be killed if you don’t buy it. One of the things I’m hoping to tackle is my own reserve about using the good ideas that I come up with – I have doubts or miss the potential somehow. For this scenario, forget about reality, this is war and terror.



In this sketch I’ve tried to capture the emotional states of three people on the train during the Aubergine War – the figure in the centre is not overtly carrying an Aubergine… something that might be construed as not caring that they will die if you don’t buy them. The right hand figure is looking suspiciously at her and the left hand figure is absorbed by her own rescued veg.

The Aubergines themselves have come out quite well despite only being rendered in purple and green pencil. I’ve left one white area for ‘shine’ to help show their surface type and nature. Set against the much more rough and colourless figures drawn in various grades of black charcoal pencil the fruit looks smarter.

What is also interesting about the context of the tube train is that, if you take out the back story and the veg in the picture, it still makes sense – people on the London Underground have a strong English sense of ignoring their fellow travellers and it can feel uncomfortable when this convention is broken. I like that the central figure’s eyes stare right at the viewer – asking for help or imploring understanding.

In the title I wrote “Where is your Aubergine, comrade?” because I’d drawn a Russian-looking hat on the suspicious one and I thought about how this might stretch to a situation where individualism is frowned upon – you must be like everybody for the common good.

Badge of Honour


The lapel pin came out of the story – it was the next step in the unravelling tale so I considered what I could do to make such a pin. The inspiration cam from seeing the material – an offcut of a shiney silver film – which I drew a very simple aubergine shape onto and cut out. This is the simplest (almos) representation of an aubergine.

I know from experience that reflective materials do not look reflective at all when scanned – they become black or white or otherwise plain. The texture of any mirror-like material is entirely revealed by what is reflected in it… the surface is barely visible most of the time. For these photographs I tried a number of backgrounds – coloured paper, lights etc – to see how the illustration changed according to its surroundings.

The next step in the story might be the revelation of the opposite faction… the objectors who deliberately do not wear these pins or those who wear something to display their refusal to be subject to The Supermarket’s demands.


The backlash of “Pick Your Own” now brings this battle of Fruit and Veg to the point where it can become an allegory for a current day crisis – Immigration.

The Aubergines represent the Immigrants ‘Out of Season’ veg from abroad with the supermarkets using ‘propaganda’ to suggest that the British shopper should pay to save them from the war and/or drowning on an illegal journey to our shores etc. Although framed as a threat, this could be just a slant of the story – the other side yet to be revealed.

The strawberry motto “Pick Your Own” can now neatly be perceived as a Nationalist expression intended to deny charity to the foreigner.

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The black armband and strawberry logo is reminiscent of the Nazi  red armband  utilising the black swastika which has been a peaceful symbol since 3000BC. The actions that the Nazi’s associated with the swastika forever tarnished its reputation outside of certain ‘legitimate’ (and peaceful) religions. Turning the British Strawberry into a nationalist symbol might also be seen as an unfortunate turn for the strawberry.


This flag is a black ink line drawing which has been scanned and coloured in Photoshop. It looks a lot ‘flatter’ than I had intended – I would have liked the lines to better describe the hidden dimension of the subject by describing the roundness of the vegetable. The lines, of course, are not on the subject – I’ve put them there to describe the degree of shading.

Aubergine-05-Flag-OptionsPossible motifs for a flag. Very simplified. How simplified can an aubergine be while still looking like an aubergine? Does it need shine? Can the shine be really simple? Flag ‘rules’ say that the motif should be very simple and adding more detail is to move away from an effective flag.

The pro-aubergine propaganda is centred around creating a story for the vegetable – that it is in need of purchase to rescue it.


These ideas and a later depiction of a group of aubergines in a boat suggest a graphic novel approach where the plight of the aubergine and the customers’ role in saving it are both played out for the customer to identify with.

Australia actually issued a graphic novel showing how the outcome of attempting to enter Australia would result in failure. When I tried to look for the full version I couldn’t find it but I did find a lot of statistics, pie charts etc. these are in stark contrast to the very human condition of immigration… or the very vegetable condition of the aubergine… the pie charts struck me as being a bit like the boxes that graphic novels are set out in.

Emerging Final Ideas

Based my my exploration of the Winter Aubergine fiction I’m seeing two distinct ways to appeal to a customer:

  • Strawberry: National Pride, sense of belonging, tradition
  • Aubergine: Sense of duty, doing the ‘right thing’, selfless acts

The strawberry approach is the easier one as an idea – it falls into place quite easily as strawberries already have a national appeal.

The aubergine approach is still fiction – they are not actually refugees that need rescuing or hostages that need saving but they are a little ‘exotic’ or ‘different’. So this has become more about the route of appeal – how to call to the psyche of the shopper using the same kind of leverage as ‘sympathy’ would.

This doesn’t sound like an ideal kind of campaign but there might be pre-existing examples:

Puppies on a roll: the cute brown eyes of a Labrador-Retriever are obviously irresistible

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This is a drawing I made of a moment from the movie Bitter Lake – a documentary that tried to explain the truth behind the middle east conflict – it’s quite an eye-opener. I don’t know who this is – she is in a hospital, has not right arm below the elbow, a bandaged left hand and the right side of her face and right eye are gruesomely scarred. In the fil she is posed in a hospital chair for the camera in a dress, with a gold crown or tiara and a red flower. Her socks have a heart pattern on them. She is about seven years old.

This felt to be one of the most extreme forms of propaganda – the use of an injured civilian child to paint the enemy as child murderers. I would like to try to use imagery like this – the most extreme and morally questionable – to sell the Aubergines. It represents the most extreme version of threat – to dangle the life of a child before your choices. This also mirrors recent political events where images and representations of the dead refugee boy in the red t-shirt have gone viral on social media and evoked a reaction in Parliament.

Just stumbled across Margaret D. H. Keane’s paintings of people with very large eyes… they are very engaging! This style could fit well in the Aubergine campaign! After a few trials I see I can also have tears and/or smile. The whole big eys thing has a very refugee look – I think it derives from third-world people of diminutive proportions (due to malnutrition) where the eyes are genuinely larger relative to the amount of flesh they have left on their bodies.


Winter Aubergine

Breaking News

Mass panic is spreading after a well-known supermarket chain declared that unless their customers buy more Aubergines by 13th February, innocent Aubergines would suffer.

This is the first time that terrorism has been enacted by this Supermarket chain who say they have been forced into this position by the underhand tactics of their competitors and the increasing disloyalty of their loyalty card holders. Many customers are now habitually carrying four or five loyalty cards as well as frequenting discount chains where they may purchase goods in an untraceable manner.

This latest escalation has been broadly condemned by at least the three traditional high street grocers that we managed to find for comment, who say they that “the 13th looks like it’s going to be unlucky for some” and are preparing themselves for a St Valentine’s Day massacre.

Stay tuned… Keep it fresh… we’ll bring you more news as we hear it

Out of Season

The Aubergine is not normally grown in UK outside of May to September and the force-feeding of Equitorially-sourced Aubergines is seen by some as unnatural. Those without Aubergines are being looked at suspiciously.



An unnamed woman on an underground train, age 36, told our spokesperson earlier today “I had no reason to feel guilty having bought several Aubergines during my lunch break… but I had left them in my office. It was awkward not to be seen to be supporting these victims… and I felt I was being judged”.

Badges of Honour

The Supermarket has upped the stakes today by producing a lapel pin for its customers who comply with its demands for more Aubergines to be purchased. Customers wearing the lapel pin can escape from the suspicion some of them are coming under by displaying this symbol which shows that they are doing their part.


The lapel pins are made of tin and are in the shape of an aubergine.


Angry at the zombie-like compliance of the population who are now buying Aubergines in droves a group of stalwart shoppers are proclaiming counter-measures with their slogan “Pick Your Own”. They are appealing to the populace not to cave in to the propaganda about the imported aubergine and instead save their cash to buy the home-grown traditional British Strawberry when it comes into season this summer.

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The organisers of the opposing lobby group have started wearing black armbands depicting the heart-shaped cut-in-half strawberry in a white circle.

In order to regain visual ground the Pro-Aubergine lobby has launched a flag:


The flag has a green field and a purple pattern (with a green crown) designed in the shape of an Aubergine. Experts analysing the flag say that it is strong in illustrative technique but poor as a flag design and are predicting that the flag will need to be brought up to standard if it is to be used as part of this long campaign.


Meanwhile The Supermarket has issued a statement claiming that they have been misrepresented by the media. They claim that the intention was to offer help to the aubergines who would otherwise be at risk of languishing on the shelf. The spokesperson said further that the aubergines are looked after well in special facilities and that any misfortune that and aubergine might have can only be after they have left The Supermarket’s system.

Arrangements are being made to inspect these special facilities by the neutral organisation the Veg Cross.



Assignment 2 – POS Display


Farms – where veg is grown organically by hansom farmers and their smiling wives and children amidst contented livestock and pretty farm buildings. Sunshine essential

Sunshine – essential for ripening

Characatures/Personifications – engaging with people by using character to draw them in

Positive and Negative effects of VEG on people…


  • Fresh
  • Varied
  • Flavoursome
  • Crunchy
  • Nice texture in mouth
  • Colourful
  • Solid
  • Dependable
  • Healthy – Brownie points from your doctor


  • Complicated prices – hard to buy
  • Not always in packs – not easy to take off the shelf
  • Needs preparation – which needs knowledge of preparation
  • Need to pre-wash to get rid of pesticides
  • Rots
  • Allergies
  • They’re not biscuits (which are Sooooo easy to snack on)
  • Unpredictable lifespan and ripeness moments
  • Forced to eat them as a child
  • Onions make you cry
  • People complain when given veg they dislike (esp your own children)

Ideas from these… present so that it looks easy to buy and eat: a single piece or a definite number (like 2 onions or 4 baking potatoes) as if picked and almost packed for you. Include faces of people smiling at the veg.

Brief says Fruit or Veg – so both are included, which makes it easier… and harder too.

List of Fruit and Veg appropriate to each season:

Autumn (Sep, Oct, Nov) from

  • apple
  • blackberry
  • butternut squash
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage (savoy and spring green)
  • carrot
  • cauliflower
  • celery
  • kale
  • leek
  • onion
  • parsnip
  • pear
  • potato
  • pumpkin
  • purple sprouting broccoli
  • spinach
  • turnip

Summer (June, July, August) from

  • apple
  • basil
  • beans (runner and French)
  • beetroot
  • broccoli
  • carrot
  • cauliflower
  • celery
  • courgette
  • cucumber
  • fennel
  • lettuce
  • onion
  • potato
  • radish
  • raspberry
  • red onion
  • rocket
  • rhubarb
  • strawberry

Where Am I

I’ve had a few false-progresses with this Assignment so I’m going back to the beginning to find out where I am and what I ned to do.

Where are my notes? The work that I do doesn’t stay in my head. I’ve got many pages of visual notes in my sketchbooks but I forget that they are there… I”ve started with Aubergine, Pumpkin, Strawberry, Watermelon and Celery. I haven’t kept up with putting that progress here, in my learning log, so I can’t see it! I’ll put that right in a moment.

Reading of the brief: I haven’t been carrying the right thing around in my head for the brief. There are certain tracks that the brief leads me on that I haven’t been anticipating. It actually requires an end artwork for each season, Summer and Autumn, but has an intermediate stage where an objective study of the veg is asked for. I’ve been confusing the two and thinking that the final artwork is somehow an objective work. I think this is my comprehension skills not fully connecting with the right side of my brain where a lot of the thinking happens. I need to pay more attention to that because I’m getting confused.

What to do: I’ve started to look at different media that can be used to represent the food. I need to collect some real-world illustrations to demonstrate some applied techniques. In my sketchbooks I’ve used ink and pencil to explore some examples. I need to try some watercolour as I feel like that will be good at showing a quality of the food that is appetizing (this is intuition – I don’t know why yet). I tried out producing food images in Illustrator


Veg_Page_1 Veg_Page_2 Veg_Page_3

It turns out that I’ve already painted these veg in watercolours but I’d forgotten (I was pleasantly surprised to find them just hanging out to dry).

The aubergine did not come out as scrumptious-looking as I was hoping. I had thought that I’d be able to create soft transitions and even colour but my watercolour experience is not enough even to know if it is possible.

Ink and Pencil

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I’ve experimented with drawing smaller sketches of these veg. The Aubergine in my drawing is rather pale compared to the real vegetable and this, strangely, increases its niceness on the page. It might just be that darker colours are harder to handle but it may also have to do with the colours of ‘bruises’ also being the darker colours so this may tend to influence the look.

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These pictures I did, examining the way the vegetable is put together, really suffer from poor looks when I try to make them suitably dark. I had limited pens available to me so I tried to be creative with blues and browns but the whole veg is a mess. On the next page I tried using just one pen colour for each sketch creating darker areas by going over them in the same colour. This had amore pleasing effect even in Blue or Green which are nothing like the real colour of an Aubergine.

Comparing my pen and pencil sketches with these latest ones it is interesting how much ‘character’ is in the sketches done with a black fine-liner and coloured pencils. It is perhaps the case that the very nature of these coloured-in line drawings gives the viewer the deliberate message that these are ‘not real-looking’.

This is similar to the ‘Uncanny Vally’ – familiar to the making of Androids that look almost human, but not quite. Perhaps these drawings are far enough away from the life-like representation of their subject that the view no-longer needs to believe that they are life-like and can accept them as representations of very nice veg.

The same might be said of the pumpkin which, in watercolour, starts to look rather reasonable (maybe because we don’t expect ‘shine’?) but even so, the fine-liner and coloured pencil version seems to appeal more, even though it does not look more realistic. It is a representation of a very nice pieces of veg and I think our brains fill in the gaps to make it into the nice food that we wish to expect.

Objective or Subjective

These experiments have brought me to a new question about the final outcome of the illustration that I am aiming to produce for this assignment. Obviously I shall be attempting an illustration of accurate, objective quality for the intermediate stage of the assignment but for the final part I can take this in any direction.

The experiments above are starting to point very clearly towards a subjective illustration where the ‘Perfection’ of the produce is brought out at the expense of the objective reality of the work. All of the pointers and notions in the brief about food being ‘appetising’ and not putting people off would normally indicate to me that maximum realism is required (in fact, why not a really hi-res photograph?). But this is not the case.

Illustrator and Photoshop

Aubergine 02 Aubergine 03 Aubergine

Experimenting with creating the Aubergine image directly in Illustrator. Not being too concerned about the exact shape at this point but mainly wondering how shine is created and is the image realistic.


This one was created in Photoshop. The difference is how the highlights and lowlights are produced – using a brush rather than a vector shape. Using the benefits of Photoshop I was able to adjust the colour and levels of the three layers: Flat purple Aubergine flesh background; Highlights mask on curve; lowlights mask on curve. I was ignoring the green parts for this test.

Of all the illustrations of this particularly awkward produce that I’ve made so far this is the one that starts to look the most ‘photoreal’. One of the most awkward aspects of this vegetable is that the whole look is dependent on the reflections of the environment around it. Every window, light and shadowed area in the room contributes to those highlights and lowlites, including a discernible shape of me, the artist, when I’m drawing it. On the plus side this means that I could find a setting that shows it to its best. It’s a remarkable surface texture. Although it is highly mirror-like there is also a degree of diffussion – each tonal area is soft edged, limned with a feathered glow.

I n the Illustrator versions I like most the more graphic look without the soft edges or extra lowlights. I’m drawn to it because it tries not to be too fussy – my imagination makes it into a ‘perfect’ vegetable rather than my attempts at shading. The Photoshop version is much better for the shading results and could be even more objectively correct given a lot more time – I feel like the tools  to do this are there in the software.

None of the computer drawn illustrations approaches the friendliness of the fine-liner and coloured pencil sketches which seem to allude to something more ‘Organic’.

Tomato 00

This was a quick attempt at a tomato in Illustrator. It was hampered by the method of using a gradient mesh which accentuated the grid shape of the mesh. Photoshop seems a better bet for this kind of shading work.

==== STOP PRESS ====

We interrupt this blog-cast to bring you breaking news… mass panic is spreading after a well-known supermarket chain declared that unless their customers buy more Aubergines by 13th February, innocent Aubergines would suffer.

This is the first time that terrorism has been enacted by this Supermarket chain who say they have been forced into this position by the underhand tactics of their competitors and the increasing disloyalty of their loyalty card holders. Many customers are now habitually carrying four or five loyalty cards as well as frequenting discount chains where they may purchase goods in an untraceable manner.

This latest escalation has been broadly condemned by at least the three traditional high street grocers that we managed to find for comment, who say they that “the 13th looks like it’s going to be unlucky for some” and are preparing themselves for a St Valentine’s Day massacre.

Stay tuned… Keep it fresh… we’ll bring you more news as we hear it

==== ENDS ====

…this thread is continued in Winter Aubergine and in the parallel post Winter Aubergine Commentary which two posts ought to be read ‘Face en Face’ to allow one to explain the other. 

The Winter Aubergine is a fictional scenario that I’ve created – I’m looking to use it as a device to carry my development to uncharted areas.

Drawing types…

  • Forensic
  • photographic evidence
  • Good/Bad Carbon (Charcoal) footprint
  • Courtroom – in the dock (leaves?)
  • Placards
  • Grafitti

Developing Big Eyes

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Experimenting with the big eyed look – this works for what I’m trying to achieve which is a sense of ‘guilt’ for not buying the Aubergines.A4 2_Page_14


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trying out watercolour pencils to blend the Aubergine skin here.

Overall I’m very frustraed with watercolour… tubes or pencils… and I realise that I would need a good deal of experience with that medium to put this problem right. There always seems to be colour variances which I’m sure are to do with how I’m applying the water and using the brush but I can’t figure out what to change.


This is a bigger version of my original sketch

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Just doodling with the aubergine I stumbled across a chance similarity between the top of the aubergine and the star of David which Jews were forced to wear  in Germany from sometime before WW2. Somehow this nails it – it makes the connection between the veg and the metaphor quite strongly. I might dispense with the correct colour for the ‘green top’ in order to shift the perspective towards the metaphore.

The remaiing problem is colour – I’v only be able to produce suitably clean colour on the computer so I’ll use a hand-drawn line image and add the colour using photoshop.

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I developed the idea of a prison or concentration camp above with an over-sized aubergine plugging a hold in the fence. The theory is that by removing the aubergine (when a customer buys it) they open the breach for the prisoners to escape. This struck me as being either ‘Goodies’ (1970s/80s TV comedy) or computer game (a spin off for the supermarket to educate the children perhaps!).

I wondered about the use of colour for the whole thing… making the aubergine stand out. The purple colour is very useful for that as it is easy not to use purple anywhere else.


This final image was produces as a pencil sketch which was coloured in Photoshop. I’ve also added some texture to the striped shirt fabric.

Summer Strawberry

The strawberry’s tale has been harder to follow to a conclusion.

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My thought has been to mirror current politics with the Nationalist movements wishing to exclude foreigners (aubergines in winter) and look towards a British Grown fruit – the Strawberry. This particular fruit is ideally suited to the Nationalist cause as it is Red (like the St George Cross), associated with Wimbledon and grown here in fields where signs proudly proclaim ‘Pick Your Own’. This phrase has the cynical reading of choosing your ‘own creed’. The whole thing falls neatly into the Nationalist camp… er… whilst being innocent strawberries.

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I have had in mind to use Red, Blue, Yellow, Orange and Green for this – bright colours associated with summer (Blue sky, Orange/Yellow sun etc) which led on to looking at the Union Flag as a National Symbol, perhaps swapping out the colours slightly.

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In nationalist terms the Union Flag is an interesting example… it still clearly represents the flags of the individual nations – England, Ireland (N) and Scotland. Wales is represented as combined with England’s St George Cross.

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In keeping with the existing metaphore I’ve tried to see if the Strawberry will fit Nazi symbolism.

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Swapping the blue parts of the Union Flag for triangular strawberries was interesting, but seemed a little weak visually. It could be developed to be stronger perhaps.

I’ve made a visual list here of some visually English National ideas – Roses, Churches, High Tea, Crown (Monarchy) and cucumber sandwiches (a favourite of Lady Penelope I believe).

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Here I’m looking at the seeds on the surface (a particular peculiarity of this fruit) and how they might play a part in the symbolism.

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Thinking here a little about our stereotyped idea of the kind of person who belongs to a Nationalist group – inherently xenophobic, perhaps looking presentable, perhaps not!

One quite strong idea here is to use the ‘Punnet’ – traditional container used to collect strawberries when picking your own – presented against an English summer backdrop. The Punnet is extremely useful place where suitable imagery can be presented. I’ve tried a Union Flag but the words ‘Pick your own’ would seem here to be in a harmless context whilst perhaps delivering their more cynical message to the initiated.

So then I come to the strawberries themselves… they seem now to be the least important part of the image so long as their are recognised as being strawberries that is enough.

This style of presentation – the elaborate visual story – seems to belong in the ere which inspired it. The 1930s-50s before photography really became a strong alternative to the illustration. Today supermarkets seems to just use huge photos of the fruit and veg – beautifully lit and without ornament. The strength of an illustration is to be able to simplify and show only the details that matter for the message without all of the distracting details. The extreme of this would be the graphic image.

Required Elements

I’ve discovered that a strawberry image requires some or all of the following:

  • Red – the majority colour
  • Green – stalk, enhances ‘freshness’ and opposes the red to make a vibrant image
  • White – the skin is shiny and specular reflections look white; the interior of the fruit also has white areas
  • Seeds – the characteristic pattern of ‘dots’ that covers the outside of the fruit.
  • Shape – approximately heart-shaped, but some leeway as they vary in shape

To put this all in our required Nationalist context I’m going to use the punnet as a flag and slogan bearer. It can be brimming with strawberries and placed in front of an idyllic, English landscape… just add cream!

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Here’s a sketch of a possible final layout. I discovered that the handle on a punnet (as I remember them!) can be coloured along with the top band of the container to look like a St George Cross. Adding a white liner helps make the background for this flag correct.

The backdrop to the punnet is an English countryside.

Brit1-1 (dragged)Brit1-2 (dragged)

This was an experiment in creating an English landscape using watercolours. I have some idea how I need to do it but I definitely need a whole lot more experience with watercolours to get the kind of result I’m looking for.

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These three pages represent exploration of the scene for the illustration – seeing how to present the view of the Punnet. The final choice is a low down view that gives the ‘flag’ a monumental look – bigger and and more ‘above’ and commanding.

It took me a while to understand how the specular highlight of the strawberry is actually rendered using pencils! It’s a bit like a chesterfield sofa.

I abandoned the Union Flag reluctantly – it looks really good in the picture but dilutes the specific appeal that I’m going for. I’m intending to sketch this in pencil and colour it in Photoshop and perhaps see if the pencil sketch can be turned off at the end. In this case I might be able to introduce some blue using the shadowed parts of the objects, and perhaps some ‘gold’ (orange/yellow) highlights from the sunlight which will be coming from the front and high up (like summer!).

Strawberry final artwork

I’ve started to colour the very lightly sketched line art for the final Summer Strawberry work.

When I came to make the first strawberry I discovered something about my use of Photoshop as compared to real-life media – I understand it a lot better! this was not obvious as I had often been frustrated with the limitations of having to use a mouse asa proxy. Drawing anything that looks ‘natural’ (ie: not computer graphic) is challenging. This time however, perhaps because I’ve studied strawberries in the course of this assignment, I found that I could work out what to do to get what I wanted.


This is my first strawberry. It probably didn’t have to be this detailed for this particular illustration but it has a number of properties that I personally couldn’t achieve using watercolour, pencils or similar…

  • I can work on details by zooming in
  • I can control the colour easily
  • It’s quicker to experiment with colour variation
  • Using layers I can adjust one aspect without affecting the others

Second strawberry:


With my second strawberry I’ve refined the method to make it simpler – the strawberries are small in the picture and might look better if they are described with more economy.

The seeds are not exactly correct as they are just the pits rather than the tine seeds in the pits. Other strawberry designs use a single mark for the seed and its pit – that’s enough for us to recognise and understand what is being represented.


So I think this might take a while… I should submit the assignment on the basis that this is the plan – it just needs completing.


This is a very rough idea of the finished picture. It reveals that I have some more thinging to do about the content of the image at the bottom – it’s a bit bland. Perhaps the whole thing can have a tighter crop? The ‘table’ might also need re-thinking about as it dominates the picture – the brown colour I’ve shosen here is over-powerful compared to the St George Cross which should be the dominating effect.

Lately this somewhat facist politicised image has taken on a new meaning WRT Brexit! It’s not just about British fruit now – in the current political context its meaning would be interpreted as being in favour of the ‘out’ campaign in the European referendum. A danger for a supermarket employing national imagery is that it could find itself unwittingly appearing to support one view that didn’t exist when the imagery was chosen. Another example of this is are the dozens of companies that based their business names on the river in their local area in Oxfordshire… the river Isis. Unfortunate that the word ‘Isis’ has much more recently become associated with the latest offshoots of Wahhabist movement and its most extreme activists.