Spanish War Heroes

While we explored the ideas of creating cushion covers, we were beginning to run out of time with what possibilities could be accomplished. At first we had also thought of the idea of screen printing images onto the fabric that we had bought, which was cotton calico. Not all of us had the experience and skill with stitching, so as the majority of us had the ability to screen print  we needed to come up with simple block and geometrical images. Suddenly, an issue had arisen. We did not have the time to use the facilities and go through the process of screen printing. We would have also had to book the facility at least a week in advance.


The group then thought of using other printing and painting techniques, such as cutting out stencils and using spray paint on the fabric, and also using acetone to transfer an image directly onto the fabric. Although the image would be quite opaque, it would give the old, worn and subtle effect that we could have been looking for.


After our first group tutorial, we were asked how cushions relate to the context of the story. We justified our opinion effectively, however we were told that cushions were ‘for sitting on’, which changed our minds in some ways. Therefore, with the little amount of time we had remaining for us to produce our final outcomes, we looked to producing four posters and a scrapbook, filled with small pieces of fabric with stitched images on, several media tests we conducted with watercolour paint and other various media, and typographic elements too. We had produced two very simple typographic posters which featured red, green and black with a white background only. The green and red represented the colours that you would find in a common Basque flag. This would put Joe Larreta’s history and journey into context. We produced the other two posters through the use of imagery. Although the different sets of posters contrasted, we all agreed that this was the easiest way to put Joe’s story into context.


One of our ideas to represent the ending of his journey was when Joe was given clothes that were too small for him and shoes that were too large for his feet. We came up with the idea of thinking of him as a ‘clown’. The style we were looking for for this image was similar to the famous silhouette of Charlie Chaplin. The only disadvantage with this idea is that it didn’t relate to the context. The group also decided not to include his portrait in the final outcomes, simple because we wanted the imagery to represent his story rather than the comical glasses that he wore.


For the posters we needed to choose the pivotal points of Joe’s story to link to the context.

The four events we chose were:

  • Being born and raised in Tiger Bay, describing father
  • Joining the Basque army
  • Joe’s time spent travelling around Spain and being a prisoner
  • Joe retiring to work on a cruise ship

The points in italic represent the posters we decided to be typographic, and the others would be based around imagery.

For the four posters and the scrapbook, we stuck to the colour theme of black, white, green and red to outline the colour scheme of the Basque flag. The Basque Country was where Joe moved to after his mother fell ill.

The first imagery poster has two handguns and a grenade, which were created in photoshop using the pen tool. These weapons are similar those that soldiers would have used in the war. The Basque flag is featured behind these two images. The flag was created using scans of watercolour mixed with salt to create an interesting texture. For the text we translated the words ‘He took his father’s shotgun’ into Basque.

For the second poster we used an image of the map of Wales to represent where Joe retired to. We included the uniform of a naval marine officer to best represent him working on a boat. ‘Erretiro’ translated from Basque, means ‘Retirement’. For the background we used one of the scans of the watercolour and salt texture.


To show our development, we put various media tests into the scrapbook to show our workings and idea generating. We felt it were best to do this to show our workings.


What I thought we could have improved on the project was having all the group members involved in the making of everything instead of using our own skills and not sharing them. With the typographic posters I thought more words could be used in the posters to fill them up, and possibly and bolder font to be used, such as the fonts used in the two imagery posters. By keeping the font the same in all four of the posters, this would have created more of a sense of the posters being meant for each other, and as part of a series. I also think it would have been interesting to use the scans of the media tests in the typographic posters in some parts. The distress that you see in the media tests would represent the words in the posters to show how Joe might have been feeling about his stressful journey of moving place to place.

As a learning curve and in an attempt to validate and justify our opinions about creating the cushion covers in the first place, I think we should have stuck with that idea. We could have backed up our opinions with research into memorabilia to create a wider range of outcomes rather than simply sticking to creating posters.

Given my skill in graphic design, I also think I could have had more involvement with creating the typographic posters and trying to move the posters in the same direction in terms of style. This has helped me develop an understanding of how important my practice is to illustrators and communicating and clearer message.

All the groups had presented their projects to the class. I was extremely impressed with the amount and quality of work that most groups had put into their projects.


Author: jennifertaylorgraphics

First year student studying Graphic Communication at the Cardiff School of Art and Design

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