Narrative + Voice

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Narrative + Voice



Below the Cambridge Dictionary expression relationships diagram which got me wondering: Is there a correlation between people who miss chances, boats, points, marks ? To me those people lack of organisation, like they are not good a focusing on the important, which rely on hierarchisation.


When I got to the print studios on Monday morning my research was only a one mind map about my idiom "Missing the boat". I didn't had ant visual ideas except the literal image of someone on the coast who just missed his boat. Which was a bit of a problem since the definition of an idiom is : "a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words (e.g. over the moonsee the light )."

The tutors invited us to start experimenting with the technique just in order to get a taste of it. I decided to collect more materials and went to the metal workshop and found some intresting pieces of scrap metal.

Here is what happened during the workshop :

  • I found a really interesting round mesh, since it wasn't perfectly flat it printed only partially which I found quite interesting
  • I also experimented with heads from an electric drill which happen to create cool continuous diagonal pattern
  • I was amazed by the finish of printed fabric objects : the quality is amazingly fine giving the impression of a 3D images -like ultra-realistic shadows- but in a beautiful black and white flat texture (not grayscale) that reminds me of some kind of medical scanners

Anyway after the workshop I was had mixed feelings : I was enthusiastic about printmaking but had no clue how to make the idiom "Miss the boat" engaging to my audience (whoever it was going to be).

Looking back at my mind map I tried to understand more about the philosophy behind this idiom. I started thinking about why people do miss boats and I believe it is a problem of focus/attention :

  • Some people are not focusing at all, they just kinda float in their life which is an issue because it means that they will miss every single boat passing around
  • Others are focusing on the wrong things, they need to reconsider they priority so they can follow the best route that exists for them (ex: following the route that someone else expect/impose you to take will make you feel after a life-time like you have missed the boat)

I feel like in both case it's important to take action : What is next? It's not by spending your time moaning about life that your situation will improve. 

  • You can either wait for the next one that hits you and hope you will recognise it in time
  • You can decide to create you very own way to get there (cf. all the roads lead to Rome)
  • Or you can change your direction and go somewhere else

After all this thinking I finally understood something : "missing the boat" is seen as a problem. Everywhere it is talked about as something really negative. I haven't seen anywhere

  • It wasn't meant to be
  • It is best that way

And to be fair, I am don't believe in faith, you need to take what you want (cf. this article explains well my point).

From there my reasoning was : Problem? Problem solving. I know from Unit 1 that not every problem can be solved aka Wicked Problems. But still, I believe as a designer our job is to attempt solving problems. So bang on the problem solving machine.

So I searched : how to stop missing the boat and found this article : which has a really similar approach to my thinking.


I tried to apply Problem Solving thinking to "Missing the boat":

  • Identify : Is oneself conscious that he/she missed the boat ?
  • Define : Is oneself able to point out what kind of boat he/she misses?
  • Explore : What are the options available to catch up
  • Action: Start walking down what has been previously identify as the best path for oneself 
  • Look back: Evaluate improvement, if resentment is still "missing the boat" go back to the first step and work way through again

Then I asked for formative feedback from a friend:

  • What is this about?
  • The tone is so posh/why are you trying to look intellectual
  • How are you going to make this visual
  • Who is going to use this? and where? What is it exactly?

Truth is : since I left the print workshop I have been trying to find an angle to work with "missing the boat" that stimulates me so I could be motivated.

I now need to find a way to get other people engaged.


Since I had a bit of a intellectual journey so far I thought that a publication or some sort of printed format would be appropriated to communicate my process. 

I thought about something called like "5 steps to stop missing the boat". I quite liked the sonorities between step and stop and it definitely feels well copywriter but then the 5 and missing the boat are a bit out of place wich shouldn't be the case really.

In terms of format, since I have annotated that the 5th step is to look back and if things didn't work out, go through the whole journey again; I thought about some sort of book could almost be bound using single rings so it could open 360 : like there is no first page or last page but the reader has to figure out at what stage he is at this point.

On another hand I thought about a pocket containing 5 booklets, one helping you for each stage.. But I am not  sure about this since they are not separated entities, they work intricately together as a process.


I don't know if I made it clear earlier but the vibes I am trying to go for is a playful but HELPFULL method that people could easily follow and stick too. A brilliant reference is Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt Oblique Strategies cards that give you a stratégique move to follow when you find yourself stuck. They are so simple and thus so effective.


Anyway, after so much thinking I needed to get some doing involved. I don't know why but I had the feeling this project could really benefit from a sort of mixed-media or collage aspect which is really unlike what I usually do. Those words just evoke to me some sort of messy composition and I know that it is completely unjustified because collage can be really neatly done..

So I just decided to illustrate different sort of boats in different mediums : each medium should be picked in relationship to what kind of boat is being illustrated. I have chosen

  • two really modern boat to be carved out of lino which can echo the plastic of their plastic hulls
  • two sailing boat printed from a fine wood that I can carve really intricatly
  • two more modest boat to be carved out of scraps of wood that I found in the wood studio in Archway
  • two ships to be metal-etched (In the end I didn't had time to do metal etching.. Since it is a technique I am not familiar as much with I was afraid about how I could fit it in.. And just decided it wasn't that essential for my body of work.)

It's always a joy to me to take time to nicely carve my illustration, it is probably my favourite part of the making process. Printing is fun, but never as intense as when I completely loose myself in carving with so much attention that no one can disturb me. I just think that once the first print has been made it is not as exciting anymore.. I did experiment with composition and it worked well, but I don't know after the first print, it is just so much easier to imagine what it is going to look like specially nowadays when everything can just be scanned and altered on Photoshop.

After scanning everything, I actually decided not to modify my print but I experimented with typography and layout. I came up with this sentence Missed not missing that I thought is really effective : they are plenty of opportunities out there ready to taken, so stop complaining about not getting any. The truth is they don't take any.



Tutor said I have a consistent body of work. I believe she was worried at the start that I wouldn't do any work since I was so fussy about finding an idea that I thought was worth it.

  • Loosen up my practise : by having such precise idea of how I like my work to be -like my problem of needing a great concept / the fact that I only use black ink / and that I see myself as a single plate-carver (no multiple layers what so ever)- all of this restrict my work and she believes uni is the moment to explore and not restrict which I totally agree with and will try to work on
  • Have a look at Peter Doigs

Below the PDF I made to present my body of work and my reflection journey.

Almost a month after the project now, I have just watched this video and I don't know if anyone get the link that I see between what this lesson and my work : basically I was trying to make the exact same point but in a much messier way : if you put the pebbles first you won't have space for the golf balls = if you are focusing on the small stuff you are going to miss the boat.


Easter break is now over and I have to admit I didn't got far in the making of my book but I realise that it's not a bad thing because I just found a much more efficient way of binding this project : I have recently got a job from the UAL website Creative Opportunities. This page is incredibly resourceful, and easy to use. I can't believe it is not advertised more by our uni -in a way it happened to be a good thing for e because it means that the concurrence for the post I applied to wasn't too extensive-. Anyway, all my friends were like 'waah so good you got that placement, sounds so cool" etc etc. 

CAREFULL READING THE NEXT PARAGRAPH I might sound really up my self.

Since the start of my foundation year at CSM, I had many amazing opportunities through uni. I sometime have this weird feeling that people think that I am just lucky. As I wrote previously, I believe you need to take what you want. But the truth is in serval case, I didn't had to look for taking anything because opportunities were given to me. Although, I don't take anything for granted.  I work hard and this how I got the chances to do so many amazing projects. And I think people should get motivated to do so too.

My point is, this uni is an amazingly web of creatives and is so so resourceful : more people should take advantage of it.

SO all of this talking to get back to my project : I am thinking about turning this project into a campaign promoting UAL Creative Opportuinities.


Upon, a example of a flyer I found in the library versus posters I designed.

The flyer in the library was on over-crowded shelves behind a librarian's desk. I don't think the image of two young woman -who ever they might be- is really striking. More over the brick background wall (probs at CSM) that they are standing in front of makes the flyer even more busy and not sticking at all. Finally, I think the word careers and employability are clear and stand out but I am not sure how efficient they are. A strongest and more personal copywrite could have benefited.

This is why I decided to go a voice that addresses directly to the reader : YOU, because it's about the reader really isn't it? 

Then I think that a simplistic coloured background could help to make the poster stand out : things on the uni walls are too often crowed with information and don't make me want to read any of them. I thought the paper boat image was quite iconic, simple and intriguing : what is this poster about? And then comes the line 'ever felt like you missed the boat?" that invite the person to think and go on their own reflective journey.



Alice Lengereau
15 April 2017, 6:02 PM

When walking in Paris over the break I found a lovely gallery where this amazing illustrator was exhibited. She decided to illustrated the literal meaning of french idioms. I loved the irony of her approach which was emphasised by the fact that she chooses the most absurds ones ! (see more here)

Below :

  • Avoir la gueule de bois = Have the wooden face = Be hangover
  • Se peler le cul = To peel one's ass = One feels really cold
  • Larmes de crocodiles = Crocodiles's tears = To cry loads

PALM Illustrations.png

I believe those illustrations are lovely but they work well because they are so absurd, I wouldn't have been able to go for such a approach since "Missing the boat" is a rational situation.


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