I have kept the title brief as I will go into detail here. Any help would be hugely appreciated.
I am stuck on a topic to focus on for my first ‘big’ essay (leading up to my dissertation)
My main issue is actually choosing a topic - as the critical analysis part is all okay and a strength of mine. But right now, I am concerned that I won’t even manage to get going with the writing part because, after hours of research, I can’t decide on a good and focused topic. All of my ideas have been broad and I have reached a ‘dead end’ with them.
Some of the ideas I have researched in depth have been:
‘ephemeral vs. timeless’ which was an essay focusing on the idea of originality (timeless) design vs. trend-based (mainstream) design and to what extent a designer should conform to mainstream trends. The questions/problems for this essay were based around whether designers should work within the framework of mainstream trends, or aim for more eyecatching, striking designs which won’t fall under the radar alongside the many similar designs which are trend-based. This topic also would have touched on design anarchy, so the complete antithesis of mainstream [throughout history] (post modernism as an example), and designers who have successfully placed the message/client and meaning of a design above mainstream visual trends. This idea was inspired by my own thoughts, and being conflicted with the trends I read up on each year. So I can understand why it may be too broad. Right now, a few examples of the big trends are: flat design, nostalgia (memphis retro) and ‘oversized limbs’ in character design. These designs dominate the commercial industry - but (to put it blatantly and briefly) are becoming predictable [tedious?]. They are everywhere. So, if a designer were to follow mainstream trends - such as the above examples - does that not pose the risk of their work falling under the radar among many similar designs? And do these trends not put an ‘expiration’ [ephemeral] on those designs? This essay can draw in many counter arguments about the importance of trends, and the ephemeral nature of graphic design itself.
I am aware that this topic is broad, and my tutor has also said that I need a more focused topic. I really have had my heart set on a topic surrounding non-conformity and originality vs. mainstream design, and the concept of ephemeral/timeless. But am sensing that perhaps I need to put this idea behind me. If you have any more focused ideas for a topic surrounding the idea of originality/design anarchy/going against mainstream, or anything branching out from the above idea, then I would love to hear some of your suggestions.
I have also considered topics surrounding appropriation and pastiche, as recommended by peers and my tutor. But am not sure where to find resources that are applicable to present day graphic design as I have reached a dead end with research for this. Are there issues relevant to appropriation/pastiche in the industry and its practice right now?
Graphic design and color theory. I am very interested in symbolism and ethics/culture in graphic design, but have found it difficult to expand on this topic for a long essay. Any suggestions for resources surrounding the issue of colours/meaning and culture/ethics in graphic design?
Craft/print design vs digital is another topic of interest to me. Any resources surrounding this would also be hugely appreciated. The main issue has been finding relevant journal articles/resources that are in line with current times.
I am also open to any suggestions for my research; so any brand new topics or ideas for a critical essay topic are more than welcome and would be hugely appreciated.
Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this.