MA – 03 Illustration


With bleed

Interpretation of the task

Mandatory assignment 03 was to make a photo based illustration with vector elements, for a song that I could choose myself. The brief said that the musician had contacted me, and wanted to bring a new dimension for his song.
The criteria for the illustration was that it should be photo based with vector elements. It could not be any text in the illustration, and it should be in the format 210 * 300 mm, with a resolution of 300 ppi and 3 mm bleed.
I chose the song “Fuck deg, helsing 90-talet” (Fuck you, greetings from the 90s) by Daniel Kvammen.

Strategic design
Target group

The target group here is a bit difficult to specify. It is not just teenagers, but people in all ages. After being on a concert with this artist and seeing what kind of people was there, I would say that the target group is huge. Posters on the other hand is probably more for people from 15 to 40. So the design would have to fit all ages. A 90s look would appeal to the people that actually have some connection to the 90s. And the game on the phone would appeal to everybody from 5 to 60 years. So I think my target group is wide.
Message/achieved action 
The message I would like to send with this Illustration is that even though your childhood can be rough, you can rise above it all.
If you look at the illustration without its real context, it can also work as a riot against the social media and smart phone society of today.


I have created an illustration for a song. This is to bring new life and another view to the song. I tried to make something a bit similar to what is already made for this artist, without it being “the same”. I wanted to make something that made the message of the song easy to read and grasp. With no option to use words, this was a tough nut to crack.
Research and work process
Creative methods

I know the song and the lyrics, but I decided to check out the music video to see if there were some colors or ideas I could bounce off of. I also googled the cd-cover to see what kind of style it had. Then I searched for the lyrics just to take a better look, and see if there were some words or sentences I could come up with ideas from.
Then I created a mind map to get my thoughts sorted.

I made it in a way that I kept my 90s thoughts on one side, and my thoughts about the song on the other side. This way I could clearly separate my thoughts. A couple of ideas about the illustration quickly came to mind, but I decided to do a bit of brainstorming first. 
I wrote down the ideas for the illustration, then I started the sketching. A lot of my sketches revolved around the person showing the middle finger-idea. But I thought that that would be too obvious, and wanted to go for something else. Then I got the idea about rock, scissors, middle finger. I sort of liked that idea since it has something to do with the music video. But since the illustration was to be a photo based illustration with vector elements I decided to go for another idea. After playing a bit with the Nokia 5110-snake idea – I just went for it.

Inspiration methods

I went to Pinterest to make a moodboard. I collected pins about the 90s, inspiration of different designs I liked and shortcuts and hacks in Illustrator and Photoshop. I looked at illustrations of songs on Spotify, and made my own pins of the ones that inspired me the most. I asked on the forum if anybody had any good websites about the 90s, and got a great site from one of the teachers. I googled a lot for pictures and articles related to this era and the musician, and also for graphic designs connected to the 90s. I spoke to the musician’s sister to get an even deeper understanding of the text. She was willing to answer all of my questions as good as possible. Since the musician himself is in studio, recording his new album, it was great help talking to his sister, and bouncing my idea off of her. 
Then I took a look at my cd collection. I had a lot of cds from the 90s, and found these inspiring and helpful.


About song illustrations:

After taking a good look on my old cd covers with «graphic design» eyes, I got a better understanding of what kind of opportunities there are in making a poster. It was interesting to take a look at old cd covers versus the illustrations you find on Spotify today. After browsing Spotify for a while looking for great illustrations, I felt that I had a good overview of different illustration types. 
There are so many things to choose from, and it all depends on the music genre and when it was released. I tried to hold my research within 90s-inspired illustrations, and adding a little 2016 twist.

About the musician: 
Daniel Kvammen grew up in a little place called Geilo. This is a place with 2363 citizens. If you don’t ski or play football you will easily be excluded from the youngsters.  About his own work he says:
” My songs are mostly conversations with myself, 
about me and the people around me. 
Stories about people who try too hard, 
and people who don’t know when to shut up” 
-Daniel Kvammen

About the song:
This song is a bit different than his other songs. This one has a bit more energy. He usually sings and plays a guitar. But on this song there is a more electronic feel to it due to the upbeat tempo and the synth. The artist himself says that this song is a typical “looser anthem”, and has a lot to do with his childhood. I spoke to his sister to get to know a bit more about what his idea about the song was. Due to him recording his next album it was not that easy to get a hold of him.

About the 90s:
In the 90s the TV-series “Fresh prince of Bel air” and “Friends” was major hits. This reflected the fashion a lot. Like Will Smiths clothes and Jenifer Anistons well known hairdo. There is no doubt to the fact that names like N`Sync, Backstreet boys, Spice girls, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera also made a huge impact. TV-games and Tamagotchi was something that all teens used their spear time on. Not to mention roller skating and playing pog in recess. All the cool kids had pens that smelled like all kinds of candy, and the two buns on the head were as common as the choker around the neck, Fruit of the loom hoodies, Buffalo shoes and Adidas pants with buttons all the way up on both legs.


After doing my sketches I got a little stuck. I didn’t know which one to use, and how they would work. But I realized that the phone-idea probably would give the clearest message of them all. I improved my sketches and added color. Then I made a digital sketch. The final result was not exactly like the sketch, but the same message was the same. 
I had some problems with the screen on the phone being so small. I had planned to have my vector elements on the screen, so I needed for the screen to take much place in the frame. I had to make a studio in a storage room in my house, by hanging a white piece of fabric from the roof, adding a work lamp that carpenters use, and using my brother in laws flash for the camera. I tried out with different lenses to get the shot I wanted. It was a bit difficult to get the right light, focus point and sharp enough image. I actually ended up with borrowing another camera that had better light sensibility than mine. We had the light turned of in the room, the only light was from the lamp in the hallway and the flash on the camera. This made me get the light and shot that I wanted.
After getting the grunge vibe from the music video, I decided what kind of colors and look my illustration were to have. So when I opened the image in Photoshop RAW I tried to emphasize the colors that give me the same grunge feeling.


In this assignment there was not allowed to use text, so no typography was used.


From the music video I get a bit of 90s grunge feeling. That’s why I decided to use red, black and grayish colors. My model was wearing a red caps and a red basketball-shirt, to get an even more 90s feeling. On the cd cover the artist is wearing a red sweater under a blue Adidas jacket. The Nokia 5110 I got a hold of was also black so that was perfect. The snake vector I made in illustrator was black, just like the original. I added some “light” to the screen and buttons on the phone. I made this in a color I found to be the most lifelike. I also decreased the oppassity to 46%, to make it look more real.
The colors I used:
Fargekart 1 #F1FD50
Fargekart 2 #87001B
Fargekart 3 #2C2B2F
Fargekart 4 #B6BCC3
Fargekart 5 #59616C
Fargekart 6 #111113
Fargekart 7 #082255

Composition and layout

On the photoshoot I tried out some different compositions. But to get the screen on the phone as big as I needed, I couldn’t find another composition that actually worked. 
I also wanted the person in the back to be blurry, and the phone to be in focus, so I was pleased with the result.

The vector i decided to make was a snake-like-vector. I had so much fun searching for pictures of the actual game.
I found different kinds of layouts of the game, and made my own sketch of how I needed my snake to look like. 

There was a lot of different looking snakes, but I had to adjust mine a bit so that it would look like a hand. I also did some research on how a «pixel-hand» looked like, to make my snake even more trustworthy.

Knowledge I have gained

After using illustrator, Photoshop and bridge in the same assignment, it was insightful to see how well they go together. I faced a problem with the formats. I made the document in illustrator in the size that was required, but when I was opening the photo i Photoshop I no longer knew how to get it in the right size. But after watching some of the tutorials on, I think I figured it out.

I also faced some problems when it came to adding the bleed. But this also became a bit clearer after watching tutorials and searching the forum on Moodle and the internet.

Since photoshop does not have a function for this, I had to manually add the bleed. I had a hard time figuring out what it actually would look like when I printed it. So I ended up with printing photos both with bleed and without. I thought that made things a bit clearer, but was still not sure if it was right.

When I was combining my illustration with my report, just to see if I could manage to get it all in one PDF I realized I had a problem. 
My bleed was not a bleed, it was just a white border around the illustration with no purposes.
I the again had to write on the forum, asking for help. One of the teachers again helped me out, and I learned how I could add bleed in Illustrator instead.
I learned that it is important to follow the schedule you’ve made for what needs to be done when, or else you easily fall behind. That’s because problems do occur, and when they do it’s nice to have some extra time to get back on track.

This assignment was so much fun working with. Since I had to do everything myself from photo to vector, I got challenged on so many levels. Making a “studio” for the photoshoot, being creative and coming up with ideas, both that worked and that I had to throw away and improving my skills in the different Adobe programs.
I now know that I have to schedule even more time to the next project than I think I’m going to use, just in case a problem occurs.
Sources and references
About the 90s:

90s fashion –
90s fashion –
90s fashion – –

About the song:
Artists website –

Cd cover –
Musicvideo –

Interview with the artist about the song – ://—Fuck-deg,-helsing-90-talet.html
Lyrics –

Illustration inspiration
Digital synopsis –
Snake on phone –
Snake stitches –
Shortlist – Moodboard:
Moodboard on Pinterest, Elise Aasen Håtveit –


Composition From snapshots to great shots by Laurie Excell, John Batdorff, David Brommer, Rick
Rickman, Steve Simon – chapter 1-3 Equipment, Exposure triangle and Light

Slagkraft by Erik Lerdahl – chapter 1 «En creative holdning»

Educational videos and articles
Bleed issue –
Bleed print –
Photoshop essential Training –

Links to assignment on the blog
Elise Hatveit –
Elise Hatveit –



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