After having to almost “restart” this project in terms of visuals, I felt the need to carry out some further research regarding parental alcohol misuse. I thought that I should find some case studies / first hand stories of parental alcohol misuse in order to get more of a feel for the emotions and atmosphere of an environment where parental alcohol misuse is a (hidden) problem.
I started my research unintentionally. I listen to Radio 1 a lot – while I work, when I’m driving, at the gym, etc. I was listening to ‘Matt and Mollie”s radio show over the weekend, and heard Matt Edmondson mention that he had written a song regarding alcoholism and his relationship with his father. I was subconsciously interested in this before realising how relevant this topic was to my current work on the Behind Closed Doors project.
In a Twitter post/thread, Matt wrote:
“When I was 22, my Dad took his own life. It was exactly 12 years ago today. He suffered from manic depression and bipolar and he was an alcoholic. He’d been in a very depressed state for several years, however it still came as an enormous and awful shock. As a kid I wasn’t really aware of what it meant for someone to be an alcoholic, or that my Dad was one, but I was aware of his drinking and I often felt worried by it. I only really clicked that he was suffering from alcoholism in the immediate months before his death, when I was an adult and I took him to an AA meeting. He’d been hiding the full extent of it for years.“
I’ve highlighted the pieces within this text which I think directly relate to the Behind Closed Doors brief. I think that it captures the way a child thinks of their parent when alcohol addiction is a problem.
Matt then reflected on his relationship with his father throughout his youth:
“I also didn’t understand what it meant to have a parent whose moods could vary so differently. For a lot of my childhood my Dad was a hilarious, pun making, playful father, but he was also really difficult to live with. In my teenage years, we had a huge falling out, instigated by his behaviour. We were able to go some way to patching things up in the years prior to his death, but I’ve spent a really long time wrestling with my feelings about him. I loved him, but often didn’t like him. I found it hard to grieve for him, as I was so angry with how he had died, and what it had done to our family that I couldn’t forgive him. I never took the time to address my feelings properly. It was much easier to run back to my normal life and try and forget it had happened, which I did.”
I could understand the emotions felt by Matt (the child in this situation) particularly well when he said “I didn’t understand what it meant to have a parent whose moods could vary so differently.” I think this captures the emotions felt by the child very well. It shows how naive the child is abou not know the issue really exists, but also shows the maturity in that the child doesn’t argue with or try to challenge the adult’s mood swings.
After having read this article, I decided to look further into existing campaigns regarding alcoholism in terms of visuals.
This is an example from a range of Soviet Anti Alcohol Posters from the 1970s-1980s. I thought this was a clever way to use a combination of humour and personification. The way the beer bottle has a face, arms and legs signifies that the man has a relationship with the beer – and it looks like a positive relationship here. Maybe I could use a similar method but make the relationship look more “trapped” or restricted. Alternatively I could use the bottle man as a replacement for a child – maybe a father could be “walking his child to school”, but instead of holding the child’s hand, he’s holding the bottle’s hand, and the child is left behind. This would show the sense of neglect and even jealousy that the child feels due to alcohol misuse.
I think that this piece of typography is a clever use of words. It shows the humour that surrounds alcoholism and the fact that so many people joke about alcohol being a saviour or solution (and using a play on words here regarding a chemical solution). The use of bubbles and colours of beer / froth make the typography easily recognisable / relatable before even reading the text itself. However, I don’t think this is an idea I can take forward, as the clients said that they didn’t want to include humour because that’s one of the reasons that their campaign exists – the issue isn’t taken seriously. On the other hand, I think this style campaign could be successful is worded correctly and cleverly so that the humour is taken seriously, if that makes sense?
MacMahon, A., 2020. Radio 1 DJ Matt Edmondson Shares Heartbreaking Tribute To Late Dad With New Song. [online] Dailystar.co.uk. Available at: <https://www.dailystar.co.uk/showbiz/radio-1-dj-matt-edmondson-22786501> [Accessed 27 October 2020].
Pinterest. 2020. Pin Di Ellie Su Art Direction/ Graphic Design | Grafici, Schizzi, Figurativo. [online] Available at: <https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/250231323035205923/> [Accessed 27 October 2020].
Strike, K., 2020. Soviet Anti-Alcohol Posters (1972-1988) – Flashbak. [online] Flashbak. Available at: <https://flashbak.com/soviet-anti-alcohol-posters-1972-1988-379355/> [Accessed 27 October 2020].
I.pinimg.com. 2020. [online] Available at: <https://i.pinimg.com/originals/06/87/d1/0687d165c77c0a11920ca124c9015554.jpg> [Accessed 27 October 2020].