Flag of Bait and Switch

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Flag of Bait and Switch

Fran Harrington

“Seems pretty tropical- a giant bird just chilling by the water.”
 

Interview by L. Valena

First, why don't you describe to me what you responded to.

I was sent what looked like a bunch of Polaroid film that someone took in a tropical location. Sort of old school, retro-looking, of people in a beach area.

And what was your first reaction to that?

It looked laid back, something that would be on a trip-hop album cover. Very chill looking. Something you might see while you're smoking weed and hanging out.

What happened next?

There are four or five photos, and I was trying to find one thing that was kind of unifying among them. There were various things- there were some people, there was a bird, some with just the landscape, and I was trying to think of what unified them. It seemed to me the location- they all seemed like they were in a tropical beach area, so that's what I focused on.

The tropicalness of it?

Yes- trying to focus on the location and not anything specific.

How did you go from there?

Once I realized I wanted to focus on the location, I trying to think of what I could do to represent the location. The first thing that came to mind was to make a flag for what I had in my head as this location. It seems like some kind of a tropical place, and I just wanted to represent where I thought this was. I drew a fake nation, which I call Bait & Switch. It's an island nation like Trinidad & Tobago. I created the flag because I wanted to represent this fake nation, and I thought it would be tropical. It kind of plays off the images, and the color scheme.

Yeah, there's definitely a lot of green and blue in those images for sure. Tell me more about this imaginary nation.

Apparently there are a lot of cranes. There was a bird in one of the photos, so I put that in the flag. Seems pretty tropical- a giant bird just chilling by the water. I picture it somewhere in the Caribbean, a nice vacation spot, laid back, probably a former British colony like everything else down there. A nice place to go during the winter, where you can go and be happy, and there's lots of free drinks by the beach.

And everyone's engaging in weird art-making activities?

Exactly.

Cool. I like the idea of this fictitious space where this project lives. It's very much something that exists in the ether, in between people, and I like the idea of it having solid ground. How does this relate to the rest of your work?

I'm a graphic designer by trade. This was fun, because I don't usually get to do whatever I want. It was a challenge- I haven't done art for art's sake in a very long time. This was cool. I'm not going to lie, it was a bit intimidating at first. It's easy to respond to a need for graphic design, but when you're just given a blank canvas like this, it's overwhelming. I had to get back into the art mood and work from there.

Is there anything you did to get back into the art mood?

It took me a while to actually do something- I looked at them and was just hoping it would trigger something in my brain over time. It was more just letting it sink in, and not immediately jumping into something.

I think that can be really hard. It's interesting, because some people really love acting on that first impulse, and just diving in. But a lot of people don't- a lot of people take as much as half the time allotted to just ruminate.

I imagine the medium of choice would also play into it.

Absolutely. This must have been so different for you- in graphic design you're making stuff to the spec of the client, and here we just say do whatever the hell you want!

Yeah- graphic design is kind of the science of the art world. So this is just- there's no rules. It was fun.

Can you tell me about these non-parallel lines that separate the colors?

Yeah. One of the images with the bird looked like a one-point perspective photo. There's the beach, the land, the blue the green, and bird is standing on a railing or something. It looked like a cool one-point perspective with the bird in focus, so I thought it would be cool to do a tricolor flag, with that one-point perspective.

One-point perspective! That's such an interesting thing to focus on. I never think about perspective.

I was using Illustrator, and doing something where I was messing around with their perspective tool- so maybe that's why it was in my head. But I honestly don't think about it too much either, but I did for this for some reason.

In this island nation of Bait & Switch, do these colors have symbolic meanings? Do you attach anything to these colors?

Oh man, I didn't go too much deeper than land and water.

Do you have any advice for someone else doing this project?

I guess just do it. As I said, it feels a little intimidating at first, especially if you're not doing a whole of art for art's sake, like me. But there is no wrong answer, so just embrace the weirdness and run with it.


Call Number: M13VA | M16VA.haFla


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Fran Harrington is a 34 year old graphic designer living in Jamaica Plain. He is the Media and Technology Manager for the International OCD Foundation. In his free time he is an avid soccer supporter.