The harmony of information and art in a creative layout is what I love about being a designer. To me, a successful design needs to be as interesting as it is functional. My passion for graphic design began with game manuals. After I bought a new game, I would sit in the back seat and read the manual that came with it on the way home. These small but dense booklets are packed with story introductions, concept art, and detailed illustrations. The way these manuals inform the reader yet leave much to the imagination is what inspired me to be a designer.
Blissed is a collection of design concepts for a mock game that focuses on themes of nostalgia, depression, greed, and blind faith. I’ve created posters that show locations and characters from the game as well as game case artwork and instruction manual. The manual features a short narrative introduction, character and location illustrations, and descriptions that symbolize the four major themes. I chose to approach these themes with a sense of humor while designing characters and their descriptions because that is how I try to approach hardships in my own life; with optimistic laughter. I created characters for the manual by personifying symbols of what nostalgia, depression, greed, and blind faith mean to me. Then I leaned into their absurd backstories and tried to imagine what life would be like as a sentient glass of whiskey or a flower that dreamed of being a boxing champion. The locations within Blissed also relate to these themes. For example, forests remind me of my own childhood, wandering through the woods behind my home. Cities make me anxious and are ruthlessly efficient. Places have character.
I chose to make an instructional booklet the main piece of my exhibition because of the intimacy of the format. The act of opening a game, taking out, and then flipping through the included booklet is something I can only describe as nostalgic and sweet. Most games today no longer come with a printed manual, but I always loved seeing the game’s amazing artwork and getting ready to explore the game. Early 1930s and 1940s cartoons, which relied on bright color palettes and whimsical music to tell concise and sometimes morbid stories are another source of my inspiration for this body of work. The creative animation and stylized characters in these classic cartoons inspired me to use intense hues and humor to express darker themes in my own work. I tried to emulate the rubber hose like design of these cartoons to express a sense of whimsical freedom and playfulness.
My goal with Blissed is to make viewers so curious about the content of the manual that they want to play the game it describes. I made Blissed to test my different skills as a designer but also to approach some of my own personal issues in a lighthearted manner. If my exhibition can inspire viewers to try to find optimism or humor in their own lives, then the show is a success.
© 2019 Sean Manges, All Rights Reserved
Graphic Design Video Game Poster Booklet Earthbound