After a lot of back and forth, the final goal for my independent studio/seminar project was to create a pair of acrylic bags inspired by emotions that are conveyed through color and an original character. I wanted to explore a medium I’ve never worked with before, and challenge myself to create a 3d piece that is functional as well as sculptural and to make multiple pieces that can stand alone or be a cohesive body of work. I wanted each bag’s design to be specific to a particular emotion, and aside from color, I thought body language expresses how someone is feeling very clearly. To simplify the human figure, I chose to use the original character I’ve incorporated into many of my previous works, which allowed me to explore how it would translate into the 3d world. Through these bags, I wanted to explore how space, size, and color can serve as visual indicators to various emotions.
I began with simple sketches with concepts for various emotions, then narrowed it down to translating “sadness” and “anger” into physical bags, as they had the strongest designs and most striking colors. They are almost like opposites, and I loved the idea of creating characters and silhouettes that contrasted so much yet could look cohesive. I further detailed the two sketches, and decided on the shapes, color schemes and poses I wanted the characters to be in.
For the sadness bag, I chose different hues of blue, while the character sits in a large tear drop, curled up with a single tear in the eye region. The melodramatic pose/size of the character being consumed by the tear exaggerate that feeling of being swallowed by a deep sadness.
For the anger bag, I wanted sharp edges, and the colors to resemble fire/boldness. Unlike in the sadness bag where the character is completely inside, this character is outside of the shape, a breakthrough, like when someone is bursting with anger. Similarly to fire, it can’t be contained. The characters arms are raised, rather than drawn inwards.
I initially created paper mock ups with the sizings I felt were best, then measured the lengths/widths and created files that had more exact measurements. I used 7 different colors of acrylic (3 reds/oranges, 4 blues) in total. I created 9 illustrator files to correspond with each sheet of acrylic, as well as one test file on clear acrylic, to be cut at the laser lab. After inspecting the test pieces, I finalized the bag files and also included cuts to create custom tags for each bag that include the title of my project, and could also serve as keychains.
Once I picked up all of the final cuts from the lab, I started the long process of gluing them together, which proved to be difficult and tedious. The “cement” had a low viscosity so the process of applying it to each piece was quite messy, and fast paced. I glued the bag in segments, starting with the outline on top of the figure base shape and the box base of the bags. After letting them cure for a couple of days to make sure they were secure, I glued the figures on the larger side pieces of each bag, then onto the square base. I didn’t realize how long this process would take, considering I wanted the sides to align as best as possible, since the tear drop sides don’t have a flat bottom to match the box base with and the legs of the red character are the “feet” of the bag so I didn’t want them crooked.
For the straps, I chose rich poly satin red/blue and used white ribbon to measure the length and width I wanted. I created a 4x24in. pattern from napkin, allowing a 1/2 inch seam allowance, so that when folded and sewed the straps would measure around 3in wide and 23 inch long. Using a sewing machine, I created all of the seams, and I tried to hand sew them as loops, but I didn’t like how you could see the stitches on the outside of the strap as I don’t have matching thread colors, and I couldn’t seem to figure out how to sew on just one side of the folded fabric. I ended up using heat reactive fabric tape, which worked great and can be undone with no damage, if I want to redo the straps in the future.
Due to Covid, I couldn’t go into stores and photograph them like I initially envisioned, but I worked with what I had to document them. I used natural light and shadow play to highlight the colors/shapes as well as excess fabric to create backdrops. I think the fabrics did make them blend in and less of a focal point though, so I utilized white walls more. Trying a more product design/advertisement style, I wanted the photos to be crisp and be viewed together in the form of a mock up mood board, similar to how brands create assets on their social media for new products. Below are 3 spreads, one for each bag and one for both of them as a concept together. More images are included in slideshow format of the bags as well.