A lovely poster by Public Interest Design.
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A topic I am incredibly passionate about. I am going to begin mindmapping this to see if I can discover some possible thesis ideas. For anyone who hasn’t seen at least the preview clip for this documentary, I highly recommend it! http://girlrising.com/
What is the most profound thing you have learned about yourself and your creative practices through this course?
Throughout GRDS 702, I have learned that of the intuitive qualities that make me a good designer, the one that is truly my “self-discovery” within the past ten weeks is that I have brave, quite lovely design ideas. Through the two rounds of struggle that I endured within the quarter in turning my concepts into working designs, I developed a new way to appreciate myself and to run the course without giving up on an idea too early. A personal weakness within my design habits, whether working alone or within a group, has been a sense of design agnosticism. I get into these ruts where I do not have self-commitment to my work to develop it into something strong. Influences of other ideas or criticism that is taken the wrong way by me instigates a sense of detachment and I plead guilty for dropping the ball too early on for many potentially great designs. What Exploration A and B have done for me more than anything else is teach me endurance and a sense of faith in my own work. My ideas evolved through each exploration into something strong, but they had plenty of hiccups in the beginning. I had to almost take a third person perspective of my own work to be able to see how I could foster it into the best communication possible. Hopefully I will be able to maintain this self-check through future courses and create a flexible ideation process that holds me accountable for my design relationships.
Have you experienced moments of disruptive wonder?
I may have experienced disruptive wonder in my life through momentary epiphanies, but it wasn’t until this quarter that I truly experienced the phenomenon within my design process. I have worked almost exclusively in a first and second order production-style of design until now, and it has been the sense of disruptive wonder (taking an idea and turning it over and over in your mind to reinvent it) that allowed me to make Exploration A and B successful. I feel very happy about my process and end result in both and am noticing a change in my approach in other types of design work even without the provocation of a design problem placed before me in a classroom setting. At work, I am working on alternative ways to imagine the user experience on a website and the way that imagery shapes the story of a membership organization. In my personal work, I am thinking of my research in the future at SCAD and this disruptive wonder applying to the process of writing a thesis. Though I have had many moments within my life that were disruptive wonders, this sense within design is quite new and exciting still for me.
In what ways has your perspective on graphic design practice changed?
I am capable of seeing a lot more design possibilities now than I could before. Rather than having only creative executions, I am thinking with a greater deal of innovation in conception and in process. The design practice feels much more whole to me now as I am beginning to consciously map out each step and consider why I do things rather than merely producing. My outlook for what I can do with this profession has altered a great deal. The thought of design changing the world has seemed possible to me for quite some time, but now I am seeing ways in which it can be done and am beginning to exercise these capabilities rather than just acknowledging their existence. The proactivity that is inspired within me has caused me to pursue different types of design problems and do so more effectively. No matter the size of the problem that is before me, I feel comfortable in accepting the challenge and allowing a fluid design process of exploration, educated approaches and prototyping to take place. My design process has grown much more flexible as a result of my renewed faith (through better understanding) in the essence of graphic design. I am also motivated to continue to pursue learning as much as I can from fellow designers by observing and reading as much as I can take in. The feeling of this design-as-life exploration is addictive and deeply enriches my purpose as a designer.
As I was reading today, I came across this article. I have seen this call for a redesign several times and think of the IDEO project where one member videotaped his time in the ER. It is an area of design that I am growing increasingly passionate about! Another area is designing for older generations to use newer forms of technology with ease.
Reflect on your own creative process. How do you strive to achieve a moment of performance or move forward in reach of a noble pursuit? Are your creative activities leading toward a moment of disruptive wonder for your audience, as well as for yourself?
Just within this quarter at SCAD, my creative process has changed dramatically as a reaction to the Kelli Anderson’s call for disruptive wonders and McLaren’s moment of performance and noble pursuit. An example is that I have spent the past 14 hours working on a project that could have easily taken me less than five if I had taken the easy/karaoke culture way out of it. For GRDS 701 I am creating a visual presentation for my research and rather than settling on a powerpoint presentation for my topic of “Graphic Design Storytelling,” I’ve created a miniature stage and illustrations on sticks that two young folks are going to help me perform tomorrow morning. It has been a work of labor and love, and while working on it, I was thinking about how much more powerful representing something in a new way is a pleasant disruption from the world of power points and other similar executions.
The fairy tale project (Exploration B) for GRDS 702 has also been a hot potato for me this week. The disruptive wonder in that project has been more guided (as we have been presenting the pieces of each stage and getting feedback) but it is shaping my future exploration methods. My project itself if a deviation from what is normal. It only has taken me three or four instances of someone asking me what the project is and me explaining it to realize the sheer complexity of the project parameters and what I am solving for. It is a leading example of the endless ways that the world’s ideas (and practices) can be shaken up and generated as something new.
For me, the most pleasantly surprising aspect of this journey has been realizing that these wonders and noble pursuits are all within the process. It is easy to look at the end result only and determine the disruptive wonder or moment of performance from there. The close introspection into the design and how every step is taken has allowed me a greater freedom to develop every nuance and control factors that have been mostly ignored within my creative process. Mind mapping has really helped me to see how to do this without feeling overwhelmed. Beyond that, taking the idea and applying it meaningfully has enabled me to see a really fascinating new view of a fairy tale that I have known for almost all of my life. Now I just want to do a good job executing it and have it reflect the finished product that is in my head! That is a noble pursuit in itself.
A subtopic of my research paper that I have been thinking about and exploring through some readings is the ethics of graphic design storytelling. Since the concept is not real beyond the examples I have found (quite limited and only to similar disciplines), there is the need for me to also define what the hybridization of graphic design and storytelling is for me to be able to think of the ethics of doing it in practice.
Defined in my mind: Graphic design storytelling is considering the visual and conceptual narrative of a design problem and guiding the user through the elements of the work through the storytelling format. It is taking the widely-used practice of storytelling and aiding the audience to better understand the designer and the design. There are both interpersonal and interpersonal aspects of graphic design storytelling as it can also aid the designer in very intimate ways (his/her ideation process and means of execution).
Reading the methodology books within unit 8 was a direct indicator to me of how to effectively convey a storyline throughout the process for the self and for other designers. The story is as much the exploration and deviations as what was selected to go forward.
Back to ethics, the concept of ethics for graphic design storytelling is merged from two angles in my mind so far. There is the angle of ethics in literature, in what it means to tell a story and why it is important to consider the impact (especially if the stories you are telling are true) and then there is also ethics within graphic design exclusively. Two sources that have helped me expand my understanding of ethical design storytelling is the article by Daniel Taylor, “The Ethical Implications of Storytelling” and Lucienne Roberts’ “Good: An Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design.” Taylor’s work explains how stories teach people to live, empathize, and act with a view. He warns that stories can either aid or abuse those who the stories are about and that something as metaphorical as a story can have real consequences (such as oppressing a culture) . The majority of the article examines the impact that storytelling has on oppressed individuals. Toward the end, he reiterates that stories can change the world literally. The holistic potential of this practice is directly applicable to designing. The second source, Roberts, considers ethics versus morality and what makes a designer good. I am most interested in what things designers must avoid when creating (whether it is the design or the story) and applying that as precaution in my research. Paula Scher is interviewed within the book and she asks what exactly is being asked of her within the question “Are you a good designer?” She states that she believes she is a good designer most importantly because she understands the power of her messages and her responsibility for making them and sending them out into the world .
I think that from both of these readings, I can draw that the ethics of storytelling in graphic design is the same as the ethics of storytelling and graphic design separately. It is taking ownership of the work and making damn sure that what you are producing is the truth, is doing good rather than harm (physically or mentally/emotionally) unless it is to a greater evil perhaps, and fostering a relationship with the message throughout the life of it in the world. I think the fostered relationship can be another way that GD storytelling can aid the profession and the people that associate with design as clients or practitioners.
Roberts, Lucienne. Good: An Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. 2006.
Taylor, Daniel. “The Ethical Implications of Storytelling: Giving Ear to the Literature of the Oppressed.” Mars Hill 3 Fall 1995: 58-70. Print.
Reflect on the three process books shared during this unit. In your post, assess how each book design successfully and/or unsuccessfully communicates the designer’s ideation process and guides the reader through the creative process. Are there specific communication tactics that any of the designers use that you may want to integrate into how you present your own process?
Process #1: Jane A. Dorn’s Methodology Book
Overall, this methodology is thorough and easy to follow from beginning to end. The file begins with the project description (literally the very first step for every designer – receiving the information). From there, she addresses the target audience, which is defined as potential designers that are 18 years old approximately that want to learn more about graphic design as a profession and process. She shows the initial brainstorming session of some objects with structured sequence that repeats. I chuckled at the myth list of where strong ideas come from – Santa, first idea (unless you’re Paula Scher), etc… I think the brainstorming of opposites (the crazies) is also a great avenue that was considered. It allows more of the out-of-the-box thinking to occur early on in the process. The very distracted audience described by Dorn makes me think of Jessica Helfand and the Short Attention Span Theater audience she describes as “today’s viewers.” I think it is valuable to social media took prominence in this consideration especially as it is one of the main forms of writing and communication for this age group. The overall approach to future graphic designers being so hard to reach in order to convince to become communicators is sort of scary to me. Isn’t it damning to think that we can’t even get the visual communicators of the future to listen to the message of how they can become effective? Thankfully, I think by approaching the “least approachable” audience is a good tactic, as it is going to attempt to reign in as many listeners as possible. The two concepts that Dorn toys with are the eBook and then the Not-Your-Average Book. The eBook is interesting as an approach as more people are reading via the screen. Even for potential students to be able to access this information digitally says a lot about the current of our culture. It makes me think of this format of eLearning and how we are so dependent on being able to learn through screen information, even the more virtually tangible elements. The Not-Your-Average Book takes the audience away from the screen for awhile and Dorn reflects that this is a nice change for the screen-addicted generation. From this, she goes on to consider a trip to Disney World to ride the roller coasters for a very crazy, yet very cool vantage on the cyclical design experience. She discovers that the parks are limited in hours during the winter and has to abandon the idea (she does go forward and present the exploration quite far and effectively, though!) She is honest that the brainstorming session did not get her to any major breakthroughs and reminds herself to not stop too soon and mull it over. I nodded in agreement to this I’m quite sure as designers, we’ve all been guilty of doing this at one point or another. Dorn then goes back to the circular book idea and says she is inspired by Ken Leslie’s Space and Time. The interactive element of this book is brilliant as it is like the digital realm of interactivity reinterpreted onto the older form (the printed piece). The folded shape of the prototype makes me think of a paper coffee cup. The first stages of the collages actualized onto the screen were very overwhelming in the abrupt transition of pages. I understood that these were the concepts and did not let it distract me too much from the point of seeing them in that way. The naming of the project Quest seems very appropriate as designers do often take on quests in the same style of King Arthur to make chaos into clarity. The mockup is very clean on the outside but intensely chaotic inside (especially those first few pages). It is nearly impossible to read the initial process though I am thinking that was part of the point. It goes from super clean to really really messy to clean again as a piece, which feels a little disjointed to me. I want to see a little of the mess on the front as well to make it feel less sterilized. I wish that Jane had shown more in the beginning process as her inspiration (like she did with the roller coaster). Maybe by showing the Space and Time concepts. I think that the idea is beautiful, but there are some steps in both the methodology and the execution that are missing in order to fully grasp the cyclical process.
Process Book #2: April Bliss’ Design Brief and Final Process Book
I looked over her process book for dog leashes as well. It is incredible. It has to be my favorite piece of the examples that were shown in the unit. For this particular discussion, I chose to focus on the process book for design methodologies as a general subject to align with my discussion of the other two books.
The file opened and as soon as I saw that the PDF was 113 pages, I abandoned ship to take a temporary break from homework. Once I returned and took on this tome of a process, I noticed how very clean the introduction is. The left side of the spreads are clear photographs of the actual defined terms that are elaborated upon on the right side of the page. The stated target audience is for 15-18 year old high school students. Initial resources shown are teen-geared magazines (Teen Vogue, J14) and I worry that these not only greatly leaned toward the female audience, but also in a fictionalized way. I remember those angst-heavy years wishing that someone would see me as more than doodles, shopping, and fragmented phrases. The magazines generally give the mental perception of an audience of 13-14. The interviews conducted on the twin 13 year olds was not a very effective sampling of the population. What should have been done was to randomly survey a large group of both genders that were within the target age range. Beyond that, I do think that the target imagery explored says something interesting about the design that is going out to teenagers today. The DIY, sketchbook approach to magazine ads and articles makes me think about the sister revolution of networks like Pinterest where everyone wants to have some degree of self-sufficiency in their otherwise heavily vended daily life. The thumbnails sketched by Bliss do an excellent job of addressing this trend and consider ways to express the audience. The energy drink is definitely a staple of the later teens. Healthy or not, it is something that I remember seeing scattered at every football game and often in my own car’s upholder as I carried about my daily activity in the world of high school. The purse concept once again was geared toward the female audience only and it was a good decision to move forward with the energy drink. I like most the consideration of the water bottle. What is cool about that approach is the reusable nature of the product and less waste. It is also encouraging a choice of drink, but encouraging something healthier than carbonated crack. The mind map examples are also very strong. I like the bubble concept on page 37. It gives a visual sense to the bottle/can approach with the circles. Bliss even included her weekend hot air balloon ride in the process, which definitely accents the premise that this is supposed to be the entire process. I can appreciate the break half way through this gigantic PDF as well. The sleeve mockups look good, but some of the ideas feel like they were not carefully executed in the technical craft aspect, which I think is distracting from “selling” the idea to move it forward. Of the wraps, I thought the spiral was really neat. I could see that sufficing as a funnel shape for the design process funneling down into a result like some of the ideation models we recently explored as a class in Dubberly’s article. The mobile approach and final can approach are both extremely well-crafted and answer to the need for an effective product for the message. I was happy to see the can was explored in yellow rather than the original black paint in the earlier concept. All of the final photographs of the product are great. It allows a real intimacy with the product and how it works. This process book did a good job of visually taking the viewer through the entire process, even if some parts were dead ends.
Process Book #3: Jamie Turpin’s Experimental Panel Design
Like the other two process books, Turpin’s book begins with a process that feels generic enough, but it also doubles as the table of contents for this PDF. Turpin contacted Helen Armstrong to ask for permission to use her article and book and I thought that this was a very wise inclusion in the process, as it shows the lengths that designers go to get something approved. It is also just a cool thing to brag about, if you’re into that kind of thing. The process book then focuses on the audience considerations and then Turpin’s own experience with technology as a designer as a reflection of Helen Armstrong’s article. Following the article and reflection are a brief brainstorming word session and then transition into images. The research is very thorough as Turpin explores visually masters of these typographic styles and approaches. There are studies done on nearly every lens of interpretation for this project. There is a very smooth transition between the images and context in the research and then the product being executed. The thumbnails for this process are carefully and very technically drawn. They are easy to understand for the process and each concept is accompanied by its original source of inspiration for comparison. The mockup of concept 4 is very similar to the explored typographic styles from earlier in the process. I wish there were more images of this final process though as it feels like i cannot closely connect with the treatments in the way that I can with some of the research imagery. Overall, this approach to the process visually is powerful and well thought out.
From these three process books, I have quite a bit of information to take in regarding my own process and how I would even begin to visualize it. I know that I currently lack the thorough nature of photographing each step like these designers did in their work and could benefit from doing so. I like how there were a lot of “research” elements directly applied into the process that may not always make it into mine. If a direction doesn’t work entirely, I often don’t bother to include it, which could be hindering me from repurposing it in a good way. Another lesson I can take from these books is that the process book is how we can intimately tell the behind-the-scenes story of our design. No moment should be left out, even if it is a hot air balloon ride. I think of the success of TED speeches and it is not a rigid process. It is a fluid moving through the raw encounters experienced from the beginning to the solution and as an audience member viewing these books, I appreciated all of the small considerations that were described or sketched.
I wanted to share my new love…
What are you learning about yourself and your creative process as a result of this unit’s discussion of values?
Values are more objective than they appear to be, as what we choose to do through our design does affect others, whether we intended the impact or not. My creative process inherits personal perceptions of the world and this weeks discussion of values has made me more aware of what this means when design is driven by personal values alone (some being very different from others). I do believe that a degree of difference is preferred because there is a richness of seeing a value through the many facets of understanding it beyond my own. I also am aware that I must be careful of the values that I instill or refrain from using in my work and to the best of my abilities foresee what happens with my design as I am creating it and after it becomes the voice of something else. An example that came back to me this week from an earlier class is Paul Rand’s logo designs for large corporations. He couldn’t predict what Enron was going to become beyond when he designed the logo, but he said there were companies that he did turn down because he was initially aware of their beliefs and they were contradictory to his own. My creative process has a fairly consistent route, but it is forever changing based on the type of design I am doing for a project. There is really (to me) no singular voice that goes into work over and over again by the same designer. The values I possessed when I first began designing are immensely less developed than the way I approach work now. It is a reminder to myself to constantly keep abreast of my own methods and why I do things. I will likely feel that the way I design now was very immature when looking back upon it from a future date. That is just how design goes as it is an act of our present self every time we sit down to create.
How do you find that values (personal, political, cultural, etc.) inform your creative practices?
Values of all kinds affect my creative practice as I learn about them. I think of values as drivers to my inspiration, since they are often the fruits I pluck from my mind to interpret into a design. Examples are social issues, personal obstacles or growth that I have experienced, and political disturbances or hopefuls that I set my sights upon. The best designs I have ever produced have grown out of a personal belief or understanding that I creatively expressed to communicate with others. Almost every graduate project I have completed while a student at SCAD so far has stemmed from some value that informed my process. The same happened as an undergrad. I think this happens because those values are how we reach into ourselves as humanitarian individuals and are able to face these issues head on through design. Creating for a purpose is more gratifying to me than creating for the sake of creating. It is a work ethic that is inside of me that keeps me pushing an idea and feeling like it is something beyond a selfish motive of my own. My practices are always adapting to new avenues of communicating these values as well. Whether it is out-of-the-box reinventions of old means of communicating or experimenting in a completely new channel, having a value to inform design decisions is a guiding light and a gratifying result.
Throughout this week, i’m working on my concept map, outline, and thesis statement for Project B. It is my first time taking a limited literature review and translating it into a research paper and despite the fluid sense of transition between the two theoretically, i’m nervous about making sure that I do a good job to model my process in future limited literature reviews to research papers. As this unit’s second blog is open topic, I wanted to free write into my thesis for arguing my position on graphic design storytelling.
A quick revisit to my limited literature review thesis:
The goal of this paper is to explore the possibilities of and need for graphic design storytelling to be included in the process and thinking of all graphic design. There are already processes in place within similar disciplines that can give perspective to whether this method could work for graphic design specifically. The goal is also to look at the unanswered calls to begin to develop more meaning within design and address if there are any potential setbacks that could exist in developing design storytelling as a methodological practice.
What I want to argue is that it is beneficial to the graphic design field on many levels, for students to professionals that are already practicing in the field to adopt the storytelling element into their process and the “selling” of their work to a client. Reading Dubberly’s article about the various ideation processes that exist across disciplines has given me the idea to propose storytelling as an ideation process. The other, slightly older idea that I have been toying with is developing the storytelling element of graphic design as a theory and write about it in that way. Both would be practical developments beyond the argument itself, but the theory idea seems like it may need to be an idea that I revisit at a later date if I could actually instill the process first (as theories often follow practice).
The neatest part of this project following the limited literature review is redrawing my concept map. Because of the questions I am asking myself in the process of mapping it out, the directions are varying a bit. It makes me question whether it is because of the argumentative nature of the topic perspective or purely heuristic bias at work. Either way, it is proof that revisiting a concept (even if it is a beginning ideation) over and over through a longer process can serve a purpose.