For Part 7, the final part of Exploration A, I have decided to do a blog posting about my experience and learning outcome to serve as the ‘final’ piece in this project. As my professor indicated to me, “Learning does not always come with ‘success’ in outcomes…but often in other places.” And I feel that is spot-on with my “outcome” in this project.
I started this Exploration strong, creating word associations, having group collaboration, and digging deep into the conceptual meanings and visual association for the root words PHONE, LAUDABLE, and ISHTAR. I ended that stage with an interpretation (in words, color and visuals) on how those three words related to our current society.
PHONE – Visual of a person whispering into the ear of another person, representing communication and human connection being a base need in our society. I chose the color cyan to represent technology. And my three final words were Human, Connection and Need.
LAUDABLE – Visual of Facebook Thumbs Up Icon, representing how we show approval and praise to people in our society today. I chose the color of yellow to represent highlighting someone for their praiseworthy or notable action. And my final three words were Validation, Social, and Approval.
ISHTAR – Visual of a beautiful but deadly woman, representing the Femme fatale or Siren character type. A woman that is desirable, but deadly. I chose the color of red to represent danger and sexuality. And my final three words were Want, Ensnare, and Woman.
Through doing that exercise, I got the idea of going ‘out of the box’ in my Mind Map design and executed a pretty engaging set of word collections. I decided to fill a representational shape for each root word with the words that came out of the association exercise using size to establish relationships in each word collection, and color for associations between the three groups. I called them Word Constellations, representing that they were words in a shape representing something, just like constellations in the sky are stars in a shape representing something. As a result, I discovered new meaning and conceptual associations between the three Word Constellations. I discovered that the only two words that were in common between the three groupings of word associations were bad and media. This was an amazing discovery for me and it provided the basis for the next stage of the project, the Design Narrative.
In my design narrative, I decided to use the two words ‘bad’ and ‘media’ to write the communication goal of The negative impact of the media on our society. Additionally, I was really intrigued by the form that my mind map took on in the previous stage, so I wanted to continue to explore that ‘typography collage’ visual. The use of the large and small words had a media feel, and the collection of words all together implied communication of thoughts and ideas, but in a rather unclear or unpurified way creating confusion and over-saturation of conflicting views. Lastly, I wanted to explore a visual style that referenced World War 2 propaganda posters as a look for the piece. I felt that it would be an interesting approach because the media and design of that time period was known for producing political propaganda.
At this point, I went in a direction contrary to the intention of the exploration. What I was SUPPOSED to do was create sketches exploring a variety of approaches to the design opportunity. Instead, what I discovered was a heuristic bias inside my creative process. I had an ‘auto-response’ to what I perceived as a ‘job’ and I skipped the exploration of various design solutions, as well as missed the benefit of collaborating with my colleagues. I had my mind settled on what I wanted the design to look like, so I took off and created a somewhat “finished” design, and called it good.
I named my design “Mixed Media” to represent the idea that the media source is sending mixed messages of Truth and Lies to the world. The design met all of MY objectives… it communicated the design narrative, used a WWII poster style and i was able to incorporate the word collage technique.
It wasn’t until after I posted the design that I started to realize that I had diverged from the rest of the class. Most of the responses I received from my colleagues indicated that they liked the design I came up with, but they wanted to see other options and solutions. This was very frustrating for me at first. I wasn’t understanding WHY I was getting such responses until I emailed my professor to discuss the matter. She indicated that the my PROCESS was what really mattered here, not so much the end product. I was asked to go back to the ideation phase and explore additional design solutions.
Taking a step back into the ideation produced some interesting ideas. I explored the WWII era visuals a bit more, played with typography and ended up with a pretty cool robot design that I named Media Machine.
This time also gave me the opportunity to do some self-evaluation of my process. Why did I miss the point of the exploration and jump right into a single execution? For the past 10 years, I have worked in ad agency world where I needed to make super quick decisions and come up with design solutions on the fly. On some occasions where budget and time permitted, there would be a much greater emphasis on each step of ideation and collaboration in the creative process, but most projects don’t have that luxury. What I realized, was that I responded to this project like I would respond to any agency project. I ran the possible solutions through my head in all of a few minutes, landed on one that I liked and felt ‘worked,’ and then cranked it out! Through my discussion with Rhonda, she pointed out that the premise of grad school is not to continue what you are already doing successfully, but to grow and add new layers to your ‘work’ personally and professionally.
Honestly, I wrestled with this for several days, but eventually came to internalize what she had said. This is my first quarter in grad school. Why am I here, if not to expand and grow personally and professionally? The bottom line is, yes… that’s exactly why I am here. I have been a designer for 10 years… 15 if you count the design jobs I had while putting myself through my undergrad. I’ve worked for firms big and small… built up a design business from scratch… won a bunch of awards, and through all of it, none of my directors ever took me through the paces to evaluate my process and push me to grow and become more. Now I am here for my MFA, and this is the place to do exactly that. Strange as it may sound, I feel like I have had some sort of therapeutic breakthrough or something! LOL!
So, in conclusion, for my ‘final’ outcome of Exploration A, I submit to you my story of Epic Failure and self-discovery. Through this experience, I have had the opportunity to do some real self-examination, learn a great deal about the weaknesses in my creative process, and discovered that I have developed an auto-response when I perceive that I’ve been assigned a ‘job.’ Now, I will follow in the footsteps of the great minds before me, and pick myself back-up and move forward with a new understanding. As Albert Einstein once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”