Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"The Perils of Indifference"

Project: Speech Visualization

The purpose of this project was to create two typographic visualizations of a famous speech from the 20th Century—to capture the mood, tone, emphasis, and personality of the message being describedin print and in motion.

The design solutions for print and motion are distinctively different. To create visual hierarchy in print, typographic color in the form of scale, spacing, orientation, and placement are important in leading the reader from one sentence to another. On the contrary, other elements like sound and the ability to control how type enters and exits the composition influence how the viewer responds and even emotionally connects with the motion solution.

In "The Perils of Indifference," Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, talks about the grave consequences of being indifferent to another human's suffering. For my print solution, I stressed how he articulated his words by exaggerating words typographically to help visualize his thick Romanian accent and distinct pauses. In my motion graphic, I wanted to focus more on the emotional impact of Wiesel's words, my goal was to create an ethereal and enigmatic composition that matched his somber recollection of his fellow Auschwitz prisoners.

The Perils of Indifference, April 12, 1999 (Speech examination in previous post)

Elie Wiesel

From his first book, Night, which records his experience at Auschwitz:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

The Mood of the Speech

Grave despair, enigmatic, somber thoughtfulness, serious

Print: There is a grave quietness about the message behind Wiesel's words. Though there were distinct changes in scale throughout the composition, the type was relatively small on the page, and I made subtle changes in spacing and orientation to stress his breaks and pauses, and the articulation of certain words in his accent.

Motion: With the freedom to incorporate photography and music, and the ability to manipulate time, I concentrated on articulating the emotional impact of his words. This particular part of his speech talks about his memories of the Muselmanner in Auschwitz, so I wanted stress the element of memory, how enigmatic his words are, and how thoughtfully he expresses himself.

Research: Motion

One of my favorite motion graphic pieces is the opening credits for Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, even though sound is an important element in this piece, it is good with or without sound. It is the smoothness of the transitions, how size and placement is unpredictable, how type enters and exits the page, the variation of fast and slow movements. All of this creates an environment that has a distinctly pop art, crime mood that is unexpected and exciting. The subtleness of typography sliding in and off the screen and the choppiness of the graphics make it memorable and successful. I also really enjoyed the cheerful playfulness of the Herman Miller "This is You" advertisement, it was an excellent example of how subtle movements and motion changes can create a distinct tone.

There are a variety of typography movies on YouTube, and for the most part, they are similar in design style. The design is loud, exaggerated, and tries to overuse the camera tool in AfterEffects as a go-to effect. With or without sound, most of these graphics look identical and are uninteresting and are the best example of how using several preset effects can make a motion piece look cliche and tacky. I personally just don't like the drastic shifts in orientation, the large type, the lack of scale changes, the bending and twisting of space. Honestly, one of my favorite typography motion pieces was by Michael Selby and his JFK eulogy speech. It was a perfect example how, when done correctly, sound is a great tool in creating an emotional response in your audience. The type was interesting, it entered and left the screen unexpectedly, and the stark white text on black background made the type really stand out and stand on its own.

How Media Effects Message: Motion vs. Print

In general, I think there there more control in motion. In print, you have no control over whether or not your reader jumps to the last page of your book, whether or not they take the time to look over every page, notice the subtleties of every one of your typographic decisions. Emphasis is created by stagnant size and scale, your color and typographic color choices, the composition on a single page layout. Though there is beauty in this single "snapshot" of the speech, there is more that can be done with motion because the elements of time and sound, which are dynamic in themselves, are introduced. In motion, you decide exactly how your audience perceives each word, each line. Mood and emotion are engrained in how transitions occur, whether they are ethereal and smooth or whether they are choppy and playful, how the audience perceives depth and the passage of time—all of these things are capable of manipulation. On the other hand, even though motion is more dynamic, there is a tactile emotional relationship between print and the viewer, the designer can use paper choice and print size as effective tools to create a visceral impact. Here is the difference between a book that you can smell and leaf through, and a book you might read on the computer, something that you can't physically touch. Both are great medias and they can greatly impact how the viewer responds to the message, which one you choose should be specific to the project and message you are trying to communicate.

Project Overview

I loved this project, absolutely loved it. Even though I really enjoyed experimenting and exaggerating my speech in print by syllable, making the words "sound" like my speech on audio, I loved the motion part of this speech the most. It was totally different than anything else that I've done and I really loved having the control of how everything came on and left the screen. I wanted both solutions to be tasteful and I really wanted my audience to have some sort of emotional connection with the words. So when I did my motion piece, I wanted to translate how I interpreted the speech visually. I chose "The Perils of Indifference" because I Wiesel's words were heartbreaking yet hopeful, it made me question myself and my actions. His words are grave and filled with sadness, and I wanted to show the weight of his memories and experiences in my motion piece. There is something so blurry and untouchable about his experiences in Auschwitz for me, since I can not even fathom such treatment, such indifference, it is something that I honestly can't concretely understand. So that's how I approached my motion, I choose a map of Auschwitz for my introduction with billowing black smoke from the gas chamber transitioning to the words of Wiesel's speech. I chose transitions that made the words blend and melt into the background so that it felt untouchable. I also chose to use quiet text so that my viewer really focused on Wiesel's articulation. This one of my favorite projects all year because I find motion so interesting, so dynamic, and honestly (when done well) so unpredictable.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Journal 9: Jakob Trollback

Trollback + Company is a creative studio that using motion graphics and live action techniques, create compelling narratives for advertisement and entertainment industries. This company is lead by Jakob Trollback and Joe Wright and their past and current clients include HBO, CBS, ESPN, Nike, TED, AIGA, and The New York Times Magazine. They are all about immersive storytelling and their approach to narration is that "a focused, compelling message is essential for successful communication." They are all about the message, and the best way to communication that message.

I found several points made in the video compelling, however, these are the points that I most connected with:

When you are self taught, you are liberated from conventions.
I think this is such an important point, even though it is inevitable to be inspired by another designs or art, there is something intrinsically desirable to define your own style, your own visual language yourself to achieve something that is more uniquely your own. I think this also applies to having the initiative to teach yourself new technologies and techniques as design changes inevitably as new technologies are introduced. It's about being in the moment in this constantly evolving field, and not losing the desire and need to learn new things.

Originality is difficult but liberating.
I'm not going to lie, I think true originality is a little hard to achieve, but this might be because of the conversation I had the other day with Alexander about Nietzsche and the his ideas of no unique originality. However, with that said, I don't think it's impossible. And I do that as designers that is what we all need to be working towards. Because though it is difficult, I think the ride will finally take you there.

Just because you are a designer does not mean you are an adept storyteller. The best way to learn how to tell stories is to write.
As graphic designers we are storytellers, and whether that is in the form of print or motion graphics, or what not, the core of our message is a story communicate to our audience. I think this semester has really showed me how important writing is for me to develop my ideas, whether it is mind mapping using concept maps, word maps, free writing, or just brainstorming simple statements or mission statements on paper, this is where I can freely figure out my message without the pressure of visual shapes or objects. The projects that have come to me the easiest are the ones where I spend the most time on the front end, developing a story on paper, sketching down my concepts, creating image boards that express the moods and emotions that I know I am trying to invoke. Which also means that I have a lot of writing to do tonight, because of the speech project and the branding project that I need to get a better grasp on.

Journal 11: Debbie Millman

Debbie Millman is the host of the podcast, "Design Matters," and writes these great blogposts on Design Observer on different subjects on design or design inspiration, from an interview with massimo vignelli, to The Art of Poetry, she critiques and expresses her opinions about different works by design intellectuals or just elaborates on some interviews with designers. Either way, she's the partner and president of the design division of one of the leading brand identity firms in the country, Sterling Brands. Which is precisely why I read her post, Obsessive Branding Disorder II, which has this cheerful looking baby plastered with different brand identities' trademarks:

Millman basically is critiquing this book by Lucas Conley called "Obsessive Branding Disorder," who, through the voice of Millman, has this semi-paranoid, conspiracy theory-esque deep-rooted emotions about how the normal consumer are zombies to the brands of today. We're talking about Nike and McDonald's, Miller Lite, and Apple, and whatnot. How we've come to place where it's difficult to distinguish between our beliefs and our brand preferences, that branding has become this epidemic, how there is a new phenomena of the brand church, where brands are so established in our hearts that they resonate with us on a spiritual level. Etc. etc.

So, a few weeks or so ago, my boyfriend Alexander made me watch this really horribly directed film about something along the lines of "Masters of Manipulation" or something equally scary sounding, to be honest, I'm not entirely remembering the title because it felt like the longest twenty five minutes of my life, watching this one guy talking about his anti religious, paranoid, and super "I hate the Man" beliefs. Just him though. Oh, and clips of movies to offer supporting material for his argument. Nonetheless, I was super grumpy afterwards. And Alexander was grump that I couldn't even give the guy a chance. Here's the dealio though, there was one part of the movie that I found super enlightening.

It was about how the brand identity team of this car corporation researched the interaction and devotion of cult members and their particular group-think beliefs in order to research how to create a brand that would influence their consumer enough for them to buy, buy, and keep buying. Just like cult behavior, brand identity is all about belonging. Branding is more about the consumer, and their perception of the brand than what the company does to brand itself. Granted, obviously there's a lot of research that is done about what a corporation wants its brand to be interpreted as, but a lot of it is the personal, intimate interaction between consumer and brand. In that sense, Conley's idea of a brand church and a brand tribe should honestly be replaced with the idea of a brand cult.

This reading also reminded me of the documentary that I watched last night, State of Mind, which is a documentary of North Korea's 2003 Mass Games, which is the world's largest annual gymnastics performance. The movie was an incredibly interesting look into the socialistic culture of North Korea, how in an "equal" society of three different but equal classes of the peasants, workers, and intellectuals, governed not by capitalistic brands and consumerism perspectives but by the state. Where people are given rations and there is only one channel of state propaganda, one radio station, and there is no concept of brand or brand affiliation. It was so bizarre because it was culturally unlike anything I could have ever imagined. Identity that was formed not even by one's own individuality (which is how many people form from the brands they most connect with), but group identity as a North Korean, as a socialist, as a daughter or son of the Great President or The General (Kim II Sung).

There are definitely brands that I favor over others, I love my Apple products to an unhealthy sense I do sort of associate that with my identity of being a design. I do judge people who wear Reebok or those ShapeUp shoes and myself prefer Underarmour and Puma the most. I trust in Kitchenaid because I feel like it has the same homely aura of a 1950's, pearls-wearing housewife. And if I could only drive Toyota cars, I would because they are loyal and practical like me. And honestly, I don't care. I don't care about what that says about me as a consumer, I think that everyone has come to that point. I agree with Millman in the sense that even though I might currently have some sort of emotional attachment to my MacBook Pro because it is an Apple product, or my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer in persimmon, I am still in charge of what I do and do not buy. If Apple or Kitchenaid released bad products, my brand loyalty would obviously not outweigh my desire for quality products. The comment that Millman cites in her post sums it all up for me:

“Consumers are like roaches. We spray them with marketing and for a time, it works. Then, inevitably, they develop an immunity, a resistance.” Consumers are still in charge of what they buy and don’t buy (and what they buy or don’t buy into).

Come on, Conley, give us some credit.

Journal 10: Good.is.

After watching two specific videos on Good.is, "The Hidden Cost of War" and "The State of the Planet," I realized how similar a lot of typographically dominate motion graphics seem to blend together after awhile. Granted, the content of the two videos were really interesting because of its political content, I found the transitions and sound effects of "The State of the Planet" to be distracting, and the first minute of "The Hidden Cost of War" with its collage, changing camera effect typography done and done. But, I did like "The Hidden Cost of War" when it incorporated type and simple illustrated objects, specifically how words moved in accordance to the illustrations. But let's be real, I mainly appreciated the intro "Transparency" productions snipet, just because of its wittiness.

I appreciate Good for its infographics mainly though. For the fact that they are neatly organized in different categories like food and politics, business, and action and whatnot. I have a soft spot for a nicely done graph like the next person. My favorite, however, would include a few of the following:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Type Project 4: The Perils of Indifference

Typography 02, Project 4
Creating a print and motion interpretation of an important speech from the 20th Century.

Speech Chosen: The Perils of Indifference by Elie Wiesel


_ Who is speaking?
Elie Wiesel

_ Why was/is the speech important to society?
Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate, Elie Wiesel, gave this impassioned speech in the East Room of the White House on April 12, 1999, as part of the Millennium Lecture series, hosted by President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.
In the summer of 1944, as a teenager in Hungary, Elie Wiesel, along with his father, mother and sisters, were deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz extermination camp in occupied Poland. Upon arrival there, Wiesel and his father were selected by SS Dr. Josef Mengele for slave labor and wound up at the nearby Buna rubber factory.
Daily life included starvation rations of soup and bread, brutal discipline, and a constant struggle against overwhelming despair. At one point, young Wiesel received 25 lashes of the whip for a minor infraction.
In January 1945, as the Russian Army drew near, Wiesel and his father were hurriedly evacuated from Auschwitz by a forced march to Gleiwitz and then via an open train car to Buchenwald in Germany, where his father, mother, and a younger sister eventually died.
Wiesel was liberated by American troops in April 1945. After the war, he moved to Paris and became a journalist then later settled in New York. Since 1976, he has been Andrew Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Boston University. He has received numerous awards and honors including the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He was also the Founding Chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial. Wiesel has written over 40 books including Night, a harrowing chronicle of his Holocaust experience, first published in 1960.
At the White House lecture, Wiesel was introduced by Hillary Clinton who stated, "It was more than a year ago that I asked Elie if he would be willing to participate in these Millennium Lectures...I never could have imagined that when the time finally came for him to stand in this spot and to reflect on the past century and the future to come, that we would be seeing children in Kosovo crowded into trains, separated from families, separated from their homes, robbed of their childhoods, their memories, their humanity."

_ Why do you feel in is important or interesting?
Indifference and global apathy is something that has marked our modern society in the past and in the present. Global indifference during WWII contributed to the carnage of the Holocaust, what other events are being ignored today that we will look back on in the future with great shame? Indifference is a punishment far greater than hate or anger, it is diminishing a human being to nothingness, for to not care, to not rise up against persecution and hate is to ignore the freedoms that all humans fundamentally share. I think this is important because oftentimes indifference is comfortable, it is inconvenient after all to take a stand, to make a statement, to show pity and empathy. Of all of the videos and speeches I could find, this is was the one that made me stop, and think. Think about my actions. My motives. My beliefs. And Wiesel's ability to make me question myself is powerful, and makes me want to do this project for that reason.

_ What is the emotion, mood, tone, personality, feeling of the speech?
There is deep sorrow and fear for what has happened in the past, but nevertheless, there is hope that our society has the ability and leadership to change our ways and cure our global disease of indifference. There is something haunting about Elie Wiesel's voice, since I have read Night, and the stark memory of that book cover with its hanging bodies is something as familiar to me as the day that I first read it, I immediately got goosebumps when I heard his voice. This speech is grave, it is thoughtful, it has remarkable credibility because of Wiesel's experiences during the Holocaust, and he honestly acts like a speakerphone for the voices lost because of global indifference.

_ What is intonation, emphasis, what is loud, stressed, or soft. Where are there pauses...
There was a lot of pauses, just grew emphasis in Wiesel's voice. He starts off so strong, and sounds so much younger than he really is, and as he continues to talk, he becomes more human I guess, as he recounts his experiences and the events occurring in the world during that time, the deaths in Rwanda, in Kosovo, in Ireland.

_ What do you FEEL should be loud or soft, long pause or rushed?
I feel that his recounts of his past should be soft, slower, because the impact of the words themselves are so haunting that his memories are truly the essence and the proof of his statements against indifference.

_ Is there a call to action? When listening to it what are key/emphasized words?
This is a call to action for the global eradication of indifference, the eradication of the apathetic disregard for what is happening not only in the world, but also in our country. His words applies to ever person, to every situation.
"Indifference, then, is not only a sin, it is a punishment."
"We felt that to be abandoned by God was worse than to be punished by Him. Better an unjust God than an indifferent one. For us to be ignored by God was harsher punishment than to be a victim of His anger. Man can live far from God—not outside God."
"Over there, behind the black gates of Auschwitz, the most tragic of all prisoners were the "Muselmanner," as they were called. Wrapped in their torn blankets, they would sit or lie on the ground, staring vacantly into space, unaware of who or where they were -- strangers to their surroundings. They no longer felt pain, hunger, thirst. They feared nothing. They felt nothing. They were dead and did not know it."
"Indifference reduces the Other to an abstraction."
"Of course, indifference can be tempting -- more than that, seductive."
"But this time, the world was not silent. This time, we do respond. This time, we intervene."

_ How does it make you feel?
Ashamed by past mistakes, ashamed of my own indifference, hopeful than we can rise above this.

_ How do imagine that the audience felt?
I imagine that Wiesel's words were extremely powerful within the context of the situation, his comments about the children being persecuted in Kosovo was certainly applicable due to the events occurring at that time, and probably influenced others to have a more sympathetic opinion about the world events at that time.

_ Could there be another interpretation of the speech?
He does make a few negative comments about FDR and I could see that having different consequences, and I wonder if placing the Holocaust of the greatest crime against humanity could turn some people away from his overall message.

_ Write/find a short bio, of the person giving the speech.
From his first book, Night, which records his experience at Auschwitz:

Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, which has turned my life into one long night, seven times cursed and seven times sealed. Never shall I forget that smoke. Never shall I forget the little faces of the children, whose bodies I saw turned into wreaths of smoke beneath a silent blue sky.
Never shall I forget those flames which consumed my faith forever.
Never shall I forget that nocturnal silence which deprived me, for all eternity, of the desire to live. Never shall I forget those moments which murdered my God and my soul and turned my dreams to dust. Never shall I forget these things, even if I am condemned to live as long as God Himself. Never.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Journal 9: Design Observer

On the subject of Futura, I've been seeing it everywhere. And because I read the article, Type Means Neve Having to Say You're Sorry from The Design Observer a while back, each time I am more determined to not fall to the popular Futura wave. I'd rather use Akzidenz Grotesk, or Univers.

I also read Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Typeface by Michael Bierut and Ten Graphic Design Paradoxes by Adrian Shaughnessy. I loved how Michael Bierut became a type slut after leaving Massimo Vignelli, a designer who only uses Helvetica, Futura, Garamond No. 3, Century Expanded, and Bodoni. After going through a crazy wild phase of type experimentation, he discovered that limiting himself to a five-typeface sobriety was the way to go. And he describes 13 reasons why people choose a certain typeface. My favorites were number 12—Because you believe in the typeface, and number 1—because it works. I think number 1 is pretty self explanatory, however, number 12, and the idea that you believe a typeface so much (or you are a type fundamentalist enough) that you only choose one to use. I think it's an interesting concept.

Adrian Shaughnessy's paradoxes were really great elements of advice, I especially agree with number 5—for designers, verbal skills are as important as visual skills and number 8—the paradox of "all the good jobs go to other designers." I thought number 8 was interesting way to think because honestly, there is no such thing in good or bad projects in design, only good or bad responses. And honestly, I take Shaughnessy's statement to include not only good and bad responses in the form of a physical project outcome, but also just attitude. I think that with a better attitude, bad projects can become good responses. Also, I really think that the ability to sell yourself, not only your project or idea, and the ability to communication successfully and with confidence and clarity is a vital skill for all designers. In a field where we have to communicate visually, shouldn't our ability to shock our audience with the sight of a well-designed project be coupled with our ability to shock our clients with our ability to speak thoughtfully?


Science has made us gods even before we are worthy of being men. ~Jean Rostand

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

About Helvetica

Helvetica. It's a typeface that is everywhere, a symbol of modernism, as neutral as Switzerland, and very simply, something that we can't seem to ignore in our everyday. The most powerful part of the movie for me was when Mike Parker said, "When you talk about the design of Haas Neue Grotesk or Helvetic, what it's all about is the interrelationship of the negative shape, the figure-ground relationship, the shapes between characters and within characters, with the black, if you like, with the inked surface. And the Swiss pay more attention to the background, so that the counters and the space between characters just hold the letters. I mean you can't imagine anything moving; it is so firm. It not a letter that bent to shape; it's a letter that lives in a powerful matrix of surrounding space. It's... oh, it's brilliant when it's done well." I think he followed this quote by something like went like, Helvetica is the best thing since figure-ground relationship done well. That must be sliced bread for the typographer.

The creation of Helvetica owes itself to Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann, it initially was called Neue Haas Grotesk, which was obviously more of a mouthful, and almost was called Helvetia, which is the Latin name for Switzerland. The typeface is used in American Apparel, in North Face, on subway and street signs everywhere, on the backs of garbage trucks, it's something that is honestly very ubiquitous to our modern world, and, Erik Spiekermann will argue, is an example of how bad taste is ubiquitous. However, most of the designers featured in this movie do not share Spiekermann's views, through his coaxing German accent, he describes not only his "incurable if not mortal disease" of being a typeomaniac, but how he prefers the rhythm and contrast of other typefaces instead of the more legible but static typeform of Helvetica. This is contrasted by Massimo Vignelli, who prefers his typefaces to read dog, but not to bark. As interesting as it was to understanding the impact of Helvetica in our world, I more enjoyed this movie because I could now put faces and personalities behind these designers, the romance that each person shares with typography, for the beautiful Swiss Modern type posters and designs, for the awe struck value of Will Crouwel's work. I can't explain it, though Helvetica has become so ubiquitous, I admire it's neutrality for it's cleanness, it's ability to take any word or phrase and give me impact not through some sort of handwritten personality per say, but through composition, typographic color, and dynamic layout. Though Helvetica can be a little squat for me, I did appreciate this documentary by Gary Hustwit.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Type on the Streets

Alexander took me on a lovely date.
One that consisted of him driving me around Lawrence and Kansas City and me jumping out of the car to take pictures of sweet typography. We enjoyed the 80 degree weather, I almost accidentally got into a stranger's car when I thought it was Alexander driving, and we dined on tuna steaks and fish tacos on the Plaza. I think this has been my favorite journal assignment yet.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

30 Conversations on Design

So, a brief summary of the videos that asked two questions (“What single example of design inspires you most?” and “What problem should design solve next?” )

Kit Hinrichs

typography, how letterforms are expressed.

what could be improved: going through security in airplane (more arcane), out of touch with design in 21st century

agustin garza

act of giving, holding offerings, ancient sculpture example of inspiring design

the integrity

where design is going to head next: environmental and social constraints will influence design. designers have the ability to seek solutions, will play a already present role in focusing on what is valuable and important (solving world problems)

ami kealoha

rubberband, different uses, ubiquitous, about the material, simply designed for tones of applications

design to solve noise and light pollution, rapid urbanization

design to solve health problems not only to add to consumerism

deborah adler

pieta by michealanglo, for the emotion it evoked, feeling empathy for mary, feeling connection towards the piece, raw emotion in the piece that we should all look for in design

a designer's strength should not be defined by their style or aesthetic. rather, it is about having a "love affair" with your audience, figuring out their problems and the desire to transform their problem into a solution.

emily pilloton

design as a process, not a product. mcgiver. fictional character, the original design thinker, most minimal resources, severe constraints. solutions are simple, often improbable but elegant.

design should tackle next: design as a untapped resource in public school systems (k-12), how we can offer the best parts of design (the process) for public education, design for education and design as eduction, redesigning education itself.

gong szeto

maps as visualization to tell stores, to explain

maps of military bases around iran

power of thoughtful design in telling story and transmit critical knowledge, design as a tool to make people smarter

k kirk and n. strandberg

iphone, interface (intuitive and revolutionary), consolidates, inspires others

problem should design solve next: already happening already Facebook and twitter--open up different avenues of communication

better wi-fi, better movement towards city wide wi-fi, universal ability compatibility in smart phones, better accessibility of smart phones (cheaper, more available)

ken carbon

ingénuité, utilité, beauty (in that order), if it's a great idea, and is useful, is going to be beautiful

q drum for water, water retrieval device, a large donut with a cap, pulled by a rope

simple, brilliant, makes life easier

#2: anything dealing with education. education + knowledge, leads to empowerment, which leads to positive change

tony hawk

apple products

lessening the intimidation of technology, doing what apple is doing right now by making new advancements still exciting and accessible

william drenttel

artifacts of graphic designs are not things we should worry about, rather, design that has more engagement with our world is more important, what inspires

design for scale change, not typography, not posters. focus on those challenges rather than print, and typical graphic design

start having expertise and knowledge, collaborating, find a way use design as a methodology, problem solving to lead us to solution to help the world.

So, I most connected to gong szeto's answer, of using design as the means to spread knowledge. I think that right now, as a graphic design student, the power of communicating ideas through graphic media is something that initially attracted me to this major, and has managed to keep my attention. It's tangible, it's concrete, and when it is done correctly, it is the personification of how beautiful the concept of an idea is.

If I was to answer these two questions myself, today, and I'm sure my answer would probably change due to my mood, of time of day, because right now I'm okay with being a fickle thing, I would answer as such:

1. The single example of design that inspires me the most is the work of my peers and fellow design students. The amount of potential I see motivates me to work harder and better, the passion that's there, the drive to improve, makes me proud to be one of them. I'm living in a time of real change, where my generation is passionate about using design to solve world problems, and taking classes with other students, and learning from my professors makes me unbelievably excited to design. This week I participated in a portfolio review day, as a baby sophomore in the program, it was intimidating at first to be in a room of juniors and seniors with their beautifully printed work all lined up, but I can't begin to describe how exciting it was to see everyone's work. It just pushes me to work harder so that I can create work like theirs. It was just the motivation I needed.

2. Design needs to solve education, whether that is the education system or the curriculum in our public school systems, it need to happen. Now. That's a problem we, as humans, need to solve.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Jonathan Harris

Jonathan Harris does it all. Computer programmer, charming nerd, thoughtful designer, motivated humanitarian, he makes every other twenty to thirty year-old feel like we've done nothing significant or remotely exciting in comparison to his work. Initial thoughts of the AIGA talk? Shit he's young. Next thought? Wow, his work is impressive, and his attitude toward his work (the internet, the way humans interact with the web, computer programming) is even more impressive, kinda overwhelming, and unexpected.

Harris is a programmer and a designer, and most importantly, a human. He dives into the purely rational, orderly, everything has a place and a right and wrong, every bug can be eventually traced to a source, programer. On the other hand, he wants things to be beautiful, wants to feel emotions with his body rather than the very cerebral and mind-talk interactions he has with his computer. He says this duality is difficult, he must make an extraordinary trade off as to be either a great programmer and a bad human being (distinct and unable to fully compartmentalize his work in the real world among other people), or a bad programmer and a great human being.

One of his most impressive piece of work was this program he developed for a show for MoMA that compiled all of the online dating statistics from all the online websites on the internet into this interactive design program that communicated all the different feelings and thoughts from these websites on an hourly basis. This is program, however, the design is exquisitely beautiful, he portrays each human within these balloons (pink for women, blue for men), these little isolated beings who are in the search for a complete match. Not only does the program mathematically determines matches, it is even more impressive in its endearing, and shockingly human gestures. His portrayal of information makes us think deeply about us as humans because online dating websites, which allot a few hundred characters for its participants to describe themselves, get to the root of who these humans are, what they want, and what they are about, and therefore are a pretty interesting snap shot of our society today.

Harris compares the internet today as an adolescent, someone who's at the stage of growth where things can go very right or very wrong. He says that the elimination of the individual has occurred. The internet is also very much like this condo that everyone has a room in, everyone can have one, free of charge now a days and even websites offer everyone some sort of personalization, but every room is different, no matter what pictures we tape onto our walls. He says that a few dozen geeks, all male, mind you, have the ability to really design and decide for the rest of us, these computer programmers who, like Harris, have difficulty removing themselves out of their fake, beautiful rational world, and relate to other human beings (let along interact with them!), have the ability to create what our internet looks like today and tomorrow. Harris understands how scary this is, for a few to decide for all. And for a few dissociative humans to decide what our internet, our still growing adolescent internet, will be tomorrow.

Harris asks designers whether or not our work is benefiting our audience, not on a design level, but more importantly, a human level. Is our work doing something to help our fellow humans become better humans? Have we contributed to this overall goal?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

About Type

_ What are the advantages of a multiple column grid? Whereas columns increase flexibility and provide unlimited compositions options, multiple columns are better for more complex projects that require the interaction of diverse visual elements. Discourages symmetrical compositions too.

_ How many characters is optimal for a line length? words per line? 66 character line is regarded as ideal, this is approximately 10 to eleven words with an average of five letters

_ Why is the baseline grid used in design? Imaginary grid that type sits upon that allows for continuity within a design.

_ What is a typographic river? When there are uneven spaces between words that are justified, causing large gaps in the paragraph.

_ From the readings what does clothesline or flow line mean?The flow line or clothesline is an imaginary line that aligns horizontally to text and allows for easy readability and flow.

_ How can you incorporate white space into your designs?Leave margins of paper open, break text into smaller paragraphs and group them.

_ What is type color/texture mean?How type is used to create a visual tone within the text. Includes typeface, size, spacing, line measurement, etc.

_ What is x-height, how does it effect type color? The height of lower case letters of a typeface without ascenders or descenders, the higher the type color, the lighter it seems, it's also more readable.

_ In justification or H&J terms what do the numbers: minimum, optimum, maximum mean? If text is justified, there is reasonable minimum word space (usually M/5 or a fifth of an em), as well as their is a maximum word space and optimum word space in order to avoid bad rivers.

_ What are some ways to indicate a new paragraph. Are there any rules? Ornaments, drop lines, pilcrows and boxes and bullets can be used to mark breaks in streams of continuous text, outdented paragraphs, white space. One rule about paragraphs is to set the opening paragraphs flush left. In continuous text, mark all paragraphs after the first with an indent of at least one en or equal to the leading.

_ What are some things to look out for when hyphenating text.

At hyphenated line-ends, leave at least 2 characters behind and at least three forward. "Fi-nally" is okay, "finally" is not.

Avoid leaving the stub-end of a hyphenated word or any word shorter than four letters, as the last line of a paragraph.

Avoid more than three consecutive hyphenated lines.

Hyphenate proper names only as a last resort.

_ What does CMYK and RGB mean?CMYK is cyan, magenta, yellow black, the color model for printing. RGB is additive color model, uses red, green, blue light to produce color.

_ What does hanging punctuation mean?Quotation mark hangs outside line of text.

_ What is the difference between a foot mark and an apostrophe? A foot mark is often referred to as a dumb apostrophe, just like a inch mark is referred to as a dumb quote, they were common in typewriters and are straight apostrophes.

_ What is the difference between an inch mark and a quote mark (smart quote)? Inch marks were common in type writers, they are straight quotation marks. Quote marks is the one that should be used.

_ What is a hyphen, en dash and em dashes, what are the differences and when are they used. Hyphens are used to separate the worse in a compound adjective, verb, or adverb. En-dashes are used to express a range of values or distance. Em dashes is used to separate abrupt parenthetical elements.

_ What are ligatures, why are they used, when are they not used, what are common ligatures? Two or more letter combined into one character make a ligature. Ligatures used to improve the appearance of type are usually character pairs or triplets that have features that tend to overlap when used together. The ligature creates a smoother transition or connection between characters by connecting crossbars, removing dots over the i, or otherwise altering the shape of the characters, common ligature would be ff.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Bruce Mau and Stefan Sagmeister

So, about Bruce

"Design and culture converge around literacy, equity, society."

Bruce Mau Studio works in print (Zone Books and I.D. magazine) as well as in architectural practice (environmental graphics and wayfinding). "Massive Change: The Future of Global Design" a exhibit, a book, a website, an initiative) with the goal of "exploring the legacy and potential, the promise and power of design in improving the welfare of humanity" based off of interdisciplinary thinking. Worked with 100 designers (people who were changing the world whether they knew it or not, whether they called themselves "designers" or not).

He's interesting to me because he looks like just about the happiest designer in the world, all pictures of him are of him laughing, that kind of deep throated, tilt your head back kind of laugh. He must be doing something right.

Okay, so my mantra of the week is:
7. Study.
A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.

I need to think of doing work as most of a positive, I think that's the only way I'll get through this week. it's not this have-to, must-do thing of doing work for the sake of making deadlines, but it's the opportunity to study, to grow, to learn. Hard work and having a positive attitude towards working hard will only benefit me, so that's what I plan on doing. :)

On Sagmeister's "How good is good"

I've often asked myself whether or not design was as "impotent" and "frivolous" as Sagmeister talks about at the beginning of the article. Frankly, he's right. We as a field encourage people to buy more junk, we portray others to the best of their ability whether or not they are a good cause or not, and we help others take credit for doing something good, even if they only did a good deed for the publicity. Even after listening to the Hallmark Symposium lecture about the M Project, and trying to talk to my friends about what I learned, I had some difficulty articulating what skills the designers brought to the project to make change. Uh, so they made these cool posters and got donations for these water pump. Oh, that's cool, my friends said. Okay, so maybe I didn't do the best job describing that good deed, but it laid down a real question in my mind. So you have science trying to cure cancer, what are we doing besides making posters?

Well I think that Sagmeister answers that question for me, design helps us remember important events (like the 9/11), it simplifies our life (the metro card), it unifies (any flag), it makes the world a safer place (clear directions for medication), it helps people rally behind a cause (posters!), and make us more tolerant (these are just to name a few). So like Sagmeister says, if design is this good, that's a pretty great reason to get out of bed in the morning and design. :) Some useful inspiration and motivation for a design student.

What is Design Thinking Anyways?

Notes from reading (important points):

design thinking applies designer's abductive reasoning to business (formal logic)

deductive and inductive: grounded in science, end declaration of true or false, build on previous knowledge (standoff shoulders of the giants who have come before us)

deductive: (logic of what must be) reasons from general to specific (crow)

inductive: (logic of what is operative) reasons from specific to general (small town)

William James and John Dewey explore formal declarative logic --not true and false at the end, but the process by which we come to know and understand. Knowledge acquisition not conceptual, not this abstract progression towards absolute truth, but instead dealing with inquiry and evolving interaction with context or environment.

The Pragmatist philosophers: knowledge comes only through experience

Charles Sanders Peirce: no new idea could be proved deductively or inductively using past data, new ideas did not come from conventional forms of declarative logic (inductive or deductive), therefore a third must exist.

First step of reasoning is not observing (deductive/inductive), but wondering, "logical leaps of the mind." Abductive reasoning. Not declarative because it does not ask to seek a true or false, but modal reasoning, because it seeks to post what could possible be true.

Abductive thinking scares businesspeople, can fail designers if they are not aware of what is technologically feasible, and must make business sense to succeed.

Balance in three types of reasoning.

About Author:

Roger Martin:

Dean of Rotman School of Management since 1998

Writes extensively on design, regular columnist for BusinessWeek's Innovation and Design Channel, author of "The Design of Business: Why Design Thinking is the Next Competitve Advantage"

In order to be innovative in business, we must not rely exclusively on analytical thinking (that refines current knowledge) and turn to design thinking (from mystery to heuristic, a rule of thumb that guides us to a solution, to algorithm, a predictable formula for producing an answer).

Monday, February 21, 2011

Journal 3: TED talks

So, last night I watched a few TED talks:
Stefan Sagmeister shares happy design
Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity
JJ Abram talks about the mystery box
Christopher McDougall asks the question: Are we born to run?
Steve Job's How to Live before you die
Rob Forbes on the way of seeing
And finally,
Daniel Kahneman: The riddle of experience and memory

So basically, rather than writing up this journal entry at a reasonable hour, I ended up watching way more TED talks with my boyfriend and falling asleep wondering whether our experience self or our memory self have more influence in how happy we are as human beings. And caused me to wake up in a foul mood because I had gone to bed much later than I had intended.

with that said, probably the best Sunday night ever. So, I'm just going to briefly talk about what stuck out most to me from all these TED talks:

Sagmeister talks about this Korean artist that has posted up hundreds of blank speech bubble stickers on random advertisements, photographs, anything in New York (I believe that was the city), and that there are three audiences that receive happiness from this interactive design. One, the artist herself. Two, the people writing quite hilarious messages in the bubbles. And three, the people reading these speech bubbles.

In art, it's easy to design what happiness looks like, but it's harder to design a happiness response from your audience. You can draw or paint a sunrise, but to create a room with a retractable ceiling for your viewer to experience the subtle colors of a sunrise or sunset is far more desirable.

Sir Robinson is one of the cutest english men ever. Old, yes. But thoughtful. He makes this great statement about how we as humans have tried to mine certain prized educational commodities, like the ability to solve math problems or the ability to perform well in science, rather than honing in on all of the possible education attributes a child is good at, whether that is more in dance, art, or music. He stresses that creativity is just as important as literacy within education and we have tried for too long to stifle creative growth.

JJ Abram has ADD and I had a difficult time distinguishing him from that Seinfield character. But, he talked about why he is so attracted to mystery boxes, or the concept of creating mystery and suspense in film or television, or whatnot. He talks about his grandfather who gave him he first camera a lot, and play some interesting scenes from Mission Impossible Three and Jaws. Not my favorite, but whatever.

McDougall is the shit. I read his book Born to Run this summer and it literally changed my life. Watching him speak made the book become more real for me and it was just as sassy and energetic as I thought he would be. He talks about how this group of indians in the Copper Canyons who chose flight over fight when the Spanish came to the Americas, and how they today are living the same way they have lived the past 400 years. They are peaceful, corn and mice eating, beer drinking, megamarathon running people who do not know poverty, heart disease, depression, warfare--any of the things that plagues our modern society. He talks about three mysteries of the world: How we evolved from a pea brain creature to this fat brained species and how for thousands of years we were hunting without the creation of man made tools, How women suck at sprinting but once you get her into a megamarathon setting (100+ miles), they are just as good as men and usually finish those races more, And another point that I've forgotten just now. Well, that'll be something to look forward to if you watch this TED talk, because it's that good. Anyways, so he is basically advocating for us to return to our roots, that the one thing that ties all these three questions together and explains us as humans is the fact that there was a time when we as a species hunted in a pack. LIke ran fucking antelope down as a communal pack. And that only if we return to a compassionate, team-working, running species will we find more happiness. And that we should all throw away our tennis shoes because they fuck up our feet.

Steve Jobs dropping out of college after 6 months bc he felt so guilty about spending his working class family's life savings on his education at Reed College. But stayed afterwards for 18 months on the floors of his friend's dorm rooms, putting up coke bottles to pay for food, and walking 7 miles every week to a church for a hot meal. All of this just to drop in on classes that he cared about. He took a calligraphy class there and learned about letter press and typography and calligraphy, and fast forward a few years, used what he learned to elevate the typography of the mac, and (because microsoft copies everything) changed the overall aesthetics of the personal computer forever. That's connecting the dots, something that you can only do in retrospect, but gives you comfort in today and tomorrow because just the simple concept that a few years down the road you'll be able to use what you are doing today gives you the comfort and reassurance to take a few risks.

Forbes showed photographs of interesting compositions in nature/life that he's taken over the years. Basically the idea that design is everywhere around us, it's only the process of seeing it.

Loved Kahneman's talk about the experience self and the memory self, and how it related to our happiness. But, since I have some other homework to catch up on, i'll let you watch it yourself. This, and watching Inception and the Matrix within the last two weeks made me think about my memories and thoughts a little differently. Enjoy.