The biggest design demon, pride.

Last year our Typography teacher retired at the end of the semester. I felt quite disappointed, I was concerned as to what this meant for my overall learning experience and it was a great stress to me through out the whole summer. 
My first typography class of this year was rough everything was different. I liked my old familiar teacher and I was SURE this kind of dramatically different change would not be a positive one. I found myself mentally arguing with everything that was said during that first class. My first critique wasn’t any better; I left feeling frustrated because I basically had to go back to the drawing board. Nothing seemed to be working out for me but then something changed.  My second critique I really began to listen to the advice that were being given to my peers and for the most part, I agreed with the suggestions our teacher was giving. 
That night I realized that I had been focusing more on the background image than I had been on my text layout and suddenly the teachers critiques of my work began to make sense. I was so motivated that I drove right into my design project and finished it that same evening.. I came to class excited and SURE my teacher was going to love it. I would like to tell you that my third critique went well and I had fixed all my errors but unfortunately there was much to improve on. It still stung a little, I was used to having strong work and there were rarely any issues with my previous pieces but I left my third critique with a much more positive attitude and a clear understanding of what I needed to fix. It wasn’t because my teacher was clearer in her explanation, she had been consistent through out all of the critiques, I was just more willing to receive the advice.
I think this is the first time in my whole life of creating that I have had to step back and deflate my ego, up until this point I had been pretty humble and willing and ready for suggestions. I’m not sure when it changed for me, maybe I was overly confident because my work was now being graded or because for the most part, people never really responded negatively to my work. Artists and designers should always be open to the ideas suggestions of others, it how we grow! We should at least consider what is being said because there is always room for improvement or at least an interesting discussion. Im not saying I will always follow the advice given to me, but I want to be open to receive what others might say.

 

Millers Law, Millers Magic 7, The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two

This year we are starting a new course called Information Design.  
What is Information Design?
 The best explanation I have heard is from  The Society for Technical Communication who said, Information Design is “the translating of complex, unorganized, or unstructured data into valuable, meaningful information”. I would love to say that my brain retains all of the information given to me during this 3 hour class but, unfortunately it does not but, according to Millers Law thats ok! One thing that did peak my interest last class was,

Millers Magic 7
The General breakdown of Millers Magic 7 is that the average person can only retain about 7 pieces of information. If more information is added, then it must be put into groups or “chunked” so that it is easier to remember. Once the information is “Chunked” people can generally retain an additional 2 pieces information (Millers 7+2). Once those pieces of information have entered our short term memory, our brain makes a choice as to what information is relevant and will go on to be stored stored in our long term memory. Anything that is not considered relevant or important is then dismissed. Of course, its a little more involved than that but for blogging purposes, this explanation will do.

How does this relate to Graphic Design or more specifically, Information Design? When designing and simplifying information and instructions for people we as designers need to be careful how we choose to layout information. We need to make sure that it is clear, concise and also, that it leaves the user feeling happy  and less stressed because the information provided is not confusing or frustrating.

One way we could apply this principal is to web design. I have been combing through many different webpages and some of the most popular pages such as, Google or Facebook use a limited number of categories in their navigation bar, 7 to be exact .  Users need to be able to navigate effortlessly on a webpage so they will enjoy their experience. A person may not remember all of the specifics about a particular site but if the information is grouped in an easily, memorable way it will keep a person coming back. After separating content from site into seven main categories the information can then be “chunked”  so that it is sub categorized and easy to find. Web design is not the only place I feel this principle can be applied to it could also be very effective in helping with instructional designs or  in learning design tools for educators. Millers theory has been debated in many circles, but personally I feel that when used properly can be effective in the world of design.

Good Type is Good Design

First Year Typography Assignment

First Year Typography Assignment

Good typography often goes unnoticed because it just makes sense but it’s not just about making things look pretty, it’s a kind of science and it can serve a functional purpose. Type can strongly affect how people react to a piece, using the right typeface allows you to evoke emotion or helps fit a certain style .
I really enjoy learning about typography. It is a topic that really extends into all areas of the design field. When I’m given a project in any one of my courses, I notice that my professors always stress at least one element of type design. Consistency, hierarchy and alignment are all basic elements that are consistent with strong type design.
There is no such thing as too much knowledge and while I do take a typography course, I am always looking for information to further my knowledge on the subject. There is an abundance of information both in books and on the web. After some research I found a few blogs that are specifically type related. I’ve listed a few of my favourite sites below.

http://ilovetypography.com

I am fairly certain that anyone who enjoys typography knows about this site already. There are some fun articles, I find the layout a bit choppy but the content is great. If you have a chance check out the article Who shot the Serif?  The title alone made me chuckle, it was very interesting, light reading.

http://ilovetypography.com/2007/08/26/who-shot-the-serif-typography-terms/

http://www.tdc.org

The Type Directors Club is an organization dedicated to improving the quality of typography. They have an abundance of articles and resources of all kinds including one called The Dawn of Digital Type, this article focuses on the history of digital typography (a topic I have a personal interest in).

http://fontfeed.com

Lots of fresh material on this site, it defiantly has a different feel to it. There are a lot of names I didn’t know and information on their contributions to the type world. Very informative!

If any of you type nerds out there come across something interesting and inspirational feel free to add it to the comments below. I still consider myself a newbie to the world of type but my appreciation for typography grows daily I would be thankful for any new resources.

Drawing Inspiration and Realization

I came into the Graphic Design program with some fairly strong drawing skills.
You don’t have to be a visual artist to be a graphic designer but I definitely found that it helped me produce more well thought out pieces. When I was younger, almost all of my drawings were from photographs, I had a hard time thinking of an idea and actually drawing it out to look the way I envisioned it in my mind. I always thought of imitation as a weakness and never saw myself as a real artist because I always needed some kind of reference to look at. I believed that if I looked at something, then it was cheating and it didn’t count as art, but over the course of time my views on this topic have shifted. All of my years of drawing magazine ads and photographs have actually made drawing out my own ideas a lot easier. For every copy of a piece I made, I was learning something new about light, shape, characteristics,proportions, etc. Fairly recently I have come to terms with the fact that there is nothing wrong with using references for your art. I would never have known how to draw the face of an Orangutan for my school assigned animal portrait, it probably would have ended up looking like some strange unknown species of primate if I hadn’t collected photos and studied them.
Coming up with your ideas may be easy but you have to practice if you want to put them on paper properly.
Even when you have strong skills, never give in and think that its good enough the way it is. There is ALWAYS room for improvement, the harder you are on your own art, the better you will become as an artist.
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An ink piece I completed in my own style in my drawing class this semester, it was done with indian ink and micro pens.

 

Hand Rendered Art is Always More Fun

 Fun with Primates

Fun with Primates

For this project we were required to draw four separate black and white images each to do with the animal of our choice rendered in specific styles.
•The first, a portrait done only in circles and half circles.
•The second, was the animals geographical location. I was required to do this using only lines of different thicknesses and weights, going only one way. I had to find a way to create depth, it was by far the hardest square to draw.
•Third, the creature in its immediate habitat done using only thick shapes.
•The fourth and final square was of the creatures food, I was only allowed to use one line weight and I had to try and make the fruit look 3D without crosshatching or thick shading in certain areas.
It was a very fun project for me, I love challenges!

Photography

I took photography in high school, I learned very little about how to actually work a camera properly or what makes a beautiful picture. My favourite part of high school photography was the dark room.
Yes, back when I was in high school they still had darkrooms where we would develop our rolls of film. There was something eery and beautiful about standing that red lit room, watching the picture I had snapped, slowly start to appear right in front of me.
We were required to take photography for first and second semester this year. I didn’t really care about photography until I was into my second semester. Thats when I really began to understand how the camera works and how to use the settings properly in manual mode. Suddenly a whole other world opened up for me. It felt like pretty much overnight photography became almost as important to me as drawing was. A lot of it had to do with my teacher, if you see someone that skilled, who is that passionate about their job and excited to share their knowledge, you really have no choice but to fall in love with the subject.
Its a great thing to capture a perfect picture and to be instantly taken back to the feelings you felt in that particular moment, to capture the true likeness of a loved one with just a click of a button is an amazing thing.
IMG_0094

Illustration Project

Wrecked Linear Curved

Original Creative

 

This is the first project I did in my illustration class.
One of the things I enjoy most about creating art is filling my page full of lots of little details, I pride myself on it. Initially this class was very hard for me, I don’t like over simplifying things. I always viewed simple art as weak or lazy work, it feels so unfinished to me. I chose a portrait with lots of beautiful little details in it and I poured my time into this piece, first hand rendering each specific style and then putting it into the computer (Yes, there is an easier way to create something similar to this on the computer but it was a requirement to hand render the images first).  My teacher recognized it was a struggle for me to leave out detail and gently through out the course of the semester encouraged me to make my work simpler. Over time I really made an effort to try and simplify my work so that I could be more well rounded as an artist and a designer. Its been a struggle, I will never stop loving detailed artwork, but simplicity definitely has a big place in the world of design.