This weekend I had the opportunity of going to RGD event, Design Thinkers.
There were many interesting people who came to speak but I came eager to hear John Furneaux speak about Designing Building Blocks.  Our role as designers are changing, we are no longer there to just come up with a design for a single platform, we are there as a consultant to assist in setting up foundational blocks that can be used in a variety of ways though out different platforms to suit the clients needs and evolve with them in ways that we may not have even been anticipated yet.

The talk really resonated with me. I started the St Lawrence College Graphic design program during a time when the curriculum was being revamped. My classmates and I had the opportunity of being the first students with the privilege of having a whole new learning experience based on a new curriculum that had a strong focus on user based design and strategic thinking. In keeping with what John said, our role as designers is shifting and we must change with it so that we continue to add the value and expertise that clients need to come up with long term solutions to their challenges.  Graphic Design has always been a profession that demands constant change from the people in its field. Every day new programs come out that change what we design for. Every time there is a software update we are required to learn and grow with it, new trends come up that we must choose to follow or avoid, our profession is one that will forever be changing.

A class mate of mine used a quote in a piece of work recently that said, “Design is How it Works”. It is a very pure statement, one that will never change and becomes even more relevant as the things we design for become more complex and require us to think even further into the future than ever before.

Building Your Process Portfolio

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the 2014 Design Thinkers conference in Toronto this year but as a designer even if you are unable to attend these fantastic events you should still be trying to learn and improve yourself anyway you can.
This week I took the time to review some online webinars posted on the RGD website. One in particular was by Russell Gibbs and it was on the topic of building a process portfolio which I will be starting to build next semester. My teachers have already started giving us information relating to building a process portfolio but you can never know to much when building something that is showcasing your  skills for your potential employers.

I find typing or writing out the information helps me retain it better than just listening to someone speak, below I typed out what I felt were the important points of the first half of his webinar. Hopefully this will be helpful to other students or young designers who are in the field and trying to build a strong portfolio!

Creating and Effective Design Portfolio
By: Russell Gibbs

What is a Portfolio?
A Representation of your best works

Keep in Mind…..
Sometimes you may not be able to explain every detail of your portfolio to the person viewing it so it is important that your work speaks for itself and provides the viewer with clear self explanatory visual.
The portfolio you create should show case your talents and personality.

What format should be used digital or print?

Consider this:
What format suits your work the best?

Interactive, App, Web Design, etc. = Digital
Illustration, Branding, etc. = Print

Either one works as long as its professional and well thought out.

How Many pieces should be in a process portfolio?
8-12 projects (not pages, projects)
Find a happy medium, not too sparse and not too overwhelming

What should you include in your portfolio?

Choose a diverse range of work to put in your portfolio. Don’t limit yourself by focusing on just one specific area of design. Obviously you want to showcase your stronger talents but make sure that you are giving the person viewing the portfolio a variety of work so that you aren’t limiting your employment opportunities by just focusing on just one area of talent.

How do I show my work? 
Scan or take Photographs?
If you want to take pictures, make sure you have the skill level to do it properly.

Should I show my Roughs? 
If it enhances your projects, Yes. If it doesn’t mean anything or add anything, leave them out.
If you don’t have roughs, don’t recreate them.

How do You organize your work?

Keep your work consistent and leave them wanting more

Consider your portfolio as a story, your story.
What projects are where?
What is the evolution of the story?
How is it flowing together?

Play with the composition, be unique. The effort you put into your portfolio because it shows.
Remember: Layouts can be whatever you want them to be just make sure whatever you do makes sense.

Check and re-check your work, give it to a friend or several friends to check as well.
Spelling errors are not acceptable.

Consider the competition. 
Does your book hold up against the stronger students in your class or program?

For the complete webinar click the link below:

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.

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.

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).

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.

An ink piece I completed in my own style in my drawing class this semester, it was done with indian ink and micro pens.