Thursday, August 27, 2015

ds: steamboat arabia

The nuances of a brand create an identity; the rendering of the logo, the roundness/sharpness of a letter, the choice of color and texture. The most striking tactic in branding we covered in class was utilizing the use of restraint. As a designer, I tend to pile on additional elements, making it complex and convoluted. In certain instances, less is more. A clear example of this that stood out to me was Kota Kobayashi's 'One Pine Tree' beer design which spoke to the tragedy of the 2011 tsunami as well as the hope for restoration. Like we discussed in class, the one pine tree does both these things simultaneously in a respectful and humble manner; paying tribute, with the stark white and black shapes, and instilling hope, using the symbol of a pine tree to represent the only thing that remained after the tsunami. 

Kota Kobayashi's 'One Pine Tree' beer design

Keeping that in mind, I want to rebrand either the Steamboat Arabia Museum or the Nelson-Atkins in a respectful manner. The reason why I chose such institutions was because of my interest in art history as well as the spatial elements it might entail. I haven't yet visited Steamboat Arabia, but I plan to over the weekend. In the mean time, some research: 

This is what their current website looks like:
Photos I found online:


Some things they emphasize, just from what I've observed on their website, is the concept of discovering lost treasure and the idea of being able to see a slice of life preserved from 1856. 

What's working for the design now, is that it definitely does speak to the "lost treasure" look and feel, referring to everything 'pirates' (wood, gold, jewels, ships, antiques...). What it lacks, however, is a nod to its historical significance as holding rare pre-Civil War era artifacts up to 1856. What I plan to do is prioritize the feel of the 1850s in a fresh way that's relevant to today, and make the appeal of  "lost treasure" secondary. 

The 1850s is marked as a time of expansion and division, prompting the Civil War a decade later (1861-1865). By this time, the Industrial Revolution was in a period of transition. Louis Daguerre patented the daguerreotype, and William Henry Fox Talbot had finished his Pencil of Nature, the first published compilation of photographs. The Crystal Palace Exhibition (1851) was held, celebrating industry and technology, and the idealized beauty of Victorian design was in trend. Chromolithography was also in development, allowing for color prints. These are the things that set up the 1850s. 

Owen Jones' Grammar of Ornament (1856)

How can I design something that feels like a slice of life from 1856 in a fresh, relevant way?  

Megg's History of Graphic Design by Philip B. Meggs

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

mx: find + share

As Ashton and I were brainstorming, I was reminded of an app that my friend told me about which helps North Koreans and South Koreans understand each other. Though they speak the same language, seven decades of separation has also created differences in dialects.

EasyTaxi + Dettol
Another relevant example of technology + community is a partnership between Easy Taxi and Dettol when the Ebola virus spread in West Africa. Together they educated Nigerian cab drivers on how to spot someone who is sick and how to educate others. Read more here:

SeedSheet, an online garden-building program, is for beginner gardeners who wish to plant with ease. Once a gardener has picked a location for their plants, the software identifies the location where the plants will thrive. Once receiving the sheet, gardeners simply have to unroll the SeedSheet and water it.

This drone allows users to film at an aerial view without hassle. After inputting the desired perspective, users can control its movement.

The world is broken up into communities, which at times overlap, creating complex relationships where the same two people can belong to the same group, but simultaneously conflict in another. During class, I was intrigued by the power of critical masses, a community joined by one goal. One current example of this was Cecil, a lion illegally poached in Zimbabwe by a dentist. People had a strong emotional reaction and virtually roasted Dr. Walter J. Palmer to the point of driving him out of business. Trends, too, play a large role in bringing all demographics together. Though there are so many different types of people, somehow they unite simply because they live within the same time period. It's a powerful thing, to start a trend and to utilize it; its a faster and more efficient way to reach a wider range of people.

Cecil the Lion
I understand now, why it's more advantageous to be "the outsider," because you can observe the time and place a community lives in. What I mean is, designers have to make a conscious effort to step out of themselves and analyze what things are trending and why the social culture is what it is.

The concept of "from having to sharing" is rising in popularity, like we discussed in class, and its spewing out new apps like Uber and Peerby. Why buy something new when someone else already has it? Perhaps this notion emerged out of the fact that people own too many things, and they don't want to own an additional item for temporary use. Another phenomenon I've noticed is the transfer from watching shows on television to online. Now we see Hulu/Netflix exclusive shows, talk show hosts like Jimmy Fallon and Ellen heavily incorporating YouTube, and people watching less and less of television. My theory is that people would rather watch shows on their own time rather than a specific time slot, due to peoples' increasingly busy schedules.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is a Netflix exclusive series by Tina Fey
Other trends I've noticed and learned about while researching:
–the need to capture/collect experiences/interests and share them (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest)
–the freeing notion of one-time viewership (SnapChat)
–e-commerce and buying everything online
–smart products (iWatch)
–a longing for authenticity
–the effort to slow down, seek for wellbeing and happiness
–the need for filters (decision-maker) due to the abundance of information
–desktop to mobile shift
–streaming audio (Pandora, Spotify, SoundCloud)
–buying on social media
–the desire for information in real-time (turn-by-turn navigation, news)
–the preference of more concise content over lengthy
–instant quality control (photo filters on Instagram, SquareSpace)

...and overall a society that emphasizes connectivity. This reminds me of the film Six Degrees of Separation where Ouisa comments,
"I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet. The President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names. I find it extremely comforting that we're so close. I also find it like Chinese water torture, that we're so close because you have to find the right six people to make the right connection...I am bound, you are bound, to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people."


Monday, August 24, 2015

va: visual advocacy

"Design Thinking: A Useful Myth" by Donald Norman – Response
In Norman's concise redefinition of "design thinking," I found myself humbled as a designer. Often times, being in a department solely for graphic design and being surrounded by designers makes one think that perhaps what designers do are truly unique, when in actuality, design at its core is problem-solving. The one virtue that sets apart designers are their ability to look from the outside in. I don't particularly agree with his use of the word "outsider" because designers should be completely immersed in society in order to understand it, but I get the concept. What's interesting is that designers must be both the outsider and also the native, where they observe and also engage. As Norman points out, the myth that designers, "possess some mystical, creative thought process that places them above all others in their skills at creative, groundbreaking thought," though false, is advantageous for us designers. It's a powerful "public relations term," where suddenly the creative way of thinking called "design" has substance and structure.

An illustration from Every Person in New York by Jason Polan

What Does Designing for Good Mean? by Daniel Francavilla – Response
As Francavilla pointed out, design for good began with the modernists, which later shifted into consumerism, and then back to social responsibility. "Good" is used in both design and non-profit work, and can have different meanings. Though it can mean effective, attaching "for" to a phrase clarifies it as the desire to help the greater good and create a sustainable future.

One of my projects for Tyler's Applied Communication Theory course.
These signs use index in order to raise awareness about subtle racism.
Titles of each from left: Stereotyping, Ignorance, and Impact of the Media, respectively

"Designing for Social Change" – Response
Key Points:
  • Immerse yourself – spend time with the community; organization and community should be one
  • Build trust – you can't help without the community's trust; be personally invested
  • Ex. Studying Stereotypes
    • a project to dispel negative stereotypes against different ethnicities by Ramsy Mazri
    • to counteract discrimination, targeted children between 8 and 10
    • created children's books to visualize the difficulty in accepting differences
    • his inspiration was El Lissitsky's About 2 Squares
    • by the end, students and teachers were exchanging contact information, making new friends in the process
  • Promise Only What You Can Deliver – it's tempting to want to solve all the community's issues, but it's important to be realistic and aim at solving the problem one step at a time
  • Prioritize Process – feedback is most important, don't be afraid to bring new ideas to the table, 
  • Confront Controversy – conflict is valuable and reveals underlying issues, keep a good rapport with community members with controversial topics
  • Ex. Stories of the City
    • Tyler Galloway sought to bring neighborhood communities together
    • the initial connection was the most difficult - taking neighbors out of their comfort zone and giving them the motivation to learn more about their neighbors was an obstacle
    • Tyler found that societies prioritize common interests as opposed to geography as shown in Morgan Allen's failed experience with her community
    • quote by Tyler: "a designer needs a solid point of entry into a community to have credibility and trust with them."
  • Identify the Community's Strengths – instead of focusing on weaknesses, focus on the community's strengths
  • Utilize Local Resources – use what's already there; look out for available talents/skills community members have and utilize it
  • Design with the Community's Voice – remember to keep consistent with the community's already set style
  • Give Communities Ownership – focus on long-term goals and make sure community members can run it in the future
  • Sustained Engagement – build lasting relationships with the community
In general, what stood out to me the most in this reading was the level of trust a designer needs with the community they're assisting. Though this seems intuitive, a desire to help the community should be sincere and empathetic. It should not be from a superior standpoint of "giver" and "receiver," like one of the interviewees commented in We Are Superman. Rather, it should be a collaborative effort where the designer almost becomes one with the community.

"We Are Superman" – Response
Ever since coming to Kansas City four years ago, I learned to be wary of Troost Avenue. One of the first things a Kansas City resident told me was to "be careful along that street." When driving from the west of Troost to the east, it was strange how drastically the apparent income of each household dropped in certain areas and skyrocketed in others; the racial demographic seemed unbalanced and concentrated with certain types of people in specific areas. Though confused, I did not question it, nor did I feel the necessity to point it out as a problem. I noticed that Chicago, too, has the same problem of segregation, where there are racial pockets and natural divides between them.

After learning about the history of Troost and how it became the "wall," I was shocked at how little things have changed over the course of sixty years. I realized that segregation is indeed not a thing of the past; it is very much a current reality and continues to prevail. Looking at a map visualizing the races of residents in Kansas City, there is a clear divide between white residents (to the west of Troost) and black residents (to the east). The film revealed the complexity of the issue, which spans from legislation to familial environments. Needless to say, there is no one clear solution.

As the film progressed, it delved into specific people's efforts to eliminate segregation: a Catholic nun, an Orthodox Priest, a computer engineer, and a community leader. Though they all address different aspects of the issue, each tackle the problem in their own way and instigate social change. One of the interviewees commented that "we can no longer wait and depend on the government to solve the issue."

Like Kelly said in class, design cannot necessarily solve world hunger. But it can influence the way people behave, and therefore also change the way people think. In what ways could design raise awareness or solve the issue?

This visualization of 2010 U.S. Census data shows Troost as a racial divider in Kansas City, Mo.
(Blue dots represent white residents, green dots represent African-American residents.)

Organizations of Interest
  • HALO
  • Assistance League of Kansas City
  • Kansas City Rescue Mission
  • Stonelion Puppet Theatre
  • Rose Brooks Center
  • Cultivate KC
Kansas City-based Challenges
  • What is the existing situation?
  • What specific problem are you wanting to solve or change are you trying to make?
  • Why?
  • What changes could improve the situation? (this will evolve as you do research)
  • Change of conversation?
  • Shift in understanding?
  • Identifying a need?


mx: the future imperfect

Reading Response
"The Future Imperfect: Design and Foresight" by Cady Bean-Smith

The more I learn about design, the more I realize how intertwined design is with everyday life. A good designer, in my opinion, knows and understands the current social climate. In other words, a designer cannot be a hermit or isolated from society because design calls for immersion. Technology drastically changes the way we live and is constantly growing, which is why graphic design moves concurrently with technology. In "The Future Imperfect: Design and Foresight," Cady Bean-Smith emphasizes the connection between technology and sociology. Bean-Smith proposes three questions to ask with the onset of new tech: What does it improve upon? What does it introduce? What does it obsolesce? Comparing the things we used back then and now, Bean-Smith illustrates how the iPhone obsolesced the answering machine, the digital camera, the paper calendar, alarm clock, and GPS, and meshed all those objects into one. The iPhone changed the way people socialize, creating an environment where there's no "definitive endpoint" to working (according to Alice Twemlow). With new technology, it's important to realize what's lost. This reminded me of my summer part-time job at a small chiropractic clinic. The doctor there decided to upgrade to a digital filing system (ChiroTouch), where patients could check-in and store their personal information. The doctor found that after doing this, everything actually took longer than just filling out paper forms, giving him less time to tend to each patient. For the sake of accuracy and storage, he lost speed. Considering both sociology and technology, designers can use this as a powerful tool to solve future problems and shape society.

ChiroTouch is a program most chiropractors use for their clinic, which I mentioned above

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

pp: interview with Lance

After showing/explaining my portfolio, resume, and cover letter to Lance, he emphasized the importance of presentation and craft. He observed that most of my work was strong but that I should consider pulling out a couple of personal works that were not relatable to the company. One example was my Book of References. Though visually appealing, it did not speak to the agency's goals nor did it display any aptitude for conceptualizing. As Barkley is an advertising agency, some works have to be pulled out and added in according to the employer's needs. He also said how I articulated my work was solid, but that my quiet personality can make employers think that I am less capable. In order to stand out amongst my competition, I need to emphasize what makes me unique and show employers that even though I'm reserved, I know, "how to have fun." Overall, I need to improve on my craft, and fully understand my designs to better showcase what makes me, me.

Friday, May 01, 2015

ux: nelson progress

Final pamphlet (inside):

the Four Season sculptures, drawn in Illustrator:

front of trading cards:

back of trading cards:

pp: moar progress

bus iness card
prototype 2
-used thinner paper, but it's still ripping on the edges
-my information is being cut in half - perhaps it should be on a different panel
-won't close shut all the way, and won't open up all the way, so should be more flexible

thank you card
-envelope still has to be designed
-bought a small hole-puncher to punch out the circles
-on the inside will be a close-up or a detailed shot of one of my portfolio works
-wanted all my collateral to be dimensional + flat

takeaway stuffs
-some dark chocolate almonds...
-is this too random?

-an array of stickers that can go on takeaway stuff and letters
-bought some sticker paper, but the printer won't print it exactly in line!

Monday, April 27, 2015

ux: nelson progress

We finished the "trading cards" for each sculpture. The riddles + story will go on the back and when compiled together, will create a complete story. Each card has basic information on the sculpture as well as a blurb about it. They're talking in first person, to make it seem more relatable to kids.