Designing Communications for Interactions
The second project that we are given in the second semester of sophomore year is a systems project, in which we are to design something to promote the topics that we are interested in in groups of two. I am paired up with Shannon, and our topic is “paint.” We will have to come up with three designs that each fall into a category of digital, physical, and environmental. My biggest concern is coming up with an innovative and creative idea and an appropriate medium which I do not yet have in mind, but I think since our topic is paint, we have a broader spectrum of opportunities to explore than the other groups.
For today’s class, we were asked to bring different mark making tools. Then, we were given an adjective, and a short amount of time to expressively visualize those adjectives on a sheet of paper. After we were done, we brought everything together to make comparisons, and were able to notice which pieces worked better than the others depending on the form, color, texture, negative space, composition, and many more different elements. It was interesting how we can interpret or define an abstract piece of just “marks” as quiet or loud, playful or calm, and so on.
After this exercise, me and Shannon each individually came up with a set of adjectives that has to do with our topic, paint, and made our own set of marks. We tacked them up on a whiteboard, and tried to guess each others’ adjectives based on how we interpreted these marks. Whether or not we got each others’ adjectives right, I thought this exercise helped us get a sense of the direction that we would take in terms of visuals and also the general mood. We both identified rhythm, flexibility, playfulness, and inspiration as keywords for our topic.
For today’s class, out of many ideas that we had for the three components, we narrowed down our concepts so that they work more as a cohesive system. Environmental piece comes first, as it would be a community painting session where people can pick up the painting kits that we are going to make for the physical object, since we thought that lack of material is a huge part that contributes to the reason why people don’t paint. So we thought, that the experience at the painting session and them taking away a small kit that they can pull out wherever they want could be a motivation for the students to paint more. Then, for the digital piece, we thought of making an online gallery where people can submit their painted artworks and possibly, buy others’ artworks printed on different materials such as phone cases, postcards, etc.
The major feedback that we got from this proposal was “how would this system make known the value of painting to the people?” Stacie suggested that we make a survey to figure out what the real reasons why students do not paint are, their general stance towards painting, and so on. So far, our decisions were based on our own assumptions, so we immediately came up with a set of questions that we would ask students.
The first image is the list of questions that we sent out for response, and we got a total of 90 students who answered our survey. They were from a diverse group, which is good, and as we assumed, most of them didn’t paint often but responded that they are willing to paint if they have the resources. We saw some positive possibilities from this survey, that we can change people’s mindsets if we find a way to successfully embed a message that reinforces the value of painting into our communicative and visual system.
During class, we were introduced to the ideas of catches, validations, and calls to action. These are the crucial information to be included in a form of text, in all parts of the projects. They should be clear, engaging, and also informative enough so that the audiences could easily grab the idea we are trying to convey.
The image on the left is some of the ideas we came up during class that we can use as our catch, validation, and call to action. For the catch, we tried to engage the audience through a bold tagline which would incite interest in painting such as “Why don’t you paint?” or “This is art, you can do it too.” I think the biggest problem that we were trying to tackle through these elements is the fact that people are often afraid of painting and become rather timid when they are trying to be expressive because they think that they are not good enough. Through showing that anything could be art and there should be no judgment in self-expression through art, we are looking to inspire people to make art.
The image on the right contains a few examples that me and Shannon made with our the few of our catches. Alongside the painting kit that we are trying to make, we tried to make a poster as well, because we thought a poster would be something that could be displayed at different places, and so it could invite primary audiences to the system that we are developing. The series of posters on the upper right corner of the image are printed with the Risograph printer that Shannon had access to, which layers ink. Because we are thinking of layering abstract shapes and types, we thought this could be an interesting idea.
Also, the black and white printed photographs on the image on the right are the inspirations we collected for our physical object. We decided to make a booklet with the painting kit and pages with inspiring painting prompts. Then, our idea for a corresponding environmental piece is to collect the pages from the booklets and make a huge mosaic piece out of it. We are still thinking about our digital piece because we thought it shouldn’t be redundant or a mere digital translation of our environmental piece.
We worked more on solidifying and strengthening our catch, validation, and action as we discussed with our professor about the critical elements that we have to address that is specific to our topic. In brief, we will have to focus on accentuating the value of painting such as how it gets people out of routine which in turn would help them focus more on their ordinary tasks.
Value: relaxation (therapy), out of routine (focus), enjoyment, self-expression
Challenges: fear of painting
- Free form
lack of time and resources
- Short amount of time
Why? It’s fun and relaxing
- Not a creative/productive purposes
- (opposite? of productive) a distraction to get them to be more productive
Shannon and I went out to purchase some supplies that we needed for our booklet. We were interested in using different mediums for different parts of the book, so we bought papers of different colors and textures, vinyl, and many more interesting materials that we would like to experiment with.
The images above are the prototypes of our book that me and Shannon made. We are looking for the best way to combine the painting kit and the booklet, so the idea we came up with was to make circular cuts on the pages like it is on the very left image, (the idea for that booklet is to personalize the book by asking the user to draw a self portrait on the bottom layer, and paint to different prompts that complements with the portrait which makes an interesting piece of art) and have the paint kit match up with the hole.
Also, we’ve been looking for a way to attach the pages to the book, so that the user can build their own book with the pages they would collect from the pop up shop with ease.
We solidified our color palette. We thought that it should be colorful, because a color palette that is too simple or toned down would be more difficult convey our intentions to show how painting is a fun exercise, and also to make people want to paint.
The images above is a wireframe and the features for our online gallery (shop) that I prototyped. The biggest feedbacks that we got from these was first, our need to figure out whether amateur painters would want to share their works online, and second, why would people buy other people’s artworks. We saw the need to make changes to our digital piece through further research.
Shannon experimented with different visual styles that we can use to create a cohesive system. She also came up with different catch phrases that would work as a theme and tie our components together. Because I am not good at generating new, creative ideas instantly, her experiments with text and imagery really helped us propel forward with different inspirations. I think that’s the biggest part where our skills complemented each others.
For today’s class, we had to present our progress in idea for our three portions for the system, visual style, and how we will communicate our messages in the form of text.
For the most part, our professor and classmates still seemed to be skeptical about the sharing part in our digital piece, and how we would consolidate our pieces together with a solid visual vocabulary. We were given long written feedbacks, that we would keep our eyes on and address the problems that were sticking out.
Because I thought we needed a visual style that we would stick to, I created this inventory with different textures and shapes of painted shapes. I controlled the color temperature, saturation, and hue to keep the texture of the paint but make the colors match our color palette. Then, I went on to create some posters. I wrote the tagline that we liked the most by hand, and experimented with different layouts and overlays.
The biggest points of discussion during the conversation I had with my professor, was hierarchy and viewing distance. I have not figured out the best way to include validations and calls to action in the poster, so we talked about how I can effectively bring in those elements to these posters. She mentioned how they don’t have to be of same scale or hierarchy in order to communicate with the audience. She gave us the most comment on the third poster of the ones above, talking about how the drawing grabs attention first and the text after. Because Shannon and I also thought that these illustrations were interesting enough to grab viewers’ attention, we decided to make them larger than the other elements.
Also, during the conversation with our professor, I tossed an idea about our yet-to-be-solved problems for our digital piece. Instead of having a digital piece that operates based on a structure of a gallery, we could make a gallery as a secondary element, and make it where people can download painting prompts they can add to their booklet instead. The gallery would be then just examples of how the prompts could turn out to be, which we thought would be less overwhelming for the users which tackles the problem that had been constantly bothering us: would amateur painters want to share their works in a gallery space? We looked at various different random prompt generators online, and sorted out the essential elements that we would need for our gallery.
We kept on experimenting with different layouts, finalizing our posters. In the meantime, we brought in the visual elements that we developed for the poster to out booklets so that it works more as a system. We decided to go with “Taste with your eyes, see with your hands” as our main tagline for the poster, and use “you for yourself” for the booklet since our booklets are mainly about personal art and self-expression, so that people can feel like it’s really for themselves to work with.
Also, after our long discussion about how to include the paint and paintbrush into our booklet, we decided to laser cut clear acrylic sheets to be the size of the book and attach it onto the inside of the book. We are looking forward to how it will look with the background since the acrylic is transparent.
For our environmental piece, since we thought we needed an actual artifact that we would install in an environment instead of just an idea of a pop-up shop, we came up with an idea to make a vending machine that would give people prompts people can add to their booklet. We also thought it would be interesting if people could submit their completed works, so we decided to make a slot for submission.
These are the different pages that I’ve made for our website. The criticism we got was to provide people of what this website is about first, and then introduce every other functions. Also, although it had the same visual elements as the other components of this project, it conveyed different feelings. We decided to keep the contents, but change the order of appearance and design it to look differently.
We finalized our poster design. As we received a feedback that the grayish blue on the background makes it look a bit cloudy, we decided to make the background a different color. We then played around a bit with the composition of the shapes, highlights behind the text elements, and also re-drew the illustrations so that they are more clean. We ended up having two final versions of our poster, white and yellow. We included different colored elements, while being true to our color scheme. We paid attention to how the colors and shapes of the elements and texts interact, trying to avoid any awkwardness in position.
For the book covers, we referenced to the poster a lot, trying to make them look as a cohesive system. In order to establish an order in our series of components, we guide the audience to the website, which is the next thing that they will be introduced to after receiving a booklet at a pop-up shop (which the posters guide the viewers to).
For our vending machine, we carefully planned out what would go on each sides of the box in the way that they make the most sense. Even though we had to print it and construct it multiple times, fixing not only visual elements but also the mechanical parts, what took us the most time for this environmental piece was building the cover for it. We decided to make an acrylic box which will contain the paper box, but the mistakes we made while measuring the box made us spend more time than we were planning on spending.
This is the final wireframe of the website that we’re making. The components are the same as the one I already showed earlier, but Shannon and I paid more attention to the visual aspects this time. The biggest challenge here, I think, was since every other elements are based on a physical platform, since this is something to be shown on a screen, it was difficult to make it feel the same as the other components of our system.