Communicative Shapes

The PDF File:
Final Compositions

Key takeaways: What have I learned?

I believe I had talked about what I had learned from the project when I recorded my process. Here are some very valuable key takeaways that I want to mention and reflect on again.


1. Adopt different tools for different tasks:
Knives are right tools for cutting straight lines, while small cuticle scissors can cut out detailed curvy lines. While cutting curves with knives cam train my hands, switch to a more appropriate tool leads to saving time while getting optimal outcomes. However, knowing which are the correct tools for tasks requires continuous experimentation and explorations.

2. Use rulers and cutting mats for clean straight cuts :
It is so easy to see if a straight cut is or not since viewers can compare the line with edges of the composition and sides of black matt boards. When lines that are supposed to be straight are slanted and wonky, the shapes communicate less information. Also, viewers will be distracted. Instead of focusing on the composition itself, they might focus on how bad the cut is.

3. Always keep hands clean when applying glue:
Glue might leak from sides of shapes when sticking. If my hands are not clean, the papers, especially the light colored ones, will be stained. The marks made by the glue also distract viewers. And the visual qualities will undoubtedly be lowered.

4. Think wisely and do experiments efficiently :
Just like what I wrote when I explain why have I transferred from using tracing paper to AI, there are always pros and cons to each side of experimenting methods. What is most important here is: do practical experiments that can allow clear comparisons and help with decision making. Spending too much time testing different things might result in time/material shortage.

5. Work in a studio environment:
Peers work in the studio approach a simple task, paper cutting, in so many different ways. Working in the studio allow me to see different techniques and ideas for crafting the compositions. I can adopt some of their approaches or combine their ideas with mine to create new sparkles. They can also view my works from some many different perspectives and give me valuable and honest feedback.

6. 2D shapes can reflect 3D spaces in various ways:
The contrasts in relief level, shadows, color hue, color saturation can all different objects from one another, creating a sense of depth in 2D constructions. However, how these elements are used decide how clear the messages are conveyed to consumers. It is essential to attach a consistent coding system to each composition (and all as a set):

1. Simplicity≠Little effort; Complicated ≠ Communicating graphics:
At the very beginning, I tried to show as many elements on the photograph as I can to communicate the location to audiences. As the project is developing, I realized the importance of simplicity. Simple shapes can be sturdy and communicating well. Have this in mind, I group some elements, and this step makes the composition communicate better. Still, it is so essential but hard to find a balance between being concise and over-simplified.

2. It is always essential to record the progress of the project:
Without documenting the process of doing the project, I will have nothing to go back to and conclude these key takeaways. Neither can I think through how did I make design decisions. Looking back through the process recorded, I can also know where did I made mistakes, therefore avoiding them when I do similar projects next time. It would also be a useful tool when I explain the project to my parents and friends.

3. Control the amount of “vagueness” in the composition:
Making shapes hyper symbolic is inappropriate in this context. If shapes are too clear, audiences will immediately identify the message behind the graphics and quickly lose interest. On the other hand, vagueness in the compositions acts as hooks to attract viewers’ attention. They will go through a pleasant and focused journey while figuring out what the piece is about. The balance between clarity and obscures is hard to achieve: sometimes, the shapes can be too vague that took audiences too much effort to figure out what is happening. In this case, the shapes fail to communicate.

4. Ask the right questions to gain valuable feedback:
I should not ask right or wrong questions. Instead, why and how questions would help me to gain more useful feedback. I can phrase questions in interesting ways, such as “what’s this piece’s title?”.

5. Know where to stop!
If I can’t get valuable outcomes from doing specific tasks, I shouldn’t be doing them anymore.

6. Difference between “Expression” and “communicating”:
In this case, “expressing” is about the creator while “communicating” is about the location. The later concept focuses on helping all audiences to see and understand where the creators were and where the location felt. Being creative ≠ Being useful and appropriate. It is ultimately essential to have the core purpose in mind; the project is all about creating a composition that reads well. Therefore, one shouldn’t focus on expressing themselves.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

I am not sure if I should put this here, but:
Thank you for reading all these (๑•̀ㅂ•́). I learned a lot from the first studio project. The learning outcomes are not limited to the list of things I wrote above .
I am super not confident in recording all my processes efficiently and precisely in English. Sometimes it is challenging for me to express what I wanted to say fully. I am working on it hard right now and I believe I can make improvements. Thanks again for bearing my grammatical errors and wired sentences.

Jenny Shuyu Liu




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Jenny L

Jenny L

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