Design Baby: When an Epiphany Hits You

Journal of my first visual design class

Note: The black image borders are for differentiating the images from the white background of Medium platform.

a concept ideation of my second design assignment

Prologue: Design Baby

Hearing stories from my friends who had taken the visual communication design class, I was little daunted to imagine how much I would need to work in order to survive in this class. Yet, thinking about doing fun projects, I was more excited for my first visual design course.

First week of the class was relaxing. I could easily get full points for finding examples of good and bad visual design and explaining why they have (or do not have) successful communication. First time using Adobe Illustrator pen tool initially frustrated me but I began to perceive it as a fun game.

I soon realized the course had been going easily because it was the first week of class. As I started to get points off from the details that I did not notice, my grade in the course started to drastically fall (in my standard).

In order to reflect what I learned and develop my visual design skills, I decided to write about my journey in this class.

Episode 1: When an Epiphany Hits You

The third course assignment (or the second hands-on design project) was creating a visual layout that uses type hierarchy to provide more readable information for the viewer. The following were the requirements:

Select one topic (below) to focus on from list below create a composition that uses successful type hierarchy.

Use a 7.5 × 10" composition

Use visual cues discussed in class for creating type hierarchy (weight, whitespace, graphic elements).

Use no more than two different typefaces.

Solution should only use type and basic graphic elements (no illustrations, photos or additional imagery)

Color should be limited to black, white, and one additional color of your choice. Lighter percentages of black (gray) and of your color are also OK.

Out of three given topics (recipe, season calendar, and resume), I chose the season calendar. Its further requirement was as the following:

Option 2: 5th Avenue Theatre Season Calendar
This option should include a list of at least five shows from the Fifth Avenue Theatre’s current season. Each show should have pertinent information such as the name, dates and times, description, ticket price range, music/director credits, and other information you find pertinent. The poster must include information on where people can acquire tickets. Information should be pulled from 5th Avenue Theatre’s website.

I was first overwhelmed by how much text I needed to shove into a piece of paper. My first iterations were heavily influenced by the grid system which I initially interpreted as “let’s put some texts in each box.” The problem was that they looked…just OK.

My first iterations of the assignment. “These rather look like resumes,” commented my friend.

I asked my TA for a critique on in-class peer critique day. He asked “what is this paper supposed to be used for?” I became speechless and thought ‘Oh shoot, I should have thought about the audience — a rule of thumb for UX?’ A classmate thankfully saved me from awkward silence by commenting that mine looked like a flyer.

I was shocked when my TA commented on the inconsistent margins and told me otherwise my assignments looked good. I wasn’t sure if that meant I would get a good score on what I just showed to him. But, I still strongly sensed that my work wasn’t good enough.

What I sensed from my TA’s expression

Again, the problem was that I ran out of ideas. I just couldn’t think of any other ways to arrange the information to make my work more appealing.

I approached my professor for her critique. The first thing she said was the margin was way too small. ‘NOOO, now I gotta squeeze all into the smaller box?’ I became more frustrated.

Soon after, the professor announced that she posted some examples that past students created. I immediately looked and awed by how good they were (= way better than mine).

“Yeah! That one was made by <a student name>! He was in my class and our TA showed us how it could be improved.” said a student who took the class in the past. “WHAT! HOW? IT’S SO GOOD!!!” It was another day that I realized I still had a loooong way to go in my design journey.

When I learned that one of the examples posted resembled Vignelli’s design, I Googled his work for more inspiration. I also tried applying some aspects from the examples on mine. When I put a pink box to create an grid outline, I sensed that I was finally starting to have something.

“Hey, this is actually not bad!” — me

From that point, I wasn’t frustrated anymore. I was rather having fun experimenting one idea after another.

some of my composition ideas

With more helps and critique from friends, I finalized my project as below:

finalized composition made with Adobe InDesign

Through this project, I learned that a good way to get inspired is observation and analysis. Look at other people’s work and ask yourself “why this design works or does not work?” Viewing people’s work is also a good opportunity to discover new design styles and favorite designers too. An important note, however, is that don’t let other people’s ideas overshadow yours and don’t just copy their work.

Project Completion Date
April 18, 2016

Project Duration
1.5 week

Saper Vedere

Personal journal of learning “how to see” the world

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