All posts in Design Studio 1

  • Reflection & 2014: second semester here I come!

    Ok, while I’ve updated various parts of this site to hint that yes, the second semester has started, I haven’t officially closed off on the last semester or offered the review as promised. I was so exhausted and brain dead after the last two weeks of the semester that I was pretty much a useless puddle as a sloshed through airport security to head home for winter break.

    And then winter break was as much as a break as I had hoped because I spent most of the time laboring over my new website. I’m happy I did, but when I found myself waiting in the cold for the the Pittsburgh buses again, I didn’t necessarily feel like my brain had been refreshed.

    However, that just what been keeping me. As I was working on and describing all my projects from last semester and I really the amount of things I have learned and worked on and how much I have grown. Even just being the TA for Communication Design Fundamentals made me think more closely about the way I design and organize information. While in the thick of it, it was hard for me to look past the kind of aches of the every day process of going to class, doing homework, reading until your eyes fall out. But working on my portfolio was a good chance to step back.

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  • BRO PGH // Final

    Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 9.33.32 AM(Download final poster)


    This project was meant to reinforce new skills in creating strong visual hierarchy within a large amount information. I was able to curate the information for a specific audience of my choosing. The final format was a printed poster. I chose to create a reference guide for ‘bros’ that boasted information on “what you need, when it closes, for cheap.” It displays information on pizza, late night eateries, where to buy alcohol (beer), and gyms. I imagined it as a secret weapon revealed behind the closet door of a Man Cave.







    Learned about the project
    parameters and its end goals. 

    We were tasked with creating a textual diagram displaying information about Pittsburgh. Our end goal was to create a piece that allowed a specific viewer in a specific environmental context to quickly compare & contrast the different neighborhoods in Pittsburgh.

    The final product would be a printed poster. Some of the constraints were that there could be no graphic elements and little to no color so that we could focus on the how typography lends itself to information organization.


    DATA COLLECTIONdiscover-bw

    Initial collection of generic neighborhood
    information and later finding gap-filling
    data for the specific function of my poster.

    I started with general, tourist information about Pittsburgh and then found specific information once I had nailed down my topic. The process repeats as I filled in the gaps of relevant information.

    I collected data on six of the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh. Limiting it only to inexpensive places, I listed pizza places (and their phone numbers, of course), liquor stores, late-night eateries, and gyms.  All of these categories was listed in order of open-latest. What more could a bro ask for?



    grid-breakthroughExplored different topics to find one
    that fulfills the goals of the project and that
    I would enjoy working on. 

    My final inspiration came from Pittsburgh Pirates’ game I went to the previous weekend (my first!). It was outside my comfort zone and I found myself thinking about the audience of the game. I decided to create diagram that would be found in a frat house/bachelor pad: Places to “bro” in Pittsburgh. This clear audience lead my final content, context, and design. In addition to helping direct the content of the poster, I appreciated that this audience would force me to think outside myself. I love experimenting in design and was glad to create this opportunity.

    This can be the hardest part of a project. I ended up nixing my first idea because it wasn’t supporting the goal of the assignment: to compare and contrast the neighborhoods easily through designing information.



    Reviewed how all my information would
    look on the screen, tested different grids for
    organizing content, and new methods for
    creating hierarchy that was both clear and
    visually interesting.

    I had a vision of how I thought I wanted the poster to look, but once I got all the information on the poster, I realized it wasn’t going to work for many reasons. In the end, I decided that each of the neighborhoods and the categories had to line up (versus stacked or be random locations on the poster) in order to make the comparisons clear. I re-focused on layouts that make this with this lesson in mind.




    Showed drafts of my project for my peers to review.
    It was a chance to get a different perspective on
    what is and isn’t working, and why.

    In order to be most useful to the user, I arranged the specific businesses in order of what was open latest. That way, bros looking for a place to eat on a whim after an after-school GTA marathon can quickly find what’s open (when you go out during the day, it’s a given that places will be open.) My peers said the time was the most interesting and approachable part of the poster so I made this tidbit stand out.

    Since this was something hanging in a home, the text size could be more intimate, readable at a distance of about 1-2 feet.



    Fine-tuned an effective solution to
    make my content clear and enjoyable
    to read.

    An example of last-minute tweaking, one of the last things I worked on was making sure the title, “BRO PGH,” was the right size in proportion to the rest of the content and size of the poster. I ended up shrinking it a lot right before print because I felt like its original size was overwhelming and overshadowed the content too much.

    Once the general layout was established, I went through my poster with a fine-toothed comb, making sure the spacing and font sizes are the same, that chunks of information are properly distinguished, and elements were the right proportions.



    Time’s up!

    I was happy with how it turned out and I had new appreciation of how to establish hierarchy and comparisons through type alone. It gave me the opportunity to really engage with my content as I made order from the chaos.

    On future revision of this project, I might explore how or if it would be appropriate to integrate more graphical elements into the piece now that I have a framework.

  • Abstract > Concrete project work


    For our next project in studio we need to help explain and visualize abstract objects in a concrete way. The final form these explanations will take is a 1-3 minute video. I’m really excited to use this project as a way to explore a new design style and work on animation.

    My initial complex topics were:

    1. Fukushima. The brief history, the after math/clean up attempts and failures, and the future implications. Pretty big, I know.
    2. vs as you go to set up a website. This is something I have explained (or attempted to explain) several times when volunteering and when helping out other people. I feel like to first time website set-er-up-ers it’s a really hard system to grasp. I thought it would be helpful to make something remotely in my field.
    3. Patents. Specifically, the problems in our current patenting system when companies have broken away from the spirit of the system as a way to protect and encourage creativity (not just make a bunch of money).

    These topics were fine and dandy, but after reading some of the other student’s topics they were approaching and what I wanted to do with my own topic, I re-thought it a bit. I wanted to do something more light-hearted to try out a different illustration style (I naturally tend to make things clean, crisp, and simple). These topics aren’t necessarily best represented in a light-hearted manner.

    So I sat back down at my desk and pondered my dilemma, trying to think of topics that I knew at least something about and that I really enjoyed knowing about. Miraculously, I remembered a conversation I had with my friend Grant almost a year ago about New Zealand birds.

    Context: I also really love learning about science and animals and had stumbled across an article about kakapos in National Geographic which reminded me of this hilarious video of a kakapo I’d seen earlier. I told Grant about it because he has studied and is interested in birds and actually did a research project in New Zealand. He ended up explaining to me why the animals (birds and lizards primarily) of New Zealand are so unique. Basically it’s because the islands broke off earlier on leaving the birds with no natural predators. For more details, you’ll have to wait for my end project.

    In the meantime, please enjoy this recorded lecture by one of my favorite authors, Douglas Adams, in which he talks about his research with some unique island animals (including the kakapo, of course). Basically, I feel like the kakapos is one of the most delightful birds.

  • Project 1 Process, kind of

    You’re probably wondering why I haven’t shown any of my work for studio yet. We just finished our first project which was a poster that designed information about the Pittsburgh neighborhoods. We critiqued it last week and are already starting on project two. So what gives?

    Project two is actually about how to show the process of creating the Project 1. So I thought I bring some sanity to myself and not do these things four times.

    Here is our first exercise, trying to map out our ideas and work process:




    Considering our visual dictionaries:


    And this is the information I’m trying to organize. I’m not the most organized person when I work. Only you, dear reader, know this.