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Can’t Solve a Problem with a Problem

Graphic designers are problem solvers. When given a task a designer’s job is to solve a problem by crafting harmony between visuals and communication. In 2016, the AIGA’s Get Out the Vote campaign offered graphic designers a chance to motivate the common man to perform the civic duty to vote. The series was an attempt to tackle the issue of previous elections’ lack of voter participation through visual communication. However, not all of these graphic designers completely understood the message of what they were designing for this series. Joel Katz’s All That Is Necessary for Evil to Triumph poster is an example of a design that had a strong message to communicate but failed to deliver with its lack of insight on the issue to solve.

At first glance this design was as confused as Katz seemed to be with the choices he made while designing this poster. The poster’s visual format started with a framed quote colored with a default black to white gradient. This would’ve have been fine if Katz had not decided to place the text on a gradient filled textbox. The choice of layering the two similar values, with the text and background, blends the quote to the point of having the text almost illegible. The descending quote guides the viewer down to a colorless portrait of Edmund Burke, the person being quoted. The addition of his picture adds nothing to the poster’s creditability and only serves to clutter negative space that could’ve been put to better use. Following the portrait, the quote leads to the poster’s main focus—the blunt command to “VOTE” in bold red letters. The use of sparing colors most likely was chosen to create hierarchy so the VOTE would standout first to the viewer, but at the sacrifice of visual appeal.

Katz had a clear enough vision of what he wanted to communicate. Where he went wrong starts with the text he used. The quote he chose states “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” However, by containing the word “evil”, which the poster never clarifies to what it is referring to as evil, a political stance was implied. For a design that was meant to be politically neutral, the poster seemed to be alluding to a negative opinion of a presidential candidate. Worse, the quote would have misdirected the viewer away from to the heart of the voting problem.

All That Is Necessary for Evil to Triumph definitely did not triumph within the most basic elements of design. It seems Katz did not take the time to properly reflect on his sources or take an in-depth look on the public’s indifference to vote. More importantly, the poster’s execution failed to expand on the crux of Get Out the Vote’s message. In a world oversaturated by information and visuals, there was no chance this poster had the competency hold anyone’s attention long enough to convince a person to vote.

Can you design better than AI?

Are graphic designers being replaced by AI (Artificial Intelligence)? A need for designers come into question when programs like Logojoy appear. The service is described by the founder, Dawson Whitfield as using “AI and our own company’s unique algorithms to provide premium logo creation services to our users without the assistance of a graphic designer.”

As a human designer, I had to test the logo maker out. First, I have to choose my five favorite logos out of twenty nonspecific designs. Then after adding a business name and choosing from a library of symbols, the AI generated a few logos to choose from.

From there I could edit colors, layouts, and fonts. After that, it’s just a credit card number away from a new logo. Immediately I noticed these designs lacked the criteria of a strong brand image. As a company, your logo is your identity. Therefore, choosing a design from a generic template will reflect that lack of quality onto your brand.

AI designing software have just recently emerged, so the future of its possibilities is unclear. Still, there isn’t much that can compare to a human designer’s style, communication, and innovation. Another article expands on AI-driven designs in web design.

Propaganda is Art?

Can art be considered propaganda? I feel that propaganda is a subset of art. Its message is narrowed to a very specific point with no room for interpretation, though, and this is what separates it from other forms of art. All art is inspired, but other’s forms are open to interpretation of its message. Propaganda must be interpreted a certain way.

I’d like to define that propaganda as an art is human’s insight and prediction through animated Soviet propaganda films. One of the animated Soviet propaganda films is “The Millionaire,” made in 1963. The background is in America. A rich American old lady inherited $1 million her pet bulldog after she died due to a car accident. The message of “The Millionaire” shows me that capitalism or materialism indicated people worship money, power, pet, and fame like an idol. The story represents a current American trend.

Even though “The Millionaire” made in 1963, how did the Soviet predict American future?  We can create something through our insight. Finally, it arrives at an art.

You can see the animated Soviet propaganda film “The Millionaire” link below.

Design Without Color?

Could you imagine a world without color? Without color the world that we know would be and look completely different. Color is one of the most important elements in design. Color plays a huge role in design because it can attract attention, change your mood, define how we see design, as well as persuade. Knowing your audience and or overall objective as a designer is crucial in choosing the appropriate colors. For example, if a logo is being made for a food company then the designer might want to incorporate red because that color appeals to the appetite. If gold and brown were used for the same logo then that message of appealing to hunger might not be conveyed to the audience because those colors symbolize luxury and wealth, not fast food. Colors also have different meanings in different cultures so it is important to know the different demographics and cultural implications. Color in my opinion is the most important element in design because it is the most impactful element on our sense of sight.


Calling Something Minimal is Fine if it’s Actually Minimal

Often I will hear someone call a design minimalistic. One or two colors may be all the piece has, a single image or none at all, and just enough words to make a short sentence (maximum). These are the traits I use to categorize for works that were determined to be minimalistic. Other people have similar thoughts, but I notice that if the design’s canvas is left blank, that’s all they need. A poster could have several sentences in tiny text and an assortment of colored dots and be considered normal. Though if the background was largely left alone and the format was organized to make the negative space surround the subject, it is also labeled by some viewers as minimal. Do I agree, no. Am I right? Absolutely not. However, just to demonstrate what I’m trying to say, look at these two images:

Both of these are completely fine posters, but I would say one of these is actually minimalistic while the other has a bit of extra fat to trim.

Lizards Made of Sun and Snow

About a year ago, I made a purchase that changed my life and realized how similar animal breeding is to designing. Breeders make deliberate choices on which pairs can mix, or take away, desired colors and patterns. The lizard is now a canvas for breeders to make their designs on. Various traits are coined names, known as morphs, and usually they are quite whimsical. Default Leopard Geckos are yellow with black spots, just like the Leopard they’re named after. The Sunglow is a patternless and orange morph that looks like it could breathe fire. Mack Snows, on the other hand, have a linear array of spots on their white skin. A step further in this direction is a blank version called the Blizzard. Many others exist and even more continue to be created. Breeders have played with genetics to turn an animal with one appearance into a range of various types, and caused a boom in the global spread of these reptiles.

Seriously, Just Walk Away!

Stop what you’re doing and just walk away. This simple task will allow a designer to take a break from their work and come back with a fresh look. It can be hard to sit behind a computer for hours or create sketches and ideas; after a while it all starts to look the same. Anger begins to build and that can cloud a designers’ judgement when creating a design, no matter what stage the design is at. After about 15-30 minutes, you will feel less stressed, allowing you to take on a new perspective with your design.

If you are still feeling frustrated after walking away, there are plenty of free websites and apps that will allow you to explore other designer/artist ideas and help spark your own. Some free websites are,,, and there are many more! Visits your university library’s website for other free websites a designer can use.


What does it really take to become a designer?

Not much if you have the basic knowledge of some design techniques and know how to run at least one designing software. It would also be helpful to have some creativity stocked up in your head to really be successful. However, the question here should really be asking what it takes to be a “good” designer. The answer to this may come off as rather surprising. According to my current “Writing for Artists” professor, the key to becoming a good designer is also writing and not just some of the things listed above. I have to agree with him. How far can you get if you cannot explain in an interesting manner the concept in your head? Not very far most likely. So perhaps using this blog post as an example may not be in your best interest if you’re trying to excel at writing for design, but, making sure you grasp the art of writing will take you a long way.

Get Your Creative Gears Rollin’

We’ve all been there. A perfectly sharpened pencil held frozen against a blank piece of paper. Our minds lost in a cloud of what seems like a road block. There are a variety of ways to overcome this nightmare. One solution is participating in creative challenges that you can find online. You can even come up with your own challenges. The whole point is to practice lateral thinking; ‘thinking outside the box.’ The challenges will not only sharpen your creative thinking, but improve your design skills as well. The more practice the better!

Here’s an article about a graphic designer who undertook a logo design challenge for 60 consecutive days:

Some of Karoline Tynes’s logo designs from the challenge

And with October around the corner, there’s an Inktober challenge that you can try out. Created by illustrator, Jake Parker, you create one drawing a day the entire month.

Click on the link below to read about the rules and the 2017 prompt list:

Is Design the Key to All Arts?

The word design itself is pretty cliché. It creates an image in your head with what you relate the term to in the art world. Often, the word usually makes you think about some kind of logo with different shapes. Design, however, is present in every single type of art out there. Being a photography student myself that has taken several design courses, I can confirm that they’ve changed the way I compose my photos completely. Learning the art of design, the basics, the compositions, the color coordination can all go a long way in art. Design becomes important to the aesthetic of the art piece whether you are taking photographs, painting a masterpiece, sketching a face, or even building a sculpture. Design. The uses of it are just as beautiful as the minimal word itself. When you compare an image taken by an amateur with no knowledge of design versus someone else who has at least the basic knowledge of it, the photographic outcome is pure evidence in itself. Learning design is the key to unlocking a path to masterpieces in art.