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Design Lesson #1: Chicken Figures

Despite common held beliefs about stubborn and tasteless freelance design clients, I continue to encounter ones with incredible trust in my capabilities. They are blasé when defining visual identity. They do not have strong opinions one way or another. Kind of overwhelming, right? On the give-a-shit-spectrum from 1-to-Sharpie-on-masking-tape, my ideal client would be one step above Microsoft Word. Sure, the expectations are low, but this also means significant creative freedom. Sometimes, it’s refreshing to trade meticulous typesetting for arranging 13 breeds of domestic chicken vectors. What do we do when there’s only 90 seconds to present a design proposal, the only requirement having chickens? Underneath every creatively-challenged project lies a creative opportunity itself. Create with constraint. Use those Google Fonts like nobody has used them before. Make those chickens the best damn chickens ever seen on a hot sauce label, and make them anatomically correct, too.

Bringing Attention to the Design Underdog


Can you name a black graphic designer? If you can’t answer that question, don’t worry; it’s not entirely your fault. Most of my professors haven’t included black designers in their lectures; that leaves students to find out about designers of color on their own. Lucky for you, I know about two awesome designers I want to tell you about.

Gail Anderson is an exceptional designer and professor. I find it amazing that she worked her way up from a designer to senior art director while employed by Rolling Stone. The list of all her other accomplishments is too long to mention in this blog.

Emory Douglas is a revolutionary graphic artist who created propaganda art for The Black Panthers. His illustrations empowered the black community and criticized social and political issues. During his time with the Panthers, Emory was targeted by the FBI, and he was courageous enough to risk his life and use his skill as a weapon against oppression.

Because minority individuals in society are still fighting for civil rights, I believe it’s important to bring light to the contributions from people of color.

A Looming End… of a Chapter

Never would I have dreamed that something I loved so dearly would become a major source of anxiety in my life.

As I prepare to graduate and begin life as a professional artist in game design, fear has replaced the security that I once had in my abilities and skills. Despite this, after many hours spent fretting over my future and whether or not I have made a terrible mistake, I have reached a sort of acceptance. I expect rejection. Not once or a few times, but many, over and over. But I also anticipate feedback on those rejections that will allow me to grow so that, come my next application, I will have updated works and new skills. When I realized this, the anxiety lessened… a little.

I will be okay. My life is not ending; it is beginning and there will be failures and struggles, but they are only to help prepare me for success.

“Graphic Design is fun and easy; you are lucky.”

Growing up in the design field, when talking to someone about my field,

I get one reaction all the time and that is,

                                               “Graphic Design is fun and easy; you are lucky.”

Lucky? Yes.

Fun? Yes, most of the time.

Easy? No, no, not all the time.

You, as the viewer, only see the end product, which looks pleasing, fun and even easy. However, designers have a process to get to the end result. Take branding for example; a designer must take specific steps to be successful, create an appealing design and be able to satisfy the client. In her book Designing Brand Identity, Alina Wheeler provides a five-step process that explains the complexity of brand design.

Yes, I am lucky to be a Graphic Designer, and yes, graphic design is fun, but no, it’s not easy, not all the time.

It’s For Kids

“You’re DEAD if you only aim for kids. Adults are kids only grown up, anyway.”

-Walt Disney

Whenever I see an animated kids’ movie gone bad, I will hear the excuse “it’s a kids movie, of course it’s going to bad.” If people are going to use that argument for poorly made kids movies or kids cartoons, I might as well use the same excuse for badly made adult shows. “Oh it’s a cartoon for adults, of course it’s going to be bad and offensive.”

Sure cartoons and movies are mainly targeting at kids, but adults want to watch too. Is it the norm for kids movie or cartoon being bad? People who usually only aim for kids are pushing adults away. If a show is bad and a kid wants to watch it with their parent, the parent will be very reluctant or not watch it all. Do kids not deserve quality entertainment?



Designer Transforms Found DNA Into 3-D Portraits

Every day you leave behind bits of information that disclose private details about you. You must choose to protect your privacy. Designer Heather Dewey-Hagborg merges visual technology and science to consider the potential for a culture of genetic surveillance. In her project Stranger Visions, she collects abandoned genetic material that is ripe for the picking, such as a cigarette butt, a chewed piece of gum, a stray hair, or even sometimes a fingernail. After extracting DNA, she can not only identify ancestral background, gender, complexion, bone structure, hair and eye color, but she can also, can create generic portrait sculptures which resemble facial features of the stranger who left the substance behind. She constructs faces with a self-designed program that interprets the code as traits. Her artwork promotes dialogue about identity, privacy, technology, and social change. In response to genetic surveillance, she invented Invisible, a product that erases and replaces DNA. Using this technology, you can conceal your genetic identity, and take back your basic rights of privacy. Are you interested in learning how to obscure your personal details and counter genetic surveillance? Take a look at Dewey-Hagborg’s project DNA Spoofing.

Looking Deeper: A Way to Fully Appreciate Art Galleries

Museums are like jewelry boxes. They’re designed to store and display artwork and make them shine. It takes craftsmanship, time, and planning to design a jewelry box. Similarly, museums and galleries carefully plan out their floorplan to curate art pieces and make them meaningful. The Peacock Room at the Freer Gallery in D.C. works as a whole; the harmony of blue and gold from the pottery pieces, lights, wall hangings, ceilings, portraits, and the spaces that are used all work together. When it comes to most displays, the artist has to consider the space, lighting, temperature, and other objects that are used. This process, and the effort that goes into creating such unity, is often overlooked by most observers. At times the artworks build from each other in a way that a progressive experience is made available to the viewer, but this is often forgotten in the rush to focus on a single piece. In this sense, a greater sense of appreciation may be obtained from first observing the room as a whole before moving on to viewing the individual pieces in more detail.

Wait… Do I think Graffiti Is Cool??

Liking/understanding graffiti is not something of which I ever thought I could be capable. Defacing someone else’s property? Not exactly respectable. But then I discovered Banksy. Well, more specifically I discovered Exit Through the Gift Shop– an incredibly entertaining documentary directed by the elusive street artist, Banksy himself. The film follows the stories and processes of several street artists and a few of their adventures in their rebellious practice. Strangely enough, as I watched, I found myself actually admiring these street artists’ sense of adventure and defiance. I loved Banksy’s dark yet beautiful designs and raw satire. And yeah , I started believing in the difference between graffiti and street art.

The best part is, it’s not just me. Banksy’s work is publicly applauded and appreciated by many. With widely successful art shows, sales of his more mobile work, and his critically acclaimed documentary, he has racked up quite an impressive following. Thanks to Banksy, the idea of street art had been seriously revolutionized for myself and for many others.



Protesting Through Design

     Design is a powerful tool. It is a form of art that allows designers to spread powerful messages which are able to reach a large number of people through means such as social media. Designers use their work to speak out against things such as oppression and cruelty without actually speaking. I find myself following many designers online who share similar political views as myself because I love seeing their work portray things I’m passionate about in ways that are easy to understand and likely to gain a reaction, whether it’s good or bad. One of my favorite designers is the political cartoonist Khalid Albaih. In light of recent events, he designed “Muslim ID badges” that were handed out during protests in London against the“Muslim ban.” His design is a very creative way to protest that shows the inhumanity of singling out and labeling people based on their faith. Work such as his demonstrates the power of design and its utility in protest. It influences me, as well as other designers, to spread our own thoughts through our own work.

If You Meet an Up and Coming Band, Design a Logo for Them

Tongue and Lips Logo

Have you ever seen the famous ‘Tongue and Lips’ logo from the band Rolling Stones? Of course you have. If you haven’t, you have been living under a rock for your entire life. You don’t even have to like the band itself, but you most probably have come across this simple but brilliant mouth.

This insanely popular logo was designed in 1969 by John Pasche, a college student at the time who accepted £50 (approx.$77) for the piece. However, according to an online inflation calculator this amount equals $513 in 2016. The average pricing for a freelance logo design nowadays ranges from $200­–$400 based on complexity, so we can agree Pasche got a pretty good deal.

Not only did Pasche add £50 to his bank account, but he also secured work with the Stones for another four years, while continuing to gain popularity alongside the rock phenomenon that to this day is one of the biggest bands in the world. Where did Pasche get the inspiration to design this logo? Mick Jagger’s giant mouth and “sensuous lips” (Klara).



Works Cited

Klara, Robert. “How Mick Jagger’s Mouth Became the Rolling Stones’ Legendary Logo.”AdWeek. N.p., 20 July 2015. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.