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Design is a Different Beast

Being a design student in an Art Major is to be out of place. What we learn in foundation classes is constantly at odds with what we are taught to be as designers. Art can be anything, there is no wrong answer; design can be wrong.
Design, we are taught, first and foremost must be practical. In Art, we split our efforts between meaning and aesthetics with equal importance. Design should tell you what to think. Art never has one meaning, and every interpretation is as valid as the artists.
As a student, I think what I’m learning is to split the difference, conceptually. Really, Art and Design are both just forms of communication. My approach to both tends to be similar, but with Design the message is simply more straightforward. I think that Art should never be purely aesthetic, and I think that aesthetic, artistry, and needless frills serve an overlooked function in design; to grab your reader. Design doesn’t need to be invisible, but it must always further your message, not detract.

Typography in Recent Movie Posters

I have to say, lately I’ve been impressed with the typography in recent movie campaigns. This year especially, I feel like movie posters have taken more risks with typefaces especially, as well as creative typography. There have been a few movies that came out recently that especially stand out to me.


I think that this is the first time I’ve ever seen a typeface like this used in a movie poster. It’s a bold choice, but Lady Bird is able to use it effectively. It’s unique enough that the marketing for the movie is able to use it as their main brand for the movie, without being limited to a certain color scheme or image.






Call Me By Your Name also used a unique type, although this one is a handwritten mark. This one is more effective if you’ve seen the movie, as it relates specifically to the characters and the plot. However, it still makes an impacts.







Isle of Dogs uses type and language in a somewhat playful way, to great effect. The movie is set in Japan, with both Japanese- and English-speaking characters. The poster plays with that, presenting all the information in a stylish way that gives equal importance to each language.







The effect created  in each of these posters essentially turns the titles of the movies into wordmarks. In a world where virtually every movie title is either a chunky sans-serif with a distressed metal effect, or a spindly, widely-spaced serif, it’s refreshing to see something different.

On your mark, sketch, go!

This semester, I was a TA for the Intro to Web Design course. As an introductory course, Web Design both teaches students how to code…and how to expand their ideas, often requiring different sketches and mockups along the process of designing.

Again and again, I’ve heard the same thing — I’m a designer, why should I sketch? I’m bad at drawing, and it’s just gonna go into Photoshop or Illustrator anyway.

There are so many answers to this question. It builds foundations. It lets you visualize an idea in a quick, rapid form. It’s tactile and feels more physical than a digital idea. Drawing gets the ideas flowing, allowing you to branch out into more ideas.

It’s safe to say I’m a big proponent of sketching. I think seeing an idea before creating it is so incredibly important, especially when considering aspects of a design like flow and interaction. But don’t just take it from me — hear it from the mouths of designers from all different industries, from character designers to bicycle manufacturers.

“One Toe in the Water”: Design Shadowing

I came across an interesting design article: “One graphic designer’s brilliant work hack for when you’re just starting out.”

Despite the clickbait nature of the word “work hack” in the article’s title,  it still provides valuable insight from designer Chip Keever on a way to get a start in the graphic design industry.  Keever is the owner of PROSPER Creative Design, a company based out of Delaware.   The “hack” that he highlights is called shadowing, or a short one-day experience at a design firm.  He likes to think of a shadow as a very short, unpaid internship.

“You get to see a variety of work environments, businesses, for a short one-day experience,” Keever said. “It’s also great for networking, since every shadow establishes a relationship with people in the field.”

Keever goes on to point out that shadowing is a low commitment for both parties, and the exposure to a wide range of different experiences and workplaces is a priceless learning experience. Shadowing is a unique take on a way to get a valuable peek into the ever-changing landscape of the graphic design industry.

New Expectations With New Tech

Technology is all around us today and influences almost all the different aspects of our life today. Some technological advances that have been made have been slow to make any progress while others have been quick to turn around. With all the technology around us today we occasionally forget that technology has come a long way to get to the form we know now. Graphic design in the traditional senses has only been around since the birth of the internet but there have been several technological advances to influence what graphic design is today. With all the new technological advances people have begun to think about graphic design in more abstract ways. With these advances, people have also been asking more of graphic designers. An example of this would be a YouTube video I watched about a well-known graphic designer named Carl de Torres. He was approached by IBM to create several abstract representations of non-visible things like data, connectable and scalability. This would have been a challenge for any person not trained in graphic design.

When in New York…

As an AVT major at Mason you are required to attend ArtsBus trips up to New York City to gain the experience of going to one of the most artistically diverse and enriching cities in the US. When in the city, most students go to one of the well known museums: The Met, MoMA, or the Whitney, or various small galleries in Chelsea. Recently, I came across two locations that I want to make an effort to visit the next time I am up in New York: AIGA’s Archives Room and The Herb Lubalin Study Center of Design and Typography.

The Archives Room at the AIGA headquarters is open to members of AIGA by appointment only. It offers a look at historical artifacts of works “created by or for AIGA” that showcase the legacy the organization holds with some of the most famous designers of recent history. The Design Archives includes exhibition catalogues, organization newsletters, and conference materials, along with selections of works made for AIGA design competitions.

The Herb Lubalin Study Center is a resource that houses a collection of Lubalin’s work and is free and open to the public by appointment. The Study Center holds works by other designers including Otl Aicher, Alvin Lustig, Paul Rand, and Massimo Vignelli. There is also a collection of type specimen books, posters, and pamphlets in addition to books and magazines about design and typography; .

Although both locations are not open on the weekends, I know that those will be two places on my list whenever I go to New York City.

Here is an article about the Study Center

More about AIGA resources

A Personal Connection

While exploring the relationship between graphic design and public relations in my blog series, I have been able to more deeply reflect upon the values truly important to me. Knowing what I enjoy in my fields of work is most satisfying considering it took most of my undergraduate career to decide what I am passionate about.

Graphic design and public relations both require meticulous editing. Editing copy and critiquing a design are some of my favorite parts of the work process. Pursuing both fields has taught me to self-revise, an ability crucial to constantly improve.

Above all, both fields not only require, but they celebrate creativity. Although my family favored a medical career for me, or anything else they deemed more practical, it was a great relief to find two pursuits that combine functionality and innovation.

The exploration of the relationship between graphic design and public relations has enhanced my appreciation for both fields and confirmed that I am doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

Interactive Art Museums: Changing the Art Viewer Experience

We have all visited the art museums where we have seen paintings, photography, sculpture, new media art, etc. We have either stood in front of the artwork or even walked around it to get the whole idea and feeling of the work. However, interactive art museums, which are slowly on the rise now, are drastically enhancing that experience. Here are three museums that are doing so:


Have you been to Washington, D.C.’s first ever interactive art museum yet or heard of it? If not, book your tickets, and go and be amazed by a world of new media art like never before; you will be facing a giant wall with a screen showing moving art that is chosen for a particular exhibit. And, you get to interact with the artwork.

For more information on the museum visit the museum website.

2.  Art In Island

You have probably seen some of the insane 3D art illusions street artists have created in urban areas. This museum in the Philippines has become home to these art works. Manila’s Art in Island Museum is full of 3D artworks that really let viewers become part of the artworks and, not only experience the works, but enjoy them in an excited way. The coolest part about this interactive art museum: they did not have to adapt technology to art to enhance the art viewing experience; they simply relied on traditional drawing methods.

3.  The Pavillion of Navigation

Ok, this one is not a museum. But, this modern building in Seville, Spain has held the Van Gogh Alive Exhibition, where new media art and the drawings of Van Gogh have been combined for experiencing Van Gogh’s works on a completely different level. It is almost as though technology meets traditional art, like the methods that ARTECH House and Art in Island have been made into one in this exhibition as you still get to become part of Van Gogh’s artworks.

So interactive art that is either new media, traditional or even the mix is creating an fun experience for museum goers. But do we still prefer the traditional museums where we fully absorb the feeling and meaning of the paintings, sculptures and other forms of media we see? Leave your comments below.

Every Graphic Designer Should Try Face Painting

In high school, I used to have a small business doing face paint at kids’ parties. Since coming to Mason, I haven’t had time to really do that as often, but I was face painting at my little cousin’s birthday party, I realized something: Kids are the worst clients ever.

For one, kids are terrible at communicating; one girl asked for “a clown with lot of lines,” and I had to somehow translate that into a look. They’re also incredibly impatient; if you’ve got fifteen kids lined up at a party, you’d best work fast. And, most difficult, if you are unable to figure out exactly what “a clown with lots of lines” mean, your client might burst into tears.

All this is to say, that as a prospective graphic designer, who is learning to deal with future clients, face painting a child is great practice for dealing with difficult clients. I think every designer should try it.


What’s so great about a career in graphic design?

Why Graphic Design?


When I told my parents that I was dropping out of nursing school to switch to graphic design they were so upset. They can’t deny that they knew it was coming. I was a young creative girl who used to draw designs from her dreams and used to spend hours designing layouts on her section in the yearbook, neglecting her chemistry homework. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been fascinated with science and I have a passion for helping people, which is why I chose nursing to make my family proud as the first to go to college in my family. But, as I approached the nursing program, I realized that it really wasn’t for me, it wasn’t what I could see myself doing happily for the rest of my life. So, how do we prove to people, or to my parents at that time that graphic design is a strong career and is a vital component in our world today? I found this list of what is so great about becoming a graphic designer, and selected my favorites from the list to share with you. Maybe it can boost your confidence in becoming a graphic designer, knowing that your skills are going to be put to good use.


  • You solve problems – Designers are creative problem solvers, so each brief represents a fresh challenge.
  • Challenging and rewarding – Every day is different, with each new brief throwing up a new creative challenge. You can’t cut and paste good design; you’ll be preparing unique things on a daily basis.
  • Businesses that desire success need us! – You see, every industry in the world benefits from good design, so there is a need for designers in virtually any field you can imagine.
  • Good Designers are in high demand – Yes, the Design world is very competitive. But there is and always will be a demand for good designers so if you have talent, the necessary skills and the determination to work hard, then you can be confident that you will always be able to find work.
  • You never stop learning! – There are always new trends, new tools, new technologies, new theories, new sources of inspiration – a creative mind never stops learning.
  • Gaining new worldly perspectives – Designers are naturally curious animals and you’ll find yourself thinking differently about the world around you and admiring the smaller details that go into beautifully designed products.
  • Work wherever you want in the world – One of the most exciting things about being a designer in today’s world is the freedom it gives you to work from pretty much anywhere you like. There is a demand for good designers around the world, while many carve out successful freelance careers, which often gives you the opportunity to work from wherever you fancy.
  • Making a difference in the world – Seeing something through to the finish is very satisfying and when your design is live and out there in the world, it can be a real thrill to know other people are seeing it, using it and interacting with it. You’ll join an industry with a rich heritage for making people’s lives better.


Just so no one feels the need to scold my parents, they are now on board and happy with my decision. 🙂