More client projects

My latest client project!  My dad asked me to “quick help him” read over his resume for spelling errors, however, asking his artistic daughter to simply “read” the resume was a mistake.  In the spirit of Father’s Day I decided to take it upon myself and re-design his resume and create a graphic identity for him.  I had a lot of fun doing this not only because he is my dad and I know him very well (and I knew he would not be a tough client) but because I did it in such a short amount of time.  My timeline was two days.  Day One: talk to client about the project, discuss his desires, and come up with concepts. Day Two: create a graphic, logo, and identity system, re-format documents.  I did the majority of the project in about 5 hours on the second night.  As a designer, it is really important for me to have enough time to mull over my ideas–I need that full day to start mentally figuring out how I want the whole thing to look before I sit down at the computer (even if I keep none of the original plans).

My dad is a true Renaissance man–there are very few things that he doesn’t do himself!  He has many hobbies including antiquing, building (our home, wooden furniture, etc), fixing things, working on cars, and [most recently], working on clocks.  I immediately knew that his logo needed to tap into a side of him that not everyone at work would see from him (his hobbies), but still represented his skill set and how they cross over between one another.  When brainstorming we tried to think of easily recognizable tools (and what they might represent), but the more we talked the more we realized that the gears of clocks were more appropriate for him and the goal of the project.  He even had a clock that was disassembled for me to study.

Before: Word resume template

After: Logo (Illustrator) and Resume [and References] (InDesign)

New logo for client

New logo for client

Page 1 of the resume re-design

Page 1 of the resume re-design

I think we can all come up with a few more to add to this list…

Don’t forget Curlz! Look, we all have our favorite and least favorite fonts–and many of us will have conflicting opinions about particular type faces (in general), as well as the appropriate use of these fonts.  With that being said, I think many of us can agree that some fonts should just disappear. They’re like bad high school yearbook photos. You think that you’ve burned all of the evidence, but then your mom manages to magically produce another copy and put it on display for the world to see.  Yeah, bad fonts don’t mothers who can’t understand why you hate that photo, but they manage to be found by designers who keep using them. (Enough already, Linds.)  Here is the good stuff that the people came to read.

What ever happened to beautiful maps?

Back in October of 2014, I was fortunate enough to attend the NYS GIS Association’s GeoSpatial Summit, a biennial conference held in Skaneateles, NY to keep professionals in the forefront of GIS through a variety of presentations (here is a definition for those who are not familiar with what GIS is and what it is capable of).  One of the presenters for the day was representing the company, MapBox, which immediately grabbed my attention.  The company is a service that helps create beautiful maps.  In case you didn’t already know, Cartography has become a lost art.  Good GIS professions are often the best artists and designers.  It is similar to asking a biologist to also be a proficient percussionist; the two don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand any more.  GIS professionals are excellent at statistical and spatial problem solving, but not always visual problem solvers like graphic designers.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about I will take myself for example (so as not to pick on anyone in particular).  Quick background story: before entering the Art program at SUNY Oneonta I studied Geography with a concentration in GIS. This turned out to not be the best fit for me, but I continued my Geography and Art degree requirements because I still love both subject areas. SO, before I took design and graphic design classes in the art program, I was simply one of those GIS mapmakers (I will not refer to them as cartographers). The examples I have selected from my work are two maps that I created to visually understand and interpret the availability of [various types of] internet in Otsego County. My main focus was based upon population distribution/density, and the physical topography of Otsego County for understanding the internet availability. Now, that was a pretty brief explanation as to what I tried to study.


Total Broadband (meaning internet) Availability for Otsego County of New York State. Date taken from The NYS GIS Clearinghouse.


Mean Population Centers for Otsego County of New York State. Date taken from The NYS GIS Clearinghouse. Statistical mean lies near the town of Hartwick, NY.

My hypothesis was correct, topography played a major role in population distribution/density, and therefore internet availability (among other things, such as jobs, health services, etc.). But as you have noticed, my maps are not exactly beautiful. This is mainly because the program, ArcMap (owned by ESRI) is a seriously powerful program, but is not designed to have a beautiful user interface, and the maps that a user can generate are also pretty archaic looking. There is really no competition for ArcMap because it monopolizes the GIS software industry, similarly to Adobe.

This is where Mapbox enters the picture. Users can take off the GIS hat, and put on the Designer hat by taking their maps and playing with various fonts, color scheme, etc. Most of the themes are pre-formed (like PowerPoint) by individuals with an eye for design, making it a little easier for map-makers (because let’s face it, you don’t become a designer overnight).

I see this specific area of information design in dire need of change. With companies like Mapbox, and awareness of this “issue,” hopefully big changes will take place in the near future. In a world where everyday we interact with beautiful design competing for attention, the more interesting and captivating design will win every time. Maps need to stop existing as just [bland] maps, and re-enter the world of cartography.

Post-Graduation Update

Since I’ve completed Advanced Graphic Design and graduated from SUNY Oneonta, I’ve decided to keep up the blog (even if it is a little less frequent than for class) because it is something that I really enjoyed doing.  The blog will now encompass a little more than just graphic design, and as a result will be undergoing a little transition, including a changed in title.  However, the purpose of the blog will remain the same; it will demonstrate my thought process and the evolution of projects, and even some cool things I discover [out there in the world].

“Freelance” work

Here are two side projects that I have been working on for the United Way of Delaware and Otsego Counties at their home office in Oneonta.  One is the Pledge/Donation form, and the other was an informational piece to be placed on a table (sort of like where the ice cream menu is at Friendly’s).  The informational piece is basically a list of 2014 stats of what was achieved based on the funds that were given to different organizations.

Here is the before Pledge Form, and after for the Donation form, United Way_Donation form.

And the informational piece, United Way_2014 Fact Sheet.

Modernism/Post-Modernism: Final Posters

Here are the completed Modernism and Post-Modernism posters.  Personally, I like Modernism much more than Post-Modernism, so I worked on that poster first.

The quote by David Winer reads, “the easier you make it for people to go, the more likely they are to stay.”  This quote perfectly sums up some of the principles  of Modernist design: clear organization (so that it is honest in its intentions), efficiency, modern age, etc.

Geometry is a huge component of Modernism, so I was sure to include various geometric shapes.  Layering was a difficult look to execute during the Modernist era, so I had to be careful not to do too many overlapping shapes.  However, I did not want to simply put some two dimensional shapes on the picture plane and hope that that would be interesting enough to look at; so I layered the circle behind the triangular shape, and using the square, created negative space on the long edge of the triangle.  Another way combatted the flatness was by making all of the shapes slightly dimensional through adding a shadow to the edges of the shapes.

The most common colors used were red, white, and black.  My color scheme reflects the understanding of the popularity of these colors for the time period.  However, to make my design more dynamic (and my own) I used more dark colors, and used very little light colors.

Lastly, I didn’t exactly use a grid for the poster, but I was sure to align the text and some of the shapes to the edges of the picture plane.  The quote itself is aligned flush left, rag right with a hanging quotation mark.

The poster design I created to demonstrate through research that I understand and can emulate the style of Modernism.

The poster design I created to demonstrate through research that I understand and can emulate the style of Modernism.

The quote by Albert Camus reads, “every act of rebellion expresses a nostalgia for the innocence and an appeal to the essence of being.”  After watching the film, Helvetica, in class, and researching Post-Modernism there was one thing that really stuck out in my mind: the influence of the Vietnam War on that generation of artists.  Paula Scher explained that due to the prominence of Helvetica in the corporate world, and the corporate support of the war, artists (such as Scher) “protested” by not using the font all together.  In conjunction with the anti-Helvetica sentiment, art and graphic design of the time was changing drastically through the rejection of Modernism; once again  due to another war-affected generation.  Instead of creating order after the chaos of war was over, artists were imitating  the chaos of war.

I chose this quote because I think it not only describes Post-Modernism, but more specifically earlier Post-Modernism and the influence of the Vietnam War on graphic design.  The Napalm Girl is one of the most famous images of the Vietnam War.  I find it particularly provocative and fits the quote well because in war-torn Vietnam the innocence of these kids is forever lost.

Also occurring during this time was the growing popularity of the computer.  (This might be laughable for some of the older folks reading this who actually used one of the older computers) but when I think of old computers and early digital-age works I think of the stereotypical, large pixels on a grid, sharp turns — sort of like Pac Man.  With the dawn of the computer, the ability to create layers became a snap, so I wanted to create a layer of random “pixels.”  However, they looked boring, so I changed the color, scale, and orientation for some of them.

The font I used also reflects the sort of new technological approach to graphic design (and it’s definitely not Helvetica).  To keep with the lack of clear organization, I spread the quote around the poster in a trail with each word (or a few words) on differing axis, scales, colors, and opacities.

The poster design I created to demonstrate through research that I understand and can emulate the style of Post-Modernism.

The poster design I created to demonstrate through research that I understand and can emulate the style of Post-Modernism.

Post-Graduation / Summer plans

So it is that awkward time of year again where I am in denial about the fact that the end of the semester is literally around the corner and I don’t want to make decisions about what I am going to do my all-too-short summer.  But this time it is a little different because I’M GRADUATING.

Initially I had decided that after going to school for [what seems like] my entire life I did not think that I would be interested in a graduate program because I was not sure what I would want to further my education in.  However, after taking both graphic design and web design I have been introduced to this wonderful field of Information design.  It really should not have surprised me because it was for very similar reasons that I dual majored in Geography (GIS) and Art (Design)–visually/spatially communicating information and problem solving.

As long as I can remember I have always been a conversationalist.  To this day, I can strike up a conversation with just about anyone.  I also come from a family of writers and readers and have inherited some ability to write.  Through practicing my written and verbal communication I have become even more confident in my ability to effectively communicate with others.  One of my other strengths is my ability to analyze and critique my own work and the work of others.  In fact, it is something that I really enjoy.  I LOVE class critiques and find myself trying not to say too much and dominate the critique.  Simply asking me “give me a quick opinion” on something is not really something I am good at because I want to give really good feedback by taking all parts into consideration and giving meaningful, constructive criticism.  It is for all of these reasons that I really enjoy designing, and information design.  I know that it is the right field for me because everywhere I go I can’t un-see bad examples of design and information design; and all I want to do is re-design all of the bad examples.  Conversely, when I see really great examples of design, I take pictures, or explain to the poor person who is with me all of the reasons that I particularly love something.

I still feel like I need a few weeks or even a few months “off” to transition from one stage in my life to another, but I am starting to feel like I may have officially begun to formulate a new plan for myself.