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In a little over a year, Design Museum Boston has grown from an idea conceived by a pair of local designers into an innovative nomadic museum at the forefront of design education and promotion. I’m a proud volunteer of this up-and-coming institution. In November, we opened our first major exhibit, Creative Capital: Designed in Boston. We’ve forged important partnerships with organizations like Smallbean, a Boston-based nonprofit, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and the Boston Redevelopment Authority. We’ve gained the support of over 3,000 friends and followers, many of whom made it out to celebrate the release of our new branding at Continuum in January.
Bostonians are excited about design, and so are we. With your help, Design Museum Boston can continue its work educating the public about local design, and the design industry’s potential to foster positive social change.
Design Museum Boston is currently an entirely volunteer-run organization. By making a donation today, you’ll ensure the success of the exhibitions, programs, and outreach initiatives we have planned for 2011 and beyond. From exhibits focused on branding and fashion, to our continued work on the Designing A Difference program to bring solar-powered computer labs to the developing world; our plans for the coming year can only happen through the support of friends like you.
Design Museum Boston is a registered nonprofit in the state of Massachusetts, and we are now able to accept tax-deductible donations through a partnership with Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. If you are interested in making a tax-deductible donation online, please do so here.
Thanks for your support!
On June 9th, I received an AIGA BoNE award for my Contradiction Poster Series, and I like to tell you a little about the application process, when I found out I had won something, and the event itself.
I’ve been a member of AIGA since 2009, was involved as an officer for my student chapter at RIT and have continued to volunteer, most notably for the Matthew Carter AIGA even last fall. In January, I opened my mailbox to find a call for entries for the 2011 BoNE show. “Where does my poster series fit in?” I thought. I perused through the entry guidelines and categories, and ultimately determined that there wasn’t an appropriate category for my poster series and pushed the mailer to the corner of my desk and the back of mind.
A few weeks later, my Creative Director, Laura O’Connell, called me over to her desk one day and had the 2010 BoNE Show website pulled up on her computer screen. “You should really consider entering your promotional poster series,” she told me. I recounted to her how I had thought about it, but couldn’t find a place it would fit in. We looked at the website together, and found there was a promotional category, perfect for my posters.
With a little confidence boost from my boss, I decided to take a chance. That same night I pulled the materials out from the previous Spring to see what I would have to do to get the application ready to send. I had one out of four posters made, and just enough Hahnemühle German Etching paper to make the remaining three.
Three days before the deadline, my posters were made and my application was complete. Off it went to be judged, and I was sure, tossed in the “pass” pile.
About a month later, my boyfriend asked me, “Hey, whatever happened to that competition you entered?” “Oh, well…I entered,” I answered, “But it’s likely I won’t hear anything or win anything.”
Two days later, my heart jumped into my throat as I listened to a voice mail telling me, “Congratulations! Your work has been selected for the 2010 BoNe Show!”
I had to wait two agonizing months until I could tell anyone – well besides my office, my family, some close friends and influential professors from RIT – the news.
On June 9th, Laura, my boss, Gogi, co-worker Scott, as well as my boyfriend Steve, joined me at the 808 Gallery at Boston University as I accepted my BoNE. (Yes, literally a Bone!)
This award means so much to me. It means I belong in the ranks of the best New England designers, including the ones I most admire and who gave me advice and guidance as I searched for my first job last summer. This award gives me satisfaction and proof that I not only enjoy being a designer, but that I’m kind of talented too. I am very proud that this award was awarded to a very personal project, one that continues to define my work and my personality.
I’d like to thank everyone who was involved in this project. My classmates and professors at RIT, who helped me develop my vision into something tangible, and were both skeptical and surprised when I proved that Yes, you can sew on paper; My Mom (How clichè – but true!) and Don who both helped my brainstorm on the beach in Florida for the exact right words to describe my idiosyncrasies; and Laura, and everyone at Gupta Media, for taking a chance on a print designer like me!
Read my submission
How does a young designer get noticed in a competitive job market? How do they showcase their talent? How do they introduce themselves to the seasoned veterans of cities across the country? Design a promotional piece/series/mailer that showcases your talent and personality and that will catch the attention of creative directors, design directors and principals of the firms you admire and respect.
Every designer is in charge of his/her identity, philosophy and craftsmanship. The concept behind this series is the idea of a positive contradiction. A contradiction is opposition, one positive thing negated by a negative and vice-versa. But what happens if two positive qualities contradict?
In the process of defining myself as a person and as a designer I found that some of my best qualities contradicted one another. I am organized but I am a free spirit. I am pragmatic but innovative, classic yet eccentric, and experienced but definitely a rookie right out of school.
The tactile, tangible posters showcase my best qualities with my favorite tools – typography, pattern and texture.
The Contradiction Poster Series were a successful tool in initiating conversation with some of Boston’s most talented designers, and eventually helped me land my first job.
Medved Running and Walking Outfitters is a small family owned retail business in Pittsford New York, near Rochester. After meeting with the owner, Dan Medved, two things stood out in his assessment of his business and philosophy.
Number One The current identity was not working. While the current logo might have been hot stuff in 1983, the gradient, colors, running figures (equipped with headbands), and even the name were confusing and outdated. The hierarchy of the current identity was leading potential customers away from the store because they assumed it was some sort of medical supply store.
Number Two Not only did the current identity system confuse customers, but it had no connection to Dan’s description of what Medved Running and Walking Outfitters was all about. During our conversation, he emphasizes the store’s family history and the comfortable, non-intimidating atmosphere the store provides customers through friendly, knowledgeable staff. He insisted that customers of all skill levels of all activities (running, swimming, snowshowing, hiking, etc.) can walk through the doors and find exactly what they need, simply because the staff knew exactly what they needed and pays attention to customers of all skill levels. A marathon runner and a grandmother with arch support problems could be shopping side by side and both feel comfortable in the service, merchandise and overall atmosphere. The current identity is not comfortable. It does not appeal to the marathon runner or the grandmother, and that was a problem.
While sketching, I was keeping a few words in mind – family, active, comfortable, modern – to help establish a new look for Medved right from the beginning.
After sketching my initial ideas, two ideas stood out and I began to develop them further on the computer. The first was the negative space found in a standard uppercase, serif M. I wanted to find a mark, a symbol that could eventually stand alone and eliminate the confusion Medved was bringing to the table. I felt this shape was modern, active and sporty. In otherwords I could see it on shirts replacing the Under Armor and Adidas marks or even the Nike swoosh. I continued to develop it with alternate typefaces and even tried using a texture to fill in the shape.
The second idea I pursued was the bear. After researching the meaning of the name, I discovered that Medved is the Ukranian word for bear, and given the family significance of the business felt it was also appropriate.
Still not sure which direction to go, I continued to develop both concepts with a final typeface selection and color choices.
I even went as far as developing business cards for both concepts.
At the same time I was trying to develop a tagline to support each concepts.
The Short List In the Long Run, Here for You, Here for You in the Long Run, Go Outside, Be Outside, Performance.Endurance.Style, Enjoy the Run, Enjoy the Outdoors, Runs in the Family, For Your Outdoor Lifestyle, Be Active, A Good Fit
Taking my concepts and the list of tagline concepts above, I finally made the decision to commit to the concept of comfort and family and felt that the bear fit Medved’s broad customer base much better. In the end I paired it with the tagline Runs in the Family. I also decided that shortening the name from Medved Running and Walking Outfitters to just Medved Outfitters was appropriate. Having made the right decision, I knew it was time to refine the bear because frankly I was tired of people confusing it for a wolf! The end result is the final mark and concept I presented to Dan Medved.
After a couple of portfolio reviews in Boston (Yes! I’m here now! Hire me!) it has become clear to me that there are some pieces in my portfolio that have distinct character that doesn’t necessarily come across in the way I present them, specifically the process and/or the handmade aspect to some design elements. As a derect result of some conversations with designers I admire and respect, I’m introducing Project Spotlights as a way of describing some unique aspects to some of my favorite projects!
First up, Raw Material, a project inspired by my own interests in textile and pattern design, which specifically showcases how I became interested in that area of design.
For this project, I was partnered with photographer Amy Perazzo and it was our second project together. While brainstorming and concepting with Amy, we originally decided to work a story about digital books and what made reading a real book (complete with paper, glue, and hardcover). We both feel passionately that digital e-readers will never replace the original and wanted to showcase the book in a romantic way, but not an overly obvious way. We wanted to capture the essence of a book without actually photographing one. I don’t know if it was a mid-quarter slump, if we were over-thinking the project, or if we were trying to do the impossible, but we couldn’t translate what we wanted to an actual image, and eventually scrapped the idea all together.
Earlier in our partnership Amy expressed interest in using my own transition from traditional graphic design to textile design as inspiration for an editorial spread. I was hesitant to become the subject matter for my own assignment, but with a deadline fast approaching, we agreed we could make it work without seeming like an ego trip.
So we went to work. First things first, the shot. We wanted to make sure we were portraying sewing, quilting and fabric in a more modern light. We were thinking hipster, DIY-revolution look, instead of your grandmother’s, country interior quilting. We drove to my Mom’s fabric store and settled on the back entrance as a more appropriate setting. It was really cold! Central New York cold! And we had to shovel, or as Amy would put it, style the shot.
And here is a brief version of a contact sheet. To emphasize the hipster vibe we were going for, I even borrowed Amy’s glasses for a few shots.
We chose the bottom right image as our final image, but decided to alter the coloring to portray an old Polaroid, again, steering away from the Grandma version of quilting. Here’s the final image.
Next, I went to work on establishing a design that achieved our goal. There were multiple versions of these first two spreads, some included actual Polaroids, others used typefaces that just didn’t fit.
However, the first milestone in the design process was the way typography was implemented. I just couldn’t find an appropriate typeface that fit what Amy and I were trying to do with this story. So I decided I had to start from scratch, literally create the typeface myself.
Going along with the the theme of sewing, I decided to physically sew the typeface and used the established grid of the magazine as my inspiration. So I printed the grid out to size and taped it to the back of a printed out version of our selected image and used it as the measurement of the face.
The results were awesome! We were both satisfied with the way it turned out, unfortunately my first design did not muster the same sort of enthusiasm during out working critique. In retrospect, I’m embarrassed I put this up on the wall! The spreads did not work together and did not speak together to achieve what we were hoping. You can see for yourself, not a very successful solution.
Back to the drawing board, and this time I was able to let loose and really capture the scrappy, histper, new version of quilting we were hoping for, and the spread ended up being published in Positive Negative.
I learned a lot from this project. Don’t waste time on an idea if it’s not coming together, if you can’t find a typeface that works for you than simply design your own and to let loose a little bit and have fun with what you’ve got!
Typography is a designer’s most valuable tool. We are taught to admire it, notice the details, have a reason for it and most importantly follow the rules. As a recent graduate, I know that typography errors in my work are unacceptable; I will not be hired if I don’t turn my ligatures on, or leave my copy hanging with widows and orphans. Then again, when you do break the rules amazing things can happen!
When I think about graphic design and typography I am reminded of my goals as a graphic designer, communicate the message in a clear interesting way and eliminate visual clutter which does not strengthen the concept or message. But how do I achieve my goals when grammatically correct typography is visual clutter? For example, the colon.
Over the past two years I have come to despise this simple mark of punctuation because often, I feel that typography, along with visual hierarchy, eliminate the need for a colon.
According to Wikipedia the correct usage of a colon “informs the reader that what follows proves and explains, or simply provides elements of, what is referred to before.” A title of a list, for example, would have a colon following it to indicate to a reader that the items underneath belong together under a common goal or subject, ie. Things To Do Today: go to post office, pick up dry cleaning, feed neighbors cat, etc. All of the items following the colon are all things that need to get done today.
BUT since every designer should be equipped with a working knowledge of both typography and the principles of visual hierarchy, then why do colons still appear in headlines of brochures, magazines and other publications? Why not use weights of a typeface to establish visual hierarchy? Or color? Or line breaks? Or indentations? Granted, when colons are used in body copy as a way to establish a short list, or break up the sentence in a grammatically correct way, I have no issue, the headlines and headers with colons are my biggest pet peeves.
Establishing hierarchy through typography was one of my very first lessons in Intro to Typography. The exercises included establishing hierarchy with line spaces, weight and thresholds.
As I consider my goals as a designer, and one of the very first typographical exercises I completed at RIT, I often wonder why I still see colons in headers and headlines. Yes, most of the time their usage is grammatically correct, but can’t we as designers, break those rules in favor of visual aesthetics and simplicity?
I offer a comparison. Are they necessary? Do they make the message more clear? Doesn’t the typography and hierarchy of the layout replace the need for a colon?
Most recently, my biggest typography pet peeve was placed in my hand at RIT. A promotional item for the new Vignelli Center of Design at RIT.
Why was this chosen as the final design? The interaction between the colon and the tittle of the lowercase i are a visual distraction!
What are your typography pet peeves?
Isn’t it against the rules or something? I bought a white dress for a steal and decided to turn it green!
Step 1 Buy a fabulous white dress
Step 2-5 Pick a color, any color… How about Green? Boil water on stove, add dye and dress. Boil for 45 minutes.
Step 6 Drain, rinse and wash in washing machine.
Step 6 Marvel at the results!
The past two weeks have brought a whirl wind of emotions, some happy and some sad. Last week was Senior Week at RIT and I spent most of it celebrating with my classmates! And then it was my birthday…with more…celebrating…
AND THEN… GRADUATION. I am no longer a student. I am officially a real person with real responsibility, real bills and some very new future plans.
I am moving to Boston! I am pursuing my first job in a design firm, ad agency or publishing firm. But I am not giving up the dreams of becoming a textile designer! It’s just those “real bills” are keeping me up at night!