July 26, 2010
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!