Week 3: Fields of Practice
Updated: Dec 10, 2020
As technology advances, it can seem like the world is becoming more connected. However, this can also mean that the world is becoming smaller. While technology has made for better collaboration and opportunity to engage, the connectedness can also leave designers feeling like they're taken less seriously in their practice. This week has us looking at globalization: is it good or bad?
Lecture & Resource Reflections
Within the globalization case studies we were given for the week, I found myself relating most to Simon Manchipp. As he so aptly puts it,
I think it’s encouraging greater collaboration, it’s encouraging bigger ideas and then it’s allowing us to work on a much bigger canvas (Manchipp et al. n.d.)
I firmly believe that one of the biggest benefits of globalization is the ability to work with cultures outside of your own. Not only does this foster new ideas on both sides, but it helps create a certain level of understanding and tolerance for the cultures involved. The design world is left feeling like more of a community when designers connect and share with one another. In addition, as Manchipp explains, globalization is an unstoppable force. To resist it is only detrimental to your practice. One of the most important aspects of the design world is learning to adapt, globalization is just one way to do it.
The guest lecture this week was with Harriet Ferguson. She complemented Manchipp's ideas quite well and elaborated on how globalization can positively influence designs. As she mentioned, Pearlfisher is an interconnected culture of four different studios found all over the world. They thrive through Collaboration, Inspiration, Visual Culture, and the Future.
With collaboration comes the potential to learn new things. By working with others in your field, it's likely at some point or another, you'll end up learning something new from a more experienced coworker. In addition, cultural diversity and conceptual diversity can foster the advent of new ideas.
When she discussed inspiration, I found myself heavily relating to the points she made. At one point, she discussed Pinterest. As I design pins in my day job, it was interesting to see her take on things. It came as no surprise that if something is online, it has likely been replicated in other designs. However, when she said,
Technology lets everyone think they can do better (Falmouth Flexible 2020).
I found myself wholeheartedly agreeing. In this field, a lot of what we do can be learned online. The basic techniques and styles can be replicated, but in order to be GOOD at what you do, it takes more than skill. This is the difference between people who know Desktop Publishing and those that are actual designers. As Harriet said, design is more than just an aesthetic.
As she rounded out her lecture, the following points were what stood out to me most:
Keep It Simple
Consider Impact on the Planet
Think Global, Act Local
I've never had an issue acting authentically as a person, but I realize now that being an authentic designer can come with its own set of rules. Sure, it's a matter of being true to who you are, but it's also important to keep the design in line with the brand and its image. Keeping it simple was another good point to reiterate because I feel like designers can often get caught up in their designs when they aren't elaborate or complicated. The last two incorporated evaluating the world as a whole. I had never thought to consider the impact on the planet when working on a design. Perhaps this is because I've never dealt with a client that could necessarily negatively impact things with their product, but it's definitely a point I'll be sure to keep an eye on in the future.
Walker Art Center: Drawn Here (And There) by Non-Format
The presentation given by Jon Forss and Kjell Elkhorn was a refreshing look at how globalization has actually made their company better. The part that hit me the hardest was their workday. By both of them working in different time zones, they actually accomplished more for their business! While they each put in roughly 11-hour days, because their start times were staggered, the business as a whole was actually working upwards of 16-hour days! I was surprised this hadn't been mentioned by other practices in our lectures, as this seems like a great plus to working on opposite ends of the world. There's greater flexibility for communicating with clients, and it can make designing things easier since there are two different sets of eyes working on different steps of the project at any given time.
Outside of the company's adaptation to globalization, I also found Forss's attitude toward design refreshing. On multiple occasions, he mentioned how he used and continued to use technology that had already been "discovered" and well utilized. By doing so, he hoped his amateur eyes would create something new that hadn't been done before.
I also appreciated how hands-on these two got with their work. To create "breathe" on a piece, they simply blew ink through straws. For another Wired piece, they threw water at their otherwise stagnant subject. Instead of seeing things as potential problems, they viewed these obstacles as ways to inspire their work.
Finally, the last point that really hit home to me was when they asked, "Is something good?" The fact is, that can't be answered with a simple "Yes" or "No." In order for something to be good, it has to be new or old enough to be considered new again. The point in time that something is made also speaks volumes to its perceived worth and effectiveness. Design, much like the world around us, is constantly evolving and we either need to accept that and learn from it or be left behind entirely.
Workshop Challenge #1
One of the themes of this week’s materials is the need as humans to categorize things. Graphic design is no exception. As the fellows at Regular Practice described, categorization can be divisive in the way it sets boundaries for designers. However, these boundaries can also serve as obstacles to overcome, inspiring new and creative solutions. Being hard to categorize is not necessarily a bad thing!
However, there are particular instances where an attempt to put designs in certain “boxes” needs to be done. One such example of this is the D&AD awards. They accept submissions for a large variety of categories, but the fact remains that your piece must align with the requirements of at least one category more than another. Upon viewing the 2019 winners, I found that my view of design terminology is rather small in comparison to what is perceived to be available within the design world.
Some of the categories that stood out to me were Creativity for Good, Direct, Experiential, Side Hustle, Spatial Design, and Writing for Design. The reason these groups stood out to me was that I felt they could have been placed within another category. By themselves, the categories seemed to serve as sub-categories to the other groupings like Digital Design, Graphic Design, and Media.
One of the most interesting pieces that I came across was Swipe Night. For anyone who uses Tinder on a regular basis, they know that Swipe Night is an interactive CYOA of sorts to engage users and match people based on their decisions. For the sake of D&AD, this submission was sorted into the Media category. Based on the categories I touched on above, I was surprised this didn’t end up in the Experiential category. The storyline is immersive in nature and takes you along for the ride as you make your way through this apocalyptic environment. For me, that seems pretty experiential! However, since it’s not a piece that you can walk through or physically touch, perhaps that’s why it was sorted as it was.
To dig further into what made a design “experiential” I looked at a few winners in the category. One of my favorite ones was titled, “Burn That Ad.” Burger King’s biggest competitor is McDonald’s. Since the Golden Arches advertises a greater amount, the people at Burger King created an AR feature within its app that allowed viewers to seemingly “burn” McDonald’s ads. In this way, it was like every McDonald’s ad had the potential to be “burned” into a Burger King ad. While people outside of the app wouldn’t see this happen, those within the app that used the feature were rewarded with a coupon. Plus, the popularity of the feature left an impression in various online communities, making the Burger King name more popular.
This is only one example, but there were many more similar ones that I encountered. It seems to me that design can be categorized in many different ways, and certain groupings can also fit into other categories. Where there was a piece placed in Impact, it could have just as easily been put in Print Design or Creativity for Good. It seems to me that if the designer themselves don’t categorize their work, others will do it for them, simply because it’s human nature to sort things.
Workshop Challenge #2
This category seemed pretty self-explanatory, but I was mistaken. While this group focuses on advertising, it can also include things that are more centered on politics or social justice causes. Basically, anything that is trying to sway someone's opinion on something can be seen as advertising design.
I would have expected this topic to fall under UX or UI design since a lot of the work done in those categories can't happen without proper research on the potential design options. However, design research can also be a standalone category that only focuses on the research side of the design, versus the actual conceptualizing process.
No surprises here, this primarily deals with how a brand is perceived, based on their graphic identity, products, services, and quality they offer.
This not only deals with the appearance of the packaging but also with the structural integrity of the package. I didn't realize that protecting the product through the packaging design was a factor to consider when designing.
This focuses on the interior setup and cover design for a given book. While there are skilled book designers, oftentimes, they have to collaborate with photographers and illustrators to achieve the desired cover look.
The design that's involved with making new typefaces and font families.
This is the name given to the designs that create the layout for screen displays and websites. These designers often work with mock-ups.
Web design is an interesting niche of design since it isn't always about creating a streamlined appearance. Web designers also deal with HTML code, CSS, and information architecture. Not only does the site have to look good, but it has to function as well.
This category of design uses the available capabilities of the technology that's being designed with, including sound, time, animation, text, and image.
This uses text, media, and participation to create a unique experience for the audience. Museum displays, as well as tradeshow and retail store displays, would fall under this category.
Breaking the Boundaries of Graphic Design
I have always been interested in political pieces of design, which leads me to the design piece that I believe breaks the stereotypical practice of design: propaganda. For this particular challenge, I chose James Montgomery Flagg's piece, the infamous "I Want You" poster. Like other pieces of propaganda, this stands to manipulate the public opinion, with Flagg's piece focusing on joining the armed forces.
It is a type of communication that is very similar to advertisements of the past and present, however, its call to action is often seen as problematic or controversial. With this in mind, I felt that all propaganda could be seen as an advertisement, but not all advertisements are propaganda. Out of this view, I give you PropagAdvertisement Design, or PropagAd Design, for short.
PropagAd Design can be seen as an advertisement that incites action through fear, anger, or similar strong emotions. They typically involve a political figurehead or topic, with an attempt made to sway the viewer to either accept or reject a certain viewpoint. These pieces often utilize different techniques in persuasion and manipulation, including an appeal to authority, ad nauseam, and appeal to fear. They often have strong typefaces and colors utilized, with a very particular call-to-action.
Studio Practice + Written Task
I'm not going to lie, I struggled on this one.
It wasn't necessarily a hard task, just one that required inspiration. The writing part came easy, as it usually does. The design part? Well, that was a different story. Since I've been behind most of this module, I actually took care to NOT look at my peer's work until I was done with my own. I didn't want to unintentionally take any of their design ideas, so I thought it best to avoid looking at them altogether. Instead, I took Paul's advice and looked in more unlikely places for design inspiration. For this task, I chose to look at advertisements in Times Square. I figured that was unique enough to challenge and inspire myself but somewhat applicable to magazine design.
While it may not look the part, this artistic piece was the largest source of inspiration for me. I liked the bold use of a singular color, in this case, pink. In addition, I found myself drawn to the way the imagery wrapped around the building. It was a good reminder that not all designs are displayed on flat surfaces, and good designs will work with the shape they are shown on. I also appreciated the imperfectly perfect style to it. Not every appendage on the COVID virus is identical, and the fonts themselves are more handwritten.
Another advertisement that I used for inspiration was done by Fiverr, a popular freelancing platform. I liked their ad because it was all text-based. This had me thinking about how cohesive and strong use of text is sometimes all you need in a design.
Finally, I found myself repeating the words of the prompt.
As I started working in InDesign, I was looking at any sort of "boundary" I could think of. One version of my piece had barbed wire being used. Another had me looking at how I could incorporate a cardboard box texture into my pages. At one point, I even began thinking about how I could break my spread up into foldable pieces so that the viewer would actually be able to assemble a box out of my article. How's that for thinking outside of the box?
Eventually, I realized I liked the idea of my text going off the page, outside of its own perceived boundary. I felt it was more powerful if the word "boundary" was the one that was pushing its boundaries, as it seemed to give the design a nice, poetic juxtaposition. I grabbed a few complementary colors, found some fonts that worked nicely together, and went to work.
What I ended up with was a pleasing design that juxtaposed definitive boundaries, such as the body's text boxes, with the less defined boundaries of the title, shapes, and image. All of the text, besides the title, is aligned in a fashion that's easy to read. None of it is angled because, at the end of the day, this project was a magazine spread - It's meant to be read. By incorporating angled shapes of different sizes, it naturally skews the appearance. I grabbed a few colors from the image itself so that everything felt like it fit together.
At this point, I'm happy with how this turned out. Sometimes it's better to just start ANYTHING than wait for the perfect idea to pop in your head. Had I gone with the first design scheme I started, there would have been barbed wire and red for a highlight color. I'm glad things turned out differently and I'm looking forward to hearing what my peers have to say.
Update: Post-Crit #1
My piece was well-received in the critical evaluation this past Saturday. My peers commented on my color choices and how well-balanced things were despite there being seemingly random lines flowing across the page.
If I had more time, it would have been nice to print out my spread, just to see what it looked like in the physical space. With better access to resources, I would have photographed my piece myself, instead of putting it in a Photoshop mock-up.
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D&AD. 2020b. “Burn That Ad | DAVID The Agency | Burger King | D&AD Awards 2020 Shortlist | Use of Mobile | D&AD.” www.dandad.org [online]. Available at: https://www.dandad.org/awards/professional/2020/231810/burn-that-ad/ [accessed 10 Oct 2020].
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