Here are my final pieces for my Senior Thesis project, Losing Vera. This story is unfinished; it is a puzzle that I am piecing together.
This is a project about my Russian grandmother who was forced to flee Russia in a time of war, which ignited a lifetime of fractured relationships, starting with her parents and siblings. When she arrived in America with her three children, a blossoming mental illness and a husband struggling with debilitating alcoholism, she struggled to survive while always longing to return to Russia. Her story will be told in three chapters; this is the first.
I designed a printed piece that allows a reader to pace themselves while absorbing emotional details of an immigrant’s struggle. The words are accompanied by photos of Russia during World War II and the few family photos that exist from that time. This piece is intended for an audience that might not use the internet, where I have created a webpage to house the audio story where one can listen to the story and look at images that set the tone and environment that Vera experienced.
This is the website where the audio story lives until I can create its own website.
Here is the book piece.
This is the cover.
This is the first spread, it explains the premise of the story and project.
Wow. Where do I begin?
Chapter 2 is a great little summary of all those reminders my teachers have been working so hard to try to get my short term and long term memory to talk to each other and share their info. Needless to say, maybe it’s just because these days (or the last three years) I have had a mushy college brain but I still read the reminders of what professional skills a designer should have as… “Oh yes, that reminds me, I need to stop procrastinating.” And then a moment later I am playing with my cat and forget all about what I was doing.
So, time management, how I love thee and wish thee would stay long enough to cuddle after an intense session of “How to organize Melinda’s life.” It’s not pretty, I’ll tell you that. But, seriously, this chapter made me feel kind of jazzed, in a geeky Rocky way… like “YES! I CAN do this!”
And then came Chapters 3 & 4.
Maybe it is my lack of sleep or the fact that I need to eat something other than a donut and decaf coffee but these chapters might have reversed any bit of ‘Rocky’ strength I had and made me start to wince. Even saying this aloud I have to laugh at myself because everything IS going to be fine and no matter what, I will find a job… even if it is designing for Kinkos. So, in the meantime, I will continue to take nerdy notes in my class journal on how important it is to be a skilled communicator and how to approach a design studio I want to work for… apparently, I can’t just sing them Cher’s “If I could turn back time” and they hire me on the spot ( I don’t know why they wouldn’t). ‘
Today I applied for another internship. As I clicked the send button I had another one of those pangs of “I don’t even know why you try… you’re not going to get it.” And that when I reminded myself that this is why I have changed careers, and I don’t just mean changing from a restaurant manager to a designer; I mean changing from someone who is so scared to take that great leap into the abyss into someone who is STILL so scared but is jumping into that abyss.
"I try to be a problem-revealer to use design to highlight and explain problems that we face as a society and hopefully engage people in doing something about it." –quoted by Jonathan Barnbrook on the subject of graphic design and ethics.
Reading this quote reassures me that I am on the right track, inching closer to the idea of what I imagine to be a “successful” designer. I know this sounds cliche but I want to make a difference in the world, create positive change, be involved and not just take up space. As a child, I remember my parents rarely taking notice of the world that surrounded them; so often wrapped up in the drama of the moment they wouldn’t even notice the bystanders they hadn’t acknowledged.
Needless to say, I appreciate the author’s description of the “essential qualities” needed to be a graphic designer because it gives me more reason to respect the field I embrace daily. I guess if you asked a group of professional designers to summarize the top three qualities need to be a designer there would be some dovetailing in the responses; well, I hope.
1. Cultural Awareness 2. Communication Skills 3. Integrity
Each of these qualities might not be present in a new designer but with time and experience each would support one another. With experience and research we all become a little more aware of certain language cues and symbols of various cultural references. I cannot describe how much I look forward to becoming more culturally aware of the world and how that will affect or shift my values and integrity. And I am sure that somewhere in there middle (or, daily) my communication skills will be tested and expanded upon. At times, I feel like my skin is electrified from the anticipation and excitement of the mere suggestion of the possible growth and experiences I have waiting before me.
The “designer” of 2015 is really not that far off from what I believe a designer need to be right now. Maybe I can say that because I have the benefit of being in school and I am surrounded by so many different people, not just designers. The AIGA list of competencies initially felt a little stressful, I’m kinda prone to that, but as I read on till the end I realized this is pretty basic. The one that resonates with me most is the “ability to respond to audience contexts recognizing physical, cognitive, cultural and social human factors that shape design decisions.” In the past few weeks I am starting to understand what my “thing” is that I do best, that is branding and identity. In order for me to thoughtfully and respectfully communicate the identity of a project or organization I need to immerse myself in their audience and how they interact with the identity in their own lives.
The design process is king when it comes to designing. Reading through this list helps to remind me of all the aspects I need to consider when I am approaching a communication “problem.” I know this sounds nerdy but I think I will print this list out to help guide me when I am flailing in moving forward in a project. I love checklists because it keeps me on task and most things in life don’t have them, so print them when you got ‘em.
The Technology reading in Participate gave me a greater appreciation for the interactive world and the benefits of technology. It defines generative design as an established algorithmic system that can be fully automated and self-contained, meaning it doesn’t technically have to be participatory. By “mining” information on the web, designers have created generative work that transforms random data into a fluid context.
I appreciate the examples of generative work that invited user contribution, such as the Time Capsule (developed by J. Harris). By asking people to respond to specific questions through text, sound, images, drawings or videos the designer created a user generated digital time capsule. This conceptual piece took an algorithm to generate a combination of participatory and digital elements.
Karsten Schmidt is a designer who creates designs with open source elements for users to alter and redesign. This is a totally new concept for me, the idea of creating design through code and then allowing users to alter a design by access to the code. Maybe someday I will be at a point that I could physically do the coding but for now I think I might just collaborate with a rad developer and brainstorm about the interactive possibilities.