Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fall 2011: That's A Wrap!

by Tom Bejgrowicz (Instructor, Design Studio 1)

While the blog itself will remain quiet for another 9 months, the stories and ideas told here, in addition to being an inspiration to those joining me in this class in Fall 2012, will remain for everyone in the world to see and experience. Speaking of…

These pages were read over 1,500 times by people in 10 countries over 4 continents in just 4 short months. Not a bad start to something that quietly simmered amongst a tightly-knit group of us in Rm. 314 of the Design Center, right? With that said…

Many thanks to everyone who supported our efforts in this blog at PCA&D, expecially Pam Barby (Graphic Design Department Chair), Mary Colleen Heil (President), and Mary Stadden (Director of Public Relations).

Until we post again, continued best to you and yours. – Cheers, Tom b.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Design Process: Necessary Evils

by Pat Mendoza

So here we are! The end of the first semester to our Junior Year! My what a ride it has been! I must say the past 16 weeks have offered a lot. We took field trips, we had artist talks and workshops, we completed new projects and we tackled a new element to the communication arts industry – we blogged! Yes, this semester has been quite a treat. Looking back on my time it’s hard to pinpoint what the most memorable experience was, so I’ll touch on my favorite highlights.

First and foremost, the trips! This year we were fortunate enough to take a variety of field trips in order to better familiarize ourselves with the elements of design. Of course, we started the semester off with our annual trip to New York City complete with talks about branding and web design, a showcase of AIGA’s top design submissions, and a gallery of some of the finest music photography I’ve ever seen. But the trip to New York wasn’t enough to contain the enthusiastic attitude bubbling amongst us. No, we needed more. Advertising students had the pleasure of traveling to an agency down in Maryland where they enjoyed a presentation recounting the firm’s client list, tips and tricks they’ve developed, and techniques they utilize to be successful. Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, as a studio group we traveled to Spectrum Printing to learn more about the beautiful art of printing. All things considered, I think we did all right for ourselves.

Next, we were also blessed with the luxury of having professional designers not only talk to us about their careers, but also work with us in a hands-on workshop and critique our efforts. In our studio session we had two outside professionals in Dan Kent and Portland come in and talk with us about the trials and tribulations associated with their works as well as our very own instructor Tom Bejgrowicz giving us a more in-depth look at the process of one of his projects he completed over the summer. Those portrayals of vulnerabilities alone are worth commending and should not be taken lightly. Also, the fact that two heavyweights in design like Seymour Chwast and Gail Anderson would even grace us with a lecture is humbling enough, but the idea of them sitting down and working with us on a personal level is a next-level educational maneuver. It’s events like those that make an education at PCA&D truly unique.

Finally, there were the projects. Yes, a semester of graphic design can’t be complete without works to finish. Taking a much different approach than in HoCA and Visual Thinking, we were presented with the daily challenges of identity and branding. Our first challenge was to create our very own self-promotional logo. Admittedly, I struggled with this at first, but once I was able to grasp my mind around the thought process I needed to succeed I found myself rolling right along. It was special to see how everyone handled their logo but even more intriguing was how folks implemented their personality traits into their designs. Next, we furthered our self-promotional studies with a stationery layout. Utilizing the logo and color scheme we designed, we created a stationery system unique to our individual companies. Again, it was refreshing to see the individuality associated with everyone’s designs. After we had a good understanding of how to promote ourselves, we switched gears a bit and focused on the client. For our third assignment the 10 of us were given a local establishment that has special ties to the city of Lancaster. Many folks relished in the notion of their assigned companies (i.e. Nick, a skate shop), while others weren’t so thrilled about their appointment (Tom, a jeweler). Regardless of our fortune, however, we all had to buckle down and fulfill challenges unseen in past projects. All in all, the logo redesign brought about a diverse mix of concepts, colors, and creations and it was interesting to see how each student handled the needs of their “client”. Since each of our stores have distinctive characteristics about them, each student had different issues to address in regards to the audience that would see their design. Additionally, building on the logo we created, we designed a collateral system fit with business cards, t-shirts, and an exclusive item that could be used for promotional purposes. Again, it was energizing to see how everyone used clever ways to deal with their demographic. Lastly, something different for us to do this semester, was our blog posting. Each week two of us were assigned the task of writing a blog posting about what we found inspirational. Here is where we let our true individuality shine bright. We were able to share with each other, and the world for that matter, what it was that made us tick. We shared what made us smile, what made us laugh, what made us think, and what made us cry. Whether it was a heartfelt tribute to a lost friend or an ode to propaganda posters, found out what it is that made us who we are. What we find moving as designers, students, and people. So while it wasn’t as popular as Facebook posts, we still shared our ideas with each other. And you have to "like" that.

In conclusion, overall, I think it was a good semester. Personally speaking, I can honestly say I learned and matured a lot. I know that I struggled in certain areas and I have a lot of work to do in order to get where I want to be as a designer, and as a man in general. Moving forward I know I will need to make adjustments in order to be successful at the level that I desire for myself, but therein lies the value of an education. As with everything else, namely design, there is a process involved. The process can’t be ignored, dismissed, or underestimated. That notion is what will be my most prominent memory of this semester. The process. And, more specifically, the process it takes to be successful as a graphic designer – as a good graphic designer. Bad design is everywhere and good design is invisible. I’m only happy with one of those ideas, and it’s the process that separates the two.

Yes, the most important element of design is the process. Well, that and the "call to action." So with that in mind I will leave you with a call to action that everyone can enjoy:

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Until I see you on the other side, peace and love.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The C, the R, the Sunbeam!

(click image to enlarge)

by Meagan Kelso (a.k.a. Sunbeam)

This last week was the hardest week to find something to blog about. I thought and thought for an entire week and nothing was coming to mind. Finally on my drive to school, the way that I commute five out of seven days a week, I realized suddenly what I was going to write about.

I’m not sure why I didn’t think of this before because I often admire this logo every time I pass it on my way to school. It is the College Row logo for the shops by Franklin and Marshall school. I absolutely love the design because the “C” that is right up to the stem of the “R” initially makes me see the letter “Q”. Many would think that this is bad, that the designer failed, because the letter “Q” has nothing to do with the design. And I agree, it would be a bad design if it took me more than a second to realize that this isn’t what the design is.

But not more than a second after I see the “Q” I think “Oh my God “C” “R” for College Row. GENIUS!” The design is so clean and gives the feeling of expensive higher end, which is perfect for the setting that it’s in. Those shops over there are a higher end, expensive type of shop, which also compliments the school, stereotyped by the “richy rich”, kids that attend there.

Overall I really love the overall design elements and final product. It fits the setting and area perfectly. But most of all I love the “aha” moment that it gives me within seconds of seeing it. It adds a little more to the already amazing logo.

Happy Holidays, Hershey-Style!

by Tom Dombrosky

This commercial is used by a well known Candy Company to associate one of its iconic candies with the shapes and sounds of Christmas. It cleverly and simply turns the iconic Hershey Kiss into a Christmas bell and plays a common Christmas tune. Millions of people will hear the sounds of the bells at various events such as church services, choir events, even just bell ringing
at the malls during the Christmas season. The commercial associates the sound to its candy and reenforces the candy in the consumer's mind.

The commercial is also festive with the bells in the shape of a Christmas tree and displays a good use of color. I would think the commercial has been successful since it has re-occurred through holidays for a number of years.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Creative Surroundings!

(My New “Room”, click images to enlarge)

by Lisa DeAngelo

About a month ago two of our room mates moved out, leaving an empty room with no purpose. It didn't take much time to figure out what the newly unoccupied room should be; a place to do my art, of course! The room is now what I affectionately call “my room”. It's not the room I sleep in (voluntarily, haha) but it's a room that is purely me. I could call it my studio, but I find that calling it my room is more fitting as of now. When I feel more professional I guess I can call it a studio, but for now it's a pretty nice upgrade from what I'm used to.

(My shelf, full of resources, useful tools, inspiring design and décor)

Once all my stuff-my drafting table, printer, light box, shelf, etc.-made its way into the room, I took a good look at it all. How lucky am I, that I have a whole room dedicated to art? Not many people get to say this, as I've heard students' tales of cutting and mounting their projects on the kitchen table or bedroom floor... Not exactly the most efficient way to work, but sometimes a reality for us college kids.

(Badass homemade light box that sits in the corner)

Over Thanksgiving break I spent a lot of time in my new room plugging away at homework, jamming to music and soaking in the creative spirit that now embodied the space. Although the transition from hallway to room was not a big one, I truly feel more focused and inspired having an actual room to work in... and to decorate however I want. :) Still working on that part, though!

Oh yeah, one last, great feature is the couch. I don't sit on it much, but I certainly enjoy the company of an occasional visitor...

A Trip to Where it All Comes Together

by Nick Belcher

During our last class on November 18th, the group took a trip to Spectrum Printing in East Petersburg. At the break for lunch, the class made the quick fifteen-minute trek north of Lancaster to the printer. Once we got there and walked in, the fine smell of ink and machinery filled everyone’s noses. It’s kinda like one of those smells that’s good, at least to me, but probably not so good for you (like gasoline!). The man who gave us the tour; the owner, I believe, welcomed us shortly after we got there and immediately started the tour. He showed us the process the company goes through in order to do a printing job. From looking at the ink dots through a magnifying glass to seeing the beautiful sheets that recently came off the press, all the students seemed fascinated with everything going on. He continued to show us around the place to where everything goes after it’s printed. In other rooms there were books being bound, and calendars being stapled, and brochures being folded. After that, he ended our tour with a question/answer and a merry farewell.

For me, I felt this field trip was really great for everyone in the class because we were able to see the process behind what happens to our work after it leaves our hands (or computer screens, for that matter). When designers are done with work, they normally just ship it out and only get to see the product when it’s all said and done. We were able to see everything in action and get a feeling for what happens on the other end of production. Printing is an art form in itself. Everything has to be done precisely; all the colors, all the lining up, and everything has to be as clear as the designer made it on their computer screen. It was reassuring to know that some printers also take great pride in how their products come out. If the product is not something the designer or client would be happy with, it gets pitched. I’ve always heard horror stories about how printers mess things up all the time, and while I still believe this is a fairly common occurrence (much more common than we would want, I’m sure), it’s nice to know that there are printers out there who really care. We just have to be wise in choosing them.

Besides the awesomeness of going to the printer, I also had the privilege to drive our dear professor, Sir Tom Bejgrowicz around for the day. After the shop, we hit up the oh-so-amazing Murder King for some burgers (veggie, of course!) and fries. We talked life, music, and the design industry. All in all, it was a great afternoon. Oh, and I totally made him listen to dubstep during the car ride!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Life Lessons as a Designer

by Christa Zinner

We can preach the mantras of design night in and night out, but there will always be greater issues at play that many designers overlook. Although we are not artists and we should not think of ourselves as an artist (for as a designer, as we grow and learn and become immersed within our work, design suddenly overwhelms our lives and begins to take root in everything we do), we should be aware of our own personal shortcomings in life. Perhaps everyone struggles with these issues in life; there may be points in time where we struggle with our own identity or why we are pursuing such life-long studies while we toe the fine line between work and passion.

I've always been a huge fan of Stefan Sagmeister. Maybe he's not for everyone; he does do a lot of conceptual design that's hard to understand and can seem silly or worthless. There's a great world he tends to live in where he speaks about great life-lessons and philosophical ideas through his designs that can sober you and bring you out of the clouds and down to reality. Thinking realistically is a huge part of my life, it really touches base when a designer speaks to me about life-lessons I can understand and I really like seeing that outlook from other people as well.

If you've never seen the whole Hillman Curtis' Artist's Series he did a few years back, I would highly recommend watching all of them. I remember watching them myself my first year in college when they were brand new and watching these videos of advice from highly successful designers completely changed my outlook on my life as a designer. I began looking at myself and my work subjectively and the different ways I approached ideas and solutions changed as well. There's some other great sagely advice from Milton Glaser, Pentagram Studios and Paula Scher if you like the video of Stefan Sagmeister and want to see more.

There's also a fantastic book that I picked up about 4 years ago written by Stefan Sagmeister called “How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul” (which is something we all struggle with even in school, let alone the real world) that I also would highly recommend picking up if you have some extra money. He gives some great, realistic advice about how to land jobs, start up your own studio, work with clients and how to in general keep yourself somewhat sane. The design world is an insanely fast-paced jungle and as both new and old designers we can quickly become overwhelmed and swallowed whole in the hustle and bustle.

While I understand the merit of looking at “pretty pictures”, inspiring design, beautiful type-faces and how discussing these things as designers is important, I think sometimes we need to tackle the harder subjects and shouldn't forget about them. It will be extremely difficult (unless you're bizarrely lucky) to find your dream job if you don't work hard and push yourself and set goals every single day. You will have to choose one day between losing sleep or going the extra mile on a project. Those choices are yours, and yours alone. Deciding where you go or how far you want to push yourself will end up reflecting upon where you end up in life. You can never, ever give up. You may have to submit your portfolio and resume to 200 different studios before you even get an interview. But if design has completely consumed your life, then these struggles should be small obstacles to living out your passion. Failure is inevitable at some point in time; but we should learn and grow and never give up. Design isn't a 9-5 job. It exists every second in your life, waking or sleeping. Your life as a designer doesn't start the moment you get your diploma and leave school; it started the moment you decided you wanted to be a designer and you should be actively working towards it every day of your life.