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.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Step Backward, Many Leaps Forward

by Sally Yacovelly

I have a slightly different perspective than most students here at PCA&D when it comes to discussing revising or updating a company’s identity. Mainly because I am not just viewing the older logo identity, as it was once referred to; but I have experienced it. It was a time when identities were pasted across billboards, in magazines spreads and the largest form of communication, of course, was the television. Almost every house had one, but there were not many with color. Therefore your designs, in order to be affective, had to project in black and white.

There was no Internet to blast images and product names in front of their audience of every minute of the day.

Branding, as it is known today, is just that. It puts a mark from a company on everything attached to them. We become so saturated with this visual mark that alone it becomes the focus. The name of the company, in many instances, becomes secondary or is no longer even necessary.

Note some of the following: the Nike swoosh being one of the best examples.

(click images to enlarge)

Why rebrand one might say. Well, it could be there was a company takeover and the new management wants their influence shown. Or a merging of two corporations might generate creating an additional name that combines their influences. Or there may have been an unfortunate circumstance that caused a negative outlook on business and they just want a fresh start.

Change is constantly occurring in our electronic world of today, so updating one’s company image seems to go along with this fast pace idea of change. However, there are some products or company names, that no matter what, outstand the times and remain constantly popular. And they still sell, even though their branding hasn’t changed in over one hundred years. And I might add, that their nearest competitor has changed their logo eleven times trying to catch up in the standings.

With all this said, whether change, revise or altogether new, when considering your company’s image remember it remains your unique fingerprint in the advertising world and should well thought out.

Friday, November 11, 2011

NY State of Mind Pt. 2: Standard Deviations

(click image to enlarge)

The new New Typography

by Pat Mendoza

Life’s wanderings recently led me back to New York City. While many situations varied from the last trip, most notably the weather, the premise still remained the same. Find a source of creative stimulus in the city that bleeds motivation. Sounds easy enough right?

This trip to the big town led me on an adventure through Central Park, the subway system, and the chicest restaurant I will ever step foot in. The park had many beautiful sights to cherish, the subway is the city in its purest form, and the truffled mac-and-cheese was exquisite, but I still lacked the creative spirit I was on a mission for. Enter the Museum of Modern Art and its magnificent collection. My journey had led me on a return visit to my favorite art museum and this time it was personal. While I had a memorable experience the first time through, I felt like the visit fell short of my expectations. Due to some minor time constraints and an entire sector of the collection not on view, I knew I had to return and return immediately. So when my friend presented me with an opportunity to return to New York, just six weeks removed from the first trip, I knew MoMA would take priority.

Boy did I get that one right. Upon finalizing the logistics of the trip I began to plan our itinerary. Immediately I jumped on MoMA’s website to franticly explore any notable current or upcoming exhibitions that would corroborate with my desired date. Coincidently enough, on view was an exhibit aptly titled “Talk To Me” and was a display of objects distinctive in the sense that they were items that engaged the viewer to interact and communicate with the pieces. Projects ranged from graphic user interfaces to video games. Now don’t get me wrong, this exhibit was unique and compelled me to look at certain objects in a different light, but something was still missing. So after perusing all other levels of the building we made our way to the design collection. Jackpot!

For the first time the Museum of Modern Art has acquired twenty-three digital typefaces to be on display as part of a special exhibition. Through an exhibit interestingly titled “Standard Deviations”, I was able to examine typefaces in a way that was different than situations past. I found myself analyzing the typeforms in a similar fashion to the way I studied van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or Cezanne’s “Bather”, which was surreal in its own right. It was at this moment that I realized typography’s impact in art, design, and culture as a whole. Typography is everywhere. It’s unavoidable and it’s undeniable. Moreover, when it’s executed perfectly, it’s invisible. Never once did I expect to mention Hoefler & Frere-Jones in the same sentence as Picasso and Pollock, but therein lies the magnitude of typography. Typefaces and letterforms are just as much a part of art as paints and canvases. And it should be given as much consideration as colors, compositions, and content.

This second trip to New York proved to be just as meaningful as the first, albeit for different reasons. Different sights, sounds, and smells. Okay, well maybe not smells, but you get the idea. I find it ironic that I frequently take trips to New York to “find” inspiration. And every time I do, I leave finding myself believing the notion it’s the city that I find the most inspiring. The museums and restaurants are exciting and the parks are beautiful, but it’s the city herself that moves me the most. The people. The buildings. The hustle and the bustle. That’s what I find the most stimulating. It’s the city of dreams and I don’t want to wake up yet.

For more, go here.

The Cold War of Design

(click image to enlarge)

by Gene Testa

For a sociology presentation I have been working on I was researching North Korean propaganda. As I gazed at the images on my screen the thought crept into my head that these posters looked strikingly similar to others I had seen before.

Upon opening another google window and a few dozen key strokes I was comparing side by side (sort of) the art of Soviet Russia and North Korea.

While the era's are relatively different in terms of when they take place the feelings behind them are the same. They show in almost unrelenting ways distinct hatred towards whatever subject it is they oppose.

For North Korea it the US for the majority of Soviet Russia, it's capitalism as a whole and Nazi Germany. It makes sense seeing as Russia was the first Marxist state to be born and actually survive for more than a few years before an upheaval. During the Korean War even, Russia fed the Communist North Korean's guns and money via China who aided by sending troops. So seeing similar styles in their posters is not surprising.

What is surprising is exactly how powerful these often simple images have on us. Even when it's written in a language we don't understand or if it's just a simple image. A good example is the image of the German soldier standing over top a fallen Russian woman while her still living daughter clings to her in fear. The image though simple defines clearly with very few words which are kept to the bottom off the image who is the enemy. It points a finger deliberately at the German infantryman of the time. In a similar manner the North Koreans have depicted American soldiers as monsters through a series of slanderous images.

It is the job of these images to evoke emotional response in opposition to the depicted message on the poster. Some of these posters have no words or words written in tastefully small pt sizes and tucked unobtrusively in a corner. While the messages and images are politically driven it is in its own unique way a form of design. A form of design that I personally feel should be studied more in depth in the art curriculum. Not because it's historical but these people who designed these posters know how to manipulate the minds of their viewers. And that is something every designer should want in their personal “tool kit”.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Young Jerks: Dan Cassaro

(click image to link to site)

by Mindy Tang

Recently, my friend told me about an awesome freelance designer, Dan Cassaro. When I visited his site for the first time, his portfolio was already right in front of me! (laughs) I looked at almost all of them so far. I was fascinated by his work and even though his styles are really similar, they all have different looks and feel on them. On his Profile & Contact page, he listed lots of links related to him. If you read some of his interview, you can tell that he's an interesting and fun guy.

On December 12, he'll be talking at Apple Store SoHo, NYC for free! For more information, go here. I hope you guys enjoys looking at his site more than I do.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Gap Crap

(click image to enlarge)

by Jessica Messerschmidt

Considering were currently tackling a project on rebranding, I’d like to chime in on the outrage with the GAP stores rebrand. When I say outrage, I mean like this was social media frenzy. I’m sure some of you have seen it or maybe heard. I’m sure everyone knows what the logo Gap has been using for years and years. Gap switched out their logo for a different approach where they used Helvetica spelling the word “Gap” no longer in all caps and a small blue square, off center, placed behind the “p.”

Everyone went crazy about it. Designers, customers, twitter … etc. Gap’s response to the feedback was basically a thanks for the input and they love the passionate debate that is coming about because of their new logo. BUT, although a representative said that they loved their new look, they said they’d like to see other ideas from the public. What? Right there, it seems to me that they know that it was a lazy attempt at a rebrand and they are looking for the answers from the public.

Needless to say, One week after the introduction of the new logo Gap returned to their roots and reinstated the original Gap logo.

I obviously was not there in the meetings talking about the process and ideas for this rebrand but I can’t imagine it being intelligent. I know I’m not a professional by any means but this logo just failed in so many ways. They used a typeface that anyone has easy access to for a new look with so many already loyal customers. What does that say to your customers? They basically took their old logo of a serif font in all caps and decided that doing the opposite was the best solution. They underestimated the consumer’s knowledge on design. Honestly, I’m pretty curious what the process behind the rebrand was and how they came to this conclusion.

By all this media attention, they at least got people thinking about their store. Whether it was loyal customers or new people who may be future customers.

[Ed. – I maintain a similar sentiment as Jess, as you can see here.]

Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy Together With Design

(click image to enlarge)

by Tom Dombrosky

Whatever your opinion is, whether you oppose it or support it, you can’t help but take notice of the Occupy movement. As an aspiring graphic designer, I’ve been observing much of the signage that’s being used by the occupiers of both Wall Street and those here in Occupy Lancaster. Many other graphic designers have done the same, with some many playing a direct role in it. For example, Shepard Fairey who designed Barack Obama’s “Hope” posters, has designed an invitation for the Occupy Wall Street.

The slogan-driven signage of the Occupiers varies greatly from handwritten type to printouts of digital work. Some professionally made while many others by those who have no experience in designing a poster. Regardless, the occupiers have a way of getting straight to the point and making a statement.

The movement even has a website dedicated to designers willing to help create signage for the movement. One can submit their Illustrator .ai files for occupiers to use during their ongoing movement to Occupy Together With Design.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Taking Risks

(click image to enlarge)

by Meagan Kelso

I work in retail so I see a lot of credit cards. All of them mostly look the same. Horizontal layout on the front and back, the same signature strip, and the names on the front or back bottom left corner. Design hasn’t changed much for credit cards for years. The same layout with different background pictures gets redundant and boring, although I understand the fact that people don’t really care what their credit cards look like, they just pull them out for two seconds to swipe, and then back in the wallet they go. So when someone handed me their credit card, and their name wasn’t in the bottom left corner, I snapped out of that sub-conscious action and actually looked twice at their card. I turned the card around and looked it over and then really thought about something I had never thought about before.

The card was a Chase Slate credit card. And the layout was different from any other credit card I’ve ever seen. It was a vertical layout instead of horizontal. And I stared at it for moment longer thinking, “wow, this is different. I like it”. And as I handed the person their card back the image stayed in my head. I kept thinking about the card even after I got off work.

Seeing something that hasn’t changed in years all of a sudden have a fresh new layout is encouraging. It’s inspiring to know there are designers out there who are so intelligent and are risk takers to bring these small smiles and thoughts to everyday life. The new design is a reminder to break out of the norm, try something risky although other may tell you it will never work. I give props to whoever created that design because unlike other cards it made me stop and look, and think about something I otherwise never would have thought twice about.

(click image to view)

Friday, October 21, 2011

He said: The Design Process

by Nick Belcher

I was pretty psyched to hear Mr. B’s idea to do this “he said/she said” blog idea. Knowing that Lisa’s and my own ideas and processes would be different, I thought it’d be a great insight into the minds of a couple design students. Lisa did a great job diving into what should be expected in the design process, so I’ll try not to go jump into all that as much with mine for the sake of redundancy.

As someone who has been interested in design for a long while, before high school even, I was also one of those kids who was very interested in the way things work. I used to tear stuff apart and put it back together, I took engineering and machining classes in school…If I didn’t go into graphic design, my second choice was to go into drafting and machining. And music has always played a HUGE part in my life. With that stuff said, in my self-branding process, I wanted a logo to kind of portray these important traits about me. I started sketching some stuff related to music (headphones, guitar/amp related things). I also (attempted) sketched to come up with a logo idea incorporating a suit and tattoos. To me, there’s nothing more B.A. (and no, I’m not talking about British Airways) than a guy walking down the street in a suit and tie and has his tattoos showing above the neckline or on the hands. To me, that’d be someone I hired to do my design (but that’s my personal opinion, and I’d be happy to dive into that if anyone is wondering why). I also started thinking about a logo in a biomechanical way. To me, a biomechanical design encompasses this organic, yet very exact and drafted way, and I felt that would represent me and my design company well (Google "Guy Aitchison" for a ridiculous look into biomech design, for those of you who are unfamiliar). Oh yeah, and I sketched a bunch of other stuff too. Don’t we all?

(click image to enlarge)

So after going over the sketches and picking stuff apart and making decisions, it came the time to get them on the computer and actually make something out of them. I had a lot of fun with this step, and I personally love seeing designs come to life on the screen. We narrowed it down to five strong ideas…

(click image to enlarge)

After going over the goods and bads of all five ideas, we (Mr. B, the class, and I) narrowed it down even further to 3, then 2, then finally one idea. We all decided the biomechanical idea would be the strongest. It had the most balanced composition as a logo, we all felt like it represented me well, and it was the one that could be most universally accepted (versus a tattoo oriented or guitar oriented logo). After tweaking the design a little, it was sent into color-comps. I toyed with a lot of ideas here and none really hit me. I then decided to kind of contrast the mechanical aspect of the design and give the logo some earth tones.

(click image to enlarge)

So after all is said and done with the self-logo design, it’s on to designing stationary and other collateral to keep the self-branding, -promotion, and self-identity rolling. Too bad none of this is completely legit, right? Cuz I’m totally digging how my stationary is coming out! This whole process is why I got into design. I love it, and can’t wait to get into some more in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

She said: The Design Process

by Lisa DeAngelo

When Mr. B gave Nick and I the word that it was our week to write blog entries, he suggested the two of us do a “he said/she said” series on our own design processes. Immediately, “that's what she said” jokes popped into my head. All kidding aside, the design process is a serious topic and it's something all graphic designers should be very familiar with. For the most part, we all go through the same basic steps but each of us has our own unique ways of getting there. In this case, “there” would be the finalized versions of our self promotional branding.

It all starts with a sketch. And then another sketch. And another... I find that this stage of the process is when my mind is all over the place in a good way. I try to to record as many ideas as I can, even if I know it most likely won't be the one that's chosen in the end. Most of the time, I find it easy to produce multiple sketches and concepts. For this project in particular, I filled 4 pages in my sketch book. As you can see, I did made an attempt at numbering thumbnails, but stopped. If you're really curious, you can count but try not to get lost in the organized chaos like I did!

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The next step is, of course, narrowing down your selection. A plethora of sketches normally boils down to five, three and finally one in the end. Depending on the project, it can be hard to “kill your babies” (a fun little phrase for rejecting ideas Pam Barby taught me). However, take comfort in knowing that your sketches will always have a special place in your sketch book. Many teachers have told me that some sketches may even come in handy for future projects. At the very least, I always like looking back at old sketches just for the hell of it.

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Then comes the refining process, which can be tedious at times. Seeing a polished, vectorized (or rasterized depending on what it is) manifestation of your idea is pretty awesome, though. When I'm at this stage, I get excited because it means I'm getting closer to the final version... and one of my favorite parts: exploring COLOR! Because this project was done for myself, I just had to feature my favorite color (lime green) in at least a couple color comps.

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So when everything seems to be said, done, printed and mounted, there's still more: the critique. Personally, this part of the process isn't always the most enjoyable but I think it's very important. We're communication arts majors, which means we need to know how to communicate. Talking about your art with confidence shows someone that you take pride in your work and you know what you're doing. No matter what, don't say anything negative about your own work. A very smart person once told me “never apologize for your art”. I sometimes struggle with this, but in general it's a terrible idea to diss your own stuff when presenting. The critique is when you “sell” your art to others and no salesperson with a brain would ever say something bad about their product. And for the people on the other side of things, please keep comments to constructive criticism only. It's not always guaranteed that a client will be this friendly, but for sheer respect of my fellow students, I always say constructive and helpful comments if I choose to say something.

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At the end of this project, I couldn't help but laugh at myself. Here I was, coming up with a billion sketches of varying detail, and one of the simplest solutions was my final product. Two circles with some text. Yes, really. Although circles are one of the most frequently used motifs in logo design, I felt they fit my personality well. I would describe myself as having a “bubbly” personality, and what better to represent that then with circles? Circles can also symbolize qualities such as focus, unity and wholeness. These qualities are ones I strive to have as a designer. I tried to make the shapes my own by knocking out some of it, creating an overall interesting shape. I go wild when I see the colors of my logo, too! The lime green pairs very well with the dark and light blue. To me, the scheme says “bold” and “fresh”, wouldn't you agree? That's what she said!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Two Visual Thoughts

by Sally Yacovelly

NYC Broken Thoughts

I sit sipping my tea, resting my feet and bones after a long day
I stare out the window at 6th & 27th, as fresh whiffs of coffee float past my nose
And jazz playing in the background as the umbrellas abound the city streets
Reds, purples, spotted, broken and torn.

I gaze at the people, many professionals dressed impeccably in their starched shirts with perfect hair. While others, now homeward bound, skirt the surface in baseball caps and sneakers.

Mesmerized by the sights, the figures cross the pavement to the sound as the music seems to play louder. It’s similar to watching TV with the sound turned off. Banners, awnings and neon paint the facades as I glance up the Avenue. The multi-cultural life of the city dot the streets along with the old brick and towering glass.

I find all this exhilarating and inspiring. I am very wet, but thankful for this day of mental rejuvenation.

An Autumn View at PCAD

A gentle breeze rustles across my face as I sit outside for the first time in weeks. Summer has closed its doors and I can detect hints of winter’s approach as autumn kisses my very existence. The continuance of rain has forced most of us into hibernation many days over the last month. All this makes today more aesthetically pleasing like that of a butterfly who emerges from its confined stagnant cocoon to spread its wings to the surrounding blue skies. I see the colors more vibrantly and can almost touch the details with my eyes. The trees have taken a turn toward amber and the days bring darkness prematurely.

The cars pass and their images reflect in the windows across the street causing an ever-changing canvas of shape and color. The flowers burst from their high perch and cascade downward in lush hues of pinks and reds.

Open your eyes as it all elapses before us; taking in all the shapes, color and form. An instructor once told me that “life is art and art is life.” It all progresses onward and we only age if we allow our minds to cease seeing. We are blessed with a creative eye, if kept open, it will allow for continued growth.

A memorable thought: A goal is a dream with a deadline.

The Importance of Good Typography

by Christa Zinner

I think if you want to make it as a designer, you to have live beyond fads and styles in the design world. There will always be a younger generation who will know how to look up a tutorial and just copy what’s popular in current trends. Knowing design that is classically and fundamentally sound design will get you far in the design world. This goes hand-in-hand for all elements of design, and more specifically good typography.

The beauty of typography is that it's not something you can just physically read, but the letter forms themselves are extremely expressive and should be reflective of the message you're trying to convey. A font should be engaging and compliment or add to your design, not distract from it. You should always keep in mind that fonts and typography have the same capacity for expression as colors and images do. Type should never be overlooked or used as a last-minute addition to a design. The most important thing you should remember is that type gives subliminal messages to the viewer, which is why creating (or choosing if you don't have time to create your own) an expressive, appropriate font is so critical to good design. Working with a font inappropriate for your design can completely ruin and take away from an otherwise well thought out and beautifully executed design.

An excellent example of how important unique, appropriate type is in designs can be found in a mini compendium put together by Adam Ladd on his personal website,

Adam Ladd,

A great resource (if you don't like my favorite way of doing it: pencil and grid paper) to get your feet wet in the world of creating your own typography is a neat new webapp called fontstruct, created by the people who own and maintain fontshop. While fontstruct has its own problems, mostly from working in brick forms, it can be an excellent tool to help get the process of creating your own type going.

Where else would we be without one of my favorite places for inspiration? After all of the basic principles of type are learned, one should go hog-wild and delve head-first into the world of expressive type. Some of the best typography is stand-alone, with very little imagery, or itself is an illustration. Typography Served does just this and more, delivering inspirational and sometimes down-right amazing applications of type in design.

Yulia Broadskaya,

Never again should we see typography as a flat-expressionless mode for conveying additional information in our design. Instead, we should see type as its own element which possesses character, form and emotion.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Animated Cinema: The Illusionist

by Mindy Tang

When I watched this movie, it blew my mind! It's practically a silent movie with very little dialog, beautiful character concepts, and a perfect mood movie for a relaxing night. The story is about a magician in the late 50s in Paris who traveled with a young girl and they begin to form a father and daughter-like relationship. When you watch the movie, you won't expect any of the tiniest part of the animation will be moving. They also did a great job with the typography, especially the billboards, theatre, and store signs that perfectly represent the era. Please watch it when you have a night to spare for a 80 minute movie.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Brands As Patterns

(click image to link to story)

Think branding isn't exciting?
Think branding can't get the creative juices flowing?
Think again!

Tap into award-winning designer, writer, creative director, and strategist Marc Shillum's take on shaping branding through pattern. Simply click on the images (Control+Click > Open Link In New Tab) for the complete story.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Much Imitated, But Never Matched

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by Gene Testa

While I may not be the most adventurous person or even that easily inspired. What I am, however, is a bit of a type snob. (Yes, yes yuck it up guys.) When I first started at PCAD I had a general idea of what I was good at, that being seeing things in imagery and text and how they flowed together to make something great. What I also saw was that my skill was lacking tremendously and that I was laying things out (as most novice designers do) in blocks and with no real flow or feel for type as a whole. It was a frustrating thing to see all this realy good design work hanging in the hallways at the school and wonder, “How did they do that?”. Maddening was the thought that I had no idea how and that I wouldn't learn how to for at least another two semesters.

So I muddled. I tried and I applied myself, never mistake a poor quality fine arts piece for yours truly to not have been attempted with honest conviction, and fell down a lot. Then late in my Freshmen or as the school has dubbed it “Foundation” year while sitting bored off my rocker in Mr. Scullin's class. (Yes, exactly how can you get bored in Scullin's class?) I forget the exact project but Scullin and I had been speaking on and off through out the morning session of the class and nearly immediately after lunch he yoinked me from the class and whisked me down to the library.

Now if any of you have not had the pleasure to be taken on an adventure to the library with Mr. Scullin then you have truly truly missed out. It went as any trip to the grocery store goes while having resistant young children can go. Someone gets dragged down and isle and things get thrown at them. Save I wasn't resisting. By the time Scullin had finished I had like four tons of books in my arms. Needless to say he had roughly the same in his. Teetering desperately trying not to lose control of this massive stack of books I headed for the table in the center-ish of the room.

There he began once more to tear through the books and by the time he had sifted through everything I had what roughly three weeks worth of reading in my hands. He didn't tell me to read so much as look at them. He told me to ignore the words on the page and just look at how they are placed and how the colors work with them. So I returned to class with this mass of books in tow. In that stack I had yet to really dig into was a book on graffiti (I'll never understand why we have that book) and a book by the man David Carson.

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Now if you know absolutely nothing about him or what he does I'll be brief. The man has no degree in design. He has one, of that I can assure you, but it's in sociology. So what leaves him qualified to design let alone teach? It's his lack of fear. The mans fearless and nothing about design seems to phase him. Yes he see's it. Yes he does it. But aside from that where does his genius come from? If you look at the images any type snob, myself included, would rage at first glance at the type layout. But! BUT! If you take a step back and look at it. Turn off that nearly OCD drive to want to fix it. You see his genius.

Using different font sizes, different fonts, colors, and paragraph styles he gives a sense of hierarchy. What must be read first and what can be left for later. When he talks he doesn't seem super intelligent. But if there is one thing I've come to notice throughout all his talks or articles written through interview with him. His key message is to just try. He may not come out and say it directly. He may not even say it at all. But the man encourages us all to be the fearless designer and just throw our ideas out there. So What say the rest of you? Shall we be fearless? Should we not be afraid to fail? Should we just try and have an adventure with our designs? I think we should.

To enjoy the "David Carson on Design + Discovery" TED talk, go here.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Nothing Is Beatle-Proof!

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by Jessica Messerschmidt

At first I struggled to find a topic mostly because I wanted to post about something that would interest people and not just inform. Not that informing isn’t important! I stumbled upon the idea for this blog entry in my "History of Rock and Roll" class (which is an awesome class I might add). Sooo… being a fan of the Beatles, as I am sure many of you are also, I'd like to talk about the 1968 Beatles movie “ Yellow Submarine”.

Heinz (ketchup!) Edelmann, was the man who designed and illustrated the comically hallucinogenic landscape of Pepperland for the animated film. This is the work that he became famous for. Unfortunately he is not with us anymore. He was 75 and lived through the 60s and 70s so I am sure he lived a bad-ass life.

In the 1960s he was experimenting with a stylized, soothingly fluid, almost Art Nouveau like manner with a modernized twist. The style of his work specifically for this film was typical for the era in its graphic, psychedelic and whimsical ways. The use of color and organic feeling corresponded perfectly with the nature of the time and music interpretation. The work was extremely imaginative. Nothing made sense but at the same time it made complete sense to the minds that chose to interpret it.

I’d like to say that this style and all that has influenced it is inspiring to me specifically. In my work I tend to lean towards a very stylized and colorfully graphic approach. It’s a way that I can try to entertain instantly with a playful and eye catching design.

Ironically once the film was complete, he altered his approach to avoid being categorized as a psychedelic artist, becoming considerably less airy and decorative and turning to what was on the surface his darker side. This in particular is something that I am sure many artists have a problem with.

I'll leave it with this: One of the first things Edelmann would tell a student was not to pursue a career in illustration. He believed that illustration was the quickest way to penury because, he would argue, illustrators were never adequately paid, unlike their colleagues in advertising.


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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Day Drenched In Design

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Street Smarts + Book Smarts

by Pat Mendoza

That’s how AIGA describes the 2011 offering of their 365 | Design Effectiveness. “It takes more than good looks to make a design effective.”, they say. So then what makes a design effective? Is it the historically significant packaging of Espolón brand tequila? How about the functionality of the ID badge that folds out into a map for the DIY conference? Or maybe it’s the promotional booklet reporting the remarkable awareness being created from MTV’s popular shows profiling teen pregnancies? The answer is yes. All of these projects provide a perfect balance between the customer’s needs and the designer’s creative visions. They remain value driven but still exceed their client’s expectations. They consider a target audience whilst translating across multiple platforms. But how you ask? Take a look and see for yourself.

This year’s AIGA 365 contains project briefs that range from the standard logo and type design to the skillfully zany idea of creating a fully functioning bike rack made of old parking meters. Through AIGA’s design archives I was able to digitally retrace my rain-soaked footsteps and look over the work again without fear of damaging the design with my dripping wet fingers. Fortunately for me, the return to the featured projects introduced me to a small firm from Washington D.C by the name of Design Army (click here to download the July/August 2009 spread on Design Army in Communication Arts). Design Army has been selected to have ten projects featured in this year’s exhibit including the aforementioned bike rack and a brilliant concept of a tag-less To/From wrapping paper. A paper for the “wrapping challenged” if you will. The piece that stood out to me, however, is the same project that gripped me in the gallery; a poster promoting a musical titled Chess. I remember looking over this piece at length while in the gallery, and looking at it again, this time on my dazzling MacBook Pro screen, I can remember why. The use of the shape of a queen chess piece to form the negative space of a woman’s heel? Brilliant. The use of purple to allude to the queen’s prominence in the story coupled with its attention-grabbing compliment of orange to shape the figure of a woman’s leg and high heel shoe? Imperial. Perfectly laid and margined type? Scrupulous. I don’t just want to find out more about the musical. I want this poster to hang on my wall. Unfortunately, revisiting this particular piece brings back a sense of bitter-sweetness. While I appreciate the memorable characteristics of this poster, I only wish I took notice to the creative minds behind it while still in the gallery, so that I would have been able to look over some more of their selections. If only there was a way for the college to facilitate a field trip to this firm, similar to ones in the past, so that students were able to dive further into their creative processes… Oh well, I’m just a kid with a dream.

Anyway, my latest journey to the Big Apple led me on a saturating tour of the SoHo neighborhood, a mind-freeing lunch with friends, and a viewing of some of the most outstanding work the design field has to offer. All culminating with another awe-inspiring moment back where it all begins; Times Square. But through all my sights and travels I believe the true inspiration lies in the city itself. In the town full of opportunity. Diversity. Evolution. It’s only fair that effective design be so important in a city moving at such a fast pace. It’s a jungle out there. One that requires a harmonization of book smarts and street smarts. Move forward and stand out, or get passed by in a New York minute.

(For more on our NYC trip, go here. – Ed.)

(click image to link to exhibit site)

Thursday, September 22, 2011


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by Tom Dombrosky

My interest in Pandora's redesign pertains more to web design. Pandora just recently changed their website and they are one of the first websites to use HTML5. HTML5 still is in development and supports HTML1, XHTML1 and DOM2HTML. HTML5 is probably better for Pandora than other websites because they stream music. And while Pandora once relied completely on Flash, they no longer do. They converted to HTML5 making apps for smartphones and iphones more conducive to Pandora. Without Flash, Pandora made a more simplistic and clean website that still offers more features than their previous website.

The music player is now prominent and the album art is expanded, all for a more visual experience. Many people stopped using Pandora long ago because it was difficult to use. This inspires me to create a clean, visually appealing website and to stay on top of my websites design.


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by Meagan Kelso

Originally I was going to write about the movie I saw in advertising. As it was very inspiring, but as life usually does, it took a crazy and unexpected turn. Recently I lost a really close friend of mine. She died in a car accident along with another friend while two more kids I went to school with were injured.

I had known her for around nine years. When we got to high school she was in my art classes. As time went on we became good friends. There was a small group of us kids that became really close in our time during art club and art classes. We ended up becoming close, and we spent our first year at PCAD together. We were even thinking about living together. She’s even the one who convinced me to buy a Hyundai, which was the worst advice she had ever given me. She was so carefree, fun, and full of life. It’s hard for me to accept that a person so alive is now gone.

When my best friend sent me a text on Wednesday September 21st, I was almost back to my apartment. I was coming home from class. I never expected what I read next, “there was a car accident…ben and tasha are dead.” I got out of my car and sent back one simple word, “No”. I thought it was some kind of sick joke. I could picture her perfectly in my head, laughing, happy and alive. The first thing I did when I got inside was go to her Facebook page. I mean certainly if something like that had happened the whole world would have stood still. I thought maybe if I got on and looked at her wall, there would be a status update saying she was in her room watching TV with her dog, but all I saw were comments saying R.I.P. – and that’s when it hit me.

Although this is a tragic event, out of death comes life. And through our life we encounter many forms of inspiration. And death can also inspire. Her short life has shown me that we can’t just sit around and wait for things to happen. We all have to sit in the driver's seat and take the wheel. We have to be active and make our own decisions. We have to find inspiration in anything we can because we only have a short time here. We need to look at things in life and hold them close. Never take anyone, anything, or any opportunity for granted. And although I will miss Tasha like crazy, she will always live on through her art and through the art of all her friends. I love you Tasha, you were an inspiration to everyone you knew, and you will continue to inspire even after you’re gone.

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Monday, September 19, 2011


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Check out the re-branding campaign for the Chester Zoo in North West England. It's low concept, high impact and something that's surely going to get a reaction out of both the zoo's visitors and the design community.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


by Nicholas Belcher

Most of this list is stuff everyone in the design program here at PCA&D should already know. Some of it's advice we've heard before, but there's something here for everyone to try.

The ones I really enjoy specifically are: #9 ("Listen to Music"), #10 ("Be OPEN"), #11 ("Surround yourself with creative people"), #17 ("Go somewhere new"), #21 (which is bolded in the list and self-explanatory), and I especially love #25 ("Stop trying to be someone else's perfect"). I believe 25 can be taken a couple different ways, because in our field, we do deal with clients who want something very very specific. But we do have to try and push our (in our eyes) better ideas and see where it gets us at least. We're all into design because we love doing it, but sometimes you just gotta try something new and I think this list shows some good ideas.

If you never "free write" for inspiration, you should consider trying it. If music has never been an inspiration, perhaps give it a shot when looking for inspiration. I just thought this list was a good outline to keep in mind as we continue our adventure into the waters of graphic design. In the words of Pat Mendoza; "as we get 'waist deep' this year before becoming completely submerged in the world of design after graduation."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


(click image to enlarge [but not by much!])

by Lisa DeAngelo

I'm not the type to watch a lot of television. In fact, I currently don't have cable. For the most part I don't miss its distracting qualities, but when it's available I do like to indulge. When I'm not watching the Food Network (my favorite channel), you'll most likely catch me watching Comedy Central.

It's a channel that has provided me with much entertainment through the years. I mean, who doesn't like a good laugh? Plus, I give the network major props for reviving one of my all-time favorite cartoons, Futurama (Bender rocks, BTW. Just saying.). Speaking of revival, Comedy Central is no stranger to giving new life to old things. Example? Their logo.

When the network was born, their logo featured a simplified graphic of a globe. A cityscape pops out from the representation of the United States, showing cute, little “broadcasting lines” coming from a building's antenna. The network's name proudly pops out in yellow on a banner that bares resemblance to a film canister. This old school logo is illustrative and creative, but it has a lot of things going on in it! Even though I look back fondly on this one, I have to admit less is more sometimes. I'm not surprised the logo eventually got simplified.

Early in the new millennium, Comedy Central felt the need to freshen up their logo. The new version had a similar concept but it was much more type-driven. All-caps make the name of the network bold and noticeable in front of circular shape below it. Buildings still pop out from above the network's name, but this time they are more stylized. The countries on the globe also were changed to look like a talk bubble, but it still resembles the old logo, having a tiny bit poking out from underneath the text. I like what they did with it. They stuck to some old themes, simplifying it in a stylish and hip way.

Now, to the most recent changes in the logo... The current one hasn't existed for very long, but it's certainly stirred up controversy in the year of its existence. I'm not going to lie, the first time I saw it, I was shocked. It seemed so different. So corporate looking! In all its simplicity, the logo is made solely from text. A “C” is centered inside another backwards “C”, looking strangely like an incomplete copyright symbol. The network's name is also displayed, having the word “Central” upside-down to mimic the other switched up “C”.

It was hard to comprehend at first, but the logo totally grew on me... It's kind of humorous actually, which I guess is appropriate. The new logo looks structured and silly all at the same time. Also, as drastic as the changes to the logo are, the new logo still stays true to the circular imagery each of the old logos possess. Plus, so much can be done with this one. It can be scaled as big or small as you want, it's only one color so it makes it incredibly easy to incorporate on TV and print and it now has a nifty icon that is instantly recognizable.

Not everyone likes the new logo. Some people have made fun of it... But if the logo made you laugh somehow, didn't it do it's job?

Someone made up a twitter account for the logo. Needless to say, it's hilarious. Check it out.

Friday, September 9, 2011


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THE 2011 CREW:
(back row, l-r) Mindy Tang, Christa Zinner, Sally Yacovelly,
Lisa DeAngelo, Meagan Kelso, Tom Dombrosky, Jessica Messerschmidt
(front row, l-r) Patrick Mendoza, Nicholas Belcher, Gene Testa

This course focuses on corporate identity and brand development — the varied uses of the mark and brand — showing the power that visual communication components must achieve. Emphasis is placed on strong, viable solutions and techniques of approach. Projects range from personal branding (mark, stationery system, and résumé), to re-branding logo design and collateral, including literature design and other peripheral materials.