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.


  1. Thanks for this insight on the semester, Pat. Very, very cool to see.

    As an instructor, I'm always interested in knowing how students walk away from the experience we put so much into creating for the students.

    As we discussed during our final work review of the semester, the work has increased many fold since last year's studio classes and both Type 1 and 2. In other words, the evolution is indeed in progress and I look forward to working with you all again in Professional Practices & Portfolio Presentation during the senior year or in electives along the way. Until then…

  2. I couldn't have put any of this better myself, Pat. I loved watching everyone in the class grow as designers. I feel that I have grown, and I've definitely seen huge leaps by every student in the class. Design studio has been intense, but I looked forward to every single class; because I knew I'd develop even more into the designer I want to be. Can't wait to see where it takes us next semester.

    Great entry, Pat. Merry Christmas, have a safe holiday!

    Everyone else, Mr. B, same to you guys. Have a great holiday!

  3. Jessica MesserschmidtDecember 18, 2011 at 5:19 PM

    efff yeah, Pat. I know thats not the most professional way of saying it but your words were perfect.

    heres to another semester to come!

  4. Well-said Pat. I look forward to working with all of you next semester as you broaden your education and passion for design. I am always just as amazed, as you are at the growth each and every one of you accomplish.

    It is a true testament to PCA&D's mission to prepare a student for a life in art.

    Pam Barby
    Chair, Graphic Design

  5. Hard to believe it went by so fast. I remember sitting down in the class and thinking, "This will be fun." Then I blinked and here we are. Time moved so fast.

    It has been an honor and a privilege to learn and work with you all. Especially Mr.B and Pam. I have learned so much and I have only you two to thank for giving me the guidance to achieve whatever growth I have achieved.

    To everyone else, it has been a wonderful time sitting and working along side you. I look forward to the remaining 3 semesters we have together. May they be full of laughter, smiles, good grades, and the thrill of overcoming every challenge that is put before us.

  6. Pat, this is the perfect last entry of the semester in the blog. Well done!! I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said and I think each and every one of us did grow this semester, significantly, as designers.

    I also loved all of the field trips and guest speakers we had too. Definitely a privilege for us to have experienced all of that.

    Oh yeah, nice usage of "next-level maneuver" PCAD is TOTALLY NEXT LEVEL, BRO. Get on that! :D