Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Critique: From boys to men

For my first assignment in advanced design, I had to come up with a cover and feature design for the Feb. 4 issue of VOX. The story was written by an intermediate writing student a few months ago. It talks about how in the U.S., there really isn't a mile marker for when a boy becomes a man. The reporter talked to several younger XYs in Columbia and even some that have graduated and have stable jobs, all of which agree they haven't yet crossed the threshold of manhood. Along with the story, I was given a few environmental photos, by Patrick Fallon, and studio shots of a "boy" and a "man."

I wasn't given photos of all of the "boys" in question and the photo illustration, to me, just didn't tell the story I wanted to convey. I created some word associations to try and figure out how I wanted to have the content drive my design. Initially, I thought of a ruler that measures how tall a man is, the notches depicting the steps a boy must take to reach manhood. I am not as good with illustrator than I am with a camera, and we had less than a week to execute our ideas, so I decided to shoot some photos myself and come up with objects that could represent both stages. I worked with a glass of beer, a video game controller, a tie, some nice loafers and a pair of chucks. The two images I wanted to tie together — the controller and the tie — came out well in a couple of the photos, so I used them for my cover and feature design.

I dropped the white background and coordinated colors according to the colors in the tie. I also had the deck wrap around the controller because I thought it would act as a nice balance to the heavy photo on the left. I tweaked the cover line font a bit so that it had a minor outer glow and could be distinguished from the other text on the page (not that the size did that already).

I used a similar illustration to drive my feature on the inside pages. It had to be four pages long. Seeing as the text was only about 1700 words, it took some stretching. I realized once I placed another controller/tie image on a white background that I should have taken more care to cut it out of the photo. I played it big because I thought that explained things better than anything else could. I kept large gutters between the legs of type to keep the idea of two separate worlds of boys and men. What do you think?

I am not entirely in love with my concept or design. Like I said, I was given less than a week, some not-so-helpful photos and a lot of space to work with. I understand the execution problem talked about in class, and I definitely need to work on my pen tool skills. One thing I thought worked really well, though, was the color scheme I used on both the cover and the feature page. The orange/gold/red mix, I feel, is a masculine set of colors, but still easy to design with.

Coming soon to a blog near you: spring preview! This design I am much more excited about, and I think I may have gone a little overboard. I'm not going to reveal too much, but a little sneak peek wouldn't be bad, would it?

As for other things I am charged with working on and thinking about... My first assigned feature is coming up and it highlights the different barber shops in Columbia. I am supposedly getting photos of all of said shops and maybe even a shaved-head photo illustration. After spring preview business, barber shop brainstorming will really take off.

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