Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Critique: Understanding rap battles and the complexity of Title IX

So, this week I turned in my final cover concept for the 3/25 issue of VOX. I got to use some pretty awesome photos from a photo-j student's studio shots of some of the local battlers. There's a lot of prepositions in that sentence, and I apologize. Anyway, the design I submitted is a lot tamer than the other ones I have shown to VOX, but I wanted to keep it simple so that the rappers' personalities would shine through the photo. I used three layers of the photo to have the text interacting with the people in the photo, but I might have made the text even smaller if I redid it. Even though my design wasn't chosen this time, I am happy with the decision they made. Bailey's design was really cool, had more of the VOX voice and was definitely more colorful. Way to go Bailey!

I also submitted my final feature for VOX for the semester, which kind of makes me happy inside. Now I can just work on my Web site and the Meredith project. A lot of weight off my shoulders, you know? Anyway. Title IX. It got off to a rocky start. Mainly because I had no idea what to do with it. At first it didn't really have a specific angle, then it did but needed more voices. Luckily, I had worked with the editor on the piece before, and the reporter is VOX's assistant art director. Without that communication thing I had talked about before, this design would have fallen to pieces. I think the final turned out really good. I will add photos when I nab them off the server tomorrow.

Response: Fear and Creativity and template presentations

I don't know about anyone else in class (Actually, I do. I talked to some of them about it), but the "Fear and Creativity" worksheet Jan gave us really got me thinking about my design style. Or lack thereof. Maybe. How am I a magician in my work? A revolutionary? A poet? Um, well... I don't really know. I came up with some good answers though. At least I think they are good. They really stemmed from my insistence on creativity in the newsroom, whether it be a magazine, newspaper or advertising agency. Good communication is one of the things I like to stress in showing people my clips. Some of the amazing things I have come up with wouldn't have been amazing if it weren't for communicating with the others involved. I would have had bad experiences and it wouldn't have been the best-possible product.

This week, the creative directors of all the Meredith groups presented templates and logos to the publishers and professors involved in the projects. It didn't go as smoothly as many would have liked, but I think everyone learned something. Whether it was that the publishers need to really decide what they want or that the designers need to involve other creative styles in their designs, it was a pretty good experience. I will say, however, that some of the questions and minute details that were picked apart were very nit-picky. Maybe they had to be? Heads up, guys. (52 days!)

You can't miss: How awesome CS5 is going to be.

I am not sure if you guys have seen anything advertising Adobe Creative Suite 5 yet, but this video tweeted by one of my friends is just phenomenal. There is this new feature that is a "content filler" that basically reads the image and fills in what should be in certain parts of it. It is not quite perfect, but some of the this it is doing are just amazing. It does, however, lend poorly to the photo-manipulation issues some photographers are facing. It will make it 1,000 times easier to delete things from photos, making people and places prettier and just overall not-journalism. We'll see where this goes, but you have to admit, CS5 is going to be INsane.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

You can't miss: More supercool resumes

OK, OK, so I know I have blogged about awesome resumes before (so have some of my classmates), but I keep finding some that are really really awesome. When this class' craziness is over, I am going to beautify my resume. So I say... Anyway, I found a site that highlights "45 Creative Resumes to Seize Attention." The one to my left is one of my favorites. Like the article's title, it really gets me interested, you know? I want to read the whole resume now. I also appreciate the color choices. It isn't too overly dramatic with the colors, but it has enough to look exciting and highlight what needs to be highlighted. So pretty!

Critique: Befriending Flash and rap battling

This week, I worked on my multimedia project for VOX. I was initially supposed to be doing the project for an online-only feature last week, but it got promoted to a print feature for this week. It was kind of nice that way though. I got to work with the AMAZING feature designers (Elise, Kathryn and Laura) and come up with a design that complemented AND complimented the feature. I used the icons Elise created and came up with a grid design that could equally showcase each recreation vignette. I also messed around some with Flash's animation. I made the headline letters sparkle! Find it here!

I also presented three cover concepts for the 3/25 issue. The story was not a feature but a department story on rap battles! Gogo music section! Anyway, My three ideas took on very different themes. The first one is a literal translation of a battle. The army guys are throwing grenade-mics at each other... get it? My second one is typographic treatment of some rap lyrics. (The actual cover would have better lyrics, of course.) And the third concept was a personality shot of one of the local rappers. After watching some of the videos, it was clear that some of the people involved had very strong personalities. The editors chose the third one and I am working on that now! I teamed up with a photographer and we came up with a pretty awesome personality shot of a lot of the rappers! (photo to come... aren't you excited?)

Response: The design of design magazines

Yesterday in class we critiqued some of the design magazines out there: How, Step, Eye and Print. I was surprised by some of the designs inside. After working with 9 and 10 point font for body text, a 12 point font is insane. While we all agreed that the content of the magazines was on key and really interesting, we all had something to say about the design of these design magazines. My whole college career, I have been preched to about content-driven design, and some of these design magazines displayed anything but that. There were unnecesary body text differences and some of the typefaces were just plain boring. The only thing that I really took issue with was the body copy for Print, the magazine I looked at. It was huge!  It was fun to be able to look at all these super-expensive publications though. It would be good to own them, I think, because the information inside is so useful for designers (like me!).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

You can't miss: Font Squirrel!

So, thanks to @behoff again for my find of the week. He posted a Web site called Font Squirrel. Basically what this site does it make fonts digiatlly available to more computers for more Web sites. I'm still not quite sure how it works though. I think it is so more people download these fonts so sites can be pretty with pretty typefaces. It's also another place to find cool fonts for print designs. Really, I just like the name. Font Squirrel.

Critique: Designing under a regime and for LBB

I never really knew how Global Journalist worked. I never really looked at the magazine, to be honest, but a requirement for the Advance Design class is to design for this wonderful magazine. It is pretty cool. Journalists from all over the submit pieces and the magazine is distributed throughout 120 different countries. Pretty freaking cool. But there were some problems along the way. The magazine had just been redesigned (kinda) and we were supposed to stick to the VERY strict style rules. Aimee and Jan bargained a little and we got freedom over our headlines and pull-out blurbs — as long as it was in Franklin Gothic. I didn't have too much of a problem with this because that is one of the main fonts the Missourian uses, and there are a ton of weight choices. This was my first draft of the design:

I was assigned the photo feature (Lucky me!) and I messed with the photos a lot. I decided to run the opening photo very large on the first spread because I thought it was gorgeous. It would also elicit more responses, which is what the story is about — using photos to interview people. I used an art head, but kept it to the bottom left of the spread because I didn't want to detract from the photo. As for the second spread, I wanted to used a variety of photos, and because the story was only 500ish words (plus a mini bio, which wasn't added to this draft), I had a lot of freedom. Not much has actually changed from these drafts except my blurb, which we were supposed to have freedom over anyway. I am not exactly pleased with the final (which I will post in a few days), but I guess that's what happens in the real world with real life art directors that want to stifle creativity.

We also turned in our top five logo designs for our up-and-coming country artist, Laura Bell Bundy. (We were given permission to use her name, just not information from our interviews) Anyway, those are my final five up there. I really like the left two, and I designed more for LBB on the right three. All in all, I think it has been a long process for these things. I really hope she likes them! She will be getting at least five from each of the designers. That's at least 80 logos to look at. Pretty insane.

As for what I am working on now...

  • Three cover concepts for the 3/25 issue of VOX (remember that magazine?). They are on a couple of rap battlers in town. It should be pretty neat.
  • My second/last feature for the 4/1 issue of VOX. It is all about Title IX. I am working with the same editor as before, which is great because Kelsey is awesome, and a write that is the assistant art director for the magazine. It should be a smooth ride, but that doesn't stop me from knocking on the nearest wooden object.
  • My multimedia project is also due this weekend. Its a good thing Flash and I are friends now.
  • Last but certainly not least, the Celebrate Summer prototype. I still need to come up with colors and some fonts for Lauren. (I'm working on it, promise!)
OK, so I guess that's it for now. Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Response: True/False and POYi

The J-school and Columbia always have a plethora of things available for people/students to be involved with, and Photographer Of the Year International and the True/False Film Festival are no exceptions. Both of these events took place within the last couple of weeks and I got to witness a little bit of both of them.

I have several friends in the photojournalism sequence and they all had volunteered some hours for the photo competition. One cool thing this year was that the whole judging process was broadcast online, complete with a chat room and sound capabilities. I watched some of the photo book competition and the magazine editing competition. I really got a sense of the capacity of entries that the judges have to deal with. In these categories, the judges might start out with 500 entries and they have to narrow it down to one or two. If one judge is in a particualr mood and doesn't like anything, it can slow the process down if others have to state a case for some of the entries. Overall, I thought all of the photos were phenomenal. I some ways, POYi is more dynamic than the CPOY competition because of the little "i" at the end. It is eye-opening to see all of those photographs from places I will probably never go to.

True/False, as usual, was amazing too. I saw "Waking Sleeping Beauty," which was a very different format than I usual encounter at the festival. It was about the bureaucracy at Disney Corp. in the 1980s. All of the footage was from the 80s, but the interviews were from present day and were never shown. Regardless, the humor and kitchiness of Disney made it a great film.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Response: Talent and thanks

We all have some amazing talent. After watching most of the prototype presentations (I missed b&b and cozy, but I am sure they were amazing too), I realized how amazing all of our talents are. We are the elite. Wow this is elitist. But seriously. We pretty much rock. This is the first time I have been in a design class where everyone in the class wants to be a designer of some sort, and you can totally tell by the quality of the work. I am sure the publishing class didn't know what hit them. I don't know how I would have chosen between some of the designs I saw last Thursday. I'm sure it was difficult.

Another thing I would like to address but can't come up with a decent segway...

Getting all of those evaluations back was really helpful! I never knew what other designers thought of my work and now I know what I should work on. It came just in time for me to send an internship package off to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel too, so I did a double-take before putting together a portfolio. Even though my portfolio is currently more newspaper than magazine, I got some really helpful comments. Thanks guys!

You can't miss: Designing a typeface

So has updated its blog not as much as I had hoped it would in the past couple weeks. I have found out, though, that when it does, the entries are really interesting. Today I read a personal account of a guy that undertook the creation of a typeface that was inspired by an old building in Manhattan. All of the different steps he took and revisions he made really made me appreciate the typefaces just available to me, especially all the different weights. Maybe one day I will design a typeface... One day when I'm not so busy. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the blog!

Critique: Celebrating Summer (Or Celebrate. Man, I really need to read directions.)

This week was one of the first steps toward our special projects for an especially big magazine company. Each one of us created a prototype for our vision of the magazine we are pitching to this very important company. It was super exciting.

My group is DIY, holiday, summer, parties, etc, etc, etc. A lot for a magazine? We thought so too. But the girls in my group all came up with great ideas for the magazine. They were all very different, and I think that had a lot to do with the lack of direction. However, our publishers seemed to like them. Kudos to Lauren for winning the contest and becoming the art director!

So, to the left is my finished prototype for the magazine. Unlike my colleagues, I went for a brighter color scheme and larger logo on top of the page. My whole concept was the idea of a bunch of different puzzle pieces coming together to make an awesome summer. I used a grid and fit photos together on the front to imitate a puzzle. I thought this was a new and different way to look at a magazine cover instead of the traditional photo, logo and sell lines. I also brought out the "Your DIY guide" and placed it over the logo because I thought that it was a very important part of the magazine. I continued the grid idea on my contents page (which I got overzealous and made), too.

As for the font choices, I picked Britanica for the "Celebrating Summer" and its all caps version for the department logos. I used Grotesque for the subheads and other display type and Cambria for the body copy. I picked these fonts for their casualness and conversationality. (Neither of which are words.)

The department page, which I did on fruity drinks for summer, has the same feel, but it is less structured. The grid is more spread out, but you can still get the sense that it is there. I really wanted to lead with the photos because they are what sells magazines like these most of the time.

I wanted the feature to be different, but still recognizable as a part of the magazines. Too many times I open up a magazine to its feature and it has a completely different voice as the rest of the publication. So, to prevent that, I kept the bar running across the top of the page, but changed the display type font. I also worked even less on a grid and came up with a step-by-step design going from the full picture to each part of the party that is homemade. Yes, I went with the traditional red, white and blue, but to most people, that is the spirit of the holiday. Why differ from what people want the holiday to be?

Overall, I am very proud of my design. I never knew how hard it was to completely create a magazine — font, style, everything. I have a whole new appreciation now.

We also voted on our top 5 logos for an up-and-coming country star. We had to create 20 logos involving the star's name, initials and/or mantra and a couple of things she wanted to symbolize her. I would post my 20, but I am not sure we are allowed to do that for copyright's sake. I will say, though, that even though everyone in the class had some problems with what the client wanted in her logo, everyone had at least one logo that looked really awesome ... even if it had a horseshoe in it.