Hi everyone … Here’s some advice, encouragement and a few warnings from my Fall 2012 students, who were asked to write to you about the five most important things they learned. These are in no particular order, and there’s great stuff at the end, too.
My advice about this advice? Take heed.
(For those of you who just can’t get enough, the post right after this one is from a previous year. Only the 2012 comments are required.)
Dear students about to embark on the adventure that is GRA 217/218, here are the 5 most valuable things I have learned from this class …
1) If at first you don’t succeed, try again (and then again and again). At first the idea of a critique really freaked me out. I was confident of my first submission each project after I spent hours upon hours working on them. How much better could I really make them?! A lot. The critiques given by Professor Strong were incredibly helpful. She gave a professional and fresh perspective on the work that I had been staring at endlessly. Instead of being upset about the feedback, I understood the critique and became reenergized about the project.
2) If you don’t LOVE your idea to start with, you’ll HATE it by the end. For each project I chose an organization/idea/event that I was invested in and passionate about. As said before, you are going to be spending a lot of time on these projects. If you go with an idea that you aren’t crazy about in the beginning, then you will be sick of it by the time it is due. It is better to go with a more challenging idea that you can resonate with than one that just seems easier to execute. If you have a personal tie to something then it will push you to make your project better.
3) Stop and smell the daisies. There were times that I became so worried about finishing a project that I didn’t take the time to pause, walk away, and then reflect on the work. There are instances when inspiration and ideas will come to you if you give yourself the chance to evaluate what you have done so far. Furthermore, good design and ideas are every where. Sometimes we hit a block and just stare at the screen. I found it helpful to ‘take a lap’. For one of the projects I couldn’t decide what my visual should be and I was really hitting a wall. I took a little break and went to get a snack. Low and behold a cereal box was left out on the counter and with a cartoon character on the front. It inspired me to draw my visual instead of use an image.
4) Sketches are your friend. It is much easier, and will save you a lot of time, if you make several sketches to really flesh out your ideas. They are required for a reason. At first I thought they were silly, but sketches are the place where a good idea can transform into a great idea, and where you can easily try something, mess up, and erase it.
5) Ask for help. If you are wondering if your project looks good, as someone! Ask Prof. Strong, your TA, or the student sitting next to you in class. There’s no shame in asking for help or a suggestion (just take into account who is answering your question). You may encounter a lot of challenges, whether conceptually, technically or ascetically. If you allow yourself to ask for help, you might receive some advice that can spark a solution. It might also result in criticism, but like I said earlier, criticism is healthy and will make your final product stronger.
Those are the most important things I learned. It was a challenging semester, but I learned so much about graphics and life in general.
Keep calm and design on.
1. Office hours are imperative. I have always been one of those students hesitant to approach professors with questions about projects, but this class helped me overcome that hesitation right away. Even though my schedule conflicted with most of the hours, the iChat hours were a godsend! Talking to Professor Strong about your progress on a project and being able to see suggestions and opinions right on the screen is so helpful. I am so glad I didn’t decide to just “wing it” or “go it alone” with any of these projects; Professor Strong’s input helped me understand what makes up good design, and allowed me to improve from project to project. It’s not just about the grade you get — it’s about understanding the nature of good design, and talking to an expert is just about the best way to do that!
2. The rationale is important. As a PR major, my strong suit is writing, not design. I’m proud to say I learned to strengthen my knowledge and ability in the field of design exponentially this semester, but my go-to strength still lies in the written word. By taking the rationale seriously on every project, I was able to not only explain to Professor Strong my intentions and the reasoning behind my design decisions, but also to learn more about why I did what I did, myself. Sometimes while writing the rationale, I would realize that something I did really couldn’t be “rationalized,” and I would change it! I learned to not just sum up everything I did — instead, I would go a step further, and truly think hard about why. It helped me grow as a design student, even if I didn’t notice as it is happening.
3. Budget your time. In the beginning of the semester, I would set up my schedule for the week and push my project to one single day. I would do my other work throughout the week, sketch/think in my free time, and then plan to spend the entire Sunday in a Newhouse lab cranking out a draft. Don’t. Do. This. I learned quickly that this wasn’t the best solution. I eventually learned to give myself time to get the creative juices flowing, play around with things, try different things, and just let myself have some breathing room when I got so frustrated I couldn’t look at the screen anymore. Design isn’t something that can be forced or squeezed into a certain time slot; it happens when it happens, so learning to work a little bit at a time and have frequent brainstorm/”trial” sessions in the labs helped me a lot.
4. Software is not as scary as it seems. I was honestly terrified at the beginning of this class. I had used InDesign a few times in high school when I helped design our school paper, but I was by no means an expert, and had barely touched any of the other programs. The thought of executing an entire project in Photoshop or Illustrator was nerve-wracking. After I talked to my friends who are designers, went to labs and got help from my TA, and just allowed myself time to play around with each of the programs — and googled things whenever I got stuck — I felt so much better. I realized that the software is just a tool, like Professor Strong said from the beginning. Once I had a concrete idea or image in my head, it was only a matter of figuring out which pen/lasso/brush tool to make it happen. Now, I feel confident in using each of the programs, and I’m ready to take on projects for other classes!
5. Design is fun. It sounds corny, but it’s true. I had always heard horror stories about the projects in GRA 217, so I was approaching the class with a mix of curiosity and dread in the beginning. Once I got started, I realized that among all of the frustration, stress and time-crunching, I was actually having fun working on these projects. I learned so much — not only on the computer, but also in my brain as I now understand so much more about the purpose and basis of design — and from the resume to the iPad magazine, the design process (as crazy as it can be) has been enjoyable. I’ve learned important skills that can be used in future classes and in the “real world,” and I also enjoyed lecture. Before taking the class, I wondered how one could talk for an hour and a half about design twice a week, but now I understand that design is so much more complex and interesting that I initially assumed — two lectures a week is minimal. The documentaries were interesting, the powerpoints were engaging, and the projects — though stressful and sometimes headache-inducing — were fun. I really enjoyed the class!
I learned so much during this class and listing only five is difficult. BUT…
1.) Talk to Professor Strong. So many times I was either blinded by an original idea that I couldn’t seem to get past, or my creative juices just needed a little boost, or I just needed some confirmation for an idea before I could let myself go with it, and a ten minute conversation with Professor Strong fixed my problem every time. She has so many ideas, and when you go to office hours, she throws out a multitude of suggestions within minutes, and so often I was able to take a suggestion and make it something great. So GO TO OFFICE HOURS. You will not be sorry.
2.) SKETCH SKETCH SKETCH! You will hear Professor Strong say that and you will probably think you’re above it—you’re not. So just do it.
3.) CONTRAST is your answer to everything. Really listen to Professor strong when she talks about this; it is vital. Also remember it for the last day of class, you’ll win jeopardy.
4.) Don’t procrastinate. My best projects were the ones that I worked on for a half hour everyday. I was able to come back to it with a fresh point of view, and it often led to improvements that I would never thought of had I just sat down and done it in one shot. It will seem SO much easier if you just put a little work in every day.
5.) Keep it simple. You’ll hear Professor Strong say it, but before you hand in your project, take away anything that isn’t vital. Sometimes, a simple push of the delete button made all the difference in my final project.
If i’m being completely honest, I went into this class knowing how to do absolutely nothing related to graphic design. I probably couldn’t have told you the difference between inDesign and Photoshop. I had no previous training in any of the programs we used throughout the semester. Frankly, I was pretty terrified and almost positive that I wasn’t going to do well.
Somehow, throughout this semester, I’ve not only learned how to use all these programs but I learned that I can actually create. I don’t know if that makes any sense but I mean that I have the ability to create a strong concept or idea and then use these tools to design something around it. The projects that we worked on weren’t simply to prove that we knew the ropes in computer programs. We had to create posters, magazines, and websites that were compelling, that were cohesive and that made sense. I learned the ins and outs of these different things and how the tiniest of changes can make something completely different. Just the change of a few words in a slogan can make something more relatable. Cropping a photo a little differently can allow you to reach a whole other audience. I feel like there are so many little nuggets of information I learned along the way in this class that will stick with me as I travel through my advertising major in Newhouse.
The semester started out pretty rough for me. It wasn’t that I couldn’t complete the projects, it was that my work wasn’t getting to where I wanted it to be. I had trouble getting the grand ideas from my head down onto paper and then into a computer program. I started going to office hours every week to try and learn what exactly it was that I was doing wrong or what else I could find out to improve my work. There were some rough times, some bad grades, some disappointment, but I can do so much more now than I ever thought possible. When I look at all the work I’ve done, regardless of the grade, i’m proud of it because it was something completely new for me.
Something that will definitely stick with me is that I really learned about what graphic design is. A lot of people, myself included (before), believe that graphic design is using inDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator to make something. We learned throughout the semester that graphic design is communicating with people and not just with the obvious graphics but also with words. Everything a designer puts down in their work has to have a reason, it has to have meaning. There can be nothing superfluous. DESIGN IS INTENTIONAL. Trust me, I’ll never forget that. I learned that the goal of a graphic designer isn’t to create a poster that will make people say, “oh, that’s pretty!” but to get people to think about the message and feel something. Essentially, we were supposed to create projects that evoked emotion, that people could relate to – not just a pretty picture. We didn’t just learn the technical stuff, we learned about the thought processes and design processes of graphic design.
This semester has been amazing and despite the rough patches, I’m so happy with how everything turned out and to have been a part of this class!
Lesson 1: Take your time with design. I learned that in order to create a high quality design that is meaningful and effective, you have to take your time with the design process. It literally isn’t possible to sit down at the computer and crank out a good-looking poster in one sitting. In the beginning, that is what I tried to do with my projects, and I ended up getting frustrated. About halfway through the poster project, I learned that it’s normal for projects to take a while. It’s definitely more beneficial to spend time away from the computer brainstorming and sketching than to just jump right onto InDesign or Photoshop to begin the final design process.
Lesson 2: Good design is simple. Before this class, I had never used any of the Adobe programs. When I finally learned how to do all the fancy tricks on InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, it was tempting to go all out with the design of my resume, poster, and website. I thought in order to get a good grade, my designs had to be extravagant. However, after being critiqued on the over-embellishment of my poster and website, I realized that good design does not have to outdo itself with bright colors and unnecessary features. The best design is simple and functional, and I’m glad I learned this in time for the iPad Magazine assignment.
Lesson 3: Anyone can design. When I first walked into this class, I had never used an Adobe program before and basically thought I was incapable of designing anything (let alone an iPad magazine!) However, after learning the basics of the Adobe programs and understanding what makes a good design, I realized that I was more creative than I thought. You don’t have to be an expert at InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator in order to make a great design; like I said earlier, the best designs are simple. After I realized this, I became more confident in my ability to design and felt a lot better about the class.
Lesson 4: Other’s opinions are important! No matter how much you like your design, it is super important to get other people’s opinions on it as well. I designed things for this class that I totally loved, but then I had a friend or professor point out a flaw that I’d never noticed before. It’s very helpful to get someone’s unbiased opinion on your work, because they are more likely to see potential problems than you are.
Lesson 5: Have fun with your designs. Before coming into this class, I had heard that it was a TON of work and a lot to handle. It’s true: this class is a ton of work. But it definitely doesn’t have to be unenjoyable! As I became more comfortable designing, I actually looked forward to going to the Newhouse labs, putting on my music, and working on projects for a few hours. While design truly intimidated me at the start of this class, I actually found myself truly enjoying it. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to discover another part of communications that I really like.
1. Start as soon as you get a project. Good design doesn’t come from ‘last-minute thoughts.’ It is impossible to have good designs if you wait until the last minute to start the projects. There is so much time and effort that goes into producing a project, and getting started as soon as a project is assigned is key to staying on schedule and producing good designs.
2. Be open-minded. Sometimes it is hard to take critique, especially in class when it seems like everyone hates what you’ve just spent 10 hours working on, but ultimately you will end up with a final project that combines great ideas you would have never thought to include yourself. Don’t take the negativity to heart.
3. Have an intention. Whenever you place anything on a document, you must know what function that thing serves. If that thing adds nothing to the functionality of the design-get rid of it! Simplicity is key.
4. Create contrast. Have a good balance of contrast in your work. You want your work to be eye catching, but not over powering. In meetings with Professor Strong, contrast was always mentioned. I either had too much contrast or too little contrast. I’ve learned that having a mixture is right where you want your work to fall on the contrast spectrum.
5. Work on a grid. At first I thought working on a grid wasn’t that important, and that I could just place text or objects where I wanted. However I learned that working on a grid really helps alleviate stress. I was constantly second-guessing if that text was too far over, or if it should be moved. Once I started using a grid, I stopped second-guessing and things fell into place. My projects looked neater, and were actually less stressful when using a grid.
6. BONUS! Design is everywhere! Ever since I have taken this course, I notice things everywhere that have good design or poor design. I can’t help but to take mental notes on how to improve on a design on a poster I see, or a website that is incredibly user-frustrating. You will start to evaluate everything in your life based on design and how to make it better to meet your needs.
1. Simplicity is key. You can never have too much white spice and it’s always a good to delete things rather than add. Sometimes you are sitting working on a project and you want to fill the page with everything you can think of. Wrong. It’s better to realize that less is more and go back and just delete and keep deleting.
2. Sketch, Sketch, Sketch. It is just that simple. You need a good place to start and sketching is the perfect thing. It is always a good idea to have an idea of what you are doing before you do it. There have been times when I have no idea what to do but the second I start drawing out the little idea, the bigger ones come from there. It’s also a good way to stay organized and have your thoughts on a page, instead of stuck in your head. The littlest sketches matter.
3. Just because you aren’t a graphics major, doesn’t mean you can’t create great things. I say this because when I first got to class I was so overwhelmed about all the programs and terms I was introduced too. I took a step back and realized that just like any other subject, learning the material takes time and effort. Each process is walked through step by step and your small ideas can become master pieces if you try.
4. What you put in, is what you get out. If you don’t try or plan ahead, you will not do well. Since the first day of class I knew that I had to put a lot of time and effort into my work. I didn’t mind because I really liked being able to manipulate certain designs and create my own work. Selling yourself short by saying you can’t do graphics or it’s too hard is one of the worst things you can do. Being able to deal with the stress and frustration is what makes going through this class worth while. The hours and time you put in will only benefit you and your projects in the end.
5. You will get frustrated. The worst feeling is not getting a design right or not having the thought in your head get onto the page. The best thing is to get up and walk away. Taking breaks is the only way to work through a project. You can spend multiple hours sitting in Newhouse and working on your project but at a certain point the frustration kicks in and you will not have a clear head. You need to think clearly and positively to get through projects.
Going into this class I was scared, to be honest. I knew that I had struggled with art and creativity in the past and I knew this class would be hard for me. It definitely was challenging and I had to spend a lot of outside of class time in the lab tinkering with images and text to create my projects. However, comparing my iPad magazine to my poster, I know how far I have come. I am very proud of how my projects turned out and I think it is great to be able to showcase the effort and things I learned throughout the semester. However, with all of the InDesign and Photoshop tricks aside, I think what I learned the most in this class was to believe in myself.
As cheesy as that sounds, I cannot think of a greater lesson than that. I knew that I would work hard in this class from the beginning but I didn’t realize how much I would grow. I didn’t believe that I had it in me to create as much as I did. Knowing that I grew so much as a designer and as a creator in this short semester, I know that when I apply myself and put in the time and dedication, I can truly accomplish any obstacles … including Photoshop. I’m not sure what exactly is in store for me in the years ahead, but I do know that after this semester, I can handle anything.
GRA 217 will teach you so many things. When I first entered this class, I didn’t have high expectations for myself. I went into the class telling myself I just had to get through it, and now that I’m leaving the class, I can’t believe how far I’ve come and how much I underestimated both myself and all the things this class could teach me. One lesson that I think we all learned is that this class is a major requirement for a reason.
1. Sometimes you just have to keep clicking. I can’t tell you how many times I was ready to give up on something because I didn’t know where it was and, after just clicking around for a few minutes, figured it out myself. Learning the programs can be really difficult, especially if you’ve never had any experience with them, but the only way to get better at them and understand them is to keep clicking around. Eventually, you’ll understand most of, if not all, of the buttons and have a much better understanding of the programs. Don’t alter your design because you’re not sure how to get it to look the way you want it. Just keep trying things until you find a solution. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but it’s so satisfying when you’ve figured it out yourself and achieve the look you want.
2. Graphic design is everywhere. This class will make you see and think about things in a completely different way. Everything has been designed and everything has a thought process behind it. You’ll learn that there are reasons for everything. Take note of your surroundings and look for inspiration everywhere.
3. Less is more. Simplicity is everything when it comes to design. Editing isn’t just something writers do. As a graphic design student, one of the biggest part of your design process is editing yourself. As you learn when writing your rationales, everything has a reason. If there’s an element on the page that you can’t justify, it doesn’t need to be there. Sometimes people feel the need to keep adding things to the page because it doesn’t look “designed” enough. But the best design doesn’t look like it has been “designed,” it just is.
4. Get feedback on your work. Though sometimes it can be difficult to hear, getting feedback from others on the work that you’re doing is so useful. Take advantage of office hours, make sure your project is one of the first ones on the server so it gets discussed in class, show your design to your friends, family. Graphic design is a way of communicating, and if your design isn’t communicating what you want it to to others, it’s not serving its purpose. You don’t have to take every piece of advice that you’re given, but do take advice. Looking back on my projects, it’s amazing to see the difference in quality of work from first draft to final draft, and all of that comes from seeking advice and making changes.
5. Don’t underestimate yourself. Most people in this class aren’t graphic design majors and most don’t have experience using the Adobe Creative Suite. I remember critiquing classmates’ resume projects and thinking to myself, ‘Wait a minute, how did they make such an amazing resume? They’re not a graphic design major.’ Don’t let the buttons and the fancy names scare you off. That’s how I approached things at first. But when I saw some of the work that my classmates were creating, without experience, I realized that good design isn’t limited to people with experience. I could make something great too. Should you expect yourself to get an A on every project and never have to do a revise? Of course not. But don’t expect to turn out mediocre work just because you’ve never done it before. I’m so happy with everything I made in this class and, to my surprise, have truly come to enjoy graphic design.
Here are five of the most important things I learned this year during GRA217:
1. Good design takes time
You can’t whip anything up quickly. That doesn’t work. Good design takes attention to detail. Anything designed well is 100% intentional, and you can never get that by luck. It’s going to take a few extra hours in front of the computer/sketchbook to really get that great design concept on the page.
2. Good design takes time away from the actual design process
Give yourself time away from the project for your design brain to rest. Start early and rest often instead of saving it all for the last week before the project is due. Some of my better ideas I had just thinking about my projects instead of sketching or actually designing. those are important steps too, but I think the rest periods are a little underrated as fair as brainstorming potential goes.
3. Get feedback from everyone
Your roommate is going to have different things to say than your TA and your TA will have different opinions than your professor. Obviously it’s the most important to talk to your professor often, but it never ever hurts to show your work and get first impressions from everyone you know who has ever touched graphic design. That said, it’s super important to go to office hours often and early to make sure you’re getting the most valuable feedback of all, your professor’s, as often as possible.
4. Try to notice design everywhere
While doing the poster projects, look at posters. While working on the magazine, look at magazines. During the website project, browse websites that look great. And always always always look at photos. These things never hurt, and it’s so important to learn what looks good and what doesn’t and this is a great way to train your eye. try to notice everything.
5. Be creative and do fun things
I enjoyed my design projects. If I hadn’t, I would have failed this class. Make sure you chose projects that you’re excited to do and have great creative ideas for. Doing projects that you love and genuinely represent you will have so much more meaning to you in the end, and they’ll also be a lot easier to get motivated about in the first place. Try things no one’s ever seen before and find out why no one’s ever seen them. Are they bad? Do they make your eyes hurt with ugliness? Are they secretly great and you’re just the first person to figure them out? No one will know until you put it on your page first and show it to someone.
1. Leave enough time to be both creative and thorough. At first I tried to do projects in one sitting, but this made it really hard to be creative and think about things in different ways. Spreading out my work allowed for more interesting perspectives and gave me more time to spend on specific details.
2. It’s ok to be inspired. In the beginning of the year I was really set on being 100% original and not looking to other designs for inspiration. I came to realize that as long as I’m creating my own designs from scratch, it is ok to be inspired by aspects of others’ work and that it can actually be extremely helpful.
3. Get others opinions. You can stare at something for hours and think it’s perfect while someone else can take one look and see a lot of things that need fixing. Sometimes it can be hard to see flaws in your own work so it’s really important to get others’ opinions.
4. Go to office hours. This is similar to #3 but a little different. A lot of times I thought I made good design choices when in fact I made a lot of rookie mistakes. Professors are the ultimate source of knowledge, so go in for help if you want to create the best work you can.
5. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to start over from scratch. I worked on something for days and could NOT get the thing to look decent. Finally I just started over with a completely new idea and everything came into place perfectly. Sometimes if you aren’t making any progress it’s worth it to start fresh.
A few things that I have learned about graphic design …
1. It is everywhere.
2. It has a purpose.
3. It is one of the loves that I have in my life.
4. It is fun.
5. It is not as easy as it looks.
I never realized how crucial graphic design is in communication. The most simple posters that have just typography are graphic design, and I had no idea that it was. I also didn’t realize how much work it is. Before starting this class, I thought this was going to be a fun and easy class, but little did I know that this class was going to take a lot of hard work and time. It forced me to create better time-management skills so that I could balance the work from this class with all of my other engineering classes. Another thing that I learned is that I would love to become a graphic designer one day. It is the creativity that I felt that I have always needed and I am so glad that I was able to take this class. Graphic design was something that I did not realize took a lot of time and effort, but it does. I look forward to taking other graphic design courses and even going to grad school for a masters in graphic design. This is something that I definitely want to incorporate with my career.
1. Be proactive. Design takes time. You can’t sit in front of your computer screen 5 hours before a deadline and expect to whip out a beautiful piece of work. Design is planned. It takes time to become inspired by an idea. It takes time to take that idea and turn it into a visually appealing substance. It takes time to execute. Think, sketch… then execute.
2. Be organized. With everything. You’re never going to be able to come up with a design if you have five hundred completely different ideas compiling in your mind. You have to remember the purpose of your design, remember your audience, and go from there. Your thoughts should be just as organized as your files. File management is key to execution. If you don’t know where you saved an image, if you forget to package your fonts… You will lose a lot of time and energy.
3. Be relaxed. Don’t freak out about deadlines. Don’t freak out about the typeface that looks out of place. Don’t freak out if you feel like you just can’t get it right. You’re new at this. It’s better to stay calm and have confidence than it is to get all nervous about your ability. You’re going to learn so much during this class, I promise. So just relax.. You’ll eventually understand.
4. Be openminded. Don’t expect to get an A in this class (at least, right away). Your designs will more than likely be shut down at least once. That is OK. This is about a learning experience. I know it’s hard to keep an open mind when you are worried about that 4.0. But and education is more than a grade. So take criticism constructively. It doesn’t mean you’re stupid if you’re corrected.
5. Be yourself. Try to add elements of who you are as a design. Make a signature. Most great designers have a certain hand that is easily recognizable. Try to find your own. It’s the fun part of the process and it makes the whole experience a lot easier.
1. The first thing I learned was that design requires planning. I’m still guilty of not having sketches, but I know thathaving a solid plan and outlook for your project won’t only meet a requirement for your projects, but it will make the process go a lot smoother.
2. Start early! I know it’s not really a design rule, but in the class I know that something that I learned the hard way. I’ve spent too many long nights in the lab trying to just put something on the page for a draft. This just creates too much stress and you won’t get good feedback if what you turn in isn’t what you really intended for you design. I had to really learn that making simple poster can take hours and I should give myself plenty of time to do it, even on the drafts.
3. Keep it simple. It was easy to think that you have to use a billion different colors and typefaces to try to make my project interesting and fill up the page. But it always looks a lot better if you just stick to a one or two typefaces and simple color palette. Easy ways to vary that could be playing with the weight of the type or drawing colors out of an image and playing the shade of it.
4. Hierarchy is key. I didn’t know what hierarchy was for really long time, you could probably tell from my projects. But I wish I learned that earlier because it could really help you figure out where to put things on the page, a question I asked myself a lot.
5. Make sure your pictures are big enough! I went through so much with images because I wasn’t looking at the resolution of my images. So I had to make sure they were already high resolution and not just try to change the dpi when I get to Photoshop. It doesn’t work.
1. You don’t necessarily have to be an expert with the Adobe suite to do well in this class. You will get a lot of practice and by the end of the semester, you will be confident in your ability to use Photoshop and InDesign. Also, most people are new to it too, so you’re not alone.
2. Less is more (usually). Adding more and more to a weak design will only make it worse. If a design is too distracting and cluttered, that’s almost worse than not having everything on the page.
3. Sketching is very important. Even if you’re not good at drawing (at all), sketching is helpful in getting the creative juices flowing. It doesn’t matter if your sketches accurately look like what you want to create, it makes you consider things that you wouldn’t normally if you just sat down at the computer and skipped the sketching process.
4. You’ll develop a thicker skin. Hearing negative feedback is a good thing because it allows you to fix any problems there might be. Someone sugar-coating a critique does no one any good.
5. The skills you learn in this class are very useful! Being able to put on a resume that you’re skilled in the different programs we learn how to use is valuable. Also gaining experience in design is something that is just a helpful life skill.
1. It’s a lot harder and much more time consuming than it looks to make a good, well thought-out design.
2. Simple is better. It’s easier to make and easier on the eyes. You should trim off every piece of fat you can, until you can’t bear it anymore.
3. Failing to plan is planning to fail. No matter how many times I think I can just start winging an assignment, I end up going in circles without a concrete game plan set ahead of time.
4. Grids are key. They keep everything organized and easy to follow, and without them, you’re setting yourself for a messy mish-mosh of great ideas.
5. I’ve learned to appreciate graphic design a lot more now. I know that every placement by the artist is a conscious decision and has a purpose. Typefaces are much more apparent to me now and so is placement, organization, hierarchy and structure.
Thank you for a great semester, Professor Strong!
1. Keep it simple. I think you’re going to hear this from a lot of people, but that’s because it’s true. When you think you’re finished with a project, go back and take out more. Don’t try to add extra elements just because you think you need more “design” in your project. I have applied this concept to my work inside and outside of class and it has really helped.
2. Think about who you are designing for. Design is not for the designer. It is for the consumer. Designers must think about how a consumer will view their design and use it. It has to be appealing in form and function. Think about the audience you are designing for and make sure elements of the design are clear to them. Just because a designer knows there is an interactive element on an iPad magazine page, doesn’t mean a reader does unless it is clearly spelled out.
3. Design is a form of communication. Every element of a design communicates something specific; otherwise, it would not have been included in the design. That’s why graphic design is a major in one of the best communication schools in the nation. Design is important to get other parts of communication, such as the written word, out to the world.
4. A typeface is different from a font. I had no idea what the difference was before I got to this class. That’s pretty sad considering I am a graphic design major. I’m happy to have learned proper design terminology this semester so when I talk about my designs, I can sound knowledgeable about them.
5. Interactivity is your friend. Designing for tablets can be complicated and difficult, but it can also be really fun. When looking at the tiny space you have to design in for tablets, designing becomes intimidating. What you have to realize though, is that you can use interactivity and that’s what it’s there for. I would worry that I wouldn’t have enough room for text in my design, but then realize that I could just use scrolling text. As long as the interactivity is clear and makes sense to the reader, it can be a huge advantage to designing. Not to mention, it’s a newly developed technology that is very valuable to have under your belt.
When I first enrolled in this class, there were a few thoughts that ran through my head.
1. I hope I get a good class time so I don’t have to wake up too early.
2. This is going to be the worst class ever.
3. There is no way I can possibly design anything.
I can honestly say that after finishing a semester in GRA 217, the only problem that was any concern was my first one. But even still, class was at 11, so it all worked out really well. Anyways, these are my top five most important things that I have learned this semester.
1. Design is simple. I never really understood what exactly design was, but now, I understand that design is everything. Design is the wordmark on a pencil, the structure of a computer, a pair of shoes, etc. I think that the very fact that design can be found in everything makes it simple.
2. I CAN DESIGN! After seeing each of my finished products throughout the semester, I was constantly filled with a sense of relief and happiness. This sense of relief and happiness came from my realization that my graphic design skills were improving. I was actually able to create something that would cause me to stop on the street and look at it. I never thought that I would be able to design anything, but I can confidently prove that thought wrong now.
3. How to use the Adobe Suite programs. This aspect of the course is a more hands on, rather than something that I learned about graphic design in general. Learning programs such as Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator is not something I thought I would ever be able to master. Well I guess I still haven’t mastered them, but my skills have definitely improved. The features I learned to create while using InDesign are definitely something I will never forget.
4. Critiquing isn’t always the nicest, but it is definitely necessary. Some of the critique I received as feedback for my projects wasn’t always exactly what I had hoped to hear. Although it wasn’t what I would have wanted to hear, it was definitely necessary. The critique that I received in both class and office hours was always very helpful. It is important to always accept help and feedback on your designs whenever it is available.
5. Design is everywhere. As I stated in my “design is simple” portion, I have come to notice that design is in everything. Graphic design is possibly one of the most fascinating fields to work in. The notion that a website you design, or and object that started out as a sketch, will later be shared with people throughout the entire world. Design is in everything from the typeface used for a company’s name to the layout of a website that is used by millions of people each day. After taking this course I find myself noticing various aspects about design that I would have never noticed without taking the class.
1. Often times there is no right answer, but multiple ways something could work. For some projects like the poster, I found myself going down totally different directions from my original idea, I had to keep in mind there could be a few different ways something could work.
2. With that said, I think it is important to explore all the options you can through sketches and drafts. As a hopeful professional designer I need to develop a strategy for testing out all of my options. Sometimes it’s hard to keep track of what your original idea was, and it’s important to document your thought process. This way you can go back to other options and explore them further.
3. Along these lines, I’ve learned that design is never finished. It can always be improved on further and altered. Both in the short run and the long run. Things can be simplified or explored more. Over years, designs become dated a stale so they need editing.
4. I’ve learned it is essential to get other opinions on a project, because as the designer you become personally attached to your work. Also you may look at something for so long that you over look something. You should ask people who are both in the audience and not in the audience you are designing for, this way you can get different perspectives.
5. I’ve learned getting across to your target audience means that not everyone is going to like your designs. When it comes to my iPad magazine, I was going for a college student audience and I realized that not everyone would necessarily want to read it. I think being a good designer means being able to appeal to a very wide audience while still maintaining a look and style. It’s about finding a balance between designing for an audience and designing for everyone.
1.) Pay attention to the elements. We talked for a while at the beginning of the semester for a reason. It is extremely important to incorporate to composition, line, space, shape, color, balance… you name it, its probably worth noting. It is important that you think about each and every one of these elements when creating work. Each of these elements have a purpose and work with and against each other if they are not used correctly.
2.) Time Management. They were not kidding. Design is not something that just happens overnight, its not something you can cram for. If you do not put in the work, it is brutally obvious. Probably the hardest lesson I learned was that you cannot wait until the last minute to create something. In order to create something successful and pleasing, you have to carve out time and work for days on end. I found that it was extremely easy to break the work up into chunks, saving a bit for each day. Without time, you will not be successful in this class.
3.) Listen to critiques. Over and over. The in class critiques, the online videos, and the office hours add up. When you walk into Claudia’s room, there is no way you have the knowledge or the experience to succeed right away. The only way you are going to learn is by listening and repeating. Listen to what you need to work on, listen to what other students have to work on. Go back into the lab and work out some kinks. Then go to office hours, chances are you still have some work to do. Listen to the constructive criticism and remember your mistakes. The only way you are going to learn is through observation, practice and repetition.
4.) Grids are your best friend. For the resume and the poster, I really struggled to make clean lines. The majority of my text did not line up, and paid absolutely no attention to margins. In order to remain organized and create work that looks clean and intentional, you have to use grids. There is no way around it. They are probably the handiest tool I used in InDesign for the final project.
5.) Take notes in lab. At the beginning of the semester, I really just watched and copied what I saw Liz doing on the board. I really did not absorb processes she was using or taking note of how she was using different tools. I found that by actually observing what Liz did on her computer and simply copying down notes and directions, I was a lot more successful in creating what I wanted. I also realized that I do not have as a great a memory as I thought. Trying to remember what Liz did in lab two weeks ago is close to impossible, by taking notes and carefully watching, I was able to absorb more and refer back whenever necessary.
1) Graphic design takes time. At first, graphic design took me awhile because I had never used the programs before this semester, but then the amount of time spent on a project grew over the course of the semester. I think partially it was because I got adapted to the programs, especially InDesign and PhotoShop, so I would spend countless hours tweaking things, or re-arranging, or testing out new layouts and everything. At times I felt like I lived in the labs and I was there hanging out with friends from class or acquaintances more than I was at home. I became better at working on my projects ahead of time, however I constantly underestimated the amount of time I would spend doing little things or adjusting something for hours.
2) Graphic design is a love-hate relationship. I learned that graphic design is fun to do, and I love the artistic and creative side of it, but I also learned about all of the proper ways of saving work or setting up documents and approaching assignments in certain ways. I grew to love graphic design, but the little problems I occurred also made me hate it at the same time. I would leave the labs so frazzled, especially after the iPad assignment because of one technical glitch.
3) Graphic design is infinite. What I mean by graphic design is infinite, is that there is never an end to a design you are working on. There could be countless ways to layout a poster or position an object, and the process could never end. I also mean that the ideas are infinite in graphic design. The programs, the processes and our brains will always allow graphic design to form into anything we think of. The colors never end, the typography is vast and the final product is thought of from a million different perspective.
4) Graphic design is tough. I learned that graphic design is hard, and that is just the way it is. I was impressed by my work and I enjoyed the course because I do love design, and I just wish I had more time to enjoy the pretty aspects of it. I learned that with my schedule, and being a year and a half behind in my Newhouse courses, graphic design was tough for me, and the most time consuming of m classes. I respected the tough love, but I will always remember this course because of its deep challenge for me.
5) Graphic design will benefit my future. This graphic design course I know will come in handy for my future, depending on the career, but I believe in mostly all careers there is some aspect of design a person is exposed to. I think learning the different programs is extremely beneficial, I think having a creative eye is important, and I think that being able to express yourself as to why certain designs work or do not work is a very cool trait to possess.
Throughout the semester, I have learned so many things about graphic design. An inexperienced novice to the world of graphic design prior to enrolling in GRA 217, I now am able to better express myself through design. While I’m not naturally gifted in the field, these five lessons which I learned have helped me improve over the course of the class.
1. BE PATIENT. Patience is truly a virtue, although not a quality I naturally possess. I can write a ten page paper in a couple hours and still pull off a good grade. I am usually the first person to finish a test in a full auditorium. For me, if I do something fast, that usually means I understand the material to a level in which I can demonstrate my knowledge quickly and effectively. However, you need patience in graphic design. I believe a commonly used phrase is “the Roman Empire wasn’t built in one day”. While I’m not comparing my work in this class to the Roman Empire, I believe this is a applicable quote to exemplify this class. You have to take your time and not expect everything to be perfect the first time. You have to try different typefaces, rearrange objects and words in different places to see what created the overall best design. Once I realized I had to be patient, my work gradually improved.
2. INDESIGN AND PHOTOSHOP SKILLS. I have used Indesign and Photoshop before taking this class, although very rarely. Through class and the labs, I learned the basics of both programs, as well as some of the more advanced technicalities that go along with both Indesign and Photoshop. These skills may not be useful for my future, however, acquiring these skills certainly couldn’t hurt. This lesson goes along with being patient because my patience was put to the test as I learned to understand and use these programs more effectively.
3. SIMPLE IS BETTER. I remember designing the first draft of my resume thinking it was perfect. I didn’t know any better. There were words everywhere, barely any white space, and competing word marks. Over the course of the semester, I learned that simple is better in most cases and was perhaps the most important rule of graphic design. The simplicity of one’s work, along with the other skills which I acquired, allowed for an overall visually attractive and effective design.
4. PLANNING IS EVERYTHING. It’s called the creative process for a reason. It truly is a process- which once again goes back to being patient. The planning of the design is essential. When you first said that planning was just as important as the execution, I really didn’t see it. I thought I could just go into Indesign or Photoshop, think of an idea on the fly, then execute it. Planning isn’t merely drawing a few sketches and trying to work around them. Planning is deep thought about every aspect of the design- what should go where, how it should be aligned, what colors and typefaces to use, and what the overall goal you are trying to say is.
5. GRADES DON’T MATTER. This is a lesson that is personal to me- as I’m sure most people in the class didn’t say this. I wasn’t originally accepted in the Newhouse program when I decided to come to Syracuse. I knew I wanted to be in the communications program, however, because I wanted to enter the field of public relations, as well as learn tools to be able to write my own TV show. (It’s called “South Campus” and it will be on the air one day!) To do this, I worked extremely hard my freshman year and finally got accepted into Newhouse thanks to my high GPA. This class was extremely difficult to me as I was never the person to design elements graphically. I was always more concerned with the content inside. In this class I put a lot of time and effort into creating and completing the assigned projects. While I haven’t received good grades on these projects, I have come to accept that (as long as I pass). Instead, I am grateful for the experience and the opportunity I had to try to learn and develop skills in a field that I am not naturally gifted in. That is why I am saying the grades don’t matter, not because I don’t care about my grades, but because that I have accepted that while I’m not going to get an A in this class- the tools I learned are much more valuable.
Thanks for a great semester.
1. Simplicity is a type of beauty. Sometimes we want to put a number of complex elements on a design project to make it look perfect; however, this step may not help your design at all, or even make it worse. A design with simple concepts and illustrations will be good for audiences to understand.
2. Design is about contrast. Contrast exits everywhere, it is also the basic rule in design. Good designers understand how to use contrast in an appropriate and clever way in their projects.
3. Sketching is a very important procedure in design. The time you use in sketching your idea on paper is also a time that you can use to expand your ideas with new inspirations; it also give you space for brainstorming. A fantastic design project is always made from thousands of sketches.
4. Design is not software. This is the first thing I’ve learned at the earlier class. Software is just a helper for creating projects but cannot add any thought or meanings to them; however, the soul of a design comes from our thinking and inspiration.
5. Critique is necessary. While we are designing a project, our ideas are always subjective on what “we” want our design work to look like, so we put our own perceptions into a design and ignore how audiences will perceive it. Therefore, critique is an essential process, which provides us objective views and advice.
The five most important things that I have learned about graphic design in this course are:
1. It’s all about effectiveness. I think this is the single most important lesson that I learned this year, mostly because it applies to an array of different things. Being effective means not only reaching your target audience, but it also implies that once you do that, they have the easiest and most enjoyable experience while doing so. This requires putting yourself in your audience’s/consumers shoes and deciding what about your design would accomplish that. This is critical, because design is often the first impression that your consumer has on whatever goal you are trying to accomplish.
2. Less is more. When I first entered this course and was creating my resume, I was trying to put so much on the page to make it “design-y.” I was using color, rules, flourishes, many typefaces, etc. because that is what I believed would look most like “design.” I quickly, and thankfully, discovered that it’s really the opposite. When I think of design now, what comes to mind is that the best designs are those that say the most with the least. It’s about stripping your designs down to the bare minimum and using only elements that are necessary in the effectiveness of the design.
3. Inspiration is everywhere. This was a really valuable lesson I learned. In creating many of my projects, I would oftentimes get stuck in my own head. I found that taking a step back to look around at everything around you is a good way to get past blocks like this. Whether its flipping through a magazine, studying the lines in architectural structures, or sifting through blogs of photos, something will spark your imagination, and your designs will follow.
4. A picture truly is worth a thousand words. That being said, it is of the utmost importance to have good photos incorporated into your designs. A bad picture can, and most likely will, ruin even the most thought out and beautifully executed design. I learned this the hard way with many of my designs, and it taught me the importance of quality.
5. Never force a design … it’s okay to let go. This was a hard, but well-learned lesson. There were so many instances in this course where I would get an idea in my head, either while imagining what my design would look like, or while sketching, and I would latch onto it. Then, I would go into InDesign or Photoshop to create it, and it just didn’t come out how I imagined. I had such a hard time letting go, and I would try and force it in every possible way, but really, forced designs come out looking like exactly that; forced. In reality, it’s better to be able to make a peaceful parting with your original idea, and start from scratch.
1. Every object and item no matter how small has been designed for its efficient use and aesthetics. The documentary objectified made me realize how every object no matter how trivial it is has been designed for easy use and convenience. Obvious objects like the iPad or iPhone where you can see the significant difference in its design compared to its competition I had definitely noticed before this course but objects like lids to cups or pens/ pencils I had never before thought about the specific design in terms of it’s purpose. The course has made me think harder in terms of what objects’ purposes are and how their design accomplishes that.
2. Typefaces make a significant impact on the tone and overall message more than I could have ever imagined. Unless a typeface was dramatically different than another in my eyes (for example American Typewriter versus Helvetica) I did not see the difference in terms of message and tone. I have learned a lot about reading the design of objects just by their typeface, for example the constant use of Helvetica (shown in the documentary about Helvetica) versus Times New Roman.
3. Creating a different tone/ impact can be done with a small change or just as much with a big change. With the revisions of some of my projects I needed to change what seemed like trivial changes to me but made a big difference in the overall presentation of my work. For example, moving text just .2 inches in one direction could throw off or improve my work dramatically. Changes regardless of big or small can make a big difference in the overall design and one tiny step could lead to a large downfall.
4. The next revolutionary idea can stem from anything existing or not existing and can be as little as a change from a circle to a square. Through graphic design, I’ve learned that changes to normal objects like the cellular phone with the design of the iPad, the shape and design of even an already existing object can revolutionize society and our daily lives. In the documentary objectify with the discussion of the iPhone I realized that we have created a necessity out of something that is completely irrelevant and unnecessary although people feel the need for something that doesn’t even have as much of an impact on their lives as other objects. With graphic design, making something slightly more efficient can lead to a huge impact in society and can revolutionize the object of which you’re changing. For example, the idea of using instead of a watering can where you have to carry this heavy bucket around to water each plant in your garden someone thought of something portable that you won’t have to fill up and it’s weight never changes. Changes like this just in shape can make an object that much more useful to the person using it and can differentiate one product from the next, even in terms of aesthetics and not use it can make a worlds difference.
5. Regardless of the career or path in life I take, graphic design will be a major part of my life and presenting objects is just as important as designing thoughts and ideas in terms of their presentation to others. As advertising major, I’ve learned that an object or ideas presentation is almost as important or even equally important to the viewer and the person something is being presented to. I learned the importance of an aesthetic design is significant just as much as the content is in this course, mainly based off of the Resume project.
I did not think the semester would end so fast. I also did not think I could create everything I have created. When I first looked at all the assignments we had to do I thought I could never do that. Each week there was something due and each week tested not only our understanding of the material but also our creativity.
I have heard all the stories about graphics and I was already terrified of the class without even taking it. I’s seen previous student work and thought that there was no way I could create anything that was good or original. As I look back at it all now, I was very wrong. I created work that did not only shock my peers but even at times shocked me. I was horrible with all the design programs at first. I didn’t know how to undo things or to even change colors. Now I can do all of that and more. I have even found myself helping others.
I began by going to a lot of office hours and as I became more comfortable and busier I could not attend them as often. However, I learned that design is more that just using programs effectively but also about design and creativity and appealing to the visual senses of the audience.
I learned not only to notice the positives and negatives in my own work but I learned how effective and important it is to critique my peers. In noticing what does and does not work in the designs of others, I was better able to make stylistic choices in my own work.
I never knew what I would come up with. I found that a lot of my work involved animals. I did an animal poster and I did an animal concept for both the magazine and the website. This interest in animals was coincidental. I found a lot of images that I could not find with my other concepts that I did with the animal concept. I learned to adapt and adjust based on what did or what did not work for my design.
This class really humbled me. I never ask anyone for help or to do anything for me. I had to with this class. There were things that I was not only stuck on but also did not know how to do. The professor was very helpful with office hours. Although she was tough at times, her input really helped me no only to fix my mistakes but also come up with new ideas.
I struggled but also persevered and I am content with all the efforts I set forth in this class. I look forward to applying these skills in the future and helping those who will be in my position later. I enjoyed the class and I recommend it. I can really put these design programs on my resume knowing that I know how to use them.
At the beginning of the year, I was very unknowledgeable about Graphic Design. To me, Graphic Design means to create something by using software. I can never imagine myself designing anything because I don’t think I have the ability to be a graphic designer. This course is a journey that takes me to see the broad world of Graphic Design. When I heard the Little Red Riding Hood story in the Graphic Design version, I was amazed by how much shapes, colors, and sizes can speak to me.
1. Graphic Design is about design and functionality. A design that is visually pleasing but does not have meaning behind is not considered a good design. This is not easy because you have to think about your audience and work on details. The majority of time in a design is devoted to the creative thought process.
2. Perseverance is a good quality for a graphic designer. A project can be very time consuming. However, when I work on a project, it becomes my brainchild. I want to make everything work and this takes time and efforts. However, when I see the end product, I have a feeling of accomplishment.
3. From a technical point of view, I learned how to used different tools to design such as InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. These are valuable and transferable skills I can use for other uses too.
4. Graphic Design, surprisingly, increased my understanding of other disciplines. I have many friends from College of Visual and Performing Arts. We are now able to discuss more in-depth questions about design. We also collaborate on different projects.
5. Last but not least, when this course ends, I don’t think I can live without Graphic Design for the rest of my life. Graphic Design is everywhere. I used to admire what other people are able to design, but now I have the ability to design as well. This is a course that challenges me to think about they way I lived, the relationship between human and object, and my values and beliefs. My journey in Graphic Design continues.
One more thing: I want to give special thanks to Professor Strong for being patient and helpful in explaining the basics over and over. She spent countless hours to critique and give suggestions for our work. And I thank her for giving us this great experience about Graphic Design.
From the start of the semester until now a lot of things have changed. I’ve gone from hating to loving working on design projects. I’ve learned a lot of lessons throughout the semester that have allowed me to enjoy working on my magazine. Here are the 5 most important things that I have learned this semester:
1. Creating a design is a little bit more idea than computer skill. If you don’t have the idea behind your design you can’t have an amazing project, even if you have a really good working knowledge of all the computer programs. It is important that you know how to use the tools to execute your idea, but tools are nothing without an idea to design. With my poster I think a lot of the frustration cam from the fact that the idea behind the poster wasn’t good and I didn’t love it. With my website and my magazine I spent more time thinking about the idea and when I came up with an idea that I loved it made working on the project that much more enjoyable.
2. You cannot design all at once. Prior for GRA 217 I kind of assumed that you could sit down and design things, a brochure, magazine, poster, etc. Now I realize that everything that I see that’s a good design probably wasn’t put together on a whim. With every graphics project you have to brainstorm, sketch, produce drafts, and more. Even with an idea I can’t sit down at the computer and produce what will be the final project that I turn in. After an hour of working on a design I can’t do anymore. You need to work and then step away from your design and work on something else before you come back. It’s hard to be objective about your own design as it is, after hours of work it’s even harder to accept that something that you’ve spent all this time working on isn’t right or needs to be redone.
3. Proper set up is key. Knowing the medium, the size of the page, etc. is key to have in mind from the start of the project. It is important to have a great idea but a great idea is useless if it’s designed for the wrong size page. When I was working on my poster project I designed the horizontal version at the wrong page size in the beginning. Everything counts in design and sometimes at a larger scale things won’t look as good. Every little thing that you do in a project is key, it all means something so having the change your design to fit the specifications for a medium isn’t practical for design and in the real world is not professional. It’s important when beginning to work that you know what size the page should be and set up an appropriate grid before you begin to design.
4. Criticism is a part of the process. I’ve mentioned previously how important the process is, but the scariest and hardest part is criticism. Like I mentioned before it’s hard to be objective about your own work when you’ve put so much time into it it’s hard to admit that you’ve done something wrong. You also know what the design is meant to convey, you know the idea behind it. It’s important to let other people view the work and see if they get the same message from the design that you meant them to. The best people to view your work are people that you aren’t friends with; people that can truly objectively look at your piece. Even though it’s scary showing my design in class is something that I wish I had done more. Not only can peer review point out flaws but it can also reaffirm the good things that you have done.
5. Graphic Design is everywhere. Whether it’s good design or bad design almost everything man made has to be designed in some way. The choices that we all make in terms of design say something about ourselves or the product that we are producing. At the beginning of the semester, when I wasn’t doing so well in the course, I was struggling to create good design and so I kept telling myself that it was ok because I’m a public relations and policy studies major. I want to possibly pursue something with government or business after I graduate and I thought that there was no way that I was going to need to use graphic design. Now I realize that not only is being able to use the Adobe software a great asset but also better understanding the importance of design is crucial to public relations. Public relations is all about image and what people think and people think and draw conclusions from design. Design is everywhere, I am much happier knowing that I am aware of design and can create.
The five most important things I’ve learned about graphic design in this course:
1.Design is everywhere. I feel like this course has made me appreciate the beauty of design so much more than I ever have before. Not only do I love typefaces so much that I could look at dafont.com for hours, but now, when I look at something with form and function, I wonder why the designer has done what they did. The i-phone for example. Could the i-phone be perfect design? I can’t imagine it being any other way. It seems so simple, but some genius designer probably slaved over its design for so long. The same goes for every other thing that has been designed.
2.Sometimes, you have to make 3 website before you come up with one you really like. I hate to say it, but the website project taught me one of the most important things I have learned from this course. I don’t really know why I struggled with that project for so long, but it was an uphill battle. I didn’t give up though, and eventually I came up with a design I was happy with. It taught me that you can hand in your first design, but if you’re not happy with it, no one will be happy with it. In the end, that design will be useless. I persevered, put way more time than I would have liked to into it, and honestly, I am really happy I did.
3. Less is more. Just because it’s design doesn’t mean it needs to look design-y. I learned this lesson when I was designing my resume. At first, I had the idea that I wanted flowers, or ocean waves on my resume. Why? Well, because I love flowers and the ocean. I slowly began to realize that less is more. I feel like sometimes, people can figure out more about you by a design that has less to it. Not only was it more professional, but it also lets the audience decide what kind of person I am for themselves. The design should speak for itself, I shouldn’t need to put pictures and directions on it.
4. Design is an experience. I learned this lesson from one of the very first classes. At first, I didn’t really understand, but as the course progressed, it made more sense. This lesson really clicked when we discussed cropping pictures. A picture might have no meaning, it may just be a picture of a sunset on a beach. However, when you crop that same picture so that all you can see is the sun fading behind the ocean, it may actually move someone. You want your design to be an experience. You want it to speak to someone, because that is when design is effective.
5. Don’t believe what anyone tells you about a class! I heard that GRA217 was one of the hardest classes I would take during my entire Syracuse career. I was dreading taking the class in March of last year. When the class began, and the projects started to pick up, I was pleasantly surprised. I really loved the class. When people ask me what class I’m in for advertising, and I tell them graphics, they look at me like they’re sorry. I always look at them and tell them, “no, it’s actually great!”. If they haven’t taken it yet, I tell them to look forward to it. It is kind of sad that there is such a negative stigma around the course, because I have really learned so much from it, and I’m sure so many others have too. If everyone went into it with a positive attitude, I think everyone would get much more out of it. I think I will definitely go into classes from now on not caring what other people say, because obviously they’re not always right.
First off, I’d just like to say that this is my favorite class that I’ve taken since being at Syracuse. So,
1. Different shapes can and should evoke different emotions. I thought the Little Red Riding Hood depiction perfectly illustrated how different shapes and angles can create different emotions. When seeing the pictures, I noticed that I was getting a different feeling, but I had never been able to really put it into words. I think it is interesting to note that round shapes are very friendly, and objects at 0 or 90 degrees are very calm, and obtrusive, pointy objects are mean, frightening, and off-setting. Now, when I look at websites, I notice small features (ex: rounded buttons) that make the website feel much more friendly. This is important to note when you are trying to decide how you want your audience to feel when viewing your work.
2. Typeface can set or ruin the mood. I’ve always been a fan of typeface, which I used to improperly call “font”. I’ve actually built an awesome collection of typefaces, which has really helped me to create better work in this class. Anyways, after being in this class, I am now able to understand how different typefaces can make or ruin a certain project. For example, san serif, capitalized typeface creates a much different mood and feeling than a serif, lower case typeface. When in doubt, use Helvetica, which brings me to my next point…
3. Don’t underestimate Helvetica! Helvetica is a typeface that is like thin air. You don’t even notice it. It is literally everywhere, now that I notice it). It is so basic that it can be slightly altered (font, color, size, etc.) to create many different feelings. It is hard to believe that both American Apparel and Post-Its are both Helvetica. When in doubt, you should always use Helvetica – it is a safe bet! Personally, I don’t like Helvetica at all, I think it looks boring and I’m not great at making it look good, but when other people use it, I seem to like it. Additionally, now I always find myself trying to figure out what typefaces are being used and where. For example, Food.com signs use a typeface called Good Dog.
4. Know your target audience. This goes for whatever your doing in an industry, but it is really important in design. If you are trying to reach a target audience of masculine, 40-year old bikers, you are going to create a much different project than if you are trying to reach a group of young, new, mothers. When I was doing my Wing Bowl poster, I found it very interesting that literally EVERYTHING you do can affect how your target audience interprets and reacts to your work. For example, typeface, illustrated line weights, and hues of colors all affect the way your work resonates with your audience. In my rationale for my Wing Bowl poster, I think I clearly illustrated how I properly reached my target audience.
5. Design is just as important as functionality. This is probably the most important and most notable thing that I’ve learned by being in graphics this semester. I’ve always visited ugly websites and thought how unprofessional and unappealing it looked. This is a deterrent and detracts many potential users. Guy Kawaski, former Apple manager, once said about their products that maybe only 10% of people solely care about design, while 90% cares about functionality, but if you don’t have a good design then you lose 10% of your potential customers. This is really important, especially in today’s world when people are seeing beautiful designs everywhere. If you don’t have a good design, then you are shit-out-of-luck and automatically have a step-down on the competition.
While I have learned so much in the class over the past semester, these are the 5 most important lessons I will take with me:
1. Know when to stop. In the documentary “Objectified,” one of the designers said, “Good design is as little design as possible.” I’m fairly certain I have mentioned this before (in my rationales/possibly the first blog post of the year), but I have a tendency to not know when to stop. Throughout the semester, I’ve learned simplicity usually triumphs over all, and clean design is good design. I still am struggling to find a balance between over-designing and not designing enough, but I am working on it.
2. Be open to critique. I can be stubborn, and not want to change something because I think it looks good. I also get nervous that people will hate what I have made, and I don’t really want to show anyone. This is dumb because they are going to see it anyway on the class blog. Being a designer means your design choices need to be successful in the eyes of people other than yourself. Taking into account the opinions of others, even if they do not like what you have created will make you a better designer. Specifically, I thought the logo for my website in black and white worked well because it made the images pop more. Yet after being told it would be stronger in color, I made changes and realized my initial choice was wrong. Sometimes it is important to stay true to your design if you really believe in it, but getting input from others is extremely helpful.
3. Pay attention to detail. Details are what separate a good design from a great design and it is extremely important to pay attention to the small aspects of your design. I’ve been told that I sometimes stress the small things too much, but it works to my advantage in this case. Design is all about details and I’ve learned through this class how much one detail can change a design completely. With my poster, simply adding a tiny bit of yellow to the wave made such a big difference in a good way. I cannot stress enough how important it is to pay attention to detail.
4. Experiment! Even if you are satisfied with your design, it is important to to experiment and try something different. You may end up revising and changing your entire design, hating it, and returning to what you initially had. But trying different things will make you a better designer because you gain experience from revising and trying new techniques.
5. I love design. I think the most important thing I’ve discovered from this course is a love for 2-D design. Going into this class, I had just transferred into Newhouse and was unsure of what I wanted to study. I only knew I was interested in Graphic Design but had no experience and didn’t even know what it fully encompassed. While I have always been passionate about art, especially 3-D design, this course helped me realize I want to major in Graphic Design. I am excited to learn more about design and I am so grateful for what I have learned from this class.