THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WE LEARNED IN GRA 217 …
ADVICE, ENCOURAGEMENT & WARNINGS FROM PROF. STRONG’S FORMER 217 STUDENTS (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER—THERE’S GREAT STUFF AT THE END, TOO)
1. Details matter.
2. Do not complicate things.
3. Know when to walk away. This is probably this biggest thing I took away from this class. I’ve always been a perfectionist so a class where every little point, pixel and pica matter just emphasizes that trait in me. But, sometimes when you’re in the lab until 3 a.m. adjusting boxes and type sizes you start to lose focus of the bigger picture and it ends up looking worse. I think I would focus a lot on each individual element and not always evaluate the overall feel of the design, which is what really matters. Sometimes you just need to step back and take a break, then re-evaluate later. These little boxes and details were also a problem for me before I really understood how to effectively work on a grid, which leads me to my next point …
4. Stick to the grid/a layout. Not doing this is probably the easiest way to waste time, period. Although it can be difficult to fit all text and shapes into a grid when they don’t come that way, it is so much more efficient than trying to align things by eye or by dragging new guides to the page. Things that are aligned look so much better, and so do elements that use the same sort of fonts and spacing, etc. It is one of those things that you don’t notice when it is done well, but when done poorly bothers you. I notice poor alignment and layout cohesiveness all the time now and it looks terrible! It’s so much easier just to use a grid.
5. Conceptualize before you turn on the computer. Sketching can seem like a pain, it certainly was at times for me when I just wanted to get on the computer and get started. But I found that it is a MUCH better use of time to at least sketch some general concepts and brainstorm first, especially when the programs are new and hard to use. It is easy to waste a lot of time re-doing your whole concept when you realize it doesn’t work. You can either do this on paper or after you have already spent a few hours doing it on a design program.
6. It’s personal. I tend to take things personally, and killing my ideas really was like killing my children. It is frustrating when you have put so much time into something. But the truth is that no matter how much YOU like an idea, if it isn’t functional or the idea doesn’t translate to others, it has failed. My poster is a perfect example of this and was something that I took really personally when it failed. But when I was able to almost completely change the concept it came out much better, and having a design that works is better than holding on to something that doesn’t because it is too hard to let go.
7. Less is more. This goes along with knowing when to walk away, and with the fact that design is personal. When I had ideas I would sometimes just put them on there because I … didn’t want to do away with it. However, too much of a good thing (too many colors, elements, fonts, etc) is a bad thing, and that took awhile to understand. It’s hard to feel like you are dumbing down your design by simplifying everything, but the truth is that simpler is almost always more effective. Making things too “busy” was usually my biggest problem with my designs, and I think that by working through that I will be able to effectively judge designs by others. As a PR major, I will need to hire designers and work with them or possibly even create my own simple designs, and now I know that you really can’t go wrong when you go simple.
8. Recognizing good photos. I think this is one of the biggest things I learned in GRA217. I really had no idea how to recognize a good photo from a bad one, especially in terms of how to use them in graphic design. I think the poster project helped me learn this skill. You really have to think about the message the photo is sending through the lighting, what is included in the photo, what is excluded from the photo, etc. and how your audience will see this photo in relation to your design.
9. Software. I am so glad I got to learn how to use Indesign, Photoshop and Illustrator in this class. They are great tools and I have already begun to use them outside of GRA217 and I think they will be useful to create more interesting work in the future. … Before this class, I would have been scared simply by the logos themselves sitting at the bottom of the Mac computers in the Newhouse labs. Now, I am confident to tackle any project and create beautiful designs.
10. Knowing what is essential in a design. I learned what is necessary and what is just “there.” In our class you emphasized only included what was needed in the design and not just including something or doing something for the sake of doing it. I think this skill helps create a more effective and interesting design.
11. Design is more than creating something aesthetically pleasing. Design conveys a message through color, imagery, typeface, etc. Through this class I have seen all the details that go into even the simplest designs that I had never considered before. Each design and each element of that design is important because it helps convey a message through more than just words and evokes emotions and sentiments towards that message.
12. Taking time to edit and create multiple drafts. In my schoolwork, especially with essays, I like to just write it once and usually not go back to edit it or go through the process of creating multiple drafts. But it was impossible in this class to only hand in the first thing you put together. I found the in-class critiques and video feedback from [Prof. Strong] very valuable. Many times [she] or other students brought up issues in my work that I hadn’t noticed or considered, and that feedback was very important in creating the design I wanted and conveying the message that I wanted.
13. Simplicity in design. I have learned that a simple design can be very effective. This is almost common sense because a design is meant to stand out and be remembered, and with so many things vying for our attention it is difficult to remember complex things and complex designs.
14. A message is different in every culture. The meanings of colors in America have different meanings and connotations in other countries and other cultures. The way a designer looks at a design may not be the way the intended audience views the design. So a design must either be universally accepted or altered to match the beliefs of different people.
15. Have a concept. It is important to have an idea in mind and take that idea as far as you can before deciding to change it. Generally, the first idea is a pretty good one and trying to change it too much will result in frustration. Each designer has their own style and the concept you come up with may be different than the concept someone else does but that’s okay.
16. Sometimes you have to take a step back. Just like with writers, designers can hit a creativity block and need to take a breather to get back to their concept. Taking a step back is important to seeing the overall picture and making sure your design isn’t getting too complex or going in the wrong direction.
17. I learned the difference between typeface and font. From now on, I will always be paying attention to typeface on every design I come across. I never realized how important the selection of typeface was. I never really knew how many existed, how much time went in to crafting a whole new scheme of letters, and most importantly, I never really thought of how letters came to be—I just thought they, well, kind of, existed.
18. I learned the power of posters. Every type of visual display is different, but posters have the abillity to hit you quickly, appeal to the senses, and make you think about an issue so fast that they might as well have the phone lines open waiting for donations. Posters do not have to say much with their words, which is different than most things. Instead, they can use an extremely powerful image to speak louder than any words. Posters are attention-grabbing weapons that can be used extremely effectively with the right location and perfect visual display.
19. Design has to do more than just with illustrations and pictures. It deals with layouts and their organization. I also learned that as a graphic designer, every little thing in the design has to have a meaning. Nothing can just be randomly placed somewhere because it looks nice.
20. I learned that I can’t stay attached to favorite ideas. While working on many of my projects, I would get very excited about an idea, but then it wouldn’t work out. I would be reluctant to change the things that I really loved. Over the course of the semester, I realized that sometimes you just have to let it go and start over.
21. An idea can always be built upon. For most of the assignments I would end up with about 10 drafts at the end. I learned how often you need to change things around and work off of your past ideas.
22. I learned the importance of alignment. Especially during the magazine and the website projects, I saw the importance of a grid system. Going into graphic design, I never realized how orderly most designs were. They may not look perfectly lined up, but in most cases there is a grid that makes everything work so much better together.
23. I learned about he variations between the typefaces. I had been aware of how many typefaces existed, but I never realized how picking the correct one could make or break your design. I have a much better understanding of when to use different types.
24. I really learned to value other peoples’ opinions. When designing a project, I knew that I couldn’t just do it on my own. It was very important to see what my friends or professor thought of it. Everyone has positive input that can help. Other people may think of something that you never thought of.
25. Everything I do must have a reason. Prior to this class I would always add random touches or objects to things I was creating because I thought they looked cute or added something but this class has taught me that those additions are unnecessary and take away from my overall design.
26. Serif vs. sans serif. Before this class I had no idea what these terms meant but now that I understand them I know when I should use each of them!
27. Typography is extremely important! On posters and projects I would always use curly fonts or something I thought was cute but now I think more about the fonts I choose and the meanings they convey. Whether choosing a typeface, weight or size, I now I always think about each decision.
28. White space isn’t a bad thing. I always felt the need to fill up every little space, however, I have learned that sometimes less is actually more.
29. I learned about how much goes into the process of designing something.
30. Before I took this class, I had never really thought about graphic design. I encountered it every day when I read the newspaper or a magazine or surfed the Internet, but the design was an afterthought. I was interested in the words and the pictures, but not how they all came together on the page. The professional magazines and websites are so well done that the process of compiling the photos and words seemed simple. After designing the magazine and website for class, I know the process isn’t simple, but the final product should be. I am more aware of graphic design now.
31. A good design takes time. And a lot of it. Even if a magazine or website doesn’t look complicated, it takes hours and hours from the first sketch to the final product. I spent whole afternoons in the labs trying to get the details right, and those were only small projects compared to designing a professional weekly magazine. It is an exhausting process at times, but the work is worth it at the end.
32. The value of organization. The few times I had used Photoshop in the past or just when drawing for fun, I never used grids. I figured if it looked good, it was fine and I was happy. As important as a great photo or drawing is, it’s even more important to highlight those elements through precise organization. Making sure everything fits on the grid right was tedious at times, but it made the design better.
33. Simplicity. It was my goal in every project. And although simplicity is a vague term, I think it is one of the most important parts of graphic design. It also connects to my career path in journalism. When writing, I have learned that using fewer words to get the point across makes a better story. The adjectives may sound nice, but if they don’t do anything, they only hurt the story. In graphics, it could be tempting to add one more color or one more typeface, but if it didn’t have a purpose the design was only weaker.
34. The planning process is also an integral part of graphic design. Taking the time to think about the project and sketching it on paper can lead to new ideas. It also makes the design process in Indesign or Photoshop easier. I had a clear plan for my projects after sketching and could just put the elements together on the computer.
35. Attention to detail can make a big difference. The details all come out and are easier to focus on if you take the time, plan, and pay close attention to organization. If all of those things are done well, the final design will be simple and effective. The smallest details can be the hardest things to notice and change, but they will be easily noticed in the final poster or magazine. It can be easy to ignore aligning everything perfectly or getting the colors to match exactly. Taking the time to make every detail as perfect as possible pays off.
36. Keep it simple. I experienced this rule the hard way. My original identity system was complex. I overlooked a much easier and, as it turned out, better way of designing my system. Throughout the rest of the projects for the class, I kept my designs simple and clean.
37. Color matters. I learned this from the poster project. My design was pretty good initially, but the color was a train wreck. On the revision, I used [different colors], and the poster came to life.
38. It’s the little details that matter. Throughout most of my projects, it seemed like I always made the little mistakes (a lot of mistakes, but little mistakes nonetheless). Whether it was improperly scaling an image or making something too prominent or not prominent enough in my design, I usually messed up a lot of the little details. Throughout the projects, I worked to look more at the little details rather than solely focusing on the larger details.
39. Typography matters.
40. Utilize your grid. Although I hate using Photoshop, I did learn the importance of using a grid and good-organizational skills during the website project. Throughout the project, I lined up all the elements of the site and made sure everything was correctly sized and spaced. To me, this clean, organized focus made my website a lot better. It was easy to view and easy to read—all because I made use of the grid.
41. I learned that Helvetica is everywhere. The movie really stuck with me and I learned how important typography is.
42. I learned that it isn’t that difficult to create something beautiful. Sometimes a simple design can make the biggest impact.
43. I learned how much true talent is in this school. I am so impressed by the work of the people in our class.
44. I have learned that it is important to keep things easy to read and look at. For my resume, I realized after the fact, that there was too much text and it was hard to look at. As well as on the magazine, it is important to make the body text easy to read and make people want to dive in. Having a lot of text makes you bored and disengaged. I always thought that having lots of text would make companies more impressed on a resume, but really they will just stop reading it.
45. I learned how important typography is to graphic design. Picking a typeface can really make or break the project you are doing. Each typeface can mean something different to the audiences. It should be readable, coherent and visually appealing.
46. I learned how important color, size, white space, placement, and many other factors are. All these things can mean something different and are very important to consider [in creating] the “feel” of the subject.
47. I wasn’t very educated on graphics design at all. I never knew much about it. I have learned that graphic design is EVERYWHERE. It is such a process, where much thought is needed. It evolves and is used to convey messages. It is more in tune with visual messages and helps to shape the world today. Graphics design is something that everyone should learn about and take note of. I was skeptical about taking this class, but I really have learned a lot more than I thought I would. I will now be much more observant of all the graphic design around me each day. Graphics design is about doing what works at that point in time.
48. There are some things I suck at, or at least find more difficult to grasp than others in my class appear to. It was refreshing, to put it mildly. But the challenge has also been invigorating, especially when I eventually succeeded, even earning A’s (minuses).
49. I shouldn’t take critiques and evaluations of my work too close to heart. I just try to take suggestions directly to my work and materialize them, focusing on improving my end product. I don’t give myself much time to dwell over a grade I’m upset with. … Something I’m still attempting to hammer into my brain is that [my GPA] doesn’t define me as a person.
50. It’s important to discern where the line lies between being highly ambitious and being pushy/annoying. Determination is a terrific quality that pays off, no question. But it’s critical to restrain yourself … and not go overboard, sending 17 e-mails to your professor in one weekend, compulsively checking your inbox for feedback. One must be respectful of the other party’s time and not demand more attention than other students receive, regardless of your personal aims.
51. Minimalism is key. Be precise and concise, whether in creating a poster or writing somebody a letter. More “stuff” does not necessarily translate to more clarity or better quality. Being simple is often the most effective way to convey a message (and the hardest to achieve). What “looks easy” could have taken hours, if not days, to execute. It’s easy to underestimate the time and effort inserted into art until you’re faced with doing it yourself.
52. Design can be powerful if done well. Design can serve a positive role in society, whether it’s in the form of strategic placement on a stop sign or food label that reduces the number of deaths, or a visually effective poster with a meaningful call to action that champions a cause. Design is nearly everywhere in contemporary Western culture, and it can help us advance.
53. Timing is everything. So is time management. Yes, we’ve been taught this sentiment since we were in middle school, but I don’t think I’ve been so hit in the face with the importance of time management since then. You can accomplish anything if you give yourself enough time. As college students we almost become programmed in the art of all nighters and cramming the night before a test. It works. The tests generally go just fine and so, we wait until the last minute the next time we have a test. I love a close deadline, it makes me work harder but I’ve learned that this tactic does NOT work in all instances and it definitely does not work for graphics.
54. Graphic design is everywhere. Simplicity is key. After this class I can’t walk past a poster and not try to evaluate whether it is graphically beautiful or look at a logo without deducing whether or not I think it works for the company it is representing. Simplicity almost always comes out on top. I have trouble accepting this when doing my own work. The most powerful messages are conveyed through the most non-complex graphics.
55. Make time to be inspired. I[Our guest speaker} said to take the time to see a movie, go to a museum, read a book or do what ever it is that gets you feeling creative. I thought it was an important piece of advice. If we aren’t inspired by our work, we sit down at the computer and stare at the screen forever wondering what to create. Things outside our graphic work can give us ideas. When I was most inspired by my work, I didn’t mind doing the projects. I liked working on my identity project the best because I liked my concept and was driven by my interest. Be inspired.
56. Plan, plan, plan. (Sketch, sketch, sketch.) Projects went so much easier if you sketched them out first. It helped immensely just because you can sketch anywhere and then when you get to the labs you aren’t wasting time trying to come up with an idea for hours. Sketching can get you excited to put your idea from paper to computer as well.
57. Find where YOU get your best graphic ideas. I came up with the idea for an additional identity system I didn’t use when riding in a car back from Philadelphia, PA. I immediately scrounged up a receipt and sketched out my idea. I need a place where I’m forced to do nothing but let my mind wander. There isn’t much you can do on a long car ride except listen to music and let your mind go. The best graphic ideas always come to me when I’m not stressing about the deadline or trying so hard to come up with a great idea.
58. Just because you don’t enjoy something, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to give up. To be honest, graphics gave me a lot of grief this semester. I felt that I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to graphics with the other classes I chose to take in addition to my early morning and evening job. I also learned I’m not that great visually; words are my thing. I’m not a graphics wiz, but I’ve learned that I’d better become somewhat efficient if I want to work at a magazine. I’m completely serious when I say I want to take another graphics class in Newhouse or find a class at home. I want to know how to do this for my future career. Graphics is essential if I want to be a magazine editor. I will at least need to be able to work the programs a little and be able to recognize a graphically pleasing layout. It will a painful thing to relive graphics but I want to. Just because you aren’t good at something, doesn’t mean you’re allowed to quit.
59. Keep things organized. One thing I’ve noticed is that if I didn’t have a sub-folder for every single thing I did, I surely would have lost something and/or thought I did. It’s too easy for things to get jumbled up. Keep every part of your design process organized. Electronically or hard copy, know exactly what is where. It will make your life that much easier when it comes to redoing your design and tweaking the final draft!
60. Don’t overthink your design! It’s very easy to think your design isn’t good enough. You many think it’s either too simple or it’s not conveying your message properly and you may start to doubt some great design ideas just because you’re unsure of whether or not it’s good enough. If you’re unsure, there’s nothing wrong with getting a second opinion from someone. Be it a professor or fellow design student, ask for another eye and what they make of it. What do they get out of your design? If they’re having a hard time uncovering your message and why you made certain decisions, ask for advice. If they get it first try and love it, maybe you’ve been staring at that computer screen for too long.
61. Sketch before you even think about a computer! Even if it’s not what you think you will want to do for the rest of your life, sketching and writing out all of your ideas will greatly help when it comes time to sit down in front of that monitor. Planning out and sketching what you want do to will make the design process a lot less hectic. It’s a base design for you to work with, and that’s better than going in completely clueless. The designs always come out to be more powerful and better thought out if you have an idea in your head before hand.
62. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of the design. Experiment, be creative! Don’t settle on “okay” or “average” design when you could make something incredible. Not only are you selling yourself short of your abilities, it won’t be nearly as effective as it could be and probably should be. There are certain rules that are meant to be kept and others that are meant to be broken. Figure out which ones are which. Make something you’re proud of and nothing else.
63. Organization is key. If one wants to succeed in graphic design they have to be organized with all parts of the project from time management to labeling projects correctly. Organization also comes into play when you are choosing type, color, words, visuals and space. In order for a design to be cohesive, it is important to keep all of the elements organized.
64. A crucial part to being a successful designer is the ability to communicate. Graphic designers have to transform their ideas into visual design. The best way to transform their ideas is by planning, sketching, drafting, and thinking critically how they can communicate their message. Visual communication requires knowing the best way to deliver a visual message to your audience.
65. Patience is vital. Every project that I have completed this semester has required massive amounts of patience. I had to be patient with learning how to use the programs, figuring out how to communicate ideas, creating a plethora of drafts, etc.
66. It’s important to manage my time in an effective manner. The workload for this class was immense. … Projects take a lot of time to complete, so having patience with yourself is key. In order to manage my time I tried to always be prepared and start my projects weeks ahead of time.
67. To create an effective design you have to know your audience. Figuring out who your audience is crucial because the design is catered to a target audience. Typeface and organization of the design should reflect what would be best for reaching and making sense to the audience.
68. Graphic design is a psychological tool to influence the audiences. Often time, before this class, I think that the job of designs is to make an image as visually nice as possible. However, I was wrong after I found out more and more evidence from this class that graphic design is intend to convey specific message to the audiences visually as well as psychologically. For example, as we have discussed about, the placement, size and color of an object can create a huge differences to the audiences, and thus influence audiences in certain way.
69. Everything matters. Everything from the typeface to the color to the image to the words to the size makes a difference. Each element comes together to make the design and sends a different message to whoever is looking at it. Each element should be chosen and tweaked deliberately because everything matters.
70. Simplicity. Just because something looks like it was hard to make or took a long time doesn’t necessarily make it good. The best design is often simple, and furthermore good because it is simple. As long as a design has a good concept that works, it can be simple and still be good design.
71. Look at [your work] with a fresh eye. After working on a project for hours upon hours and you think you have exhausted all the possible options and something still isn’t right, it is important to take a break and come back a few hours later or maybe even a few days later. There have been so many times when I’ve thought that there’s no possible way something could work, then taken a break and come back and the answer seems to pop right out at me.
72. Always sketch (multiple drafts) before touching the computer. I used to think sketching was pointless. However, I realized that if I had something in mind before I went to the computer, it not only took MUCH less time, but also was much easier to execute. Also, by sketching several different versions of a project it allows you to evaluate each one and choose the best one and if the first option doesn’t work out, you always have a few more to try.
73. Don’t rule out any options. In graphic design, the possibilities are endless. It is never impossible to try something really different or something completely absurd. An idea you think is ridiculous may turn out to be effective, so never be afraid to try something extreme.
74. Placement is THE most important thing regarding a graphic work. It sets the tone for the piece and guides the readers eye, leading them through the work and telling them what they should pay attention to. Placement takes the reader through the piece one element at a time, making it a dramatic experience.
75. Grids are important. I never actually got around to utilizing mine until the end of class, but placement and aligning are a lot easier with the use of grids, and it makes the work a lot better.
76. Dont ever use typefaces that try to evoke a certain emotion, like comic sans or typefaces like that. They look stupid and almost never work out because youre trying to force an emotion that the reader may not necessarily have toward your work.
77. Less is more. I think minimalism is the most important element of graphic design that I have learned. While certain designs are more complicated than others, the concept of less is more is essential. You want to tell the person who is reading your design something, and if there are non-essential elements the design becomes watered down. The best piece of advice I remember Professor Strong giving was “edit until you can’t take anything else out.”
78. Design for the intended audience. While you want your client to be happy, they may not know what’s best for conveying their message—your design needs to speak to the audience it is intended for. Part of appropriate design includes word selection (you’re not going to include LOL or JK on a poster for the AARP, for example.) You also need to take into consideration cultural baggage associated with design choices such as color and other symbolism. If your design does not speak to the audience, it is effectively mute and useless.
79. Hierarchy. Sometimes it is inevitable that a great deal of information be relayed in a space. However, the principle of hierarchy must be used to distinguish which information is important and even in what order the design is read. Hierarchy is effectively the road map you are handing the viewer and it must be clear to guide them through the “story” or message you are trying to convey.
80. The questions is: Serif or sans serif? Typography is one of the most important elements to consider in design. Is the text a headline or body copy? Is it being read on a computer screen or a piece of paper? You have to consider the answer to all of these questions when selecting typography, which conveys the “personality” of the message and if it is readable. If you can’t read the words, the message and design fails. Size, weight and other elements of typography are vital in communicating a message and must be selected deliberately.
81. Sketch. Design. Revise. Repeat. Even when I thought my design was finished, I learned I had to always push it further. The first draft is never the final product and I found this design truth frustrating to accept at times. Sketching a concept allows a designer to envision the message before sitting down to execute it. I took great pride in watching my designs evolve, especially my magazine. On more than one occasion I thought I “had it” but after critiques and looking at the design with fresh eyes, I was able to continue changing things I loved and ended up with final products I am extremely proud of.
82. Hierarchy and organization matter. I learned that those two elements of design were significant to visually appealing work as well as effective communication. 2. 83. Plan ahead. I learned that sketching was crucial to creating good design because the message could be thought out on paper many ways. In the preliminary sketches, ideas are born and in later drafts some ideas are kept and refined and others thrown out.
84. Critiques are important. During critiques, the work was in progress; however, getting feedback form others helped because fresh eyes were looking at the work and provided ideas and alterations that might not have been heard if not for the critique.
85. Late hours. I learned that as with anything else that I love to do or have an interest in, graphic design took time and much dedication. I spent hours working on drafts and concepts. Ideas sometimes came slowly or pretty quickly, it was unpredictable. Producing the final product and revisions kept me up late into the night, which I didn’t mind, however, I always wanted to hand in the best I could do. Revisions allowed me more time to refine the work even further, which I really appreciated. Design isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone, but I’m glad I could try it out.
86. Diverse thinking can lead to great places. If you choose to open up your mind and your five senses, if you absorb things differently or look at something (new or old) in a way you wouldn’t have done before, it can give you hints on how to do things differently. I found this out a lot during the drafting and brainstorming process and later on when I did things like play around with placement on my magazine cover. It was a lot of work and time spent just staring at the computer but at the same time it was like a maze or a puzzle that you keep attempting to fix and put together because you know that at the end of it, it will be a beautiful work of art that was worth all the right and wrong turns. That’s what it takes… and it starts off figuring out how to shift your mind or approach… you have to be willing to try a whole bunch of things and even if not all of them work out, it is better to have tried than to just do what your first idea is (even if you return to your original idea in some form or another.)
87. I learned to be a keen observer of everyday objects. Now when I consume anything or look at a package I can’t help but wonder what typeface it is using or why the designer used round edges instead of straight ones. The same goes for the computer. Earlier today I was just wondering who gets to redesign the look for Mac docs and so on. I probably would have never thought about that beforehand even if I thought about design a lot before coming into this class. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I realized I took design for granted. Not the super catchy “cool” design that is obvious or meant to be seen but the design that I rely on to get by on a daily basis, even things like the stop sign or warning labels on packages. Someone had to design those things and figure out how to make them appeal to everyone on a universal level. It just boggles my mind thinking about how someone makes that decision to increase the stroke’s width one more pixel and so on. All those little details matter on such a high level in design. I think this class really turned me into a student of design because now I can’t help but study design where I go, whatever I do, more than I did before especially because I also learned the technicalities behind design.
88. I learned to appreciate design as the invisible middle man. I used to think design was just aesthetics and while aesthetics can still play a role in design, I think one of the most important things to always concern one’s self with when designing is figuring out if the design has been functional. Did the design help get the message across? Was it flawless to the point where it wasn’t even noticeable because it seemed so natural? Design is like a secret in that sense and I think it’s like a fun game—the ability to blow people away at times, but also the ability to make something so wonderful and functional that it becomes naturalized at first sight. If I could do that someday with my art and design—to make it that functional and “meant to be” with purpose—I think I would be really happy and proud of myself. The question is how to get there … but I think it is worth the try to get there.
89. Design itself is like a whole science. It’s exciting and cool but also difficult because you must have the perfect “formula,” “chemistry,” “composition,” and so on. Perfect does not mean that there is only one way or standard to follow through with, but there are nice rules to follow (i.e. rule of thirds) that help guide design. As I did more work in the labs, I came to learn how typefaces can have chemistry with one another or with certain visuals and so on. Although I appreciated these kinds of things before as a viewer or as an artist, I never thought about them before as a designer—to be the one in that seat with the mouse in hand, making decisions of what to add or what to change or what to take away is another whole experience.
90. Design takes time. I’ve found that even if you’ve planned something on paper, or even if you see it perfectly in your mind, it is hard to transfer and translate it onto the computer. You must give yourself a lot of time to play around with things just in case they don’t end up the way you want—and a project is never over unless you have really worked with the grid and checked through typos and mismatched placements, etc. You must continuously go back and ask yourself if the design is good enough. Sometimes that means leaving the design alone and going back at a later time with fresher eyes. You have to let your ideas weave themselves out in your head, on paper, and on the screen. … But getting things to click isn’t always easy so it is best to leave a lot of time to dedicate to designing.
91. Everything should have a purpose. During the first week, we learned that everything in a design should have a purpose. Just doing something because it looks good isn’t necessarily a good idea. It’s important to make sketches and think everything through.
92. Graphic design is everywhere . I think it was the day that we watched Helvetica that I started to realize this. I had never thought of typography as graphic design and it is. From then on I just kept seeing it throughout the course. Behind ads, magazines, cartoons, movies, websites, books, post stamps, newspapers, buldings…behind almost everything there is a graphic designer who has made the product what it is visually.
93. Creativity can be learned . I never thought I’d be capable of doing some of the things I did. I never saw myself as creative or artistic and I actually learned some of the qualities that go into being these things. I learned tha once you sit down and actually try, your mind can come up with so many ideas.
94. To appreciate photography. In that one class that we learned about photography in graphic design, I started to appreciate the beauty of it so much. I actually go on the National Geographic website and looks at the photos of the day and all the other photographs they have. I find myself closely analyzing the images and looking for the creative devices.
95. Sketches are really important. Before taking this class, I’ve known any design or project is precious combination of wisdom and efforts of artists. After taking this course, I feel [that] much more deeply. A good design really needs plenty sketches and drafts before carrying out. When sitting in front of computer without any sketch or idea, I felt I was wasting time. … You should carry your sketch books every day and record any ideas related to this project.
96. Manage your time. [These] projects are different from other homework in science class. Design never is done at once. It needs continuously correcting and improving. So to plan earlier is a wise choice. When you finish drafts, you should take advantage of the opinions of professors.
97. I learned a lot about the way type feels, its function and role in the world. Now, no matter what I’m reading – whether a magazine, website, or even textbook, I’m conscious of all the types used, what the display type is, and how the body types does/doesn’t facilitate reading. The first time I noticed this was when I picked a book of music. The only thing I could see was how beautifully “clean” the cover was (which, as a side note, felt particularly odd because it was Bach’s Preludes and Fugues – extremely convoluted pieces!). Then for the whole rest of the semester I realized how much type really shapes the world in which we live.
98. Less is more. Clean lines, clean design. Beauty in simplicity. No more than needed. Need I say more?
99. Space is tough! As a writer, I never really understood word-counts. I mean I got it, and I’d sort of stick to them, but often I wouldn’t worry if my piece was 50 words plus or minus the word count. They were loose guidelines, meant to be disregarded. But now that I’ve had to design for one of my own pieces (the magazine project), I realize what a “short piece” can do to the designer. I struggled over half a column—should I make the pull quote bigger, increase the leading, add even MORE text wrap? If I had a slightly longer piece or adhered to the whatever wordcount a magazine had given me exactly, I will make someone else’s job a whole lot easier. I feel like half the battle has always been with space. Too much, or too little can really impact a design, and its so hard to find that perfect balance.
100. Everyone’s a little artistic. Frustrations aside, I definitely considered myself “terrible at art” before this semester. But this class forced me into thinking about the elements of “art” – how to recreate the feeling of a famous painting, or embody emotion on the page. But it’s a lot of fun to engage in this type of reductionism —how do I break elements into something I can execute. And in many ways, that is, perhaps, “artistic.” You just have to let yourself attempt it.