I’ve been meaning to write up process posts for some of the work I’ve created while studying at the Academy of Art University, and now that it’s a new year I figured it would be a good time to get started.
Beast in a Neon Cage is the name of a hypothetical film festival I created during the Fall 2010 semester. The assignment was to create a festival for a director of our choice and develop a brand and visual identity to extend across multiple pieces including: a poster, catalog book, DVD set, soundtrack, letterhead, schedule, tickets, signage, website and numerous products. Previously, Alex wrote about the process of designing his festival for Wes Anderson here,here and here. Instructors at AAU continue to use his festival as a benchmark for a successful project.
Before jumping into this process post I want to define my terms: This project revolves around the concept of ‘FOMO’, which if you haven’t come across, stands for “Fear of Missing Out”. Fomo is a very real and worrysome condition that can affect anyone at anytime. It describes that feeling of jealousy and helplessness when you miss out on something great. Typically the condition becomes more prevalent during the weekends, summer, and nighttime. For example, “When I was looking at John’s pictures from the submarine party last night, I had a really bad case of fomo.” If you are stuck at work right now and your friends just went skydiving, you have fomo.
Nofomo by contrast refers to the state of being in which you have cured your fomo. You do not have a fear of missing out because you are always the one doing something awesome. You actually cause fomo, rather than experience it yourself. If you are living your life to the fullest and saying yes to everything, you have probably achieved such a state.
This is a project about NOFOMO. (And while it may not seem like it, yes this was for school.)
Just a quick reminder that tonight is opening night for the Academy of Art 2010 Spring Show. I’m going to be judging this year so I’ll be headed down a bit early to get things started. All the info is here and if you’re not near San Francisco you can check out a live blog of the event here.
A few weeks ago, Scott gave a lecture to my fellow Academy of Art students. The talk was part of the Designspeak lecture series and was open to students and faculty (and 20 lucky blog readers). The room was jam packed, with a bunch of people even crammed in on the floor. The talk covered a wide range of topics: early influences, current design process, Tycho, the blog, and much more. We even got a glimpse of the first poster Scott ever designed!
The lecture was about 1.5 hours long, with a 30 minute Q&A at the end. In addition to the Academy film crew, I was on hand with my 5DMKII to capture some of the evening. Given the massive file size, and limited continuous shot duration on the 5D, I only recorded sporadically, and wasn’t able to capture everything I would have liked. I shot until my memory card filled up and was able to capture a total of 30 minutes of the talk. I selected the shots you see in the video above from this sample.
As I said in my intro that night, it would be hard for me to convey how much I’ve learned from Scott over these last two years interning at the studio. I consider myself enrolled in two design schools (Scott’s, and the Academy) and it was really exciting for me to see these two worlds combined. I’m very glad that everyone at the Academy was able to get a glimpse into Scott’s world and I’m also really excited now to be able to show you all at least a little bit of the talk. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to see one of the talks in person, I highly suggest you make that happen (I think Toronto is your next opportunity). In the meantime, hopefully this video will tide you over.
Recording the talk was another great test run with the 5D and I learn something new each time I take it out. This time, audio was the main issue as I wasn’t able to find a suitable solution before the talk. What you hear through most of video was from the Academy microphone — at the end is what it sounds like off the internal mic on the 5D. Basically the on camera mic is completely useless. It helps for syncing external audio to the video, but that’s about it. For future excursions I am definitely going to look into some form of either a mounted shotgun mic or wireless LAV.
Note: I wrote this process post a while ago about a project I completed last November. There has been so much going on these days that I forgot about it in the depths of my terribly cluttered hard drive. As I have transitioned to thesis mode now, there are less of these sorts of projects in the pipeline. This is one of my favorites I have completed at the Academy thus far and it was interesting to revisit. This is the article in its original form, as I wrote it last December.
This semester we were asked to immerse ourselves in one topic and research it through a series of week long projects. The content of each project would be the result of our extensive research, and we were expected to pick a topic robust enough to be worthy of 15 weeks of study. Each project encouraged us to explore different design solutions and helped us hone in on a visual style that we could use for the final project, which would synthesize all of our work into one deliverable.
For the last month of the semester, we were tasked with compiling all of our research into a book that we would write, design, and bind ourselves. It was to have a minimum of 48 pages (6″ x 9″), a hardcover, and provide some meaningful insights about our topic which we uncovered during our semester of research. In addition to providing a worthy and refreshing commentary, it was to be a covetable piece of graphic design that felt visually appropriate for our topic.
The topic I chose for the semester was Mega Cities (urban areas with a population over 10 million people). The original focus of the project was an examination of what makes a city successful — what it is about a massive city that makes it unique. It eventually dovetailed into an exploration of the ways these cities are confronting the problems they face and how increasing populations make solving these problems more complicated and time sensitive. These problems are becoming increasingly relevant as the world’s urban population continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. I flirted with numerous other topics, some of which I thought were quite interesting, but I found that Mega Cities would provide me with the most interesting and engaging material.
As of this summer I am officially halfway through my graduate design program at the Academy of Art. Unlike a BFA degree, the MFA requires the completion of a thesis, and the second half of the graduate program is dedicated to the development of this. The most recent checkpoint I had to clear was Midpoint; basically a review of your work and skills to date, as well as a clearing ground for your upcoming project. It’s a pretty exciting meeting actually; you place all your work on the table, in front of a faculty committee, and they determine whether you are fit to continue. The main focus of the meeting is your thesis proposition. Before they allow you to embark on a 1-2 year thesis project, they want to make sure your idea is viable and worth pursuing.
I am past the Midpoint stage now and am in a class called Thesis Development this summer. It is a very different class than those that I’ve written about previously. Rather than creating a series of graphic design based projects, we are spending all of our time researching and strategizing how we are going to go about the next few years. I always picture that scene in Apollo 13 when they are trying to get back to Earth and only have one chance to fire their rocket boosters to enter the atmosphere at the correct angle. It is extremely important that they get their aim correct, else they bounce off the atmosphere and careen into space and die. I think of this class as that moment in the space flight; we are aiming where we want to go before firing our boosters over the next year and trying and pull off a successful project.
Above you see a piece created for the class. It is a piece of design, as everything we bring to school must be, but the main purpose of the document is to chart my progress over the next year. It divides the weeks up into sections and outlines what I should be doing when. I expect it to change many times over the course of the coming months (it’s already way off base), but it really helps having a checklist like this to keep tabs on my progress. I have never pursued a project of this magnitude before and the planning involved is unlike any design challenge I have been faced with previously. Most of the time I just open Illustrator and start drawing lines and scribbles until things look cool.
A graphic design thesis is a very interesting concept. The biggest thing I struggled with, as I decided on a topic, was whether my thesis would implement graphic design, and pursue an issue outside the field, or whether it would be about Graphic Design itself, and aim to make waves within the design community. Most projects do the former. We are lucky in this way — because design really can be used to solve just about any problem — but there is the concern that this strategy will be of no relevance to the actual field of study. I still don’t know quite what to make of this dilemma. I have tried to meld the two directions with my project (I’ll discuss details in later process posts), but I am unsure whether it will end up being that much more effective because of this, or if it will fail because I never decided which path to pursue. I guess it’s still too early in the process to know.