Oh, what a semester it was. We began with 13 extremely talented and hard-working Sophomores. We had workshops, exercises, and a few field trips and we asked each student to research a number of possibilities before choosing their ultimate “Design Hero.”
After more research, each student wrote a long-form essay about their hero and why she/he is important to them personally. They also developed a timeline; gathered a library of work images, portraits, video clips, and other assets; and built mood boards and a kit of parts containing colors, typography, and diagram styles relevant to their subject. All of this was used to make a host of deliverables including a large-scale informational poster; a 16-page, self-cover booklet; a mobile experience; a video; and a website. So along with making, the students were also able to learn some Design History as well as develop their skills as storytellers.
We were well on our way when the world changed.
Going remote presented a host of challenges—multiple time zones, lack of printers, slow rendering times, laptop crashes, working in isolation. It also prevented an end-of-semester exhibition. But the students soldiered on and developed a body of work that we present to you here.
Minus the pandemic, we would have worked in-studio to make all five projects as cohesive as possible. Some students did this remotely. Others decided to concentrate on further developing each of their individual projects. It was interesting to see the progression from project to project and how each student had their own individual way of working.
At its most basic level, Communication Design conveys ideas and translates concepts into visual form. This form needs to be such that an audience will want to look, engage, and (hopefully) learn. But as designers, we can’t stop there. Everything we design is an opportunity to make work that is compelling, memorable, and moving.
To get there, students need to develop their process. Their own unique path. This is not easily done. It’s also not prescriptive. There isn’t one defined straight path. It’s more like a wild and crazy zig-zag. A goal of this course was for the students to give themselves permission to wander beyond the areas they’re comfortable with—to not be afraid of stretching beyond where they think they may be capable.
Throughout the semester, they were expected to act—and live—as communication designers. This involved being both an interpreter and a translator. It also required them to think, be curious, seek, question, critique, iterate, reiterate, tell stories, define, redefine, clarify, change their mind, false-start, act, not act, get feedback, make mistakes, build, start over, move forward, report back, and try their best to enjoy the process. Their process. Pandemic be damned.
Many thanks to Alice, Sammie, Angela, Jina, Jenny, Julia, Caroline, Stefanie, Mia, Yoshi, Langston, Claire, and Nina for their talent and tenacity. Super-duper thanks to Andrew Twigg for teaching us so much—me included! And thanks to our teaching assistants, Serina Liu and Mason Young-Shor.
All the best for summer.