The Design and Branding of a Project

Anita Giraldo
Assistant Professor
Communication Design
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

Steel Ice & Stone is an interactive installation consisting of nine 3 x 4” backlit photographic images, each equipped with a dedicated sensor-driven sound unit which play back nine sound compositions. It was first exhibited in December 2013 at ArtWorks Trenton, followed by its Brooklyn exhibition at the Gowanus Ballroom in June 2014.

The work employed various forms of social media for its promotion and funding, most notably a successful Kickstarter. Attaining this form of funding was a complex task requiring agile strategies across a system of social media outlets, all designed to further the brand of the work.

The ultimate goal was to build the most appropriate target audience—a fan base—who would identify so strongly with the project that they would fund it, attend its exhibitions and buy an artwork from the installation.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.3: Parsons The New School on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.

Black and White: Basic Color Terms

Grace Moon
Adjunct Professor
Graphic Design, Dept of Art
Queens College, CUNY

Black and White: Basic Color Terms is the first chapter from a manuscript titled, An Illustrated History of Color, in theory and practice. The overall scope of this book, as the title implies, is to set out a comprehensive account and analysis of the development of color as it has been used by artists, designers, and craftspeople, as well as the history of its theoretical framework and language. The first chapter title is “Black and White; Basic Color Terms.”

First, the impetus for embarking on such a large and generalized topic is that color in academia has been reduced to modernist tropes that leave little to the imagination in its actual implementation especially as we move from pigment and ink to digital space. So entrenched have our ideas about color theory become that in all of the most current books published on the subject none stray from Modernist basic methodology and worse, many are rife with superficial anecdotes without proper reference and incorrect definitions of color terms and concepts. Also the topic of color crosses over into other non-visual disciplines such as anthropology, linguistics, child development, visual science and comparative literature. In exploring the topic of color at the intersection of the arts and sciences I believe we, as visual creators, will have a better grasp of what color is and means within our disciplines.

The first chapter is looking at “basic color terms,” —a label linguists have given to the general hue of a culture’s essential color palette. Industrial societies have eleven basic color terms; black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, purple, brown, orange, pink, grey. Linguists have also determined that color terms have historically developed along a specific path. For instance, preindustrial Black and White; Basic Color Terms societies have four or five basic color terms; black, white, red, followed by green or yellow—and if a culture has a sixth term, then it is blue. But, blue never precedes the other colors. While the sciences have puzzled over these curious findings; why is red always the third term, and why is blue not a term before green or yellow, artists and designers have not yet weighed in on this debate. Visual creators have innately understood the importance and relationships of colors and their dimensions and have a lot to add to this interdisciplinary study. The key points in the basic color term debate as well as point towards its impact within the arts and design fields will be addressed. That is, the impact of artists and designers’ upon basic color terms and the nature of how societies understand color itself.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.3: Parsons The New School on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.

Using Historical Archives to Explore Cultural Representation in Design & Mass Media

Ryan Hartley Smith
Assistant Professor, Graphic Design
Art Department, Queens College, CUNY

Communication designers today have unprecedented access to visual reference material from around the globe. This is largely thanks to the recent advent of online creative resources and archives. Whether a designer uses this material as formal inspiration, or directly incorporates imagery into a project, their appropriation can raise a multitude of ethical, cultural, and historical questions to consider.

Over the past four semesters, students in my Color and Design courses have explored these questions by using material in our college’s extensive Civil Rights Archives to generate socially minded projects, and to discuss cultural representation, authorship, and re-appropriation.

This presentation describes the outcome of our most recent project, which adapted the Civil Rights-era format of a “Mass Meeting” to examine the legacies of the 1964 Freedom Summer.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.2: New York City College of Technology on Friday, October 31, 2014.

Painting with the iPad: Using Traditional Techniques on a Digital Canvas

Monika Maniecki
Adjunct Lecturer
MFA in Illustration
Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.2: New York City College of Technology on Friday, October 31, 2014.

The Graphic Design Portfolio: Process Over Product

Irina Lee
Design Director, Bureau Blank
Adjunct Lecturer, School of Visual Arts
Adjunct Lecturer, Department of Visual Communications: Art + Graphic Design
SUNY Farmingdale

Portfolio preparation can be a friendly approach to learning time management, identifying personal career goals, and transitioning from a student to a professional practice. 
“Live Interviews + Networking Night” was born out of the necessity to focus and motivate the graphic design seniors. Over the course of 6 weeks, the work leading up to the “big night” provides a real-world setting for students to research the design industry, identify personal career goals, iterate, self-initiate the necessary portfolio work, articulate their work through written case studies, seek out help and feedback from design professionals, and learn to make their own decisions. Instead of the traditional teacher/student reviews, students seek reviews from industry professionals and supplement their work with group reviews and self evaluations. 
Through this process, students gain confidence in their work, become stronger writers, improve collaboration and group facilitation skills, and learn how to build their networks. The talk will include students’ work, teaching methods, and tips for anyone interested in incorporating a similar model into their upper-level design courses.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.2: New York City College of Technology on Friday, October 31, 2014.

Defining Practice, Redefining Education: Five Case Studies

Juliette Cezzar
Associate Director & Assistant Professor
BFA Communication Design
Parsons the New School for Design

The last decade has brought with it a fragmentation of the design field, where the work of the graphic designer is publicly being defined as limited to artifacts (magazines, posters, advertisements) while “new”fields of interaction design, digital product design, service design, and branding are distancing themselves as rapidly as possible. At the same time, schools have moved away from prioritizing concept and theory, emphasizing the teaching of skills instead, oftenblaming the demands of the technological marketplace.

The result has been a suite of technology-based skills courses that are tacked onto existing curricula, making many students’ transcripts read as comma-separated lists of various subfields without preparing them for the field they are graduating into.

This presentation demonstrates five ways faculty can incorporate the teaching of technology into the fundamentals of graphic design and carry them through into subsequent “non-technology” courses such as editorial design. The aim is to bring technology into concept, methodology, and theory, not just technique – then to bring those three things back into our programs.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.1: Queens College on Tuesday, August 26, 2014.

Reality Check: Learning About the Difference Between Design and Designer

Yue Chen
Art Director
Office of Visual Communication
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

Design critic Ralph Caplan wrote: “Learning how to write is not the same as being a writer.” The same principle holds true when it comes to design, and yet this simple truth is often forgotten in the classroom. While students are expected to learn how to design, many have failed to realize that technique alone does not automatically make them designers—attitude and work ethnic are just as important. In this presentation, I will discuss a few real-life lessons I developed to help students become more aware of the choices they make as designers, and how those choices can, for better or worse, affect their own lives and the well-being of society.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.1: Queens College on Tuesday, August 26, 2014.

Service-learning: A Natural Fit in Design Education?

M. Genevieve Hitchings
Assistant Professor
Advertising Design & Graphic Arts
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

College level design courses can provide students with opportunities to work effectively in collaboration with actual clients. Such projects, undertaken jointly by faculty, students, and clients, develop student skills not only in design, but also in research, and in communicating with the public. Carefully chosen projects can also be of benefit to society, and offer advantages over work confined to the classroom. Since a large part of what we do in communication design is geared at problem solving for clients, service learning seems a natural fit in design education; and presents students with unique opportunities to work on projects focused on critical social issues. And yet when put into practice ethical dilemma can arise that are not so simple to navigate when teaching a class. This presentation highlights difficulites faculty-contemplating bringing a client into a design class may encounter.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.0: Inaugural Event at AIGA on Thursday, June 5, 2014.

Design Considerations for Low Literacy Audiences: A Case Study

Kathryn Weinstein
Associate Professor of Graphic Design
Queens College, CUNY

This presentation describes a case study of the re-design of the Inwood House Resident’s Handbook. Inwood House is a short-term residence for pregnant young women in foster care. Considerations for the design of the handbook included the age, gender and the average literacy level (3rd grade) of the residents; and the communication objectives and legal obligations of the institution.

Research from the Institute of Medicine, National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has demonstrated that design decisions can impede or assist comprehension for readers with minimal literacy skills. This case study presents best practices for designers culled from existing research —including recommendations for layout, use of color and graphics, and analysis of text — to be used to maximize the effectiveness of materials designed for low-literacy audiences. The case study presents spreads from the Inwood House Resident’s Handbook to illustrate the prescribed best practices for designers and two assessment tools from the Harvard School of Health were utilized to predict the effectiveness of the design for the residents of Inwood House.

PRESENTATION: DesignConsiderations_K_Weinstein6_2014

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.0: Inaugural Event at AIGA on Thursday, June 5, 2014.

ABC’s of Type Design

Liz DeLuna
Associate Professor of Graphic Design
St. John’s University

Every typeface has a story, and many typefaces have life cycles and histories that span centuries. These histories and stories reveal tales of historical and cultural context, modes of production, changes in production technologies and rationales for the emergence of styles and trends. This lecture examines the evolution of three distinct digital typeface designs, from research through design and production. My first foray into typeface design began when I discovered a late 19th century stone wall plaque in the Bowery Mission meeting room in downtown Manhattan. The letterforms on the plaque were carvings that had been done by hand, each one individual and unique. Excited by this discovery, I made rubbings of the letterforms. A desire to turn these eclectic letterforms into a typeface propelled my further explorations into typeface design. This journey eventually led me to the typeface design program, Type@Cooper. The process of designing a typeface requires a diverse and interdisciplinary skill set; relying on a web of historical, cultural, and technical understanding, as well as the more formal aesthetic and form making skills. The type designer inhabits a world somewhere between designer and engineer. My ongoing research explores the overlap between digital typeface design and traditional graphic design outputs.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 1.0: Inaugural Event at AIGA on Thursday, June 5, 2014.