Developing Agency in Art and Design

Mitch Goldstein
Assistant Professor
School of Design 
Rochester Institute of Technology

As the bar for entry to art and design becomes lower, it is easier than ever for anyone to call themselves a “creative.” One way to separate ourselves from the dilettantes is by creating a sense of agency as makers and thinkers — understanding who we are, how and why we act within our chosen fields, and what our criticisms of art and design are. Art and design school is an intense experience, where students are exposed to dramatic shifts in social, environmental, and intellectual contexts. Educators must help our students navigate these new realities, while also assisting in their development into future artists and designers. We must educate our students to move past trends and superficial technical acumen, into a more inquisitive, exploratory, and critical approach to creative practice. Developing agency informs how a student can approach creative inquiry, and how they can process and manifest work within their creative practice. This presentation will examine projects, outcomes, and critical frameworks used to teach agency.

Thinking Through The Pencil: The Primacy Of Drawing In The Design Thinking Process

Pattie Belle Hastings
Chair of Interactive Media + Design
School of Communications
Quinnipiac University

The research and ideation phases of the Design Thinking process typically incorporate forms of drawing, which can include thumbnails, sketches, comprehensives, wire frames, mind maps, storyboards, paper prototypes, and collaborative methods. It is from this collection of visualized ideas that a design project moves forward toward implementation. The basic purposes of design drawing can be summarized as generating, visualizing, documenting, collaborating, and analyzing. I’ve broken this down into three main drawing and thinking practices:

  1. thinking of and through ideas

This includes visualizing and recording ideas to externalize and convey the process of thinking. The goal for this kind of drawing is for idea generation and exploration. The best approach is to start with deep research and then freeform brainstorming of ideas on paper in which quantity is pursued in order to reach quality.

  1. thinking to improve ideas

Once the flow of ideas begins to form on the page, the processes of analysis, comparison, iteration, elaboration, reflection, and development can begin. Sometimes generation and analysis occurs simultaneously and sometimes it is successive. Reflection on the drawings reveals relationships, strengths and weaknesses that allow for refinement, reduction, and reiteration.

  1. thinking about ideas with others

Design drawings are often created for the purpose of collaboration, communication, and conversation. They are used to explain ideas to others and to engage discussion around the project or problem. Through their ephemeral nature, design drawings convey an idea that is in process not completion, which invites reflection, responses, criticisms, and alternatives.

This framing of “design drawing,” grounded in ideation, iteration and development, will be the foundation used to gather case studies, best practices, in addition to visual libraries of examples and methods. Another broad and hopeful goal of this research is the creation of a drawing curriculum and handbook for introducing and integrating “design drawing” methods into interaction design programs.

Making Small Things: Robots, Cracks, and Hamburgers

Whether exploring meditations on a single theme, embracing new materials or studying the affects of repetition and reproduction, designer Chris St. Cyr’s work exploits both the familiar and the unknown.

Chris St.Cyr
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
The College of Saint Rose

cracksMake some thing. Somewhere between morning routines, client projects and preparing for a class there is time to create something… a small something. Over time, these creations may evolve into larger projects or they can remain a collection of random ideas waiting for connections to given them form. The trick is to think small— a two-minute sketch, a single bullet item, one typeface, one principle, two constraints, no command z, a page, or one post.

hamburgersOver the past five years I’ve developed a series of small personal projects that continue to evolve and grow. Social media is part of the production process. It is used to start conversations and provides a place for my creations to exist on their own and to engage with a globally networked community. One project, an investigation of the efficiency of modular design systems and has evolved from building 3D Lego structures to using Lego block printing to create a system of robot symbols for use on T-shirts, stickers, and in augmented reality. In another project (perhaps a reaction against the Lego project) old rub down press type is used as a catalyst for the investigation of randomness, reaction, and flow. Here there is very little control and rubbing cracked letterforms onto sketchbook paper gives form to the compositions which are then scanned, manipulated and printed, all of which adds another layer of uncertainty to the outcome. robotsA third, and more recent project, is a meditation on the mobile menu symbol—affectionately known as the “Hamburger Menu.” More specifically it involves a series of motion design experiments that explore how three horizontal lines can transition into the shape of an “X.” As the projects have changed over time one thing remains consistent—they all started as a single small exploration of a design principle, material, tool or technique.

How Much is Too Much?

Mark Zurolo
Associate Professor Graphic Design, UConn Storrs
Liz DeLuna
Associate Professor Graphic Design, St. John’s University

Motion design has evolved into a discipline that requires a complex skill set including, but not limited to, an expert command of typography and illustration, technical ability including expertise in software, understanding of narrative structures, an animator’s sense of motion, timing and sound, and formal design acumen. Whew! That’s a lot. Motion graphics emerged from graphic design with pioneers like Saul Bass, trained as a traditional graphic designers who saw graphic design not as static compositions, but kinetic orchestrations captured in a moment of stasis. New technologies have created not only the potential for new visual languages, but entirely new skill sets. Who is best equipped to wield these languages? What should they learn and how should they learn it? Taste or Technology? Software or gestalt? Is the horizon endless or ending? This presentation will explore techniques and briefs that investigate strategies for creating thoughtful and articulate skill sets driven by the principles of graphic design in the context of motion.

 

Visualizing Pesticide Use in Controlling Zika

Courtney Marchese
Assistant Professor of Interactive Media + Design
Quinnipiac University

Information graphics help condense large amounts of data into comprehensive visuals. One of the most critical topics for the general public to understand is issues of public health. Zika virus has come to the forefront as one of the most threatening mosquito-transmitted diseases in the Americas, with proven complications that include microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Although there is currently no cure for Zika, there are a number of pesticides used in the affected areas in hopes of controlling the spread of the virus. In collaboration with scientists and other experts in the field, I will harvest and deliver the most important data to the general public. Through data visualization, we can track which pesticides are being used where, and how efficiently they are controlling the spread of the virus-carrying mosquitos.

My methodology in creating the information graphics is to research both data visualization techniques as well as pesticide use in the Americas as it related to controlling Zika transmission. I will also interview and collaborate with experts as I collect and analyze the necessary layers of data. From there, many iterations of potential visualizations will be created and critiqued until the best possible solutions have been created. My hope is that these graphics will help provide a comprehensive overview of the relationship between various pesticide use and the spread of Zika virus.

Colloquium 3.0: MCLA

Design Incubation Colloquia 3.0 (#DI2016sep) at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Massachusetts on Saturday, Sept 24, 2016.

Hosted by Josh Ostraff

Saturday, Sept 24, 2016
Time: 12:30pm–4pm
Feigenbaum Center for Science & Innovation, Room 121
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
71 Blackinton St
North Adams, MA 01247

Design Incubation Colloquia 3.0 (#DI2016sep) will be held at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Massachusetts. This event is open to all interested in Communication Design research. RSVP with name and affiliations if you plan on attending.

Parking: There is a lot across the street from the Feigenbaum Center for Science & Innovation on Blackinton Street or the lot behind the Church Street Center between Elmwood & Porter Streets.

Abstract submission for presentations deadline Sept 3, 2016.  For details visit the Call for Submissions, and Submission Process description.

Guest Presentation

Making Small Things: Robots, Cracks, and Hamburgers
Chris St.Cyr
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
The College of Saint Rose

Presentations

How Much is Too Much?
Mark Zurolo
Associate Professor Graphic Design, UConn Storrs
Liz DeLuna
Associate Professor Graphic Design, St. John’s University

Visualizing Pesticide Use in Controlling Zika
Courtney Marchese

Assistant Professor of Interactive Media + Design
Quinnipiac University

Would You Take This Course? A Case Study in Instructional Design
Gerol C. Petruzella Ph.D.
Associate Director, Academic Technology
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Major and Life Design for a Wild New World
Karen M. Cardozo, M.Ed., PhD
Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Thinking Through The Pencil: The Primacy Of Drawing In The Design Thinking Process
Pattie Belle Hastings

Chair of Interactive Media + Design
School of Communications
Quinnipiac University

Developing Agency in Art and Design
Mitch Goldstein
Assistant Professor, School of Design 
Rochester Institute of Technology

Would You Take This Course? A Case Study in Instructional Design

Gerol C. Petruzella Ph.D.
Associate Director
Academic Technology
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

One of the contexts in which design can have a vital and immediate impact in education is in the design of the online course space. As higher education expands to more meaningfully accommodate the role of instructional design in developing pedagogy and curricula, there is an increasing opportunity for such work to be put into practice, not only in specifically design-focused curricula, but across majors and programs generally. Longstanding research points toward a significant correlation between well-designed environments and improved educational experiences and effectiveness. As digital environments, not just physical ones, have become a mainstream part of the student experience, we have compelling reason to mindfully and intentionally apply design principles to those spaces as a matter of course, rather than as a specialized or ‘add-on’ practice.

This presentation offers a comparative case study in the effectiveness of applying basic considerations of design to an online course space, and offers some preliminary analysis. The same 200-level philosophy course, taught first in 2012 with no explicit attention paid to issues of design, and then taught again in 2015, with intentional consideration of visual, accessibility, web, and mobile design issues, will form the basis of the investigation. Analytics data and trends collected by the learning management system, including direct and proxy measurements of participation, engagement, and assessments, will undergird some conclusions about the efficacy of including intentional and explicit design work as a standard element of course creation.

Major and Life Design for a Wild New World

Karen M. Cardozo, M.Ed., PhD
Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

Some undergraduate institutions offer an interdisciplinary or special major where students integrate their interests and passions to design their own programs of study. In Finding Your Way in a Wild New World (2013), this method is recommended to everyone by social scientist and life coach Martha Beck. Arguing that social structures (including those related to work) are changing faster than conventional education or strategic planning processes can keep pace, Beck suggests that we can best navigate this rapidly shifting landscape by following our instincts and using all five senses in a more fluid, situationally responsive way. This dovetails with Daniel Pink’s thesis in A Whole New Mind (2006) that we have entered a Conceptual Age in which the most successful enterprises will be “high touch” (providing face to face or interactive services that cannot be outsourced) and/or “high concept” (tapping the creative, visual capacities of the right brain in addition to the analytic, verbal capacities of the left brain that are most elicited by educational systems). Barbara Sher (2006) agrees, adding that integrative or interdisciplinary orientations of the polymath types she calls “scanners” will be particularly in demand. Design communication serves as an ideal nexus for all of these insights.

Inspired by Stanford’s Design your Stanford and Design Your Life courses, this presentation argues that 21st century pedagogy should relinquish an outmoded “information age” attachment to content coverage in favor of more self-reflexive learning in which students apply open-ended and iterative design principles to fully maximize their own curiosity, inclinations and opportunities—in college and beyond. As a concrete case study, we’ll look at MCLA’s Interdisciplinary Studies (IDST) program as helpful “design your major” intervention, and present a scaled-up counterpart in life design from one IDST World of Work course, whose final research project requires students to design their lives in two alternate universes: one, the life they think they are planning and the other a path that might unfold from a different point of departure and in response to unpredicted setbacks, risks taken, or plain dumb chance. The resulting insights reveal that while the future is unpredictable, the value of design thinking as a method for navigating the unknown is quite clear.