Agents of Change: Inspiring the Next Generation of Art Directors

James Wojtowicz 
Associate Director of Art Direction and Industry Development
School of Advertising
Academy of Art University
San Francisco, California

Many, if not most Art Directors did not plan on being Art Directors as a kid. There are lots of reasons why. Chances are they were tacitly, if not actively discouraged by parents and guidance counselors, from pointing towards anything with the word art in the job title. This and media profiling, that in general, rank a career in advertising somewhere between becoming a politician and a used car salesperson.

That needs to change. More than ever, Art Directors today can be the driving force behind positive social impact and not just a client’s bottom line. College bound students need to know this. They need to be more exposed to the fact that creativity is a learnable and applicable skill – one that can be used on demand, to develop smart, compelling messaging that inspires meaningful change in the world.

Insights from experienced professionals have tremendous impact on young minds in search of a career path. This presentation provides a set of tools for influencers to encourage the next generation of Art Directors/Agents of Change. Perhaps actor Kevin Spacey said it best “If you’re lucky enough to have done well, then it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.”

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.

Safe Niños: A Co-Creation Case Study

Susannah Ramshaw
Associate Director
ArtCenter College of Design

Over 7 million children a year suffer from severe burn injuries in Latin America. COANIQUEM, a non-profit pediatric treatment facility in Santiago, Chile that cares for young burn survivors free of charge, partnered with Designmatters at ArtCenter College of Design in the Spring of 2016 to develop innovative interactive environments for pediatric healing. In the Safe Niños transdisciplinary studio, students were challenged to co-create with stakeholders to reinvigorate the six-acre campus with human-centered and engaging environments aimed at optimal healing for patients and their families, and support the holistic medical approach of the center. Designmatters faculty guided students to use various design ethnography tools, from day-in-the-life patient journeys to brainstorming sessions with medical staff, enabling them to uncover insights and opportunities informed by stakeholders’ daily behaviors and activities across campus. Two follow-up field testing trips allowed a smaller group from the studio to test concepts and push co-creation and empathic methodology to arrive at novel, useful and integrated solutions that were ultimately implemented at COANIQUEM’s campus by Summer 2017, thanks to a nearly-$50,000 award supplied by Sappi North America’s Ideas that Matter grant. Patients at COANIQUEM now enjoy a system of environmental wall graphics and wayfinding, an interactive passport and storybook for the 10 rehabilitative therapies, and an area dedicated specifically for teenagers on campus.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.

Teaching Sea Changes

Andrea English
Department Of Design
San José State University

How can design education facilitate the relationship between the deepest passions of students and today’s urgent needs? How can design curricula teach students to creatively presence transformation, meaning, and compassion? The BA Senior capstone class at SJSU engages students at the creative intersection of their lives, their work, and the world. Starting with the premise that creativity sources within each of us, students design their “calling intentions” and clarify what meaningful work means to them. They envision products, services, projects, or initiatives that can inspire and influence sea changes. These spring from a deeply authentic place within themselves and address issues including water, human rights, gender equality, and more. Through lectures, workshops, visualizations, and storytelling, they begin to design work worth doing.

This presentation briefly introduces the innovative and integrative Sea Change Design Process® (designed by Lauralee Alben) on which this course is built, and showcases student design projects that result from a semester-long exploration. The student work visualizes highly abstract ideas; leverages personal calling intentions into organizational intentions, offers holistic approaches to solution-finding, and explores the relationship between design and human experience.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.

Beyond the Page: InDesign for Rapid UI/UX Prototyping

Dave Gottwald
Assistant Professor
Art + Design
College Of Art And Architecture
University Of Idaho

I was faced with some interesting challenges this past spring when I was asked to revamp our Interaction Design coursework in the Art + Design program at the University of Idaho. I had to bring it up to current industry practice, which was no problem on the syllabi end. Software tools, however—that was going to be tricky. There are currently a handful of applications for UI/UX development that allow for the design of complete interfaces, user flows, and live prototyping. The most popular tool in the industry is a Mac-only product, but more than half our students own PC laptops. Ouch. Industry stalwart Adobe had recently introduced a competing product, but it’s still in beta for PC and Mac, so my university IT department said no go.

In hindsight, forcing me to innovate and leverage a tool which was already supported was actually the best thing the University could have done. What I discovered is that Adobe InDesign has value far beyond the page—the master pages, robust stylesheet support, and typographic finesse actually make it a winner for interaction design work. I was amazed at how quickly my students advanced, and all were UI/UX first-timers. The advantage they all shared was their familiarity with InDesign from prior courses.

Rather than having to teach students new thinking and completely new software within the same course, I could focus on conceptual pedagogy. I had found a hidden virtue; using a familiar tool in a new context, rather than trying to introduce a new tool. I argue that students in my Interaction Design I course experienced an accelerated learning curve—while producing portfolio pieces exhibiting far higher levels of craft—by repurposing software they had already mastered. All quickly developed fully tested, live, mobile app prototypes within a single semester.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.


Tina Korani
Assistant Professor of Media Design
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
San Jose State University

“Lines” is a project aiming to represent today’s society and the barriers that human beings are creating around themselves. This project explores human connections and separations, using the concept of dots and lines, in ways both literally and metaphorical. Through visual investigations, I will explain how these lines are developed and how the development of these lines affects our society, in good and bad ways.

I use fundamental visual elements such as dots and lines, to express an in-depth concept through a simple language. Through my exploration dots and lines are the basic foundation of our everyday life and environment – both literally and metaphorically.

Sometimes these lines bring people together and have a positive effect in our society and sometimes they divide people. These lines can be: culture, race, sex, language, and religion.

I investigated through searching for my aesthetic and visual language how and why human beings are developing these lines around themselves and what are the consequences and results of these lines in our lives.

My project is built around three different media: a silent video, 15 illustrations and a book.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.

Be Good to Me: How Advertising Students Made San Jose Think Twice About Illegal Dumping

John Delacruz
Professor of Advertising
School of Journalism and Mass Communications
San Jose State University

Creativity is a powerful driver for brand communications. Entertaining and engaging, we tell the world stories across media channels that encourage consumption and allow brands a central role in shaping identities, communities and history. The skills learnt by students on creative programs can be a force for good. As educators in the field of advertising and other creative industries we should be guiding our students to make ethically minded decisions, not just to continue the cycle of consumption of which we, as communicators, are integral spokes.

In this case study they learn the importance of empathy and how this becomes a strength in the communications process, they learn to respond to a real life client and a real life target group. They also learn about issues that impact the community, the environment, and become better informed citizens. Our students have grown up with social currency, they are a sharing generation, global citizens, media aware and ethically minded. They are already switched on to alternative futures and therefore open to guidance on how to use their creativity for good.

This case study will focus on one specific example of service learning from the advertising program at San Jose State University. Our client was the City of San Jose’s Environmental Services Division in collaboration with CommUniverCity. The brief was to inform citizens of San Jose about illegal dumping. Our students crafted a campaign that spoke of the relationships between our everyday stuff and ourselves, reminding us to treat our treasures with respect when the time comes to let them go. They worked in an agency team and learnt about issues affecting urban neighborhoods and the environment. The program offered them experience reflecting the world of work and the world around them, civic responsibility and storytelling. They have hopefully become informed, engaged and aware citizens as well as effective and creative communicators.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.

Basic Web Design as Foundation of Publication Design

Bruno Ribeiro
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design
Department of Art and Design
California Polytechnic State University

When introduced to the design of print publications, students often struggle with type hierarchy and sometimes they lack appreciation for simplicity. Learning HTML and its tagging system, however, can help them in both matters.

After taking their first web class, students tend to have a better understanding of systematic typography and make more conscious decision about typographical design. Through the logical language of HTML and the tagging system, students clearly see the supporting structure of type hierarchy. Pedagogically, it helps educators guide students to make better choices. Because web design is completely new to most of the students, it’s an opportunity to frame its structure as an approach on how to properly treat type hierarchy and consistency. Even the default style for HTML documents, with no formatting of any kind, provides a clear correlation between content hierarchy and visual hierarchy. Therefore, an early web design class improves students’ understanding of systematic formatting a wide range media. Web design can also promote an appreciation for simplicity in design. Every non-designer knows how to (often badly) format a printed page in their text processor of choice. Design students, then, tend to overly design to differentiate their work from what non-designers do. Simple design on the web, however, already brings a sense of accomplishment to the student who is able to make something they built from scratch available online. Even utterly simple designs are more tangible as a learned skill.

Web design should not be seen only as a skill that students need to learn. It is an effective means to teach the principles of systematic typography and visual hierarchy. The earlier students learn these concepts, better are the chances they will have of fully integrating them into their creative practice.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.

When the Process is the Product: Pollock, Gehry and the Illusion of Randomness

Craig Konyk, AIA
Assistant Professor
School of Public Architecture
Michael Graves College
Kean University

This paper explores the role of randomness in the design process using two examples for the field of art and architecture as illustrative examples: Jackson Pollock and Frank Gehry.  Both Pollock’s and Gehry’s work rely on the revelation of the process as the product.

Jackson Pollock is one of those art world figures that is frequently derided by the average person with a dismissive, “My kid could paint that.” Abstract Expressionism (the combination of the term “abstract” with “expressionism”, two vastly different artistic movements of the 20th century) defined a certain “automatism” of the process of the paint’s actual application, even defining Pollock in a certain sense as the “idiot savant” of the post-war American art scene; child’s play indeed.

Frank Gehry’s study models of torn paper and crumpled foil elicit similar decrees of child-like facileness from the same quarters.  But for all their apparent improvisation, a closer study reveals quite a different narrative.  Contemporary critics of the time, when not dismissing the work outright, were compelled to suggest edits and/or additions, the implication being that the works were somehow “disharmonious” in their present state and in need of adjustment.  But when the process is one that defies easy visual “completed-ness” in the traditional sense, the artist/architect maintains the final arbitration of that “completed-ness”.

The acknowledged acceptance of Polock’s and Gehry’s work as serious endeavors allows a certain liberation for experiment in design, outside of the pragmatics of functionality.  It is not to say that we now all have to “do a Gehry” in order to be “artists”, but we are now in a position to argue for more difference in approach, rather than any narrowly focused expectation of what a design project should look like.  In that respect, as designers, we now have the freedom to allow the process to be revealed and use randomness as a strategy, which enhance and elevate all design investigations.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.

The 45th City: Visualizing and Experiencing Fake News

Jonathan Hanahan
Assistant Professor, Communication Design
Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts
Washington University in St. Louis

Fake news is a problem created by designers. It is a problem of aesthetics, not simply content or substance. Attempts to clarify the way information from any source is rendered in the walled gardens of our social media platforms—where reportedly 62% of American adults get news information—have homogenized the visual representation of all content, reliable or not.

This presentation discusses an ongoing research project—titled The 45th City—which investigates the role that design plays in the current fake news epidemic, epitomized by the recent election of the 45th President of the United States. The project explores speculative ways of visualizing both reliable and unreliable news websites through the physicalization of code into 3D artifacts. It inquires on a real world implication of the legitimization of such entities and encourages audiences to occupy, investigate, and contemplate their relationship to digital infrastructure beyond the thin veneer of their devices.

This series of large scale 3D artifacts along with corresponding digital renderings will be on view at The Luminary in St. Louis, MO in September 2017 and the pinkcomma gallery in Boston, MA in early 2018.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.

Designfulness: Teaching Designers to Mindfully Create a Sustainable Future

Rachel Beth Egenhoefer
Chair, Department of Art + Architecture 
Program Director & Associate Professor, Design
University of San Francisco

In today’s culture technology is speeding up our lives, creating the perceived need for everything to be faster, newer, better, sleeker, now!  As we train the next wave of designers, they are faced with these challenges both as students, and in the professional world they will enter.

Simultaneously, the world is faced with the climate change crisis.  On global and local levels the impacts of environmental degradation are real and impacting our communities.  The need for designers to think and work sustainably has never been greater.

One of the greatest challenges in teaching sustainable design (either to students or consumers for that matter) is doing so within a culture that values speed.   So much of our daily habits and lifestyles rely on quick, convenient decisions that   ultimately lead to unsustainable patterns.

To truly tackle issues in sustainability we, as designers and consumers, need to slow down.  Slowing down allows us to understand the complicated impacts of spilt second decisions so that we can redesign a better solution.  Slowing down allows us to understand community and those around us.  Slowing down allows us to question how we live, and how we want to live.  Mindfulness based practices is one way to slow down and reflect on these questions.

Integrating mindfulness into design education better prepares students to be more conscious designers in the future.  As a result, not only are they conscious designers, they are also more conscious citizens.  As such, one might hope, that future generations can combat fast moving lifestyles and create a more sustainable future.

This Design Incubator talk shares ideas in integrating mindfulness into design education to empower future designers to conscious designers and citizens for a better world.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1: San Jose State on Saturday, Sept 30, 2017.