2014 was my first year at Reason and I was able to work on some awesome projects including a couple…
Add this to a long list of reasons to facepalm at PETA. They recently implemented this campaign in the D.C. Metro to create awareness for the treatment of baby monkeys. The problem is that the designer used poor hierarchy and grouped the text with the image, unintentionally conveying that the monkeys pictured are taking your freedom and your babies. Oops.
From Chapter 1 of “A Whack on the Side of the Head: How You Can Be More Creative” by Roger von Oech:
“Children enter school as question marks and come out as periods.”–Neil Postman, Educator
Much of our education system is geared toward teaching people to find “the right answer.” By the time the average person finishes college, he or she will have taken over 2,600 tests, quizzes, and exams. The “right answer” approach becomes deeply ingrained in our thinking. This may be fine for some mathematical problems where there is in fact only one right answer. The difficulty is that most of life isn’t this way. Life is ambiguous; there are many right answers–all depending on what you are looking for. But if you think there is only one right answer, then you’ll stop looking as soon as you find one.
When I was a sophomore in high school, my English teacher put a small dot on the blackboard. She asked the class what it was. A few seconds passed and then someone said, “A chalk dot on the blackboard.” The rest of the class seemed relieved that the obvious had been stated, and no one else had anything to say. “I’m surprised at you,” the teacher told the class. “I did the same exercise yesterday with a group of kindergartners, and they thought of fifty different things it could be: an owl’s eye, a cigar butt, the top of a telephone pole, a star, a pebble, a squashed bug, a rotten egg, and so on. They had their imaginations in high gear.”
In the ten year period between kindergarten and high school, not only had we learned how to find the right answer, we had also lost the ability to look for more than one right answer. We had learned how to be specific, but we had lost much of our imaginative power.
An elementary school teacher told me the following story about a colleague who had given her first graders a coloring assignment:
The instructions said: “On this sheet of paper, you will find an outline of a house, trees, flowers, clouds, and sky. Please color each with the appropriate colors.” One of the students, Patty, put a lot of work into her drawing. When she got it back, she was surprised to find a big black “X” on it. She asked the teacher for an explanation. “I gave you an ‘X’ because you didn’t follow the instructions. Grass is green not gray. The sky should be blue, not yellow as you have drawn it. Why didn’t you use the normal colors, Patty?”
Patty answered, “Because that’s how it looks to me when I get up early to watch the sunrise.”
The teacher had assumed that there was only one right answer. The practice of looking for the “one right answer” can have serious consequences in the way we think about and deal with problems. Most people don’t like problems, and when they encounter them, they usually react by taking hte first way out they can find–even if they solve the wrong problem. I can’t overstate the danger in this. If you have only one idea, you have only one course of action open to you, and this is quite risky in a world where flexibility is a requirement for survival.
An idea is like a musical note. In the same way that a musical note can only be understood in relation to other notes (either as part of a melody or a chord), an idea is best understood in the context of other ideas. If you have only one idea, you don’t have anything to compare it to. You don’t know its strengths and weaknesses.
For more effective thinking, we need different points of view. Otherwise we’ll get stuck looking at the same things and miss seeing things outside our focus.
This sponsored post by Southwest Airlines appeared on my Facebook timeline. Apparently the image is supposed to say “Sale”, though I didn’t figure this out until I read some of the comments. Other commenters saw words(?) like SLLE, SILE, STLE, SMLE, etc. Southwest spent money promoting a post that is difficult to read. An important aspect of both design and marketing is clear communication. Rather than focusing on communication, they instead tried to be cute with the image.
I’ve now completed two vocabulary words for my handlettering project. The goal is to sketch a word a day for a year and complete one per month on the computer. I’ve now completed 2/12 vector words and 65/365 daily sketches.>
When designing my logo, I began by listing objectives and stating the message I wanted to communicate in order to brand myself. I wanted to convey problem solving since design is about constantly seeking ways for improvement and seeking problems to address. I began brainstorming different ways to convey problem solving in my logo. I wanted the logo to remain simple and versatile.
283 sketches later, I came up with the idea of using the puzzle piece in the counterform of my name. I began working with different puzzle shapes and sketching different ways to accomplish this idea.
I then began working on the computer and testing different typefaces, spacing, and colors. I explored making the puzzle piece more significant and also more subtly. Since one of my goals was to create a logo that was simple and versatile, I decided to make the puzzle piece less emphasized.
After choosing the color and typeface, I converted the type to paths and began customizing the letters for the final result:
I received this invite to a friend’s birthday brunch today. There are several aspects of Facebook’s mobile app that could use improvement, but here’s an easy one: Adding not only the date, but also the day of the event. June 9th is nearly a month away and I had no idea what day that falls on. Many people plan schedules based on the day. One might work Monday-Friday, or play kickball on Wednesday, or sit at home googling cat pictures on Thursdays. I am usually working during ‘brunch hours’ during the week so I had to close the FB app and open my calendar app to make sure that June 9th is on a weekend.
Below is a better option that makes the process easier for the user without changing the overall design. Sometimes even the most simple changes can make design significantly more effective and it’s this attention to detail that can turn a bad design into a good design, or a good design into a great design.
Two weeks ago, I decided to begin a project of handlettering a new word each day for a year. The goal is to improve at handlettering and learn new words. Here are the first 14 words. Not all are good, but the overall objective is to gain practice and see improvement over a year.
I’ve began a new project and personal goal, which consists of hand-lettering a vocabulary word every day for a year. The goal is to improve my lettering skills while simultaneously learning 365 new words.
I was inspired by a project called The Daily Artifact, which was a personal challenge by Corey Fuller, a friend and former teacher of mine, to create a drawing, design, photograph, doodle, etc., every day for a year.
My plan is to sketch a word daily and then at the end of each month, choose one of the sketches to create finished type on the computer.
Here are the sketches from the first three days: