Solidifying my topic

I feel I have made a good amount of progress in determining the direction of my thesis topic. The exercises and précis really helped my analyze and understand my articles and what to look for in a reliable source. I am focusing on the use of nostalgia in sports based design . Based on the articles I have read so far there seems to be some hesitation in the design world to the idea of anything that uses reference of “retro” or “vintage”. While I do like these elements I understand they have been used a great deal for their visual style. In some cases nostalgia is used without considering changes in time and how a design may be received. One example I came across was Appalachian State going back to their old mascot. While the idea behind the decision had good intentions it may have been wise to update the design so it would appeal to more people. There are elements of the old mascot that reflect the school’s past but the overall view was the design looked too unrefined to be the face of the athletics department. If it was just for a limited time or anniversary the feedback may not have been as harsh.

Screenshot 2014-01-30 20.14.18

I want to focus on the feelings associated with nostalgia paired with the energy of the sports experience and how design is used to create the experience. Some questions I am looking at are: What makes nostalgia work? When is it appropriate? as well as this idea of creatine “instant nostalgia” with the use of vintage and retro design treatments. I have found several articles that offer opinions and considerations when using nostalgia in design. I have also found a case study on the use of nostalgic design in sports facilities which is a major part of the sports audience experience. The more I research and read the more I begin to make connections – this is the exciting part. I  have a few contacts in sports design, marketing and media I will be reaching out to soon to provide more perspectives as well as a fans point of view.  Even though their job is to present the brand of a particular team they are also fans. They know what they want as fan as well what other fans are looking for. I found a few books at the library I will be checking out this weekend along with reading the rest of the articles I found. After I complete the concept map draft I hope to make even more connections.


Week 3: Connecting the dots

In my post last week I mentioned two areas in which I would like to focus my thesis topic – history and sports-based design. As I began to research areas in each topic separately, I started to notice some connection between the topics. During the Free writing exercise last week I found a few more connections which are helping me connect the pieces of what I hope will be my topic. Over the course of the week I have been thinking about the topic separately. This week I found a small notebook to keep and collect my thoughts and ideas along with Evernote. I did a quick mind map on sports design to expand the topic and as I loosen up a bit found some ideas that have generated some very rough topics:

  • Advertising and Athletics
  • Visual responses to moments in sports history
  • Visual Representation/evolution of women in sports based design and advertising
  • Athletic aesthetic: shaping perspectives of the athlete through design
  • Evolution of Athletic Aesthetic – imagery and visuals used in sports design
  • Cultural perception and sports branding
  • Brand Association in sports design
  • Preserving sports brand and identity through nostalgia
  • The nostalgia effect: evoking the past to build the future of sports based design

The last one I am drawn to the most as it references history and design. With this topic I want to explore and breakdown the elements we sometimes refer to as “vintage” and “retro” and how they are used in present day design to connect the past with the present and future visual identity of sports design.  What is driving the visual appeal and popularity of past designs? What can designs today learn from the methods used to design logos in the past? One example I plan to research is the return of the Charlotte Hornets. They recently announced their new identity and the biggest concern for fans was the team colors. The energy and excitement on reveal night was amazing as Michael Jordan reveal the return of purple and Teal to the “Hive”.

I think there is something very powerful and special embedded in the designs of the past – the memories, the fan experience, the players on the team. So far the return and designs have been very received here in Charlotte as the new merchandise has nearly sold out at the team store. As the new identity makes it way into Charlotte, fans and stores have not let the old identity fade from memory. The vintage Hornets gear can still be purchased and is still very in demand.

I want to explore the impact, the styles that have been identified as vintage as well as the history embedded in the designs. I have found a nice amount of visuals and work to identify their origins (original designer, piecing the progression for the designs) and also looking more into the impacts, successful and less successful attempts and nostalgia based sports brands. I still have more refining and exploring to do but I do like the ideas so far.

GRDS 761 Week 2: Don’t force it

I must admit I am feeling quite anxious about my thesis. I have so many subjects and areas that interest me it has been difficult focusing on a topic and then delve into deeper discussions on the selected topic. I have been working to narrow down my list of interests based on suggestions from the unit 1 and 2 note – History and sports-based design. In the next phase I am working to breakdown the topics with these 2 areas particularly history as that can cover a vast amount of topics. Before I started this course I began thinking about what a Graphic Design thesis consisted of. I have asked friends who have gone through graduate design programs (Industrial Design and Architecture) but they could only tell me they completed a semester or yearlong design project. An MFA thesis has more layers. Like any curious individual I then turned to Google to find answers. After reviewing the infographic from unit 2 on how Google is run on algorithms and processes search results I laughed at myself.  The unit points out something I already knew, but often forget – “the human brain exceeds these algorithmic methods in its ability to make random associations.” This means I can make more unique associations in a topic that will help me generate additional routes of inspiration and information for my thesis topic.  I did come across a few articles over the summer that attempted to breakdown some general considerations:

  • Think of something you feel really passionate about – something you like and would want to discover.
  • Pick a topic that is somehow related to your future career
  • Stay updated on what is going on in the design world

History is a deep interest and passion, but I am looking to pursue a career in sports design so I a feeling a little conflicted about the direction I should take. As I think about the qualities of each I begin to wonder if they can be combined. Sports design and teams in particular have very rich histories. There is a designer here in Charlotte that completed a self initiated design project for the Carolina Panthers. He imagined what their brand would look and how it would have evolved has it been established in 1955 instead of 1995. He uses historical references is the visuals based on the culture of each decade.

Matt Stevens – Daydream Rebrand: Carolina Panthers Hidden History

I like the research behind  the visuals. I know whatever I decide to pursue would need to encompass more than a cool design. This week I plan to sit down and use the mind map approach to see what connections the share. In doing this I am hoping for a little serendipity to reveal something new. I won’t force myself to nail down a topic, instead I will apply method that will encourage new possibilities and ways of view the subjects or even their similarities.