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.

GRDS 702: Unit 10, Blog 1

This course has pushed me to places mentally and physically than any other class. This is not a bad thing. In fact when I look back on the work I have done this quarter I feel really good about it. There was a lack in fulfillment on my job as a designer. I have been there 4 years and design a lot of the same stuff every year (in-house position).I am happy to be an employed designer but as I learned from Stefan Sagmeister it is not always about making money. Sometimes we need to step back and design something that holds deeper meaning. In my case I have enjoyed design geared toward education in the sense of encouraging those interested in design to seek higher education opportunities as well as using design to promote general education reform from grade school to college.
As a designer I have come to understand that my job is not just to “make things look pretty” based on a brief hand to me. I have the ability to see and evaluate problems and an even greater responsibility to address those problems using the resources and knowledge gained. It is somewhat difficult being responsible for more aspects of a project, but this gives me more insight to what is really needed. I think more about each component placed in my composition. I know I can’t solve everything but I can connect and collaborate with others to work toward the best solution. I look forward to approaching things in new ways and finding more fulfillment in my current job, but especially look forward to the next phase of my design education and career.

GRDS 702: Unit 8, Blog 1: Creative Process

I can’t say before this unit I was consciously working toward creating a moment of performance or noble pursuit. Over the course of the past weeks I have analyzed and review my create process several times and each time I make changes. The process I have used in the past have gotten the job done in that i was able to deliver a solution suitable for the needs of the individual or group I was working for. Taking a deeper look at my process I was able to see areas I could improve upon, but I feel I am getting to a point where I need to solidify and test my current process before making more adjustments. I am willing to be flexible as I work with different groups, but overall think I have a solid process and have learned a great deal from it.

In past units we discussed the idea of disruptive wonder or providing new ways to communicate. Kelli Anderson does this using materials around her and presenting them in new ways. In Project B I am attempting to do the same by using common items found in homemade survival kits to communicate tips and advice to students preparing for the professional world. Instead of spending time trying to think of a completely new approach and wonder if the audience will be able to understand and receive it – I can apply a new use to something familiar. Doing this offers a new view and hopefully a disruptive wonder for my audience.

GRDS 701: UNIT 8, BLOG 2 – Collaboration in a “Top Dog” World

Over the past 2 weeks I have been collected resources for my argumentative paper. My topic is expanding on the area of collaboration and it’s role in teaching the creative process. The majority of sources I found speak highly of this approach and want to see more of it implemented in the design curriculum. But onearticle does not see collaboration or teamwork as the best approach. The title alone – Top Dog: Unselfish Teamwork is Overrated – made we want to disagree. As I read it I started to understand what is was trying to say. The over emphasis placed on teamwork and working well with others is causing the top candidates to overlook job opportunities. Many professionals want a job were they know they will have a chance to shine and standout amongst their colleagues. This is not being selfish, it is actually quite understandable. How would anyone expect to advance in their career if it is always about the group. While developing well rounded solutions is very important, people still want to know the work they are putting in will take them further. The article does have a more corporate idea and not so much in the perspective of a creative mind. This is not to say designers and other creatives don’t want to advance their careers.

I do agree that more competitive professionals set on primarily seeking to advance their careers are less likely to pursue a job that emphasizes teamwork. I do not believe it is impossible for an individual to shine or emerge as a leader – it is even possible for several to emerge as leaders. When you add up the various experiences from your collaboration and teamwork projects I believe that highlights character and skills and can take you just as far as the “top-dog” mentality.

GRDS 701: Unit 8, Blog 1 – Process Analysis

Before starting this course and even grad school I was not aware of the benefits of a process book. Working in freelance or as the sole in house designer does not present a lot of opportunity to do so. I have learned that the benefits are very valuable. Looking at the 4 process books presented in Unit 8 I was not only impressed by the issue the projects address, but the amount of background information presented. Each book does a great job provided plenty of information to detail how they came to their final design solution and how the project would be applied to various situations. One particular part I found helpful was how April’s process detailed personal accounts to show her connection to the project, yet she included and implemented comments and feedback from her peers using the discussion board. I think these are 2 aspects I should start to using when documenting my work and process. I think presenting some personal connection using a story or narrative format keeps the audience/other designer more interested and including the ideas and feedback of others keeps the project from be one-sided or too focused on a specific idea in the early stages. As I read through each, I could imaging the project coming together as if I was the person designing it. In the beginning I have an ideas about the issue that will be address – from dog leash laws to how to communicate to teens about design – but I may not know exactly how I will communicate a solution. As I continued reading and looking at the sketches and ideation phase ideas start to form, as I am sure they did for the designers completing these projects. As I got closer to the end of April’s book I saw she including a literal break, including a page dedicated to taking time to get away from the project. This is not only beneficial to her, but it gives me as the reader time to take in all I have read and also shows that a break is a healthy and sometimes necessary part of the design process. There are very few things I would change about their process books, but their are some things I may not include in my own. While I liked the idea of incorporating a personal view of the project, some seemed too provide too much – it started to get a little too emotional. I would provided just enough to paint a picture. Overall they all provided a great account of the process and would be a great tool if the designer could not physically present their project to an audience without details being lost.

GRDS 702: Unit 7, Blog 1: Values

In this unit I reflected on how my values impact my design process and ideas. In the past I have turned to my values as a reference point and a source of creative fuel when I am stuck. If I could not connect with a certain project, I would look to my values to see how it relates to the project topic. I understand applying personal values is not realistic for all projects – after all being flexible is one aspect of a good designer. The value may be so embedded that only the designer sees it and hopes that someone else will, but as long as a message is received I think it will be successful. One thing I must be careful of when using my personal values in a project is to not let my value drown out the message. Doing this excludes the audience and I become the target audience. That is not my intention. In everything I do I want to bring people into the message not isolate them. Even when I do personal projects that rely on my values as a source of inspiration I work to keep the imagery and language inclusive. If may not be familiar to every single person that sees it, but hopefully they at least stop to look at it and take it in before feeling the message is not for them. I think this approach could create a lot of opportunity for cross cultural and value learning.