Archive for September, 2007

Grad Type Assignment 1 Done (for now)

Tuesday, September 25th, 2007

After many hours of work and wanting to rip up five trees worth of paper, my three John Cage book covers are done. And I am happy with what I have.

(click to enlarge; will open a new window)

Grad Type Assignment 1a final

Grad Type Assignment 1b final

Grad Type Assignment 1c final

The final constraints (on top of the constraints we were given before) were that we were only allowed to use three colors throughout all three covers. Adding color was a big challenge for a lot of us. Choosing colors that made sense with our covers, conveyed proper meaning, and didn’t distract from the typography was hard and unfamiliar to me… I’m used to choosing colors just because they look good.

Working the three covers as an entire system was also challenging… we worked on the covers one by one so it wasn’t until the very end that I started tweaking things so that all three work as a complete system. Placing the text on the spine, toying with the blue color that’s supposed to let your eyes bounce around each cover, etc.

In the end I think I overcame a lot of graphic design fears (color, type as image, graphical forms) and tried things I didn’t think I could do. It was frustrating, but fun, and I have good work to show for it. It also helped that Kristin, our prof, liked my set of covers.

I can’t switch, I’m attached

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

The point is that people, probably because of their biological wiring, more easily form emotional attachments to things than to intangible services. —Dan Saffer, Designing For Interaction

Emotional attachments to services. Can we make this possible? Would this make us less likely to switch services even if the competitor offers a better experience? What would constitute emotional attachment to a service… brand, people, tangible artifacts? Can you even form an emotional attachment to something that’s not physical in nature?

… I will be filing this as Future Thesis Paper Idea #14253.

***edit / In light of the recent comments on this post:

Now this makes me wonder if there’s a difference between attachment and emotional attachment. I’m attached to Google too, but I would call it more of a functional attachment rather than an emotional attachment.

In his book, Dan talks about a Zippo lighter that belonged to his grandfather. There’s emotional attachment there; he won’t trade the lighter in even though there are better ones out there.

So that’s what I was wondering in my post: can the same type of attachment exist with services? Sure, we all have some sort of attachment to some of the services we love, but if better services come along, how easy would it be just to give our old ones up?

Orchestra demystified

Monday, September 17th, 2007

The orchestra roster is separated so that we’re only playing a certain number of songs each. No wonder we’re going to get through so much.

It’s all a bit confusing, but it looks like I’ve been assigned to play first flute on Handel’s Watermusic as my first piece.

Ambitious Orchestra

Wednesday, September 12th, 2007

On Monday, I’ll be getting my music for orchestra. As I looked through the repertoire we’ll be going through this year, I am wondering how it will be possible to get through what our conductor has planned. Here’s what he has lined up:

Handel’s Fireworks Suite
Handel’s Water Music
Bach’s Orchestral Suites (yes, all of them)
Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos
Haydn’s London Symphonies
Mozart’s Last Symphonies
some of Mozart’s instrumental concertos
ALL NINE of Beethoven’s symphonies
all of Beethoven’s Overtures
some of Beethoven’s concertos

That’s insane. Then again, I’ve never actually played in an orchestra before. My ensemble experience seems to have included everything BUT orchestras. Concert bands, jazz bands, jazz combos, pit orchestras, chamber trios/quartets/quintets, solo gigs … but never a full orchestra. I’m excited.

Also, for those of you who are familiar, you’ll have noticed that we’re going through all of the late Baroque to early Classical periods. A good mix for me (I’m thinking of my piano diploma certification now), as all my music talents are known to lie in the Baroque and Romantic eras, where my take of Classical period music is considerably weaker. And don’t even talk to me about Contemporary music.

Sometimes I wonder how I’ll ever be able to focus this year. I’m sure I’ll find a way. And have fun doing it.

Grad Typography

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

As I mentioned earlier, I’m taking a grad typography class this term. I figured I needed a lot more training on my visual design skills and grad type seemed to be the perfect way to do that. And it’s fun, even if it’s frustrating a bit at times. It’s one of those things where you’re just using your eye a lot rather than your brain. I’m never satisfied with my work, so it seems like I’m always re-working my assignments.

The first assignment we were given is to make a three book covers for a series of book by John Cage. Each had to have the title of the book, “lectures and writings by john cage”, the volume number, the publishing company, the ISBN number, and the bar code. In addition, we are to choose only one type system, and use only three type sizes for all three book covers. Each week we do one book cover, and we’ve done two so far.

After some studies of a couple of type systems, I chose to use Univers. I’ll be forever attracted to sans-serifs, and Helvetica was too heavy for my liking.

The first book cover focused on the use of the standard grid, and was exploring simply how type size, weight, letter spacing, word spacing, leading, and alignment affect the legibility and readability of the form. Here’s my cover for this (Book was entitled A Year From Monday)–click to enlarge:


For our second assignment, we were asked to bring in an image of something from nature that had some sort of system. I chose an image of a snail:


From these images, we created some grid structures (mine could’ve either been a radial or dilatational structure), and from that made book cover layouts, all the while thinking about the words contained in the book cover, both in terms of their meanings and their forms. Here’s my book cover for this (Book was entitled Empty Words)–click to enlarge:


I’ve still got lots to learn. But I think I’m making some progress into stepping away from the familiar and trying to push towards exploring forms that are outside my comfort zone.

September 12 addition: Slim, a fellow student, has started a blog for our class where students can post work in progress… feel free to browse and comment!