Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Comfort Zones

Will I make 100% of my graphics be Disney based? Will I design 100% for World War II related information? Will I make 100% of my designs in perfectly aligned Helvetica?


The true of the matter is, we all have a place where we are safe and comfortable. We take our favorite colors and wrap them around us like a blanket. We take our favorite fonts and nestle our face into them like a pillow. And we build our dreams based upon this, fearful of the monster of "change" breathing down our necks.

Upcoming designers treat different ideas like the monster under the bed. We bury ourselves in our comfort zone afraid to peek out to some unknown darkness. We remain fearful because what we have looks good! It looks safe and uniformed. We can't go wrong with this! Or can we?

Designers, myself included, need to pull those covers down and face that monster down. Clients will tell us "NO" more times than they tell us "YES". It's a fact of life. Our style, as daringly great as it may be, remains ours. We like it! But for a client of frilly handmade baby diapers, maybe Helvetica and black/red isn't the best combination to represent the company! It is our challenge to understand their company, vision, and message. It is our burden to touch fonts and colors we may not like simply to make our customers happy. We are wrapped in our blankets blissfully unaware that we are becoming prey! Prey to the dreaded "COMFORT ZONE".

We need to change. We need to adapt. We need to stop HIDING in comfort and get out there to see what our talents teach us: a bunch of CRAP (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity).  The font and colors do not make a design. We do.

And I'm beginning to pull the covers off and wield my sword of creativity against the monsters attempting to intimidate me back into my cocoon of Helvetica.

So why don't you?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I'm sketching out ideas, sketching out thumbnails, working with multiple ideas and finally settling on one and going for it. Gut instinct is one thing, but having a full understanding of what the design is communicating and who it is communicating to. Being able to visually erase and work out ideas on paper help make the end result much easier to achieve. I know it is not my specialty, but it is helping me to become successful. It is helping me plot and understand how in-detailed graphic design is.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Ugly Truth: Performative Documentary

Over the years, cinema itself has begun to become more and more complex. From having multiple genres to advancements with audio and visuals, film has rose itself into an undeniable outlet of creativity, information, and showcase. Documentaries are perhaps one of the fastest growing film genre since the turn of the century. Yet, a special domain of documentaries has been ruled by box office success. It is here that performative documentaries stirred controversies and raised awareness to common issues often overlooked.

The question then becomes: what separates performative and traditional? Documentaries are primarily created in ways of raising awareness and informing the audience of a specific point of view. Like traditional, which strives to feature a point of view and typical chronological series of events, performative poses a problem and provides a solution. Unlike traditional documentary, performative challenges the audience to find meaning from the film. It gives information not with intent to inform, but to choose to agree or disagree.

Throwing away the order of events, credibility, and straight-face approach to a topic, performative adds emotion. It takes any instances of objection to subjective, allowing an aggressive teaching to turn into a passive suggestion. It is a way to approach an audience without coming off as too informative or too preachy.

Above all else, what makes performative documentary a unique mixing pot of information is the combination of resources and styles used. From re-enactment, found footage, recreation and animation, it is the audience’s attention span and interest that is kept in mind by the filmmaker. The tone and delivery of information varies from open voice, narrative, formal, and finally, humor. The notorious Michael Moore, the creator of Bowling for Columbine and Fahrenheit 9/11, is well-known for gapping the medium between delivery and receiving by using satire and humor to express what could be nearly shocking information.

Moore, with the help of controversial topics, has become a leading filmmaker that’s style is nearly mainstream. His involvement and on-camera time in his documentaries gives personal involvement and importance to the information provided. This is one of the many forms that delivery in performative documentaries takes. His involvement with the victims of the Columbine High School accident marked a change of involvement that many filmmakers did not approach. He had a personal stake, which was to raise awareness of the gun issues in America, and used that to drive and connect his message.

The combination of collages and interviews marks steps towards reflection. The techniques and their weaving into the root of the message. It’s main purpose is to find a way to invoke an emotion and demand we evaluate the knowledge given. It is here that the filmmaker edits content to convey the message they want, as opposed to strictly hard facts. What makes performative documentary unique is this viewpoint: it is an artist giving the option for those to understand, and it is up to the viewer to indulge.

Performative documentary often borders the same advancement as a narrative story. Proposed with a beginning question, the documentary will give details, opinions, and finally, a resolution. Following a sole person or group, audiences are given insight and opinions focused on a person’s struggles and growth, much like a narrative basic story.

With the storytelling process becoming more and more respected in cinema, the honest facts and plain delivery has often been a problem for conveying a message. Reality TV and drama-docs have blurred the line between staged and truth. Yet, performative documentary doesn’t shy away from the root of it’s message, regardless of how entertaining and outrageous the content may be.

Bill Nichols, an American film critic with strong opinions on the evolution of film spoke of how the traditional modes of documentary no longer fit, but performative pulls from those to have a unique flex.

At the end of the day, it is ultimately up to the audience on how successful the message is. Filmmakers use constant ever-changing tactics, modes, theories and ideology to help motivate an emotion. Whether that is negative or positive varies, but the filmmaker was still able to get the message across and digested. That is the ultimate, in my theory, definition of performative. If the documentary can hold attention, deliver information, and allow process, the documentary was a success, regardless of reception. To entertain is to maintain, to maintain entertainment is to inform.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

End of the Line

As the class closes and my grades are dangling like a piece of meat above a pit of rabid dogs, I feel like reflecting on what I have learned.

1: Time is opportunity.  With that said, managing my time in school has benefited me to the fullest extent. My projects and my work has been something I am not just relieved to have finished but proud to have created. It has given me a chance to get over a hesitance to achieve greatness in flash: as I have learned the stepping stones towards becoming more comfortable in flash.

2: These files were made for walking, and that is just what they'll do. With a few technical difficulties, I've had files lost, corrupted, and nearly gone forever. It was something that made me panic and worry, yet now, I find myself making daily copies of projects I work on. It will help me develop my comfort as a designer merely by having my work always on hand.

3. If at first you don't succeed,  don't just try; do. I learned to time manage, but also to realize that time won't wait for me. Working in a "crunch" or under extreme pressures are something that I dealt with after my files got corrupted. I was able to stop tip toeing around starting/restarting and work to find a quality finish.

And finally,

4. Never underestimate your passion. Regardless of having a 'try hard' or 'overachieving' tact on all my work, I realize it isn't the way I approach things that is trying hard: it is the world not trying hard enough. I do work that is to be expected: great work. And I let my passion shine. I find myself more comfortable and confident with my speaking skills and my flash skills. That is something I will never let anyone guilt me over.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Confidence in storyboarding

Having the confidence to finish what you start is something I am greatly learning. I feel as, even if I found problems with the assignment, I am a better designer because I stuck to it and made it my own. I took my storyboard and made it into reality. I am extremely proud of myself.

Having the storyboard helped me keep the confidence because if I could draw it on a piece of paper, I could find ways to 1: transition it to motion or 2: figure out a way to better enhance my piece visually in the program itself.

It worked wonders!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Useful color tools.

Even in flash, I've found having a general grasp of colors is something that I as a designer find most important. Colors set the mood and colors influence the way your audience will interpret your work. Colors tend to have the same meaning in a general sense: red for danger, green for go, etc. So here are some useful sites to find a great color scheme for your work -- design, flash, or print!
The biggest resource community for colour palettes as well as patterns. .
From Adobe it pretty much works the same way as COLORlovers where you also create your own schemes or edit others accordingly.
This site is a little more interactive and fun with the 3D elements. In addition there are few fun mixing/blending options.
Color Scheme Designer
The Wheel! A great resource for creating schemes as well options for “light-er” or “dark-er” versions.
There are a few picture-to-colours applications but this is my favourite as, in my opinion, its most accurate. In addition to finding you colours from an image you’ve uploaded, it suggests other similar colour schemes from Colourlovers and Kuler. You can also download swatch files which I find useful.
Color Palette Generator (DeGraeve.com)
If you’re lazy or don’t have the image on your computer, this site lets you use URL’s instead.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


I guess the main thing that keeps me going in a design is how confident I am with the theme of the piece.

Sure, I need to learn to get out of my safe zone.
Sure, I don't want to be defined by one style.
Sure, I hope to grow as a designer and confidently portray any style needed by a client.

But at my current positioning in my academic adventure, I am still dipping my toes in the figurative pool of creativity. Once I'm ready, I'll take the plunge.

As it stands, there are a few things inspiring my project. First, Frank Sinatra's music has been more or less on repeat for the past week. Second, I've watched old sitcoms, especially the opening credits, to get a feel for the style I want my flash piece to be. I Love Lucy, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanne, etc are the ones available to my disposal and I hope to take the same charm they have and produce something great. Third, I think it is important that I've storyboarded and found inspiration in the mere fact I've accomplished drawing out a 3 minute video from start to finish. Confidence can be inspiring too!

Overall, this is proving to be challenging and surely frustrating, however; I do understand the importance and I will work my butt off!