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!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Trial and Error

This is rather frustrating.

A second time, my file has been corrupted. As someone who finds pride in having assignments done early and maintaining the quality expected, I am feeling frustrated. Not only was the file I've put a week of work into done, but it was corrupted and giving me an error upon loading.

Technology, at one point or another, proves to be a pain in the neck but I guess the easiest way to keep optimistic is to recall that  I know how to achieve the look I was going for and the process will be a bit easier the THIRD time around.

I guess I should not feel like a special snowflake and lament that "this wasn't suppose to happen to me" because, really, that kind of ignorance is just begging for karma to swoop down like a hawk. The best I can do is learn from it and realize the frustration doesn't lie on me and I suppose I can learn from this.

Here's to hoping.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Importance of Trying

Over the course of time, it is primarily important to remember that trying is a continuous effort to achieve an end goal. While things may seem easy, when times get tough, putting forth extra effort to try can not only give you results but a sense of satisfaction.

As my adventures into multimedia and Flash continue, I find myself a bit more confident in my time with the program, it still remains frustrating. However, as previously mentioned, it is important to continue trying. What turned into a troublesome struggle, I learned the steps and practices through trying and pushing.

Once I lost my work on a flash assignment due to corruption in the file, I continued to try and make up for the hard work I put in. However, it was easier the second time around. Primarily, it was satisfying to know that I honestly learned the steps as I could easily recreate my work in half the time and better quality.

Monday, January 30, 2012


One thing I would also like to suggest to you all is to never underestimate a tutorial!

If you're unsure, a tutorial can show you step by step how to achieve what you would like to accomplish. It is important to know that many looks or styles do not happen in one step, but requires a lot of prepping and pruning to achieve a polished finish product.

If you're ever stuck -- GOOGLE!!

Designer Spotlight: The Color Cure

Through the networking site known as Tumblr, I've found a lot of amazing designers who focus on advertising as well as web design.

One specifically stuck out: The Color Cure.

The three person team is based in the Philippines but has already reached International credits in their first few years as a legitimate firm. Their ad campaign for Nestel and web design for babyli.st has been something I admire and find inspiration in. Take a look at their portfolio!

Monday, January 23, 2012


This weekend wasn't full of designing, like I thought it would  be.

However, it did have some instances of it!

My cousin is a tattoo artist who was trying to use my Illustrator to design new fonts.  I was able to show him outlines and the direct selection tool to morph the edges to get the desired effect.

With my help, my cousin was able to find a suitable style that fit his need for his business card.

As I said, it was a bit boring of a weekend, but hey -- it still was something.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I'm excited to get my schedules each time we go to S.T.A.Rs! It's great to see who will be in classes with me and what classes I'll be taking in the immediate future. I love seeing how much I'm going to learn and it also prepares me to look up information pertaining to the next class.

Besides that, I finished my paper on podcasting last week and finally learned the specifics of podcasting. I've idly dealt with podcasting and contributed to Skype/video recording for comic book podcasting, but I've never had a chance to learn the technical side. Now, I do, and it was far more confusing then I imagined. It's weird; going from something you know offhand to knowing the specifics intimidates me more then it does if I was completely knew to the idea!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Adventures in Flash

I'm really digging the assignment dealing with the aquarium and fish. It's really cool to get a good grip on motion tweens and adjustments like that. My favorite so far has been skewing the seaweed to give the illusion of movement -- it will be very helpful in the future!

One thing that I find really intimidating is drawing in Flash. I'm just so use to using shapes and the pen tool in Illustrator I can't imagine doing anything else....

One day, Flash, one day.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Things That Inspire

On today's entry, I'd like to talk about things that inspire me. I highly encourage you all to reply with what encourages you! I'd like to know other walks of life and opinions on the matter.

For me, there are three main areas of design that inspire me.

  1. Colors. I'm a real big sucker for complimentary color schemes. I tend to play it safe with my choices of colors and I applaud those who can take harsh colors such as reds and blues, and make them into a beautifully balanced piece. I get inspired seeing combinations of colors I never thought I'd see together in a piece. It makes me want to push out of my safe zone to experiment, even if I usually end up frustrated. 
  2. Fonts. Seeing the way other designers put fonts together is truly something I look up to. As you can tell from my last post, I adore typography and dealing with fonts. Even if I love seeing it, I usually fall short in that area. I want to see myself as someone who can handle fonts appropriately. Seeing others deal with fonts in such a superb manner really inspires me to continue working!
  3. Storytelling. For me, there always has to be a story behind a piece. Throwing together colors and fonts are one thing, but having a respect and creative flow to form a reason why the piece is the way it is will always be a great love of mine. Everything starts from something, so allowing your ideas to sprout like seeds into a tree and vocalizing it shows such a passion that makes me really respect the author.
What inspires you?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday Ramblings

One of my passions is dealing with fonts. Finding ways to arrange, modify, and align fonts in the form of Typography is a personal project I would like to work on. There are many sites, such as Beautiful Type, Typophile Gangsta, and Green Type Blog that display amazing collections of typography. I can't wait to learn more and feel confident enough to explore font work.

On another note, I was able to finish the first project given with Flash. I will never want to hear "Shopping and Dining" again after the amount of times I had to edit the audio. That was the most challenging part, in my opinion. Syncing the lips and swapping them out was not as hard as I believed, so that was an absolute relief. I am kind of excited to see the other possibilities of Flash and excited to use it in my web design.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why Design?

First of all, this is long. So feel free to skim (this means you, Sarah).

This weekend, my boyfriend of 3 years, entered his second semester of college. Upon that, he had list of possible academics. Like myself, he's highly involved in web and technology, but unlike myself he has no skills in design. He found himself at a crossroad. He found himself unable to find a suitable career he could see himself in for a long run. I felt guilty, because I find myself in a career that I love.

Justin asked me, in a blunt and almost embarrassed tone, "How did you decide on being a designer?"

What could I say? I couldn't lie and say I always knew I'd be a designer. Then again, I couldn't rub in the fact that I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to do what I love.

I was at a loss of words and all I could give was a simple "I don't know".

It was actually a wake up call. While Justin still putters along trying to find out what he wants to be when he grows up, I'm here wondering why I want to be what I am.

In the lulling sound of my air conditioner blasting full heat on a cold night, I laid awake. It was a hard thought to shake. 


Why am I a designer?

Certainly, it wasn't something I just stumbled upon. I thought intricately and delicately of why I was where I am today. 

The only answer, as simple and pure as it was, was "because it feels right".

I want to have a creative outlet. I want to solve solutions for people who can not find an answer themselves. I want to challenge myself. I want to provide a service that gives me a bit of pride. I want to find confidence. I want to deliver a message. 

And at the end of it all...
I want to be remembered.

For someone who stood in back of a crowd, who sat in a class and spoke to no one, who grew up without any special needs or wants -- I want to be selfish for a moment. For once.

I want to be able to see my designs come to life. I want to see my creativity praised. I want to be feel that knot of excitement and disbelief in my stomach when I find out someone likes my work and finds it enough. All of the other factors are a beneficial aspect that reflects my will and desire to help people. 

Helping people find an identity and providing a service to people is something that is a great thing to do, but for once, is it so wrong to be selfish? 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Test Drive

Well, this is the first entry to a list of entries pertaining to graphic design. I'm not use to ranting or speaking out about design -- it's just something I always did without much pride. A hobby, if you will. So, it's going to be quite the challenge for me to even rant about the problems or express some of the inner workings of design and my creative process. It's just something I did, no matter how frustrated I personally got, and pushed through it.

Yeah, this is hard already.

Anyway, I guess I'm going to start this entry off by speaking about the upcoming requirements of Tech class -- learning Flash and Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver can wait, so let's talk about Flash.

I'm excited to learn about it, since it's something I always wanted to incorporate into my web design, but ultimately very intimidated. The program itself seems very... busy. Frame by frame, objects, new tools and functions -- it's a lot to take in. However, I am determined to learn the program as if it's Illustrator and Photoshop.

It's just keeping that confidence when I can't get something working, is the problem.