A packaging experiment to deliver my files for “Making Meaning.”
This semester I’ve been taking a class called “making meaning.” It’s a class that focuses on conceptual development as well as building an understanding of the visual modes we work in and the associations they bring with them. It’s been one of the most satisfying classes I’ve taken here at RISD and one of the main reasons I’ve been so sporadic about posting here.
One of the subjects we attempted to tackle was mapping information and the different modes available to designers to map information. We were then charged with developing a mapping assignment that used diagrammatic information, expressive typography, and photography to tell a story. All semester I was looking for an excuse to watch a football game and be able to ‘write it off’ as homework and for this assignment I finally got my chance.
I went up to Boston to meet up with Stuart and Anne, two of my former coworkers from Zumiez and fellow Seahawks fans so I could capture data. I ended up capturing a lot more than I worked in to the project. It turned into a 72 page book charting our verbal outbursts at the television and diagrams of the plays that were run to bring out those outbursts.
Over the summer my goal was to make as much money as possible. I took on an extended freelance contract as well as some small side jobs to build my cash reserves for the school year so I could avoid working and focus on my education. This effort along with the blessing of a scholarship from the Art Director’s Club has afforded me to live the past four months of my life without being driven by any sort of economic goal.
For the past four months I haven’t been saving for anything, I haven’t been planning for anything and I haven’t been worried about what I have or don’t have, what I can or can’t afford, and it’s been an incredibly surreal experience. I’m in no way in a position where I can keep this up for an extended period of time, and part of the reason I’ve been able to do this is because I live rather modestly, but it’s been interesting to look at how this has affected me emotionally and to see what drives me.
For the past week or so I’ve been “down in the dumps” as it were and after thinking about why I realized it was directly tied to what I feel in my output this semester. I realized that what truly makes me happy, what drives me, is making work that I’m stimulated by and proud of. This seemed semi obvious to me at one point in my life, when I was being, I thought, overpaid for the services I was providing, but this different way of living these past few months has really outlined that for me. My priority is output, and to be honest that frightens me, because I’m unsure how that driving force will help or hinder me when working in the American business culture. Is there a place for this way of life in the American design industry?
I’ll find out I suppose.
I’ve been hearing a lot about ‘experiential’ design in the past few years. The idea that it is important for designers to create a holistic experience for those who visit a museum or experience a product in a ‘new and exciting’ way. In thinking about what this means it’s made me realize something rather, obvious. In order for we designers to create an experience, we need to have experiences, outside design.
Looking at photographs of a mountain can in no way, match the experience of climbing one. By taking ourselves outside the confines of the studio, and pushing ourselves to do things, and to experience things outside of our personal taste, I think will make our work much more successful.
With all that said, here are some photos of some experience I’ve been having lately, and I’d encourage everyone to do the same.
Just wrapped up (well almost) binding a book that I started about 11 hours ago. The reason it took so long is because I made a mistake at every step of the way. Glued the wrong there here, trimmed the wrong part there, the list goes on and on. It’s funny to think that there was a time, not so long ago, where this would have caused me to freak out, throw the materials across the room and slump down in a chair with a resounding ‘fuck it.’
But now it’s different. Instead of being angry, or worse, content with my poorly fitting book cover. I re-cut the board, re-cut the cloth, re-sanded the edges of the board and re-glued the cloth a total of three times. And even though it’s not to the level that I want, I’m really happy with this new ability to keep a clear head about it. After the first cover didn’t fit, I thought to myself “I’ve got enough time, and enough materials, why not just keep doing it?”
Practice paid off and I’m getting better at solving problems. Thanks art school, you make my crazy, but you been real good to me.