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Our second project in Publication Design was to create a college viewbook for a school of our choice. I chose to invent a school that I would have liked to attend: The Royal Conservatory of Glasgow. It was fun trying to make this piece as authentically Scottish as possible.

Here the real challenge in oil painting begins:  painting an actual object from life. To keep things simpler, our instructor restricted our palette to mixed black (Burnt Sienne + Ultramarine Blue) and white.

Unfortunately, I didn’t capture the progressive stages of this painting, but it was a long process. We first chose our subjects and set them up on a table. Then, we tried out different compositions in our sketchpads. It’s difficult for me to adjust the scale of what I see and make it fill up the whole canvas, but finally doing so made the painting more interesting!

We also tested out simple value patterns (where the dark and light areas would be in the painting). According to my instructor, it is the value pattern that a person notices first in a painting. If you don’t have an interesting composition in that respect, the painting will be never be really good. So she held our sketchpads about ten feet away from each of us so we could appreciate (or not) our value patterns.

Once satisfied, I moved to the canvas and blocked in major areas of value. The result was what I might see if I really blurred my eyes looking at the subject.

Then little by little, I adjusted the forms and brought in more and more details and value shifts that I saw on the leather boot and purse.

My last step (and the most difficult one) was incorporating the wing designs at the end!

If you want to see more, this person’s blog does a good job of illustrating the steps of oil painting.

This little sculpture was a warm-up challenge for 3D Design class. I used found objects to express the essence of a brand that I like: the Hoefler & Frere-Jones type foundry. I think they are defined by excellence, purpose, intelligence, and wit.

Hence, the feel of this sculpture. I learned that bobby pins have elegance, you just have to know how to draw it out of them.

My first thoughts when I signed up for my requisite oil painting class? Sounds slow, expensive and intimidating! The class was all of those things… but I was surprised to discover how fun and satisfying it could be at the same time. I have this first assignment to thank for much of that realization.

To help us relax and explore the dynamics of the paint (Windsor & Newton water-soluble oils), our instructor announced that we would spend a couple weeks working on an abstract emotional piece. To provide a little framework, we each received a nebulous photocopy that looked something like this. We each reproduced its major lines in pencil onto our canvases, then examined them from all angles until an idea came.

The answer to “how did you ever come up with this?”

I knew almost instantly that I wanted a white rectangle on its side, with illusions of depth, contrasting pure hues near the white, and deeper tones toward the edges. I’ve learned to begin creative work with whatever part I feel most sure about. The other details always make themselves known eventually.

What is this canvas about? To me, it feels like a momentary self-portrait of my soul… a place of happiness and mystery. But I’d love to know what you read into it!

Use all of the copy, and stay away from primary colors and kid scribbles! These were the main stipulations given to us by our Publication Design instructor, who used to be a primary school teacher herself. Apparently people who work with children receive too many communications that look as if they were designed for children.

Every year, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society encourage schools to participate in a fundraiser. These accompanying manuals are distributed to teachers and administrators. Our class was given the text to be included and and a copy of last year’s manual (to make sure we actually improved upon it). This is my take on a few of the spreads.

In Part 1, we saw how the Nonpareil name and logo came about. Brand is more than just a logo, however. The following video summarizes my process, expresses other elements of the brand, and shows some of its applications (also featured in the rest of this post).

Business card, front and back


Mailing Label



Desktop Wallpaper

Download 1024 x 768 or 1440 x 900

Promotional Book, front and back
Basically a rework of this book. I changed the colors, type, and logo.

For a final project in Web Authoring, we had to reimagine and code our school portal site. It is currently a mess of redundant navigation, confusing links, and missing content. So this is my attempt to make the world a better place.

You can click the screenshot to explore the site! Only a handful of the links work.

Here is a peek at the real site for comparison.

Brand is something that is being talked about more and more. These days more than ever, we need efficiency and consistency to broadcast the essence of people and corporations. Corporate Communications is a class that taught me how brand spans beyond the logo to every piece of communication that reaches the target audience.

Developing a strong brand requires deep understanding of the entity that the brand will represent. As a final project for this class, I created a brand for the person I know best — myself!

I have done this before, sort of. At different points in my life, I have designed graphics to communicate my identity to an audience. There was no consistency between them, however. I embarked upon a long and painful process to develop a new name and mark that could more holistically represent me.

I asked a handful of people to come up with words to describe me. From this list, I grabbed the one that seemed most important or recurring: quality, desire for excellence, out of the ordinary, a step above, perceptive, intuitive, elegant, thoughtful, pure, multicultural, expressive, deep, and purposeful. These are the attributes I most wanted my brand to express.

From these words, I came up with possible business names (in ALL CAPS). At the same time, I explored symbolism:

I began to see if these sketches could translate into vector drawings, and how they could express some of the names I was considering.

Finally, the strongest name and symbol came together in the following mark, that I felt expressed everything I wanted it to.

The branding process was far from over, however. See Part 2 for the continuing saga…

In the past, Advanced Digital Imaging has been a class about Photoshop. I am so thankful that our instructor this quarter stepped it up and delivered a lot more value than usual to a disparate group of animators, photographers, and graphic designers. He came up with projects that forced us to work more holistically and explore unfamiliar skills. All quarter long, I looked forward to our final project: an short animation.

I always get a thrill from combining music with image in meaningful, energetic ways. I have no interest in creating a creating a character that talks and moves, but I think I could take any of my design projects and convert them to moving graphics enhanced with sound. The advantage to something like that is the total control I have of the viewers’ experience. As I guide them through visuals and information, I can also affect their emotions through timing and sound.

In the past, I’ve done this very simply in applications like Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. But the premiere industry-standard software for motion graphics and visual effects is Adobe After Effects. I made it my goal to learn this software in order to produce the final project. It was a blast! The best thing about After Effects is that with even a basic understanding, your possibilities are almost limitless.

Our instructor showed us Marvel Comic’s Spider-Woman Motion Comics as examples of what could be done using only still imagery and a soundtrack as the raw material. It was way more aesthetically powerful than I expected!

We were given a few parameters, but the theme/story of the animation was entirely up to us. I was interested in creating an evocative tribute to childhood memories, taking those evanescent thoughts and feelings and tying them impressionistically to shapes, sounds, and colors. This original plan morphed slightly based on my limited knowledge of the software and time constraints, so I’d say the end result turned out to be a more literal interpretation. I’m still happy with it, though.

Additionally, this project represents one of my first attempts at music sampling and remixing – something I want to continue to explore. I selected music and sounds that I remember listening to over and over in each hometown and looked for ways to blend them together.

Finally, after weeks of valuable yet creatively stifling tutorials, our Web Authoring instructor set us free to design code a small site on any topic of our choosing. I happened to to be deep into my French teaching at the time, so I imagined what my course might look like if it had to exist entirely online. My goal is to transport and inspire, to ennoble to the human experience through our visual environment. So, can I make a website that delights the viewer in the way stepping into a beautiful French village would? I decided to try.

Click the screenshot to explore the site! Only a handful of links work.