Last week was Luke’s birthday, but it felt like MY birthday when the postman rang the door and gave me a package full of amazing hand drawn cards from my friend Elizabeth. Her artwork is *almost* as encouraging as she is in real life! I just can't get enough of either one.
Now… its going to feel like YOUR birthday, when I tell you that she recently started offering all of her printables for free download on her website. Yup, FREE! I’m already falling for the Valentine’s Day designs and wondering how many I can hang up before people start thinking I’m obsessed.
After posting yesterday about the history of Graphic Design, I read this great article with thoughts on the future of Design from Erik Spiekermann. Its hard to imagine what it would have been like to be a designer in the 80s when the industry changed forever by the accessibility of the computer. As designers saw the skills they had developed over a lifetime be replaced by the click of a mouse, I’m sure there was a temptation to criticize the next generation of designers for having it too easy. That is probably what I would have done! Spiekermann did not see new technology as a threat, but as an opportunity to expand his world. He encourages designers to not only design, but to understand the inner workings of the technology on which we design. He predicts that the technology we are using today still has a long way before it is in its best form. If we don’t stay up-to-date, we will become out-dated!
You can readthe full article here.
And if you have 20 minutes to spare, this video chronicles the history of Adobe Illustrator with interviews from some top designers. It is well worth your time!
Lately I have had the itch to update my Etsy shop and create some new wedding and party designs. I usually prefer making new designs with a specific event or client in mind, but I don’t have any custom orders on the burner right now. To get my creative juices flowing I decided to try out some tutorials. Wow, I had forgotten how many functions there are in Illustrator that I never touch! Thank you to all of those talented out there who are willing to share their skills with the rest of us.
Tutorial One : Glitter
They say glitter and metallic textures will be trending this year for weddings. But I know a few little girls who love glitter too!
Tutorial Two : Lace
Now I love lace. And I don't think weddings and lace ever stop being a perfect union. I used the tutorial as a foundation and then designed my own modified pattern.
You can check out both designs in my Etsy Shop.
One thing I definitely did not want my students to believe is that graphic design originated with the computer. At the risk of boring a classroom full of middle students, I took them through a much condensed history of graphic design, showing how mankind has been communicating through the combination of text and image for a very long time. Having less than one hour to cover thousands of years, I kept a narrow focus on how graphic design has evolved over the years, mainly due to advances in technology. I skipped over talking about specific periods in design history relating to style. Here's an overview.
I was always fascinated by the history of ancient Egypt. I remember studying it extensively in sixth grade. My teacher even assigned each student with a role of one of the gods and ordered our desks in ranking order. Now I'm even more fascinated by their famous cave and tomb paintings. They understood many of the basic designs elements that we still use today. In the sample below, notice how they used repetition to create movement, scale to show dominance, a harmonious color palette and a grid structured layout that achieves an overall balanced design.
When I asked this question to my students, I was staring at totally blank faces. Wonderful! I would have a blank slate to work with! What about you? What do you think Graphic Design is? Is it merely designing something on a computer? Is it as easy as creating something in Photoshop? I hope if you answered yes, that I can convince you otherwise.
Graphic Design is using the combination of text and/or images to communicate something. Graphic Design is a functional art, which means that both the form (its appearance and aesthetics) and the function (how it does what it is supposed to) are very important. I found this great video on YouTube, that I showed the kids to get them thinking about design in the world around them.
Then we made it personal. I showed the class these two drink packets and took a vote to see which one they would buy. Everyone picked the sample on the left. So we discussed how and why the graphic design on the packages was impacting their choice.
I showed them many more samples of graphic design that I brought from home, and gave them an assignment to bring in samples to the next class. Now hopefully they understand that Graphic Design is a very practical part of their daily life. But Graphic Design isn’t just about marketing, and it certainly didn’t originate with the advertisement industry. In the next post, I’ll explore the beginnings of Graphic Design and how it has become such a dominating aspect of life as we know it today.
Luke turned 31 yesterday! In India things are reversed. Instead of getting spoiled by your friends and family on your birthday, you are supposed to treat them by passing out sweets or taking everyone to dinner. So in order to contextualize, we took the kids for ice cream at Baskin Robbins (very sacrificial, right?) We didn't even plan the fact that it is the perfect place to celebrate a 31st birthday, or even the 31st of the month, which is when they offer a flat 31% discount. The kids always do the logical thing by picking their ice cream flavor by what color it is. This can lead to poor moral choices like "black currant" or "cotton candy", but it does make for a nice array of colors. I can appreciate that as a designer and maybe even be a bit inspired. Happy Birthday Loving!
As soon as Sam, our oldest, was old enough to color, family coloring time around the kitchen table became one of my favorite past times. As he scribbled through his pages, I would doodle out my latest memory verse, decorate a recipe card to stick on the kitchen wall, or snatch a page from him and do justice to at least one of the simple, yet beautiful cartoon illustrations. I've never been great at drawing, but have always had a knack for coloring well something someone else has drawn.
Several years ago, I read an article about how adults in Eastern countries colored to reduce stress. This tidbit was tucked in the back of my mind for years, until on a recent trip to Singapore, I walked into a book store to find display after display of these amazing hand-drawn coloring books. We've been out of the US for a while now and I am pretty sure the trend has already caught on there, but I was so excited to have stumbled across this jackpot of authenticity. Needless to say, I had found my souvenir for the trip. I looked through most of the books, until I decided on Singaporean William Sim's"Colouring The World". Coloring and travel, two of my favorite things! Of course, I realize now, you can just order it off of Amazon...
After the trip, Luke even bought me my own set of coloring pencils that the kids are not allowed to touch. But I share them with him. And we sit, alongside our wonderfully creative children, off our phones and computers, talking and sharing some of the most peaceful and joyful moments. Sim describes himself as a "Merchant of Happiness" and that is exactly what we experiences! Here is our first completed page!
One year I was asked to conduct a workshop at a nearby school. They gave me total freedom in what to teach, how to teach and even how often I could teach. After thinking through my schedule and commitments it seemed two classes a month would be my limit. But with only two hours a month, I knew I would need to reign in all of the ideas racing through my head, and concentrate my focus. I decided to stick to the beautiful basics of design, rather than how to use a computer software. However, since it had been a while from college, I would need some brushing up myself.
My first go-to resource was “The Elements of Graphic Design” by Alex W. White. I wish I could say I read it cover to cover, but instead I got distracted by all of the amazing design samples, skimmed a lot of the text and then hit the web to see if I could find some simplified curriculum. My students would range from 5-8th grade and White’s book is certainly aimed at an older audience. In all honesty, I was hoping someone else had been in my shoes and was offering their notes and lesson plans for free. I did find a lot of great resources, but definitely not all in one place. I compiled it all and added quite a bit of my own thoughts and experiences. Stay tuned for future posts where I’ll be sharing my lectures and assignments, and hopefully a few samples from the students.
Luke and I are married and have four little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, education and graphic design.
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