Tell The World: Visual Communication for Creative Practice
DA 2112 / Fall 2016
Tell The World: Visual Communication for Creative Practice
Nancy Nowacek [nancynowacek at bennington.edu]
Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor
Time: Thursday 8:20am -12:00pm
Office Hours: by appointment
The goal of this course is to provide students who are new to the principles of visual design
with the practical knowledge, critical skills and confidence to effectively express their ideas graphically.
This course will supply an overview of the fundamentals used to convey an idea, communicate a message and influence a belief. Topics covered in the course include: typography, image treatment, color, composition, branding, promotional, instructional and editorial design. Through lectures, reading assignments, discussions, software demonstrations (Adobe Creative Suite),
in-class and studio assignments, students will develop a conceptual and functional literacy in visual communication that can be applied across creative contexts.
This class is intended for students who do not have formal graphic design training but who recognize the powerful impact of visual form in the expression and exchange of ideas.
By the successful completion of this course, students should be able to
- Typeset functional and expressive typography (and know the difference)
- Know the difference between RBG & CYMK color and how to build colors and color palettes in each
- Understand basic image resolution, manipulation, and export formats
- Demonstrate understanding of working with text and image in a variety of contexts
- Demonstrate understanding of the design process: from ideation to sketching to prototyping and feedback loops
- Build documents in Adobe Indesign and Illustrator and use basic functionality of both programs
- Exhibit attention to detail, craft and the development of craft skills.
- Attendance: Students are required to attend every class; many of the classes will include live instructor-lead demos that do not exist online. More than 2 absences will result in a failing grade; more than 15 minutes late to class will be counted as an absence. Communication is essential: please email me or text me if you will be late to class; email me if you must miss a class.
- Presence: Students are also required to be mentally present, fully focused on in-class critiques and discussions, asking questions when concepts or workflows are not clear.
- Students are required to work in-class and at home on assignments.
- Communication: Students must communicate their printing needs on color optional assignments directly with Jackson Moore (insert email here).
- For any assignment produced in color, only one round of color outputs will be allowed. PROOF JUDICIOUSLY IN BLACK AND WHITE.
ALL COLOR PRINTS FOR CLASS ON THURSDAY MUST BE EMAILED TO JACKSON BY 11:59pm TUESDAY NIGHT.
***Late work is not accepted.***
Please commit to
- Respecting my time and the class’ time by showing up prepared and focused.
- Embracing the amateur stance: Learning by trial and error, asking questions.
- Being your most courageous and creative self.
- Embracing the designers’ mindset: actively seeking feedback on your ideas from others not in the class; sketching ideas on paper before bringing them into the computer; and rigorously proofing your work before finalizing it (this may mean outputting a project more than once) and seeking in both technique and craft your concept and vision.
Office hours and help
I am available by appointment on email for time in-between class sessions or after class. When I’m not in Bennington, I’m also happy to do Skype/Facetime appointments as my schedule permits. Please do not call or text me for an appointment: please email me. If you have not heard back from me by the end of the day, then please text me to make sure I received your email.
Jackson Moore (firstname.lastname@example.org) is available for your printing and technical questions.
Please ask each other for help! You all are a community of diverse skills and intelligences, and oftentimes when ideas or software are creating obstacles, someone nearby can help.
This class is an overview of visual communication. Nearly every week we will be learning a new element or type of design through the combination of lecture and artist/designer case studies.
Each student will be responsible for presenting two 5-8 minute case studies of an artist or designer over the course of the semester. By 4pm on Wednesday, email me the images you would like to show (at least 3, but as many as you like). Case studies must include a very brief biography of your artist/designer, and a discussion of their work as relates to the day’s topic.
In-class demonstrations and assignments
Nearly every week, there will be an in-class software demonstration or tutorial in order to build your working knowledge of the creative suite. Often a very short in-class assignment will be given as a learning tool. Missing a class may mean missing in-class software instruction. This instruction will not be repeated. Any student missing software instruction may ask their peers for help catching up; peers are encouraged to share their knowledge.
We will be working with Digital Foundations: Intro to Media Design with the Adobe Creative Suite by xtine burrough Michael Mandiberg to develop our skills with the Adobe Suite.
The book is available and weekly exercises can be found online here:
In addition to short homework projects, weekly homework assignments will be given to read and cover the exercises in various chapters. Students are expected to step through assigned chapters and bring any questions to the next class.
Nearly every week, there will be an at-home assignment based on the topic and software covered in class. There will be two longer projects towards the end of the semester. Every at-home assignment will be presented and discussed in the following class; please show up to class with your assignment ready to present your project.
At the end of the semester, students will be required to turn in a PDF portfolio of all the semesters’ assignments with their final project.
Evaluation and grading
Students will be graded on class participation, case studies, completion of assignments, as well as craft and attention to detail.
9.1: Course overview & intro to visual communication
Digital Foundations Chapter 1
Project: Learning to Love You More, No. 63
Last 15 minutes: Visit from Jackson about printing, color and color optional; If working with color, only 1 color round on 11x17” is allowed. PROOF JUDICIOUSLY IN BLACK AND WHITE;
The print deadline to Jackson is 11:59pm TUESDAY NIGHT.
9.8: Elements of Visual Communication: Typography
Case Studies: Jenny Holtzer/Ryan, Stefan Sagmeister/Janie
Digital Foundations Chapters 3 & 4
Project: Words to Live By (BW)
Resources: 4x6" and 6"x4" Postcard templates can be found here
Anatomy of type: http://www.typographydeconstructed.com/
Aphorism Cards (you can do better)
Steve Powers (always inspiring)
Design Your Own Typeface
Wired article on Memoire
The Noun Project
Thinking with Type
Designing with Type
15 Tips to Choose Good Text Type
I Love Typography blog
How to Make a Font
NY Times: The Art of the Word
A Kerning Game
Google Earth in Typography
Video Game for Typography Geeks
Worth a Read/Listen
The 10 Commandments of Typography
What Font is Your City
A Face Lift for The Times, Typographically, That Is – NYT.com
What Does Your Typeface Say About You?
What Type Are You?
New York Times: Mistakes in Typography Grate the Purists
Are There Certain Typefaces that Make us Believe?
9.15: Elements of Visual Communication: Color
Case Studies: Spencer Finch/Louay, Rafael Rozendaal/Rohail
Digital Foundations Chapter 5
Project: The Color of ____________
Use any materials necessary, if working with color printouts, only 1 color around on 11x17” is allowed
9.22: Elements of Visual Communication: Composition
(quick in-class check-ins)
Case Studies: Rudy VanderLans & Zuzana Licko/Kim; Tadanori Yokoo/Katherine
Digital Foundations Chapters 13 & 14
Project: Lost Elephant (BW)
9.29: Elements of Visual Communication: Text and Image
Case Studies: Sister Serpents/Georgie, Ed Ruscha/Caroline
Digital Foundations Chapters 2, 8-11
Project: Funhouse mirror Letter-sized BW
10.6: Information Graphics: Signage, Instructions & Diagrams
Case Studies: Mark Lombardi/Asad, Steve Lambert/Iliyana
Digital Foundations Chapter 6
Project: Just Do It (Color optional)
INFOGRAPHICS & DATA VISUALIZATION
Visualizing Information for Design Advocacy: An Introduction to Information Design (PDF)
Difference between Infographics and Data Visualization
Using data visualization for social change
Information Is Beautiful
10.13: Visual Communication forms: Identity and Branding
Case Studies: Superflex/Alex, Yomango/Lazar
Project: ID It (Color)
10.20: Midterm meetings
Midterm meetings will be a combination of mid-point check-in and personal critiques on assignment progress + SEPC conversation
10.27: PLAN DAY NO CLASS
11.3: Visual Communication forms: Editorial Design & Propaganda
Case Studies: Barbara Kruger/Faruk, Gran Fury/Bailey
Project: What Can You Stand For? (Color optional)
11.10: Visual Communication forms: Graphic Narrative
Present Propaganda Projects
Project: Microfictions (Color Optional)
11.17: Semester Review
Final project assignment
11.24: GIVE THANKS ~ NO CLASS
12.1: Desk crits
12.8: FINAL PROJECT & PORTFOLIO PRESENTATIONS
REFERENCES: Great blogs for design inspiration: