When ideas don’t turn out

I’m almost embarrassed to write up this post and put it out there.  But I’m trying to practice working in the open even if that work is a total failure.  Process counts, right?  Right.

Like most DS106zoners, I watched “Eye of the Beholder” a few weeks ago.

cartooned still from

image from Kelli Wisbauer (http://kelliwisbauer.wordpress.com)

I was intrigued by several things in the episode: the carefully choreographed scenes that hid the faces of the hospital staff until the very end, the fast-paced chase scene through the hospital hallways.

It was the chase scene that inspired this failed create.  The Leader on the TV added to the frenetic pace of this scene.  I found myself going back to listen to what he was emoting.  And then there was the vision.

How awesome would it be if the Leader’s evangelism appeared on some typography poster like the Holstee manifesto.

Holstee manifesto print

Holstee manifesto print

Yes.  That would be amazing.

Only it wasn’t.

Manifesto based on "Eye of the Beholder"

Manifesto based on “Eye of the Beholder”

I attempted to use Illustrator, which was TOTALLY foreign to me.  I think I could’ve dialed it back on the different fonts too.  I only used two fonts, but the italics and bold and such is overkill.  I’m seeing this now…  a week or so after I worked on it.  I may have been better off not using a new-to-me piece of software.  There’s also the fact–and I think this is the most important piece–that I need to brush up on my design skills.

I was about to write that I don’t think of myself as a visual person, but that’s ridiculous.  To say that I’m not observant is more accurate.  It’s probably why I’m ok living in a house full of Frankenstein furniture (pieces given to me, found, or leftover from college) and toddler toys.

Only occasionally do I wish I lived in some Crate & Barrel fantasy.

Crate & Barrel living room

Design–both the ability to do it and observe it–is something I want to work on this summer.  I think I’m going to give myself a challenge.  I’m going to try to design a really nice typography poster by the summer’s end.

GNR typography poster

GNR typography poster

The trick is remembering this challenge.

12 thoughts on “When ideas don’t turn out

  1. How is this a DS106 fail? It’s a fantastic attempt to analyze a subtle piece of a narrative that actually deepens the plot tremendously, and asks the viewer to question the value of this particular fictitious society. Every new endeavor requires a first few drafts, and I think you’ve got a great start. I would never even think to tackle this with Illustrator, as I’d be too afraid (despite it being the appropriate tool for the job). I applaud your efforts, and hope you keep working on this to get it done!

    • True. Drafts are essential. Thanks for the support. I’m curious to see how my design chops progress over the summer.

  2. I think design is my personal favorite part of ds106 for all the issue you listed above. It’s hard for me to do well, but I fantasize about doing it well. It compels me, and when I do it I am constantly humbled by how hard it is to do well. It might be the reason I keep teaching #ds106, I really want to get better. I love forward to your design poster this Summer, it is the perfect way to frame your goals and experiences within this community.

      • @Ben,

        You have a point there, and when I see comments like the one you left for Melanie here, it truly does remind me what is awesome about #ds106. Rock not rot!

    • And I thought audio was hard (it is). I really do have new respect for graphic designers. These things just look like a bunch of words on a piece of paper. How hard can it be, right? Yeah….

      • It is enticing because we have the tools now, but the creative part is all conceptual. THat has been the really cool part of #ds106, don’t teach the tool, but embed students in an open, online community that is talented and inspiring the work of everyone. That matters, learning from people that openly model for each other and engage in distributed dialogue is so much of what is missing from online learning right now. There is more on the internet than we can dream of in our philosophy 🙂

  3. I think this is really good. The typography thing doesn’t work the way you wanted it to, but you recognized that and did some hard thinking about why. Observation is the key to design, as you have figured out. You saw that the font variations aren’t helping – very good. The Holstee manifesto uses scale for emphasis, and doesn’t vary anything else. (I do have to say that using all caps is not a nice thing to do to the reader though.) You used multiple variations in your type, and they kind of compete against each other. The different typeface doesn’t help much because it is not different enough to really stand out. Same thing with the size and spacing variations – they’re not enough to really jump out.

    Design is about making deliberate decisions to achieve a desired result. The key to making a design work is to really look at what effect your choices have, and deciding what to keep, what to change, what to undo.

    That willingness to experiment is a win no matter how it turns out. I thought it might be cool to do something with that guy’s speech but I let go of the idea and now have nothing to show for it. So yeah, awesome job.

  4. Paul covered the suggestions well– you really want to use something like a San serif font so the line heights are parallel, the LIFE font makes words that are almost like bricks. And as he suggests size, and maybe varied intensity of color will give sufficient variety.

    I don’t use Illustrator- I’d do it in Photoshop with different parts on layers so you can slide them around- you can also use the Transform -> Scale tool to change the size of text.

    What would be really trippy is warping the text along the lines of the bandage wrap.

    I’m with Jim on many things, but design assignments where you work within constraints are my favorite.

    Hardly a fail at all. Stop that!

  5. Alan, I think you’re a true Renaissance Man. As are many of the men and women in the DS106 community (god, I love this place). Thanks for the design suggestions. I’m looking forward to putting them into practice over the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

  6. Pingback: It’s hard to write a witty title when you know nothing about The Prisoner | Melanie Barker is…

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