Mid-Term Assessment

  1. At this point in the semester, I definitely predicted that I’d have less hours that I currently do, so by the end of the semester I’ll probably be way over my predicted practice hours.
  2. I don’t think that my idea of sophistication in my work has changed; it still involves a lot of clean work, with a lot of visual language and a clear idea in the presentation of what information is the most important. I think that the general movements that I had within my animation were sophisticated, although it was hard to catch all of the little mistakes that ended up happening before turning in the final report. I thought that the overall layout  turned out really well, and I worked really hard to make sure that there were no extraneous movements so that I could emphasize the right information. I also really liked my color scheme and the weather icons that I created.
  3. I already knew some of the really basic stuff within AfterEffects, but this project really helped to expand my knowledge of what different effects could be done, as well as how to work with compositions within a project, since I hadn’t done that before. I also really had to think about movement frame by frame, and try to get the timing down in a way that wasn’t rushed or too slow.
  4. I think I would have liked to play with the ease in and ease out feature a bit more.
  5. I’m not sure how one measures value; what unit would that be in? I think this project has a lot of creative learning value. I think that it ranks higher than the stop motion animation that I made for George’s Image Methodology class, because while that one also used AfterEffects, it didn’t really go in depth with all of the effects that the program is really useful for. I also think that this project ranks above a similar information project, my seafood flowchart, since both deal with motion within information, although through different methods. I think that the flowchart ranks higher than the stop motion animation though, because it deals with conveying a large amount of information visually, like this weather report. The biggest difference between the flowchart and the weather report is that I felt I had more control over the information in the animation, and it led to more creative challenges in movement than the flowchart.
  6. I feel like my creative “me” is probably about 40 percent myself, but I feel like the rest of my processes are influenced half and half by the teacher and my peers. I’m just a really internal person, and I really value outside perspectives, but the majority of my processes come from me, since I hate to rely on other people’s ideas too much.
  7. Do you have any suggestions on where to look for internships?

End of term assessment essay

  1. I’m not sure how many hours I would consider excessive, since I believe that putting as many hours in as possible is better than doing a set amount per week. I guess a good amount would probably be about 3-4 hours a day, which would give me personally a pretty good amount of time per day to play around with different ideas, and try to come up with the best solution for my project. That way I can also come back to the project every day and look at what  I’ve done the previous day with fresh eyes. Anything less than that would probably result in much less sophisticated work. Two hours day definitely doesn’t cut it, because that’s not enough time spent playing around with ideas. Unfortunately, most of my outside hours were spent on the more complex of my maps, the flowchart, and so I didn’t give myself enough hours to really make the bar graphs and the personal geography map really interesting in terms of design. So for that last week I was spending at least 3-4 hours a day on my flowchart, but not enough on my other two maps.
  2. In terms of sophisticated work, we talked about the simplicity of the information shown, how comprehensive it was in its visuals, meaning how quickly and efficiently could the data be displayed and understood by the viewer. We talked about color a lot, and how it helped the comprehensiveness of the overall map, and of the visuals. Of all of my maps, my flowchart was the most successful, since it had the most comprehensive visuals, didn’t rely too heavily on words, and when printed out I thought the colors were really successful together and fit with the theme of seafood. My personal geography map was successful I think, in conveying its message, and all of the lines and visuals were pretty clear since I used one of the symbols for walking that everyone already knows, the footprints. I struggled a bit with the colors here and I definitely could have spent more time on that, and it wasn’t very rich in terms of information, so I think I also could have added a couple of interesting parts. My graphs were the least sophisticated in my opinion; the colors turned out alright, and the graphics were sufficient, but I wasn’t able to spend enough time on them to really get them above basic default design.
  3. I got the most feedback on my flowchart map, and so that’s probably one of the reasons why it turned out to be the most successful map. I mostly got a lot of feedback on the complexity of my choices, and whether or not I was making them into more than just yes or no decisions. That ended up with me using a rubric within my flowchart which definitely wasn’t something that I thought I was going to use in the beginning. I also got a couple of cautionary comments on the heaviness of the background color, which led to me adding a couple of color accents at the top to take away some of the  weight and add a little more movement to the overall map. I also had some comments on my original graphs, since the way I had presented the bar graph was confusing, so I ended up getting rid of it in favor of a different bar graph.
  4. I found the most challenge in the flowchart graph, and it was the one I cared about the most, so I spent the most time there really trying to work out plausible solutions. When I was able to find the most effective ones (in my opinion), that’s when I was enjoying myself the most. A close second as far as challenge goes would have to be analyzing all of the information from Tony Pierce’s excel sheets; there was just so much information that it was hard to sort out what I wanted to do and what I didn’t, and once I had that information it was hard to visualize it in an interesting way.
  5. I did end up going to the East Austin studio tours and seeing Hollis and Alex’s work on display, but as far as workshops go, I wasn’t really able to attend, either because I’ve been busy working on stuff for other classes, or because the workshops are usually Saturday mornings, when I’m working. I will be submitting some of my copper plate engravings that I’ve been working on for printmaking to the student juried exhibition, since I spent so darn long on those.
  6. My life outside of school has definitely negatively impacted my schoolwork; because I have to work every weekend at home, and because it’s so hard to get days off from my manager, I have a really limited amount of time during the week where I can go into the labs that have Adobe on the server and really work on my design files, and that time became even more limited because I also had to work on my printmaking editions, which I also can only do on campus, and that takes much more time to do. And because I work at Starbucks, and because I have to get up early every weekend after weekdays with little sleep, I have even less time on weekends because I can’t function without napping at least an hour. So overall, just a lot more stress. (I should probably quit.)
  7. When I think of my ideal classroom environment, I think a lot of the environment that I had in printmaking this semester, where all of the work that everyone was doing was hands on, and so everyone would look in on each other’s work just because it was easy to see what other people were working on, and commentary felt really open. Everyone was learning from one another, which I feel represents the ideal class the most. When everyone’s working separately on computers though, it feels very isolated, and unless one person is actively asking others for their contributions, a lot of the students just stay behind the screen, and there’s not a lot of collaboration. I will include myself as one of the hiders, but I did collaborate a bit with other people outside of class time.

Symbols Project Midterm Essay

  1. Seeing as the symbol project required 9 different base factors, I spent a lot of time at first just coming up with the photos and drawings that I needed to trace, not to mention the actual tracing part on the computer, where I had to put in a little extra time to make sure there were no kinks that could lead to problems later. After that, I spent a really long time coming up with combinations, especially with the idea of integration between symbols in mind. I think here is definitely where I spent the most time, and perhaps it wasn’t enough to truly integrate a lot of my ideas, but I definitely got more comfortable cutting apart my symbols during this time. Unfortunately I can’t boast constant work put into my symbols, as might be pointed out when I forgot to fill in my photo tracings, but I put a pretty significant amount of time into my integrated symbols and their iterations.
  2. Sophistication of my work came the easiest, especially since I’m usually pretty nit-picky, with my work more so than anyone else’s. I spent a lot of time smoothing out the connecting areas, especially in the shark’s tail and its varying degrees of thickness due to ‘unite’ defaults. The turtle’s shell also took a lot of time to get right, and I had to put in a lot of work just uniting and ungrouping, and then tweaking, and then uniting, and then inversing again and again to get the end result. In the end there was a lot of work making sure that all of my symbols fit into one cohesive whole, which was pretty difficult with my widespread/bycatch symbol, since it was made up of so much false negative space and separate ovals. All of the time really contributed to the solidity of my symbols, the balance, the simplicity, and the technical work that was the criteria for the project, and so I feel as if I got pretty sophisticated results. 
  3. A lot of the feedback that I got from other students was pretty spot on: a lot of them suggested that I thicken or thin up lines, especially in my shark’s tail and in my turtle’s shell. I think the biggest contribution I got from everyone though was how much they really liked my combination of ‘widespread’ and ‘bycatch’ symbols (the alien head). If multiple people hadn’t pointed out how weird it looked and how much they liked it, I probably would have dismissed it. I’m really glad I took everyone’s advice though, because it really helped me focus on how I could make that symbol in particular a lot better.
  4. The biggest challenge I think I faced was trying to integrate two symbols into one seamless whole. My default reaction is definitely a lot more like the “default design” that anyone can do with a couple of clicks in Illustrator. So when it was pointed out to me that a lot of my symbols were just two things put next to each other, it was challenging to think of them in any other way. I’m not entirely sure how well I was able to resolve a lot of it, so while the challenge level was intense, I feel as if I wasn’t able to fully rise up to it, partly due to lack of continuous work, and partly because of lack of time.
  5. I’m not entirely sure what other expert experiences is supposed to mean, so I just interpreted it as the amount of playing around and experimenting within Illustrator to get different results with my symbols. I would probably classify my expert experiences as somewhere in the middle range,  since I did a lot of playing around with pathfinder and ‘divide below’, as well as with shape-maker and the pen tool. So while I feel as if I have a pretty good grasp of those tools now, I admittedly might not have gone as far as I could have with a bunch of other tools, and so my other ‘expert experiences’ were limited.
  6. I would like to think that this project, in addition to all of the others that I’ve had throughout my freshman year, has contributed to a more mature social emotional development by forcing me to stop thinking of all of my work as precious. It also helped to remind myself that any comments made against the direction I wanted to go with a symbol was not a commentary against me as a person, and was only directed at my work as a suggestion. I think having a more mature outlook on critiques helped me to take more people’s advice and suggestions and apply them more efficiently to my work to help better it. I also just had to be more mature in order to fit in the time to work on this project, which took a lot of discipline to get it done along with all of the hours it took to work on my other big class, printmaking.
  7. I would like to argue that I contributed to a fairly warm classroom climate. Have I been a little grumpy at times during class? Yes. But I generally hate to just tear people down, so I really worked at consciously looking at people’s designs and ideas in ways to make them better, with the direction of their personal projects in mind. I think that I definitely responded best to the people who were really enthusiastic about their work though, and so it was really hard to help those people who clearly were just inventing up topics to get through the project. But overall, I think I gave fair feedback, and wasn’t a person that drags the whole climate down.

Ignorance is Bliss


Hello again readers! Alas, I bring you useful information, that when used in earnest, may improve your performance in everything you write. Will you use it? Well, it’s work, so probably not. No one likes work. But for those of you who might consider it briefly, I present to you my semester of writing wisdom.

High school writing and composition was, in all honesty, a waste of time for me. In fact, if anything, it was a warping experience, because by the end of it, I was only concerned with how to make my writing seem credible, without believing it actually was. The questions I asked about projects included such lazy queries as: “What kind of sources draw away from my credibility?” “Is there a minimum or maximum amount of sources?” “Is use of pathos appropriate in research papers?” “Is it better to be more passionate or neutral when writing about a subject?”. Looking back upon these questions has allowed me to realize the full extent of my laziness. I, like all of the other students who took the time-wasting AP English Composition class, saw the patterns in the writing, and took the easy ways out of doing the hard work and critical thinking. In short, we learned how to BS the system. And boy, did we BS the system.

But in the end, was that our fault? NO! This is when we shake our fists at our school systems and their standardization in righteous indignation as we recall our sad and ignorant (yet blissful) high school selves.

But actually, in a way, it is our fault. We assume, at some level, that the BS will continue into the rest of our lives. We don’t take the time to develop good writing habits. We find the shortcuts, because after all, the class is a waste of time, and isn’t teaching us anything new. Fun fact though; it’s actually harder to BS in college than it is to actually put honest work into your writing. And gosh, I know how much we all enjoy messing with the system, but that’s not going to get us hired in the future.

I know, I know, I don’t liked admitting it either. So here’s what I did to turn my ideas on writing around, and hopefully it might come in useful for the people who want to do better with their own work.


1) Reading like a Writer Heuristics

You may or may not know what these are. In short, they are different ways that you can use to approach your sources when gathering information on a topic. They help you to summarize, detail, and connect your sources so that you can all make them work towards your argument.  For me, they help to reinforce how exactly my sources share ideas, so that I can use those shared ideas for my own use. Heuristics enable the writer to manipulate the material to their will, like demonic and scholarly puppet masters. In order to complete the heuristics, you are forced to read through the entirety of the source, which may tend to slip our minds sometimes, when it’s convenient and we’re lazy.

2) Research proposal

It really is just what it sounds like. Here’s the twist though: you have to introduce your topic, your exigence in relation to that topic, your limitations, your audience, your topic’s significance to your audience, and perhaps most importantly, your plan on how to incorporate all of your sources together. Just how do you do that? It’s different for everyone, but it mostly involves figuring out how to get the most out of your sources. I do this using the heuristics from step 1. All of this together then becomes the research proposal.

And remember, the focus isn’t just on how to pass the class. It’s on how you can read people’s minds to figure out the exact thing that will make them change their mind. It’s on how you present the arguments in your writing to trick people into thinking something without them realizing it. Think about it; it’s like being a writing-ninja in the brains of your readers. So it’s important to ask the following questions with your writing, in order to persuade, and not just in order to present.

Who is my audience?

How does my audience influence my exigence?

How do I change my writing to appeal to them?

How do I present my sources to the audience to communicate my argument the most effectively?

What other viewpoints do I have to keep in mind when thinking about my exigence?

What are my constraints and how do they affect my communication with the audience?

Writing isn’t about cheating the system so that you can get better grades. It’s about presentation of material. And all of this doesn’t just make you more insightful, communicative, and thorough in your arguments.

It makes you the Supreme Writing Ninja.


VISU 1100: Blog Post #12

Kim Garza was the graphic designer who showed us how her app “Eventurist” evolved from its beginning to its end, as a result of user stories and research that she and her team did to figure out what clients would be looking for in a travel app. She was also working on a personal project called “Till the Clouds Roll By”, and I thought it was really interesting because she decided to make a whole bunch of new footage, and music to go along with this scene in a musical. I’m not sure if the song itself had any emotional value for her, but the whole idea was really cool.

Tammie Rubin(?) worked with the idea of the chimera, a “thing that is hoped or wished for but is, in fact, illusionary”. She began taking all of these objects and turning them into these mystical pieces of ceramic artwork that keeps the viewer wondering about what the object is, since it is made up of recognizable objects, but is not recognizable as a whole. I really liked this idea of putting objects together to give each of the pieces more power than was their previous function, and it kind of makes me want to pursue ceramics, just to see what I could do with it.

Shuren(? I’m not sure what his name was) took a whole bunch of images that all focused on the idea of coincidental accidents. He doesn’t take his time to frame a shot or to put everything up just right; he looks for the random happenstances of everyday life because those single moments are what demonstrate how people choose to live, what they put up with, and how they deal with life. All in all it channels the subconscious humanity in the viewer. I really liked his comparison of his photography to ‘spandrels’ in architecture: something that is always there, but is overlooked because of the ornate arches and domes that the spandrels support as a background figure.

I really liked this course! It gave me a lot of opportunities to look at my own work, get advice from previous graduates in the same field, look at what my teachers are doing, and think about what it is that I want to go into after I graduate. I also really appreciated all of the chances that the alumni gave for students to contact them if they were interested in an internship.


“Challenge Accepted”


It is time, my wonderful readers, to discuss the topic of research. Without a doubt research has been present somewhere within the background of all of our lives, worming its way into the foundation of our being and producing despair like no other. Particularly the night before the whole research shebang is due, when we curse our burning eyes, endless procrastination, and our constant need to prove the teacher wrong.


As much as research has been present within the lives of college students from all walks of life, doubt has as well. After all, college is when the career is decided (although this definitely does not have to be the case), and students wonder, ‘Is this really the best way to go? Am I choosing the right path? What if I’m no good at it?’. In regards to the first two questions, there’s nothing I can really help with; in the end, the answers are up to the individual. The latter question, though, all depends on how the problems encountered throughout the year are approached.

As for myself, in my role as a fledgling design student, I have come across the difficulty of conveying the purpose and intent of my projects to my fellow students – my audience. The reason for this difficulty comes from a variety of sources; it may stem from my inexperience with Photoshop, or my clumsy bumbling of its presentation. Mostly however, I find that the biggest problem stems from the very beginning, when I ask myself, “How do I start this project?”.

When students are first introduced to a topic, their immediate reaction is one of self-expression; in other words, they begin to solve the problem proposed within their minds, without first considering who the end result will affect. They don’t think about their audience. Teachers from multiple universities have discussed this phenomenon, but perhaps Paul J. Nini, a professor at Ohio State University and coordinator for its Undergraduate Visual Communication Design program, said it best: “By focusing so strongly on our own interests and agenda, we run the risk of excluding or alienating those for whom the communications we develop are intended.” In other words, when students approach a project, they solve it for themselves, and not for their audience.

In order to change this general student approach, I would like to introduce “wicked problems”. These are not evil at heart, nor are they problems that teachers pose in class to trip people up. They are, in fact, “social or cultural problem[s] that [are] difficult to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements”, according to Austin Center for Design. In short: these problems can’t be easily solved, because there are many ways to solve them. While these problems may have started out classified as societal, Richard Buchanan of MIT Press proposes that these problems exist all fields of study, although his focus was primarily in design. He argues that people tend to take the ‘wickedness’ out of problems for their own convenience, dumbing down the subject material until there is only one right answer. But according to Austin Center for Design, solutions to wicked problems “can be only good or bad, not true or false”. Wicked problems can be solved any number of ways, just like all of the projects that we college students have so much trouble with! Taking the wickedness out of our school problems cuts down on the different ways that we, as students, could be taking instead. Granted, the concept is much more difficult to grasp, but isn’t it better to have more options than just one?

When students approach their projects with the idea of wicked problems in mind, they find that they can solve their projects any number of ways, some of which are better than others. When students approach their projects from an ‘audience-oriented’ mindset, they find that they are better able to communicate with their intended audience. If students are able to combine the mindsets of audience-oriented and wicked problem thinking together, the result could very likely be a better and more efficient end product. When used together in research, it can produce new insights and ideas, from different perspectives, that we’ve never thought of before. After all, as Emi Kolawole, a student at Stanford d.school, says,  “Research is, at its core, a hunt for discovery and insight”. Utilizing a wicked problems approach helps the student to think outside of themselves and think for their audience, and helps students figure out where their research should start.

So my advice to all of the other college students out there is: don’t make your problem dumber just to make it easier. Make it wicked. You will find a whole new world of possibilities.

VISU 1311: Blog Post #11

The sheer amount of ways that David Blaine tried and researched in order to hold his breath for 17 minutes was insane.  Obviously, at the beginning, he tried to get away with not doing it at all, but eventually the solution just became clear to him; he just needed to do it, not find ways around it.

I think that from there, his research on the subject of holding one’s breath did the most for him, not the fancy gigs that he wound up with along the way. He found out how to purge himself, and did so every morning; he found out that movement cut down big time on his oxygen supply; and he found out the different ways that made his goal of holding his breath significantly more difficult. Finding the first steps of slowing the heart rate and calming the whole body down really allowed him to move into the part of holding the breath that took willpower.

His sheer will to reach his goal, I think, also had a LOT to do with his success. The trials that he mentions beforehand – standing on top of a 100 foot pillar for 36 hours, freezing himself in a block of ice, being buried alive for a week – all had to do with his taking medical impossibilities as a personal challenge, and rising up to meet the obstacles. Obviously, this didn’t always work, according to his first failure to stay underwater, but he tried again, and pushed himself more and more not to fail. When he was being filmed on Oprah, he realized that there was “100% chance” that he would not be able to make it to 17  minutes, and that was at the 8 minute mark. But he stuck it out for another 9 and a half minutes, and he made it! If that’s not sheer willpower I don’t know what is.

Overall, I just really have to respect his ability to try and try and try, reforming his process and keeping with the basics, just to reach his goal. That kind of temerity is something that I’ll have to try for myself.