How many hours of practice time per week would you consider excessive? How many hours would not be enough to create sophisticated work? Where are you situated?
I typically spend 2-3 hours on a project, per day. I think the most time I’ve ever spent in a day is about 5 hours, but that’s just how my schedule works. If I had nothing else to do outside of school, I’d probably spend at least 9 hours on a single project, per day. However, perhaps that would be excessive. I think a large part of determining how many hours are ample to spend on a project and the time needed to make something sophisticated are completely different. Whereas you might need to spend around 20 hours to make something amazing, maybe even 40 hours, your time is limited by your engagements.
Everyone has engagements. You walk your dog at a specific time each day, you go to bed by a specific hour, have multiple assignments that need to be completed by a specific point in time, and so on. The thing with engagements is that they often are authoritative to the extent by which we see them as flexible or dispensable. If someone has goals to make top grades or do outstandingly well in school, they may prioritize their engagements in a more precise and concrete manner. Someone who is more lax in standards (but not necessarily morals), however, may see fit to rearrange certain engagements to make room for others or prioritize some engagements more than others. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be depending on what that persons goals are and if they are responsible. That is another topic, though.
When asked what I consider is excessive, I look to my engagements and goals. I am a perfectionist by habit, but not by nature; it is something I’ve learned from my mother. In that sense, my goal is to make top grades and do so in the best possible sense. Every 99 could be a 100, every 100 could be a 110. What matters is not the grades so much as the effort. It is within this philosophy that effort is paramount, implying that maximum effort is resultant of maximum reward; near perfection. In this sense, I think I tend to spend too much time on things before moving on, as I find fault in everything even once it is turned in and ‘done’. If I define what is excessive by what I do now, it would probably be around 20-28 hours a week. In that sense, the time I spend is excessive, and I should probably only be spending about 6 or 7 hours a week working on things. However, I believe that the work I create is sophisticated and thoughtful, and perhaps that’s just how long it takes. Perhaps that is different for everyone.
What does the “next level” look like? What would the next level in the designs of your maps look like?
I think that the ‘next level’ is probably more along the lines of revision than re-imagination. For instance, the finance map could use a color change for the background, or at least a lighter green. The decision map symbols could also use a little tweaking, specifically the Scrabble one. I think the navigational map was pretty perfect, but I suppose the coloring of the symbols can be redundant (although I think it reinforces the idea behind them).
Alternatively, I think that the maps are relatively finished in a very concrete manner.I think the “next level” would be implementing the maps somehow, or maybe even trying to revamp them and perhaps bring in something new. For instance, I could play with the color scheme of the decision map, or create the navigational map in a new style with a new context. The cool thing about these Illustrator projects, and really any project, is that there are countless solutions and implementations to be toyed with. What I have right now is one result of my efforts, but it could have just as easily gone any number of ways. I think exploring the numerous implementations of this assignment would be something worth entertaining as a “next level”. I think, for me, the most important thing to focus on would be adding depth to the maps, especially in the physical sense.
What was some meaningful feedback you received about the maps and what did you do with that feedback?
May I first begin by saying I received a fair amount of feedback for all my maps, but there were definitely things that I latched on to more than others, and understandably so. The first thing I really resonated with was the fact that the first map needed more buildings and probably needed less of a network. I had mapped out only a few buildings around campus, the streets, and the path I walk to get to the tabled areas I was looking at, but that’s like an information overload in terms of the network, and the streets alone sufficed. After mapping out the buildings, making my markers, and adding some physical depth and flair, I felt like including all the buildings (but only labeling major points of interest) it came together very nicely.
With the second map, the most important feedback I got was that the background should be relevant to the map itself, and that the color scheme didn’t seem to mesh with the content at all. While I didn’t change the color scheme since I thought it gave good contrast to the symbols I made, I did implement a background made up of dollar signs and coins, which was subtle enough to not be distracting, yet relevant to the context of the project. I was asked why I wanted a background and not just a white page, and my answer was a simple one, “I want it to be fun; I don’t want it to look plain.” I think the fact I even have that kind of mentality is a really great quality for me to have, since the plain, easy route isn’t the most rewarding, and what I made in the end is something interesting and fun, and I’m proud of it.
With the third map, the background also needed work, as I implemented a clock design that wasn’t instantly recognizable as a clock, and that was edited for clarity. The second thing that came up was the forced symmetry of the piece. While I didn’t use much text at all (and actually used too little in the end result) it was brought to my attention that not every single category of a choice has three sub-choices, nor does every category need sub-choices that stem from it. Sometimes, as in many flow charts, the path simply ends, and that’s okay. I ditched the symmetry a bit, reducing choices that seemed forced or redundant, and the whole map benefited from it.
Describe what level of challenge you encountered in the creation of your maps. What was the hardest part / what was the easiest part? What was the most enjoyable part of the process?
I’m at an unfair advantage here. No, I’m not necessarily a master of the arts, but I am very experienced with Illustrator and the core parts of CS6. So technically, I really didn’t have issues; it was easy for me to put things together, even when I needed to do so quickly. However, there was difficulty conceptually. I found myself staring at a blank page for almost an hour wondering where to start at times, but other times I just picked up where I left off and made it up as I went along. I think the hardest part for me is coming up with that fantastic concept that seems worth implementing. I have so many things floating around in my head nowadays (personal passion-projects, tests, relationships, hardships, regrets) that I find it hard to focus. However, against all this influence, I do sort through the mist and find what I need. I feel almost like something intrinsic is using the mouse, and I’m just along for the ride. In this sense, it makes it all the more fascinating and rewarding to see what becomes of all the effort I put in. That is truly the most enjoyable element.
Did you do anything else outside of class, extracurricular, related to art, design, or creativity?
I do a few things to get creative outside class, but they’re mostly quick things I do here and there. I like to doodle a lot, and I’ve been doodling a girl for a while now, and I’ve tried to experiment with poses, too. If you want to know more about that, feel free to inquire, but I won’t show off my doodles unless it’s in person! I’ve also been doodling magical items (swords, staffs, shields) in hopes of implementing them in a novel.
Aside from that, I think about concepts for a fantasy novel I want to pen. I’ve considered making it a kind of underdog “poor kids from a small town get way in over their heads with a big quest” kind of thing, but I’m still fleshing it out. I hope to publish it some day and maybe do my own cover art.
Additionally, I’m working on putting together a side project. I was talking with some friends, and they suggested it’d be neat for my mom to have her own “advice column” type radio show. I really like the idea, and so does my mother, so I’m going to try and produce a pilot over winter break and share it with friends to see what they think. Who knows, it could be pretty rewarding! I think the best part is being able to work with my mom on something, especially since we’re so close. I also have another project lined up with my best friend Sean, and that’ll be in the music video/short film vein, which I am totally excited about.
So, yeah, I’ve been busy.
Whether positively, negatively or neutrally, how has your life outside of school impacted your school work?
Oh boy. I’d say that my work has been impacted in many ways by my situation. On one hand, my parents divorce and my mom’s heart problems prompted me to make the book that got me into the juried art show last year, my very first semester in St. Ed’s. Additionally, I’ve felt really stressed out about the whole thing, and that’s made me feel pretty distracted lately. However, I’m trying to keep myself happy, and I’ve tried to spend time with people that make me happy, so it’s been easier. I think that the really amazing thing is how well I’ve done despite all this stuff, and I think all my professors notice that.
What does the most ideal classroom environment look/feel like to you? What does it mean to be part of a class? This semester, what was your part / role / contribution to this ideal vision? Looking back in the semester describe the physical location you think you were at your most optimum and flourished the most.
I believe the ideal classroom environment is exactly what we have right now. It’s the entire school, even. See, I’ve never done well in big schools. When I was in high school, it was a huge school. It was overflowing with students that didn’t really care where they ended up, and that made it hard for the rest of us to work, as well as promote a lot of bullying and general rudeness. However, I think I was important to that school. I became an example through my achievements, and students were proud to know me and see where I was going. I think our class is ideal because it emphasized individual merit, while also incorporating group creativity and learning. We all provide feedback, and we all have something to gain from one another. I don’t want to toot my own horn a whole bunch, but I feel like I’ve been a bit of an example in class, and perhaps that’s why I feel so pressured at times. When I show friends my work, they’re always saying “That looks way better than what I have”, but I often don’t think as much of my own work. I think that my peers do look up to me, but I also look up to a lot of my peers! I find that there are individuals I am truly proud to know, especially Tate, Amy, Yenifer, and Julia. I think they’re all stellar artists, and have all had their share of struggles and triumphs, but I think they’ve all come far. They keep me going, and they keep me pushing. They inspire me to do more than I already am, and I appreciate that. In that sense, I’ve flourished more in my art classes than I ever have. Be it with you and Bill, Jimmy, Hollis, or even Prof. Haughey. I have loved it all, and I am in complete bewilderment that I have the opportunities I do today. I am more happy now then I have been in years, and that’s thanks to my peers and my professors.