Assignment1: Designing Visual Information

What have I done?

In the first quartile I followed the assignment "designing visual information" by Bart Hengeveld. All six lectures were followed up by a homework assignment; an infographic, collages, an instruction drawing, a poster with an CD-case and business card, style copies in spreadsheets and a reportfolio presenting all these tasks. I also read the recommended book "How to design and publish your own book" by Ellen Lupton.

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What have I learned?

Develop a critical visual paradigm

When choosing this assignment I hoped to learn about a theoretical approach to underpin my visual information. I learned arguments to do so and to help making visual design decisions but in a different way than the theoretical one. I learned that there's no theory on how to design beautiful things; it is about having a critical mind-set to ask questions about everything you see.

During the lectures we received feedback on the homework assignments, whereby the assigner mostly thought loudly and explained how he perceived the homework. Here I learned a lot of terms and tips to analyse and decompose visual work. An example is being aware of the composition and the way it directs your attention. Another one is the non-official term called visual mass, whereby objects have an amount of mass that needs a corresponding space of emptiness around them. Often posters tend to show so much information that it’s hard for the reader to see what is important and what not.

I also learned that this critical paradigm applies to other things as well, and there is a big overlap between fields. For example in music, all different instruments need their own frequency range because overlap leads to noise instead of different melodies; therefore the example about 'visual mass' can be applied to music as well.

Use this to effectively communicate visually

I learned that designers have to be aware that everything that has a form, needs to be given a form. This form is a great communication tool, as its often the first impression people get. A good poster is inviting, attractive and gives enough information to be triggered but not everything; in order to stay interested for more information. In a booklet more in depth information can be given, while a business card only communicates attractiveness and interest. By copying styles of other graphical designers I learned their way of thinking. An example is the use of composition to steer the attention in the way you want.

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Why does this contribute to my development?

Having great ideas is just as important as communicating these ideas. Being able to do this effectively is fundamental for designers. This semester I planned to focus on form giving as I lack skills here while it is in my eyes on of the most important competencies for designers.

Next steps

After this assignment I will have to make a Portfolio to apply for my exchange and a draft showcase to close the first quartile. These tasks are a great way to practice everything I learned during this assignment and to make a visual identity that fits me.