Final Portfolio My demonstration of the Principles of information design

A Spark Video Introduction

A study in two elements of Design

I have included here for your viewing pleasure all four of my efforts in design: a redesign of a logo, two iterations of my resume, and an original info-graphic. All four of these projects illustrate with particular honesty my growing understandings of design elements, as well as my general discomfort with the products by which I was to express them. Notwithstanding the difficulties presented by Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, and Spark; the projects exhibit solid attempts at applying the four design principles as defined by Robin Williams in her book "The Non-Designer's Design Book." Listed, they form the acronym CRAP: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. For the purpose of illustrating how I have progressed over the course of this class, and more importantly how I have absorbed the material, we will focus on two of the most prominent elements-- Contrast and Alignment.

Contrast: The comparison of dissimilar elements of a piece to draw a reader's eye into the page/design.

Alignment: The placement of an item on a page/design to register particular connections with neighboring items.

The Logo-Project

Description of the Project: The Logo-Redesign project was our first opportunity to exercise our understanding of the four design concepts in a graphical way. To do this we were offered two options: a.) the creation original logo for an organization, or b.) a redesign of an organization's current logo. I chose to create an original logo for a number reasons, premier among them being that an organization I work with, Arkansas Model United Nations, was not in possession of a organization specific logo (despite being in operation for over fifty years). The logo that I created features symbols from the United Nations and our university, both of which bring the whole project together nicely.

Alignment and Contrast Elements: In this logo project the thing that first draws the eye's attention is the University of Central Arkansas' bear in the center of the United Nations base logo. Alignment plays a key role with this as I elected to put the bear in the center as that is what we culturally consider to be the most important, followed by the title which I situated at the top of the logo. I think this design choice is ideal for another reason as well as it plays on our brain's love of Contrast by having a rather nice pairing of black and purple in the center of what is a very "airy"white logo. The royal purple (when paired with the white background) follows a similar idea, drawing on the distinction between open and filled space.

The Resume Redesign (#1)

Description of the Project: The Resume Redesign was in my opinion the single most important project that our class endeavored to create over the course of the semester. In every field when pursuing employment a well crafted resume is a must. The goal of this project was to address this necessity by creating an exercise in which we were to create two resumes, tailored in their material, for a two separate jobs openings. The first resume I created was for a summer job opening at Arkansas Governor's School. The job called for teaching experience, passion, and on campus involvement. To highlight my skills and experience in each of these areas I fashioned the first resume with all of these facets in mind.

Alignment and Contrast Elements: The thing that all employers must see first is your name and contact information. The employer must remember you or you remain unemployed. To capitalize on this importance I put my name at the top of the document in a box with a head-shot. By doing these things I pulled from the element of Alignment by situating the most important element first. I then follow my name and contact information with the next important item that I bring to the table- my teaching experience. I then follow this with the next important item and so on. This line is a natural path for the eye to follow, and also designates the importance of the constituent parts of the resume. Contrast is not used as heavily here as in my other pieces, but the inclusion of two/three different fonts, colors, and bars are all efforts to insert this element into the final product.

The Resume Redesign (#2)

Description of the Project: The second resume was for a job opening that would be a promotion into management at the company I have worked for since I was a junior in high school, Barnes and Noble Booksellers. As the elements of my first resume would not be nearly as compelling to a hiring manager as one that highlighted my experience in the company, I fashioned a new resume just for this job. I also changed the style of the document as this is a large national company, electing to make it more formal and remove the head-shot.

Alignment and Contrast Elements: In the second resume I chose to fashion the the elements of Alignment and Contrast into something a bit more muted and formal than the previous. I retained the same rationale as the first when it came to how I aligned my information, importance-least importance. However, the number of items (and how heavily I leaned on the principle of design) are less important in this document. The amount of contrast between various portions of the document are also muted. I do think that the first box at the top of the resume, though a tad much, again draws on our brains love of identifying differences in both the rectangular shape surrounding the name, and the blue of the box itself.

The Info-graphic

Description of the Project: The Info-graphic was our last project, and would serve as our final application of the design elements by way of the Adobe programs. The project's mission was to encourage the class to "visually present interrelated data sets in order to make an argument or tell a story, and a reflection in which you describe your rhetorical and design choices." This product was the most challenging as it came both at the end of the year, required several different programs, and most difficult of all required each of us to find an original data set and draw something informative from the set. I chose after much struggle the export/import data of roses in the three NAFTA nations-- Mexico, United States of America, and Canada.

Alignment and Contrast Elements: The Info-graphic makes use of all four of the elements (however unsuccessfully as it may have turned out). Contrast is apparent throughout, but specifically in the four graphs that I included in the graphic- all of which use color or shape to engender conclusions about the data that they depict. The boxes with text also draw on this element. Alignment, unlike the previous projects is less important (outside of the title) as the info-graphic form itself offers considerable freedom in how information is presented. Even so, we can see that I could not part with putting the title at the top, the source at the bottom, and generally I stuck with the safe option of a vertical graphic whose constituent items flow south.

Course Reflection

Before entering into this course I was entirely ignorant of how powerful the arrangement of a graphic can play into the reception of an image. I of course had been a consumer of these edited pieces from literacy till college, but it took until well past the midpoint of the semester for me to really grasp the import that this class might have in my future career. As someone who consumes and studies political graphics regularly, the introduction to the elements of design (contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity) has noticeably impacted my perception on what makes a good visual product. In addition, I imagine that these immediate benefits will translate into my future work as a political scientist. All fields, regardless of content, employ these elements in their products, logos, and materials. And these are just the general lessons taken at face value. This class becomes even more valuable when including the technical skills that I have acquired.

I had no previous experience with Adobe products, and I still admit to anyone that looks at any of this portfolio that I have much to learn still. Despite my continued illiteracy, the ability to depict data, my resume, or to fashion a new logo in a visually pleasing way, is something that I am especially thankful for. I may be faced in the work force with situations in which my manager/employer might require a product best made in Adobe, and I'll be able to say "Look, we don't have a graphic design team. We can struggle along with nothing, or I can make something for us to get on till then." This is all to say that in January when we began this course I did not think I would get much out of it-- a class to satisfy course requirements, nothing more. I was wrong. Much thanks is due to both the university, and to Dr. Talbot for offering this course, and for imparting skills and offering introductions into several intriguing programs.

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