Make BookDesign Studio 2016–18

Unit 02: Tom Ockerse

Question: How can the graphic medium enhance, enrich and deepen the verbal message?

In our engagement with the world and the routine to “make sense” of complexity, we take for granted the perceptual and holistic principles this interaction involves. Our perception of parts and configurations in a holistic system depends greatly on the use of so-called “gestalt” principles (i.e., similarity, continuity, figure-ground, etc.) and how these serve to communicate.

Since graphic design presents ideas primarily via graphic (= visual) means, awareness of these perceptual principles is critical for designers to help their products offer clarity and unity to stimulate user interaction and accessibility, curiosity and interest, inquiry and insight.

We will look into this power of graphic design to discover how an abstract (non-visual) object like a “word” (i.e., a verbal means to represent an idea) can be enriched significantly to provide a deep sense of insight and value for the ideas that word holds largely due to its visual delivery.

Learning Objectives

Lecture notes

Download the lecture here.

Week 1 (September 27)

PHASE 1: Find your word

After the unit’s introduction each participant receives an object (same for all). In your studios first work individually to mind map* your identity with the object (what it means or can mean to you). After about 15 minutes of mind mapping select a single word from your map (for whatever reason or interest you have to connect to the object). For the next two weeks work only with this word.

For the next two weeks work only with this word.

Continue to work in class on the next phase (below) to write/typeset/draw the word.

PHASE 2: Write your word

In class: start to “write” (i.e., draw, use typography, build, etc.) your word. NOTE: do NOT START with the “mind map”! »Rather: start with experiencing the word and its parts to visually present the word.

Use only the word and its parts (letters, and their parts).

Inquire into and experiment with “writing” options: »tools, methods, structures, space-time configurations, media, dimensions, color, texture, parts of forms, the inner form, gestalt principles… to experience (observe, feel, sense) the visual forms. Work quickly to explore, generate and uncover a variety of visual options.

Important: do NOT add images or words, etc…..!

PHASE 3: Mind map the meaning of your word

After your studies of visual forms explore the meaning of your word this time via a NEW mind map to expand your awareness and depth of meaning. In this process also note what is of interests to you and why.

PHASE 4: Explore how the visual can embed meaning

Using ONLY the word continue to explore how the visual can embed meaning into the word’s graphic presentation:

perceptual/gestalt qualities for its elements (letter/forms, parts and wholes, spaces between, volume, etc.); their separate and relational per/form/ance, and the experience others could have with the word.

Begin to explore meaning in simple ways:

to write the word with an adjective in mind, and see how this influences your actions and decisions for visual forms, structures and expressions.

Keep an open mind to allow the visual search suggest insight into meaning options.

Search to harmonize meaning of concepts via visual means.

Consider: actions, visual expressions, configurations of parts, installation and placement, user interaction/experience (UI/UX), etc.

DUE October 4: Phases 1-4 In class present your ideas and process of inquiry. Do so in an organized fashion (digital and print) to efficiently share with the class the breadth and depth of your work and value of your search to help them appreciate the results.

Week 2 (October 4)

PHASE 5: Drive the poetic potential for your word

After class reviews continue to work in class on Phase 5, to further experiment with the means that can represent a depth of meaning for your word, and especially heighten the word’s (poetic) potential. In other words: optimize results. Consider the “ui/ux” aspects of the product toward this “poetic” end: how the means invite others to access, interact with, and experience the word toward its most meaningful, poetic potential.

DUE October 11: Phase 5 Final product of optimized results and a formal presentation of your process for inquiry and experiments to let the class become informed and appreciate the value of your inquiries.