Box project

For our box project, we were assigned to make boxes that represent two similar or opposing ideas. Out of many brainstorm ideas, I chose “natural” and “artificial.”

I wanted represent these ideas through first: the material, and second: the form. After some initial research, I decided that I wanted to express nature and city. I was inspired by the different layered cards that pop up and wanted to apply that concept to my boxes.  So, I researched some more with the word “shadow boxes” and found some work that are similar to what I wanted to achieve.

With my first draft, I used black cardboard and thick weight paper for both the natural and artificial. I brought it to class and got the feedback that I should use maybe plastic for the city box and wood for the nature box.

I bought plexi glass and wood to make the second draft. One of the challenges I had with this round was that I found out it is hard to get the dimensions correct because my boxes used materials that needed precision when building the box. I also had white foggy things on my city plexi glass box, which I thought was from using the sand paper. At this stage, I also bought a light to put in the city box, but from class feedback I decided to take out the light aspect.

For my third draft, though my boxes dimensions improved with precision (nature box was 95% complete), I still had the white foggy things on my city box. I realised from class that it is the fast glue that makes the white fogs.

For my fourth draft, I had it perfect! I used a different liquid glue that I got from Canal plastics, which was hard to use because the glue was in a can and I had to use a can opener which I never used, so I broke the can opener while trying to open the can. The glue came in a can and I needed to use another container that had a needle that can spew out glue with more precision.

Overall, throughout the the entire process, I learned that with every draft and step, I learned something new and ran into challenges. It was a lot of problem solving with the production itself. At the end however, I was very pleased with my final draft. I ended up making another box with the scrap plexi glasses, which had negative spaces. (left box in the two plastic picture)

please refer to the recent post I made.

Due to storage issues, I posted on my personal tumblr (which I don’t use anymore!)


An introverted poster portrait

I knew right away that I wanted to play with the idea of what it’s like to be an introvert — the feelings of being mysterious or mean, hidden or seen, and everything in between.

In my sketchbook experiments along the way I played with different ways to visualize these perceptions and feelings. I cut, dissected, rotated and obscured different elements in lots of combinations both ordered and more chaotic.

First draft – I used type and photography in a much more systematic way — the letters slightly shifting in each quadrant, and my face never fully in view except in the last when the full photo is revealed but not my face.

Second draft- in response to feedback to explore a less organized composition, my second draft was the most fun to make. I let go of the formal grid and played around with scale and a broader range of photography.

Final draft – this was an exercise in refinement — sharpening the photos, heightening the contrast, and finessing the composition.

As I look back, the conceptual thread between all three is looking at myself as a sort of visual puzzle — which seems fitting since I’ve been told I’m hard to read by virtually everyone I’ve met 🙂

Here’s a link to my drafts and process work.



Self Portrait Poster Project

This was my very first project for our Process & Skills class & even to this day – despite having completed a number of other projects through the semester – it still remains my favourite.

The assignment was to create a black & white self-portrait poster (18” x 24” in size), by making use of only 3 elements, and these were – B&W photo(s) of ourselves taken at a photo-booth, our initials OR first/ last name which had to be found type only and last but not least, a photocopier. No form of digital use/ editing was permitted.

Initially, this made me happy. The reason being – I wasn’t quite keen on using any sort of digital form or method to produce the poster as I didn’t quite know how to at the time, and preferred to use a more lo-tech, manual approach. However, when I actually got to it, I realized it was much harder than I had anticipated.

I began my process by making a short but surprisingly successful trip to ‘Urban Outfitters’, where I headed straight to the store’s self-operated photo booth machine and started confidently clicking photos of myself. Little did I realize that I ended up leaving the store with a bunch of photo reels – that weren’t all that bad after all. (not what I had expected!) I was satisfied with the photos, and wouldn’t have to make another trip to the photo booth anytime soon, unless absolutely necessary.

Meanwhile, I started collecting my found type. I decided to go with my initials rather than my entire name. I hunted through a number of books, magazines, newspapers and other publications, as well as store windows, restaurant décor, or even delivery parcel bags. I narrowed down my search and selected the ones I liked most and felt were most suitable, and held on to these to take with me to the photocopier.

The next step was Xeroxing. Xeroxing. I don’t think I had ever really had a situation in which I had actually, physically photocopied something myself, particularly large-scale or for a project. Initially, I hesitated, when I didn’t receive much help from the Staples staff members and was left alone with the photocopier to continue the remaining part of my project process. Though, after several tries, and a couple of failed attempts, I managed to get the hang of it, and photocopy my photos as well as type to the size that I required for my first draft. I ended up having a lot of fun varying the proportions, scale and contrast of my pieces, and made friends with a few of the Staples floor staff in the process as well!

The photocopies did not turn out to have the best quality, but those imperfections are what made me construct my very first (and somewhat consistent till the end) concept.

My concept sprung from the fact that I had various different types of pictures of myself, each showing a different ‘side’ of me/ my personality, & a lot of different type to supplement that. Thereafter, I formed my concept of ‘self representation: identity fragmentation’, and began sketching alternative page layout options for pasting my elements. I explored options such as ‘light/ dark’, ‘introvert/ extrovert’, ‘humble/crazy’, ‘inside/outside’, etc. only to deduce that each of these were a part of ‘figuring out who I was’, and representing me as an individual, and hence I incorporated almost all that I had found into making my first draft.

After our first class crit, I received feedback – that my idea was great, however there was a lot going on! There were too many components present, and I needed to simplify my poster in order to convey the concept clearly. This led me to my second stage of sketching once again, making more mock up drafts, and iterations. (No wonder this class was named ‘process’ & skills – I could already see why) Despite a ton of manual work, I enjoyed improving my piece and was eager to make it better. I further developed my concept by creating layers with the type & photos. I enlarged just one of them, which I felt gave out a strong message visually, and balanced the background layers at the same time. I used my found type to reflect this as well. I also lessened the number of photos, and initials throughout the poster, to keep it cleaner – while still keeping my main message intact.

The feedback I then acquired was to have a value difference between my ‘shout’ face and the background components, keeping everything else the same.

My final poster turned out exactly the way I predicted it to, and there was a big sigh of relief (across our whole class) on the day of our Final presentation. Everyone had come a long way, and the end results showed that clearly.

For this project, I was inspired by a lot of different poster styles, when having to research polish posters as part of our homework – including punk, grunge, and Russian, but the main inspiration for this particular project came from within. It was a project about myself, showing the different parts of me through limited visuals, and that’s the reason why I was inspired more and more each week to build on portraying myselfwho am I? What’s my purpose? What do I want to say to the world? – through my poster.

I thoroughly enjoyed this project, even though there were a number of constraints, because it was more than just creating a piece of artwork – it challenged me to my fullest ability.

Check out some of my final images + process work here! Continue reading SELF PORTRAIT POSTER PROJECT

Hiroko’s projects!

Hi, this is Hiroko. I made some pdf file to introduce my project’s process. Please open the file and each of the article are brief so that I put everything in one. Please understand it.

1,Museum Research Projects

We had to research famous Manhattan museum’s exhibition and make more than three advertising media such as posters, brochures, postcards and so on with research.

2, 2 cubes project

We had to decide two inverse themes and make 6 by 6 by 6 two cubes by following the concepts.


3, Photo essay

We had to go somewhere around our city and take pictures to tell our story. To tell our story, we required to arrange 13 photos on a gray board to let the viewer understand the theme. I went to Bedford Avenue, in Blooklyn and did two things. First, I strolled around the city and found some interesting sceneries. Second, I found a big riverside park and enjoyed twilight and birds. To tell the two flow of my trip, I first arranged all the photos by equal interval. Though, it was difficult to follow the story for other students and my professor. Then, I put the first picture at the top and made two symmetry lines(flows).

4, Book Binding Project

We had to make a book without glue or stickers that has more than 16 pages.


5,Self Poster Project

This project required us to make a big poster with our own photograph and initial fonts that we took on the street without editing by Photoshop or other softwares.


I experienced a lot and it was such a great opportunity for me to study physical design process. I had been not good at design by real paper or glue for more than 20 years and I also had a fear for “process” and “skills” but thanks to my teacher and other gifted students, I think I could compete my own imprinting for the process and skills. Now, I love it a lot ! I want to challenge more. Thanks, Hiroko

Museum Project: Nasreen Mohamedi

First of all, I loved this project. I was hoping get to create a graphic identity for something this semester, as a first stab at making something “portfolio worthy,” and this project offered a challenging and engaging opportunity to do so.

The exhibit I chose to work with was the Nasreen Mohamedi retrospective at The Met Breuer. Prior to visiting the museum to check out what they had done with the old Whitney space, I had never heard of Mohamedi, but ended up being so inspired that I purchased the exhibit book and went back multiple times. Her work, while minimalistic and very reduced, primarily consisting of ink and graphite lines on paper, contains multitudes.

As inspired as I was by Mohamedi’s work, coming up with a cohesive idea for an integrated exhibit identity proved more challenging than anticipated. The fine graphite lines do not lend themselves well to photo reproduction / scanning, and most of the drawings are on a paper with a slightly sepia toned ground that looked jarring and out of place on white paper. She also did not use color, at all, so I wasn’t presented with very many obvious options PMS color-wise.

In the face of these limitations, I decided to research more about Mohamedi’s process and inspirations to see if I could draw some inspiration of my own there. I found through various readings that she was very fascinated with light and dark, and the interplay of shadows on surfaces. Her studio / living quarters were starkly bare, almost empty, with large windows, and she would draw sitting on the floor for hours, observing the different angles upon which shadows fell on the walls and floor. Much of her work also dealt with vanishing points, like the horizon line on the ocean. I decided to try to create a sort of typographic image using Mohamedi’s name and employing the ideas of light / dark contrast and the lines approaching points in the distance.

I chose Antique as my typeface for the project. I felt a sans serif was appropriate, seeing as how Mohamedi’s work is so modernist and clean. I liked that Antique only has one weight, as this forced me to create a very clear hierarchy only using type size, color, and arrangement. I created a text block out of Mohamedi’s name and bisected it with white bands of varying widths, to evoke the linear quality of her primary works. I used this text block image on the cover of the folded brochure, the mailer, and a modified version of it on my poster. I wanted to create exhibit pieces that seemed very industrial and mass-market, nothing one-off or precious seemed appropriate given the austere (yet beautiful) quality of  Mohamedi’s art. For my PMS color, I ended up using the same red as the Met Breuer logo. I initially thought to try a deep indigo / blue color to evoke the ocean that gave Mohamedi so much inspiration, but found it didn’t create enough of a contrast with the black and white.

I struggled a bit with the mailer, as I don’t think I really did enough front-end research here. I conceptualized it as more of an invite that comes in an envelope, but I do plan on revisiting this project and perhaps changing the format and layout of that item. I liked how my brochure came out, but I do think I can also tweak the layout of that, specifically where the “M” diagonal lines get chopped off in the margin, and the images that are bisected by the lines. All in all, I was happy with the way this project turned out and I think I was successful in creating a memorable graphic identity that ended itself well to the various formats of the printed materials, and look forward to going back and polishing it up in the future!

Link to photos


Opulent Oceans: an invitation to enjoy scientific art

By Mariana Bernárdez S.

The prompt and the exhibition

“For our final project you must do a promotional package of a museum exhibition: a poster, an invitation and a handout”, said Astrid as the end of the semester was approaching. While she explained her expectations, I began mentally going through those I had recently seen or wanting to see, and finally decided on the one I believed I could have more fun with: Opulent Oceans.

Opulent Oceans is an exhibition being held in the American Museum of Natural History that includes 46 beautiful reproductions from 33 rare and historic scientific works on marine life. I’ve always been interested in the merge of things that are normally seen as separate, so with this project my goal was to motivate people to discover and enjoy scientific art.

Key ideas and initial steps

My first step was to sketch out ideas based on my first visit, and put down on pen and paper (yes, I’m old-fashioned that way) the basic information of the exhibit: where and until when it was taking place, what it was about, what it was based on, what kind of illustrations were there, from what authors, who curated it, and any testimonies and reviews that had been written on it. After this exercise I realized I still wasn’t sure about the hows: how was it structured? How was the information displayed? How did it attract and retain the viewer? (Did it?). To answer these questions, I hopped on a bus and visited it again.

The second time around I photographed all the reproductions and the information they were accompanied by so I could revise them later (120 pictures in total). Immediately after, I walked through it again to enjoy it and “soak it in”. As I went on from French naturalist Pierre Belon’s woodcut of a dolphin (published in 1555) to an unnamed Indian artist’s illustration of a saltwater crocodile (published in a book by naturalist Hermann Schlegel in 1844), I was more and more astonished by the detail in the images. This inspired me to decide to (1) make the images the heroes of my pieces, (2) respond to the shapes of the animals portrayed and (3) be keen on selecting appropriate parts of the images that would give enough idea for the viewer to understand what they were about and how beautiful they were without giving out “the whole thing” (I decided not to display the images in their entirety to generate curiosity).

135 pictures later, I started playing around with them. I wanted to mirror the aesthetic of the exhibition without copying it, keep my compositions simple and use a neutral palette that would bring out the colors of the images. In this sense, I chose a light beige similar to the one around the exhibition as a background color for the images and a blueish-greeinsh-aquamarineish spot color as the PMS color for display type and the ocean (PANTONE P 174-16C). In terms of typography, because Opulent Oceans was both about scientific works and somewhat playful art, I chose a serif font that had a warmth to it and that could also be versatile: Miller Text.

The design process and execution

With all this in the table, it was time to start designing! I started off by making some posters and at some point decided to make them horizontal to express the opulence and extension/direction of the ocean. The handout was next, and this was a lengthy process: I went from a traditional trifold with basic information, to a trifold with a map inside where you could see where the illustrations were made, to an octopus that was grasping the trifold, to a crocodile whose mouth opened and the information was inside. At this point you might be thinking… why a trifold? I wanted to make something that would go “from small to big” (one-panel size to three-panel size) but was also easy to carry around. The crocodile, though, wasn’t a trifold, but I found it to be a thought-provoking solution. After many mockups, I ended up going for the octopus-grabbing trifold, which presented one fundamental and challenging problem: adapting the already-existing illustration of an octopus to the shape of the handout (It took some research, several cutting experiments and prints to get this right!)

Last but not least, the invitation. This was the most limited option: it had to be sent through mail, so it had to fit very specific criteria. My idea was to “invite to explore”, so having read about voyages in the book the exhibition was based on (Opulent Oceans: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History), I set my mind to making a ship where the receiver of the invitation would come in to join the breakthroughs. The wow factor seemed simple, but proved to be complicated in its execution: the ship was a pop-up. After four different ship models, several mockups, experimentation and the discovery of the concept of “kirigami”, I finally managed to construct a suitable ship. I added the text, accompanied it with showcased imagery, and sent it off to print.

At this point you might be thinking everything was ready, but it wasn’t. Although printing is generally the final step, I had to cut the shape of the handout and the ship. The handout was not complicated, but if you ever decide to do a pop-up and there isn’t a laser cutter available, I have one essential recommendation for you: don’t be shy on the blades! You’ll probably need lots of them to get it right.

In case you want to visit it (and you should!), Opulent Oceans is up until December 1st 2016.

To check out photographs of my process and solutions, visit ->


Self Portrait Poster Project

Ah, the first project of the semester!  It’s wild to look back on this and see how I’ve grown both in skill and confidence.

For this first assignment, we were assigned a poster to be created with only three key elements- a series of photo booth portraits, found type, and a photocopier.  Admittedly, it was a project I initially thought I’d hit out of the park, as I’ve always been attracted to super lo-fi art and I have a pretty strong affinity for crafting and handiwork.  Thus, after hitting up the photo booth at Union Pool in Brooklyn after a few drinks with friends, I was feeling pretty good about myself.

That quickly dissipated after realizing how intimidating  a xerox machine can be when you haven’t used one since about 2001.  But after wrangling with it for a little while, (and jamming it several times), it was actually a lot of fun playing with it’s various settings.  Despite the machines limitations, it still allows for a little bit of creativity in sizing and contrast.  I’ve always loved the imperfections of a photocopied image, so I was pleased with how my photos looked after going through that process.

I was initially inspired by Renaissance portraits with the glowing halos surrounding their subjects, and I thought that would be an interesting classical element to include in juxtaposition to the very deconstructed and modern nature of the project.  As a fine artist and illustrator, I have a tendency to cover every inch of paper with very fine detailed drawings and patterns, the phrase “less is more” means nothing to me.  As a result, the first versions of my poster definitely had this vibe, there was a LOT going on.  I had a combination of nine different found types (I chose R to represent my last name) and hundreds of copies of my face sliced and diced and covering every available whitespace.  You’ll be able to see this version in my photos, and the resulting crit I received was to try to tone it down, simplify, embrace the white space.

No doubt, creating a simple piece is so much more difficult than making something incredibly complex.  I struggled.  However, after parring down the types to just three, and completely reevaluating my halo concept from something quite overwhelming to something much more simple and floral-like, I’m very pleased with the result.  I feel like I stuck very much to my own style in the actual portrait segment with the sliced and diced faces, and that the compromise made in changing the background helped elevate the piece from it’s previous iteration.

While I feel like I’ve grown in the several months since making this piece, I still really enjoy it (it’s hanging above my desk now), and I fear the xerox machine no more.  I’ve been using it more and more in my personal work as I love the texture it gives images, so I’m glad I had the chance to rediscover it.

You’ll find images of my process and a few versions of my piece here- Portrait Project