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



TIME Picks the Best Magazine Covers of 2015

By David Schonauer   Thursday December 17, 2015

Magazines fired back with photography in 2015.

“Today we continue our look back at the year that was by featuring Time magazine’s choice of the best magazine covers the year.  “Our selection of the top 10 covers of 2015 displays an exquisite use of photography, notes Time Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise Kira Pollack.

Her staff compiled its list after looking at a range of magazine categories, from news and sports to celebrity and fashion, and then interviewing the people behind the covers, including photographers, creative directors and top editors…”

Read and See More at AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHY’s site:

A Tantalizing, Mysterious Art Book (Or Is It Book Art?)

Yes, here I am again blogging about a new book.

I saw this The New York Times on line review. The timing is perfect for all our exploration into book designing from photo essays to art books.

“The artist’s book, a medium that originated in France at the turn of the last century, gets a digitally inspired reboot with “RadioPaper,” a project launching today at Studio Leigh in Hoxton, East London.Taking its title from the electronic paper that replicates the physical page in Kindles and other e-readers, the exhibition provides a showcase for the debut book work by the British artist Mary Ramsden, which will also be available to buy in an edition of 30. Framed in fluorescent-edged Perspex boxes, each of the copies of “RadioPaper” contains a series of abstract artworks by Ramsden, and perhaps more surprisingly, submerged within their French folds, five specially composed super-short stories by the Granta award-winning novelist Adam Thirlwell…” Read more of Aimee Farrell’s article published on December 12, 2015

See Image: A page in “RadioPaper,” a new collaborative artist’s book by the artist Mary Ramsden and the novelist Adam Thirlwell.CreditCourtesy of the artists and Studio Leigh

AAS GD Type Meet up

Throughout the month of November and into the first week of December, I attended two out of the six AAS GD Type Meet up Peer Led Sessions. I met the lovely Lauren Peters-Collaer who is a third semester AAS GD student that will be graduating later this month. Since I was usually the only person there, the sessions were based around what I wanted to learn and work on. Lauren would always have some sort of activity/workshop planned and we would start from there. She is a great mentor that introduced me to many different resources such as: Fonts in UseType Wolf, and Typographic Posters.

Check out this animated video called Word As Image by Ji Lee and try creating your own!

She also introduced me to two typography based summer courses that would be worth checking out from SVA. If you are looking for something to do over the summer, you may want to check these out: Typography as Language and Masters Workshop. Typography as Language is a one month program that is based in New York. Masters Workshop is a two-week program that is in Italy. These sessions are taught by different guest lecturers.

For those that are interested in typography should definitely attend these sessions! Hopefully more will be scheduled soon.

Photo Essay

My photo essay initial idea was to take photos of different perspectives that are different from our usual view. I wanted to play with bird’s eye view and also low angle perspectives, like what my dog would see. During my first few rounds of taking pictures, I brought my dog with my and included him in various shots.

Knowing that the photo essay would be later placed in a book; I decided to pay the Center for Book Arts a visit to get some inspiration on possible book layout and ideas. The visit was fun and I was able to see letterpress in action, but I still did not know what kind of binding I would use for my book. I was certain I wanted to bind and not fold an instant book though.

I kept exploring the internet to see what I could do and I came across a scrapbook idea that I really liked. By this point of reviewing and choosing pictures, the photo essay was shaping into a photo essay around Bentley, my bichon frise and poodle mix dog. It was becoming like “A day in the life of Bentley.” Although I love my dog to bits and pieces, reviewing my pictures again the week before it was due, I realized I wasn’t completely happy with what I had. I felt like I was beefing up the book with a lot of craft and that the story and pictures itself were not all that strong. I spoke to Carmile and showed her some of the shots that I really liked and she told me to take the week to go back to taking pictures.

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At this point, I knew I had to work fast and work hard so I wouldn’t fall behind. I narrowed down 600+ pictures to 24 and sent contacts sheets to Carmile for feedback. Coincidentally, in my Typography class that week, we were starting our new project, a fun facts book so our professor actually brought in a bunch of samples of book mockups that she created and I saw the perfect layout for my subject! Remember how I said I really wanted to bind? Guess what, that changed. I opted for a folded instant book instead. I also created a sleeve for it and made the book reversible and can be folded both ways.

I’m actually quite happy with the final product, even though I didn’t get to bind. Production was painful though. It took approximately four 2-hour sessions at the AMT Lab plotter to be able to print the two documents the way I wanted it.

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Prestone Printing Company Tour

A few weeks back, I was given the opportunity to visit Prestone Printing Company. This impressive print production facility is location in Long Island City. Glenn Baken, Parsons Graphic Design Continuing Education Professor for Print Production in a Digital World provided use with the tour of the facility.


Glenn began the tour with giving us tips on production and working with a printer:

  1. It is the printer’s job to worry about the turn around time frame, not the designer’s.
  2. The best way to produce a project is to discuss budget and time frame from the get-go with your client and the printer.
  3. It is important to talk to production BEFORE starting any project and the more you know about production, the more choices you have to solve your design problem. Sit down with printer/production representative and talk about what you want. Always aim high, put in all the things you want and get a quote. If it exceeds your budget, pull things out and downgrade. A five-minute face-to-face meeting will save days of emailing. Bring and show samples to your printer.
  4. ALWAYS check proofs provided by the printer. This will minimize reprints and incurring extra costs if something is not right. Check the colors and the have someone else proofread the copy to ensure that there are no typos, errors or mistakes!

Glenn then went on to explain that Prestone Printing Company has a lot of different equipment in order to stay competitive. He explained offset printing and showed us Pantone Matching System (PMS) books along with a print done in CMYK process and another using two pantone colors. A PMS book is like a recipe book. It is the licensed formula for mixing ink. The formula to mix color ink is always the same but the paper will change what the color looks like so there are two major types of books. One comes on uncoated paper and starts with the letter U and the other is on coated paper, which can include gloss, satin or dull. A common mistake they experience is that people will specify a coated number and ask for uncoated paper, but this doesn’t work. The color will not be right even though it is the exact same formula to mix the ink. The only way to get around this is to look at the uncoated paper book and find a color that best match the intended color required.

Here are some pictures of the equipment they have for offset printing:

CMYK process printing is when cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink are separated onto four individual plates and put back together by application on the paper. Offset printing plates are super smooth. They get wrapped around a cylinder, picks up the ink and The plates are created after the job has been approved. The blue edge on the plates are photo sensitive.

Indigo press can print 1000 sheets per hour. This large press have 6 towers  that can house the for process color and a coater. This printer prints only one side at a time so double sided jobs needs to be fed back in to do the second side. The prints come out wet so also require drying time. There is a limited range of paper for this printer. It mostly only handles coated paper within a specific weight range.


The digital press can do texture printing on materials similar to foam core. The prints comes out dry and also allow for manual double side printing. The digital die cutter can handle large sheets that can fit 28 pages on an 8×10 board.

The saddle stitch machine allows books to be stapled together and packaged as well. Each hanger can hold 16 pages depending on the paper weight, it can score a crease on the cover, saddle stitch the pages together, cut off the excess on the other three sides to make everything even and shrink wrap packages of the books together that are ready to be boxed and shipped off.

There is a special room for Duratan printing, they are the most expensive to produce, but also the most beautiful. These types of prints are mostly used for signage in department store cosmetic counters.

Being about to foil and die cut in house saves a lot of time. The die cutter won’t care what color the foil it, but the foil colors have a much smaller palette than Pantone so it is always advisable to pick review the foil book and pick that color first. Foil does not always have to be shiny on uncoated paper.

As seen in the image above, the die cutters have pink foam around the razor blade that protects it. When the machine runs, the foam gets pushed back and the blades are revealed. The die cutters are usually not keep for more than a year and if the client requests it, they can keep their die cut after the bill has been settled.

This tour was very insightful and provided me with a lot more knowledge on print production and has made me realize how important this is to know for any graphic designer.


Pallet Magazine: What a Beauty

Are you a fan of both drinking and beautiful print magazines filled with everything from Breaking Bad-inspired label artwork to the history of Zamrock? Of course you are, so I hiiiiighly recommend picking up issue one of Pallet Magazine—a brand spankin’ new print quarterly magazine that is a collaborative effort between Dogfish Head Founder, Sam Calagione, and the founding editors of Smith Journal, an Australian men’s quarterly. I’m not one of their sales people, I promise. Much like Calagione, I’ve never read a book or magazine on a tablet or mobile device, so I also appreciate the little things like deluxe uncoated stock.

If anyone is still working on their photo essay and needs some inspiration, you should head down to any of these places in NYC to pick up a copy. Eataly has a bunch of them on a rack by the front door if you’re in the Flatiron area. There’s a great photo essay on America’s big rig trucking culture that you should check out. Enjoy!