One of the things that we stress in our program is the proficiency in building visual systems — and communications with a purpose. In the graduate program, this starts early in the 2nd semester in GR618/Visual Literacy and continues throughout the program.
The third of four projects in GR618 is called “The transformation of vernacular communication” and helps the students take the first step in understanding the importance of staying focused and developing cohesive visuals. The goal is to develop a suite of materials — from printed (2D and 3D) to digital — to help communicate the identified messages.
The project began more than 10 years ago when I taught at Berkeley Extension and has evolved each semester since. The inspiration for the project was similar to Cardon Webb’s Cardon Copy (note: ours was first!) and — for a while — found the students hand rendering the signs as well as developing new materials.
Several years ago, we began to increase the focus on the intention(s) of the message and developed a worksheet to help the students do that —what are the primary, secondary and tertiary messages of the original sign? In any system, not everything can communicate every element and by identifying what, or instance, a poster could do best and what a website can do best, the students develop a system of varied materials that communicate the 3-5 different intentions in various ways depending on the media. We even get into the nuances of the purposes of an app versus a website and how each can function differently.
This past semester, with the help of fellow Associate Director, Jeremy Stout, the project took another evolutionary step and eliminated the hand-drawn element in favor of introducing the students to the idea of a light-duty creative brief including audience profiles as well as a mood board exercise.
In the end, the short 4-week project yields deliverables strong enough that many students have begun to include them in their final portfolios (1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9) — not bad for a 2nd semester project!
This semester, we had some great examples… take a look.