Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Web Design Is Like A Relationship

Graphic design and I have a great relationship, but it's a different story with web design. I did well in my last web design course, but I didn't LOVE it like I love graphic design. I set out to change that this semester while I had one last chance before graduating, and I've learned some tips to share with others who have a struggling relationship with web design. 
Thou Shall Make Wireframes Your Friends
It's nice to repeat a class.  Even if you get an A like I did and you have a chance to repeat a course, go ahead, because you'll learn things you missed last time, or there will be new opportunities thanks to a new professor or new teaching style.  

I missed out on wireframes last time, but this semester we learned Illustrator wireframes and I benefited in two great ways: one, I got a break from markup and coding and could dive into familiar graphic programs doing what I love best, layout! And two, I had a layout in pixel dimensions that I could print, add mathematical notes to and help guide me when marking-up and coding my final website. Wireframes are a godsend.

Thou Shall Account for Pre-Established Padding and Margin
Like the wireframes, my first course didn't cover html5 layout tags, and I was blind-sided by the pre-established padding and margin properties on some of the tags, like the <figure> tag. After all the mathematical notes were added to my printed wireframes and all the calculations created for a balanced website, I was frustrated that certain elements were a few pixels too wide, throwing the whole layout out of whack (and I do mean whack!). Stupid little things will ruin your whole website if you don't research the topic thoroughly or ask an expert.

Thou Shall Learn the Difference Between Markup and Coding
This is a pet peeve of mine.  CSS and html is not coding--it's markup. JavaScript is coding.  The difference?  Html is like writing (in fact, it was developed by academics so they could access each other's research papers). In html, you make a document and you determine the headlines (hence the tags <h1>, <h2> etc), paragraphs, list elements etc. That's markup.  But coding is writing lines of code that tell the computer when to run a program and what to do when it reaches the end of the program.  If you're good with English, you can do markup, but for code you need math and logic rules. Code is a whole other ball game.

Thou Shall Be Patient at All Times
Graphic design is hard. Collaborating with a staff of writers, editors and photographers to produce a printed magazine is no small feat.  Being strong but also gentle and considerate with a client who continually wants to make weird changes to your logo design is frustrating.  But nothing is more frustrating that typing a line of html markup or JavaScript code, expecting it to work, and nothing happens, or worse, everything becomes whack!

Learning to cope is so crucial to surviving web design and crucial if you want to love it. Taking a break is great. Walk away, play some music, mediate, do some yoga--whatever it is that makes you calm and happy. Sometimes venting is good, but be warned--keep it under control. I quit helping the guy sitting next to me and moved to the other end of the room because his venting went from f-bombs to blaming all his problems on the professor. When you're tackling difficult tasks, the last thing you need to do is alienate your peers and draw enemy lines between you and the experts.  Just like a real relationship, don't be a jerk and then expect any good to come from it.

Thou Shall Learn to Talk
Just like a real relationship, you can solve things so much faster if you open your mouth. Remember that guy blaming the professor? He also never asked her questions like "How do you do _____?" or "Why did ____ happen when I typed ____?" But the guy sitting in the back did, and his projects were freaking awesome.  If he hit a wall, he'd call the professor over. If he had an idea for something but didn't know where to start, he'd call her over. Get the picture? Don't be the guy sitting next to me; be the guy who makes freaking awesome projects.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Internship Adventures, Part 12 - Saying Goodbye to the CSFAC

This past week I wrapped up an awesome internship at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Shown here are some sneak peeks of my very last projects:  a children's booklet on color theory and a map to the museum with engaging questions parents or group guides can ask kiddos.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

When Majors Collide - Surveying the Effects of Design on News Websites

It wouldn't be the first time I've had a project that spanned both my majors in graphic design and mass communications. This semester, my audience research group in the mass communications department is studying the effects of graphic design on news websites.

Want to help? Our survey is online here.  This project is going to be pretty cool, but you can help make it cooler.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Guest Interview for a Denver Blog

I was recently featured on a Denver blog, Heartstruckart, a pretty sweet read for new and regional Colorado talent.  Go check it out here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Internship Adventures, Part 11 - CSFAC Gift Shop Signage

A short post today to share some of the new signage I created for the prints bin in the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center gift shop.  These little signs were made to match the larger, pre-existing banner sign at the top of the display.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Internship Adventures, Part 10 - Event Branding And What Happens to My Office When I'm On a Roll

When your moodboard is full, use the floor!

Earlier, I blogged about the Dark Matter Bash logo collaboration and here is part two of the Bash materials and adventures with surrealistic scanner type.

This time our art director let me take the lead on indoor signage and a flier (below) for our pre-Halloween celebration. 

3.6x8.5 inch flier

To keep with the surrealistic theme established by the logo, I returned to the scanner for the treatment of the events flier and the digital sign. The best where imported into Illustrator and vectorized.

 Typography on the 11x17 signs were kept to the art center's standard Futura look for legibility (in a dark, crowded room, clear signs are key!).

However, the selfie contest sign was banner-sized and easy read from a distance, so it received a very surreal treatment.

The digital sign was new territory for me, but when our art director said she does them as a 1080 mp4, I jumped on it--it's just another video.  I designed 3 panels in InDesign, exported them as jpegs and imported them into Premier Pro.  The box office set the final video on a loop and ta-da, moving sign.