4205 Blog Post 04

Flag design and logo design share many similarities. Their foundational purpose is the same: to visually communicate the identity of an entity. Almost all of the five rules of flag design can be applied to logo design. Rule one is to keep it simple, which is an integral rule to logo design. This practice is important because it makes a design more memorable as well as making it scalable. If it is properly simple, a design can be scaled to any extreme and still maintain its integrity. Rule two, the use of meaningful symbolism is also relevant to both design practices as they are meant to be communicative without being complex. The third rule, to use two to three colors in a flag is not as essential to the design of logos. However, most successful logos do have a limit of one to three colors, so while this rule is not required in logo design, I believe it is good practice. The final rule of flag design, to be distinctive, is also crucial in logo creation. Essentially, it is a rewording of the rule in logo design to be appropriate. 

Among the rules listed in the TED Talk, the most glaring difference between logo and flag design is rule four, to not use lettering. While it is common for logo marks to lack lettering, it is certainly not a rule. Text can be incorporated into a logo, and a well crafted word mark can be a logo in itself. This is one case where the limitations on flag design do not extend to logo design.

The main thing I took away from this video, though a familiar lesson, is to remember the power of symbolism. Especially in developing my logo, I want to keep in mind that it should be more than just a striking mark- it needs to also visually reflect the meaning of my conference. In a sense, my logo will be the flag for my conference. It needs to be a symbol around which my audience can gather, and a mark which tells my story.

4205 Blog Post 03

I have never been to a conference before. Though conferences seem very appealing, I’ve never gone out of my way to attend one. I think the greatest appeal of a conference is the idea of gathering with a large group of people with a shared interest and learning more about that interest. It is exciting to be surrounded by people with whom you have something in common, and to know that they too are passionate about the subject. Put more simply, the most appealing aspects of conferences are the content and the like minded people. Therefore, these are the components that should be prioritized in planning a conference; the social atmosphere should be considered as carefully as the content itself.

If I were to attend a conference, I would be interested in going to PAX. While I have a very limited knowledge of gaming, I love the visuals and the artistic nature that surrounds gaming. I think it would be very exciting to be surrounded by people who are similarly interested in gaming, and I would be quite interested to learn about what new games and technologies are on the horizon. The competitive aspect also sounds like it would add to the atmosphere of excitement, since gaming competitions with big prizes are happening throughout the entirety of the conference. Being among such a large group of people interested in gaming, I’m certain that I would find people who appreciate the art and design of gaming as much as I do, and that would be an exciting thing to share with people.

The more I consider it, the more I realize that the social aspect of conferences is every bit as important as the informational sessions. People gather at conferences to learn, but they also gather to network and to make friends. This is something I would like to take into consideration when planning my own conference. Offering informative, insightful sessions is hugely important to actually drawing an audience and garnering their interest in my conference, but allowing space for networking and socializing is what will keep people engaged and make my event a success.

4205 Blog Post 02

I have never done professional design work for a client, so it’s a bit difficult to relate my experiences presenting design to a professional setting. I believe the closest I’ve come to giving a design presentation would be introducing a class project for critique. While the experience of “selling my design” may be carried between these occasions, in the class setting I have always presented to people with design education equal to my own. Still, I think I can draw some comparisons and imagine how I might be in a professional setting based on my classroom experience.

One pitfall that I have noticed myself falling into on occasion is that of starting with an apology (or including an apology, even if I don’t lead with it). Though I usually am happy with my designs, I tend to notice their shortcomings too, or places where they still need work. Therefore I’ll sometimes say things like, “I’m not convinced that this part is working, “ or, “I feel like this bit could use some improvement still.” While these statements might be honest and even correct, if my job is to inspire the client’s confidence in me, then I ought to keep them to myself.

I also can easily imagine myself as seeing the client as someone I need to please. While I understand the logic behind calling this attitude a pitfall, I don’t think it’s entirely fair. If I were to deliver a client a design they really hated, even if it fits the project description, I doubt they would want to work with me again. I absolutely see the merit in winning a client over to a design that I know is successful, but I still think that working to a client’s tastes is valid.

As a student, it seems to me like the client for my class design is the professor. They are the person who puts forward a design challenge, and who I want to see the merit in my work. In class, my goal is to solve the design problem in a way that my professor finds suitable, and I think that makes them the closest thing to a client at this point in my career.

4205 Blog Post 01

The brand design of financial technology company Droit is an example of well executed identity. Natasha Jen of the Pentagram design studio is responsible for this project. Droit helps investors make decisions and provides financial insights into trading for companies across the globe. Studio Pentagram was interested in visually representing the combination of live, evolving technology and trustworthy and safe advising that Droit provides.

The primary way in which Pentagram represents Droit’s values is through the creation of an original typeface. The typeface was developed by combining two other typefaces: one pixelated sans serif bitmap font and another more typical geometric sans serif. After the development of these typefaces, they were merged into a new typeface composed of half pixel and half rounded sans serif letters. The resulting typeface offers a familiar, trustworthy softness and a digital edge.

Color and consistent branding carry out the rest of the Droit identity successfully. The pixels seen in the typeface are used in imagery on the Droit website and physical documents. Black, white, and a bold royal blue are the only colors used across all Droit branding, making for a consistent and striking appearance. The typeface secondary to the pixel display font is an angular sans serif, and the body text is a legible, standard sans serif. All layouts are simple, gridded, and linear.

I think this project is very successful. All the design choices were made with intention and thoroughly applied. Though I would not consider this a major shortcoming, I think the project would have been better if the pixel art was integrated beyond just imagery and the display font. It was certainly a successful project though, and it helped me recognize the story-telling ability of typefaces. I also realized that a minimalistic identity can still be unique, distinguishable, and consistent.


3202 Blog Post 10

As important as it is to study the technique and formal principles behind quality art, the best part is always looking at the art itself. That’s why I liked the reading for this week more than any of the others we did this quarter. It was great to see many of the principles that we have discussed put into practice, and to hear the thoughts of actual artists.

Stephen Farrell made a couple points that really resonated with me. He mentioned how analogies “challenge us to bridge the gap between two pieces of data,” which was fun for me to read because this is something I’m trying to utilize in my poster design. By using pixelated type and a static texture, I hope to help viewers draw a connection between media and the lack of connection between parents and kids.

The section on Farrell also noted that the typography in his broom project echoed the movement of sweeping. This connection between type and other content is also something I’ve taken into account in my work, especially with the lockup project.

Farrell made a comment that humans naturally want to find relationships between any two sets of information, regardless of how unrelated they might be. This reminded me of when we sorted our posters in class on Monday. Of course they all shared the same shape and size, but in terms of content the posters were pretty varied. Even so, we were able to quickly identify similarities in the pieces and sort them accordingly. To me this seems like an excellent example of the connection-seeking that Farrell talked about.

The thing that struck me the most about Julie Green’s work was how much thought she put into selecting her medium. I think there’s an assumption among myself and my peers that all of our works will be flat, rectangular, digital pieces. To be reminded that the frame and medium are as much a part of the piece as the content itself was really helpful.

Though Christy Matson, Morningstar Inc., and Mark Napier’s works all varied hugely, they shared the common thread of mixing art with some other discipline, which always excites me. It’s really cool to see art expand beyond the art community and infiltrate or be mixed with other fields of study. Using different mediums, Matson and Napier both combined their art with modern technology to develop a new style or method that would not have been possible a few decades ago. I think this harnessing of technology is very progressive and important for fine art to maintain relevance. As for Morningstar Inc., they did a wonderful job of making complicated information accessible to the average person through artistic means. By focusing on type, illustration, and other formal artistic elements they were able to make information approachable.

Below are some images that relate to the reading.



  1. Image 1 demonstrates how designs vary depending on the audience. This Spice Girls album cover was censored for audiences in the Middle East to make it more marketable.
  2. The second picture is the Beats logo, which exemplifies both a sort of analogy and a connection between type and meaning. While the shape within the circle is clearly a letter B, it also resembles a music note.
  3. The next image is an example of good information design. It is eye catching, and though it contains a lot of information it is not difficult to understand.
  4. The final picture is a familiar one, “The Persistence of Memory.” It uses analogy to demonstrate the passage of time by depicting clocks melting away, and a vast landscape.



Information Design



Bowers, John. Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design Understanding Form and Function. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

3202 Blog Post 09

Good designers use a variety of technical tools to make their pieces stand out. One of these that is especially important in my opinion is the focus on positive and negative space. This is one of the concepts that I paid attention to most thoroughly in my logo mark design. For such a simple design, it was important that the limited lines were very intentional. I tried to develop negative spaces that were as fluid, dynamic, and visually interesting as the positive ones.

I found the section on tangents interesting, because it’s not something I’ve explicitly learned about in the past. From observing though, I think shapes that are perfectly tangent create a lot of tension. They draw the eye, whereas shapes that overlap or are compound do not hold as much tension, and they draw less attention.

There were two definitions that I didn’t think were super necessary. The first was the concept of coincidence. It seems to me like two shapes that exactly overlap are really just a single shape. To talk about coincidental shapes could be difficult because the concept allows any one shape to actually be infinite coinciding shapes. However, I do understand that coincidence is included as the continuation of overlapping.

The second definition that didn’t seem necessary to me was the combination of modification and variation. I feel like only one of the words needs to be used because they seem to describe the same thing. Though their specific applications differ slightly, they both are essentially methods of warping a shape while still maintaining its basic structure. 

There was a short section on angle, which I really liked because it’s so important to interesting design. When reading the section, I immediately thought of some of the famous Bauhaus posters that use an angled grid. Generally speaking, angles are a great way to add interest to a design. If every line in a composition is parallel to the frame, it runs the risk of looking boring. By angling some of the lines in the composition, or the entire underlying grid, there is more visual interest.

Subtraction and coincidence were interesting for me to read about because these are tools which I use almost daily in my designs. The pathfinder tool in Illustrator enables both of these methods, and it is used regularly. It was fun for me to read technical descriptions of a process that I use so often, and it was a good reminder that even though I’m only beginning my career, I am a legitimate designer with legitimate methods.

Below are some images that relate to the reading.



  1. The first piece is a famous painting, “Christina’s World.” Through a variety of methods, Wyeth develops a very nice example of distance, or the appearance of distance, in art.
  2. The second image is something I’ve encountered on the internet that shows an interesting use of positive and negative space. The subject is actually contained in negative space, but since we’re used to looking at positive space, it takes a moment to see.
  3. Third is the pathfinder tool from Illustrator. Its options are add, subtract, intersect, and exclude, all of which can produce very different effects.
  4. Finally, image four is the poster that came to mind when I read about angle. It is clearly made using a grid, but the way it is angled to the right makes it extremely unique and visually interesting.






Leborg, Christian. Visual Grammar. Princeton Architectural Press, 2006.

3202 Blog Post 08

As much as people might think that design is simply about creating things that are “aesthetically pleasing,” there is a huge amount of technical principles involved. There are countless technical considerations that good designers will take into account.

One of these principles that I had to use recently was the concept of the optical center as opposed to the real center. For the lockup project we just finished, I wanted to center my lockup in the square frame. When I aligned it exactly in the center though, it looked like it was too low in the frame. I had to move it up so that it was actually higher than the center, but it actually made the final composition look more balanced. 

I enjoyed the section about space because I thought it demonstrated a good use of the grid. I have an (admittedly inaccurate) perception of the grid that it is limiting, and that all designs that use it are static and harsh. The composition in the text used grid though, and it was very active. It demonstrated that even when restricted by a grid, it is entirely possible to create movement and interest using other visual tools. 

As I read, there were a couple things that I questioned a bit. The section on groups talked about how a group of forms can be named after the underlying structure that they follow. It showed examples of triangular versus rhombic groups, but to me the rhombic group just seemed like an extended triangular group. It made me wonder if a rhombic group really needs to be named as a separate type. The other thing I didn’t completely agree with was in the section about weight. At the end it said that a composition that focuses strongly on weight can create the illusion of something that flows. While I’m sure this is true, in my experience rhythm and movement are better tools than weight for creating a flowing effect.

I noticed while reading the neutral section that many patterns could probably be neutral. They can add visual interest to a design without making it too busy or saturated. This is a very useful tool to remember, especially when trying to improve designs that appear bland.

The concepts discussed above are just a few of the many tools that designers use when creating their works. Though art can be and often is “aesthetically pleasing,” it is not created by accident or by “feeling things out.” Good designs are developed with intention and technique.

Below are some images that relate to the reading:



  1. The first image demonstrates a balanced composition. If the flowers were not included then the mountains would dominate the piece without resolution, but the flowers balance them out and improve the composition.
  2. Image 2 is by a painter I follow, named Conrad Jon Godly. His piece shows how even in abstract compositions, weight can be instrumental in creating a readable picture.
  3. The third image is one of the slides from the famous ink blot test, a psychological analysis test that uses symmetrical ink blots.
  4. The final image, “Lamentation of Christ,” is a famous study in foreshortening that uses several of the “nine ways to create and impression of depth” listed on page 69 of the text.





Photo Composition: Balance

3202 Blog Post 07

The use of color is probably one of the most powerful and important tools available to artists. Each with its own natural and cultural connotations, a color can speak as powerfully in art as the composition itself. There were some very interesting and informative bits of information in this week’s text, all surrounding the theme of color. 

My favorite part was at the very end when it said “Color can be used to convey a wealth of information and relationships, from the black indicating gain and red indicating loss in business… to the colors used by sports teams, corporations, and countries to create a sense of identity.” This statement may be obvious, but it speaks volumes to the massive influence of color. One day a year, millions of Americans wear red, white, and blue, and with this simple choice of clothing color they make a statement about their country and pride. Every day sports fans dress in the colors of their team to show their support. I don’t follow football, but when I see people around Seattle wearing blue and green, I know there must be a Seahawks game. Color is everywhere and, when used well in design, is an incredibly powerful tool.

I learned a few “fun facts” in the text as well. I didn’t know that complementary colors make grey when they’re mixed, and I’m very curious about the science behind that. I was very pleased to learn the term “simultaneous contrast,” which is the phenomenon where the edges of shapes appear to vibrate when they have the same value. I’ve run into this many times in the world but never had a name for it, so it’s cool to see it acknowledged as an artistic consideration.

The section on relativity reminded me a lot of the optical illusions I used to enjoy as a child. There would often be two shapes of the same size, but placed next to objects of very different size, and so the matching objects actually appeared to be different sizes because of the surrounding objects. It seems to me that the same principle is being used in the discussion of relativity and the example pieces by Josef Albers. 

Reading about color was a good experience for me. Though it can be a bit dense and confusing, it is ultimately a good reminder to go back to the basics. There are lots of visual tools to take into consideration when developing a design, but it’s important to pay equal attention to perhaps the most obvious one, color. It is very influential and, depending on how it is used, it can make or break a design.

Below are some images related to the reading:



  1. Image 1 shows the “aesthetically pleasing” quality of complimentary colors. This painting was created with a carefully restricted color palette to help achieve this distinct peaceful feeling.
  2. Image 2 shows a rainbow of different brand logos and how color is used to convey their values and image. It’s very interesting to consider how you might perceive a brand differently if their logo was a different color.
  3. The third image is one I referenced in the discussion above on relativity. This model uses shape rather than color to demonstrate the same point, that perception of a form is subjective.
  4. The final image shows how cool versus warm tones influence the feeling a piece has. Even in the same photograph, difference in tone makes it look like it’s taken in a different place or season.


Bowers, John. Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design Understanding Form and Function. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.


The 3 Tricks of Complementary Colours you can Learn from Van Gogh


White Balance Explained: How To Get Accurate Colors In Your Photos

3202 Blog Post 06

As usual, the texts for this week focused mostly on definitions. The majority of what I read was familiar, but some of it covered concepts I’ve never learned about before. 

There were several things I found quite interesting in the Bowers chapter. First was the idea that a visual language is “a reflection of taste and style but chosen and applied by strategies and agendas.” To put it in different words, good design (especially in the business setting) is never an accident. It takes into account emotion, formal principles, and intuition, but it is also carefully controlled. It has specific goals and is very strategic in fulfilling them.

There were also several mentions of various methods of making visual art easier for a viewer to read. Our brains are developed to understand and be drawn to certain visuals, and to ignore or dislike others. Good design takes these brain processes into account and know that “when some elements are presented as dominant over others, it is easier to understand the whole form,” or that “structure is generally necessary to create meaning and a sense of continuity.” There are simply some types of visuals that our brains like and understand, and successful artists use this knowledge to their advantage.

Finally, the section on proportions was fascinating to me. I’ve learned more on this topic in math classes than art ones, so I enjoyed approaching it from a new angle. It’s really interesting that our modern paper sizes are based on the golden section, along with many other common items.

As for the Leborg reading, it was a bit less thought provoking because it was so focused on definitions over applications. However, I did enjoy some bits. The main part that I thought was interesting was the section on displacement, because I’ve never explicitly learned about it before. Although displacement and direction of displacement are concepts with which I interact regularly (manipulating shapes in Illustrator), the terminology is new to me. It’s fun to have words put to actions that I have been using for years. I enjoy the feeling of expanding my visual literacy. 

The one part that confused me was about superordinate and subordinate movement. It didn’t define these terms very clearly and the visuals were equally confusing, so I’m still unclear on what these terms mean. 

Otherwise though, the texts were a good reminder of some important formal elements, and I got to learn some new information as well.

Below are some images related to this week’s reading.



  1. All of the above paintings are probably familiar, and all of them model some formal elements discussed this week very accurately. The first one is what I think is one of the best examples of movement available.
  2. Second is an example of mirroring against a volume. Admittedly, the object being mirrored is not immediately visible in the composition, only the volume. Regardless, it’s a very clear example of the distortion caused when volumes mirror.
  3. Image 3 has been edited to show just how extensively Da Vinci used the golden section in “The Last Supper.” It is used repeatedly and extensively throughout the entire piece.
  4. The final image represents several techniques, and I think the most prominent are repetition, up/ downscaling, hierarchy, and movement (perhaps on a path). Like the other examples, this too includes many techniques beyond those listed, but it provides a good practical example of some of the vocabulary.


Leborg, Christian. Visual Grammar. Princeton Architectural Press, 2006.

Bowers, John. Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design Understanding Form and Function. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.




Golden Ratio in Art Composition and Design

3202 Blog Post 05

This week we talked about presentation, form, elements, characteristics, principles, and interactions of design. Each of these concepts came with subcategories and several definitions, ranging from “Dot and Line,” to “Visual Weight and Balance.”

The majority of the text was definitions, most of which I knew or at least recognized, but there were some concepts that really stood out to me. The brief discussion of the influence of culture on the arts interested me greatly. For example, abstraction rose in popularity in the early 20th century, coinciding with new discoveries that called into question common beliefs. It arose as a visual representation of this new, more informed and explorative culture. It also made me think about how today’s culture influences contemporary art forms. 

In the abstraction section there was also a comment about how this style is particularly effective for depicting “difficult concepts, ideas, or thoughts because it excludes unimportant areas and focuses on areas critical to meaning.” I generally don’t prefer abstract art over many other styles, but I thought this was a very good point about the value of abstraction. It has an ability to convey emotion and meaning that is not always available through different styles.

I also was interested in the comparison of geometric to organic forms. The text mentioned that geometric forms are popular “when easy recognition is required,” which I find fascinating. It seems likely that there is some psychological explanation for why humans can more immediately “read” a geometric form than some abstract one. Designers must have taken this into consideration when creating objects like traffic signs that need to be immediately recognizable. I also noticed that, unlike LeBorg, Bowers did not make any mention of random forms, and I’m glad. I agree with his assumption that geometric and organic forms are sufficient descriptors.

There was also a small section of the reading which I found rather amusing. It said “Psychologists have studied the figure-ground relationship and have found that we understand form if it is distinguishable from the background.” Generally I’m very enthused by the overlapping of the arts and sciences, but this just felt unnecessary to me. It seems very obvious to me that people can only read distinguishable forms. If they blend perfectly into the background we won’t be able to see them, and I’m surprised that research went into confirming this truth. Aside from this one exception though, I found the majority of the reading informative and understandable. It had some nice visual examples of the vocabulary and was a concise explanation of some important terms.

Below are some images that relate to the reading:



  1. The famous “Moulin de la Galette” is an example of how linear brushstrokes can be used in a composition to create a fluid feeling.
  2. By contrast, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte” shows what dot brush strokes look like. This piece appears much more static.
  3. Image three is from an artist I follow who uses abstract designs to visually represent specific words and concepts. It as an example of abstraction being used to communicate emotions that figures cannot always capture.
  4. The final image shows some geometric and some organic shapes. It’s interesting to consider the feeling each political logo gives based purely on the type of form it employs.


Bowers, John. Introduction to Two-Dimensional Design Understanding Form and Function. John Wiley & Sons, 2008.