Visual Argument

For my final class assignment – a visual argument – I have decided to create a piece on “emotional driving.”

According to teendriversource.org, sponsored by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, “Emotions, whether positive or negative, can have a powerful effect on drivers of all ages. This is particularly true of teens, who experience academic pressures and dramatic emotional changes.” I remember learning in Driver’s Ed that it was never a good idea to get behind the wheel when upset. This heightened emotional state often takes precedent over the calm, cool and collected demeanor you should have when driving. Your mind isn’t focused on the road and your surroundings but rather on whatever or whomever has caused you to be angry or saddened. Despite these words of advice and caution, I knew plenty of my fellow classmates who, when frustrated, would go out for a drive to “calm down.” For whatever strange reason, going eighty miles per hour on a back-road with a forty speed limit was “calming.” While I was never one to be that extreme, I am also at fault for having driven when overly stressed.

It’s important for people – I am going to focus on teenagers here in particular – to have an outlet. While some might exercise, go on a walk, listen to music, or vent to a friend, others turn to driving their frustrations away. When motor vehicles are thrown into the mix, it becomes dangerous. Not only is the driver’s life at stake, but those around them are as well because they are a hazard behind the wheel.

Dmv.org states, “If you are angry or upset or otherwise annoyed, whether due to something unrelated to driving or because of a driving incident, pull over or off of the road. Take a few moments to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and relax… just stay off of the road until you have time to settle down.” I believe this is smart advice, and as a teenager who is slowly entering her twenties, it’s advice I wish that I and my friends would have paid more attention to.

I want to spread the message that driving when emotional is a poor decision. Everyone always hears about driving under the influence of drugs, specifically alcohol, and the familiar mantra of no-texting-and-driving, but I don’t think “emotional driving” is emphasized enough. I plan to direct my project at teenagers between the ages of fourteen (the legal driving age in some states) and nineteen. High school is a time when pressure tends to be at an all-time high, and I think student-aged people need to hear this message the most.

Right now, I have gathered all of the pictures I plan to use, and I am in the midst of creating a short video. I am looking forward to showcasing my photography, videography, and audio skills through this project!

“Is life good?”

In a world of infographics brimming and teeming with information, this one, I personally feel, has stood out to me the most:

http://colourliving.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/life-is-good.jpg

There is just something about this simplistic design that really hits home.

“Is life good?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

And that’s truly the end of it, isn’t it? If life is good, then life is good. There is no need to overcomplicate things, and I know I’m probably preaching to the choir while simultaneously acting as a hypocrite – you see, as two parts organization control-freak and one part perfectionist, I have a tendency to overanalyze everything. And I literally mean everything.

He just texted me “k.” He must be mad at me.

I just introduced myself to a complete stranger, and she said, “Oh! You’re Liv? I’ve heard so much about you!” What kind of things has she heard about me? Who was her source? Were they credible? What if they weren’t? Breathe, breathe, breathe…

The teacher asked for a “short answer” response. Does that mean they want a paragraph? Or are they really looking for an essay? And if the answer is “a paragraph,” what do they count as a paragraph? Five sentences? Eight? Twelve? And if they are looking for more of an essay format, are we talking three paragraphs? Or five? Or MORE!?

…you get the idea.

But what if you read the infographic in this way?

“Is life good?”

“No.”

“Change something.”

“Is life good?”

This pattern can be a continuous one, depending on how you answer the question each time. If you constantly find yourself saying “no,” even after you’ve changed something – whether it be a habit, relationship, etc. – this infographic suggests you keep changing pieces of your life until you can finally answer the question with a solid “YES.” And what better advice than that, right?

This simple reminder to stop overanalyzing is one I know I definitely need: maybe he just didn’t have anything else to say other than “k,” maybe she heard good things about me from one of my friends in a class last semester, and maybe the teacher really just wants a “short answer,” whether that be three sentences or a five-paragraph essay?

I hope this infographic can speak to you, too, and until next time: “Is life good?”

 

The Redesign Switch

I thought I would try something a little new this time. Now that I’ve been in this class for nearly a month, I feel like a switch in my brain has been flipped into the “ON” position. Let’s call it the Redesign Switch, because every time I see something that is poorly made, I want to go fix it!

After receiving this week’s Paw Prints, I was just browsing the e-newsletter to see what cool events Student Activities have planned for the upcoming months – yes, I am one of those people who actually read their emails – when I saw it. Not because it was beautifully designed, but because I saw so much potential. What it could be.

Property of Gardner-Webb's Paw Prints.

Property of Gardner-Webb’s Paw Prints.

With my Redesign Switch on, a little extra caffeine, and some basic Microsoft Publisher action,  I created this:

http://photos.gardner-webb.edu/keyword/adventure/1324321044_8CK5LRs#!i=1324321044&k=8CK5LRs

Created in Microsoft Publisher.
Picture property of Gardner-Webb.

WAH-LAH!

…and yet, I still feel like it could use some work. Opinions? What do you all think?

Design Affects Educational Learning

I am taking an online Western Civilization II course through a community college back home. It started last week, and one of the seven weekly assignments was to watch this video on the Battle of Lützen in 1632.

…it was painful, to say the least, and not because the war wasn’t interesting, but because of the way the designer chose to format the video.

I took several screenshots to illustrate my point:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC5RusVOoZ8

Found on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC5RusVOoZ8

Found on YouTube.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC5RusVOoZ8

Found on YouTube.

Personally, I think the choice of backgrounds were not efficient. Although the black-and-white pictures are informative in a visual aspect, they distract from the text which really explains what’s happening. At the same time, the designer picked fluorescent yellow, vibrant red, and black as font colors to accompany the already busy photos. I found that I could not read most of this video (and mind you, it was nine minutes in length).

The historical information found in this video is probably incredibly accurate, so I can understand why my professor chose this particular video as a learning tool. However, the designer did not create it in such a way that it could be an effective learning tool, and that is the root of the problem.

It’s interesting how CRAP, elements of design, principles of design, color, and type truly matter. Whether it be through a document, flyer, pamphlet, poster, or even a YouTube video, they all work together to either make or break a project. I figured this was just something to keep in mind as we begin our first major “Document Design” project!

Williams, Robin. The Non-Designer’s Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice. 3rd ed. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press, 2008. Print.

Learning to use GIMP

Despite the fact I wasn’t able to use my “custom header” made in GIMP as my actual header on my blog – it didn’t quite look right once it was formatted into a circle to fit the layout – I still wanted to post it on here. Hopefully as this semester progresses, so will my visual aesthetic!

Made using default pictures found in "My Pictures" folder.

Made using default pictures found in “My Pictures” folder on the computer.

Dan Fleming’s Word Animals

All of this discussion regarding shape and color initiated by Molly Bang’s Picture This: How Pictures Work has brought up an old memory. Growing up, my little ol’ town of Kuna, Idaho – small, yes, but not quite as small as Boiling Springs – had a celebration every August called Kuna Days. It was always blazing hot, the line for the snow cone shack inching its away around the many vendors and their booths. One of these featured intricate wood carvings, and there’s no better way to explain them than to say this: they were a word formed into the shape of that word’s symbol. For example, the letters “B-E-A-R” were shaped like a bear. I always found them fascinating!

After a little research, I discovered Dan Fleming, a graphic designer who specializes in logos and brand identity. By using letters and typography as his shapes, he created something I find quite brilliant. Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to Dan Fleming’s “Word Animals.”

http://danfleming.co.uk/portfolio_page/word-animals/

Dan Fleming: Crocodile

http://danfleming.co.uk/portfolio_page/word-animals/

Dan Fleming: Skunk

http://danfleming.co.uk/portfolio_page/word-animals/

Dan Fleming: Snail

http://danfleming.co.uk/portfolio_page/word-animals/

Dan Fleming: Bunny

http://danfleming.co.uk/portfolio_page/word-animals/

Dan Fleming: Chicken

One thing I really appreciated is Dan Fleming’s use of color in his designs. If each example was made in black type on a white background, it would lose some of the magic. Instead, he uses the shape of the type and the color of that particular animal to his advantage, creating something that is quite appealing to the eye!

I strongly encourage you to check out more “Word Animals” and Dan Fleming’s portfolio here.

Bang, Molly. Picture This: How Pictures Work. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000.