table of co nt ents.
the big idea.
inspir a t i o ns. personal work.
At the beginning of the Fall 2017 semester, I created a mind map to document the past projects Iâ€™ve enjoyed since freshman year, things that Iâ€™m passionate about, personal milestones, inspirations, and how I view myself as a designer. The section of how I view myself as a designer is blank; I was extremely unsure what direction to take my thesis in. The initial mind map boiled down to design vomit to get the creative thoughts flowing.
When examining my past work, the common mediums that I enjoyed were linocuts, oil stick, digital painting, and vector graphics. The common themes I explored were communication, emotions, the human body, and female empowerment.
Stefan Sagmeister. Sagmeister appealed to me through his experimental typography and ability to talk about emotions in a way that is aesthetically interesting and vulnerable.
Currently, Jessica Walsh is partner with Stefan Sagmesiter working as Sagmesiter & Walsh. When comparing their two styles, it is important to acknowledge their great feats together but also the differences that they both bring to the table. Walsh’s strong typography mirrors that of Sagmeister’s and creates beautiful dynamic pieces. However, the inspiration I draw from Walsh that is not as present in Sagmeister’s work is the use of color. Her application of color to the human body as well as bold color blocks in graphics creates an eye catching compositions and builds the environment around her pieces.
As a typographer, David Carson broke all the rules but it worked. He has a toolbox of manipulation that he uses to create both legible and illegible works that confuse and excite the viewer. Carsonâ€™s ability to experiment with digital type showed me all the possibilities of evoking specific emotions through seemingly chaotic typography.
7 inspir a t i o ns.
Katherine McCoy continues to push the boundaries of postmodern typography similar to Carsonâ€™s work. Her use of color and direct distortion of digital letterforms stood out from Carsonâ€™s and showed another avenue of experimentation with digital type.
9 inspir a t i o ns.
experim e n t a l re se a rch.
The first avenue of experimental research that I pursed revolved around how personal connections to objects and words can affect how the viewer understand a piece. In this case, the handling of the typography affects how you understand the relationship between the hands and feet, either softly caressing or tense and retreating.
This second comparison works with the physical materials of brown sugar and honey mustard. I paired these experiments with a piece done by a fellow student at Emmanuel College. “Growth” causes the viewer to understand the linear forms to be growing and extending out of the box where as “confinement” feels sticky and heavy as if it is retreating within the box.
This third experimentation continued to explore tactile typography but pushed the idea of emotions a little bit more. I knew I wanted to explore black poster board and cotton ball texture but I didn’t know what word(s) I wanted to produce. The phrases “comfortably alone” and “serenity” came from asking students what their emotions associations were with cotton balls and black poster board. Reflecting on the final product, getting the input from outside sources showed the importance of other individuals associations.
After realizing the importance of outside input and outside associations, I conducted a final experiment. I discussed different emotions with students to try and get key phrases or quotes that would embody the emotion and materials that would further emulate it. The quote chosen for ecstasy was “crazy fucking good”. The conversation that spurred this quote revolved around the energy you feel when you’ve reached that level of happiness and how euphoric you feel. From this, I created “crazy fucking good” out of christmas lights and black foam board. This experimentation made my internal ideas physical and I began to understand how I loved the combination of experimental typography and emotional communication.
11 experim e n t a l re s ea rch.
big idea Everyone feels things differently, I am only an expert on my own emotions but I can try and get you to start thinking about yours through design.
proj ect state ment
A visual exploration in the communication of emotional experiences through common materials and experimental typography.
d e v e l o p m ent. narratives. After all of the experimentation, I decided to focus on nine emotions trying to draw from a variety of positive, negative, and neutral emotions: grief, ecstasy, tension, present, rage, satisfaction, longing, comfort, and silence. I also picked some common materials that would have interesting emotional connotations from person to person: eggs, ice, crumpled bed sheets, embroidery, subtractive cut outs of paper, velvet, christmas lights, cotton balls, sugar, flour. After I narrowed my focus, I conducted 15 interviews asking questions regarding the emotions and materials.
Do you view this material as positive or negative?
What emotions do you associate with this material?
What other materials do you associate with this material?
When was the last time you felt this emotion?
If it is negative, what did you do to overcome this emotion?
What symbols or objects do you associate with this emotion?
What other emotions do you associate with this emotion?
Initially, I wanted to conduct these interviews individually so that they would be completely honest and open with their emotional conversation. However, I ended up getting interupted during my first interview, improvised, and made it a paired interview. This was a major breakthrough as the two interviewees built off one another and contributed very honest experiences. During the interview, I did my best to type exactly what the interviewees were saying to stay honest to their stories. Afterwards, I went through and highlighted points that were essential to their individual stories as well as the emotion as a whole. The goal was to use the quotes and my own experiences to create a narrative that embodied the emotion. From this narrative I was going to connect the reader with the quotes but also with the experimental type I chose to explore. After conducting all of the interviews, I realized that the number of emotions I had chosen to explore might be impossible to achieve with the timeline of one semester. So I narrowed the nine emotions down to five based on the quality of the interviews, the quality of the narrative, and if the emotion was positive or negative: grief, ecstasy, tension, rage, and comfort. I still hoped to achieve a balance of positive, neutral, and negative emotions. The last step was to determine which phrases would be expressed using experimental typography. I went through the narrative and bolded the words I would express experimentally based on it’s relavence to the emotion and where it was placed in the narrative. The final narratives are as follows.
It’s in your stomach and in your throat.
I’m antsy, scatter brained, and sweaty.
The numbness that’s linked to tragedy, it’s all internal.
It’s buried in my chest and a knot in my throat. My hands are shaky, my face gets hot.
I associate it with the death of relative but that’s too easy, grief is more complex than that.
There’s a battle to stop being tense and relax and not let the pressure control your mind
It’s about losing a part of yourself. That tension can pull you apart.
Ecstasy It’s like being on another planet, It just feels crazy fucking good. You can feel the energy through and around your body, you feel the entire world all at once in a euphoric way. It usually only lasts for a few minutes or seconds but that’s all you need to really feel ecstasy.
Comfort It’s that “I’ve been through it” moment, or the “I haven’t been through it but I care for you” moment. Comfort is all about reciprocation, getting that equal amount of response during a time of confusion or sadness or anger reminds you that you’re not alone.
Rage That big record scratch you have during a normal day. It’s the pinnacle of your anger when the feeling hits its peak and you’re about to react. It’s red, I feel fearless and reckless
After generating the narratives and selecting the phrases which I would be expressing experimentally, I had to jump in and start creating all of the pieces. Through the process of creating the pieces, I had to be cognicient of how not only the final product was emulating the emotion but also how the creation process reflected the emotion.
I don’t care what other people view of what I’m saying or how I’m acting. The lights are bright and my heart’s pounding. That peak of anger, that’s rage.
This piece focuses on the sudden yet lasting effects of rage. The aggressive act of throwing the paint at the canvas captures the moment in time that this rage hits the wall. When removing the tape, the lasting effect of rage is created.
The goal for this piece was to create a sharp toxic environment with the nails. I drew the letter forms on the back of a piece of masonite and then proceeded to hammer nails around the outline of the letters. This project proved to be a bit more time consuming and difficult than expected. It used a lot of physical power as I had to actually break through the surface of the masonite. The videos taken during this process show the destructive nature of the nails and the emotion rage as a whole.
This piece was extremely more time consuming than expected. I did some research on match art to see how other artists were able to assemble the matches in such a stable form. I decided that I would drill holes into the piece of wood and glue the matches in place because it would provide a very durable base and the process of drilling that many holes would embody the idea of destructive rage.
When igniting the piece, I was surprised at how beautiful and striking the flames were. At times, they reached heights of three feet! The piece in the end was completely scorched. This mirrors the idea of rage being completely destructive and irreversible anger. The flames are beautiful but completely dangerous. This piece may have been the most exciting to create because I didnâ€™t really have any idea how it would turn out and, in the end, it seemed to completely embody the emotion.
19 de v e l o pment.
This piece was a second try at my experimentation during the first semester of thesis. After mid year critiques, the black foam of the letters ripped apart because of the weight of the christmas lights. Instead of black foam board, I created the letter forms out of wood using a laser cutter. After drilling the holes, I connected the letters vertically with fishing line so that the weight was being placed on the fishing line instead of the letters themselves. These small changes made the world of a difference and this piece is now one of the stronger, transportable pieces. An important aspect of this piece was the photography. I wanted to get a legible shot of the phrase itself but I was also interested in seeing how the photos can embody the emotion themselves. The second photo was a happy, unfocused, accident that proves how the photography can govern the emotion as well.
I really struggled with this piece. The first two pieces for ecstasy came easliy, it was my ability to explore the idea of light communicating an emotion. But for the last piece I wanted to create something that touched upon other aspects of ecstasy. These letter boxes are created using red plastic folders and hung with fishing line from a piece of word to embody floating in a void. The letter themselves attempt to contain that little void that is ecstasy. These letter forms are very succesful in person, you can physically see the light and air more in and around the letters and the planes of the boxes interacting. However, photographing the letters was quite difficult. The photo shows experimenting with putting my hand slightly over the flash to create small bursts of light around the composition. These pockets of light are uncontrolable and create that same void that ecstasy hopes to emulate.
This piece builds off “crazy fucking good” and explores the idea of light. I had this idea before I thought it was plausibile. I didn’t know how I would rig the light blubs so that they would light up. However, Amazon prevailed once again. These eight bulb sockets connect to a horizontal piece of wood to hold all of the light builds at the same height. Similar to other pieces, the process of creating is just as important in emulating the emotion than the final product is. In this piece, it is not just the process of creating but also the process of turning the light bulbs on and off. When off, the light bulbs look dull and bland. In a moment, the explode and assert themselves into your vision. You suddenly feel and see the light everywhere.
21 de v e l o pment.
I wanted to show grief as a sort of product of something else. These shadows build off the cut letters and create the letter forms on the environment around them. However, I really am not well versed in shadow art so once it was time to take pictures I had really no idea what to expect which is both exciting and daunting. After fiddling with spot lights, natural light, and regular lamps, I settled on a shadow that was legible but not too aggressive. Grief is blurry and encompasses your entire body, it is not sharp and hard. With each of the photo shoots, I try to push the environment in which I place my piece. I decided to put the shadows on the human body because grief is such a personal, intimate experience.
When exploring the idea of grief, I looked towards loss and emptiness. One of my biggest associations with funerals is flowers. However, during funerals, the flowers are used in attempt to bring life to this extremely sad and very unlively time. This piece played off that association but used dead carnations and dead roses to show the loss of life that is worked so hard to ignore. I messily ripped and broke the stems and petals to spell out grief in 25 degree weather to feel the coldness that is created by grief. Before standing out in the cold, my idea was to place it on top of cracked cement to show the fragility of something so strong and how overwhelming grief can be. After execution, it is clear that the green on top of the dark gray is extremely illegibile and not in an appropriate way.
This piece flowed from the idea of loss. How can I make something that not only feels like loss but is loss? Thatâ€™s how I thought of ice. An essential portion of this piece is that I video tapped the ice melting to understand and docoument the entire process of loss. I decided to put the letters (created using a silicon alphabet tray) on a bright blue plate to create a contrast between the sad cold letters and the familar bright colored background. Grief isnâ€™t something that is noticeable, it takes over your entire life, even the happy aspects. This pop of color was inspired by Jessica Walsh and her use of bright colors to create juxtapositions between content and design.
23 de v e l o pment.
Tension. This piece is not as legible as I had hoped however, Iâ€™m not entirely unhappy with how the viewer has to work to figure it out. Trimming the excess rope of the letters and burning it with a lighter really cleaned up the letter forms but I think they are still kind of illegible. If I were to do it again, I would ad a little bit more space between the words of the top row so that they acted a little bit more as different words. When photographing the piece, the shadows cast by the ropes were extremely problematic. I struggled to find poses that were remotely legible. However, in the end, the introduction of hands and actual tension pulling apart the wooden rods made the piece a lot more legible and the photographs more interesting.
This piece went very smoothly! I was very maticulous with the planning of it which paid off. I measured out how much space each letter should get, counted the number of nails and rubber bands I needed, sketched out the letters, and then easily made the piece. At first, I was going to just do one rubber band from nail to nail but I ended up adding more to create more texture which I think was very successful.
This piece focused on the energy and force of tension. During the interviews, tension was usually focusing on stress and the invisible energy that tension creates within your brain and the people around you. The photographs posed themselves to be much more difficult than anticipated. The imprints were not as dark as expected and I didnâ€™t want to injure the subject. The adaptaions I made to account for these difficulties were by breaking the word along two lines to let us apply more pressure in one spot on the skin in attempts to create more legible imprints. I also decided to edit the photo and manually draw some of the letters and use blending modes to create the imprint feel. I think that these edits were successful and necessary to the legibility of the piece. 25 de v e l o pment.
Comfort. The construction of the wire letters was as difficult as expected, with the use of pilers and force I was able to create the curves I wanted to. However, wrapping the yarn was much more complex than anticipated. I had to, at times, contort my body and the letters to ensure that I would be wrapping the correct part of the wire with yarn. After it’s creation, it was very strong and I was able to photograph and transport it to different environments.
I had difficulties photographing this piece. The first photograph against the white wall is not ineteresting at all, it does not feel like comfort. The environment makes the project feel much less successful. After making these realizations, I had to curate the environment to also embody the emotion. Going off of tactile comfort, I decided to photograph it against the blue blanket for the pop of color and sense of softness.
When creating this piece, I cut each of the letters by hand and used a sugar cookie recipe that said it would hold it shape, which was true for the most part! Unfortunately, when I attempted to take the cookies off of the tray, more than half of them broke because I did not use parchment paper which wasn’t extremely comforting...
After sadly staring at the broken cookies for about two weeks, I decided to super glue them together. Conceptually, this alludes to the idea of comfort that isn’t perfect. You may be broken but “you’re not alone”. As you can see from the picture, the super glue worked. I decided to put them on top of the sweater to reference physical comfort similar to the other comfort pieces.
When I made this sketch, I messily scribbled thinking that I wouldnâ€™t be able to draw the sheets and towels as I envisioned them. But looking at the final piece, I knew exactly what it was going to look like! This piece makes me extremely happy because it went so smoothly and was actually comforting to make, I successfully emulated the emotion in the process. I initially brought many different colored blankets and sheets and towels to form the letters. However, I didnâ€™t htink that would look aesthetically pleasing at all and it may be illegible as the letters are not connected by a single color. So I chose to create all of the letter forms using white towels. I also decided to place the mint sheet down underneath the towels to try and continue to curate the environment of comfort for the whole photo. After I had photographed the whole thing, I took pictures of me laying within the letters to really add to the idea of comfort. This was one of the first pieces I made and was a real break through when it came to curating the environment and the photographs to also emulate the emotion.
27 d e v e l o pment.
Booklets. I use Cormorant Garamond, and the family of bold and italics, for every emotion’s booklet. The use a singular font for every emotion was intentional in attempts to relate to the idea of emotional experiences within humans. These emotions, no matter how meek or destructive, are what make us innately human. Cormorant Garamond creates this singular voice to relate to each reader and allow them to view these booklets as cohesive aspects of a single person rather than exclusive concepts. When I began making the spreads, I was extremely fixated on making the narrative legible and giving each piece the attention it deserved. The top spread on the right shows one of my first drafts. While aesthetically pleasing and compelling, it doesn’t make you feel anything. To grow from these, I looked back towards David Carson and Katherine McCoy to see how I could use my photographs and text together to create a beautiful experience.
The final spread for that block of text now looks how it appears on the right. When I began manipulating text, I weirdly got very anxious. It pushed me out of my comfort zone as an artist and a reader. I had to work to understand what the spread was saying and I wasn’t even quite sure if it looked good. In the end, it didn’t matter if anyone else thought it looked good, it matter if I thought it embodied rage. Each of these booklets continued the experimentation I felt during the pieces except now it was digital.
Spreads. Itâ€™s like being on another planet
It just feels
you feel the ener gy throu gh and a round yo ur body
you feel the entire world at once in a
It only lasts for a few minutes or seconds but thatâ€™s all you really need to feel
29 de v e l o pment.
31 de v e l o pment.
Gallery Book. When introducing text and photo-manipulation into the booklets, I was hesitant because I wanted to give my experimental typography the attention it deserved. When incorporating text, it took away from the pieces but made the narrative more legible. In compromise, I created a gallery book to showcase each piece and the photography that went into their documentation. This book has very minimal text and focuses on letting the photos explain the pieces. I tried to emphasis white space as well as full bleed imagery. Examples of spreads can be seen on the right.
With every book, you need a cover. The covers of the booklets are full bleed texture images that relate to the emotion. I did not know how I would use a texture that related to all emotions at once. Instead of trying to encompass all emotions, I tried to focus on the idea of a singular voice. In the booklets, I used one font for all emotions to create this one human thread weaving all of these emotions together; we all experience these emotions and that’s what makes us innately human. You are not different when you’re enraged than when you’re grieving. From this, I decided to make the cover of the gallery book a full bleed image of my skin with “introspection” written in my handwritting on the cover. The skin texture is challenging, almost gross, but encourages you to hold it in your hands and experience every one of these materials. This choice was a huge risk when printing the book but it created the feeling of humanity and flesh that is essential to the emotional experiences.
33 de v e l o pment.
final deliverabl es gallery book.
A large part of these pieces was to create the desired emotion in the final legible product but also embody the emotion in the process of the piece. Because of this, I video taped the creation of every piece to create a time lapse of the entire process. This 4 minute video captures each of the emotions together to show their creation from a single voice.
37 fina l d eliverabl es
This project has tested my artistic ability, my emotional capacity, and my passion for design. Through this project, I found the aspects of design that really appeal to me: how design has the ability to compell the viewer to feel certain ways, the act of taking an image in your mind and creating it physically, and, most importantly, how it feels to hold your designs that you’ve been starring at through the computer in your hands and feel your vision come alive. In the fall 2017 semester, I delved into extreme self reflection about who I am as a designer and what actually makes me happy. It took three months to come to this project pathway and I couldn’t be more passionate about it. These pieces and the narrative booklets pushed my ideas of what designs supposed to be to what I want design to be for me. The typography made me uncomfortable, anxious, and unsure of it’s success. This period of uncomfort spurred artist revelations, more than I could understand. I learned what design means to me, I learned about who I want to be as a designer, and I learned what truly makes me happy and that is creating.
thank you, Thank you to my professors for bearing with me and my many frazzeled, sweaty
moments running around the art floor when I had the semblence of an idea. Thank you to the other senior graphic design majors - for listening to my design vomit and constantly supporting and challenging my wild ideas. To my family, thank you for supporting me and my creativity even if that means changing my major junior year. To my roommates, thank you for dealing with random art supplies through our apartment for the last six months. For not throwing things out because you “didn’t know if it was art or not” and for letting me use various pieces of furniture when randomly necessary. To my friends who have constantly listened to me talk about this project for the last six months. The biggest of thank yous goes out to you. Thank you for bringing me pencils when I was too busy working to leave the couch, thank you for all the hugs when my pieces went terribly and the hugs when the pieces went amazingly. Thank you for letting me use your bodies as canvases and for being as excited about this project as I am. The constant, unwavering support, love, critique, and empathy have shaped this project to what it is today, and I couldn’t be happier. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without any of you.