Thursday, September 02, 2010

Expanding Horizons

Back in May, I mentioned that I'm currently attending a program at UCLA Extension (for a certificate in Advanced Print and Graphic Communication). It's been great to stretch the old creative muscles, reacquainting myself with design principals I've forgotten, and learning many new tricks, as well as the latest trends & technologies. It has been especially fun to work outside my comfort zone, applying my art & design skills to areas that I have little or no practical experience in--this was certainly the case in the Spring semester, with my Production Design for Film & TV course.

In that class, I had to design fake websites, stage settings, show logos, title sequences and even fake products and advertisements. The instructor, Geoffrey Mandel has an impressive resume of movies and shows to his credit, including his current enviable position in the Art Department of Mad Men (love that show). Before taking his class, I had no concept of what, exactly, a "Hollywood" Graphic Designer's job entails. I must admit that I was quickly taken with the idea! His job looks pretty damned fun--especially on a show like Mad Men.

For that class, we had many interesting homework assignments. I've posted some already, but here are a couple other pieces. First, is a fake, 1960's style magazine ad...


It's okay, I guess. The shampoo looks a bit like dish soap, in retrospect. Below is a another 1960's influenced design for a floor polish bottle...


That was fun. Perhaps even more fun than creating these designs was doing the research beforehand.

While I was taking this class, by coincidence, I had the opportunity to actually do some freelance design work for a TV show in development. This is the show logo for a cooking show that will hopefully be coming to a major network soon...


It's funny. At the same time I was working on this Pizza Quest logo, I also had two other completely separate "pizza" related freelance projects come my way. I've never worked in the pizza business before, so I have no idea why they all came to me at the same time.

Anyway, that was a great class. Interacting with so many talented creative people was so stimulating that I find myself really wanting to get back into that kind of work environment. Freelancing has many wonderful benefits, but I think I'm ready for a day job!

Meanwhile, this summer I've been taking a class in Publication Design. Unlike the last class, here I'm in familiar territory. My whole career has been involved in publishing, starting on staff in the editorial & production offices at Marvel Comics in New York. There I was lucky enough to work in their Epic Comics division, where we had to package a huge variety of books & periodicals in all sorts of formats. Years later, I took those skills, as well as all I'd learned as a freelancer and as the head of a couple digital art studios, to publish my own magazine. Comiculture magazine was such a small operation that I had my hands in everything; including much of the graphic design.

I may not be learning a vast ammount of new information about publishing in this current class, but I have been challenged to apply my knowledge to create designs outside of my usual area; comics & graphic novels. So far, my assignments have included more "respectable" work, like magazine & brochure designs. I'll share a bit here, though I consider these a bit rough. Think of them more as "sketches" than finished work. or, as "works in progress..."

First (and this is really rough!) is a concept for a magazine spread, based solely one the word "paranoia." My idea is that this is an article about terrorists living among us, as represented by the Red Man. He'd appear throughout the article, if it were for real...


Next, I had to grab a bunch of images & text and create book or magazine designs with them. The timing of this coincided with my family vacation to Bonaire, so I used that as an inspiration. Most of the photos are were taken by my wife, my In-laws, or me. This was a fun and meaningful assignment because I got to relive my trip while doing my homework! Here are a couple of the spreads...



Below was another fast & dirty assignment. The instructor provided a bunch of random images, words & phrases. The task was to design a magazine spread using one of the pieces of text as a headline, and whatever art worked thematically with it. The results from the class at large were pretty varied. For mine, I took the phrase "Sky High" and the picture of a ballerina on a blank background, and took off from there. So to speak...


That was a quickie, but I'm pretty pleased with the it, though it could use some finessing.

My latest assignment was difficult. I had to take the content from my "Bonaire" project, and re-purpose it into three tri-fold brochures. The limitations were 2-color printing only, and no more than 3 font families. Here's what I came up with. Still waiting on feedback from the teacher & class, but I know this needs work!


Being in the classroom has been a blast. So much so, that I've signed up for TWO classes in the fall. In a couple of weeks I'll be starting courses in Advertising Design and Advanced Typography. I'm really looking forward to them both. I'll let you know how they go. Thanks for reading! Feel free to comment on any of this. Especially if you want to offer any constructive criticism--the whole point of my taking these classes is to improve myself, after all!

2 comments:

Veronica Lawlor said...

Fun post Steve! Getting back to school is great and it sounds like you are enjoying these assignments.

babyphat523 said...

Cool layouts! Loving that scripty typeface in your shampoo ad. School is a lot of fun when you enjoy the subject! :)