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Hello friends!

You are invited to participate in the Hometown Lecture Series.

The first installment of the series takes place Monday, November 23 at 12noon in the MK Gallery. This space is located on the second floor of the Art Building at PSU, 2000 SW 5th Avenue. (It’s where the Graphic Design Student Show LOVE WHAT YOU DO is installed right now.)

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You’re invited to give a short (2-5 minute) presentation on what you know best: where you come from. Please bring at least one visual aid: a photograph, your childhood blanket, a map, a video.

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If you are not interested in presenting, you are encouraged to come and listen! As part of the audience, you are important.

Limited refreshments will be provided.

What is this all about?

The Hometown Lecture Series is part of This Place Projects, my thesis project for Art 470. TPP is a curatorial and creative experiment exploring location-based artmaking. Find more at the This Place website or follow my scheming and planning on my 470 blog.

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****Related Sidenote**** This Place Projects has submitted a proposal to Portland Stock, a monthly public dinner event which funds small to medium-sized artist projects. Please consider attending the event and casing your vote for This Place! (Diners pay a modest $10 for a dinner of homemade soup and the chance to take part in deciding which artist proposal will receive the evening’s proceeds. In other words, the dinner’s profits immediately become an artists grant, which is awarded according to the choice of the diners. Winning artists will present their completed work at the following Stock dinner.) Head over to Portland Stock to learn more and RSVP for the dinner! Come support two great projects. An interesting tidbit: two of the three Stock organizers are current or former graduate students in Art from PSU!

Picture 4Right on, Adrian Shaughnessy. Thank you for taking it upon yourself to write this book. That’s the premise of the introduction.


I appreciated Stefan Sagmeister’s break down of the different types of designers working today, and in particular I was glad to hear someone acknowldge the fresh young ones working with “one foot in the art world and the other in the design world.” That is what I hope to accomplish: a working balance between traditional design and contemporary art.

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Geoff McFetridge, one of those guys working with one foot in each world. This is work for the Pepsi One campaign. Maybe the animal hand is the art hand and the little pink human is the designer hand, and they’re joining forces to become one? (I’m projecting.)

Hearing Sagmeister’s insights into how he successfully started and maintains his own design firm led me to garner a singular valuable truth: learn. Keep learning. Listen, watch and read. Remember.

The attributes needed by the modern designer are creative, philosophical and practical attributes. Cultural awareness, communication and integrity, according to Shaughnessy. I might add intuition, curiosity, and dedication.


Barry McGee, an artist making graphic work. Sometimes he makes work for clients and sometimes he makes work for galleries.

This book is a startling newsflash (and one that I need to be served with) that graphic design is largely about client work. I kept looking for insights into making great personal work and getting paid lots of money to do that. I didn’t find them. It’s about time I reconcile my perception of graphic design with the reality of the design world. I don’t necessarily have to abandon my inclinations or impulses to make the things I want to make, I just have to scoot over and let in some of that client world I’ve been ignoring for so long.


Daniel Eatock is an artist with roots in design. He says he devotes 5% of his time to client work and the rest to personal work.

In Art 321, Branding and Identity, we were given the opportunity to design a visual identity for an entity of our choosing. Did I choose a real client? Nope. I chose a hypothetical one. The State of Jefferson. A secessionist movement from Northern California and Southern Oregon that contains an eclectic rural population of radical farmers, pot-smoking hippies, gun-wielding libertarians, etc. They were my client but I was really my own client. I was more interested in contemplating the solution to brand a whole people than I was creating branding for a product or business.


The Beautiful Losers artists that Sagmeister mentions. People who are making art that is also commercially viable, either as art or design or film or advertising.

I suppose until the realms I wish to work in start to value design as worthy of their funds, I’m out of luck. I’ll have to listen and watch and learn to work with clients and reconcile that sometimes I make craft, sometimes I make art, and sometimes I make design.


November 9, 2009

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They really do make it easy for you to sync up a url to a wordpress blog. Awesome!
But not php. That is not easy.

Check it out!

  • It’s all placeholder content, but you can get a good idea of the format.
  • Does the format feel good? Is this the right theme for me to use? Click around, try to get back to things, is the navigation acceptable?
  • I will change the blue type and try to add my own header. Trying to get the posts in the right place, haven’t even started with CSS yet!
  • Working on making sense of the categories, how many i really need, and where the posts go when i write them.
  • Ack. If anyone is a php wizard, shoot me an email. I need you. Can trade baked goods, design work or nature walks if you want to be the web friend that I exploit for your skills. (That sounds terrible.)

A site map: another thing that was due today.


Three sections.

Frequently updated content that promotes and unites projects and facilitates discussion.

• Posts about existing projects that work within this realm of place-based.
• Artists, projects, books, writers, photographers, events, organizations, record labels, imprints.
• Interviews, reviews, comparisons.
• Photographic exploration of places. (TPP exclusives) (myself, my community, artists I approach,
photographers who look at place already)
• Interviews with TPP artists.
SECTION TWO: News/Releases/Updates/Events/Calendar
• News: grants, new project releases, promotional for events and releases.
• Call for entries: collaborative zine? Whole, independent projects?
• Exhibition for This Place Projects projects.
• Documentation of the project: photographed objects, photographed events.


SECTION THREE: Navigation/Information/About
• About This Place Projects
• List of This Place Projects artists and their relevant links.
• Blog bios, guest bloggers.
• Store to purchase releases


October 29, 2009

3101856879_249e7d9a06_bUser research. Flickr.

This is a reading response to Personas: Practice and Theory by John Pruitt and Jonathan Grudin from the book Design Studies.

“Personas are a medium for communication; a conduit for information about users and work settings derived from ethnographies, market research, usability studies, interviews, observations and so on.”

Call it what you will: user archetypes, market segmentation, user role definition, user profiling, fictional charaters: this article hails the importance of all designers and developers having a detailed understanding of human behavior. Designers often have a vague or contradictory sense of intended users, and may base scenarios on themselves. I do this all the time. I often find myself making work that I’d use and like, but this only goes so far. Developing personas can “amplify the effectiveness of other research methods.” As designers, the act of creating personas can help us make our assumptions about our target audience more explicit.

550438755_29c4e3d16aLittle stand-up personas. Flickr.

Though there’s nothing more boring than reading about the development of MSN Explorer, this article was valuable to me. It encouraged me to think more critically about my audience. I must be more willing to take myself out of the picture from time to time and realize that not all consumers of my design are white, 20-something middle-class hipsters from Portland, Oregon.


October 29, 2009

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Picture 71Art Grandeur Nature, 2004, Stefan Sagmeister

This is a reading response to Stefan Sagmeister’s essay on emotion in graphic design.

I really liked this reading. I feel that designers, or at least design students, are always after Sagmeister’s secret–how does he make the amazing work he makes? It must be his sabbaticals. It must be his apt sculptural typography skills. It must be that he’s European. Wrong. This article smashes all of that. Like any other artist or designer, he is a living, breathing human being, and his strength comes in embracing that.

The secret to success? Make yourself feel your design. Really, really feel it. Inside, not with your fingers. If you don’t feel anything, maybe rethink the project.

This of course is only a certain kind of success, but a kind that I’m hoping to find.

I tried to choose a favorite part of this essay to focus on, but I couldn’t. Each section offered something new and refreshing. I appreciated the whole thing. The best part for me was that even though he listed a number of graphic design projects that touched him, a lot of them weren’t simply design. They were hybrid projects: art, graffiti, comics. I hold fast that what makes an interesting designer is a well-rounded interest in many things. As designers, we’re the mirrors of the world, in some sense. If we’re not actively watching, listening, feeling, our work will lack meaningful content.

“So ever since I got that black canvas bag at that conference in New Orleans, this touching thing has been on my mind, and  I’ve looked for design pieces that cut through to my heart.”

Picture 68I feel more when I look at this than when I look at most other things. Matokie Slaughter.

2852318316_4a0103619e_oThis moves me. More.

3017710596_569104d1d5_bSo does this. A global warming rug.

3023493753_5fef5e4d80And this: a homemade state seal for a rural secessionist movement. Two x’s=double crossed.

4029928066_23a21a1ab9_bAnd this. Elizabeth Jaeger took this in Berlin. Two bicycles at the same angle, two shopping carts at the same angle, two people wearing the exact same thing, two posters, there’s probably more.

“I suspect that in ten years time this touching kind of design is going to be the only kind of design that’s going to be done by actual designers.”

3926398482_9f822265fb_oThen there’s this kind of stuff. Hyper-meaningful graphic design. I try to love every piece of this I see, and for a long time I did. But it almost raises the bar on itself; now when I see this hyper-positivity I look at it way more critically, trying to decide if it does anything new, anything different, anything that elicits an emotional response.3671381510_2f5c913b21_o

4031333215_2d9f69edfa_oOlimpia Zagnoli

Picture 69Espo does it right. This makes me feel.  A Love Letter For You.

“I think it was Katherine McCoy who said that graphic design can never rise above its content. If I have nothing to say, the best design won’t help me.”


I made this due for myself tomorrow. It’s harder to hate deadlines when you make them yourself. This is a plan for the This Place event that I’d like to have. What follows is the information, copy, and visual inspiration for the Hometown Lecture Series.

Volume 1

Tagline: “We all come from somewhere.”

Copy: This Place Projects invites you to talk about what you know best: where you come from. Come give a five-minute presentation on your city of origin, your rural locale, or the international array of places you’ve called home.
Bring one image or object to share.

Location: MK Gallery
Date/Time: Wednesday, November 18, 12 noon to 2pm

Aesthetic direction for HOMETOWN LECTURE SERIES: faded photograph, vintage, place, street, landscape, etc. colors faded to appear old, maybe just an old photograph. map, washed out, polaroid or other similar edges of photo.

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October 27, 2009

I definitely didn’t find exactly what I wanted to find, but there are WordPress themes out there that almost fit my high expectations! Here are a few that I’m considering. These were all found on Best WordPress Themes. Many are considered “magazine” style themes. I think I might need to take Art 342.

Picture 10Top of the list. Would have to kill the orange if possible. Allows for categories.

Picture 11Another top contender. I like that it allows the images to be the main content, but there might be some trouble with navigation and people wanting to zip through posts like a regular blog.

Picture 14This is closest to what I had in mind, though it might be frustrating to have a whole column of navigation that I don’t have control over. (far right) I like that this has a place for a featured image. Futurosity Eos.

I would really love to have my site be a three-column, all-content site.

Navigation, links, information, etc on the far left.
Main blog in the middle.
Mini blog to the far right featuring new This Place Projects releases.

Can I do this with a WordPress theme? Does one exist? (IF YOU KNOW OF ONE PLEASE TELL ME.)
Can I make a beautiful site without COMPLETELY ripping off Public School and the Post Family?
I’m just so enamored with their pure content: there’s no flim flam filling up space, no weird navigation links overwhelming the content, the pictures speak for themselves.

Here are some snapshots of sites that I like. In descending order: ideal site layout comes first, and what is less ideal but more realistic comes last.

Picture 2The Post Family: Simple, white, pure goodness. Four columns, actually, one too many for my needs. But still my favorite in terms of simplicity. The structure fades to the background, the content does the talking. Developed by The Black Hole.

Picture 1Public School: One, two, three columns of goodness. POWERED by WordPress, which gives me hope. Designed by something/someone called Bossa Nova chips and salsa.

Picture 3Thinking for a Living: Not enough images for what I’m looking at, and too much color (gendered=no go for this place) but: “Navigation, Blog, Resources” is what I’m looking for.

Picture 4The people who made the Thinking for a living site. Many columns.

Picture 5Gavin Potenza’s portfolio site. Content is images, but is still in columns with headers. Seems like each is editable as a separate item, which I like.Picture 6A blog that came up when I searched for “Three Column blog” Not looking at it for its visual aesthetics but instead its organization. Looks more do-able for me with my limited tolerance of building site. Html freaks me out and I don’t know any of the other acronymns.

Picture 8Pikaland: Gemma Correll’s lovely site focusing on illustration. Now we’re getting more into blog territory, which is great, though these sorts of readymade templates just lack some of the simplicity i’m looking for.

Picture 9Stuart Hobday’s portfolio site/blog. Nice looking. Too dark for me but i like the really modular layout.

OKAY. Now, how do I create this magical perfect site that I’m dreaming of? Where are you, free wordpress theme?