This multi-week assignment is so exciting to me. I love the process of developing a visual system, something consistent yet flexible, exciting but not overwhelming. The hypothetical symposium is an amazing way to frame this challenge, not only because its topics are so interesting and relevant, but also because it provides a great range of considerations and deliverables.
I took a bit of a winding road with it this week. The first thing I locked down were my fonts, New Kansas and Realist. I chose both based on their weight flexibility (within each font) and width contrast (between both fonts). I also liked that New Kansas has a Cooper Black look, but more modernized and even a bit quirky (love the detail on the “f”). After that, I looked at color palettes. I wanted some warm tones, which eventually led me towards an earthy palette — but I also wanted a contrast color, so I went with teal. While my full palette is six colors, I probably won’t use them all in each design, though I like having the options (and I noticed when drafting my deliverables that one color might look very close to another depending on where it’s used, like a small thin font). This is what my fonts look like within the color palette combinations — of course, the contrast between some of them is too low, so they may just be used for decorative elements:
At this point, I hadn’t exactly noticed that my palette was “earthy,” but I framed it that way because I think unconsciously it helped me get to my “big idea.” I got to this idea first by writing my tagline “Unearthing erased histories in graphic design.” I didn’t have a very specific reason to use “unearth” — I just liked the way it sound. But after a while I realized I could tie the whole thing together that way. I started playing around with making the title look as if it’s being dug up from the earth:
I got drawn to this because it made some very literal sense: by unearthing something, you’re making it visible. But I immediately also saw it as a call back to colonialism, hopefully in a more reclaimed way — the idea being that these designs are precious resources that the communities that create them have a right to. Maybe it also raises questions about cultures being sold like commodities through design, and who (if anyone) has a right to do that.
The last part was making my grids and drafts. This is my first time actively trying to make a grid — I think it’s very challenging to do that before you know what the content will look like on the page. For the poster and article spread, I created modular grids in a proportional way: first by setting my margins, then by dividing the inside between three columns, and then by making rows that were the same height as the columns were wide. For the website, it made way less sense to have rows, so I split it into 12 columns (160px each), and have just been trying to space out the elements with a proportional number (40px, or 80px, and so on). Here are my grid sketches:
I also did start the first drafts of these, maybe prematurely — I wanted to see how my “big idea” would look. Below are the PDFs for those drafts, where you can already see me breaking my own grids quite substantially: