Invisible Designs

Unearthing erased histories in graphic design

Invisible Designs is a visual design system created for a fictional symposium about the contributions and achievements of graphic designers and typographers of color.


Brief

Assigned as part of my Integrated Design & Media master’s program, this project tasked me to tie the design principles studied in class into the development of a design system and brand identity for a fictional symposium. The constraints and guidelines were:

AudienceDesign students, teachers, practitioners and scholars interested in erased histories and designers of color.
Design Principles EvaluatedComposition, typographic hierarchy, document hierarchy, visual-verbal interaction, expression, color and grid systems
SoftwareIllustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, XD and/or Figma
MediaText, photos, and graphical form
DeliverablesOne tagline for the symposium;
One symposium poster (tabloid size, portrait format);
Four pages of an article spread to be given out at the symposium (half letter size);
One high-fidelity layout for the landing page of the symposium website.
ConstraintsAll deliverables must use a maximum of two type families: one for body text and one for headlines;
All deliverables must follow one consistent color palette;
Poster and website must display sponsor logo;
Article spread must use a distinct grid system that stays consistent through all pages;
Website navigations must account for subpages (About, Itinerary, Speakers, and FAQ).

Process

Brand & Big Idea

I stumbled upon this idea backwards, first choosing a warm palette with earth tones and contrasting teals. The type families selected — New Kansas and Realist — were chosen for their weight flexibility (within each family) and width contrast (between families).

Typography and color palette explorations

After deciding on the tagline, Unearthing erased histories in graphic design, I noticed the connection between this word choice and earth tone palette — and explored graphic elements that would reinforce this. Using a vector silhouette of soil layers against the logo and sections of content did the trick, making them appear to be excavated — discovered, made visible — as precious resources that the communities that create them have a right to claim.

Later on, I also decided to use the contrasting teals strategically, developing a duotone treatment of featured graphic work by artists in the symposium. This was meant to convey a sense of distinction between earthen elements and human-made art.

Poster

From my initial rough draft (left), I worked on rescaling the soil graphic elements as well as the title and tagline for a better balance. The body text was split into two columns, and registration text more prominently placed, with a featured graphic now taking up the footer area. I rotated the website link and right-aligned it in order to strengthen the grid bounds. My final deliverable (right) incorporated a justified logo, refined duotone image treatment, and tweaks to text for better readability and contrast.

Article Spread

After my initial layout (left), I incorporated the brand color palette and reworked my grid to allow for more flexibility. With larger graphics and an added call out quote, I hoped to create a higher contrast in scale for increased visual interest. My final deliverable (right) refined the duotone image treatment, central spine margin, and text justification — adding a drop cap, new callout quote, and image caption to break up the blocks of text.

Website

From my initial rough draft (left), I added extra content and refined the color palette as well as the soil graphic elements — now incorporating them into the footer. In my final prototype, I resized the logo and footer elements, simplified the schedule format for the itinerary section, and reworked the speaker list into a slideshow for a cleaner look.


Deliverables