week 3

reflections

Initial sketches

Designing a logo for myself was more challenging than I’d expected. In looking for inspiration, I kept wishing I were a hardcore specialist — that way, I could highlight a single, specific skill I excel at, or embody my “essence” through a symbol like an object or animal. I could easily think of logos I’d design for my parents, whose professions feel a lot more visually definable than mine: neurosurgery (a brain) and architecture (a house). I don’t have one shining skill, one dream job, and I’m actually pretty okay with that. It does, however, make it harder to distill myself down to a single memorable concept.

For that reason, I decided to focus more on my name. My name is, after all, a big part of my identity, and it is indicative of my habit of keeping different facets of myself separate. For context: my birth name was Betina Paglioli. When I came to the US for college, I decided to go by Tina because I don’t like the way English speakers pronounce my name (not many people in Brazil call me by my full name anyway; friends and family might call me Bê or Beti or Bets, all of which also sound strange in English). Then, when I got married in 2017, I took my husband’s last name (I really wanted to be Betina Solo Paglioli, since I never had a middle name anyway, but New York State only let me hyphenate the last names, and that seemed too annoying to deal with). I really like the sonority of Tina Solo, but I do have a serious issue in identifying with the T.S. initials after going my whole life identifying with B.P. (and B.S. would both be a little funny/vulgar and confusing for people who only know me as Tina). This is all a bit of a clusterfuck, but one I’ve embraced — and so I figured my logo should embrace it too.

In playing with the letters and shapes, I started being drawn by the idea of a “hidden B”. At first I just thought of it as a background to the logo — maybe a blobby B, that almost looks like a painter’s palette. But then I sketched a T and S together in a way that looked like a B, while still being legible as their respective letters when separate. On my second page of drafts, I kept exploring that shape, and eventually landed on this primary draft.

Primary logo draft, short and long forms

Another repeating feature in my drafts was the idea of mixing sharpness and smoothness. The letterforms of “TINA” (since for a logo, I liked it better capitalized) are very straight and pointy, whereas “Solo” (especially with a cursive l) is all curves. I was very drawn to that too, so I devoted a lot of time to exploring that as a second draft. On the left side is the “Solo” I drew on Illustrator, from scratch — I’d never tried lettering before, so I was pretty happy with the attempt, but I felt like something was off, especially when trying to pair it with another font for “TINA”. On the right, I made the full logo using two actual fonts made by professionals — I think it’s balanced better, but I preferred the form of my S, and in the end, it just seemed a little generic to me. 

Secondary drafts

In the end, I stuck with the “hidden B” design: I feel like it’s clean and simple, but also a little intriguing in the oddness of the T and S. I’d hope that people who aren’t familiar with the history of my name would still be interested in the visual even if they don’t understand a deeper meaning — and maybe that would make it memorable and unique, as a logo should be.

week 2

reflections

Our assignment this week was to illustrate a Brothers Grimm tale within several visual constraints (only 4x4in artboards; only combinations of circles, triangles, and squares for shapes; only three colors plus black and white; and the possibility but not requirement to use a line of text for each artboard). The two readings were perfect preparations for this assignment — both articulating the basic principles of shapes, color, and perspective that we all internalize, and then also providing concrete examples in action. I found myself going through the same thought process that Burns details in Picture This, and was able to take her advice to improve my own piece.

I immediately knew I wanted to illustrate Rumpelstiltskin, because it was the most memorable Grimm tale from my childhood. While doing research for the assignment, I was elated to find pictures of the exact box set I owned — so much so that decided to go with this version’s ending (where Rumpel falls into a hole, instead of tearing himself in two). Beyond my personal investment, I knew this story was full of contrast between characters and elements that would lend itself to interesting visuals: innocent delicate maiden vs. greedy imposing king vs. wicked little imp, small bodies vs. huge rooms full of straw, and so on.

My first step was deciding on color, since I felt that was the most restrictive element. Gold was an obvious choice, being such a prominent element in the story. Green felt integral to Rumpel’s character, and even if I didn’t use it in many other elements, it would help make him stand out. For the last color, I played around with some oranges and pinks and reds — I wanted something that could both be soft as the maiden’s main color, but also rich and striking when combined with black for the king. I ended up using a coral that doubled as Rumpel’s skintone, and was really satisfied with the way it clashed with the green of his clothes (since the values are too similar, as I believe The New Basics mentioned at some point); I think it captures the unsettling feeling that Rumpel is supposed to evoke.

I then outlined my artboards with ideas for the visuals and the lines I’d pick for each; I really wanted the spread to be fully understood as the entire story, so I got a bit lenient with “a line of text” and considered it to be one full sentence. From the outline, I went straight into Illustrator to figure out the shapes of the main characters. I wanted them to be very distinct: the maiden is made of circles and a softened triangle, with a white band on her dress to show delicateness. The king should be square, but the coral rectangle wasn’t enough; the black triangle gives him his menacing feel, both through the color and sharp edges. Rumpel is triangular, with the color cash already mentioned; his head is a circle to give him some softness (he does help the maiden, after all), but with the hint of a pointy chin to stay true to his wickedness.

With the main characters done, I dove right into the artboards, without sketching them at all. I had to improvise at points, when the idea for the visual didn’t actually work in practice. Another leniency I quickly felt would be necessary was to use gradients between the allowed colors, both to help the legibility of elements with similar colors (how do you differentiate straw and gold if you only have one yellow?) and also to help set the mood in the limited environment in terms of shape. Playing with scale and positioning (tilting a character one way, moving their head closer or further from the body) was also vital in conveying their emotions. Figuring all of this out took a lot longer than I’d anticipated, but it was a really interesting challenge. If I had more time to work on the assignment, I think texture would be a great avenue to explore and help differentiate elements even further (but it would be a hefty investment of time, especially in Illustrator where layers and clipping masks can be so finicky). Overall, I feel very satisfied with the end result — I think it does succeed in telling the story, in a consistent style and with interesting visuals.

week 1

reflections

I really enjoyed reading the three 20th century manifestos — so varied in tone and context, which I could appreciate given their respective introductions. As we talked about in the first class, historical context can be vital in understanding what a piece is really arguing, or where these arguments stem from. 

The futurist manifesto’s prose struck me — its captivating rhythm seemed to strengthen its own argument about energy and speed. I looked for the original Italian text thinking the fluency I once had in the language would add a new dimension to my understanding — and while I didn’t understand it nearly as well as in English, I felt even more enamored with the sound of the words. Of course all of this beauty is punctuated by extremely unsettling rhetoric, glorifying war and nationalism while vilifying “moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.” The introduction warned us, but I still wasn’t ready for how enthusiastically Marinetti advocates for these oppressive ideas. The writing reels you in by its energy, making the manifesto extremely attractive to a willing audience. 

The constructivist manifesto felt less straightforward, maybe by design. It reads more like poetry — diffuse, fragmented, even confusing until a second read. At first I couldn’t tell which “side” of the art vs. technology debate the author was on; it seems to leave a lot unsaid or assumed. The lack of punctuation makes the reader sometimes guess where a sentence might end, creating ambiguity. Still, parts of it deeply resonated with me — most of all, “Of course, the square existed previously, the line and the grid existed previously. What’s the deal. Well, it’s simply — they were pointed out. They were announced.” I’d seen this argument before in the Non-Designer’s Design Book: the author tells the story of getting a tree identification book and reading about the Joshua tree, thinking it was a very unique tree she hadn’t seen before, only to realize it was all over the neighborhood where she grew up. She had never noticed the tree until it was pointed out to her, named and described. So many important discoveries hinge upon this simple process of pointing out, whether on an individual or systemic level.

The Bauhaus manifesto struck me in its prescience — “tomorrow we shall be able to look into the heart of our fellow man, be everywhere and yet be alone.” It’s hard to believe that Moholy-Nagy, living in the early age of film, could truly imagine the level of detail we’re able to garner from our fellow man’s heart today. On the other hand, he mentions “the unambiguousness of the real, the truth in the everyday situation,” taking image as reality in a way we cannot do anymore. Lastly, Dematerialization of Screen Space was both interesting and challenging to absorb — given it mentions tools and paradigms we’re currently using and depending on. Like Helfand says, “we are also [the computer’s] prisoners: trapped in a medium in which visual expression must filter through a protocol of uncompromising programming scripts, “design” must submit to a series of commands.” This must be a familiar feeling to all designers: the struggle to translate from brain to screen, the urge to toss your mouse to the side and draw right on the screen. Even with a tablet screen, I’ve felt constrained, restricted by my posture or my laptop’s positioning on the table — not to mention performance issues that get worse as my machine becomes obsolete. At the same time that a tool restricts us, it gives so much freedom and ability that we wouldn’t have; drawing a perfectly straight line in a second, or scaling graphics to our heart’s desire, for example. I understand the call for new spatial paradigms, and can imagine AR/VR may help us get there; still, it’s hard to conceptualize a personal computer operating in new dimensions when 2D digital interfaces can already be so overwhelming to some. Familiar formats — flat, metaphorical, and conventional — help users process the abundance of options and information in digital tools. How do you introduce a new paradigm without disorienting and alienating audiences, when digital literacy is a pressing issue as things stand? This isn’t to say I disagree with the manifesto, but rather to acknowledge (and appreciate) how hard it is to envision a new technology before it’s in practice. It’s especially interesting after reading 20th century manifestos — making me wonder how they were received in their time.


my manifesto

Our world is busy, noisy, and messy. No one knows what they’re doing and no one’s in charge, not really, in the way we liked to imagine as kids. Every second of every day, for most of us, there’s way too much going on — maybe more than we were meant to process, maybe more than we should. The things you make can be louder than the rest and add to the noise, or they can try to be something else.

I want to bring focus and comfort: the relief of a pause when something falls into place, when it makes sense to your eye and your mind. I want to delight in simplicity, to make you say, “Of course,” like it couldn’t have been any other way. To be confident in concision. To honor my viewer by not burdening you with needless work — to recognize when challenge or intrigue are needed, and to make sure they pay off. I want to be balanced and bold and nimble. To craft color, shape, and words into a beautiful rhythm — a perfect rhyme that rings in your ears, cuts through the noise, and brings you a smile.