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Design Thinking

My problem: Making a custom made ring

The problem was I wanted a Green Lantern ring of my very own. Now you can get green lantern rings online but many of them are made out of plastic or other cheap materials and are not of very high quality. That’s why I wanted something a little nicer and needed one custom made. But I don’t know anything about making jewelry so what was I to do?

In comes Miranda Scott. Miranda and her friend Talia own their own business, Alchemy House Jewelry, where they make and sell their own jewelry as well as taking custom orders if someone wants something specific. They also teach classes if someone wants to learn how to make their own jewelry.

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After I decided on the design I wanted, as there have been different variations on the green lantern ring over the years, I told Miranda what I was looking for and off she went to work. A few weeks later I had my ring.

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I sat down and did an interview with Miranda to find out a bit about her and her business and what goes into making these pieces of jewelry.

The Interview

What got you interested in making jewelry?

I started with beads, arts and crafts in high school. I did craft shows. The metal arts guild of Canada website helped me to discover schools. I went to York to study and I discovered silver smithing/ metalsmithing at George Brown College.

How do people approach you about making jewellery?

People email or come into the shop, my works been featured or I’ve posted on, buzz feed, when geeks wed and reddit.

When people approach you to have something made what kind of information do they give you?

They tell me their budget, which tells me what kind materials I can use. They tell me what kind of design they want. When I ask them questions I try to use terminology that people will understand like art nouveau or retro or modern.

Do you have to do further research?

Not so much research, but working independently to figure things out and refine details.

What kind of preparations do you do?

Sketching, wax mock-ups, colour renderings. I like to experiment try different things and see what works.

What does the process involve?

Setting the stones, polishing the metal. We use files, torches for saudering. As well as using drills, hammers and saws.

Do you ever have to make alterations?

Sometimes. I can fix the size, but I won’t change stones.

Are there any finishing touches you put on?

Polishing the jewelry, and putting the jewelry into Craft paper boxes for the customer.

Do you have anyone that inspires you?

Todd reed, Barbra Henrick, Michael David Sterling. I draw inspiration from these people. I like looking at stones they like to use and using those stones in own work.

I hope this gives you better idea of who Miranda is and what kind of work she does. As well as telling you a bit about the design process and how you can approach thinking about design. Both Miranda and Talia do awesome work. If your interested in buying some jewelry be sure to check out their website, you can find it here:

 http://www.alchemyhousejewellery.com

All images except for Green Lantern ring photo are from alchemy house jewellery’s website and used with permission. Green Lantern ring photo belongs to myself.

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Why Does Typography Matter?

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Ever since beginning this Graphic Design course I’ve often thought why is Typography so important. What’s the big deal? It’s a major part of this course. There are typography classes every semester. There’s something like hundreds of thousands of different kinds of type. Why are there so many? As long as the type is legible why bother coming up with so many different variations? I mean most people probably don’t even recognize all of the subtle differences in different kinds of type. I know it’s something I never thought about before taking this course. I came to realize that I had to look at it from an artist and designers point of view. I found this article that really helped me try and think about typography in a different way.

http://www.commarts.com/columns/how-explain-typography

Well, the first thing to consider is many of these different kinds of type exist as logos and branding for all kinds of companies as many companies want a type that’s unique to them. The use of that special type can be as strong of an indicator for that brand as colour or imagery.

Another interesting thing this article talked about was comparing typography to fashion. We don’t really need all of these different styles so long as we have clothes that function, but people like to express themselves or look a certain way. Typography can be thought of in the same way.

Another interesting point this article made was the psychological effect. Just because people don’t notice the differences in all these different kinds of type doesn’t mean they aren’t reacting to it or being affected by it in different ways. Similar to how people can watch a movie and not notice things like the way the film was shot or edited yet can still be affected by these things.

There’s all kinds of other great articles out there about why typography is so important and there’s been different kinds of scientific research that’s gone into studying typography. I believe it’s something that people are going to become more aware of and start realizing some of these things. I hope this has helped you think more about why typography matters.

Typography Matters Image was found on

https://www.behance.net/gallery/14590029/Typography-Matters-Poster

It was created by Jessica Herodes

Whatever Happened to the Instruction Manual?

Today I’m talking about a kind of Information Design that has affected me in my life. I love to play Video games, and it’s always been that when you buy a new game, it comes with instructions to tell you how to play the game. Instruction Manuals sure have changed over the years. Allow me to elaborate.

When I was a kid I had a Super Nintendo, I remember the instruction manuals for these games having a lot of pages, which were colourful and many of which had illustrations of the characters in the game. The illustrations helped show you how the controls worked and told you important information about things in the game, but they were also just fun to look at.

Mario world instructions

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Then something started to happen with later game consoles. The instruction manuals were starting to change. Perhaps it was a cost cutting measure for some companies, but many of the manuals starting in the PS2 era were much shorter, only around ten pages, and in black and white with maybe a few screen shots and no illustrations. The only exception seemed to be Nintendo. Up until games on the Wii the instruction manuals were still quite thick and plenty colourful, but for many games instead of using illustrations they just used screen shots and character models from the game.

Instruction Manual 1

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Now with the current games things have changed even more.When I buy a new game and open the box instead of finding an instruction manual, instead I find a fold out telling me how to access the electronic manual. I really don’t care for these electronic manuals for a number of reasons. If I want to access the manual I have to suspend or close my game. Gone are the colourful illustrations. The designs now are very uniform and rigid looking with almost no colour and few screen shots, it’s mostly just text. I also feel like with some games these manuals just don’t give enough information. For the last Animal Crossing game there was so much information I wanted to know, so I bought the official game guide, which is over 500 pages.

Instruction Manual 3

Instruction Manual 4

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Unfortunately I feel like instruction manuals aren’t really fun to look at anymore. I feel like it’s more of a chore just to read them with the way their layed out and the fact that their on a screen. I wish they could bring back the kind of instruction manuals I had when I was a kid.

Last Week of School

This will be my final post of the school year. I’m asking myself what you may be asking, how was the school year? Well, let me tell you, this ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve been through school once before.

The school year was very challenging from an academic standpoint. The work itself wasn’t always difficult, although some of the assignments really made me pull out my hair, it was difficult because this course has a very heavy workload. Most of my school year consisted of going to class and doing home work. Pretty boring, right? I did manage to find some club’s to join in my second semester and had some fun that way. However I was hoping that school would be a bit more fun.

Next year I intend to push myself harder and challenge myself. Not from an academic standpoint but from a personal standpoint. Next year I’m hoping I can have a more active social life and have some fun. And since I’ve been through school before and experienced more of the former than the latter that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come back to school, and why I want things to be different next year. All work and no play makes for a dull life.

My Ideal Job

Presumably we go to school so we can get a good education, which will lead to us getting a good job. What is my ideal job? where do I want to be in five years? Well seeing as how I’m currently a graphic design student you would assume that my ideal job would be working as a graphic designer and that’s where I’ll be in five years, right?

Well, maybe. Once I finish the course I’m currently taking I think I’d like to do some traveling. I know that when I finish this course I have the options to pursue further studies in Ireland or Australia and I think that would be pretty cool. I’ve also thought about taking a business course. why? well our school offers a program to business students. You can spend six months living and working in Walt Disney World. Now I find that really interesting because if you do that you may be able to get a job working on one of their cruise ships, or you could apply to work as an ambassador at their Epcot center.

As for my ideal job. Well the things I really have a passion for are public speaking and acting. My ideal job, would be to be a successful actor. I really do love it and there are so many parts I’d love to play in theater like, Ash in the Evil Dead musical, a character in Avenue Q or Sir Percy Blakney in The Scarlet Pimpernel. And parts I’d love to play in television and film like, Batman or perhaps a character on Agents of shield. Really I’m up for almost anything. Oh the characters I could be, the people I could meet, the places I could go, if I could find some success as an actor.

Looking at a Second Year Students Work

Within the Graphic Design program I’m taking there are three years, and I’m currently in my first year. Well in the past week the second and third year students had their end of the year show, at the school here, to show off all their hard work. I talked with a second year student, named Abbie, about her work as there was something about her work that really drew my eye.

I asked Abbie about her creative process and she told me:

“I find I draw blanks on paper. To get the best ideas normally I have to be physically doing something or just be somewhere comfortable distracted by something unrelated (video games, pinterest, watching cartoons). In the bath funnily enough is when I’ve had some really random enlightenments to designs that were giving me trouble. But once I’ve researched the topic and have a firm understanding of it, I’ll just have it in the back of my mind and think about solutions when I’m doing mindless tasks, and sadly; when I’m trying to sleep.”

That’s pretty interesting since I have a similar creative process, I need to be doing something else and I’ll get things stuck in my mind.

Since I really like Abbie’s style I also asked her what she thinks about her style. And well, she told me:

” As for my work style. I don’t think I have a specific style for my design work. I’m more of a chameleon in the way that I’ll work with styles suiting to the specific design.

Though when I’m designing things in my spare time/for myself, there is probably a ‘Retro’/’vintage’ influence on my work. And I’ve always tried to work in humor, the darker and more sarcastic the better. (Though sadly clients are never keen on this option)” 

I think that’s interesting since I think a lot of artists have their own style that sets them apart, but they don’t always realize that they have a style.

And finally I got some great insight into a particular piece that Abbie drew.

“We, as you probably know, had to design a poster that featured our own illustration work, and had to have a fact reflecting a charities cause. I get a lot of opportunity in real life to design for serious causes. So if I get a chance to throw some humor in there, I will seize it. I managed to find while researching a charity called ‘Humanity+’ which stands for, and this isn’t a direct quote obviously, “pimping out the human body with technological enhancements”. I’m sure what Humanity+ does is a serious cause, But I couldn’t help but giggle at the idea. To which I remember then thinking to myself ‘Abbie, you won’t be giggling when it’s a war induced apocalypse and those humanity+ guys have radiation proof skin, and you’re burning up in the mushroom cloud’. And bam. That image appeared, pretty much exactly in my mind, as it did on paper. The layout and content were tweaked and edited a bunch. But the main concept was created pretty much immediately thanks to sarcasm; Which was running high in this project, since I’m normally not someone that enjoys drawing by hand.”

Often when looking at a piece of art we can only guess what the artist was thinking when they created this piece. Except in this case I got to talk to the artist and hear what they had to say about their work. Pretty cool.

Interpersonal communication

Well, last time I had to talk about public speaking and this time I have to talk about interpersonal communication. I mentioned last time that I’m very confident when it comes to public speaking, but when it comes to interpersonal communication I’m not so strong. Which is something that makes me very frustrated and disappointed. I feel Interpersonal communication is much more important than public speaking because it makes up so much more of our communication. How often do you even half to speak in front of an audience. I do it all the time because I’m a Toastmaster, other people may have to do it often for school or their job. But most people probably won’t have to worry about public speaking all too often. Interpersonal communication on the other hand we do all the time, and it’s important to be a strong interpersonal communicator, otherwise you may not be able to ace a job interview, make friends or find dates, among other things. Some people may even suffer from anxiety issues and can’t even do the simplest of things. I feel that If your a strong interpersonal communicator your life will be so much richer than someone who’s not.