Given shortness of time, our package exercise is adjusted/repurposed:

package all projects done to date.

This affords an opportunity to rework, revise, and even complete earlier projects, and to reconceive how best to present them — packet of cards? a catalogue showing thumbnails and/or details, plus explanations, of every project? portfolio of small independent booklets/brochures? The outrage poster exercise might be revisited, and given new life by reformatting as book.

For whom? what purpose might a package of GD2 work done, so far, serve? How might it be organized? Need it be consecutive, one project after another? One might focus on process (including sketches, dead ends) rather than finished designs. And certainly, the tool/visualization exercise had numerous facets.

Our reading was chapters 2 (Problem Solving and Design) and 3 (Design Problem Definition) in Karl T. Ulrich, his Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society (2011). The entire book can be accessed via the author’s website.

Why Ulrich?

He is good about methodology — structured processes of defining gaps and problems, exploring alternatives, evaluating these, and iteratively refining solutions. In Chapter 3, he focuses on what a designed object/process is supposed to do, rather than the particular form it should take (that will come in chapter 4 (Exploration)). This notion helps us when we need to step back and reassess, where we might otherwise be churning out variations without a good basis upon which to choose one over the other. Ulrich stresses the importance of defining problems and articulating needs, particularly where others (stakeholders) are involved.

His conclusion to chapter 3 is worth thinking hard about —
A common defect in design is a failure to understand the gap the user is experiencing. By deliberately defining the design problem, this defect can be avoided. An additional defect is a failure to pose the define challenge broadly enough to allow the exploration and discovery of a wide range of potential solutions.

Those two poles — defining the design problem, and posing it broadly enough to allow exploration and discovery — are useful for us.


wraparound / punctuation boxes
 three cubes:
visual elements and type
on surface of three-inch cubes
  1. each cube is a container. each one contains one (or many of the same) punctuation mark, e.g., period, comma, question mark, semicolon, dash.
  2. exterior shows a graphic (or plural graphics) of that element, plus
  3. three words, plus
  4. one small graphic mark (possibly of its respective punctuation mark, as if it were a logo).
    aside —
    The three words (as a group) and the small graphic mark (as if a logo, perhaps differentiated by color) may be used as many as six times (once for each side of the cube).
  5. Work these elements onto a 3-inch cube, in an arresting way that leaves no side (facet) boring or inactive.
  6. Are the contents heavy? light? color or black and white? many colors? would the package reflect that weightiness? or sound of the box if shaken?
  7. Are the punctuation marks digital? handwritten? typewritten (i.e., by typewriter?). if latter, scanned? at what resolution? from original on what kind of paper or other surface?
  8. Think scale; reversals (e.g., of small graphic in large), same with type.
  9. Create cube flat on 11x17 tabloid. consider flaps. we can print on stiffer stock.
  10. May be done in InDesign and/or Illustrator. If Indesign, create three-column grid (with ample margin to allow flaps), four rows. Bring in large type elements from Illustrator (might be eps files), so that you can manage them as images).
timeassigned Wednesday 16 April
conclusion (final, three cubes) Monday 28 April
objectivesthree dimensions.
pre-package design.
minimal elements, presented in arresting/intriguing way.
meaning to be generated from combination and relationships of those elements, taking into account rotation of the cube (thus, time, relationship to body).

document setup / suggestion

  1. New document. Tabloid. Facing pages off.
  2. Margins:
    left and right, 6p0 (equals one inch).
    top and bottom: 15p0 (equals two and 1/2 inches).
    (remember to click the link off, so that all margins are not the same size.
  3. ok, now layout (top menu):
    create guides:
    3 columns, 0 margin
    4 rows, 0 margin
    fit guides to margin, NOT page.
  4. ok, there’s your grid.
  5. you might want to create guide rules along top and bottom (indicating columns) and left and right (indicating rows) to facilitate trimming after printing.
  6. when you are trimming, good idea to leave some tabs, to faciliate taping/glueing as you fold into cube.

Here it is, sort of

The crop/fold guide lines are exaggerated here.


  1. Malcolm Grear. Inside / Ouside : From the Basics to the Practice of Design (Second Edition, 2006)
    for example, the exercise Containers/Contents (p141 — the difference is, we’re sticking to cube.)
  2. Timothy Dexter. A Pickle for the Knowing Ones: Or, Plain Truths in a Homespun Dress. Reprint of edition of 1838, with an introductory essay. Boston, 1881
    opens here to page 36 —
    fouder mister printer the Nowing ones complane of my book the fust edition had no stops I put in A Nuf here and they may peper and solt it as they plese [sic]


tool —
multiple visualizations / poster / book
 visualizations of a single tool; ultimately for presentation in a book, but one extracted/developed for poster
  1. choose a tool, conventional extension of hand or other function (e.g., drawing implement, wrench, scissors, glasses, hearing aid)
  2. how many ways are there to understand this tool and its purposes?
  3. how many kinds of hammer? hammer heads? designs of the same basic style of hammer head, e.g., claw hammer?
  4. how many kinds, brands, prices, of hammers in a neighborhood hardware store? a Home Depot or Lowes?
  5. when does the tool stop being a tool? when it is broken? rusted? used for other purposes? i.e., what is the life cycle of the tool?
  6. functional. visual/descriptive.
  7. how many ways of presenting these visually? photograph (of device, of device being used). drawing. diagram. list. scattergraph. timeline.
  8. can the tool be used for other purposes, e.g., advertising? metaphorical uses? If I had a hammer...
  9. the book, with its multiple visualizations and other (textual) content, will be an opportunity for reflection, exploration; the poster will speak more directly.
  1. poster, any size. black and white, or color.
  2. book format, any size. black and white, or color.
  3. book must contain at least four different visualizations relating to the tool, plus annotations.
  4. half title, title, introduction, table of contents
timeassigned Wednesday 5 March
Spring break
conclusion (tentatively) Monday 24
objectivesconsider the virtues of multiple visualizations of one device, to emphasize different facets, rather than pretend to capture every aspect in one uber-powerful design
consider that how to select and amplify, is to leave other things out
build a book whose design can equally accommodate all representations

Edward Tufte his various books, beginning with The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (2nd edition, 2001), Envisioning Information (1990), and Visual Explanations : Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative (1997).

See also James Elkins, who provides a taxonomy of visualization methods in his The Domain of Images (1999);
the visualizations discussed in James R. A. Davenport, his If We Assume blog, and
Nicholas Felton his Feltron annual reports.

another reference
visualizations of pasta
"...artist Serkan Ozkaya partnered with architect George L. Legendre to create One and Three Pasta, an installation of 92 pasta shapes, their mathematical formulae, and their 3D printed representations currently on display at Postmasters gallery in Tribeca."
at edible geography!


B-E-V-E-R-L-Y signage study
specscatalogue, in lieu of tool poster/book
  1. catalogue, minimum 12 photographs of lettering/signage in downtown Beverly area
  2. every student shoots minimum 12 images, saves files with the naming protocol mcvey_23_essex.jpg, dipietro_309_rantoul_1.jpg, dipietro_309_rantoul_2.jpg, etc.
    submit photographs to instructor, in folder whose name is your surname
  3. n.b.:
    Everyone in the class has been invited to a Google Drive account, named (actually, mis-named, but no matter) 212S14.
    It is here that you will add you files, using the naming protocol described immediately above.
    Let me know if there are any problems accessing files loaded here.
  4. specifications
    book format, any size. black and white, or color.
    every example must include credit (name of photographer), address, and some comments about the lettering/type style, including identification if possible.
    sequence these in some understandable order, e.g., from professional to amateur, vernacular, etc. or: type of building/business.
  5. half title, title, introduction, table of contents, catalogue proper.
  6. designer may use photo as she/he sees fit.
timeassigned Wednesday 12 February
conclusion Monday or Wednesday, 24/26 February (tentative)
objectivesbring book typography back into the picture, including paragraph styles
contribute to and work with a library of images
file management.

vernacular signage/typography survey, done by Typography 1 class, Spring 2012.

One can imagine someone selecting single letters or words from the entire corpus, doing something different with those (organization in tables, alphabetical order, etc.). Could even imagine tracing from photos, to focus on particular features.


outrage poster
(derived from anything in a single day’s issue of the Boston Globe)
specsquick project, change of pace and scale.
  1. one poster, minimum size 11x17 (may be larger)
  2. today’s newspaper. any section(s) — copies handed out in class.
    find something in here that outrages you — or that you think ought to.
    educate us/yourself. (but consider whether you want to preach to the converted.
    consider collage techniques (e.g., Hannah Hoch, with unlike parts).
  3. specifications
    flat. no color restrictions.
    any graphics must be from that day’s newspaper. any section of interest to you).
    you may combine materials from different articles, sections.
    scan, enlarge / distort as needed. dots ok.
    printed at 11 x 17 inches (larger possible, where warranted).
timeassigned Monday 10 February
conclusion Wednesday 12 February (provisional)
objectivesthink fast.
work with (somewhat) controlled vocabulary of image and text.
think audience, purpose, place.

We need something larger than the mark/symbol/icon exercises that have occupied us in the first, snow-day plagued weeks of class.

Think about the who’s —
who are us? who are you? where are we?
art school. where can things be displayed, without approval?
how to reach people, here, with a message you care about?

What do posters do?
get first-glance attention sufficient for beholder to linger, read, consider.

Consider enlarging (in photocopier and/or scanner) small, even dot and letter-sized, details. Aim for graphic impact/immediacy.


icon / symbols (expressive facets, one theme)
specssix total, one tool (or organ, directional symbol, etc.) expressed six different ways, for six different meanings and/or nuances/emotions.
  1. We’ve already explored the different nuances/meanings that can associate to different forms, after classing/grouping them (in what might be termed a self-organizing way, helped along by us).
  2. topics (select one) : communication device; wayfinding aid; transportation; human anatomy/organs (e.g., heart, designed to express different emotions); tools (hammer?).
  3. Here, we’re looking for nuance variations.
  4. Work fast. Save everything.
  5. As before, assign a word or phrase to each of the six. Both marks and phrases should relate to or rhyme with each other. The whole should seem to belong to the same family, and yet express different meanings.


  6. Present these six marks together (11 x 17) — one sheet without and one sheet with the word/phrases; and individually (at at least two different sizes), each on its own (11x17) sheet (with word/phrase at bottom).
timeWednesday 29 January
conclusion Wednesday 5 February (tentative)
objectivesusing limited number of Illustrator functions, develop a disciplined array of formal variations, expressing different facets/nuances of essentially the same thing or visual cue.

Not five different tools (things), but rather five different facets of the same thing. Formal tweaks will provide the important clue. If for example bells, one basic bell shape with six formal variants to express, for example, low and high notes, heaviness, brightness, a thunk (maybe cracked), etc.

Keep in mind the many kinds of arrows shown in the Der Pfeil (1972), compiled by Anton Stankowski, Joachim Stankowski and Eugen Gombringer.


Abstract Marks
specsin advance of icon design/application exercise
  1. in Illustrator CS6, create five-sided polygon.
  2. save, keep at side. with that polygon as a basis, develop exactly 24 variations.
  3. You may delete points but not add them. You may convert corner to smooth anchor points, etc. You may also separate out elements of your shape (i.e., divide it into two shapes).
  4. Work fast. Save everything.
  5. The result is 24 variations that will bear a family resemblance, but each of which will have a different form and character.

    next step

  6. Create an InDesign document, 11x17 tabloid, vertical orientation. Create a grid: four columns, six rows. One pica margin between columns and rows. Each cell should be a square. (See below for the math)
  7. Place all 24 icons in the grid, for initial presentation.

    next step

  8. Analyze and then organize these along either one or two axes (x, or w/y) in terms of formal qualities. I.e., group them. Be able to discuss the groupings.
  9. Select the six marks that are the clearest, most distinctive examples. By distinctive is meant, distinct from each other.
  10. Tweak/perfect these six, so that they are equally finished.

    next step

  11. Assign a word or phrase to each of the six. both marks and phrases should relate to or rhyme with each other. The whole should seem to belong to the same family, and yet express different meanings.


  12. Present these six marks together (11 x 17) — one sheet without and one sheet with the word/phrases; and individually (at at least two different sizes), each on its own (11x17) sheet (with word/phrase at bottom).
timeWednesday 15 January
conclusion Monday 27 or Wednesday 29 January
objectivesusing limited number of Illustrator functions, develop a disciplined array of formal variations
organize these formally
consider potential relationships with words
this is a warm-up exercise to an icon design exercise

the InDesign grid math
Create new document (tabloid, facing pages OFF).
Margins: 4p0 top, 7p6 bottom, 3p0 left, 3p0 right. (be sure to de-link the boxes, to accommodate the different sizes.)
Layout > Create guides > 4 columns 1p0 margin, 6 rows 1p0 margins. Fit guides to MARGIN, not page.
You should have 24 cells, each 14p3 square.

references —
Anton Stankowski (1906-1998 *) who did formal 2D design exercises throughout his life as painter, photographer and designer. See his sketchbooks.
also book on arrows.

elaborations, objectives, expectations, criteria for credit

Project briefs, resources, examples of current and past student work.
tentative list

  1. Abstract Marks (24 related shapes)
  2. Icon / Symbols (six)
  3. Outrage (poster)
  4. B-E-V-E-R-L-Y signage study
  5. Tool
    (multiple visualizations, yielding book and poster)
  6. wraparound (in-between project)
  7. package design
    (revised: overhaul/package all exercises done to date)

Some of these exercises may have more than one phase; the mapping/diagram exercise may possibly be incorporated into the analytical product prototype exercise.



required (a copy of each will be held on reserve in the library) —

Adrian Shaughnessy. Graphic Design : A User’s Manual. Laurence King, 2009.
ISBN : 978 1 85669 591 6

Andrew Blauvelt and Ellen Lupton, editors. Graphic Design : Now in Production. Walker Art Center, 2012
ISBN : 978 0 935640 98 4


Adobe Typography Primer pdf
a 20-page concise and useful overview; includes glossary.

Will also distribute selected pages from the Adobe Font Folio II Type Reference Guide, in which fonts in that collection are grouped for easier selection. All fonts used in our exercises are to be selected via Fontbook, not from the default fonts that come with the apps.

bookmarks on design related anythings at

montserrat design tumblr

imposition press tumblr

Comments/questions to jmcvey.