Positive Negative Magazine

Yesterday was the official “launch party” of the Positive Negative magazine that we’ve been working on for so long.

To say it took a little more time and effort than a regular class would be an understatement. This class was awesome because everyone was really invested in it. Normally people come into class, work on their own projects, critique semi half-heartedly and then leave. This class from day one was a group effort.

We elected a “staff team” early on with Art Directors, Copy Editors, Photo Editors, Design Directors & more. Including the iPad team which I worked on! This meant that in addition to the articles that we were writing and designing for the class, the staff was responsible for the printed magazine (cover, table of contents design, folio, all of the copy editing and the list goes on…). The class also raised funds for the magazine through Kickstarter, in addition to funds from RIT’s president & different departments.

I loved seeing how everyone really backed each other up & gave honest critique and advice. We started a Facebook page early on and everyone was able to put up images of their work and get critique almost instantly from somewhere. This meant that we weren’t just showing up to class with something new to show but the whole process along the way was able to receive help & advice. I definitely think it helped the pieces overall because people were able to jump in with new ideas right away rather than waiting for the next class which meant the growth from beginning to end was greater.

The iPad team was a new edition to the magazine. This Positive Negative magazine has been done by editorial design classes for the past 4 years (this is the 5th edition). Each is different in it’s own way. Everything recently has moved into a digital space and so we thought it was only fitting that the magazine transition as well. It was definitely a trial run and a huge learning experience. At the beginning of the quarter we really had no idea what direction we were going to take.

The idea of a magazine on an iPad is still relatively new and therefore there is no set software or set of instructions that anyone can go off of. We ultimately decided to build it like a website that was responsive using HTML/CSS and Javascript which allowed us to use coding languages we were already familiar with (hooray for  huge time savers). Since we were diving into the unknown it was nice to at least understand the language we were coding in and not have to learn that on top of figuring out interactivity. In choosing this route we did give up the ability to use xcode or put it on the app store (something that would be nice for the future). Of course, that would be the ideal situation but seeing as we had no idea what we were doing 10 weeks ago and none of us had an experience with iPad magazines, I’d say it was pretty successful.

If you go to www.positivenegativemagazine.com you’ll be able to see the 12 articles that we’ve put on the iPad version of the magazine. Please keep in mind that we’re still working on some minor thing for it so if there is a bug, chances are we already know about it! We’re also working on getting some behind the scenes footage up on it so that will be available in the next week or so – will post again when that’s working.

Finals Week

Tomorrow is the start of finals week at RIT. Luckily for me it’s the start & kind of the end of it as well – I have 3 finals tomorrow and then just one more thing due on Tuesday. I’ve enjoyed the projects I’ve worked on this quarter for the most part but I’m definitely ready for a fresh start (and more sleep!).

I’m currently working on finishing up a 4 page editorial spread on Road Trips & how to survive them. I’ve been looking and tons and tons of car/road trip/traveling/route 66 designs for inspiration. It’s been a frustrating process at times because I keep changing my mind! I was originally going an illustrative route & then switched to photography & then back to illustration! It has been a good learning experience though – I’ve become SO much more proficient with the pen tool in illustrator and better at making quick vector graphics for icons. I’ve also gotten the chance to play around more with typography & more inventive uses of that. Sometimes I feel like I get stuck in a rut of using the same typefaces and using them in the same way. Well for this latest project I’ve gotten a chance to break this & try out some new exciting things!

Here’s an example of something I was looking at while working on my own. (Note: I use these for inspiration only. It’s really helpful to look at other examples and see what is possible to do with type – gets my brain thinking!)



Probably won’t put a final shot of my editorial spread up for a while – I’m also working on an after effects animated version of an iPhone application that I created with the imagery from the editorial spread. First time using After Effects – boy was that a learning experience. Easing is still not a huge strength of mine – I do just fine with print or interactive thing but getting animations to look normal is tough! New found respect for animators & anyone who deals with After Effects or Flash on a daily basis. Even if I don’t really plan on using the software myself in the future, I was really interested in getting a basic knowledge of it – mostly for fun!

After classes are over this week, I have a few plans for over spring break – mostly figuring out what I’m doing in 10 weeks for after graduation (!), redoing my personal portfolio website and working on some design projects I haven’t otherwise gotten around to during this busy quarter. Should be nice to work on some of my own projects for a week or so without the thought of homework looming!

Wegman’s Packaging Design Challenge

Life recently has been consumed by working on a team Wegman’s Packaging Design Challenge…

For the past 7 weeks or so in my Packaging Design class, I’ve worked on a team with 5 other students from Industrial Design, Packaging Science and Graphic Design majors. It’s certainly been a challenge at times but overall an awesome experience that gave us a better perspective into working in groups on real-world projects. It seems like forever since we started sketching and coming up with ideas way back when [Process Work / Inspiration]. This morning we presented our final design concept to a team of judges, our professors as well as the rest of the class. 

For the project we were required to cover everything from determining the target market to the new bottle design, new branding, all of the material specifications and the sustainability aspects for end of life considerations. I learned a lot about what goes into creating packaging (which by the way is A LOT more than simply making it look nice on shelf..). It was interesting to hear about all of the technical specifications that went along with it, such as considering how the tertiary (transportation of the good) packaging can be reduced to save costs. Not really things graphic design majors are required to think about in other classes. Still have to say that I’m not a fan of numbers, much happier letting someone else deal with the technical specifications of a bottle or design.

It was also a challenge to design for something that wasn’t going to be viewed flat or on a screen! I learned a lot about the materials and how that plays into how the design looks and works with the bottle. After the initial design of the bottle, we were given a “panel” for the graphics and it was entirely up to use how we used all of the space throughout the bottle. We really looked to minimize the graphics and materials involved which ended up saving a lot of costs of production!

Classes like this are very time consuming but totally worth taking. I can’t even begin to describe how many things (other than the ones listed above) that I learned and will take away from this quarter. I really enjoy classes that push the boundaries of the traditional lecture/do homework/read textbooks. This was a great opportunity to use skills from a variety of majors and really experiment with new ideas (ie. no actual funds for companies were lost). It makes in class time more fun too because rather than being required to sit in a classroom for 3 hours at a time, we’re able to set our own deadlines and work in the studio. Not to mention, having a real-world project like this makes everyone more involved in the class!

Overall a good experience, however, I’m looking forward to getting a little bit more sleep now that it’s all over. Now on to finishing quarter projects for all of my other classes! [More on those later…]

Ketchup Typography (continued)

Worked more on our spread for Editorial today  – so much better than my [first attempt]. Definitely had a fun time trying to think out of the box for the headline text. Since our spread is about McDonald’s chicken nuggets, it lent itself perfectly to writing in ketchup! Straight up ketchup from a bottle, however, is a wee bit liquid-y and not conducive to writing at all. Cornstarch swirled in (mixed using your finger in the school bathrooms – while hoping no one walks in) works wonderfully!

Pretty happy with how the text turned out. I ended up piping it through an icing bag from back when I took cake decorating classes. The second image is my test run – hence the large mess!

Stay tuned early next week for the final editorial spread!


Ketchup Fridays

For Editorial Design, we’ve been working with photographers all quarter to produce 2 to 4 page spreads on topics of our choice. They will ultimately be going into a magazine that is all student produced called Positive Negative. It’s definitely an enjoyable class – I’m liking how it’s going outside of the traditional “professor lectures, students listen” mold that a lot of classes fall into. We’re learning a lot by simply experimenting on our own.

For each article we come up with a topic or two to propose, write a 500 or 1000 word article on it, get them read over by the writing center at RIT (the only part of the process I dislike), and then come up with a photoshoot. The first project took place in about 2 weeks while the second had almost 4 (we had to do a 4 page spread though) and this last one is due is slightly over a week. Yikes!

Things get somewhat hectic at times especially if you struggle to come up with a topic or the photographs aren’t coming out just right.

photo by Joe Philipson

On top of working on the articles, there is also a subsection of students on the magazine staff team that are all working to produce the magazine. Everything from the typeface used throughout, the cover, the folio and photo editing is all taken care of by the staff. Definitely a huge amount of work going into it but it’s awesome to see how much people really commit to something when it’s fun!

For this next article my partner & I are going to be working on a spread about how disgusting chicken nuggets are (okay, more like how ridiculous the number of ingredients in them is). Should be a fun spread to work on – it’s due in a little over a week so we’re kind of jumping right in. I experimented with some ketchup typography last night, didn’t turn out quite like I wanted but a good first run.

Will update with the final image later!

Here is a video from our Kickstarter page that explains more about the project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1045391478/positive-negative-magazine-0/widget/video.html

Label Design + Sketches

Clearly packaging design has taken a front seat on the blog for right now. It’s kind of funny because I never really intended on getting into designing products. I first became interested in graphic design because of magazine layouts and the newspaper. Much like how times have changed, I’m much more inclined (and excited about) designing for web.

Taking packaging design this quarter has been interesting because it’s made me think more about how much a label says about a product. It could be the exact same iced tea, coffee or beer and yet the label sets the mood for the customer. If the label is more elegant it implies that it’s probably going to be more expensive. If it’s very minimalist with traditional typefaces it often suggests a store brand (ie. Walmart).

I’m personally drawn towards beer and wine labeling because designers have gotten pretty inventive with the designs for the packaging. Looking at bottles for Juice (our project) they all start to look alike. There is a lot of the standard stock photography looking fruit with water droplets and bright colors. Custom artwork on basic juice labels is rarely seen. Perhaps that’s because fancier labels implies expense?

Lots of thing to keep in mind while designing for juice labels. It’s also turned me into a crazy person (ie. pulling juice bottles from my boyfriend’s recycling and photographing it).

Currently playing around with a number of different ideas for the label design – with a bottle shape that is not 100% nailed down it’s rather difficult to fully work out anything. Hopefully that step gets taken care of this week and we can start working through some more of the designs. Ideally the packaging and the label design would compliment each other and play off of each other. [Ignore the fact that these sketches are all in purple – I just happened to like that marker that day!]

source / source / source

Responsive Web Design

In honor of the project I’ve been working on most frequently – a responsive blog reader – I’ve complied a few of my favorite resources.

Responsive web design is relatively new. If you’re unfamiliar with it, in short, it is coding a website using media queries that target specific screen sizes. For example, with the rise of iphone and ipad usage, targeting a phone screen size would make the website recognize that it’s a smaller dimension & would adjust the elements accordingly. It does take a fair amount of extra effort on the part of designers/coders to figure out how exactly a page is going to look at each size. Most often getting to a size around 320 pixels requires elements to be smaller & some to even be eliminated.

One great resource for looking at websites that are responsive is Media Queries.

A book I read a while back was Responsive Web Design by Ethan Marcotte. It’s a part of the A Book Apart series that details different web design techniques. Everything from CSS to media queries and designing for emotion. Pretty quick read but lots of information! I found it really helpful before diving into doing the coding for a responsive site in order to understand more of the logic behind it.

The best resource of all, however,  is Google! I find it enormously helpful to just google exactly what I’m trying to do and there always seems to be some kind of forum, documentation, or tutorial walking you through the steps. I’m far from learning everything that a responsive site can do but I’m having fun with the trial and error method for now!