This Set offers background information on the exhibition Graphic Design: Now in Production and ideas and tools for middle school and high school educators for engaging their students in a conversation about graphic design.
Although none of the objects included in this Set are actually on view in Graphic Design: Now in Production, objects from the Walker's collections are used to illustrate principles of design and provoke questions about the intersections of art and design.
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To provide some context, here are excerpts from the description you find at the entrance to the exhibition Graphic Design: Now in Production. The bold effects are not present in the gallery, but rather a device used in this Set to draw your attention to key nouns and verbs that help us understand the work of a designer. Present the bolded words to your students and have them free-associate. For example, "When I say visual communication what do you think of?"
Graphic design is the art of visual communication that gives shape to the thousands of messages we encounter each day. Graphic designers combine words and images... to produce the visual landscape that surrounds us.
...Graphic design has expanded from a specialized, largely invisible profession to a more broadly understood practice and a widely deployed tool. Embracing these changes, many designers have become producers, utilizing their skills as authors, publishers, instigators, and entrepreneurs.
Let's get our design and creativity juices flowing with a work of art that boldly unites text and image. Even though this print is thought of as an artwork rather than an example of graphic design it borrows from the principles and techniques of design.
Some questions to ponder with your students: What is the difference between art and graphic design? Are graphic designers artists? Is graphic design the meeting of art and communication? (Hint: You may want to revisit these questions after spending time with this Set.)
Fiona Banner's Break Point (1998) is an example of text being treated as image to draw us, the viewers, in. Through color, layout of text, and scale (this work is nearly 6 feet x 8 feet) the artist has designed a visual experience for us, one she refers to as a "wordscape." What's more, the text used by the artist is borrowed from a chase scene in a movie script.
Present this work to your students and ask them the following questions:
Why are humans so drawn to objects? What are some of your favorite objects? When you pick up a water bottle, text a friend, or take off on your bicycle do you consider the thought, experimentation, creativity, failure, and problem solving that went into the production of each of these objects? Will you now that the question has been posed?
Watch this trailer for the documentary Objectified by Gary Hustwit. After viewing it, jot down a few ideas for defining design or a designer. Are you a designer? What do you design?
The personal computer, readily available design software, and the Internet have made it possible for all people, trained designers and amateurs, to produce "designed" products from concept to distribution. People can make their own books, t-shirts, posters, and more.
What is Design Thinking?
According to the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, "the principles of Design Thinking include several essential elements that integrate project-based, experiential learning into any existing curriculum."
They identify the principles as follows:
The next few slides investigate these principles.
To view more from the Cooper-Hewitt, click here.
For another take on Design Thinking methodology, consider an excerpt from Tim Brown's article "Design Thinking" from the June 2008 edition of the Harvard Business Review.
Designers observe the world around them with the eye of a hawk. They identify challenges to tackle.
Artwork: No title (Where was I?)
Artist: Raymond Pettibon
Medium: Drawings and Watercolors
After identifying or being presented with a challenge a designer researches the source and dimensions of that challenge through books, conversations, more observing, primary source documents, and other materials.
Artist: Richard Artschwager
Medium: Mixed Media, Multiples, Other
After gathering information a designer begins to brainstorm possible solutions to the challenge at hand. She comes up with ideas and makes models and other physical objects to illustrate these ideas and see how they hold up in the physical world. This is the designer putting creative solutions into action!
Picture: This is a group of kids on Walker's Open Field determining the best way to amplify sound through watermelons at the Electric Melon Workshop put on by Mark Allen of Machine Project in July 2011. Sometimes several brains are better than one.
Would you like some ideas for putting these principles together for a classroom activity? Check out this short video on how to do just that courtesy of the Cooper-Hewitt's education department.