Social—flux dp

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The third, and final, lens of my degree project was a social lens, through which I explored what it means to be a designer engaged with his community; both in the context of Providence and RISD.

As I was thinking about what I wanted to do for my degree project, I thought about how I could I take this project and time and use it as an opportunity to further the work I have been doing outside/inside of RISD and to collaborate with other students and people in my community. Although the core “thesis” of my dp (loosely) defines it as an exploration of home through three distinct lenses—by no means were any of the projects or explorations mutually exclusive. That being said, the labelling of the lenses was more of a means of me providing a framework and structure for the work I was making during my degree project.

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For the social lens, I released a survey on social media asking my network (and my friends’ extended network) questions about what home means to them, in terms of geographic location and personal sentiment. One of the projects that crossed-over from my ISP and my DP was an illustrated zine about all the homes I have lived in since I was born through spring 2017.

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I mention this zine, because it led me both to the survey and to  working with Anina, a mfa thesis student who was doing her thesis on the topic of home. While my definition of home is dynamic, her perspective was static: her home in the Bahamas. Anina and I first met at the Haystack Art School Collaborative in Maine in the fall, and it was great to be able to reconnect before we graduated. We had some really rich conversations about our work and the its relation to the concept of home.

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I also collaborated with Ruth and DoYun, two of my dp peers in graphic design. With Ruth, we did a postcard project sending nonlinear memories and messages back and forth to each other in relation to home and identity. DoYu and I worked on a visual mapping of 25 objects we each brought in and made relationships intermixing and arranging in different compositions.

Lastly, I used the social lens as a means of reevaluating and refocusing more energy on my role as an artist mentor at NUA.  That community is honestly so warm and incredible. I feel so blessed to have been a part of it, and for the impact it has had on my career as an artist/designer/human-being; not just artistically but socially.

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Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’
—John 4:13–14, NIV

Religious—flux dp

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The second lens I explored through my degree project was a religious lens. As a Christian, I believe our time on Earth is temporary and that our true home is with God in Heaven. Living by this creed can look and sound different than a life lead without Christ, or under the notion that this one life is all that we have. Through a religious lens, I sought to explore making work about the most personal aspect of my identity, one that I’ve arguably struggled with the most through my short twenty-two years on this Earth.

The primary question of the religious lens was: “How can I use graphic design to make the gospel accessible to people who are not religious?” Many people have been either personally hurt by the church or some form of organized religion, or are hesitant and unaware of the heart of Christianity.

Starting this project, I quickly became aware and sensitive to the observation that many designers do not make work about religion. It is a tricky and challenging subject to approach. With my own reservations, and personal conflicts and questions about the faith that I grapple with day-to-day, I sought to use this lens as a means of pursuing my faith through form making and using visual design to supplement and build upon the act of sharing the gospel and supplementing personal testimony about Christianity. As Christians, we are called to spread the goodness and to evangelize; graphic design is the study of communication and language; marrying these two together seemed really compelling and helped me grow both on my own walk and as a designer.

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There were two main projects I made for the religious lens, each with multiple components (and each taking longer than expected!). I had hoped to make a larger body of work and to explore more themes, but I also feel like the projects I was able to ‘complete’ could have been made richer with more sustained meditation on the word and time on the exploration/production. I digress.

I designed a four poster series on Sanctuary‘s directions of pursuing God in our lives, on the Christian journey—our personal relationship walking with God. Pastor Andrew used to speak about seeking God in these four directions: upward, inward, outward, and withward. My initial inclination was to make one poster that encapsulated the idea of a Christian journey in one form, but Cyrus and Tom helped me distill it into four evocative pieces. It was important for me to create religious work that could be approachable to people who were not religious. I didn’t want to use any explicit imagery or iconography that would shut people out, but rather make smart design decisions that would attract viewers and convey a sense of emotion and richness.

After I finished the poster series, I wanted to build a body of work off of the core values of Christianity.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
—1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV

I designed faith as a large poster, that spoke about scale in relation to people thinking they need a lot of it, but Jesus mentioning with faith the size of a mustard seed you can move a mountain. Hope I designed as a series of booklets, anthologies that describes hope through narratives in the Bible. I have always wanted to design a daily devotional since I revived my faith and started to seriously pursue graphic design.

And ironically, I hadn’t had thought of what the manifestation of love would be. Supplementing my degree project, I had been doing a lot of religious design/art work through an independent study with Cyrus Highsmith. One of the final projects I made with him was a scarf—telling the narrative story of how Jesus fed 5000(+) with five loaves and two fish.  I brought that in to supplement the presentation of my work for the religious lens, and ended up presenting it as a manifestation of love as it was designed as a gift for my mother.

The Sunday before my degree project presentation, I ended up receiving confirmation through Sanctuary. These past four years have been such a rollercoaster, and one of the greatest strongholds has been my relationship with Christ throughout my life. It wasn’t always the strongest, especially freshman year and the proceeding period of suffering and pain, but I have seen God move in amazing ways both in my life and the lives of people around me. This project was only a small offering, and a huge joy of mine, to give as testament of my faith during my years at RISD and beyond.

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I found making work about my faith very fulfilling and challenging. The reception of it was reassuringly positive (with many mentions of Sister Corita Kent), and I feel very blessed and fortunate to have felt comfortable enough to have pursued this as a part of my dp exploration. Though I am not sure any people declared their faith for Jesus the day of my presentation (though that would have been amazing and all praise and glory to God if so), but I am happy to have had the opportunity to have helped ‘plant the seed’ or at least sprinkle a little piece of manure on the soil. Only God can save people, and I am happy to help contribute in spreading his good news and blessings however best I can. I feel a responsibility and privilege to be able to use graphic design and visual communication as a tool for activism and spreading the good news.

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Sorry for the hiatus, posting regularly is a lot harder than I would have thought! I just finished a book and (side plot) one of the main characters writes a very successful blog(s). Living in the city has been exciting and consuming, but I am hopeful I can chunk out this DP work and start focusing on making my own work again on the side or further pursuing my interests in design outside of my professional career. Thanks for reading. Happy 4th.

Political—flux dp

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Through my degree project, I explored the concept of home, and the social responsibilities of a designer engaged with his community, through three lenses. The first lens was ‘political.’

To quote my dp presentation, “Through a political lens—I explored what it means to be American. Are you considered to be American if you live in America? Or does being American require citizenship and legal status? Especially in today’s political climate, fear and hate have been instilled within our nation, and it has raised the question of what it means to consider America our home.”

What does it mean to be American? & What does it mean to be living in America today?

At the beginning of the semester, I had the desire to use my dp as an opportunity to work with people and organizations that I am interested in, and haven’t had the chance to work with prior. I first heard about Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island from Lucy (or from a mutual friend who told me that Lucy was interning there over the summer through the Maharam program). And throughout my senior year, I’ve seen an influx of DIIRI/RISD related programs and flyers. Then, out of the blue, Brandon (who later became one of my bosses and mentors at DIIRI) came to speak about DIIRI in one of my art history (Socially Engaged Art) classes.

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Long-story-short, I ended up doing an unofficial design internship/design volunteer with DIIRI, designing bilingual Know Your Rights pamphlets and the identity for the KYR campaign. (You may read more about this project on my website).

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The KYR project ended up consuming a lot of my time and energy throughout the semester, numerous iterations and receiving feedback from various perspectives and critics. I am proud to have designed something that was able to make such a significant, real-world impact. And at the end of the degree project, I questioned whether I would have been able to design a stronger identity/pamphlet had I only targeted the KYR project for my dp. And despite that, I do not think the project in its entirety would have been as rich without all the components of my dp. And I would not have felt as satisfied had I not pursued KYR or the other projects in tandem for my dp.

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Besides the KYR project with DIIRI, I had done some political postings. Including bilingual voting guides, postings about hope and inclusion, responses about inclusivity and ‘home’ in America. But these were all exercises that led to the KYR projects as the primary project of the political lens of my dp.

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The ‘political’ wall, presenting all the work from the political lens of my dp during the final dp presentation. KYR pamphlet and campaign identity (left). Message of Hope from President Obama (center). messages of encouragement and inclusion (right), bilingual voting guide (upper right).

More about the other lenses and my dp next week!

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands
—Revelation 7:9, ESV

Finale(?) — Two weeks out from my DP Presentation

Today is June 10th, and it has been exactly one week since I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design (undergraduate, BFA Graphic Design). I wrapped up my senior degree project just a week prior to graduation, and since then it has been a whirlwind of events and happenings.

I found out the day before my DP presentation that I will be (am now) in NYC for the summer. I am currently working in the art department as a design news assistant for The New York Times. But long story short, I got caught up in figuring out housing for the summer (truly a blessing from God that I received this opportunity and subsequently found housing in the City on such short notice), and then my family came for graduation. I got to spend a little over a week showing them around Providence and RISD, and then I graduated and they flew home and I took a train straight to NYC. This has been my first week at The Times, and it has been an exhilarating and exhausting first week.

Anyways—long awaited DP update which I plan on wrapping up in my abundant spare time this summer. We had to create a one-minute trailer to promote our degree projects (see below), and I am also in the (painfully slow) process of editing photos and documentation, updating my website, catching up on sleep, etc.

In addition to the one-minute video, we were also required to design a process/reflection document detailing our discoveries, trials and failures, what we learned, etc etc during the DP process. Since I have been using this blog as a means of documenting my weekly process, I figured this would be an “easy” thing to quickly create. Of course, I was wrong. My own “design integrity” (more like procrastination and laziness) got in the way and I quickly became overwhelmed trying to design the presentation and preparing all my final deliverables for the critique. I ended up sending a last-minute SOS to Tom, requesting for an extension for the process book. Fortunately Tom was forgiving and understanding.

But now, I am two weeks out (and counting) from my DP presentation and I still haven’t designed (or really started) the process book. I was (am) hoping the summer at The Times would help me figure out ideas for layout and colors, etc (I had originally wanted to print the process book on newsprint—this was prior to learning about the opportunity at The Times). I met with one of the photo production artists at The Times on Thursday and he explained the process of editing photos and color correction for print. Sounds like a lot of work, and something I hadn’t seriously considered with in using this medium. (Another factor contributing to my laziness in terms of designing the book).

But anyways, I digress. I suppose in the meantime, and throughout this summer as I make updates to my DP, I will be using this blog to hold me accountable and to finish wrapping up the process book. I owe it to Tom who gave me the extension, and Tom said I owe it to myself.

That’s it for now. I am writing this from La Colombe on Lafayette. I feel like I have already overstayed my welcome (i.e. my $5 latte). That’s one of the hardest parts of being in the City—finding a place to work and use the bathroom.

Week 13—Endings + New Beginnings

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NUA Art Party — last Friday

This weekend felt really surreal, and went by so quickly! Following the Sanctuary Cities panel discussion on Tuesday night, the week was such a rush. Kind of a blur with all that has happened/is happening so fast.

Thursday I met with Susan and showed her the new style guide and made some button designs. I emailed Brandon and Susan about my degree project presentation, and Brandon said he is interested in coming! Because the DP presentation is Thursday, I will be going to Dorcas tomorrow morning and next Tuesday, wrapping up and handing off the KYR project. I spent an hour or some finalizing the design templates and packaging all the files. Susan and I are going to go over them and a quick InDesign overview tomorrow or next week. Crazy to see how far the identity and design has come since the initial mock I came up with.

Friday was the NUA Art Party and Senior Send off. I missed some of the senior send offs because of a phone call with Pastor Andrew, but it was really sweet to see all the students one last time. Kleo gave me my mentor tribute, and it was really sweet. I couldn’t make it to the mentor bbq yesterday, but I came in earlier today to clean out my box and say good-byes. So bittersweet. NUA has been such an incredible experience for me these past two years. I feel like I have grown so much as an artist, aspiring educator, and person.

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All day Friday I was anticipating a call from Pastor Andrew and fasting, preparing my heart for baptism. Pastor Andrew ended up calling around 4pm during the Art Party, but I was relieved to speak with him and get his insight on confirmation and my desire for baptism and renewal. I am really glad I went through with it, and I do believe my hesitations were somewhat influenced by the enemy, and I am excited to align myself to what is most true and constant in my life before I graduate. And to honor the relationship I’ve had with Sanctuary as my home church these past two years.

homegroupSaturday, Jia helped me sew the scarf for my ISP critique this morning. She was and is always so patient. After 5 hours, and the assistance from Mike, we got two scarves finished! In the evening was the final Homegroup potluck. So many people showed up! It was nice to see everyone and spend time together in community.

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Sunday—was the baptism/confirmation. I was surprised to see so many familiar and warm faces after. I got baptized with Joanna, and it has been such a blessing to be on this journey together with her. Joseph, David, Christine, and JinWa came from Harvard to visit for the baptism, and we got lunch, boba and played some games at Dave and Busters. It felt so surreal—made me want to be in the Bay Area after graduation with them.

And TOdAy was my final ISP Showcase. It is all ending so fast.

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DP-wise, there is still so much todo. Wrapping up the work for Dorcas alone is taking longer than I had expected. But I printed and bound all the Hope booklets, and got some good feedback on my ISP and religious work for DP through the critique today. There’s a lot todo. The video was due today, and I am glad to have it done with. But the process book still needs to be done, final files organized, the presentation needs to be rehearsed, the room set-up. There’s much todo! But it’s exciting. It’s all ending. Still don’t know what’s next or what God has in store for me. But I am confident he has a plan.

 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
—James 3:17–18

God I trust and know You have a plan for me, I pray that I may be patient and learn to learn and trust in You. To not anticipate and look forward to the future too much, but to enjoy the slowness of the present and to live out each day as a gift and a privilege.

Sanctuary Cities™

SanctuaryCities2Yesterday was the Sanctuary Cities panel discussion in the evening; I volunteered (or was looped into volunteering) in the set-up and tear-down. The three KYR pamphlets (English, Spanish, and Portuguese) were printed and made available at the table in the entrance.

The discussion was good, I have it recorded, but I felt too sleepy and out of it from staying up making the translations and branding the night before. Brandon and Susan mentioned that there weren’t many people of color who came, and were surprised the audience weren’t outwardly upset with the Mayor. I am not in-tune enough to the nuances of the discussion, but overall the discussion made me feel better and worse about the situation. It has made me realize how glad I am organizations like Dorcas exist, but they are largely understated. As much terror and anxiety the current presidential administration has instilled in the nation and the American society/politics at large, it has been encouraging to see people step up and local governments and grassroots organizations step-up. I was happy to see the three pamphlets available in a number of languages.

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Ruth and I also were able to finish up the collaboration for the most part (though there are still some nuances such as the legend that need to be made, and the pins that need to be glued). Here are some process photos:

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I have also been working on the branding for KYR. I want to have some final deliverables to give to Brandon and Susan. This could potentially be my last meeting with DIIRI this week. Unless I volunteer to work more during the next two weeks. I just can’t do Thursday’s anymore. Susan sent me another email asking for World Refugee Day button designs. I suppose they would want to get the most out of me before I graduate. It all feels like a lot. I understand nonprofit organizations would be like to use their active volunteers as much as possible. Feels like I am running dry.

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I wonder how far I could have taken the campaign if I had done my DP solely about KYR, but I am glad overall that I did the complete exploration.

Tom was very encouraging the last meeting, and I made some fine-tuning to the Hope booklet (hopefully one last time), and also the religious study works. I “only” need to finish up the video, start and finish the process book, make the presentation, finish up the collaborations… and set up the final critique presentation.

He has planted eternity in the human heart.
—Ecclesiastes 3:11

This week has been pretty intense. And I’ve been feeling sick again. After the Monday/Tuesday rush I am breaking down again. I told Pastor Sarah I am interested in baptism this coming week, and Pastor Andrew reached out today. But then hasn’t responded. Huge is offering the visual design internship again. A lot of loose ends.

God I pray You’d be with me and guide me this coming week and into final critiques next week. I cannot believe how fast things are happening. I know You have a plan, and I trust You will be with me. I pray Your will be done.

 

Week 12—RIP, now in 3 languages!

Ruth_progress1Ruth_progress2It’s really crunch time now. Tom sent an email to us earlier today (Sunday, Mother’s Day, May 14th currently) assigning us our time slots/rooms. I requested to go first, and fortunately, there didn’t seem to be much contention for that spot. I will be presenting at 10:00am on May 25th in Room 210. Tom also sent us an attachment with all the things we will need to have that day—the presentation, abstract, reflection document, evaluation, one minute video, etc. etc. It’s all happening so fast!

Ruth and I sat down together for some time to work on the collaboration. It took us an hour or two alone to set the grid of the postcards, but we are finally at the stage of putting the pins and the strings together and connecting the concepts/ideas. It looks really great so far (in my opinion!). But of course, things take longer than expected. We arranged to have another working session on Tuesday.

Do Yun still hasn’t replied to my messages requesting the images of process documentation… I’ve similarly procrastinated working on our collaboration. Anina and I are set to meet Wednesday?

I ordered some lighter text-weight Mohawk super fine paper from Alex at Paperworks and will pick that up tomorrow after my ISP meeting and test the Hope booklet. I’m feeling a lot better about it.

I want to make some graphic standards and branding boards for the KYR campaign—hopefully in time to present to Tom on Tuesday (that’s what I’ll work on tomorrow, Monday).

Besides that…I made some edits to the abstract (making it more concise). I will need to start working on the pecha kucha and the video.. I’ve been procrastinating it because I’d like to have more finished projects to use images from. But that shouldn’t be stopping me. I need to start that reflection document and the evaluation also. The latte will be straight-forward, but the former will require some time/thinking. I cannot believe the weekend is over already. Time is flying.

At church today, Pastor Andrew mentioned that next week they will be doing baptisms. Although Homegroup is under the impression that I am not, and I haven’t told anyone otherwise (I don’t know why I don’t), I told Pastor Sarah that I want to be baptized (or confirmed? confirmation?). I feel convicted. Everything has been so challenging and draining lately. So up in the air. And the only constant that I’ve ever had, though I haven’t always been consistent in my relationship with Him, is God. It’s exciting to think. Sunday will be the baptism, Monday will be the ISP crit, Thursday the DP review.

From this point forward, 2:11am Tuesday morning. Monday was a long, good day. The last day of NUA mentoring, which makes me sad. I am glad I got to see Lia and Aly though, and to meet Carla (who will be studying graphic design at RW University next year!) and to work with some other students on block printing. Cannot believe how fast these two years at NUA have gone.

Earlier in the day, Susan (from DIIRI) emailed me the Portuguese and Spanish translations of KYR and after NUA (and Olivia’s show), I got to work on translating the designs. In theory, (and most of the application itself) it’s easy, but there are always little hiccups. Spanish and Portuguese are much longer in word length than English. And I of course do not know how to make proper line breaks or anything. I think, visually, they look good? Or OK at least. I just emailed them to Brandon and Susan (at 2 am LOL). I also worked on the branding of the campaign itself to present to Tom tomorrow. I want to have graphic standards and final deliverables I can hand off to Brandon and Susan that would be helpful for them to continue the system and build off the identity when I am gone (soon). Tomorrow is the Sanctuary Cities discussion panel which I and the KYR pamphlets will be present for.

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For DP—I am also hoping to print the Hope booklet tomorrow morning (got the paper from Paperworks this morning), and to show a new abstract. I had this idea for the video (in the shower) to use the illustrations of the houses from the Dwelling zine and to make the promotional 1 minute video more abstract and less literally what I will be showing in critique. I think it’s a good/valid idea.

I was flipping through my old work, I have so many iterations of KYR, and I found the first version. And, my goodness. It is so bad. Compared to the current version. I cringe. I cannot believe I showed the early iteration to companies in interviews…

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Before on left, After on right

I am definitely feeling the final push and fatigue.

 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
—Psalm 139:16

God, I know you have a plan for me. And I know You will and can carry me through this week. I pray You’d be with me and keep me healthy and strong, and aligned to You. Trusting You, and knowing that You are God.