Monday, March 30, 2009

My Site-y

Here it is so far!

I need to fix the tiling in the background but aside from that, it's almost there!


Project One: It's a wrap

Realization of the oncoming due date for project one no longer is the primary subject matter for my nightmares. I'm actually feeling good about the progress thus far made on my site. I'm not by any means near the finish line, but I'm on a steady pace that is a sure sign of finally "getting it," something I've not felt like I could say about web design until this week. It's hardly fathomable that I have not only learned but been capable of applying the entire Adobe Suite in four years. Four years may not sound short, but considering my simultaneous juggle with the other 100 or so hours of my liberal arts double major and several monstrous papers i've written in my English major in preparation for graduate school AND working 20 hours a week at a part-time job for part of my educational term in nothing less hellish than retail....i'm doing okay. I am absolutely obsessed with the written word in its form and in it's mechanism and there is a parallel in the mastery of the discipline of design that drives me toward wanting my ideas spread so badly, that the struggle toward learning the language of different programs is entirely worth it. I've never been someone that has been afraid to take something apart and allow things to get messy for the sake of a process that gives way to translations of the fruits of my mind. The Dead Poets Society says it nicely; "No matter what people tell you words and ideas can change the world." I've not encountered many people that would dispute this statement, but I do believe that one of my greatest personal struggles has been wanting to be at the finish line even before I ever start the race. I'm forcing myself to run and do my time just like everyone else because even if I try and convince myself every time otherwise, the finish line is never worth it unless you give it your all to get there. How I can even compare the elements of web design and css to triathlons seems out there, but the point remains. I'll even admit that often web design makes my heart race as hard as the forced mile runs I made in middle school and high school, sweat and all, all for the cause of the gratification that lasts.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

CSS Hell

I'm so worn down and frustrated.

Our first CSS-based site deadline is creeping up slowly and I feel nothing short of unprepared.

As of right now, i'm functioning on hope that I will somehow stop freaking out and then simultaneously figure out how to translate my ideas into Dreamweaver and the style sheets. I already was aware of my feelings for web design prior to the class and now I feel like I am free-falling into a new world of unfamiliar discipline and rules. The larger part of me wants to give up but then the smaller part reminds me of the moments where I make my breakthrough and urges me forward. I've barely touched the surface of the world of web design and because I can't see the bottom, I'm tightening up my life jacket. Coming from someone who has never done anything in this world that was wonderful without hours and hours of sweat and tears and only rarely blood, it's never worth it to give up if you want something bad enough. Even though tonight i'm coming to class with something I'm not necessarily proud of, i'm coming with an attitude that I can learn from the experience and have a phenomenal amount of growth between now and next week.

Who knew web design would provide these moments of reflection?

I didn't.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tutorial # 4

Above is where I found this ol' tutorial.

This is the first photoshop tutorial that I found entirely pleasing in an aesthetic sense. It wasn't horrific, but it was definitely time consuming. If you have words repeated, it'd save you a lot of time. I also think this image would be cool to later apply into a poster or a textured background, making it have more than one element of visual integrity.

Web Site Progress

CSS has forced me to completely reevaluate your design process on Dreamweaver. This weekend as I was working on the foundation of my site, I realized the intricacies of incorporating CSS into every page, making sure that what you want your entire site is to look like is carefully tagged in an external style sheet. I realize that there is still so much of the style sheet concept that I am failing to grasp. I was thinking about what to do with the different pages of terms. The good thing about the styling of CSS pages is the fact that I won't have to repeat the same template over one hundred times. Phew! Well, more on CSS later.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Senior Portfolio Review at Catevo

Saturday was phenomenal, transitional, inspirational.

Saturday, I took four years of hard work and allowed three professionals to help refine my work and prepare me for the harrowing and likely painstaking job search ahead. I brought with me a variety of my work, from photography in the darkroom and on my own as a professional, posters from the tobacco-free campaign that I helped to create an identity for, logos of sorts, literary magazines I designed, cd's and dvd's, a calendar, and my book that I created several years back. The morning began with mingling amongst other seniors and volunteering professionals with jugs of coffee and every Krispy Kreme doughnut you can fathom. Bonnie, Tamica, Whitney, and I found a room and set up shop. It was strange seeing all of my work spread out in a small space-four years of myself, everything I've worked hard to conceive just sitting there before me. For a little while, we walked from room to room watching other people set up, all the while making our way past our own little area seeing people picking up our work with "hmmms" and "ooohs" and soft chuckles at posters such as the "Condom Sense" piece that became part of the Peace College Wellness Center and Wake County's Health Calendar. Not long after everyone set up, there was a panel discussion set up in a conference room with four members ready to talk about questions mediated by Kate LaMere, the Education co-Chair. Ryan Dean, Dave Alsobrooks, Colleen Simon, and Mike Josse each came from a different background but had wonderful insight into the world of design as a professional. The first question was what each panel member did once they first graduated from college. Some went home and recollected their self all the while searching simultaneously for a job, while Mike described his ambitious and risky move of only applying for the one job he dreamed of having and actually getting it. The honesty of each member made me realize that I wasn't far from this point in my own career and each testimony strengthened my own confidence to become an employed designer....somewhere....somehow. Something that was emphasized repeatedly was the necessity of networking and giving yourself as many routes to the job market as possible. Even informal sources such as facebook were described as useful for keeping and building a network amongst peers and other contacts. A topic that particularly touched me and got me thinking about my portfolio in a new way was even in a fragile economy, I need to market myself for the job I want. It seems like an elementary concept, but really a lot of what I brought as my portfolio work was good work, but not the type of work i'm necessarily passionate about. The labor of love is what I want to get me my job because what's the point otherwise? I love the fact that design, along with many other disciplines, is a continuous learning process. Work ethic can be an integral part of the extended learning process. Bringing in ideas beyond the rigid 8 hour workday brings more than you being an employee, it makes you someone that is genuinely passionate and valuable. Something that i've not thought about doing up until now is creating a process book. Mike talked about how this book allows others to see your process and the time and effort you put into your work. I also noted the idea of a .pdf packet, which becomes a briefer of what type of work you produce. The packet serves as part of the "cover letter" that is used to send online to prospective employers. This carriable concept of your self is ingenious as it doesn't reveal everything, but is one of many ways to put your face to your resume in the job market. Lo and behold, blogging was also discussed as an important part of your thought process. As .pdf packets serve as a printed self, the blog is a nice way for employers to see an internal self that gives personality to you as the prospective designer in a firm for someone who otherwise has no information about you besides your work. 

Now on to the portfolio interviews...

After the panel discussion, we were given sandwich boxes from Bear Rock Cafe, each marked with either an H, T, R, or V. My H turned out to be ham while Bonnie's T was turkey and Whitney's V was vegetarian. After the indoor picnic, the interviewing process began. 

My first interviewer was {ah-insert name here}. She immediately made me feel confident in talking about who I am and why I became a designer. I felt myself generating the same response to each of the reviewers:
I love the written word. Whether it is through my discipline as a writer or a designer, I immerse myself in the process of tweaking and perfecting an uniquely powerful concept; language. I became a Graphic Designer through my evolved passion for creating to communicate. Especially interested in Social Justice work through creating a sense of self-awareness and appreciation and ultimately an awareness of one's environment, the moment when I see my design becoming a tool for change and a reason why someone becomes more fulfilled in their life, I am happiest. Design is a powerful and lasting way to express myself. It's something that I continually grow through. It's a job doing what I love, something that is impossible to separate myself from because before I ever became a Graphic Designer, I innately designed with my senses and in my discipline as a fine artist.

My second reviewer was Chris Faith, one of the Programming Chairs of the AIGA board. Chris was immediately taken by the Homage book, which was something that I by this time was planning to use in my portfolio regardless. He also noted that my Numeric Institute Calendar, Breaking Boundaries CD, and Prism 2008 designs were powerful. He suggested that this work be what I show as my compacted portfolio because they all had the common element of being hand-made and innovative. He suggested that I avoid any work that I had done that used the generic photoshop filters because they, although interesting, scream amateur. I cannot help but agree now that I look at my Chuck Norris and Peace College Main Building and see nothing but "palette knife" from photoshop. A plug for Denielle is that this reinforces the importance of being advanced not only in my craft away from the computer, but also the necessity of being a "professional" in the Adobe Creative Suite. Chris also suggested that I avoid cliche work in my portfolio like photography and drawings because that is an assumed discipline in a designers education and my portfolio needs to be more client-based work that is effective rather than self-motivated work that is merely aesthetic. 

My third reviewer was Steven Pius, yet another Programming Chair from the board who left me with feelings of confidence in myself and my work and excitement and anticipation toward interviewing for jobs. Steven was drawn to the exact same pieces in my portfolio as Chris. Doubtfully a coincidence. By the end of my third review, I had a strong idea about what type of work I want to represent myself. If I got a job based on the 5-6 pieces that I show, i'd be optimistic about what i'd be doing in the workplace. Steven was encouraging, telling me that he thought my work was outstanding and solid. To hear someone who I admire as a professional and a mentor tell me that he admires my own work was touching. Seeing my fellow classmates Bonnie and Tamica also leave gratified and confident reminds me of the four years that we have spent at Peace working countless hours toward becoming the full-fledged reality of our dreams. Steven told me to apply to places that I think will allow me to expand my own style. He told me that while he was in the job searching process, he had people from one company tell him that they hated his work, while others responded to the same work with admiration and the desire to hire him right off the spot. This is probably the hardest part of being a designer because so much emotion goes into the work that you create and when it is rejected, it is a part of you that becomes rejected as well. Steven also gave me advice about current situations I've been having working with clients freelance. To hear that everything I find stressful has been experienced by at least one other person in the building yesterday allows me to mature my expectations beyond the classroom and prepare myself for a world that is tough, but not solitary. 

I wouldn't have missed yesterday for anything. Of all events I've attended through AIGA in the past four years, this was the one event that I would say was necessary for me to attend, even if I was unaware prior to going. It was the bridging between my lens of interpretation of the job market as a student and the exciting yet very new perspective of my future as a beginning professional. I hope that five years from now, i'm back at the event as a reviewer helping to prepare seniors get their portfolios and their hearts oriented toward their future careers.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pattern Master

A tutorial that is directly applicable to this week's work! I found on pshero a tutorial about creating patterns for background images. I decided that with Web Design Pie in mind, i'd make myself a patterned background to use. For someone who is challenged when it comes to the intricacies of photoshop, the tutorial was extremely helpful and easy to follow. Instead of having to always "borrow" the free background templates and brushes of others, it's really easy to make your own pattern with the tutorial. I'd suggest this for anyone who's looking to make an awesome pattern for their website background this week!

Tutorial #3

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

My Milk Carton...

Photoshop Tutorial For Dummies

I've learned a valuable lesson within the past two weeks. 

My photoshop abilities remind me of a childhood experience that was, well, kind of embarassing.

To explain this phenomenon with Photoshop CS (not 2, not 3, and hell no, not 4), let's take a trip down memory lane:

In Kindergarden, I was always the kid who was mechanically challenged. I couldn't tie my shoes (it took until third grade to figure that out) and I most definitely could not open those cardboard Mayola milk cartons that came in either whole, chocolate, 2 %, or skim. I usually spent the first half of the lunch period tearing at the neatly folded crescent where there was supposed to be a spout. By the end of lunch, I'd destroyed the carton by finally ripping it open into a box shaped cup and managing to spill a third of it on my sweaters. 

This reminds me of how I feel when I get in Photoshop. 

Perhaps it's because these four years i've managed to get by without ever having to "create" anything solely using Photoshop. Regardless of the reason, I feel like I slowly tear apart the seemingly flawless and simply explained tutorial, leaving what is considered "amateur" products. I tried my best to work this week with layers since last time I realized there was so much I didn't know about them. In the process, I also found a cool new tutorial site that is in fact, resourceful, clean, and reliable! >> Tutorial 9

I tried out the tutorial where you create a surreal landscape using layers and different manipulations with the brush tool (something I also need(ed) dire help with.

On a positive note, regardless of my final product for the past two weeks, I've learned a substantial amount of new things about Photoshop. I feel like I'm starting to see the program now as a tool with a million new functions I was previously unaware of. That's daunting, but it is something that overtime I will be able to master, much like the milk carton, and eventually the shoe tying.