Create Your Own Business Card

Visual Language

The first thing I did was brainstorm possible logos using my initials:


Things got pretty wacky. I considered turning my two Ms into the sides of a tower with a “P” flag on top, but I realized that such a logo would only be appropriate for a feudal lord. Then in a flight of fancy I wanted to turn my Ms into lips and a mustache,  and the P into a pipe. I finally settled on an M-head self portrait (shown near the bottom of the page), using the signature purple streak in my hair. Here are two iterations:

m-head-logo-version-1    m-head-logo-version-2

I ultimately decided it was better to hide the bottom half of my face (my chin isn’t really my signature feature) and make the Ms more prominent. I’m not quite finished with the design–I’m going to change the glasses to make them look more like my actual glasses, and I’m going to play around with the colors to get a higher contrast between the background and the text. Here’s what it looks like printed out!


ITP Winter Show Postcard

Visual Language

Here is the original concept sketch:


It’s based on an old proverb: In both Heaven and Hell, everyone eats with 6 foot long chopsticks. In Hell, everyone goes hungry. But in Heaven, everyone is always well fed. Why is this? Because in Heaven, everyone reaches across the table and feeds each other.

This is what I wanted to evoke in the image–curiosity in each other’s work, and generosity towards one other. ITP would not exist without the abundance of collaboration and kindness that exists here.

I believe strongly in my concept, but my execution was lacking. The photoshoot was rushed, I unwittingly used a low-quality digital camera, and the placement of everyone’s hands and projects is not as precise as I would like. Here is the end result!


Color Composition

Visual Language

Here are the photographs that inspired my color composition. This is where I park my bike every day:


This is the view of Brooklyn from my terrace:


Street view from my terrace:

sidewalk-view-from-terrace trees-from-terrace

The coffee shop I live at:


I pass by the fountain in City Hall Park on my commute home:


My favorite restaurant/bar in my neighborhood, Cowgirl Seahorse:


The Brooklyn Bridge. Photo taken from the East River bike path:


I couldn’t get a high quality picture of the red “Watchtower” sign, but it holds a lot of nostalgic significance for me–when I was younger my dad and I would sit on the deck of the South Street Seaport, eat candy and sing songs together while looking out on the water:


A historic ship parked at the pier:


A view of the ship while standing on the pier:


This is a photograph of what the South Street Seaport looked like in the 90’s, and this is how it looks in my mind’s eye:




Finally, a close-up shot of my hair and glasses.


For my color composition, I wanted to restyle my hair by making a digital collage out of the photos that I’d taken. I don’t think I’ve made a collage since elementary school, and as I started the project I realized how difficult it was to take snippets of photographs and get them to emulate “hair” in any way. It’s also funny how cutting out part of a photo can make it appear extremely ugly without the rest of the image surrounding it. There were several iterations of the collage that had water spraying from the fountain (which looked like spider legs), the reflection of the red Watchtower sign on the water (which was a sad red contextless blob), and the billowing American flag that looked so distorted in the collage it was basically desecration. Here is the final version. I wish it didn’t look like I had a huge broccoli floret stuck to my forehead, but oh well:


Bad Signage

Visual Language

Find three bad signs and one good sign.
Choose one of the bad signs and fix it using photoshop.

The first sign that caught my attention was a surveillance sign in New Haven. Here it is in comparison to a New York surveillance sign that’s posted next to several bike racks:

surveillance-new-haven surveillance-new-york

The NYU version is pretty typical of surveillance signs. It depicts a black camera pointing out in the viewer’s direction and has a clear WARNING (in the signature NYU purple). The subtext is, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT STEALING THESE BIKES.

Meanwhile, the New Haven sign is perplexing. You’ve probably seen signs in shops that say “Smile! You’re on camera :)” in order to deter theft. Those are slightly irritating, but the New Haven sign takes it to a whole other level. You’re really going to say “LOOKING GOOD,” when the subtext is “DON’T PULL ANY SHIT, Y’HEAR?” How passive-aggressive is that? Graphically, the play button embedded in the rising sun makes no sense, and the stark black camera against the friendly pale blue background feels like I’m in a Big Brother dystopia. Yikes.

The next bad sign I encountered was in Chinatown, NYC:


The logo for Jo Jo Skin Care is appalling. At first glance, it looks kind of like a fish with a barbed tail. Then there’s the eerie thespian mask-like face. Then there’s the negative space that creates a slight optical illusion of a face in profile. It took me a full minute to realize that the logo is actually a “J”. I’m having a really hard time understanding the concentric semicircles that protrude from the face (the part that I originally thought was a fish fin). Is that supposed to be an earring? Holy shit, I’m just now realizing as I type up this post that it’s representative of the “o” in “Jo”. To me, it’s more representative of the “o” in “oy vey”.

Here is the first sign I came across that I liked:



Even though it’s a little too busy for my taste, I liked the minimalist color palette, the artist’s illustration of the cityscape, and the font. The font reminds me of hammered steel and construction beams.

Here is my favorite bad sign, and the one I decided to fix:


Photo by user sbolrock via Flickr

I’ll admit that I cheated a little bit–I told my friend Shazeda about this assignment and she immediately texted me her favorite bad road sign. Though she didn’t take the picture above, it’s a sign that she’s passed several times on road trips through Canada.

On the one hand, I love everything about this sign and feel like it’s kind of blasphemous to change it. On the other hand…this can’t possibly be the best way to convey that there are strong winds in a particular area. Below are two incarnations of my first concept:

wind-flip wind-flip-white

I retained some of the “whimsy” from the original, because it’s doubtful your average wind would be strong enough to flip a car. The text is in French because the road sign is located in Quebec (though ideally the image should speak for itself). I wasn’t sure whether I preferred a white or black gust of wind. Still on the fence.

Here is a more nuanced version:


In this version, the gust of wind is much less prominent than the swerving car. It’s more realistic, but I’m not sure I prefer it. The negative space on the right bothers me.

Here is my favorite version of all, with a side by side comparison to the original:

quebec_wind_sign-svg caution-hot-air


Analysis of Moby Dick

Visual Language

To clarify: the analysis in question has nothing to do with the content of the book (which I have not remotely read), but the design of the book cover:


First, I created a grid:


The separation of the horizontal sections is more apparent to me than the verticals. Horizontally, there are three or four prominent sections–the title, the author and illustrator, and the image of the eponymous whale. The title and the image take up almost the same amount of space on the cover. Though the vertical subdivisions are more open to interpretation, the gridlines show that bulk of the whale runs through the center.

The next thing I created was the palette:


I am drawn to a simple palette. I like that the image is not a stark black, white, and blue, but a sandy beige, a charcoal black, and a muted blue. It gives the cover a hand-made feel. It appears more like a primary source document than a cheap copy.

The pop of blue is my favorite part of the image. It shows the movement of the water, which is wrapped like tendrils around the head of the whale. The inclusion of blue brings the image to life. I decided to color the blue black, just to see how that would change my overall impression of the image:


Unsurprisingly, I find the design much less effective. The water reminds me of a poorly placed wig. I think that were the artist constrained to black and white, he would have had to reconceptualize the image.

The next thing I looked at was the typography. I recalled what my professor, Katherine Dillon, said about the virtues of consistency. She mentioned that a common design mistake is the inclusion of too many fonts. In this cover, the font of the title and the font of the author/illustrator are very similar. As you can see, some letters (like the “d” and “c”) are almost identical in appearance, but a few others (like the “m” and “b”) have noticeable differences. Overall, I don’t think the designer got carried away with variances in font. The typography has a nice consistency:

!!!!!!!!!!!!!moby-dick-typo-same              moby-dick-typo-diff

The main typographical flourish is on the “b” and the “k”. I really like this detail. The curlicues seem almost thematic. They remind me of little fishes, and of rope being tied around a mast:

!!!!!!!!!!!!!moby-dick-fishies               moby-dick-rope

As a final note, I’m proud of my first foray into photoshop!


PS. (phoray???)