AIB Design: Visual Research

Sketching for clarity!
December 9, 2009, 10:21 pm
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Part 8: A focus on craft

Refine the visual quality of your visual identity, and designs. Create presentation boards for your designs.


Students conducted a group critique based on the works that they brought to class. The group critique format allows fellow classmates to comment on the strengths and weakness of the work versus the big critique which is head by the instructor. The critiques were focused on a particular subject matter and also allowed each student to see where they had advanced from the previous meeting.

Studio Time

Professor Sansone introduced the students to the book Sketchbook by Tim O’Donnell(here is a link to his website) which shows the conceptual drawings from the sketchbooks of very popular designers. Inspired by these sketches the students were assigned to produce a concrete sketch on a 11×17 sheet of paper displaying what the plan for their project would be.

Before the students began Professor Sansone described how the map of the sketch should be constructed with A- the major applicators on the left, B- the sketches that informs, and C- the part that excites.

She discussed the following criteria of making a good sketch:

1. Considering first what the finish product will be.

2. Ensuring the quality of the drawing/presentation, which means that the drawing should be visible with darker lines.

3. Accessing the best tools from your past works.

4. Using the sketch as a tool to show the true potential of the concept.

5. The sketch should be in essence the student making a commitment to a plan, and how they intend to bring it to pass.

Student viewing sketches

After the sketches were completed, they were evaluated by the class as well as an outside faculty member. He was assigned to look for the most successful sketch  that was both clear as well as the strength of concept informing the sketch. Here were some of the results of this evaluation:

The following image was praised based on it’s overall concept of the slogan, though it  lacked the B and C components.

This sketch was praised as well for it’s innovativeness and the introduction to technology into the sketch. It was concluded that this could possibly be a great way of presenting.

The following two sketches were the top picks for the class, as being the most clear and attractive sketches that also included great informative and exciting elements as well.

If I were to include another top sketch for consideration it would be this last sketch. I felt as a sketch it was very strong and clear, some of it’s critiques were the ability for the information to follow through in the end of the sketch.

A day of inspiration…
December 2, 2009, 3:58 pm
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Part 7: Design that excitees

Using your research and own writing, create a design that excites students about the study of the fields within green technology. Generate 3 concepts.


Today the students looked at each others project binders for the course. These binders were a part of the “Pulling your visual research together” assignment. The binder in essence should be looked at as a preparation for a design campaign, iteration review, and naming session. Looking at their classmates binders gave the students ideas about how to strengthen their own binders, or additional components that might be useful for their design strategies. It also allowed the consecuetive work to be viewed in relationship to one another. Looking at the writing and investigations displayed, the binder helped some students to understand each others work more clearly.

Studio Time/ Observations

During today’s studio time, I was able to officially introduce both sections of the AIB Visual Research course to the online blog on the course! It allowed students to become aware of the documentation and observations that I’ve been recording, as well as solicit their participation in giving feedback to the blog. I also informed the students that they were free to send information or links that they feel would be helpful to their fellow students to be posted to the blog as well.  In addition, I informed the classes that the AIB Visual Research flicker account would give them additional access to photographs taken during class that may not be present on the blog.

I also presented my own creative process as a visual artist to both sections, to show how research has influenced my own work in various ways. I focused my talk around the transitions that took place in my work upon beginning my graduate study at AIB, and how it’s continued to evolve due to the influence of research. This research was involuntary due to my studies, but gradually became a natural part of my creative process as I found it increased my personal connection to the work.

My hope is that the presentation helped to encourage the students to become more open to visual research, as a source of inspiration and a way to open up the possibilities within your work. I also hope that by introducing the blog and photos it will help to inform their process of engaging research as a class.

–Lauren Cross, Graduate Assistant

50 Iterations!!
December 2, 2009, 3:07 pm
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Part 6: Design that explains M, October 26 through W, November 4

Class review on what makes successful graphic design. Using your research and own writing, create a design that explains what green technology is in a voice appropriate for middle and high school students. Generate 3 concepts.


Today’s critique evaluated the concept phase of each students’ process. For each student this concept varied from logo variations to different strokes of paint on paper. There is a slight departure from the research focus, but only to make their findings more visible in the work. During critique we took the time to look at the diverse amount of concepts displayed by the students, and each student put a “x”  by the works that had a quality of great potential. They were instructed to look beyond the “cool” images but focus on the ones that had a distinct intellectual challenge, and also images that were either striking or interesting. In addition, they were  instructed to take notes about what they felt was most successful about the piece.

At this stage the work is not “precious” so students are able to mark on the work. The students made their decisions on the following criteria:

-Ideas that go deeper than what’s on the surface.

-The visibility of a connection between the research.

-Ideas that have an effective usablity or quality.

Although there were students who had constructed logo variations, the critique clarified the tangibility of this tool within the project. Professor Sanson explained that the aim was not to create a logo for the Boston Green Academy, but to creating a design that could promote and excite people about the school. This gave a lot of clarity on perhaps ways that certain students could restructured their focus.  Not that the logo could not be used, but that it should also include additional components attached to it as well.

Cody working on his awarding winning iterations

Studio Time

During studio time the students continued their assignment to make a total of 50 iterations that will allow them to be open while also looking at ideas, colors, and typography. Earlier this week the students already made 10 iterations, now they will be constructing 10 more. To make this studio time even more interesting, the students would be judged by me at the conclusion of the class based on the success and functionality of their iterations. The winning student would receive a design book from Professor Sansone’s collection. In the end, the winner went to Cody. After looking at his piece, I could see the most direct translation from the responses that came up during the critique. His idea was developed, and he also went back into some of his previous design strategies to include references to inform his design.


During today’s class I noticed stronger development in the work of the students, perhaps it’s because they’re beginning to gain momentum about the project. The change between the more research focus in the beginning of the class to the now more practicum focus has built up a great urge to create for many, and it seems that the students are actively excited about what they are producing.

The upcoming task to constructing 50 iterations will hopefully stretch the students to think more in depth about the ways that the Boston Green Academy can be promoted. This project also has the potential to birth a greater sensitivity for exploration in the design process, which is a skill they can take on for future

—Lauren Cross, Graduate Assistant