Welcome to MEJO 482 – Media Design!
This website will serve as a hub for curriculum resources throughout the semester.
Here, you will find a copy of the syllabus, course materials/resources, video clips, creative briefs, and other useful things.
The course’s curriculum will be delivered via this website.
Please refer to the syllabus for a more detailed description of the course and an itemized week-by-week schedule with deadlines.
What is this course about?
To start, let’s refer to “Meggs’ History of Graphic Design.” In it, Meggs concludes that:
“We are now in the midst of a period of such profound technological change that it can only be compared to the Industrial Revolution that initiated the machine age. In the 1980s, access to high-end computers and early desktop microprocessors enabled designers to begin exploring new digital realms that continue to transform the communications industry today. Though the tools of graphic design are evolving with the relentless advance of technology, the essential imperative of graphic design remains unchanged: to give order to information and form to ideas and expression.”
“The new generation of graphic designers must be encouraged to define the new aesthetics of electronic media rather than allowing technology to define them. In doing so, they will lead the way to new and more effective approaches to their profession. As the graphic design field moves forward at an increasingly rapid pace, the process of redefining the very nature of communications, authorship, and display media is proceeding with ever-expanding technical and creative possibilities.”
“The need for clear and imaginative visual communications to relate people to their cultural, economic, and social existences has never been greater. As creators of messages and images, graphic designers have the responsibility to contribute meaningfully to a public understanding of environmental and social issues. Although printed media will continue in the age of electronic technology, contemporary graphic designers must adapt the new technology to express the zeitgeist by inventing new forms and ways to convey ideas.”
At a fundamental level, the purpose of this course is to teach you how to communicate visually. We will first discuss the fundamental elements of graphic design and then put them to work by building effective visual compositions.
While our main goal with our work will be to deliver our message or tell our story as effectively as possible, we will strive toward elevating our work into a product that delights and brings meaning to our users/viewers/readers.
With that in mind, you should know that this course will require a lot of effort to produce quality work. Effective graphic design requires a lot of iteration of your ideas and concepts to develop them. There is no substitute for simply working through an idea through sketches, storyboarding, mind-mapping, etc. It is crucial that you take the time to go through the processes we will learn to develop your ideas. They will help you produce better work and will empower you to lead the design process from start to finish when you get a job in your chosen field.
How to Get Work Done
I will be honest with you, this course will be difficult. There will be a lot of work to do for your projects.
It will require a lot of time commitment on your part to properly explore your visual ideas and get the work done. The best way to tackle the types of projects we will be doing in this course is to plan your work ahead of time. This isn’t the kind of course where you can wait until the last minute. It will show in your work if you do.
So here are a few tips for getting design work done:
Get rid of all distractions
When you’re trying to get in the zone, any interruptions in your thoughts will make that very difficult. You’ll lose your momentum and have to start again. Find a good workspace, put on some headphones (even if you don’t listen to music), turn off your phone, and get to work.
Lower the stakes
It can be really intimidating to sit down in front of a blank page. I get it… the possibilities are endless, you could spend forever on this stuff. That’s actually the problem. Design work doesn’t have to be so daunting. Let’s lower the stakes and make our jobs easier.
Let’s break our addiction to the engrained social concept of “The Big Reveal.” Our work isn’t magic, nor should we portray it as such to outsiders. Yes, we are creative people who think differently than others. But our work is founded on rock-solid processes that you will learn and master. There are no secrets. By leaning into those processes and practicing them, we can call on our creative abilities at will as opposed to waiting for just the right moment when inspiration strikes us.
Doing good work takes time, though. We need to give ourselves enough time to do it. Here are some tips:
- Work in blocks of time – Do a solid 30 minutes of work and then make yourself take a quick 5-minute break. Get up, refill your drink, stretch, get some fresh air, etc. Then get back to work for another 30 minutes.
- Take care of yourself – Eat meals when you need to. Don’t deprive yourself of sleep. Get fresh air and exercise. You’ve got to be in the right mental frame of mind to be creative. Your physical health has a huge effect on that.
- Take “small bites” – When you have to complete a large project with multiple steps, it is best to break it up into manageable parts. It helps you a) plan for what needs to be done at which time, b) feel a sense of accomplishment and motivation, and c) reduce the pressure on yourself. Purposely lower the stakes so that you aren’t faced with a monumental single task—e.g. designing an entire magazine—but rather a series of simple tasks that will add up to the whole. For example, if you are designing a magazine layout, just get all of your text onto the page first before you start styling it and moving things around.
- Be efficient – Try and find ways to make your job easier via templates, InDesign Libraries (I’ll show you how to create them), plugins, scripts, etc. We want to try and find every way possible to make doing our work faster, easier, and more efficient.
A Word of Advice From David Bowie
“Never play to the gallery…”
Some of you may not know who he is, but David Bowie (1947-2016) was and remains one of the most creative individuals who has ever lived. Besides being a talented and prolific musician and songwriter, he acted in film and television and was the first major recording artist to offer an album for download over the Internet in 1999. His entire career was born of being bold and taking creative risks with his work. Every single piece of his creative output seemed to encompass an entire world of meaning within itself.
As I mentioned before, this semester will be difficult in more ways than one. But we can find meaning in our work. We can discover new things about ourselves and the world by being bold and taking risks.
So, let’s get inspired. Let’s broaden our perspectives. Let’s get out of our comfort zones. Let’s do something EXCITING.
Welcome to MEJO482.