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Independent Project

Final Projects Are Due December 13 Before Noon.

Post name, statement, and PDF of and/or links to design development and final works.

Remove/update your old proposal/texts and include research sources.

You should give a 6-minute talk/presentation at the critique.

All course work (4 projects) is due as PDF w/statement on blog by noon, December 13.

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Adwoa Sey – flashy

Flashy is an interactive and tactile three-dimensional experience that encourages a departure from a strictly two-dimensional understanding of type anatomy.

Through simple definitions and an enchantingly simple construction, Flashy aims to educate and entertain students and professionals alike.

The Flashy set features Gotham and Adobe Garamond Pro on all printed materials. The board and character pieces are constructed of hand-painted laser-cut wood.

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Tom McQuaid – Scandal Tarot cards + instructions

Symbols are one of the basic tools in the graphic designer’s arsenal. One of the most appealing and amazing things about visual storytelling is that language isn’t required –a yellow hazard sign delivers the same message in any culture. Likewise, narrative tropes exist all across the world – the naïve girl falling for a mysterious older man, a young person setting out on a journey to discover him or herself, etc.

I began thinking about how people have used symbols and tropes through history, and tarot came to mind. The illustrations and methods of fortune telling used in tarot deal with reading symbols – the Hanged Man representing imminent death, the Fool’s dog representing companionship, etc. There is a certain weight and mysticism associated with the classic tarot deck.

My question was, how can I subvert something so well known? How can I create new symbols and new readings, and how can the existing tropes in the tarot deck be applied to modern culture?

Living in 2012, we have our own visual vocabulary. Knowledge of popular culture and newswothy events  allows us to recognize figures and symbols and create our own narratives – Charlie Sheen is not the same kind of “Fool” that the original Tarot  deck depicted, but we can understand and modernize that title based on our cultural vocabularly.

Ultimately, creating the Scandal Tarot deck was a fun way to investigate symbols and tropes in pop culture through the lens of the occult.

Tom McQuaid – Dunne + Raby FAQ

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Jean Kim – Stereotypography_final

Jean Kim – Stereotypography

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Critical Dialogue with Sculpture on Penn’s Campus

Penn’s campus is populated with an assortment of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century sculptural works. A stroll through Locust Walk from 34th to 36th Streets typifies the experience as we pass PennDesign’s Meyerson building and Alexander Calder’s red Jerusalem Stable (1976), John Boyle’s bronze Benjamin Franklin overlooking the campus (1899), Claus Oldenburg’s white Split Button (1981), Robert Indiana’s LOVE (1996,1999), and if we turn right, Alexander Archipenko’s King Soloman (1963). The campus sculpture collection is composed of stately bronze figures, sophisticated abstract objects, and clever POP art icons. The only piece installed within the last thirteen years is Jenny Holzer’s Commemoration of 125 Years of Women at Penn (2003), a series of granite benches and a granite lined walkway inscribed with quotes from women found in Penn’s archives. If our perception of Penn is gathered only from its sculptures, we would likely see a distinguished and rather stale twentieth-century university.

I wonder if that is really what Penn is? How can Penn continue to move into the twenty-first century? How can the campus incorporate recent moves in art? How can campus sculpture become relevant to contemporary issues and dilemmas? Modern art strove to function without any external content, but that is a modernist myth. The University should reflect how art has become more socially engaged, ephemeral, and interdisciplinary. This is a worthy challenge for an MFA student like me as well as an answer to the needs of the Undergraduate Fine Arts Department under its new leadership.

My project will first involve gathering information, researching why the pieces were commissioned or purchased for their particular site, interviewing Penn’s University Curator, Lynn Marsden Atlass. I will learn about the sculptures on Penn’s campus and then engage them directly in a critical dialogue.

I am a visual artist and my strength is not in creating sculptural form, so I approach this issue in terms of images and graphics. I want to visualize the need for a more engaged public art on campus. I want to repurpose the sculptures we already have, which bring their own set of signifiers, and alter what they are capable of saying to the students and public. I want people to question the sculptures in a new way, and broaden their idea of what public art deals with. The modes of working are interdisciplinary in a way that echoes the School of Design’s current direction.

I am interested in the work of critical designers like Krzysztof Wodiczko and Raphael Lozano-Hemmer, whose projections on or near public monuments often bring a direct human interaction with the work. Public artists like Bansky are also interesting in that they interrupt peoples daily routines, but I am not planning to vandalize any sculpture.

Two examples of my ideas are included, one being a paper design to be attached to the Addams Family statue, derived from Southern California’s immigrant family sign, which I developed for Project 2. The second is to repurpose the Calder sculpture through a nighttime projection on the Meyerson Building. I can make a model of it, place it on a rotating carousel, and shine a spot-light from underneath, which will cast a shadow on the building facade. The work will combine architecture and sculpture through three elements: model-making, scale, and form. Calder’s title, Jerusalem Stable, albeit religious, is also evoked by enlarging the sculpture to include the building entrance. The graphic element is in the building facade, which will act as an equivalent to the page, with a solid design that continuously changes. With new forms generated from the sculpture, it will once again lend itself to its rightful purpose, which is to generate new ideas for architects and artists to consider. I will develop plans for several sculptures and hope to execute the most feasible ones this semester.

Oliva_Independant Project Proposal 10.26.12Migration poster_small_Oliva

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Bonnie Arbittier

“Sweet Girls”

Sweet Girls Presentation


Are women viewed as dessert?

“Sweet Girls” does more than simply equate a naked Barbie doll with a cupcake. The Barbie is a classic symbol of a contrived, impossible standard of beauty that young girls are all too often forced to idealize.

We can also attest, as college students, that females our age are pressured to reach for this standard as well to attract the opposite sex.

Are we content with this objectification or are we unaware of it?

“Sweet Girls” explores this interpretation by forcing viewers to be critical in thinking about what the photographs are trying to portray, and allows them to participate in a dialogue on the voyeurism of women.

On my website


Laurie Simmons
Guerilla Girls
Good Girls
Feminist and Graphic Design Blog

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Blanca Abramek

Delirious New Life Toolkit

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Maggie Edkins

“Socially Unaware”


Below is an image that helped inspire my idea. It is by the design group M-O-N-A-M-O-U-R and is using the Puma logo.

Another fashion-related inspiration was a recent Louis Vuitton Show, in which he dropped the use of logos in his clothes and opted instead for more classic patterns. This made me wonder if this could be achieved without losing the look of the logo entirely– what piece of the logo can be removed that turns it back into a design element instead of a symbol for a brand?

Louis Vuitton

This article on logo design points out what aspects of a logo can be changed from a marketing perspective in order to maintain the brand– this is interesting to me because I want to do the opposite.

Journal of Marketing

The idea of using fabric printed with these patterns to make children’s toys suggests that they are “safe” again. I read several articles that suggest that logos are brainwashing kids. Would toys made with these logos imprint their brands further, or would they be “safe” because the logos have been made different enough not to spark recognition?

Kids and Fast Food Logos


Paintings turn logos into abstract art

And vice versa:

Modern art movements to inspire your logo design

Revision of proposal/statement:

I further revised my project by ultimately using the initial logo-inspired patterns that I created, but I put them in a different form. I used webpages from and digitally altered items so that they incorporate the patterns as well as social messages. I then designed a logo for the “brand” I created for Urban, called the Socially Unaware Collection, and I assembled all of the work into a slide show that I used as part of my pitch of this line. In the pitch, I sold these items as subversive objects used to trick the consumer into looking deeper at what they buy. How socially aware are you?

socially unaware

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Adwoa Sey – A Graphic Design Vocabulary

This is a project that I initially worked on in my first internship–I designed a Graphic Design Vocabulary book, as a way to explain to the non-graphic designers in the firm what terms meant, and make them feel more familiar with the process. My supervisor and I were surprised that a well-designed, easy to reference version of such a vocabulary book didn’t already exist in 2010, but I’m even more surprised that one doesn’t exist after all this time.It was initially conceived of as a book, and I made a couple of copies, but I think I’d like to revisit the idea as either another (better design + made) book accompanied by a series of flashcards. Primarily, the set would serve as an educational tool and an explanatory device, for students learning intro to graphic design/DDF. It could also be used to explain graphic design terms in a friendly and illustrative way to people who have to interact with the field on a daily basis but find the terms daunting and confusing–project managers in an advertising firm, for example. I think I need to redesign and rework it because the design is now outdated, it is branded with the company’s visual style and so cannot be widely applied, and also there are many more terms that can be added.

References:There already exists the  “Design Nerd’s Flash Cards” but these cards don’t describe terms and processes of graphic design (vector, jpeg, bleed, dpi). Instead, they are A-Z cards of things you might find in a graphic designer’s studio. (headphones, DSLR, etc). Documentation of my original project is here and here.

Ellen Lupton’s “Thinking with Type”, 2nd Edition

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Cindy Rodriguez – PDF + mov file (on youtube)

On average, it is estimated that American’s see hundreds of logos and advertisement per day. Branding has become an extremely aspect of life for several companies, as well as consumers. For most companies, it is vital that their consumers recognize their distinctive and defining brand name and logo. For many consumers, myself included, we are often drawn to the brands we interact with on several occasions when purchasing products. Most likely, if you are to walk into a store wanting to buy, let’s say, hair shampoo, you may be drawn more to the brands that are recognizable to you and that you have seen in commercials and ads. Because of this immense impact that a single design can have on the human brain, I am very interested in the manipulation of said designs. When we were discussing the concept of detournement and the changing of logos for a different cause, I became really interested in this idea, one that I would like to pursue for my independent project. This concept was mainly inspired by discussions in class and the posts David posted on different ways detournment works. I would like to add my own spin on this idea, and see what I can come up with as well.

Following the concept of detournement, another idea I was interested in is the changing of iconic images, and also repurposing them in another way.

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Gaby Moreno Cesar

WiCS University Presentation
WICS: An Interactive Web Applications for Women in Computer Science Groups
Universities nationwide have clubs for women in computer science, commonly called WICS. Even though these clubs operate independently they still share very similar professional, academic, social, and outreach oriented goals. Despite the overlap, these clubs don’t have a centralized way of communicating with each other. They don’t have a way of sharing events, contacts, ideas, successes and failures, or even getting to know each other’s members.

The goal of the project is to bridge this gap between the WICS clubs by ideating, designing and prototyping interaction techniques that will allow clubs to share and learn from each other. We explore web layouts, color palettes, fonts and most importantly, interaction models that facilitate information sharing and feedback as well as convey a sense of friendly community. The end result will be a simple prototype portraying these design choices in the form of a web pages with working interactions but no backend functionality. This backend functionality is part of a larger senior project and will be implemented next semester.

Carnegie Mellon WICS Successful Practices
Harvey Mudd Successful Practices

Related Work:
Facebook Groups
LinkedIn Groups
SWE Chapters
ACM-W Chapters

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Jean Kim – “Stereotypography”
One of the most interesting aspects of typography is that many typefaces already have certain characteristics that are associated with them based on their form or historical use. For this project, I would like to explore these stereotypes within typography in a booklet exploring typefaces ranging from Comic Sans to Didot. Ideally, it will be a nice introduction to the basics of using certain fonts for people who are unfamiliar with typography. This is kind of a continuation of a research project that I did for Typography last year, where I looked into racial stereotypes associated with typography, but will expand to look at type as it is used in mass media, advertising, pop culture, publishing, etc.

Type Study: Stereo-typography
Masculine vs Feminine Type
History of Chop Suey font

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Brandon Newberg“Online Identity” “Profile” (download, view full screen in acrobat, and scroll to simulate animation)

Computers and robots can be faux companions and we transfer what we want to see on to them. We nurture them, care for them, value them. A furby is a doll but we treated it as so much more.

Now think about the social networks we use today. They are a projection of you – what you choose to put out as you.
“Our online lives are all about performance”(Turkle – Alone Together)

We use technology, and social networks, to distance ourselves and control the image projected to the world and fill a void.

People do not conciously view their profiles through this lens. But what if instead of pages and feeds our profiles were represented as living creatures? How would that change our behavior?

So I set out to make a new digital pet that would serve this purpose. It’s called Profile and here’s the demo.

“Every machine interface I encounter sees a slightly different version of me.”

Identity is complicated. People never know the “real” you, they only know an image of you. In the digital age, this idea seems more relevant than ever. With different profiles for different purposes, one has to wonder how all, often contradictory, identities can coexist. The Walt Whitman quote “I contain multitudes” couldn’t be more relevant today. We show our professional side on linkedIn, brag on Instagram, and namedrop on Twitter. But how can we come to term with these various versions of our self? And how will we be perceived when we die? I’d like to address this line of questioning in several pieces. Some ideas include a social networked based eulogy, a physical photo album from Facebook, a social media gossip magazine, a social media resume, an info graphic on what kind of person you are based on your social networking habits, and more.


Sherry Turkle – “Alone Together”

Surrogate Decision Making in the Internet Age

The effects of personality traits, self-esteem, loneliness, and narcissism on Facebook use among university students.

The virtual malleable self and the virtual identity discrepancy model: Investigative frameworks for virtual possible selves and others in avatar-based identity construction and social interaction.

Students’ self-presentation on Facebook: An examination of personality and self-construal factors.
Examining the role of authenticity in supporting the development of professional identity: an example from teacher education.

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