the organization i work for provides alot of cheap, affordable necessities to a small community of people in Cambodia who live near or on a trash heap in Phnom Penh. one of the things we offer is extremely affordable housing. they have teamed up with World Housing a non-profit based out of Canada to build almost 200 homes this year. they asked me to shoot a few houses, in the process of being built.
I've been working on this technique where the photojournalist in me slaps the designer in me. As a photographer, I know the power of images but as a designer I neglect images because of how jarring a photo can feel in a graphic design, especially when it comes to infographics.
Designing with images is all or nothing. I used to either let them tell the whole story, simply, or not use them. Throwing a border on a photo or cutting it out as a circle feels cheap, leaving the designer in me feeling cheated.
So, this is my challenge - use storytelling images in a powerful but not forceful way in conjunction with my designs. Here are a few examples of how I've been trying to make this happen...does my use of images in my designs work for you?
You like these logos? You would. Well they didn't get picked by the client. I'm sharing my design process and take aways because I wish I could look at other designer's processes and know that I'm not alone.
PROJECT Logo and marketing materials for a garment center. They employ local ladies, teach them important skills and set them up with sewing machines and product designs.
PROBLEM The garment center has not been successful and they want it to be self sufficient, thus a logo and marketing scheme is what I'll be working on.
DETAILS The name of the new product label is Meanchey Designs. I started with a branding design questionnaire and a meeting with the client. I got the details on what they wanted and what they didn't want. Meanchey Designs will appeal to everyone, but the main audience will most likely be women from 20-forever. The words geometrically pleasing were mentioned.
What I learned and a few Take Aways
1. SKETCHING IS HARD I don't like sketching. I want to say that when I see other designers' sketches online I feel incredibly intimidated and inferior - now you too can feel good about your sketching abilities by looking at my sketches - you're welcome. Let's get this straight: I do not feel like an artist and I do not think I can draw or claim to be a drawer or an artist.
Sketching is good because it's harder delete your ideas (no Apple + Z available). The point is that I get ideas out on paper as soon as they pop into my head in visual form. I tell myself It does not matter if they look good. They're simply visual references for ideas and designs I may want to pursue later. At least that's why I sketch. None of the designs that panned out from my initial sketches were picked (top paper = initial sketch).
Take Away: sketches are like a bank of ideas.
2. INITIAL DESIGNS I sometimes cry alone at my computer over the death of an unchosen design. My first designs are NEVER chosen by my clients. They are often my favorite. But never the favorite of my clients. Ever. Ideas in the beginning of any project are sometimes spot-on (gut reactions are good) but most of the time for me, they're just mental poop - it is my mind's way of working out the cliche, what I see people doing on Dribbble, high hopes, and dream-come-true-design. I've found that once those initial designs are out of the way, knocked out of my mind, the real designing begins.
It sucks to hear that your favorite doesn't reeeeaaaally work. Take a day, listen to what the client says, ask more people (especially your friends who will tell you it's amazing and that the client is crazy), ask some more people, lay that little guy to rest and move on with your life.
The bottom two are obviously not good and I knew it while designing them - they look satanic. Because I still like them, I will store them away for a future client who worships sun gods.
Rejection of the top one was harder to swallow. I love it. I (heavily) borrowed the design from my favorite tattoo artist. I can vomit up a million reasons why it should work: it's striking; women will be drawn to it because it's lady-like, but not too lady-like; it's generically Asian; it's versatile - both ancient and modern at the same time; etc. But the truth is: it's religious in nature and it feels too princess-y - both things the garment center is not going for.
Take Away: allow time for mind dump.
3. THE DIG Since the best design was rejected, I ask the client what would be a good symbol to work with or if I should just work with the letters M and D. They say fruit or flowers and lettering is okay. I dislike the idea of both flowers and fruit because it's a garment center. I tried lettering but I haven't taken those Lynda.com tutorials yet. So I decided to take on the flower idea after I saw the absolutely gorgeous national Cambodian flower.
I had THE hardest time. I couldn't get the line drawing style out of my mind and I felt that a flower would attract either Southern Women* or pugs. I kept trying. You can see both beautiful flower and nasty mess below.
*I love Southern Women.
I had another meeting with the client and confessed that I hate the flower. They continued to hate the crown drawing. We talked it over and I asked if there were any aspects they liked about the crown drawing they hated. It was a question I should have asked instead of getting butt hurt that they didn't like it. I asked if they liked the line drawing feel of it. They did. So I finally tried to merge what I liked about the crown drawing logo with the cute flower my client wanted.
Take Away: stop getting butt hurt and start asking questions.
4. POLISHING Most of the time my client wants a million different versions of all the designs. Luckily this client liked one of the options when I showed them the picture above. So really polishing this time was just taking the logo they liked and putting it in different colors, line weights, with different type fonts, textures and ideas to try and flush out what kind of color palette and style they want. Like this:
The below image is the logo they went with. I do not reeeaaaalllly like this logo. I don't think it's awful, but I don't love it at all. This logo is not for me. It's for my client. They like it. They think it will sell lots of pretty things. That's very important.
Take Away: in the end, it's not what you want, but what the client wants that matters.
I worked on this story for Bloomberg News while I was in Kathmandu last year. The topic needs much more coverage and so much more action. I have heard reports of at least one Nepali corpse coming into the airport per day from Qatar. It's slavery. And it's worldwide. I'm quite clueless when it comes to international law, but it's obvious that some type of international regulation needs to be in place for migrant workers around the world.
I use an iPhone; I'm writing this on one of my two Mac laptops. It's obvious Apple holds their product design to an incredible high standard. That standard should be reflected in their international labor regulations.
Bibek is just one of millions who are abused and enslaved daily so that we can use our iPhones, computers and other gadgets.
Here in Cambodia, It's not just labor that is being sold. It's women, children and it's horrific. When will this become a major issue for governments around the world? When will international standards be implemented?
Here are some ways to help and become aware.
Just a few photos of my new job and my new city, Phnom Penh.Read More
i have nothing but positives to say about my new position and life. i get to produce designs, photos, videos; i have full creative freedom to come up with interesting ideas and campaign concepts...but the best yet is that i get to use my communication skills to help kids.Read More
so, we moved to cambodia. got a sweet job with a fantastic organization and a swanky, brand new apartment and we're doing great.
getting these (below) printed and they're going over our bed. i'll have lots to show off as my new position is graphic designer/photographer/videographer/web designer. yay.
life is good. but gotta remember where my roots are.
I like the challenge of creating a design my client loves and that I would also be happy to put in my folio. I find the best jobs are those that give me both freedom and restrictions. The best part of the creative process for me is after the first draft is painstakingly revealed to my client. I've learned so much by letting go and listening. The clients I work with have great input and if I listen, my designs are get better.Read More
I've been working with SPRINT Initiative out of Malaysia for the past few months on a Facilitator's Manual. In the beginning, I created a concept-design for a book or manual that would help the facilitator's focus more on teaching. SPRINT has printed the first draft of this 400-page book and I am hoping to attend the next facilitator training in the Philippines so that I can make changes to the manual that will drastically improve the design. Below are the proposed cover, beginning chapter pages and an example of a content page. All of the content is from a previous design.
In order to make this design easier for the facilitator's to understand and use, I created a set of icons that correspond to the different activities that will be used during the training. I also added a time and date indicator to the header of each page to inform the facilitator's of where they are (or should be) in the training.
I've been working hard with FSA [filmsouthasia.org] for the past few weeks to get ready for the documentary film festival. We're doing standies, flex prints, schedules, invitations, web stuff...everything design. The best part of this experience has been seeing my designs in very large quantities. The schedule (below) was printed 3,000 thick and the 60-page catalog had 500 copies. It's been fun, hard, and challenging. I will post official designs once everything is printed.
finished a video for Katie Green yesterday (katiegreenartist.com.) she's an incredible artist, one i am proud to have worked with. i challenged myself to think outside of the box on this video. i wanted something more edgy and a bit less-traditional in the storytelling arena. in the end, i think we came out with somethink Katie likes and i was proud to publish. what do you think?
Finished this a while back, but needed to add it to the blog. Here is the front page and below are a couple of details. It's still being coded, but I really enjoyed this job. It went through many drafts and I was told from the first draft that it was too, "French" looking. I listened to my clients and really tried to make it less French. They liked this in the end.
An artist and costume designer asked me to shoot a few of her in a dress she made. Sounded kinda exciting. She sent me a zipped file of all her previous dresses and they are quite stunning reflections of nature melded into wearable art. In one shot she looks like a piece of forest with moss on her head.
The piece she wanted me to shoot was a dress made entirely of Buddhist prayer flags. At the Monkey Temple in Swoyambhu, we were instantly greeted with dirty looks and a comment from a woman who said, "She can't do that." I started to get a tad bit nervous as we are in a developing country where religion is taken very seriously. I've seen placid situations escalate into mass maiming in a nano second in Kathmandu and I was sure we didn't want to see that.
I told her we should shoot what we can and get out quickly. Seems like this won't fly for too long. So we shot about two scenes and a monk appeared at her side. "No no no no no," was all he snarled at her as he ripped off some of her flags. He was very angry. So I shuttled our human prayer flag into a bathroom and she changed quickly while the masses got riled up behind us on the stupa.
I'm caught in the middle on this one. Because I get it. I really do. And I'm not in love with fashion, ever. But those prayer flags are made in a factory by common men and women with common tools.
Yet feet are very unholy and truly the dirtiest, at times, in Nepal. Even to point a foot at someone is considered disrespectful. So I understand how blasphemous walking on flags that signify prayers to god sounds.
It was an interesting experience either way.
So, my husband builds bikes. He takes old machines and breathes life into them. It's not usual for KTM. I'd say he's one of the only people doing it in town, really doing it. He's on his third bike with 3 more orders on the way. We're hoping he can continue this work in Sri Lanka were we've found an abundance of classic bikes and cars.
These are a few of my favorite images from our recent photo shoot. You can see most of the take here on my [Facebook Page.]
Stay tuned, RS MOTO is on it's way up. Video and more coverage to come soon.