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Undergrad ComD Graphic Identity (??) : First Sketches

March 20, 2010

And by sketches, I mean digital images.

Here the images; I’ll discuss below.

Ok. The first is a modified comd “logo”. It is based on an existing, albeit rarely used “logo” that was drawn up by a professor; this existing, Helvetica logotype was never shown me–Michael Kelly mentioned it to me and I accidentally discovered it on the server. Anyways, though I am not so interested in making a logo, I am interested in making a system, and this modified logo is a useful place to start. The idea is that Undergrad ComD encompasses fours year of undergrad and three disciplines (art direction, illustration and graphic design). So the word is split it up by a 4×3 grid, which, after MUCH work, actually works very nicely: the width of the rectangle is 3x the height of the rectangle; the x-height is also .75 of the total height. (I don’t know if I was being dumb about it from the beginning and approaching it the wrong way, but these relationships, which seem so simple, actually took me an extremely long time to nail down–and I am quite proud of. All this stuff makes for a super rock-solid, sturdy modularity. Go modularity, go Zamir! (Zamir my Vis Com teacher, big proponent of the modular.)

Below that are some quick sketches of how this “logo” translates into a system (the quotes are annoying I agree–but I am really taking pains here to not overstate the modified logo; above all, I think, it’s a device.)

  • The 4×3 grid is picked up in the poster grid (though it becomes 8×3 or 12×3 or whatever, depending on the length of the sheet–just so long as the proportions are the same. Because of hyper modularity, the grid an also be gridded up itself as needed: 8×3 becomes 8×9, etc)
  • The logo letterforms, cut up by the grid, become graphic elements that can be used for whatever purposes; composition or patterning. (This is actually the richest yield of this system, but in order to focus on its flexibility, I tried to generate different types rather than pursuing that in depth; perhaps a mistake–probably better to exploit the strengths rather than sell an unfully fleshed out flexibility)
  • The modified logo is somehow repeated/patterned to create cohesion; strongly mark it as ComD poster
  • As shown, can be used with photos, other graphic art, or by itself.

What can I say? I am super drained at this point, but I have to say I am still cautiously optimistic, though a number of unforeseen difficulties have arisen.

  • logo vs. device. The “logo” = device is primarily that, a device. It’s not particularly attractive used in repetition like in the posters above, so that needs to be worked out. I keep wavering on this fact–whether the fact that the device is a less than spectacular logotype bothers me or not; right now I am of the opinion that it doesn’t, and that given the concept of using an EXISTING logotype and working with it, it’s fine for it to be a device. Sometimes I am not of this opinion and worried I placed concept (4×3 grid, etc) over all else. Unclear.
  • Looking very Experimental Jetset (that’s another conversation! which I have good news about!) / high Swiss modern right now, especially in first example (which is to be system’s strong suit). A serious issue. Currently compounded by choice of typeface (Franklin Gothic) which can be changed. But still. I think if I introduce some image elements this can be alleved a bit, but I am a bit against doing that cause it complexifies the system, etc.
  • Some grid things to be worked out, but these are details. (I.e what are the gutters and how do they reflect the original line weight of the grid in the logo-device.)
  • Perhaps related, perhaps not–how to work out modularity of grid–because of easy subdivisions I am worried the gird may get a little lost. I want flexibile but peaceful grid system. So I want one to be able to subdivide the three columns as needed…. but within reason.
  • How to keep cohesion within flexibility. The big one as always! My big dream is that this system would allow one to use different art as it comes up, i.e. photo, student illustrations, some big design concept, whatever. I put the comd ribbon in as an attempt to show how it could just be superimposed on top of other art, which I now think is the biggest mistake; the logo-device simply doesn’t look attractive that way. Moreover I am feeling a sort of clash between the fine gridding of the logo and the white gutter lines of the poster grid, but that just might be me. I think in the next phase I am going to go waaaaaaay more abstract with the ribbon–that’s the whole advantage of the thing!–and use the logo-device only once. The whole point is for the graphic letterform parts to be able to be used in a way that says “THIS IS A COMD POSTER” and instead of doing that I used the logo to do that. Which is sort of backwards and silly, it’s now clear to me.
  • Typefaces. Franklin Gothic is good but is really pushing us into a very Swiss modern place sometimes…

Anyways I was a bit bummed yesterday about this, but after this blog post I am once again (cautiously) excited by this direction; I think the big question for me to resolve right now are:

  • typefces (though I keep trying to ignore this)
  • the consistent banding element that will allow me to use template with other full-bleed art (i.e. the art takes up the whole poster–but some bit of graphic id still takes up some space on the page to telegraph COMD)
  • do I need to incorporate some other images? or textures? I have no desire to but because of some conversations in type 2 I am now more doubtful about my instincts here.

I’m a little nervous with this whole thing–I just think it needs to work really well before I can sell it to the department/ use it in a poster. Which means, before next week–because I am going to have to start churning out posters starting next Thursday again and I just do not have it in me anymore to reinvent the wheel every time! And moreover, it doesn’t make sense to.

The thing is–no one asked me for anything like this; I just did it. Which is great and wonderful and I’m a self-starter, etc, but that means it has to work rock solid. In fact, my secret plan, pending review by my unofficial advisers, is to just start implementing this and see if anyone starts catching on. The point is, if this works, it will work well graphically, which means good posters, so everyone will be fine with it, and it will mean posters that are not super-similar to each other too and if the posters turn out to be cohesive, all the better.

Sorry for the length and all the bullet points, some of which are rehashes and summaries! But as you can see I am clearly still in the super-working-it-out phase!

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