first paper

Your assignment:

Write a 3-5 page paper with additional images that focus on analyzing by comparison, at least two topics from chapters 9, 10, 11, 12.

It is very natural that you would be struggling with trying to make sense of the variety of design you have been looking at. This is true for all designers in this day and age, no matter where they live. It is a consequence of our times all around the world. As designers we must attempt to make sense of this visual confusion to try and create meaningful and aesthetically pleasing work ourselves—in response to our time. Another thing to remember; all that has been printed is not necessarily good design. In fact, I would argue that most of what has printed is in fact bad design. As conscientious designers we must ask why this is true or at least why is there so much disparity between what has been (is) out there posing as design. You need to filter through all that visually confronts you and focus on only what you determine to be the “best” or most meaningful.

Historical examples present a unique problem. You must determine why they are examples in the first place. Is it because of their incredibly beautiful, graceful and meaningful design? Or is it an example because it represents a breakthrough in technological innovation—(a first) or perhaps representative of cultural influence, etc.

One way you could approach this paper would be to try and separate, by comparison, what is specifically good design from what are simply characteristics of technology, time period, stylistic preferences, etc.  What do you notice as similarities? What are differences? Because all design that you see is not necessarily “good”, you must first establish some sort of guidelines for yourself that make any design good or not. Those guidelines should be independent of culture or nationality.

We have talked about such guidelines in many classes within the contexts of

  • target audience,
  • clear message,
  • technology,
  • style or aesthetic, and
  • general design principles of line, shape, value, color, & texture as well as composition, Gestalt principles, etc. By considering how the designer approached any combination of the above criteria—or completely ignored them—you might be able to focus a bit more on the more meaningful works that you see.

The paper itself is mostly about critical observation. What do you see within the narrow contexts of meaningful design? Therefore you must set up some guidelines for yourself to judge what is good. You are also looking for Zeitgeist influences. As a part of that Zeitgeist, you are also looking for historical influences.


You might use these general guidelines for Seeing Critically:

Look at the works objectively and critically. Try to see how the designer of each has determined or used the following:

  • What is the intended audience?
  • Try to characterize/describe it. How does this determine or relate to the overall style of the ad? (Use of color or B & W, texture, etc.)
  • In what combination of pure information or inspirational/suggestive is the message delivered?
  • Analyze the sequence or order in which information is given.
  • How does this sequence effect the message impact? When is the product actually revealed?
  • What is/are the implied message(s) of the ad?
  • Example: comfort, economy, friendly, exciting, etc.
  • Is symbolism or metaphor used?  How?
  • Is humor used?  How?
  • How does type relate to image?


some more general guidelines:

I am interested in your opinions, thoughts and ideas concerning your subject. Support those ideas with documented facts as much as possible.

Follow a general progressive development format for your writing which includes:

1) thesis proposal—a statement or opinion which is the basis or theme of your paper

2) develop reasons or ideas which support your overall thesis—this general development should site factual sources or events, quote persons, make comparisons, relate to the context of the times, or show how it influenced the general evolution of design

3) conclusion—restate your original thesis in a summary fashion

Your subject could address the three aspects of:

         1) the technology of the time

2) aesthetics or the “look”, describe it specifically (line, shape, color, typeface, style,

uses, influences. etc.)

         3) how it relates to other world or regional events of the time (the Zeitgeist)

illustrations, pictures, diagrams are usually helpful as support material to your written paper.—Those pages are in addition to your written paper.

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