Outsider Art Map Reflection

“When we were first assigned the project, I felt confident in my ability to come up with a design solution. The first step of my process, using sticky notes to diagram connections to Tripp Gregson’s work, was fairly easy; the hard part came afterwards. Usually I am not an indecisive person, yet for whatever reason I had the hardest time choosing the exact direction of my project. I was stuck between exploring road signage or outsider art. I went through the modes of appeal breakdown for each category, and it ended up that I  had more concrete ideas to convey the appeals for the road signs, but I just had this strange desire to continue my research on outsider art. The appeal definitely shaped how I conducted my research because in mapping out what types of information I wanted in each category I knew what information I had to seek out or delve into further to create a stronger appeal. The appeals helped me to refine what exactly I wanted to say, and it allowed the different panels of the map to be read as separate nuggets of information. The most difficult aspect of the appeals was the layout that they demanded. Each appeal had its own size requirement and as a designer, I had to be conscious of how the scale of each panel affected the information I included.

I planned tropes to use too early, before I was completely comfortable and familiar with my information; so to be honest, I do not believe that the tropes were the primary factors I considered when searching for imagery. I mostly tried to base the imagery I included on each panel on the appeal of and feeling I wanted to obtain from that panel. For ethos, I wanted to appeal to the audience’s sense of beauty and present prime examples of artists that take non-traditional, often discarded objects, and make beautiful works.  I restricted the images to photos of material and artwork for this reason. In the logos panel, I chose the imagery based on my desire for clear simplicity and for their power as reference points for whole categories of information (i.e. “early warning signs” imagery (I think the series acts as a synechdoche)). On the second panel, I included a visual pun in “look” because I wanted to challenge the educational layout of the spread and continue the playfulness of outsider art throughout the whole piece. The inside spread, my pathos appeal, is by far the most fun. However because many see outsider art as marginal in the art world, I chose to have the portraits of every artist in black and white surrounded by a colorful frame to designate a sense of dignity and respectability to the artists. I thought about the portraits of the artists in combination with their whimsical frames as antitheses. The panel acts as a “scavenger hunt” with pieces of artwork by all the artists scatted all over the page in order to mirror the freedom of expression that outsider artists exude. Over all of the sides, including the cover, I have at least one inclusion of hand drawn type to amplify the nature and characteristics of outsider art.

The audience that I kept in mind while designing was seventh to twelfth grade students. Usually I am very wordy and I like to use the broad vocabulary I have developed, but keeping them in mind I was forced to pare down my information, simplify some, and narrate with a writer’s voice that would be appealing to that age group. Additionally, the audience determined my treatment of images as well as the photographs I chose to include and the hand-drawn type that I endeavored to create. My audience challenged me to make it fun!

The interactive aspect that interested me the most was how my knowledge map acknowledged the way that people have been conditioned to interact with books and brochures. I wanted to be sure that it would open similarly to a book and would fold out into the correct display with minimal movements by the viewer. I thought that any excitement over flipping through the sides would translate well if I ensured the interaction was straightforward. Although in my first print, my last panel was upside down.  Maria pointed out that my artifact could have been making a nod to the whirligigs outsider artists create. Maybe I should have considered this approach more.

The only assets that I used from my video interview are located on my first outside panel (excluding the cover). Tripp’s philosophies and his creation of art from recycled road signs was the departure point for my research into outsider art.

I thought I had most of the skills that I needed for this project, although I did pick up some new ones through the course of the project. However, I would love to learn how to better maneuver between Adobe programs because oftentimes I found myself wasting time navigating between programs based on what I thought the specialty of each platform was (In my mind, InDesign if for general layout and typography, Illustrator is for the construction of vector elements and composition of backgrounds, and Photoshop is for manipulating and combining images.) Additionally, I would love to be able to work more quickly.

Next time, I would challenge myself to get things up on the screen earlier on in the process and continue to work towards image when necessary or as a substitution for text and vice versa. I need to work on my text-heaviness, even though I think that sometimes it is appropriate. Really I can just always be conscious of my balance between image and text. One thing that I will definitely do is to have all of my information I want to include at the ready, because for me that really determines my layout. When I did not have this information absolutely firmed up, those were the points at which I found myself frustrated and stuck. Also, I will recognize that I work at my own pace and even though it is important to meet deadlines for process crits, I will remind myself that sometimes it is important to acknowledge your own process and make design progress based on you own working style.

The process crits taught me about my own process more than anything. I learned that I like to have a general idea of where I am going imagery and information wise on at least one spread before I move on to the next part of my design project. It was hard for me, especially on the day of the ethos critique, to go directly from my logos and pathos panels into my ethos panel when I was not even 70% happy with my previous designs. That’s just something I’ll have to work on, but I think developing one piece of something, even if it’s small, to my liking is a key part of my process that allows me to move from one thing to the next. The progress crits were nice though because they did help to keep you on track and working toward the final crit over the whole duration of our project. I really enjoyed the final critique that we had. I felt that by doing a silent critique we got more honest feedback and our peers were actually engaged with our projects instead of having a limited sense of them that they would gain by viewing it on the wall. It was great getting to see the other class’ and the approach that they took in comparison to our class. The only negative aspect was that it seemed a little long and required a lot of writing for that period of time. Maybe next time, it would be helpful if we were assigned to review specific people and we shortened the amount of time. That would give us time to have some class discussion and clarification as well. I appreciated Martha’s conclusion at the end of the studio critique because it was unlike what I have been used to and discussed generalities between the sections and broad things we should consider in our upcoming design projects.”


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