Project #3 – Belonging

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About the project

When I began the process of developing my last project for my Communication Design III class, I never thought I would end up creating a children’s book to communicate my message. For our last project the class was given the opportunity to branch out and choose a topic of our choice to develop. All the students took part in picking topics of interest. I chose the topic, personal struggles. I felt that this topic was very broad in general and I could expand it further in a variety of ways. This topic can also be easily relatable to people, for we all experience personal struggles in our lives.
Once we all had a topic, the class came up with a question that could relate to everyone’s topic of interest. The question of focus was “what shapes us?” This question was used as a starting point in our research and development of our own main topics. This question is very broad based and can have a variety of answers that could stem from it. During my research process I asked a few friends and family members what they thought when asked the question, what shapes us? Everyone’s answer was very similar to one another and was similar to my own answer to the question. The answer I was given was that everything from our surroundings to our struggles, to our culture and people we interact with, has the ability shape us  to who we are as individuals. When I looked up the question on the computer, I was pretty much getting the same answer. Every interaction, interests, preferences, characteristics, etc. builds on in establishing what makes us…us.
I put the question aside as I tried to focus on the topic of my choice. Part of my development process was to create a lotus bloom, which is similar to a mind map. I took the topic, personal conflict, and expanded it to eight possible ideas that could be a result of a personal conflict. I came up with things like addictions, fear, family, religion, relationships, identity, etc. From there I took each one of these topics and expanded it further. Identity was one of the topics that I was most interested in branching out from the main topic (personal conflict). I reapplied the question, what shapes us?, but changed it to “how does identity shape us?” I came up with a few answers such as, that our identity can dictate how we interact and with whom. Our identities can also shape how we see and perceive ourselves and others. I continued to expanded the term identity. In my process I came up with titles/labels. This got me wondering if the titles and labels we give ourselves and others give us, really define and shape who we think we are. I thought this would be a good subject to develop into a project.
I was thinking of creating something like an informational book or a book that could make people (particularly young people) question whether their labels really define who they are. The main idea I was thinking of trying to get across was to challenge peoples preconceived notions of who they are, based on the labels they associate with. Does the labels/titles we associate with and are given to us, make up who we are? This was the question I wanted to use and to be the center of my project as I develop it.
After I shared my ideas for this last project with my class, it became clear that although the concept for the project sounded interesting, I actually didn’t have a solid solution for how the project could be developed overall.
The discussion with my class helped to steer me to a whole new concept for my project and to approach it differently. I needed to think of labels in relation to myself and then see how it could be applied on a larger scale. This helped to focus my attention on one thing rather than a multiple of different things. During the class time, one student chimed in about the fact that one of her labels as a kid, had stemmed from being adopted. Some people would associate that label with her. I easily related with her on that matter since I too was adopted when I was younger. The questions that arouse from that conversation was, how could I develop that for my last project? and how could I make the topic relatable to others? and Does it need to be relatable? After the discussion all I really knew was that I needed to add elements of my own story into the project. There were many layers that needed to be considered and the only other solid thing I knew about my project was that I was going to develop it into a children’s book.
I decided to piece together elements of my own story to see how it could associate to a personal struggle or could be used to help tell a story that relates to that. I thought about how the world became scary and so fascinating when I was adopted from the orphanage and moved to a whole new country. The orphanage that I lived in for a few years as a child, was all that I knew of the world. This event in my life, when I left, shaped how I saw the world around me. I got to experience something pretty profound that had a part in shaping me to who I am today. As part of my research process, I asked my parents what they remembered about my reaction to my transition into a new country. They said that I seemed to be very inquisitive about my new surroundings, but they could tell that at such a young age the experience was a big culture shock for me as well. There were a lot of things that were foreign to me and would take time to adjust to the new customs and culture of this new country I was in. I considered the idea that when coming from a different country to a new one, there is the struggle to try to feel like one fits in and belongs in the new environment. With the merging of these elements, I was able to come up with a story that could work for the illustration of my book.
I envisioned telling the story through the character(s) of animals. I started to collect images for inspiration and looking up children’s books to create a mood board. I created a brief sketch to arrange the story. I knew that the arrangement of the story would change once I start working on the illustration on the computer, but it was a good starting point. When I began to illustrate, I automatically was drawn to the idea of creating silhouettes. I felt that incorporating silhouettes would create a nice clean visual element throughout the story. I looked up famous silhouette artists like Lotte Riniger and Kara Walker to get inspired from how they tell their stories through silhouettes.
For my story I wanted to keep everything fairly simple design wise. I chose to use very minimal detail, so that elements like the transformation of colors could be used instead, to help visually tell the story. The structure of the story evolved as I created the character of the rabbit and the transformation that happens to the rabbit as it moves throughout the different scenes. I wanted to begin the story of the rabbit being in a world that is all in black and white. This emphasizes that this home is all that the rabbit knows of the world, so therefore the the rabbit is unable to see the world in color. When the rabbit travels away from her home, the world around her gradually begins to change and transform to color. Her experience is that she is beginning to see differently. She is seeing a world that’s new and full of colors. This is beginning to shape her as character in this story. I added two other characters, cat and fox, to give meaning to the notion of belonging. The rabbit discovers the feeling of not belonging when she meets these colorful characters, but ultimately she discovers that she does belong in this new exciting world full of different hues.
The idea of the story was to incorporate elements of my story, which was the transformation of seeing the world differently. I used colors to visually represent that change. I also wanted to include the notion of belonging as a personal struggle for the character. I think that the idea of belonging could resonate with a lot of people as a personal struggle that they might have experienced at some point in their lives. For the character in the book the struggle becomes her wanting to feel like she belongs in this new world, but she struggles at first to feel that connection. I feel that I was able to capture the elements of struggle and transformation throughout the story.



In my Communication Design III class we had the opportunity to work with another client. This time we spoke with Kristen Smedley, the  President and Founder of Curing Retinal Blindness Foundation. The foundation is about trying to help families with children who are affected by a rare form of blindness and to bring awareness to the rare genetic gene (CRB1).
Our design class was given the opportunity to redesign CRBF’s logo and create brand guidelines for them as well as create possible toolkit ideas. In the beginning stages of our design process we had to do research on the foundation and write down questions to ask our client. In class we were able to have a Skype meeting with Kristen Smedley. She gave us information about the foundation and about what she wanted out of the new logos.

What needs to be in new logo:

  • The logo should be targeted toward children
  • Needs to have an eye and DNA
  • The color blue should be included – its one of her son’s favorite colors
  • No pink color

I started my process by creating a design brief. The design brief is based on the conversation with the client. I included information about what the project is, the reason for it, design and visual elements needed, competitors logos for inspiration, etc. The brief helps to create a central focus on the client’s desire for the logo design.



When creating the logo I did sketches to help with ideas for the logo design. I also did research to find variations of images of eyes and DNA. In my process of designing a logo I was having a hard time trying to not make the logos look so busy with a lot of details. It took many different designs and tries for me to finally come up with a logo that could work for the foundation.

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Brand Guidelines

After I had a solid logo design, I created a brand guideline booklet. The booklet is a guide to how the logo/brand works. CRBF would hand it to their members who are interested in hosting events.


For the toolkit, I created an informational booklet that could be sent to families. I chose to include a part with frequently asked questions, the foundation’s mission, contact, and donation information. I created a front mailing cover that would be attached to the booklet as a way to mail it to the families.

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Working on these projects for CRBF has been an instrumental experience in gaining valuable skills when working with clients. These projects have taught me about communicating and working with clients. It also taught me the importance of having a design brief as part of the design process. I also got to learn about what is required in a brand guideline booklet and how to create and package a toolkit.

Social Media Challenge

For this project I created three social media campaigns for the Center for Environmental Stewardship at Stevenson University. Each of these images is meant to relate to sustainability. The purpose of the campaign is to challenge students to take part in trying to be green/sustainable. With this project I was given the hoof print logo, color palette, and font, which all had to be incorporated in the design. All I had to do was come up with an illustration that related to the events. Before starting the project I was given a description of the event. This helped to focus my attention to what kind of details and images would work best to get the message across. The project was fairly simple and didn’t require a lot of editing and revision.


Post-Internship Reflection

This is my first internship and I feel like it has been the perfect fit for me. With the relaxing environment and the guidance of Beth Lacey, I have been able to enjoy interning at Irvine and feel like I have been able to contribute and help out a lot with many of the design projects I have done so far. During my internship I had the opportunity to photograph animals, work on designing activities for families, even curating a little, and much more. Beth Lacey has given me a variety of interesting projects, which has made all these experiences beneficial. It has given me different perspectives of what projects are required as a designer working for an organization.
Before my scheduled Internship end date came around, I was asked If I would like to stay on as a Graphics Design Intern. I accepted the opportunity to stay on. I am excited to see how I will grow as a designer from my experience here. I think it will be a good way for me to continue to gain valuable experience in working for an organization. My experience in interning at Irvine has steered me more in the direction of possibly working for an organization after I graduate.

Example Work

family_nature_night02The Family Nature Nights project is a good example of implementing the Irvine brand  guidelines. For this project I had to create a design that could be used as a way to associate and connect an image to the family event. The challenge that I thought I would be faced with is coming up with something creative to visually symbolize the event. However, I was surprised by how easily I dove into the project without much hesitation. For the project I used the title of the event to help create a visual illustration. I pieced together elements based off of each word and than combined them into one image that best related to the Irvine look. I incorporated my new understanding of brand guidelines by including one of Irvine’s font types and using its color palette.


wegmansThe Wegmans poster was designed to welcome the grand opining of a Wegmans store near by. Since Wegmans is a sponsor of Irvine, Beth Lacey wanted a small poster to be added to the Irvine Facebook page.
Beth Lacey gave me instructions for her vision on the project and how I should implement it. She needed me to take a picture of one of the Wegmans rubbing stations located throughout the Irvine trails, while capturing the booklet used to mark the trails. The challenge that I was faced with was trying to take a clear focused photography with a DSLR camera, while holding the booklet against the rubbing station marker. I had to hold the camera with one hand, so I was having a hard time getting the DSLR camera to stay focused on the foreground, while at the same time trying to prevent camera shake.
The 20 or so photos I took the first day did not come out good like I had hoped.  A lot of the photos were not clear enough in the the foreground and the positioning of the sun when I took them had cast my shadow into many of the images. I shared the images with Beth Lacey and we both agreed that I should try to retake them another day.
When I retook the images I had known what to expect and was able to adjust the way I held the camera and its position from the object. I also took the photos at a time when the sun wouldn’t be looming brightly over me. From this project I learned to step back, assess  the issue(s) and try to find a better way to solve them, so that I can get better results.


(Image restricted) Irvine had an emergency floor plan layout that was not very easy to understand. The floor plan that they had was like a general blue print of the building with tones of lines and no clear visual indication of where things, such as a fire alarm were located.
Beth Lacey wanted me to create a clear emergency floor plan layout of the main and ground floor of the building. I basically had to design the layout from scratch. I used the old existing blue prints to get a rough outline of each room and Beth Lacey help me to update the layout, so that it would match the changes to the building.
The challenge of this project was that I never did a floor plan layout before, and especially an emergency floor plan, so I didn’t know exactly how to approach this project, at first. The first thing I did was to create the layout of the floor plan, based off of the information I had been given. From there I wanted to use colors to emphasize the different rooms and to use it as a visual element that could grab peoples and children’s attention. I used Irvine’s colors to help color coordinate the rooms. Beth Lacey needed me to create emergency signs as visual indicators, so that a person can easily locate them.
From this project I learned how to create a functional emergency floor layout that has all the necessary details. This emergency floor plan is a lot clearer to understand and is more up to date than the original one.



Exit Interview

For my exit interview I sat down and spoke with my supervisor Bath Lacey. We spoke about my strengths and areas were I could improve. I learned that my greatest strength is my ability to take constructive criticism and than work hard to fix projects, based off of the feedback that had been given. Confidence in my work and in myself are areas that I need to improve on.
I feel that my confidence in my work will happen as I continue to grow as a designer and continue to learn skills that relate to the design field. Beth Lacey talked to me about networking and the importance of building valuable connections in the work environment. I think that building connections could be a good way to work on confidence in myself. She also let me know that joining AIGA would be a good way to work on my network skills and make connections with other artists in the creative industries.
In our conversation, I got a chance to ask Beth Lacey about what I could do to eventually get to the level that she is on, if I choose to pursue working for an organization after I graduate. She told me that the best thing to do is to lookout for intro level graphic design positions, if I am interested in working for an organization. Her feedback and comments in our interview was very helpful in giving me a new perspective on how I can continue to grow as a designer.

Informational Meeting

A part of my internship process, is to have an informational meeting with a person I don’t work with closely. I did my informational interview with Diana Roman. She is the Volunteer Coordinator at Irvine. She works closely with volunteers, but she also teaches the eco-explorers class at Irvine. As a Volunteer Coordinator, she is sometimes faced with the task of finding volunteers for major events. She also tries to match volunteers to particular positions, that are based on their skills and ability. Diana said that she has always liked working with people and her passion and study in marine biology has been one of the reasons she wanted to work for a nature environment center.
As I was getting to know Diana, I was curious to ask her about what advice she could give someone, such as myself, who is interested in working for an organization. She told me to always be willing to put in the work. “Get your foot in the door,” and to “find something that you love to do.” Diana also let me know what skills and experience I should focus on. She recommended that a good skill to acquire and work on is writing skill. Its an important skill needed in any job position. However, she encouraged me to always be willing to learn new skills as well.
As the interview was coming to an end, Diana answered the last few questions of mine by telling me the importance of building connections and being confident without being conceited in the work environment. I felt that Diana was the perfect person to interview. She had reinforced a few of things that I had come to learn, while helping me gain new insight and knowledge.