Blog Category: VisLang

Semester Thoughts

By Erika Goering,

I’ve been reflecting on something that was discussed earlier this semester about whether it’s more noble to focus our time and energy on making something aesthetically beautiful and refined, or making something where we essentially muck around in a fresh, steaming pile of our own newfound knowledge.

Each has their own merits. Aesthetically beautiful work has a polished feel that’s good to show off in a portfolio, and filthy experimentation leads to discovery and additional learning. Inversely, something visually pretty and refined can also be hollow and lack passion, and heavy experimental work can be unattractive and sloppy.

I’ve taken this dilemma as a challenge to get myself messy as hell, while hopefully cleaning things up aesthetically as I progress through the project. I’ve pushed myself out of my comfort zone conceptually, visually, and resourcefully. In fact, my comfort zone has been completely redefined. It’s much broader now. Because every single project this semester has been an opportunity for me to try something I’ve never done before. And it’s definitely paid off. I feel like I’m getting my money’s worth at KCAI. It’s double the education. Seriously.

Last year, my big mistake was doing what I thought everyone wanted to see so I could fit in. And while I got decent grades out of it, I didn’t feel like I got much else from it. I was just doing what I already knew, with a few new bits mixed in. Over the summer, something clicked. I decided that I was going to make the absolute most of the KCAI experience.

Every project so far this year has been an experiment. A discovery. An invention. I’ve been forcing myself to use methods and techniques that I’ve never even considered before. And I’ve learned so much, and grown so intimate with these tools… I even learned PHP, for crying out loud! I never thought I’d have the opportunity to really get submerged in it. But thanks to my Online Presence class, I did that. And it was mostly self-directed, too.

I’ve learned that my education is what I make of it. My time here could either be spent sitting back, making pretty work that I know how to do, or I can spend that extra time to experiment and play with the tools that I’ve been given. And that playing around has made me a better designer, a better student, and a better human being.

While my work this semester may or may not be of the utmost portfolio quality, it’s unquestionably paving the way for it in the future. And that, I take great comfort in.

  Filed under: KCAI, Narrative/Sound&Motion, Online Presence for the Artist, Typography3, VisLang
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From Sow to Supper: Final Thoughts and Presentation

By Erika Goering,

From Sow to Supper

What did we learn from this project?

We learned how to capitalize on each others strengths to maximize productivity. An example would be my fantabulous photoshop skillz, while Jumper‘s BAMF copywriting skillz and eloquent way with words made it easier to write about what we were doing in this project.

Poverty is a complex issue and there are many small nuances that must be taken into account to be sensitive to the subject and to those who are involved in it. The connotation and interpretation of words played an important role in this kind of project.

We also learned about the power of design to cause social change with the implications of what we are doing. Design is an important tool for changing the lives of many.

What would we do if we had more time to work on this project?

If we had more time with this project we would like to expand the elements that were included in the packet to also have a neighborhood watch form and a neighborhood daycare information sheet.

During our critique, it was brought up that in a project like this one it would be important to have a follow up packet that would be sent out later to reinforce the message and to also give more information that could be pertinent to community garden care and harvesting.

Lastly if we had more time we would continue to work on the imagery of the supplemental elements to gain further continuity between them. This would involve the continued mixing of vectors and photographs.

  Filed under: KCAI, VisLang
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Design Intervention: Sow to Reap

By Erika Goering,

My partner and I made it our goal to target troubled neighborhoods, while not necessarily excluding anyone else.

So, we’ve got a community garden thing going on. Everyone likes gardens! The idea is that it’ll bring people in targeted neighborhoods together, and in turn, reduce crime and save money on groceries! Everyone’s happy!

We wanted to create something friendly and appealing to all ages. So we went with a vector/photographic hybrid technique. (Or, as Jamie called it, a Frankenstein method of imagemaking.)

We’re still working on our additional components, such as seed packets and recipe cards and a potluck planner. We want to take the neighborhood through the entire process of planting a garden, harvesting, cooking, and sharing the fruits of their labor.

We’re also changing the name to Sow to Supper for that reason.


  Filed under: KCAI, VisLang
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Communication Model

By Erika Goering,

My model shows that different types of noise can create different audiences and different channels of communication, and those audiences can then transfer messages to each other and pass on information.

  Filed under: KCAI, VisLang
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Final Packaging

By Erika Goering,

My concept:

I wanted to show the organic, pure qualities of the soap while giving the customer a sense of magic (there’s magic in the name!) and comfort. I achieved this through transparency of the label and using the soap itself as a design element. Both of those things together created what Jumper called a “kind of hologram” effect. I think that’s pretty awesome.

What I learned:

I learned that the shiny & expensive Konica Bizhub c451 can’t print color on transparencies. Poop. But my old, raggedy printer at MyARTS can. And I can use that for personal stuff if I ask really nicely. So that’s awesome. I also learned that doubling up on transparencies gives the print some opacity. So I don’t have to worry about having an impossible (for my price range) white undercoat. I also learned that you can’t read text through soap in a cylindrical bottle. Light doesn’t go directly through it, so it distorts it all over the place. So using a painterly image back there was the solution to that.

Aside from technical stuff, I learned about modes of appeal, and how changing which mode you’re using can change the meaning of the product and even the audience that you’re targeting. That’s a big deal for marketing. Targeting a specific audience through psychology is friggin’ MIND CONTROL.

I have the power!

IMG_4162.jpg IMG_4166.jpg IMG_4153.jpg IMG_4155.jpg IMG_4147.jpg

  Filed under: KCAI, VisLang
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R&R: What Should Food Look Like?

By Erika Goering,

Response to

I love the idea of packaging influencing and attracting certain people to use (or not use) a product. That’s one of the great things about design. We can’t read minds but we sure as hell can persuade them. That’s why I think every designer should take a few psychology classes. Get inside the human mind. Learn to manipulate it.

…But enough about that.

Food packaging in particular is a means to strategically create a very specific mood for the customer. If I use a rounded slab-serif instead of something monospaced and typewriter-esque, what does that make the customer think or feel about the product? Is one more classy than the other? Is one more friendly? Does it convey a sense of value or frugality? Does it look too posh for the audience to the point where they won’t go near it because it’s probably too expensive? Should they just stick to the yellow store-brand?

Great design can be off-putting to the wrong audience. If it looks too generic, people will see it as a lower-quality product and might walk right past it. And if it’s too fancy, the majority of the audience might just ignore it because they’ll feel it’s out of their price range.

Appealing to a wide, diverse audience is a difficult, but important task. The key is to target the majority of people without creating a mediocre, generic design. And that’s why package design requires such a tactful outlook.

And that’s my challenge for this project.

  Filed under: KCAI, Read&Respond, VisLang
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R&R: Tropicana Redesign

By Erika Goering,

In response to this post:

While the new (2009) Tropicana package design felt clean and fresh, it did lose a lot of its personality when the familiar imagery was replaced. No one can deny that an orange with a straw in it is a pretty clever way of portraying freshness and purity.

I do applaud the redesign as an exercise/experiment in showing purity and freshness in a different way, but I think what the design gained in clarity, it lost in personality and cleverness. I think Tropicana made a gutsy move, and it definitely got people talking. But package design can be a dirty game. A well-known brand will always have devoted followers, and they don’t like change, whether it’s a good idea or not.

Yes, the design is technically successful in that it clearly shows pure, 100% orange juice. Yes, it works as a clean, fresh design. But it fails to show a sense of humanity. It fails to show a sense of warmth and trust. (I know it’s not exactly supposed to go full-on pathos, but it needs to be a whole lot less cold and sterile.)

I would’ve liked to see them work harder to keep the personality and familiarity of the brand while still keeping that clean, fresh, pure look and feel. That’s what makes a package design great, especially for such a well-known, well-respected, and well-loved product.

That’s just my two cents.

  Filed under: KCAI, Read&Respond, VisLang
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Package Design Inspiration

By Erika Goering,

Something I’ve gotten into with package design is the idea of color and pattern and texture differentiating between multiple varieties of products within the same product line. I love it because it creates a unifying theme for all of the products in the line, while still giving each product its own personality and feel.

Also, a good thing to think about in terms of usability is using texture and pattern and lightness/darkness as a backup for color-coding, for colorblind people or black & white photographs… Or other situations where color isn’t perceivable or necessary.

I’m hoping I get to use Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap for this project, because there’s already a color-code established. Those colors have become symbolic of what the scents are. Peppermint is blue, tea tree is orange, lavender is… lavender… Anyway, I want to play with creating textures and personalities (and even updating/tweaking the color) for those. And, as a bonus, there are similar products within that line that have completely different shapes too! Like bar soap instead of bottled, and whatnot.


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Final Grace Kelly Poster and Whatnot

By Erika Goering,

This is my final poster. The one that was chosen.

I’m still feeling like a rockstar. I can’t believe something of mine was actually chosen for a big deal like a concert! Ah!


… Continue reading

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F+S: Packaging

By Erika Goering,

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap – Tea Tree
This product uses ethos, because it’s endorsed and created by a doctor, who the soap is named after. You can totally trust that guy with your hippie hygiene needs.
I picked this soap over the others nearby because I like the color-coded packages together on the shelf. Also, the sheer absurdity of the amount of text is amusing, and it makes me wonder what they were thinking. So that’s fun.
The part of the design that speaks to me first is, of course, the massive amount of text filling the entire label. Seriously. The entire thing. It doesn’t speak to me as much as it screams to me for help.
The first thing a customer does with this package after picking it up off the shelf is quickly shove it in their shopping basket because they don’t have much time for reading a novel on a soap bottle.
The package is usually handled very quickly. All of the vital information (brand name, product name, scent/variety) is front & center. The text everywhere else is so unnecessary, most people don’t even see it as text; it’s just a texture around the sides.
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap stands out on the shelf because of its use of color. Each version of the Magic Soap has its own little place in the Dr. Bronner’s rainbow, so they work well together while standing out from the minimalistic soap packages nearby.
Friends’ thoughts:
  • Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap has “SO MUCH TEXT!”
  • “I don’t even know where to start if I wanted to read all of it.”
  • “I don’t want to read it in the store. I’ll wait until I get home and use it as reading material in the bathroom.”
Smart Balance Light Buttery Spread
This one is totally logos. It’s full of information and facts and even has footnotes on the side to further support its claims.
I chose this over the others, not only because it’s vegan and I want to eat it, but also because it’s got some healthier-looking information on the label. (Flax is awesome.)
I was definitely drawn to the information on the package rather than the actual design of it. Because I think the design pretty well blends in with all the other margarines and butters in the aisle. The large text might also have something to do with it. It’s pretty huge.
The first thing I did when I picked up the package was actually read all of the quick facts on the side. It’s interesting stuff!
Of course, not everything is communicated on the front. It’s got the name of the product on the front, but the informative stuff is on the side.
In terms of shelf presentation, this package is pretty much your average margarine. It’s got happy primary colors and a rather light feel.
Friends’ thoughts:
  • “It’s all green and yellow. Like healthy butter.”
  • Big text, but a clean feel.
  • “Kind of trendy, new-ish look.”
Knotty Boy Locksteady Dreadlock Tropical Tightening Gel
I think this one is pathos, because it’s got a scene of a carefree beach, with a carefree dude, sporting his carefree locks. It feels very relaxed, but fun.
I chose this package over the others in the ethnic hair care section because it was one of the few with an actual personality. Other packages looked bland and boring, while this one looked a bit more fun. However, the package does look a bit juvenile and cartoony compared to the more mature designs of other nearby packages.
The dreadlocked dude on the front /side sticks out to me because he makes eye contact with the purchaser. Also, the use of color is unlike a lot of the other products nearby, which are mostly yellow and pink or brown. More fleshy colors, while this one is beachy and blue/green.
The first thing I did after picking up the package was sniff it because the package says it’s got lime in it. Sure enough, it smells like a limeade. On the beach.
Not everything is communicated on the front. In fact, most of the relevant information is on the sides/back (I just realized all of my products are cylindrical and they don’t really have “sides,” but oh well). The paragraph (which could’ve easily been condensed to a few bullet-points) explains how the product works and what to expect from regular use.
Friends’ Thoughts:
  • “Lots of green!”
  • “Very beachy.”
  • Dreadlock boy looks playful
  • “Party atmosphere”
  • Fun!

  Filed under: Find&Share, KCAI, VisLang
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