Friday, November 8, 2013

Hey Seniors: Get Your Butts in the Field

Way behind on the blogging front. I saw the white light and floated over my body this week, as Apple's Spinning Beach Ball of Death threatened to take me down. My laptop has been replaced, but I forgot to migrate the fonts, so all my documents are screwed up, and I don't feel like dealing with it at dinnertime Friday. So I'm foregoing the document, and giving my seniors their final project via blog post.

The course–Design Methods: Image + Story–is a reworked version of Visual Worlds, about which I have written from time to time.

Okay, seniors: we talked about this on Wednesday, but here is a more formal articulation of what I'm asking you to do. Of late we've focused on realizing form in somewhat restricted contexts, to zero in on what your deal is. Many of you have made good progress. Now we're opening things up again. Your problem for the last month of school will be all about generating and integrating: text, image and editorial p.o.v. This prefigures your final semester, in which you will be working with Herr Hendrix to produce a major project. You can get used to turning many knobs on this one.

Nonfiction Zine/Comic Project

Your final project in this course will be a 12 page saddle-stitched booklet with a self-cover. The page size will be 7 x 9 or 3.75 x 5 inches. (Slight adjustments to those sizes are permissible.) 

You’re making a publication: a zine, a comic, a graphic testament. It can be quite lo-fi, but it must be complete and reproducible. It must be suitable to sell at Star Clipper Comics or comparable venue.

The subject of your zine must be nonfictional, and must involve in-person observation and reporting. The text must run from 50 to 750 words. (A newspaper column runs 750 words; nothing more than that.) Given the amount of time you have to write, design, illustrate, photograph and print––you will need to be able to work quickly and directly. Planning will be important, but not in a perfectly linear way.  

Here are five theoretical examples: 1) your flight home for Thanksgiving, woven into a wry reflection on contemporary air travel; 2) a mock-anthropological study of shoppers at the Galleria; 3) overheard dialogue and cell phone chatter on a city bus; 4) a Soulard market butcher shop, 5) interviews from a subculture, with profiles and portraits. In all cases you should bring a point of view to your subject.

Generally speaking, I would encourage you to address setting, a subject that's gotten only modest attention this semester. Also generally speaking, I would encourage you to avoid focusing on your friends and your apartment. Escape your demographic! 

Once you engage your subject, you can begin writing and drawing. I will see you Monday with research. Don't stand around trying to conceive the perfect project. Go out and draw something!

The project is due December 4, which is our last day of class.

Images: Mike Reddy, some spots from The Believer; from a book project he'd been working on when I saw him in New York earlier this year; and some spots about a diner. I love the overprinting and spot color thing in his work. How 'bout that chicken! 

And I made you (seniors) a little diagram: how four little sheets of paper make a home-made magazine!

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