Sometimes great design starts with a series of accidents. And they're those kinds of accidents that leave you clapping your hands in delight a little bit. This week's installment of "Designing Wonderland Cafe" was based almost entirely on an accident that I had several months ago with a piece of software, Scopeworks. The resulting graphic from this mandala-making design god has been used in a number of my journals and other Alice-related works.
What the CARP…?
First, I should say that this week's design assignment asked us to look at four very important elements of design, contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity or CARP. Although our book "Creating Graphics for Learning and Performance" (Lohr) gives us some standard definitions of these elements, I prefer to explain them in my own words.
Here are my brief definitions:
Contrast: It could be the difference between light and dark, soft lines and hard lines, squares and circles…
Alignment: Basically, a list is often an example of alignment, though that's not the only definition. You can have a left-aligned text for example.
Repetition: It's the repeat of some element like form or color or font.
Proximity: How close something is or isn't to another object causes us to assume that they are associated to one another.
Can You Repeat That Please…?
This is where that accidental Alice mandala comes in. It perfectly encapsulates the concept of repetition. The mini-Alices repeat the form thanks to Scopeworks. I've used this graphic as a part of coloring pages and it will be the foundational design for some upcoming journals (which will also be associated with this project.)
I was working with the idea of fake social media accounts. Anyone who has been on Facebook or Twitter for very long has probably become victim to someone taking their identity, with the intention of scamming that person's friends. I had it happen. Someone took just about everything from my author page, but fortunately, I have good friends who alerted me about the counterfeit. The problem was solved in a matter of minutes.
But how would your social media followers know if you didn't start a second account if you don't tell them? Especially if the second account uses all the same graphics from the first one? That's the idea that I wanted to convey with that graphic: How can you tell the difference?
In this case, you can't as your social media followers also often can't.
When You WANT to Fall Down the Rabbit Hole
The rest of the elements fell into place with relative ease.
I went with a left-right alignment, with the mandala graphic on the left juxtaposed against the "counterfeit" list on the right.
The pink elements provide not only contrast but also repetition.
Finally, the black Alice graphics plus the black lettering provides a contrast to the gray of the background. In some respects, last week's graphic (seen below) offers even more contrast, but I'm not unhappy with this week's work.
But really all of it was influenced by how cool the Alice graphic turned out just randomly. This kind of accident is one of the reasons why I love the creative process so much. Often the idea you were about to discard turns out making the piece you're working on. It happened many times for me while I was writing my novel, and it happens often when I'm working on design.
If anything, it's this kind of thing that lends the strongest argument for design being a process of working and reworking.
Lohr, L. (2003). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.
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