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Headless ds106 Week 6: It’s All By Design

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We’ve wrapped up our week on visual storytelling and photography, and this week we’re diving into design. It’s not always clear where the line is, but design storytelling involves more creating and modifying in graphics software programs, and focuses on key characteristics of color, form, shape, typography, etc.

cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by See-ming Lee ??? SML

You’ll spend some time this week thinking about the way the world around you is designed, as well as creating some of your own works.


Ira Glass on the Secret of Success in Creative Work, Animated in Kinetic Typography (noted recently in Brainpickings)


What is design? It is everywhere you look- anything we create or manufacture has key design elements.

We are All Artists by Tim Owens (February 2011)

  • Creativity is not inherited
  • In sports we accept the idea that with practice, we can get better. Why can’t we translate that to art?
  • A creative environment can foster creativity
  • ds106 is giving you that environment
  • Do not accept the lie that you were just not born creative
  • We are more creative when we are uncomfortable
  • Take something ordinary and make it extraordinary
  • Take something complex and make it simple
  • Take something new and make it old
  • Find inspiration in the world around you

See the resources Tim published for this session.

More Design Resources

Design as Cultural Intervention (Jim Groom, February 2011)

Archive audio for Design as Cultural Intervention

Concept Review and “Design Safari”

Review this assignment document and examine the design concepts, the linked resource, and examples cited by previous ds106 students. The goal here is for you to develop a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the basic elements of design including:

  • color
  • typography
  • metaphors/symbols
  • minimalism & use of space
  • form/function/message
  • balance
  • rhythm
  • proportion
  • dominance
  • unity

After reading and reviewing the assignment document, you should be able to provide a basic explanation of each of these concepts.

To reinforce your understanding, we want you to undertake a “Design Safari:” Carry your camera with you this week and take photos of objects, ads, signs, etc. that illustrate one of these concepts.

Provide an example of at least four of the concepts listed above. Share all your photos on Flickr and tag them designblitz.

In addition, add a link to your Flickr photos by editing the assignment document within the proper concept areas, under the heading “Found Examples.” Make sure you identify yourself by name or twitter handle!

When you have completed your Safari, write a blog post that embeds the photos and your analysis of the design elements and what makes them effective or not. (You can do this in one single post if you like, or in several.)

(PRO TIP: Sometimes we can learn just as much from badly designed things as we can from well-designed things! So feel free to include bad elements as examples to avoid.)

Some rights reserved by anikki on Flickr

Design Assignments

This week, we suggest challenging yourself to complete 15 stars worth of design assignments from the Assignment Repository. To make sure you get a fair exposure to design elements, try to do one assignment from each of the following groups. Do the work that is most interesting to you, do not be driven just by the stars.

Visual Thinking and Symbols

Do ONE of the following assignments:

Designing / Redesigning Posters

These projects all involve some aspect of re-editing existing content to change the meaning or making something new that visually represents an idea. You will want to use software that allows you to work on layers as these become complex projects – such as Photoshop, GIMP, or pixlr. Pick at least ONE of the following to do this week:

You can fill out the rest of your stars from the collection design assignments. Remember that each assignment should be its own blog post, properly described, linked, and tagged according to the criteria for writing up assignments

Daily Creates

This week, complete again at least three daily creates. It will make all of us rather happy to see you describe visual and design elements in your work. It’s fun to learn from each other.

Radio Show

Last week you hopefully formed your groups to work together on the radio shows you will create in weeks 7 and 8. You have some things to do each week between now and October 22, when the shows will be premiered live on ds106 radio.

See the full project details. For this week you should:

  • Work within your groups to find the best mode of communication.
  • Design some sort of logo or bumper sticker for your team’s group, based on the name you chose.
  • Work within your team to decided on a theme and a format for your shows, and a title if you can agree on it. You may want to review the kinds of shows students have done in the past.

Include a recap of your group’s efforts in your weekly summary

Weekly Summary

At the end of the week, write up a summary of your work for the week. Be sure to reflect upon and write about

  • the Design Safari
  • summary of the design assignments you completed
  • your three Daily Creates;
  • progress on your radio show, including a logo design and what kind of show your team decided to work on

As you write up your work this week, think about the design elements you reviewed and explored in the Design Safari- be sure to talk about these works in the thinking about and creation of your work this week.

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