Here Is My Face
Case Study

For my case study I chose the Rare Words project illustrated by Mark Burrier. This project began as a collaboration blog where readers could submit words or phrases that served as a creative starting point for drawings illustrated by the artist. 100 of those illustrations were then collected into a book that was also crowd-sourced by using kickstarter to fund the publication. According to Burrier the project began out of a desire to promote collaboration “between the artist and the viewer”. Burrier’s process results in unique, mixed media pieces that not only have a meaning for him that can be gleaned by the viewer, but also a personal meaning for the original submitter of the word or phrase.

The concept for Burrier’s project is relatively simple, and similar to the process of commissioning that has been a staple way of making a living for many artists for centuries. However the viewers submitting to Burrier’s project are not commissioners because they neither pay for the end result, nor dictate how it should be produced. All they provide is the initial spark for Burrier’s own creativity.

This kind of project holds much potential for creating thoughtful viewers. While a viewer who submits a phrase may have chosen it for its particular meaning or connotation to the viewer, it may end up being interpreted or inspiring something completely different for the artist. Here is the key difference between collaborating and commissioning. With a collaboration the parties involved are all willing to give up a certain amount of control over the end result. With projects like Rare Words the process is just as, or even more, important than the end result. While it is always interesting to see how someone might interpret or feed off of what you give them, for many people participating at all is what matters the most. This is because rather than getting a product, people get to look at a creative work and claim to be a part of its creation. Getting to feel like a necessary part of creating something is a much more satisfying part of collaboration that makes participatory design projects so appealing to so many people.

Teacher/Ally Profile

Aranzi Aronzo

Aranzi Aronzo is the name of the design team started by a Ms. Saito and Ms. Yomura of Japan. There is little information on these two personally, at least in English, but their work has spanned the globe. These two started the company Aranzi Aronzo in order to simply sell whatever it was they felt like making. Their work spans from books to dishes to exhibitions and advertisements.

Beginning their business by selling their home manufactured goods, the two have gone on to create a company with more people as well as expanding what they want and are able to make. Now they not only are able to sell their goods online but have several of their own physical stores as well that sell t-shirts, dishes, bags and other home goods of their design.

The design sense of the two creators is driven by their catch phrase: “cute, strange, cool, silly, a little bit horrible, stupid and comfortable Aranzi Aronzo”. This motto can be seen in their work that is whimsical and mostly comprised of creating their own mascot characters but doesn’t feel as sugar coated as brands like Hello Kitty. Their use of muted colors and imperfect shapes and lines result in products that retain a home-made feel. And because of that hand-made feel the products have their own appeal, perhaps because they seem more personal than many of the other mass produced mascot products being made in Japan. They also don’t take themselves, or their products, very seriously, even having a fake about page on their website as a personal joke. Their motto can easily be seen as a way that the look at life, trying to enjoy it to the fullest without ignoring or hiding the sometimes sad or bad parts.

Thesis Project

For my thesis project I want to create a series of zines that each include three different components revolving roughly around the idea of examining Christianity from an outsider’s perspective. Each zine will be a collection of responses from a different individual. So if for example I asked three people to participate, each person’s responses would be the material for one zine.

I will be breaking the zine up into three parts answering three different questions. The first will be short essay or interview sections where I will layout the text given to me by people answering the question “If Christians were listening, what would you say to them?”. For the second part I will then ask people what the image they have of Jesus is and translate it into an illustration. Then I will ask people to describe a time, or tell the story of either a good or a bad experience they had interacting with Christians. This final part I will then draw out in a short comic.

I want to do this project because it is a topic that is part of the foundation of my life but from a perspective that I don’t have and until recently have not interacted with. I also chose the zine format because, while I could layout all the text in more of a book format, I’m not really that interested in lay out and I think for a project that is this personal and important the design medium should reflect my personal style and interests as well. So I’m choosing a medium and a solution that will be heavily illustration based, which is what I love doing.

While all you non-design majors are busy writing papers and reading peer-reviewed articles or whatever it is you do for class I’m over here designing a website ranking Robin Hood movies in order of hotness.

"This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now"
My poster in a public space. I was originally going to put it in the central library but I passed this old church and it felt more fitting

"This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now"

My poster in a public space. I was originally going to put it in the central library but I passed this old church and it felt more fitting

Week 3 Reading Response

Community and participatory design

I think the chapter label of community was a bit lacking in the actual content of this chapter. I think the author could have done more to explore the ideas introduced at the beginning of the section that participatory design is successful because people are driven by the want for community. I absolutely believe that people desire community. Personally I believe that human beings are made for community and we have an inherent need within us to connect with other people. Facilitating, or taking advantage of this need is an obvious step for not just designers, but for companies as well. While I think the idea of everyone living in a more democratic society because of community and participatory design projects, I think that is a bit too rosy of a way of looking at it. While for sure, with the advent of technology that has allowed the public greater information and access to putting input and feedback into the products they consume, I think by no means should we rejoice at having successfully freed ourselves from the ‘control’ of ‘mass media’. Participatory design can bring previously unheard voices to the forefront but our desire for connection and community is a double edged sword. It gives us more power on the one hand but also makes us more vulnerable to manipulation as well.

For example, a part of the advertising campaign for the remake of the Carrie film was a prank video that went viral. Rather than trying to get people to buy a product with overwhelming advertisements, the designers of the campaign created and elaborate prank where they set up a coffee shop where unsuspecting customers witnessed a girl who seemed to have telekinetic powers throwing things with her mind. Prank videos like this are very popular online and once they posted it to youtube it advertised itself, going viral almost immediately. So because the designers knew how to work the participatory culture of youtube (people sharing videos they think are amusing), they were able to create an advertisement that was actually spread willingly by the public rather than having to push it into the public’s face.Or we can look at the example given us in the book for the MTV Europe Music awards in Copenhagen. Whether or not participants knew it was fake, they were told they were participating in the protest of the MTV awards when in reality they (whether they knew it or not) were promoting awareness of the event.

So while the need to participate and form connections is great, and can lead to great projects and products as a result, it can also be a way for people to be left feeling manipulated and used. It can even lead to a split between groups, where one group is labeled as an outsider, with the insiders being superior. Therefore as a designer, we should be thoughtful of whether we are really empowering people with our work, or simply using them.

Top 10 Future Projects

1) Write and Illustrate graphic novels

2) Design/make a video game

3) Animate a cartoon

4) Design period costumes for a movie

5) Design a complete house

6) Design a typeface

7) Design paper dolls

8) Design series of book covers

9) Design a lolita fashion line

10) Embroider a tapestry

I did my work manifesto in the form of a comic so I could draw myself talking to myself. The scan trimmed a little more than I wanted it to but ah well. It’s above my desk (which is an organized mess, trust me) where I do most of my work.

The text reads:


1) Don’t QUIT!

2) “good enough” is not

3) Don’t burn out - work hard but allow for grace when you’re feeling unmotivated.      Don’t work after certain hours-it’ll get done when it gets done

4) Small steps build big projects

5) Try new things, get better at old things

6) Feed off your peers: you don’t live/work/make in a vacuum

7) If you don’t love you work, don’t expect anyone else to.

8) But it’s ok if you’re the only one who loves your work. Don’t get sucked into needing the approval of others to validate your work.