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May 24, 2012

Welcome to the Experiment…

Hello friends. This is my new experiment–to see if I can create a space for all those ideas I usually keep to myself. My career interests in film and new media have, over the course of the last few years, necessitated a shift in thinking towards a more interdisciplinary approach to my craft.

I discovered graphic design, or rather, graphic design discovered me. As the film industry started to suffer from the economic downturn, I found my skills in graphic design increasingly in demand over and above my film producing skills. I had always dabbled in layout design, something I euphemistically referred to as “making things pretty,” for business development documents, film pitch packets and for other forms of marketing materials. I possess a strong sense of visual communication and storytelling, which is what drew to me to film, but I began to discover all the other places I could use this skill. When the market shifted, I invested more time into learning design software and practices, and found work as an art director for online games and as a creative consultant for marketing and branding. At the same time, I began to teach a few college classes. And then it clicked. Graphic design was my missing piece: the piece that allowed me to connect my life’s passions into a coherent whole.

Graphic design is closely tied to the art of filmmaking in often unperceived ways. Both are a potent form of visual language, and they share certain conceptual tenets. They are also intertwined in a practical sense: film producing requires the translation of a director’s vision into concrete terms, whether for a client or investor or for other members of a creative team. Graphic design is the tool that allows that communication to take place–whether through storyboards or style guides or treatments. It’s also what helps you sell your film, through onesheets, posters, ads and investor plans. This is why film students need to learn the basics of graphic design–as the film business is changing, the proficiencies needed to succeed are changing too.

Graphic design is ultimately a form of forward-thinking problem-solving, and that aspect has great potential for application in education, not just as a skill students should learn, but also as a way of thinking about the process of teaching. Design thinking steps away from the traditional modes of right and wrong answers, of memorizable facts, from less fluid ways of processing information. I want to apply that sort of model to my teaching philosophy during my remainder-of-the-year job as a professor. So this Digest is an attempt to put tangible form to pieces of aesthetic experience–both artifacts and discourses–that inspire, challenge, and shape the way I see the world. That said, if you aren’t very interested in meaty dialogue or educational frameworks, no fear, this Digest will include a lot of eye candy and easily digestible tidbits as well.

So, if you have stumbled across this early, congratulate yourself. But be aware that it may be some time before I fill the Digest with the amount and types of content the ever-so ambitious tagline and submenu promise. Cheers and thanks for stopping by.

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