Welcome to Minneapolis! A Travel Brochure for Your Visit

Inside Brochure
Outside Brochure

Have you ever been to Minnesota?! To be more specific, have you ever been to Minneapolis, Minnesota? Whether you’ve been here or not, you’ve probably heard about how cold it is. Well, sure, it is cold in the winter – which seems to last about eight months out of the year some years.. But, that’s not all to it! 

Minneapolis has a thriving arts base and community, and is surrounded by water, whether it’s the Mississippi river, some of the many lakes of the 10,000+ the state is known for, or creeks and waterfalls. It preserves nature, history, and the people that make the community what it is. During the Spring, Summer, and Fall months, everyone and anyone is out enjoying it. 

Using my knowledge of design, I formed a travel brochure for an agency called “Explore Minnesota,” focusing specifically on the biggest and most populous city of the state, Minneapolis. When thinking about the Minnsota agency, I knew I needed to make sure that the branding matches back to what Minnesota is all about – art, community, and nature. 

Choosing the direction:

Because Minneapolis was built around the Mississippi river, adjacent to Saint Paul – the state capital –  and is abundant in water and trails that revolve around it; I decided to go with a cool color palette to resemble this – blues and greens. 

The Minnesota state lines also have a very distinct shape, and a lot of local branding utilizes the states outline. So, using that shape as a focal point inside the brochure felt like the right move. By doing this, I also chose to break the standard grid that brochures provide. The element is big enough that it overlaps onto the other pages and the text is wrapped within it instead of around it. 

Maps are necessary when telling others about locations, so I wanted to use an illustrated map that is used distinctly to understand the proximity of the locations of the landmarks. Recognizing the approximate location of these destinations will also help the audience because Minneapolis is split up not only from the river, but from the freeways as well. I thought this map would add to the fun and laid-back feel of Minneapolis.

Choosing the destinations to focus on for the brochure wasn’t difficult, however, I did have to narrow them down since there are so many worth-while visits! I chose what I think are the most notable locations for a wide audience, whether they’re looking specifically for nature and community, arts, or sports. 

Executing the design:

I based the composition around the Minnesota shaped text box, as this is the focal point, and it already breaks the grid like I wanted. The illustrated map made the most sense to have at the bottom of the brochure and span across each page that specifies the destinations in the map. 

The upper portion of the inside brochure follows a more traditional layout for easy understanding, but still breaks the grid a bit by wrapping the text around uniquely placed circular images. Using circular images made the most sense for balance with the organic feel of the river and lakes in the map. 

As for the type, I chose a nice display font that feels urban, but fun like Minneapolis; and the body text is a clean sans-serif for easy readability. There’s also a third font that’s used for emphasis, but less distracting than the header font would be within paragraphs. 

Branding “Explore Minnesota,” the logo has what represents a river between the two words, sort of symbolizing the Twin Cities, separated by the Mississippi. The tagline is “10,000 lakes, and a lot more” since the water is an important aspect to constitute Minnesota, but there truly is a lot more than that. 

Well, after viewing the brochure, would you consider visiting Minnesota?! I of course would recommend coming when it’s one of the warmer months so that spending time outside isn’t so straining. Summers are hot and humid, but the many water resources help tone it down a bit. Regardless of if you’ll stop by or not, welcome to Minneapolis from “Explore Minnesota” travel agency.

The Web Page: Stitched & Sable Living

Website Design – Desktop

Once you have a brand identity – a purpose, core values, goals, strategies; with the visual aspects like a color palette, typeface, and a logo – it’s time to think about the website. The site is not only necessary for a one-spot hub to show your product or service according to the brand, but to have that hub to include easy navigation and call-to-actions that benefit the audience. The combination of staying on brand and meeting the consumers needs with an ease of use way will bring back loyal audience members. 

Website Design – Mobile

With the brand identity that I developed (see Stitched & Sable Living’s brand here in another blog post), I pulled together a homepage for both a desktop and mobile device. In a time and age where there are several devices – all different sizes, and used for different purposes – as a designer, you have to understand that the website layout needs to be adaptable for any application. A responsive website design will adjust itself to fit each screen size for an understandable use per the devise. 

For a successful website design, you must at least have:

  1. Responsive or adaptive design
  2. Branding
  3. Images
  4. Clear navigation
  5. Content promotion
  6. Contact information

Among more, but these are the main callouts I have here. 

My Website Design Process:

Beginning from the brand identity, I started the layout with creative strategy in mind. 

How could I communicate to the audience a bold image and tagline that immediately grabs them in?

What kind of call-to-actions could I include on the homepage to get the audience searching for more?

Then, I developed a site structure with a content outline. The web structure would have a bold image at the top with a tagline; and a header for the name of the site with navigation to different pages. The content would include what makes the site stand out – product pages for different purposes (for you, for the kids, for the pets, for you & them); moving down to a specific spring collection for those looking for seasonal items. 

The empty boxes are placeholders for actual product.

Because Stitched & Sable Living is a product shop, the homepage is scrollable to reach different navigation points specific to what the audience is looking for. I think this is an important aspect for the website because the consumers could look for quite a few different possibilities, and find what they need easily.

It was at this point that I was able to start forming the design into a grid layout.

While the grid is split into three columns for the desktop website design, the mobile screen couldn’t hold so much of that information before getting too small to read or touch. For that reason, the mobile screen has two columns for better ease of use. However, to keep the design unified from the two different devices, both grids are modular. A modular grid, described by Robin Landa in Graphic Design Solutions, is where there are consistent horizontal divisions and vertical divisions. 

Another notable difference between the desktop and mobile version of the site is that the mobile version scrolls to five screen-lengths rather than the three screen-lengths of the desktop. Just like the reason I changed the number of columns, this was necessary for readability and touchability on the mobile screen. Besides these changes, though, the site remains intact as a universal

So, if you’re designing a website – remember, you are not only designing for the brand itself, but for the audience to have the best access possible to benefit from your brand! Keep these notes in mind when developing your own successful website.

Advertising: Stitched & Sable Living

Stitched & Sable Living – Advertisement

After developing my brand – “Stitched & Sable Living,” it was then time to think about how to advertise in a way that communicates to my target audience the purpose of the products, and why they should buy them. 

In my previous blog post, “Brand Identity: Stitched & Sable Living” I talked about the underlying purpose, values, market, etc. of the brand. So, truly, the main benefit I found worthy to differentiate the brand from competitors was that some of the home products tie back to pets (or really, any part of the family). 

According to Robin Landa in Graphic Design Solutions, the best steps for having a successful advertisement are:

  1. Grab attention with visual interest
  2. Have a clear message to communicate to the audience
  3. Motivate the audience to a call-to-action

OK – so choosing my differentiator is a great way to grab attention. Check!

“Everyday Goods – for you and them.” simply communicates the message along with the images. Check!

The logo in the bottom corner helps the audience to know where this ad is coming from and to go there for any additional information or product. Check!

Designing the Ad:

Having the message, and using my resources was no problem…

The ad should be simple, so there isn’t much text on the design, but it’s powerful enough to know that the audience member can buy multiple items of the same essence. I utilized the logo’s typeface – as this is now an integral part of the brand. Just like how I mentioned in my previous blog post, the main Sans Serif font is for a more classic, modern visual interest, where the script is used so the audience knows there’s a fun, casual side to the brand.

Colors of the brand are essential to use in the ad as well so the audience can recognize it to be from “Stitched & Sable Living” before seeing the logo in the corner. I decided to use the same color background and colors for the font to balance with the logo. Also, what’s nice about the banana print on the products is that the yellow ties into the logo as well, helping to unify the overall design.

However – I think the overall message could be more clear with the images!

The issue for me is – since “Stitched & Sable Living” doesn’t actually have any product (at the moment) I found it difficult to advertise! I thought about taking pictures of similar product, but I don’t have anything like what “Stitched & Sable Living” would have, so that didn’t work. The only way I could show the [non-existent] product was to illustrate something that might be on the line-up. 

Luckily, I have an already-made banana repeat print (for some masks I’ve made previously) that worked perfectly as one of the graphic prints that “Stitched & Sable Living” would provide. 

Illustrating a hand towel and bandana worked out well for the ad – and it shows what I mean when I say that some of the products sold at “Stitched & Sable Living” can match as sets – a useful hand towel for the kitchen and a fun accent for the beloved pet family member. 

I believe that my advertisement shows what I’ve wanted it to – that the product is inclusive for you and them (them being really anyone, but ideally for the pet). If I could do it differently, though, I’d want to have actual product to use and style it in a home, and with pets – likely a dog or a cat. In my mind, I think of an animated advertisement, where it goes from a mom or dad character with their item (a hand towel, placemat, coaster, pillow, throw, etc.), to their child with their item (pillow, rug, wall tapestry, etc.), to their pet with their item (bandana, bowtie, pajamas, bone toy, etc.) Maybe I will get there at some point soon. 

That’s the hope, anyway!

Brand Identity: Stitched & Sable Living

Stitched & Sable Living – Main Logo

If you’ve ever thought: “I’ve got a GREAT idea for a new brand!” Well, that’s awesome! Follow your intuition, and start growing that brand. 

I’ve just spent the last week attempting to develop the brand I’ve been wanting to for some time now, and let me tell you – it is NOT easy! It’s not just the brand, it’s the entire brand identity. You know, the market audience (who are you selling/providing for?), the products or service, company and values, the colors, the type, and so on. 

Before I even had the chance to think about the visual identity of my brand, I spent some time making a list of essential need-to-knows about the brand itself. In order to design a brand identity you need first: a purpose, core values, goals, and strategies, said Robin Landa in Graphic Design Solutions

Here’s what I came up with:

What is the brand going to sell?

Softgoods  –

Practical, stylish home products and accessories.

Exclusive products with matching pet items.

Goals for the Brand:

To sell soft home products that are [mostly] practical; that can be used to both style the home but have use. With the benefit of matching items back to their pet family members.

Words to describe the brand: Fun, unique, colorful, happy, modern, stylish, inclusive.

The fun colors, patterns, sayings on some of the products help to make the brand distinctive against competitors; one of the main goals for visual identity; described in Graphic Design Solutions.

Product Inspiration Board

Goals for the Target Market:

Those who are looking for practical items that can also be used to style their home. Also, having the benefit of having access to items for their pets! 

Target Market:

Young families [typically] whether it’s just a young couple, a young family with children, or pets. 

Some of the products (like fun rugs, or pillows) could be ideal for children, so the age range for the target audience may be broad as well. 

Why I Came Up with this Brand:

I bought my home with hand-me-down furniture and no decor. I got my first dog during this time, and I found it necessary to think of her when I decided on new furniture, decor, and overall products. 

As a product designer at heart, I thought about customers having the access to find useful and ‘pretty’ home items, that also have matching items for their beloved pets – that maybe don’t need to be practical, but a great benefit!

Pets are part of the home; they’re family.

After understanding the brand identity without visuals, of course, visual identity was next on the list. Before I could start brainstorming logos, I needed a name. This took more time to develop than what I had so far!!

I did a lot of word brainstorming – writing down words similar to the brand, finding synonyms of those words, highlighting what I liked, researching other similar brands, etc. The brand name needed to communicate the products as stylish, fun, and inclusive of pet family members. 

Brand Name:

After almost endless thinking and crossing out discarded names, I finally found it!

“Stitched & Sable Living”

“Stitched” for softgoods; “sable” as in the color; and “living” to represent that the products are for your livelihood at home.

Because my dog was part of my inspiration in the products, I thought it would be great to include her in my brand development – hence, the color sable. 

She is mostly black with a white chest, but in the sunlight, you can see a brown tint coming from her undercoat. This is called sable – it’s a warm brown color that’s can often be found on different dogs! 

Logo Development:

Due to the meaning behind the brand, I thought it would be appropriate to have animals as “mascots” for the brand. 

Similar to Moomah Cafe (branding designed by Apartment One) – instead of having one mascot, I wanted to include many. What makes them recognizable towards the brand is the style of the illustration and the colors. Having a brand be identifiable is another main goal towards visual identity, from Graphic Design Solutions.

Stitched & Sable Living – Discarded Logo

At first, I was wary of having a dog as a mascot, because the main products sold with Stitched & Sable Living are meant for people, and I didn’t want the logo to confuse anyone that it’s meant for dogs only. So, I illustrated a few different options before finding my main logo. One of the discarded logos doesn’t include any animals; instead, a hand sewing needle to represent the “stitched” aspect of the logo. While I enjoy the logo, I couldn’t move forward with it because I knew I needed those mascots to best communicate the inclusivity of the home brand!

So, I designed my main logo with an outlined illustration of a dog – which looks very similar to mine, I have to add – and I don’t feel that it will be confusing for the audience because of the title and overall design. The logo is balanced between image and text; but the text is centered around the image – making it a combination of a logomark and logotype, however, more influenced as the mark (dog).

Stitched & Sable Living – Main Logo

In addition to the main logo, I decided to design a secondary logo. This logo is a bit more simple; its text is the main focus, making it, again, a combination of both a logomark and logotype, but this time, more influenced by the type (title). 

Stitched & Sable Living – Secondary Logo

As for the type, I used an all capital Sans Serif for the “Stitched & Sable” to add to the modern, styled feel of the brand; where the word “Living” is a script to add to the casual, fun side of the products. 

The colors were chosen as such:

Stitched & Sable Living – Brand Colors

While not all of the colors are in the logos, I would ideally like to find ways to incorporate them into the website (which is non-existent at this point). The iconic color of the brand is, of course, sable – so I chose complimentary warm colors to go along with the rich brown. Orange means adventurous, where yellow means happy, so those are two important colors incorporated into the brand as well. To balance the warm colors, I added one soft cool color – malachite green. All of these colors, while definitely colorful, are natural, and inviting. 

To come up with a logo you first need to come up with your brand identity; and as you can tell after reading this blog post, there’s a lot that goes into it! However, it’s worth it. Just because this wasn’t easy, doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t have done this work. I feel great about having a way to visually communicate the brand, Stitched & Sable Living. If you still have that A+ idea for a brand – start by doing as much research as possible so you can begin working on a brand direction, your brand colors, and arguably one of the most important visual aspects of a brand – your logo.

Esmeralda’s Wish: Creating a Fictional Movie Poster

At first glance, what do you think this movie is about? Let’s grab the obvious: there’s a dog, a cartoon-like bird, fencing in the background, and there must be a wish from one of the characters, since it’s in the title. The colors are bright and playful; it looks happy. But what about the fence in the back? Maybe rather than happy, it’s hopeful. Something to think about..

During the last few weeks, I’ve been learning a lot about graphic design techniques – the principles, elements, composition, presentation, typography, color, and so on. Well, to create a fictional movie poster is exactly what shows how far I’ve come with my new design knowledge!

Conceptual Development:

What’s the movie about, who are the characters, why should the audience be interested? 

The emotional aspects of movies (and really all content) is what grabs the audience’s attention and keeps the information in their memory, best said by Robin Landa in Graphic Design Solutions


Space Jam Movie Poster

I turned to doing lots of research (which is an essential part of the design process) on all posters, but of course, focusing on movie posters to understand what the required content is. Through this, I found that I particularly enjoy posters that have a mix of images and illustration. 

Eureka! I should design a poster for a movie that has a mix of real and cartoon!


Understanding my concept helped me to determine that the emotion of my movie is an adventurous, playful, and overall happy one. 

It also helped me to understand that my story should involve animals, thinking back to Looney Tunes, and the iconic Space Jam

HAPPY! Series Poster

I knew at this time to look at more recent posters with the same idea – like Happy! Looking at posters specifically with this concept made the direction more clear to me. 

During this phase, I was able to grab images, sketch, and develop my poster further. Luckily, I have an amazing photo of my dog, Ezzy, where she looks truly happy with almost a glimmer of hope in her eyes. I thought that was perfect to sketch a base around her as the focal point. 

Original Image of Ezzy

The Story:

Esmeralda’s Wish is a fictional movie about a dog named Esmeralda who lives in a shelter, and unfortunately doesn’t have a great beginning to her life. During one of the nights in the shelter, she has a wonderful dream of an amazing adventure with a new friend, a cartoon-like bird named Monty. The dream lasts the majority of the movie, and instills hope into her. After the dream is over, she gets adopted by a family, who also happen to have a pet bird!

Telling the Story Through a Poster:

The visual hierarchy of course starts with Esmeralda, who’s looking up in the direction of her cartoon bird friend, Monty, who is the second point of focus. Which then leads up to the title of the movie. 

The pink swirl helps move the eye from main emphasis, to the next, to the next. I included this swirl throughout the composition to not only move the eye, but to add another cartoon-like element. Also, the swirl helps to show dimension and lighting as well. There’s a gradient of pink and light colored bubbles that help to make the swirl look 3D. I intended to keep the light source for the entire composition off to the right, since the image of Ezzy shows that the light source was from that direction. So, the swirl looks illuminated from the right side by these bubbles as well.

Colors used in this poster are intentional to add to the cartoon vibrancy. But they’re also used to provoke a happy, energetic, adventurous feel that the movie shows when Esmeralda is dreaming. 

From my text analysis, I mimicked what I found –  the title being large and interactive; the actor and premier date text are a nicely pronounced and secondary sans serif to the title. Then, the credits are another san serif, condensed, and with two different x-heights to interpret importance. 

Designing this poster began as a challenge, and ended with a composition that I am so happy with! I believe that the poster tells the story, which is truly the thing I was most worried about.. How do you make a successful, unified design that tells the story you want it to tell? Well, it’s a long process, but the result is so worth it. So, tell me, after another glance, do you see what this movie is about even after I told you?

A Glaser Rendition to Learn More About Design

My Milton Glaser Rendition

The album, Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits featured an iconic poster, designed by well-known graphic designer, Milton Glaser. The artwork of Bob Dylan became so famous, that the style has been heavily reproduced by others. It was about time that I followed these footsteps with my own rendition!

Getting into it:


For this rendition, the purpose for me was to start from a preexisting image for my graphic interpretation of the poster. I knew I needed to choose a photo of someone’s profile and strip the details down to their economy stage; basically, keeping it simple. Then, ensuring I’d be able to add a bold statement with different colors – which in this case, would be with the hair. 

Because this poster and style have ties to music, I believe that many of the newer interpretations choose to highlight celebrities or very well-known people. When thinking about who I wanted as my subject, I realized that I have a photo of myself that would work perfectly for this! Back in 2018, I had a portrait taken where I flipped my hair – It took many tries to get the image, but it was well worth it; especially now, where I get to recreate it.


Now that I had my basic layout started, I needed to think about the colors to use for my hair. For the three separate posters, I decided to use tonal variations. I chose the three secondary colors for each of the separate posters. That way, I knew I could get two cool colors (which are also complementary – purple and green) and one warm color placed in the middle to balance them out. 

I was also influenced by these colors because of color psychology, and I wanted to choose colors that represent myself. 

Purple – mysterious, understanding

Orange – adventurous, happy

Green – natural, balanced, authentic


With three separate posters laid out next to each other, the separation I used is called rules. The rules are the spacing/stripes/lines between blocks to act as the dividers between the posters.


Okay – so I finished the posters! But wait, there was one last element to include to truly make this a rendition of the famous poster. I needed to find a font that accurately constitutes the style – a bold, solid character approach. I found one called Hunt that worked perfectly for my name. I used white because I think that this is the negative space in the composition, as everything else is either black, gray, or a variation of different colors. 

Overall, this project was very fun to create my own interpretation of the Bob Dylan poster by Milton Glaser. I particularly enjoyed learning about different colors and their meanings and positioning them with myself. This helped me to continue my knowledge of graphic design, and I would strongly suggest this to anyone else looking to expand their knowledge of design as well!

Designed Typography for Visual Communication


Typographic design may come more naturally to some, and less naturally to others. For me, I’ve always chosen text that I like without thinking about the design behind it.. But, that’s not what typography is about. It’s an extremely important element behind compositions, and should never be an after thought because it’s all about communicating to the audience. The way a word is represented – the font used, written message, etc. – can change the way it’s interpreted

That said, I’ve been so excited to learn more about typography! My background and impulses tend to lean towards an artistic approach with hand-drawn lettering IF I even decide to use type in my work. I have experience with design on a product level but no experience with typographic design.. It’s time to change that. 

This week, I used my new knowledge of typography, design elements and principles, and composition to write the word “whimsical.” The purpose was to visually represent the words meaning. 

Here’s what I did:

I chose “whimsical” because I gravitate towards the style of the word. It’s playful, friendly, unique, and organic. 

Thinking about the process, It made sense for me to use a script, rather than a serif or sans serif typeface. A script is different because it appears as cursive instead of print. The font I started from is called Biloxi Script.

Beginning with the Biloxi Script font, I also utilized a text effect tutorial, which helped me to not only advance my Adobe skills, but also because it has a 3D, organic feel that I thought would work nicely with the cursive script. 

According to Robin Landa in Graphic Design Solutions, you should never use a font at its automatic setting. So, I changed the kerning of the letters right away. From there, I knew I could start the text tutorial to create the effect I wanted. However, I quickly found out that with my chosen text effect, each letter needs to connect to one another – sort of making the kerning that I’d already done less significant. 

The eucalyptus drawings are a part of the final piece because florals and natural elements are often associated with whimsy context. Simplicity with my drawings was important to me so that I could ensure the word to be the focal point. Because, of course, the aim for this experiment is to represent the word, but also challenge myself to focus more on the type rather than the artistic styling. 

By artistic styling, I mean that with typography and design, the purpose is to create a solution for the audience – in this case, communication. Where art doesn’t necessarily need a solution; it’s more interpretive. And I needed to keep my head focused on the solution rather than just making a pretty image. 

While I think the final piece represents the meaning of the word “whimsical,” and I’m very happy with the result, I think the readability could improve. Words that are easily readable make for easier communication. If I were to do it over, I think I would separate the calligraphic lines from each letter to make the letters appear more like themselves; similar to how I had the word before using the text tutorial. 

Typographic design definitely doesn’t come to me as naturally as it may for others. However, I’m planning to continue my practice with typography so I can hopefully better manage design communication for my intended audience. I’m looking forward to advancing these skills!

Visual Storytelling Through Different Images

Camping Trip

You’re vacationing with your loved ones on a camping trip – hiking, swimming, canoeing, kayaking – the whole works. Throughout all of the fun adventures, you decide to take it all in at this moment. While kayaking down a creek, towards your campsite and happy family, you feel complete. 

Seems like a happy story, right?! I hope so because that was the point. 

This week, I was challenged by adding multiple different photos into one image to tell a story. I decided to use images from different trips that I’ve taken in the past, sort of vicariously living through them during this Pandemic, where most of us are likely sitting at home most of the time.

Part of building a story out of already-taken photos was to utilize composition principles. To get this composition right, I first felt that I needed to pay attention to perspective above everything else. Of course, all other design elements and principles matter to create a unified piece; but if I didn’t have the perspectives right, the entire story would be off. 

To create the illusion of spatial depth that Robin Landa explains in Graphic Design Solutions, I used many depth perception cues. The first notable one is relative height, where I made sure that images that appear closer (like the flower and kayak) are bigger, while images that appear farther (like the man and dogs in the middle ground) are smaller. Relative height also helped me to establish a foreground, middle ground, and background.  

Another depth perception cue I utilized was atmospheric perspective, also known as aerial perspective. By achieving this, I blurred elements that should be farther away, like the mountains, and trees in front of the mountains. 

Without going into too much more detail about perspective, I want to note a few more things – like the titled plan created by the creek and the superposition or layering of elements in the composition.

I used a vertical format because of the titled plane from the creek. By doing this also creates a vertical eye line, so I decided that I needed to add some diagonal elements – like the flower in the front, and the tree in the middle ground – to add movement through the piece. I didn’t want the composition to appear static. 

The image that I used for my base background has so much greenery, so while I added other elements during development, I wanted to balance the cool colors with warm reds and oranges throughout the piece. The red from the kayak, oranges from the flower and mushrooms on the tree, and pink in the sky helped balance the final composition. 

I have to be honest, this WAS a challenge. Using separate images to create a whole, and having the composition make sense by changing perspectives, lighting, angles, and so on proved to be difficult. Overall, I’m happy with the final piece – I believe it does tell the story that I wanted it to – the happy, colorful camping trip that I wish I could be on right now!

Original Images Used

A Visual Design Experiment: Abstract Painting in Photoshop

My Experimental Composition – Julie Anderson

I always thought that abstract artists just create anything they feel in the moment. Well, they do… However, there’s a lot more that goes into the composition than just placing paint onto a canvas. There’s a sort of freedom that comes with abstraction – the style and approach is completely up to the artist; but, to make a piece of work unified, there are necessary elements and principles to consider.

On my journey to discover more about graphic design solutions, I’ve started by assessing abstract art and have made an attempt to recreate an artist’s style while analyzing the components typically used within their work. 

The abstract artist I found myself most drawn to is Christine Ay Tjoe. Interestingly enough, she graduated with a graphic design and printmaking degree at the Bandung Institute of Technology in 1997! So, her knowledge of creating compositions while using design solutions is not new to her, and it shows

To See the White Land, 2012, Christine Ay Tjoe

Once I felt comfortable with Ay Tjoe’s abstract style, I chose one painting – To See the White Landto focus on for my own creation.

I became instantly drawn to this work because she uses bold colors, but balanced her composition with negative space from the foreground and between the organic shapes and lines. Ay Tjoe successfully uses both active whitespace, and passive whitespace to make sure the distribution of elements in the composition has necessary visual weight, which brings balance. 

Active Whitespace – Space used to move the eye from one element to another.

Passive Whitespace – Space used to bring breathing room to the work, creating balance and space that’s easier to look at. 

My attempts to mimic Ay Tjoe’s style began by drawing back to the design elements – line, shape, figures versus ground, texture, and pattern defined in Graphic Design Solutions by Robin Landa. Of course, elements aren’t the only thing that bring a composition to its final stage. Design principles like hierarchy, alignment, unity, and – like I’ve already mentioned – space. 

As far as elements and artistic styling go – I used photoshop’s tools with different brushes to create visual textures, opacities, and layers to ensure I achieved the depth of colors and figures necessary to accomplish Christine’s technique. To See the White Land is an oil painting on canvas, so creating a paint-like look – digitally – was essential for me with the organic shapes, lines, and blending of colors that Ay Tjoe uses in hers. 

While focusing on design principles, I noticed that her balance with negative space also influences hierarchy within the work, creating a focal point. This can be done with triangle hierarchy, or the golden mean. What I really wanted to do was create movement within the composition by doing the same. 

Triangle Hierarchy – Used to control the viewer’s eye – what they see first, second, third, and so on.

The Golden Mean – A mathematical equation that creates proportions for an overall progression of sight lines.

My Experimental Composition with the Golden Mean

While this was my first attempt of this study, I didn’t quite achieve the golden mean to its entirety (it is an equation after all), but you can see what I was going for here with movement, and focal points. 

This experiment has truly helped me to understand first-hand how design elements and principles are used in creating design work. What do you think, is there anything that you see in my composition that I missed addressing?! After all, art and design can be unique to the viewer as much as I can try to persuade a particular view.