CUPID Studio: Discovering the Value of Design

Guest Blogger Rachel Fishman ’15

Through the client newsletter project I worked on this semester in CUPID, I have learned the value of visual design. Having previously had an inexplicable aversion to all things technology, particularly those types that I did not understand, I was nervous to begin a design-based project. My prior experience in document design consisted of creating flyers and brochures – two very important, yet less extensive, undertakings.

After our first meeting with our client, we realized that our work would be more extensive than we first realized. What was originally one newsletter evolved to include a brag sheet and flyer as well. My anxiety and lack of confidence in my skills increased until my group and I developed a detailed plan. Everything seemed more feasible – I knew I had a group full of knowledgeable students who would all work well together. However, not long after, we encountered the first of our communication problems. After we fell behind our plan, our progress and enthusiasm quickly plummeted. It was not until we concentrated on the actual design, even without having any content, that I felt the first wave of progress and accomplishment.

The most dreaded aspect of this project – the technical maneuvering of text boxes, accent lines and images – became the most rewarding. When we didn’t have the necessary content to complete the newsletter, we focused on creating a skeleton of what it would look like. The font-decision process was tedious yet made a remarkable impact. I had never realized the importance of “X-height” and the existence of font families; however, after trying out almost every single sans serif font in order to find one suitable for our title and headings, I began to understand the importance of fonts. The feet on letters would not be noticed by an untrained eye, much like the height of the hump on the “h” would not normally be compared to the horizontal line in heading’s letter “f”. Now that I notice the significance of elements like these, I will never be able to avoid analyzing their usage.

After we had made our major design decisions in regards to the overall theme, we began to insert some of the content that we did have. For many years, I have gone through the paper revision process and composed multiple drafts of a work; however, I had not considered this process to be as imperative when designing something. The vastly different versions we created allowed for our final product to be a conglomeration of the trials. The best aspects of each were merged into one. Before this project, I would have only focused on editing and perfecting one version to the best of my ability, rather than being open to having multiple layouts and then choosing the most rhetorically effective elements of each.

The responsibility of designing a product for a client who has a specific vision was daunting. It was by using our knowledge of rhetorical strategies that we were able to produce the best product that we could under the given circumstances. I not only learned major design elements, but I have also realized how large of an impact seemingly-minor alterations can have on the overall design. Increasing the text box in order to decrease white space, even if only by a centimeter, can make the page seem more complete; adding a black line to the bottom of a red text box can make it more distinguishable. When engaging in any type of design project in the future, I will go into it with a greater understanding of the impact of rhetoric in all of its forms.

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