USF Design Final Project

We previously interviewed our Graphic Design intern and local design student Grace Domecus, who made a portfolio book we really loved. Her project was so great that we asked her to interview fellow students who also created books with Blurb.

I made my portfolio during the beginning of my senior year at the University of San Francisco, while also working as a Junior Graphic Designer at Blurb. My portfolio allowed me to collect all my work from the previous three years in preparation for graduation and applying to jobs, as well as satisfy the professional development section of my curriculum at USF.

All senior Design majors at USF take two classes their senior year: Professional Practices, where everyone makes their portfolios, and Senior Design Project. In Senior Design Project, each student is given the entire spring semester to create their own thesis project synthesizing everything they have learned throughout their time in the design program at USF. At the end of the semester, these projects were presented in a public exhibition at SOMArts Gallery in San Francisco, and this year two of these projects featured Blurb books!

Margot Flynn created a zine titled Women Up and Kevin Kleine created a children’s book titled Soly and His Great Adventure. Each designer approached the Blurb platform and formats differently, illustrating the range of Blurb so well we asked them to talk a little about their projects and the decisions they made about their different publications.

Margot's USF Design Final Project

USF Design Final Project

Margot’s project titled Women Up is primarily a women’s zine along with a supporting Instagram account designed to cultivate empathy among women. She remarks in her project statement that this publication, “presents women’s stories that are both extraordinary and everyday by sharing news and facts central to women’s experience.” In her final gallery installation, she displayed quotes and photos of women from the Instagram account and sold copies of her zine with the profits benefiting a women’s shelter.

What role did your book play in your overall project?

The publication was the biggest and most integral portion of my project. It gave me a platform to approach women’s issues and personal stories in a tangible and beautiful form that people could hold in their hands, keep on their shelves and personally connect with.

How did you decide on your book size and paper type?

I wanted the publication to feel good in the reader’s hands, while still being portable and affordable. I chose the 5×8 size to cater to women on the go, figuring they might read the publication on the bus, waiting in the car, at a cafe or at home. To make it affordable, I chose the economy paper, which still had beautiful color finishes.

What was the creation process like for you?

The creative process for this project was a huge growth experience for me. I learned about the power of empathy and connecting with an audience on a most personal level. Designing a publication was tiresome and so rewarding. I was able to talk to so many inspirational women, photograph them and document their stories to showcase what they felt was most important. I was also able to use the publication as a platform to explore photography, typography, infographics, illustration and more.

What are your future plans for your project?

I hope to continue at least pieces of the Women Up project. Ideally I’d like to create a quarterly publication and produce it through Blurb. I also set up an online social media presence for the project, and hope to continue working with that to promote the message of women’s empathy in a pursuit of a shared female future.

USF Design Final Project

Kevin's USF Design Final Project

Kevin also used Blurb in the making of his project Soly and His Great Adventure. His project stems from his passion for sustainability and clean energy sources and features a children’s book and DIY solar panel kit for kids to build their own solar panel. The book follows Soly the solar panel and his friend Beatrice as they go on an adventure to find Soly’s energy, encountering many other energy sources along the way. The book is designed to introduce ideas related to sustainable energy to children and show them that renewable energy sources are available today. Kevin’s final installation included one copy of his book and one assembled solar panel kit for viewers to interact with.

What role did your book play in your overall project?

The book was the focus of my project.  At the beginning of this project I was thinking about sustainability and transportation, which led to thinking about energy sources. My conceptual goal was for children to understand where electricity comes from and that some sources are beneficial to the environment, such as the sun and wind, and others can be harmful, such as coal. There are not many children’s books with a story about this topic and I thought this would be a good introduction for children to sustainable energy. This book is also a good talking point for adults to start a conversation with children. The DIY element of the project gives children a hands-on experience of building a solar panel powered toy.

How did you decide on your book size and paper type?

For my children’s book, twelve by twelve was a good size to work with for the larger font and illustrations, and to still have some negative space. I chose the premium luster over the premium matte because the large bold illustrations on a quality luster paper worked well compared to the test prints I did on matte paper.

What was the creation process like for you?

I started by researching sustainable energy sources. I considered current methods such as coal, wind, and solar, etc. I also researched how to make the language appropriate and understandable for children and easy for them to comprehend while keeping it engaging enough for adults. I started sketching the characters and tried to make them appeal to children.  I also talked to professionals about sustainable energy and their insight from the industry.  Next, I received feedback from elementary school teachers and an early learning specialist about what is age appropriate, the language to use for children, and creating an engaging story for children.

 What are your future plans for your project?

I plan to give copies of the book to the school teachers and professionals in the solar energy industry that helped me out with my project. A lot of people were interested in buying the book so I am exploring self-publishing. I may write more stories about Soly or the other clean energy sources in the book, and may explore other renewable energy sources to introduce to children.

A big thanks to Margot and Kevin for taking the time to share with us, and we can not wait to see where their projects end up in the future! Have any thoughts on these projects or stories about your own final project? Share them in the comments below!

 

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