The Snap Design Academy is an eight-week project based training and professional development course for 15 underrepresented community college students from the Los Angeles Area that are sponsored and hosted by Snap, Inc.
June 2021 (1 week)
Create a set of 6 icons that represent a fellow Snap Design Scholar.
Interview your partner and synthesize the information you gathered into visual elements that are most authentic to the individual.
Spiritual, optimistic/open-minded, enjoys sage/soft green colors, crystals, peace-seeking, serenity, burger-lover, loves to smell things, "music has shaped the person I am today through good times and bad", anime-enthusiast.
I stuck to a softer sage green color pallete and played around with light/dark backgrounds to make the final icons pop.
The most important visual design decision was to keep a thick stroke around the outline of the icon and to add dimensional layers.
June 2021 (1 week)
Create a set of 2 collages for the Snap Design Scholar you were paired up with in the first project and for yourself. Use the same information gathered to create a visual system and theme that are most authentic to each individual.
I wanted to create collages that celebrate my partner and I, by making each design feel like a party. Different parties have different vibes to them and a party for Honey would look different from a party for me because we're made up of different interests, hobbies, and lifestyles. Another project goal I set for myself was to try to emulate one of my favorite designers, Tadanori Yokoo. Tadanori is famous for his maximalist collages that have contributed to modern Japanese arts culture and I've been a fan of his work since my first year of college!
I wanted my "party" collage to celebrate my multi-cultural identity. I am a Koryo Saram person, which is a name some ethnic Koreans in the post-Soviet states use to refer to themselves, and I am a designer. Many of the visual elements I used in my collage are cultural Korean references while the surrounding border of text is my home language, Russian.
Other characteristics I wanted to communicate:
- I use language as a tool to communicate & translate.
- I love to laugh a lot and to play around because I think it brings out a more authentic, lighter version of myself and the people around me.
- I love bright pops of color.
I wanted Honey's "party" collage to celebrate the things she loves and brings her joy. Some of the things she mentioned fro the previous interview include:
- Anime, watching films, video games, record playing
- Her favorite movie is Spirited Away
- She's a spiritual person. She uses crystals and loves the moon as symbolism.
- Her favorite flower is a sunflower, and she loves cottage core aesthetic.
This project continues to be a work in progress because I am a virgo-rising and I want perfectionism. (Joking, slightly) The most important lesson I learned while doing these collages is to show work in progress because the feedback you receive will help inform your next design decisions and to pace yourself with realistic milestones. I was very ambitious when trying to finish these projects because I wanted to imitate Tadanori's design style, however it backfired on me later on. I spent a lot of wasted time trying to imitate his style visually instead of flowing organically with my own style.
I'll continue to work on these collages to add to my portfolio, but it was a lot of fun!
June 2021 (1 week)
Create 2 iterations of a set of 10 typographic exercises using grid systems. This exercise was based on The Weather Project developed by Dan Friedman. It explores composition in constrained boundaries because we were instructed to only use one font family and to design based on the rules given for each grid.
June 2021 (1 week)
Create a set of community geofilters that authentically represent a neighborhood and culture. Explore local neighborhoods and ask, "What could this community use more of?"
I moved to the Santa Clarita Valley and have lived there for most of my adult life. I've explored many nooks and crannies of the town but what stood out to me the most about the community is the lack of diversity and the evident discrimination against black people and people of color. Here are several news articles highlighting some of the social issues that go on in SCV.
I decided the focus of my project should tackle some of the social issues that go on in SCV by welcoming the BIPOC communities and driving home the message that, "This your home too." It felt meaningful to focus on empowering my local town because growing up in SCV showed me that the community could use more hospitality and inclusion when coexisting with BIPOC neighbors.
An insight I had while attempting to translate my sketches into designs was that lettering was key in making geofilters pop. We listened in a brief listen from a Snap geofilter designer who shared some tips with us on how to make typography stand out in the safe zones of the screen, however it was much easier said than done. I struggled with this unit because I could not find the sweet balance between type and image while still letting the camera show the photo/video in the back.
In the future, I want to try using Snap Studio Lens to try to create and test my geofilter designs!
July 2021 (2 weeks)
Create deliverables on a personal topic that promotes social, environmental, or political change. Represent the data visually by creating a campaign on your topic and research. Create a 3d modeling component that merges your research and 2d designs.
One topic that felt near and dear to my heart was a woman's choice to have children, not have children, or cannot have them. I decided to dive deep into researching the topic because I, myself, felt unsure about the answer and wanted to see how other women were handling their thinking process. I think its worth mentioning that the project pivoted a few times because it felt like opening a can of worms and with such an emotionally charged topic, I wanted to make sure I created a design that felt empathetic and sensitive to a woman's decision. It was really important for me to have that emotional aspect heard and seen.
This project became much bigger than me during the academy and I want to continue pursuing it in the future. For now it is a work in progress but I would be more than happy to talk about it and find new ways to transform the project with feedback.
When initially approaching my topic, I was inspired by conversations I had with my friends about whether or not they wanted to have children. Many of them revealed they weren't sure but were leaning towards "No." I interviewed a few women to better understand their lived experiences and what factors went into their decision to not have children.
These were some of the memorable quotes that were shared:
After speaking with a few women, I realized I was missing a big part of the conversation - some women don't necessarily have a choice when it comes to having children. Miscarriage and infertility are more common than people may think. I was surprised to read about the statistics. Analyzing this information helped me to better understand another component of fertility and child-bearing that I did not know prior to starting this project.
I gathered all the data and research to compile into a strategic mind map. My main goals were to figure out what direction to take my concept, identify my audience, and determine what message I wanted to send. At first, my initial direction was to create an emotional toolkit that can provide support and healing for women who may have gone through a miscarriage or became infertile. I did some some digging on the internet to see what was already available and came across a few products/services.
I noticed many sympathy packages created as a form of comfort and support that loved ones could send to a woman who was having fertility issues or experiencing a miscarriage. Although the intention of the packages were warm and kind, I wasn't sure how appropriate it could be universally. It felt like the packages were meant to be sent only from close friends and family, since fertility and miscarriage are very vulnerable moments in a woman's life.
After going down this rabbit hole, I realized I did not want to create an emotional toolkit with physical items that felt impersonal. I even struggled to think about what items could be included in the toolkit that felt intimate, meaningful, and individual to the recipient. A blanket, a set of assorted teas, cookies, self-healing books all felt subjective and materialistic. As a one-person design team, I did not want to predetermine what items could be included in a package meant to comfort someone going through a deep emotional loss. Instead, I recognized that language could be used as a tool to convey powerful messages that could be intimate and meaningful.
One of the deliverable options was a social media carousel. I figured that the fastest way to reach a large audience was through the power of the internet. In the back of mind, I knew I wanted my concept to utilize language as a tool when advocating for different women's shared experiences but the language I used was too direct and felt like I was putting my opinion on a pedestal. Wouldn't it be far more fair and logical for the women who have gone through these lived experiences to be the ones to share their stories? Who am I to try to advocate for them when I have not even experienced a shred of what they have? It felt strange to try to to be a representative of all women's thoughts and emotions on child-bearing, miscarriage, and infertility through this digital carousel.
I scrapped the idea and went back to the drawing board. I wanted to find a more inclusive solution that could involve women's individual stories and be built together to uplift an entire community rather than to come from one person.
After having my "aha!" moment to include women's individual stories in the final solution, I started iterating different concepts. I worked with my mentor, teachers, and cohort to see what feedback I could use to lead the next direction. We determined that the focus of the project should be softer and should facilitate a space to let women know that they are not alone, regardless of what experience they may be going through. I wanted the women to feel surrounded by community even if their experience wasn't shared by other women, partners, family, friends, and strangers.
I wanted women to feel seen and heard, even if they were not understood.
My final concept was to create a post card service that would send letters, stories, and words of encouragement to women. The post cards could be sent from a partner, family member, or friend. All women's experiences are different and individual, but maybe the common thread between all of them is the need to find support from a community.
You may not know or understand what a woman may be experiencing but you can use language to be soft, vulnerable, and to extend a light by letting her know she is not alone.
Another layer to my project was to add custom flower patterns around the front of the postcards and to send the flowers selected in a beautiful package. In the world of flowers, each flower has a hidden meaning behind them. I envision people visiting a website to write the postcard, select a flower pattern based on the message they want to send, and to attach a bouquet of flowers. The products could be delivered to the woman's house and she could read the message inside/hidden meaning behind the flowers.
This project is still in development but here is the work in progress! I am designing each flower as a digital icon and combining it with frames so depending on what flowers a user may select then they can customize the final outcome.
Users would be able to visit a website hosting the service where they could select a floral design, write a personalized message, and deliver a bouquet with the intimate card. Each bouquet would have elegant packaging wrapped around it and an explanation of what the flowers hidden meanings are from the sender.
Illustrated below is an example storyboard of how the service could be used and product service/packaging inspiration.
An additional level to this project is to create an interactive space hosted in a public setting where strangers can come and tell their stories. Post cards could be written anonymously by women who want to share their stories or from partners, family, and friends who all know a woman who has struggled through child-bearing, infertility, miscarriage, and decisions around children. I imagine the vision of this space to be a physical wall that can be rolled around for easy transportation and a third party maintaining the safety of the space. The main goal is to uplift women without revealing their identity and to archive the letters to host on the website.
The archived letters could be transcribed and added to a digital story wall on our website where other people can read about these anonymously written stories. The hope is that we can build a community of people empowering, validating, and sharing stories so that the experiences feel less isolated.
July 2021 (1 week)
Work in groups to create a website with a call-to-action about another topic that is personal to your team.
I was partnered up with Andy Liu and Jake Mata to create a project on the topic of mental health and wellness. We all shared a personal connection to the topic and put our heads together to better understand what is missing from the world of mental health.
Our solution was to create a website to check on how they feel like when a close friend texts you, "how have you been?" and to share self-care reminders. We also added a component for users to read from other user's experiences anonymously because a big characteristic we shared was browsing the internet to read relatable stories and experiences in hopes of validating our own.
We had several brainstorm sessions to flush out the idea and decided to make color the main highlight of the website. We created different emoji faces that could be selected to describe the user's current state of mind along with key words describing their feelings and different color choices to match. One important element we included was an emotions wheel which is commonly used in psychology to help patients better pinpoint what they're feeling.
This project continues to be a work in progress but it was a blast to work on!