Thoughts on the Class

This class was definitely a learning experience, more on a personal level than anything. I came to the class after almost 10 years since my last college course. Just being motivated to go back to school was a big step for me. Overcoming anxiety about presenting my work and learning how to work within deadlines have been my two biggest obstacles in my art career so far. I’m still definitely working on both of them, but this has been a good start for me.

While I appreciated the information that was presented in the lectures, I personally feel that it would have been useful to have a more hands-on approach. I think that it is easier to learn something when you can walk through it step-by-step as you are hearing the information, rather than just presenting it and then having the students work on their own. Maybe it is just my style of learning, but I found that it took me a while to process the information, after it was presented, into practical application. There were times, for instance with the video design and web design, were I felt that it would have been very helpful to have files that the class could have worked on as you explained the process, so we could learn it as it was being presented. Lectures can get boring sometimes, for both the teacher and the students, and I think this would help break up that monotony.

I liked the addition of career information and guidance, and, although it may not be applicable in your next classes, also being able to see the process of the portfolio students. Having a guest speaker was nice, and although what I took away from it was probably the complete opposite of what was intended, it was still helpful.

I would say my favorite part of the class was the video design. I was not expecting it to be as much fun as it was. Mostly because of the opportunity to create a visual “story” which I really enjoyed. Even if I don’t use it in my career path, it is definitely something that I would like to dive deeper into in the future.

There were times when the discussions strayed pretty far from what was in the curriculum, and while that doesn’t bother me, there were plenty of instances where it seemed, although sometimes entertaining, less than professional. I wasn’t personally offended (that doesn’t happen often), if anything I find things like that helpful in knowing what to avoid, and how to deal with people who like to push the boundaries (and obviously something which I have had to deal with). That’s not to say that it’s ok to go around pushing people’s buttons for the sake of it, but that is just my takeaway.

Everything is a learning experience for me, even the things I don’t particularly like. Overall I enjoyed the class, and I felt that I learned quite a bit, even if it was not what was intended. Hopefully this will help give you some of the insight you are looking for, and will help you next semester. Good luck!

Freelance Illustration as a Career

about-pic4Becoming a freelance illustrator can oftentimes seem like a daunting challenge. More than likely it is not going to make you rich, nor famous, and in the beginning, you will likely have next to no social life. Long hours, weeks and/or months with little to no income, and under-appreciated talent and skill are the realities of this profession, yet for those who have the passion and the determination to consistently create new art it can be a rewarding career.

Below are some questions and answers that highlight the main points of becoming a freelance illustrator.

What is the career you are pursuing and why?

As an artist and creative professional, my goal is to work towards becoming a freelance illustrator. I love drawing, and I am a very visual person, and becoming an illustrator is something that I have dreamed about for a long time. I am interested in also working for myself and selling my own work, but for the sake of this post, I am going to focus on freelance illustration.

Most of the people and companies who are looking for illustrators are going to hire on a per-project basis. I also want to be able to be in control of what I choose to take on and how I run my own business. And while I haven’t quite figured out what my particular niche will be, the specifications and requirements of this particular field are going to be pretty much the same, regardless of what I choose to specialize in.

What are the working conditions for this occupation?

Besides your actual skill level, I think one of the most important things to consider, is how well you can manage yourself. Your clients may be your boss, but it is ultimately up to you to manage your time and money wisely to run a profitable business. This includes not only being motivated enough to start work, but also keeping a consistent pace, and knowing when to stop or slow down to avoid burnout. If you are the kind of person who prefers to have someone else organize and manage all of the background operations, then you will likely end up feeling frustrated and lost. Or you need to be financialy capable of hiring someone to help you take care of all of the mundane, non-art related aspects of this business.

The other thing to consider is how much social interaction do you require on a day-to-day basis. If you require constant interaction, or prefer to socialize while you work, then you will get lonely in this field. It is a job that requires a lot of time alone in order to get projects done, and unless you are collaborating with another artist, the majority of job-related human interaction will be at client meetings or presentations. Even for those who prefer to spend most of their time alone, it is important to have some social interaction on a regular basis, so being able to find ways to interact with other like-minded individuals is important.

What types of places does someone in this occupation work?

The most typical place for a freelance illustrator to work is from home, although some people choose to have a studio away from home, either alone or with other creatives. Working from home usually means no overhead costs, which is most ideal, however the pitfalls to that is being constantly distracted by all the aspects of your personal life. Many illustrators choose to get started with ideas and brainstorming away from home, either in coffee shops, parks, or museums. They might take a sketchbook and sketch out thumbnails or roughs and jot down notes or anything that they feel might inspire the project they are working on, and then start the foundation for the actual project at home.

about-pic1What kind of training is required for this occupation, i.e., high school diploma, two-year college, apprenticeship, bachelor’s degree, etc.?

Although being a professional in this field does not always require schooling, a college education can be useful in perfecting skills. Having the guidance and critique of professors and your peers can be helpful in understanding how to appreciate and respond to feedback and criticism, which is very important as any type of creative professional. One area that does usually require a master’s degree is scientific or medical illustration.

The main requirement for this type of work is having a portfolio to prove your skill and ability to consistently create artwork that is eye-catching and engaging to the viewer. This simply translates to the willingness to put in the hundreds and thousands of hours that it takes to get there.

How much does someone in this occupation earn? What is the range of salaries? Does someone in this occupation earn bonuses or commissions?

The typical salary for an illustrator according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics is roughly $45,000 a year, although it can vary greatly from person to person. This will usually be paid out per-project in lump sums, so it is important to know how to seek out work consistently, and know how to manage time and money effectively.

What are some related occupations?

As an illustrator you could specialize in many different fields such as book illustration, comics, editorial illustration, packaging illustration, textile designer or illustrator, scientific or medical illustration. Related fields would be graphic design and animation. Many illustrators work for animation studios, and most of them likely have the skills to take on graphic design jobs if they are looking for ways to supplement their income, or if a project calls for other types of work.

about-pic2Can someone in this occupation advance on the job? Describe.

Advancement in this career usually equates to bigger clients who are willing to pay more per project. As you improve not only your art skills, but also your interpersonal skills, you will be more likely to become successful and advance. Many clients want someone who not only is talented, but also easy to work with and is able to meet deadlines.

What is the labor market outlook for this occupation? In Texas? In this part of the United States? Other?

The projected job growth in this field is only about 2% by 2024. This is slower than what the average is for other careers. Some say that freelance illustration is dead, mostly due to the rise of stock illustration. Many freelancers find that they need to supplement their income with other jobs, taking on other design related work, or by branching out on their own and selling their work themselves.

Does this occupation require travel?

With all the advancements in technology, long distance travel is not necessarily a requirement for this career. You may have to travel to meet up with clients in person, however much of the correspondence is done via the phone or internet these days, and most illustrators simply send files of their completed works via the web.

Typically, does this occupation provide any benefits, such as health insurance, retirement plan, flexible work schedules, vacations with pay, etc.?

For illustrators who work freelance, typical company benefits such as health insurance, retirements plans, paid vacation or sick pay are pretty much nonexistent. The trade-offs are that they can usually create their own schedule, pick their own clients, commuting is usually as far as their computer or studio, and if they feel like it, they can work in their pyjamas.

Sources: theartcareerproject.com, bls.govchrisoatley.com

A Story about Fear

An important part of thriving as an artist or creative professional is facing and overcoming fear. All art is subjective, and therefore vulnerable to criticism or ridicule. It is crucial, however, to allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to criticism, and rather than fear it, use it as a tool to learn and grow as an artist.

This video represents just that: fear of being vulnerable, fear of the unknown. Everyone has a fear, in some form or another, and understanding that fear is an important step in overcoming it.

It was created in Adobe Premiere Pro CC. I used Stock footage from Pexels, Videoblocks, and Videezy. I also used some vintage film scenes taken from the documentary, The Horror of It All, by Wombat Productions, 1983, found on Internet Archive. The scenes used are clips from the following films: Metropolis, 1927; The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, 1920; The Cat and the Canary, 1927; The Bat Whispers, 1930; Nosferatu, 1922; King Kong, 1933; and an audio clip from Svengali, 1931.

Music is “The Killing Moon,” by Nouvelle Vague.

Fair use of Intellectual Property

As a student or instructor, it is important to know and understand the laws of Fair Use of Intellectual Property, and to what extent they apply. In many instances, if you are using a work soley for educational or instructional purposes, you will be protected by Fair Use laws. However, there are some situations that you need to be aware of that may infringe upon, or violate, the copyright holders rights.


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An image from the BioDiversity Heritage Library’s Flickr page. Digitized by The New York Botanical Garden, LuEsther T. Mertz Library. It is an example of an image that is made available for public use with some restrictions.


Below are some scenarios from the excerpt “Examples Illustrating the Application of Fair Use,” in The Regents Guide to Understanding Copyright and Fair Use, by the Office of Legal Affairs of the University System of Georgia, and answers as to why or why not they are considered fair use.

1.  “A professor copies one article from a periodical for distribution to the class. Is this Fair Use, why or why not?”   

-Yes, this would be considered Fair Use. In-classroom use is acceptable for distributing copies of an article, as this is deemed to have little to no effect on the market value of it.

2.   “A professor has posted his class notes on a Web page available to the public. He wants to scan an article from a copyrighted journal and add it to his Web page. Is this Fair Use, why or why not?”  

-If the page is restricted to students and educators, then it would be considered Fair Use. But if it is available to everyone, then it is not considered Fair Use as this would violate the right of public distribution by the copyright holder.

3.   “A teacher copies a Shakespearian play from a copyrighted anthology.  Is this Fair Use, why or why not?”  

-The play would be free to use as it is part of the public domain. It is not under copyright protection.

4.   “A professor wishes to place a personal copy of a book on reserve for repeated use in the same course. He encourages students to photocopy portions of the book as necessary. Is this Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

– No, this would not be considered Fair Use if it is for more than one semester, as this could be perceived to negatively impact the market value of the book. The school library should purchase copies of the book, or the students should be required to purchase copies of the book.

5.   “A teacher wishes to show a copyrighted motion picture to her class for instructional purposes.  Is this Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

-Yes this would be considered Fair Use as long as no admission fees were charged and it was for educational purposes only. The tuition or class fees paid by the student are not considered admission fees.

6.   “A professor or other member of the campus community wishes to show a video outside of the classroom. The event is not part of the day-to-day instruction of a particular course(s), and furthermore is open to anyone who wants to attend. Is this Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

-No. Fair Use only covers the events that are part of the classroom instruction and the students that are enrolled in the course. Everything outside of the classroom setting that involves non-students would require either purchasing the public performance rights, or by getting permission from the film’s publisher.


fair-use2 This image has been identified as part of the public domain. There are no restrictions for its use.


7.   “A teacher or student prepares and gives a presentation that displays photographs. Permission was not obtained to use the photographs. Can the photographs be included in the initial presentation, if it is in a traditional classroom?  Is this Fair Use, why or why not?”   

-Yes, Fair Use allows for presentation of copyrighted material as long as it is within the classroom setting and for educational purposes.

8.   “What if the presentation discussed in Scenario 7 is broadcast to students at their homes or offices? Would such use be a Fair Use, why or why not?”  

-As long as the students are enrolled in a course, and the use is for educational purposes, then it is considered Fair Use. Teaching, critique, commentary, and research are all considered valid applications in this scenario.

9.   “What if the teacher’s or student’s presentation explained in Scenario 7 is video-recorded? Would such use be a Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

– Yes. If the video is to be used for educational or instructional purposes, then it is considered Fair Use.

10.   “A professor wishes to use a textbook he considers too expensive. He makes copies of the book for the class. Is this Fair Use, why or why not?”  

-No this would not be considered Fair Use. Although it is intended for education purposes, it is not considered Fair Use to copy an entire volume of work, such as a textbook, as it interferes with the profits for the owner of the copyright.

11.   “A teacher or student creates a presentation and incorporates copyrighted music into the background. Assume that permission was not obtained to use the music for the presentation. Can the music be included in the teacher’s or student’s initial presentation?  Is this Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

-Yes. As long as the presentation is for educational purposes, then it is considered Fair Use.

12.   “A professor teaches a music course, and the professor creates a presentation. The presentation contains the works of ten contemporary artists and is presented to a new class every semester. Is this Fair Use, why or why not? ”  

-Yes this would be considered Fair Use. As long as the presentation continues to be solely for educational purposes and not for profit, then this is acceptable under the Fair Use laws.

Trends in Graphic and Web Design

Whether you follow trends or avoid them like the plague, trends are an integral aspect of the graphic design, web design, and social media communities.

Keeping up to date on trends are important because they inform a company or designer what potential clients or customers might be looking for. It’s a way of understanding where your biggest target audience may be and what they might be drawn to. On the flip side, understanding trends can also be useful in helping your business stand out by knowing which elements already saturate the market and knowing to avoid them, or by creating a new take on an already popular idea.

Trends take time to gain popularity, slowly becoming more and more widespread. They will eventually reach a peak, whether it is months, years or decades long, gradually fading out over time as they are replaced by new trends. (Source: Design School)

Bright, bold colors, geometric shapes, and abstract designs are popular, according to Janie Kliever at Design School and also Kate England at Creative Market.


design-trends2Illustration by Ray Oranges

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Design by Irene Victoria


Creative use of typography is another trend we have seen gaining popularity, and particularly in 2016. Type is not simply just type anymore. By using the principles and elements of design with type, words are becoming multifunctional design tools.


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Design by Anne Jordan and Mitch Goldstein


Design trends that affect a website or app’s functionality are also important. Maintaining a look that is fresh and relevant as well as user-friendly is essential in promoting traffic and sales. If a website is difficult to use or seems outdated, people are less likely spend time on it or come back to it.

With most internet users now connecting via mobile devices, the use of scrolling as a design feature has become commonplace on many websites. Reducing clicks allows content to be viewed faster and to promote better navigation. (Source: Webflow)

Many people look to social media as avenues for inspiration and as a way to share favorites with others. After first appearing on Pinterest, Buy Buttons are becoming more common for companies trying to market through social media. Instead of a potential customer having to hunt down the website and the product, these buttons remove those unnecessary steps and allow for faster conversion. (Source: Forbes)


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Image via The New York Times


Live streaming is continuously getting better, and with platforms such as Periscope and Meerkat, users can connect with the world via live video. Real-time engagement is becoming important to users as it makes the experience feel more personal and inviting. (Source: SproutSocial)

I personally am influenced by design that is more eclectic and less trendy. When I feel that a certain element or design has become too mainstream, it becomes less appealing for me. That is not to say that I don’t like anything that is current or trendy, but simply that I am drawn to products and design that have a strong emphasis on quality and longevity, rather than popularity. Colors, shapes, and patterns are easily imitated, but good, conscious design, however, is not. When a lot of care and attention has been put into a design or a site, I am instantly drawn to it. When it is obvious that a person or a company is just trying to capture a sale, or creating something simply for the sake of appealing to the masses, I am not likely to be interested.

So whether you are someone who enjoys staying up to date with the latest trends, or you cringe at the mere mention of the word, it helps to know what everyone else is doing. Even if it is simply to understand what it is that you want to avoid. As Robin Williams, author of The Non-Designer’s Design Book, says, “Once you can name something, you’re conscious of it. You have power over it. You’re in control. You own it.”

Social Media

With billions of people connected via the internet on a daily basis, it is important for companies and brands to understand how social media can affect their business and not only drive traffic to their sites, but also create an interactive community to help the brand change and grow to meed the needs of the consumer.

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Green Kitchen Stories is a blog dedicated to making an ordinary, sometimes labor-intensive task such as eating healthy into something that can been seen as exciting and fun.

Instagram is the perfect platform to showcase their stunning photography and promote an adventurous approach to eating and living well. They integrate photos of their travels, family life, and involving their children in the process of cooking and making food, all while maintaining a look that is professional, cohesive, and yet still relaxed and fun. Their photos tell stories without having to use so many words, and creates an instant appeal for viewers.


Neil deGrasse Tyson is a world-renowned astrophysicist and author whose approach to science and public persona has made him a celebrity and gained him a very large social media following. He has over 5.8 million followers on twitter, and rather than simply posting science facts or articles, he uses his natural comedic wit and sarcasm to provoke social commentary and relate to his audience in a way that is not monotonous or boring.

Astrophysics is a field which, in the past, has been viewed as very technical and not easily accessible to the average person. He has a natural ability to break it down into thoughts and ideas which are more relatable to all of us non-physicists out there.

Many of his tweets are contemplating life’s most existential questions.

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He also knows how to maintain a sense of humor, even in the face of criticism.

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And many of his posts have absolutely nothing to do with science. He’s just a guy who obviously has a passion for learning, but knows not to take life so seriously. It’s this approach which I believe has gained him the success and following that he has, while also engaging the social community in intelligent (and often times un-intelligent) banter and encouraging people to look at science in a whole new way.


Printed media is becoming less and less used these days, and for companies whose main source of revenue was traditionally in selling physical copies of printed information, maintaining a strong online presence is essential to promoting their brand and keep consumers engaged.  Yoga Journal uses Pinterest to connect with their readers and promote the lifestyle and ideas which are central to their brand.

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Not only do they post articles and ideas from their own site, but they promote other people, brands, and ideas, much the same way ads in a magazine would. This can create a sort of community of like-minded business coming together to serve a specific type of consumer.

Although there is less social commentary on Pinterest than on other platforms, I think it is still an effective tool for this company. It allows followers to share information and inspiration with each other and re-pin on their own accounts, and allows people who have similar interests to connect. It will also help the editors to have an understanding of the kind of information people react most to and want to see on their website.

Elements and Principles of Design

It is important to have a good understanding of the Elements and Principles of Design if you want to create work that is visually appealing and effective at getting your message or information across to the viewer. Below are some examples.

The Elements of Design

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On the left:  The converging lines and implied lines used in this illustration help to illustrate a first person perspective, as if the viewer were actually immersed in the setting as opposed to viewing it from afar. This creates a more dynamic visual appeal and helps to enforce the idea of the buildings towering above you. We also recognize the smaller squares and rectangles to be windows which help to provide some contrast to the solid lines, while still reinforcing the idea of converging lines. Illustration by Swoboda.

On the right: Combining two shapes into one helps to keep this design simple and minimalistic. We can easily recognize the shape of the glasses which reflects the word wisdom from the text, and because it is turned on its side, we also recognize the hourglass shape which reflects the word patience. Illustration by Tang Yau Hung.


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On the left:  Here the artist uses mass to illustrate the sheer size of the whale in proportion to man. The whale itself fills almost the whole illustration, whereas the man is minuscule in comparison, used in place of the whales eye. Even without knowing what the story is about, the viewer has a clear understanding of the scale between the two elements. Illustration by Umberto Scalabrini.

On the right:  Texture is used here to instantly give us an idea of what is being advertised. We can instantly “taste” the strawberry flavor and “feel” the sticky texture of gum which helps to effectively send the message while using very few elements. Design by Goodstien.


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On the left:  The color used in this design is reflective of the colors of the sky at dusk. This helps to create in your mind an idea of a relaxed and inviting atmosphere which would be appealing to many people and drive traffic to this venue. Image via Designspiration.

On the right:  Type can be used in design to help imply a certain attitude or feeling. Here it is used in a playful way to reiterate the idea that information can be both professional and fun. Image via Magazinewall.

The Principles of Design

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On the left:  Because this is a visually rich design and it incorporates two designs into one, the artist used balance to create harmony and keep it from being overwhelming. Although not completely symmetrical, if you drew a line down the center of the design, the elements are arranged and represented equally on both sides. Our eye is initially drawn to the more prominent colors and shapes on the lower half of the design, and then gradually our eye moves upward to the more receding colors in the top half. We also see the type that is reflected in the top and bottom halves, allowing us to understand that there are two images in one. Illustration by Jamie Toh.

On the right:  This illustration uses proximity/unity to help bring many elements together as one. We recognize each individual character, but having them grouped together inside of the peach helps to unify them as a group, and also helps to convey their relationship to the peach, and the role it plays as well. Illustration by Livy Long.


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On the left:  Alignment is used here to create a sense of excitement and adventure. Both the text and the image are set at an angle which helps to give a more dynamic feel to the design, and instantly creates a feeling of mystery, which is appropriate to the design. Illustration by Francesco Francavilla.

On the right:  This is an example of repetition being used to send a message to the viewer about the overall feeling of the book. The only element needed to convey a feeling of unease or of being “watched” is the eye, and used repetitively helps to reinforce that idea, while keeping the design very simple. Image via Flavorwire.


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On the left:  Contrast is used effectively here to create a distinct separation between two interlocking ideas. We can easily separate the two swans in the design, even though there is no space between them, and we are also able to clearly read the type because of the use of contrasting colors- the white and yellow on black, and the black and yellow on white. Illustration by Sinem Erkas.

On the right:  Negative space is used in a clever way in this illustration to help illustrate the characters in the story, and to help draw a connection between them. Although the wolf and the duck are the only characters drawn in this illustration, the use of negative space around the wolf clearly illustrates the silhouette of a young boy, and based on the title of the piece, we can assume that he is Peter, and come to the conclusion that there is a connection between him and the wolf. This helps to include elements of the story without taking up more visual space. Illustration by Phoebe Morris.