It is time to tell the stories, the insights, ups, downs and all around experiences, 20 years of college teaching art & design.. Let us begin this series of posts with the most profound and ongoing metaphor, shall we?
Recently, I began reflecting on my 20 years of college-level teaching and was amazed by how much I’ve been able to accomplish. 20 years is a lot of contrast in terms of lineage, right? I have taught and continue to teach both graduate and undergraduate courses in various fields like studio art, graphic design, digital art, illustration, design thinking, new media, web design, digital storytelling, communication technology and various related foundation courses. Over the years, I’ve created new courses, developed curriculum, published content, and installed and generated archival course websites. I’ve had the opportunity to experiment with many new technologies, work with amazing people, and create / curate exhibitions. The list just continues to grow.
Teaching has been one of my greatest educations. (Just a reminder, I am a deaf person who teaches in all mainstream institutions.) Through out life, not just work-life, life situations can seem like they have no immediate solutions, and our ego kicks in to remind us of all the other times of uncertainty. It can be difficult to control these emotions at first, but we can become aware of our behavioral patterns and discover other metaphors around us that appear in the form of otherness. For me, those metaphors have appeared through teaching, follow me below..
During my reflection, I realized that I teach an average of 16 – 18 courses per academic year, which amounts to about 270 students per year. This means that I’ve had about 5,400 college students in my classes over my teaching career so far. (Whoa) Each student generates something tangible in each of my courses, which has led to thousands upon thousands of variations of creativity that I witness every day. Even a basic “positive and negative space” assignment can result in countless variations of execution. I have witnessed over 27,000 student examples. Not one of them, not a single one has ever been the same.
As a metaphor, this vastness of creativity becomes “Meta” because it goes beyond my comprehension of something that I thought I had an awareness of. It’s a spiritual metaphor because it’s humbling to realize that the creative potential of humans is so vast and infinite. I see amazing variations and solutions to the same series of project expectations, year after year, student after student. There is one constant thread, the abundance of endless variety, and that things can always be another way. Always.
So, when life circumstances rear their ugly head, I recall thatthings can always be another way. Always. It may not be in the way that our egos demand it be, be another door will open, and solution will present itself in time.
I cant un-know this.
Through this reflection, I’ve learned that our everyday occurrences can have much deeper meaning, and the world is showing us things every day whether we are aware of them or not. I continue to share my stories and awareness’s at the beginning of each and every class that I teach. I encourage my students to reflect on their own experiences and find deeper meaning in them as well.
“The Byproducts of Twenty Twenty One” 2021, Digital Illustration / Poster – (click the image to enlarge)
The Byproducts Poster of Twenty Twenty One..
(originally posted to ryanseslow.com but there is context here. Publishing this here will publicly hold me accountable to turn this into an assignment)
Wow, it’s the final day of December, and 2021 is coming to an end. This has certainly been a challenging year..
It’s that time of the year when I get very reflective about my work. This meditation puts a focus on my personal work as an artist, as a professor (just finished my 19.5 years) and as a designer solving various problems for my clients both ongoing and new. A lot has been completed this year. Im proud of my work and of this blog too (more on that soon)..
Behold below, the byproducts poster of 2021! I have been meaning to turn this idea into a class assignment for my intro graphic design and illustration students for a while now, it always seems to escape me writing up the specifications for the project.. Perhaps it’s because the project and exercise itself is so much fun that I I keep it to myself! Let’s change that this coming year! (see, accountable..)
“Byproducts”.. what do I mean by “byproducts”.. well, I see it as a “secondary thing” or results that have been created or generated as a result of another intention. It’s incidental. About 85% of the graphics in the poster below were created in 2021, the other 15% are iterations and extensions of existing graphics taken from the last few years. I have been making art and design consciously for over 35 years.. (omg). This duration in and of itself results in a large repository of “things and stuff” that has been created over those years. Im pretty meticulous at organizing things so its very easy to find files by context and year. I love the idea of having a digital repository of my work on hand. The beauty of this poster (in my opinion) is the display of “orderly chaos”. The composition building process is a challenge and a puzzle. A design problem created on purpose to find harmony and unity by arranging shape, form, color and scale. Byproducts in this context are the result of the “unused things” that were created for specific purposes but didn’t make the next or final cut on a project or concept’s decision making. It doesn’t mean that these things don’t have value. They certainly do, and I love re-contextualizing them. Im giving these things utility by applying them as a promotional poster. A consolidated image of variety, aesthetics, styles and visual candy. A nice representation of how much I love to work this way and the work I love to make.
The more time I spend looking at this iteration the more I realize I can add to it, or how I can re-compose it. I said it was a “poster” but we all know by now that it could be so much more. Imagine how this would look installed as a large wall piece applied into a clean white walled gallery? Hmmm..
When I posted this on a few of my social media profiles I immediately received inquiries if the piece would be minted as an NFT, or if the piece would be available as a physical print? I love all of these ideas and will let them dance in my mind for a few more days.
This post is an adaptation from my personal website, however, it fits in here perfectly if you are looking to explore some new design projects with your class(es) or even for yourself. I used myself as the example, haha, what fun!
I love to learn new things. I love this aspect of life because this experience on earth always has something new to teach us each and everyday. Especially if you are looking for it. I’m always looking for it! I’m a big fan ofSkillshare.comand perhaps one day will submit a course of my own! (Would you take my class?) As an artist and graphic designer it is important for us to keep our marketing and promotional materials fresh! I love this aspect of the business! We get the repeat opportunity to communicate who we are and what we can do to help others solve problems. OK, there is more to it than that, but in a nutshell using visual forms of promotional communication help give others a chance to resonate with what we can do.
As much as I love learning on skillshare, I’m an even bigger fan of graphic designer Aaron Draplin, the DDC! You can check out his work here. Draplin has a series of great courses on skillshare. I have taken them all and learned a ton! And no, they are not paying me to promote them or Draplin. I share this because there is a tremendous amount of value and experience for all up for the taking.I have been pretty sick this summer and have been slowly recovering. I took advantage of this time to watch, pause, watch some more and learn from a series of great courses. Here is the information for the course below, as well as a few of my outcomes.
The course is titled “Getting Dirty with the DDC” and it puts an emphasis on techniques creating crusty, vintage and manipulated design imagery in the form of an advertisement and promotion (and so much more, this is a fast description). Draplin works it using adobe photoshop, illustrator and a series of his handmade tricks and analog techniques. He references a lot of great vintage design from the brilliant era of print production. He always shares a variety of great stuff from the 1960’s – 1990’s (and beyond). Draplin and I are in the same age group so I resonate with everything that he shares and its nothing short of nostalgic! I directly applied my studies and project to some self promotion and marketing for my own business and services offered here at RSA&D LLC! As you know, I love making promotional stuff, and adding humor and fun into it, it helps me share my personality and overall lightheartedness. Does that come through in my outcomes below?
My outcomes from the class (Mr. Draplin, if you see this, how did I do?)
1. The Original. This is the 1st iteration and layout with very little manipulation aside from converting everything to black and white. I pre-prepared the assets, graphics and images using both photoshop and illustrator, most of which are all my own hand drawn illustrations. It was fun to use the illustrations in this context and show some of those skills. I used adobe illustrator for the layout, adding and manipulating the type and saving the file (.ai – vector format – which is great should that vector format be needed in the future). Then I brought the file into photoshop and got to manipulating. This was really fun and definitely plan to do a project like this with my design students as well!
2. The Photo-copy Machine Simulation – this is the 2nd iteration following the techniques in the course. I have always loved copy machines and have over-taken them at every location I have worked where I had access. I love the degenerated look and how we can make things look older and grittier. I really enjoyed the process and continue to tinker with this.
3. Color Overlay Fun – I had to try a series of colorful backgrounds! This is what takes me back to late the 1980s and 1990s. So much print media was reproduced this way. Especially for events like concerts, meet ups, gatherings, etc.. it was a relatively cheap way to make print reproductions and spread them around. Of course, sky is the limit here, not only with the colors, but with adding more textured papers and backgrounds for more impact.
4. Further Iterations – there are so many free resources on the web for old paper and textures, this is just one idea below.. Im excited to push on this and iterate more, many thanks to Mr. Draplin for the energy and inspiration!
Project Title – “The Cross College, Campus, Course ZINE Collab Project!”
Participating Courses & Campuses:
Professor Michelle McAuliffe’s :: – ART255, Digital Photography Class – Galluadet University, Washington, DC
Professor Ryan Seslow’s :: – CUNY York College, NYC, CT101, Digital Storytelling Class, CUNY, BMCC, NYC, Foundations of Digital Graphic Design Class, Touro College, Graduate School of Technology, NYC, Foundations & History of Design Class.
(4 different participating courses submitted works in total)
Welcome! This project is a collaborative open education exploration using design, digital tools, the creative human potential and the Internet. It is our intention to generate, discuss and fuse together disciplines through visual communication.
The “The Cross College, Campus, Course ZINE Collab Project” project synthesizes the disciplines of communication technology, graphic design, and digital storytelling courses across multiple campuses. Each course is given the same information and assignment (below) to complete from the perspective of their class content and personal experiences.
As individual courses, we are interested in knowing how traditional design principles relate and contrast with the medium of visual communication and storytelling (and vice versa). We want to understand and share how the use of integrated software applications and web tools translate when applied and presented in a public space. “Public space” has an interesting context both physically and virtually. We wanted to test both.
What will the results be both digitally and non-digitally-(Analog)?
How will the immediacy of publishing to the Internet and the contrast of using public library spaces to experience the same content effect the overall generating and receiving of the works?
What kind of dialog would this create? (This is the short list of questions, we have many more!)
This project begins today 11/12/2019 by introducing the specifications of the project and publicly inviting other professors, students and courses to join in! Are you interested?
PART 1 – Design
Design Specifications – Lets simulate, You have been selected to contribute 1 page to a collaborative magaZINE that produces a rare publication in both a (DIY) Do it Yourself printed edition and an online digital version.
*Your submission to the publication will creatively communicate an illustration that displays how:
“Technology and creativity are powerful tools for fueling communication, inspiration, digital-storytelling and design.”
You have the creative freedom to produce and generate your contribution with full autonomy as to how you experience or define this statement above, however, your final submission should display an integrated composition of imagery (use of layers and opacity) along with descriptive verbiage that has been typeset creatively.
*Size Requirements – 8.5″ X 11″ inches vertical, please. (What is the potential of a rectangle?)
Usage of Imagery – Participants should NOT randomly use images that are simply just found on the Internet, especially with-out proper attribution to its creator. Please refer to this resource page and work from the numerous repositories of public domain images and creative commons sources. (Yes, you can make your own images and use your own art work!)
Software Skill Showcase – Over the past weeks we have all toggled through learning various techniques and methods working with adobe photoshop and related design tools. All image related composing and manipulations should be generated in photoshop, or another image-making application that allows for a saved out-put as a .jpg or .png file.
Completed Submissions –
1. I would like to ask all students and participants to publish their completed pages as a blog post describing the process and meaning of your completed page / contribution. You may write the post as a tutorial that maps your process from start to finish. You can then share the link to your individual post when you comment about the project below (in the comments area).
2. Students will save all of their design work and submit one file (.jpeg or .png image file) for both the digital zine publication here on the NET-ART website as well as a printed copy for the print version of the Zine.
( E-mail this file to me – email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org )
Professor Michelle McAuliffe’s – ART255, Digital Photography Class, Galluadet University, Washington, DC (below)
Professor Ryan Seslow’s – CUNY York College, NYC, CT101, Digital Storytelling Class, (below)
Professor Ryan Seslow’s – CUNY, BMCC, NYC, Foundations of Digital Graphic Design Class
Professor Ryan Seslow’s – Touro College, Graduate School of Technology, NYC, Foundations & History of Design Class (below)
Part 2 – Commenting & Dialog
In the comments section below: all students and participants will respond and react to both the project as a whole (yes, in the comments space directly below) and individually to each other’s submissions. You can click on an individual image in the gallery in this post on the piece that stands out to you and add your comments. (As submissions the come in they will appear starting the 1st week of December 2019).
The Academic Commons is a public platform and space for CUNY and beyond, the C.A.C commons community will also be invited to participate in commenting and creating dialog here. Feel free to invite others!
Please consider addressing the following questions in your comments:
*What common threads or similarities do you see between the submitted works?
*What differences do you see?
*How does seeing all of the works organized into one “space” enhance or disrupt your interpretation of the project and its outcome?
*How will apply this experience into your life? Where will this knowledge transcend for you?
*How do you think the general public will appreciate the project viewing it as a tangible object (the printed ZINES) rather than an online experience? Do you prefer one over the other? Please explain and describe your answers. The printed zine will be donated to the NYPL’s Zine collection at their 5th Avenue & 42nd Street location – DeWitt Wallace Periodical Room at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building
as well also being available at the Libraries of each participating campus as of mid-spring of 2020.
*Due dates –
All ART work Submissions must be received no later than Thursday December 5th, 2019.
All comments, reaction and discussion submissions must be completed below by Thursday December 12th, 2019.
Vintage postcard Remix fun – Greetings From New York…
Been working on an example for one of the first assignments of the semester. Its not required that students have to “remix” existing content to achieve their final outcome, but it sure is a lot of fun, and sets a great tone for a written narrative.) Which is a part of the assignment).
Skills practiced and applied: Composition, organization of elements, figure/ground, pen tool basics, cutting, pasting, measuring & mounting.
PS – this is not computer dependent, a series of color photocopies, an x-acto knife, bristol paper and rubber cement will also do the trick.
“Graphic Design for Websites” is a workshop placing an emphasis on the basic elements and principles of graphic design in relationship to front end web design aesthetics. Students will be exposed to various examples and applications for wordpress based websites (on the CUNY academic commons and beyond). The workshop will also introduce and apply a myriad of Open Education Resources on design, techniques and software. Hands on exercises will be explored. Bring your laptop.
Welcome to the Graphic Design for Websites workshop!
Here we are, March 19th 2019 at the CUNY Graduate Center, NYC for the Digital Initiatives program!
Reminder #1 – Nothing is static.
Reminder #2 – Everything is default until we intervene, investigate, interact and define who we are in relationship to that thing.
Introductions – This presentation and workshop is a blog post! A URL! It was specifically organized, designed and published this way, which all takes place on website.
URL, please meet the in real-life workshop students and guests. In real-life workshop students and guests please meet the URL. This blog post will grow and expand, I greatly look forward to your additions, suggestions and comments!
“Graphic design, also known as communication design, is the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content. The form it takes can be physical or virtual and can include images, words, or graphics. The experience can take place in an instant or over a long period of time. The work can happen at any scale, from the design of a single postage stamp to a national postal signage system. It can be intended for a small number of people, such as a one-off or limited-edition book or exhibition design, or can be seen by millions, as with the interlinked digital and physical content of an international news organization. It can also be for any purpose, whether commercial, educational, cultural, or political.” https://www.aiga.org/guide-whatisgraphicdesign
Question – After reading this definition, what is the first image that comes to your mind / attention?
What is Visual Literacy? The ability to recognize and understand ideas conveyed through visible actions or images, such as pictures. (according to)
Visual literacy is a skill. A visual literacy is the ability to both understand and produce visual messages. In today’s world of ever-expanding mass media it is becoming increasingly more important to understand. As almost all information and entertainment is acquired through non-print media, the ability to think critically and visually about the images and content presented becomes crucial.
Where is Graphic Design visually present?
Everywhere! Literally. All kinds of signs and symbols both digital and non, transportation, corporate identity and branding, all forms of packaging, printed materials, Internet / online content, websites, Ads, banners, blogs, e-books, album covers, news media, film and television titles, graphics of all kinds, fashion, clothing designs, art and so much more!
But wait, Are you a Designer? You’re all designing things each day, all day long, lets take a look into what this means..
How does design effect communication?
We must ask the question, what is the language of Design? One must identify and understand the Elements and Principles. The elements and principles are the design vocabulary – (Standard – the way it is defined in academic terms – versus – Customized – the way it is defined via each individual person)
*An exercise for later – Generate a series of images taken with your smart phone that visually define the elements and principles of design in public space. We are in NYC, so…design is everywhere, reaching us both consciously and unconsciously. However, we never see a “single design” or “a single building” we see it with in relationship to everything else that is around it. Gather your images and publish them into a blog post. Send your published URL to me no later than tomorrow at 8am. (Im kidding, at leisure)
Where is the attention of human beings these days?
Obviously, online. The Internet!
How does design play a role in the way that we use the Internet and websites for teaching, learning, creating new courses, sharing course work, assignments and generating discussions? What about the way we conduct research, shop, entertain ourselves and so on? Are you consuming more than creating? Is it possible to creatively consume?
What is Creativity?
Creativity is the action and ability to give tangible form to an idea, impulse or intuition. It can be a new idea, or it can be an extension of something that already exists. Creativity can change the context of something in a new and innovating way.
Creativity and being human are synonymous (even thought your ego can trick you into not believing this) Creativity’s desire is your human desire and need of physical expression.
What role does storytelling play in the application of design and websites?
It comes down to Intention. Conscious intention. How can we apply this? Where do we start?
Let’s chat about Contrast. Contrast is wonderful. But contrast can also be a great motivator of procrastination. Endlessly seeking more and more examples can equal less and less actual action. Anyone guilty of this?
What would you like to create? What would you like to make? How will you go about it? Are you willing to practice?
Process, Practice & Permission to be Experimental:
Here is your permission intervention. I hereby give you the permission to jump in! Its not at all uncommon to have MULTIPLE projects happening at once on the web. We all know this from the classes that we are taking and the classes that we may be teaching. (Im teaching 8 courses between 4 colleges and taking 2 courses for myself) From the projects we are a part of both individually and collaboratively, the more that we do, the more we realize that we can do. Sometimes “more” is simply being experimental! Its OK to use experimentation as the SUBJECT. Narrate and illustrate the process and observe how it organically takes form.
CUNY Academic Commons – Free for all CUNY teaching faculty and students – wordpress platform that functions as a social network with in the larger CUNY community as a whole. How can you not be a part of this?
Tumblr – Free and very customizable, lots of options.
WIX – Free and paid versions, also very customizable with a lot of options.
Projects as Websites, Websites as Projects, either way, its COMMUNICATION. Make it open, make it transparent.
Teaching NET-ART – Teach the Course(s) you have always wanted to teach! Create, design and build it! Your rules, your examples, your unique way of sharing. Im using the CUNY Academic Commons for this course.
Cross Campus Collaboration – My CUNY BMCC foundation Graphic Design course collaborated with my York college Digital Storytelling class to produce both an online and public example of collaboration. Our cross course ZINE was created in partnership and donated to the NYPL’s public ZINE collection and archive.
(Above – a graphic icon / logo remix created with the Assembly app for iOS mobile)
The Industry standard software / tools for graphic design is Adobe.
Adobe Photoshop & Adobe Illustrator are powerful tools that can be used to generate virtually anything visual. From all types of static images and graphics, to logos, icons and animations, to retouching and layout. Adobe offers monthly subscriptions for their software and if it is affordable on the end of the user, it should be applied and taken advantage of.
Additional Digital Art & Design Tools – This is a growing list and archive that has been building right here on this website. I encourage you to jump in, pick a new application or platform every few weeks and experiment!
Lets get to the DESIGN Making PART!
Lets assume that you do not have access to adobe photoshop, but you do have access to the internet, a web browser, and creativity that is pouring out of you!
Lets open pixlr and Design a logo, icon or symbol that communicates and or supports something that you are currently working on. A logo for your course or personal website? A hybrid graphic icon to express several things that you are interested in? I created the logo / graphic for this presentation at the top of the post using pixlr and icons from the noun project. I added the text in pixlr as well. I applied attribution to the creators via the Creative Commons policy.
Lets use pixlr again to generate a poster design that uses transparent graphic assets and text. I created a public folder here where you can access, download and the apply the graphics. Lets practice composing a picture using multiple elements. (Of course you can also discover and apply your own graphics!)
Save your work as a .jpg file and e-mail it to me! Rseslow@york.cuny.edu or Ryan (at) ryanseslow.com – I will build a gallery of workshop contributions below this sentence!
(((((COMING SOON in this SPACE – The WORKSHOP OUTCOMES!)))))
Open Education Resources – Courses to follow along with by Professor Seslow:
National Gallery of Art With the launch of NGA Images, the National Gallery of Art implements an open access policy for digital images of works of art that the Gallery believes to be in the public domain.