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Project 3 Stencil (Click to view larger.)

Unofficial Language, according to David Crow in Visible Signs, is language that runs counter to or is outside of official channels. Where graffiti is concerned, most often it is considered vandalism. However, graffiti runs the gamut from simple defacement of property with tagging to informing or commenting on society with iconic messages. For this assignment, I had to choose an idea or concept that could be clearly articulated through images and limited text, if needed. I then had to choose 3 colors and create stencils for the graphic so I could spray paint it on illustration board and photograph it. Using Photoshop, I placed the graffiti in contextually relevant places around Chattanooga.

Sprayed image (Click to view larger.)

My children recently had an infestation of head lice and in researching how to combat it, I learned a lot about the louse. Lice prefer clean hair; don’t jump, but can very quickly crawl; and most importantly, affect all economic levels in society. Having head lice is considered repugnant in our culture to the point that we tell our children not to mention the infestation for fear someone will think we are unclean. In reality, head lice affects 12 million children a year and I’ve heard stories of people getting lice from trying on hats at Disney World to picking it up at a church overnight.

My original concept was to show a woman wielding an enormous lice comb and fighting an equally enormous louse. I surmise that most of the people engaging in lice treatment are actually women, so depicting a woman combating the louse seemed natural. Having her use a larger-than-life comb against a larger-than-life louse would also convey how large a problem head lice really is. In exploring the idea I realized I didn’t need the louse. Not only was it superfluous, but most people upon seeing it wouldn’t know what it was even with the lice comb present. I was working with how to show that lice infestations can and do affect the wealthy, and so I considered using an image of a woman in a ball gown wearing a string of pearls or an image of a woman in smart business attire. It occurred to me that an image of Wonder Woman might work as a stand-in until I could photograph someone. That’s when I realized that Wonder Woman was the perfect woman for the job. Who better symbolizes the United States, reaches out to all economic levels, and is a woman?

For the contextually relevant locations, I wanted to run the gamut of economic levels. I photographed a homeless shelter, a children’s museum, a private boarding school, and an upscale hotel.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Chattanooga Community Kitchen (Click to view larger.)

Creative Discovery Museum (Click to view larger.)

Girls Preparatory School (CLick to view larger.)

Sheraton Read House (CLick to view larger.)

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The covers as they exist in reality. (Click for larger view.)

Project 2 encompassed creating hard back and paper back book covers for a book of our own choosing. The goal of the project was not only to create book covers that followed good design principles, but that conveyed a sense of what the book was about, as any good book cover will do. We also had to pay attention to detail and ensure our covers contained all the common elements book covers have that clue people in to the fact that this is a “real” book. As the instructor put it, the true test of success would be to go to a bookstore and put our books on the shelves and see if anyone picked them up.

I chose Swim the Fly by Don Calame. This is a book in the Teen Fiction genre and is about three friends who set themselves a difficult goal to accomplish each summer. This year, the three boys are 15 years old and the goal they set for themselves is to see “a real, live naked girl.” In addition, the protagonist/narrator, Matt, is smitten with Kelly, the new girl on the swim team and, in an effort to impress her, he volunteers to swim the 100-meter butterfly in competition. Matt can’t swim the fly for one length of the pool, let alone 100 meters so he begins a training regimen that he hopes will get him in shape in time. While trying to accomplish his training goals, he inadvertently gets signed up for an ultimate survival course that he must finish or go to jail.

The hardback cover (Click for larger image.)

The book centers around competition. There’s the obvious competition of the swim meets, but there’s also the competition between the boys and the looming end of summer with them trying to meet the goal, and there’s the competition of trying to “get the girl” that Matt gets sucked into with Kelly’s ex-boyfriend. In addition, there’s a competition between Matt and himself. The ultimate survival course is taught by a German man named Ulf, who sees in Matt a lot of the chutzpa he sees in himself. Matt sticks with the course in the beginning because he doesn’t want to go to jail. However, Ulf eventually gives Matt the opportunity to quit the course without consequences, causing Matt to decide what he’s really there for.

The paperback cover (Click for larger image.)

In keeping with the theme of competition, I chose to use a picture of swimming pool lanes for the cover. The lanes immediately bring competition to mind. The pool itself has a nice outdoor summer lighting to it that’s very inviting. The picture covers the entire front and back of the books to give an immersive quality that, when I look at it, makes me want to dive in. I included a blurb about the book on the back and an excerpt from the book on the inside flap of the hard cover book along with an extended author bio. The paperback book has an abbreviated author bio and blurb about the book on the back of it. The inside flaps on the hard cover are white to emphasize the inviting quality of the pool. I had tried using cyan tints, but they just detracted from the overall image.

Let me know what you think, please. Do they pass muster? Would you think they were real if you saw them in a bookstore? Any and all constructive criticism is welcome.

By the way, I highly recommend the book. It’s a fun read and certainly reinforced for me how glad I am I don’t have to be a teenager again.

If you’d like to see the original book cover, you can find it here: Swim the Fly by Don Calame

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