WHY Professional Practices for Graphic Designers? by Erik Summa

One of the most important things I learned about the design industry during my undergraduate studies did not happen in a classroom, it occurred during an AIGA function called ‘Feedback’.  The event invited established design professionals to look at soon-to-be graduate’s work in a mock interview setting.

Personally, I was terrified. I had done critiques before in class, but had no experience speaking about my portfolio and work as a whole. My professors simply never broached the subject.

Unsurprisingly, my initial interviews did not go well. It was one of the most stressful nights of my life, but proved to be invaluable to my growth as a designer. The feedback I received from these industry leaders was harsh, but fair. I took careful note of the criticism I received, and made sure I compensated for the next round. After the forth back-to-back interview, I finally received praise for my work and presentation skills.

Now more so then ever before, designers need to be aware of how vital it is to sell yourself and your work correctly. Surprisingly, many design courses completely gloss over these topics, but here at the University of the Arts we noticed its importance. Starting this fall, we will be offering Professional Practices for Graphic Designers.

This course introduces aspiring graphic designers to the career possibilities within the creative landscape of contemporary graphic design. It also provides preparation for employment in the field and helps you conceptualize a professional portfolio, gain practical knowledge of the business aspect of graphic design, create your resume, and prepare for interviewing.

Guest lecturers consisting of managers, directors and executives from local design firms are scheduled to offer you valuable insight into what qualities they look for in a graphic designer. Lecturers will also relate practical experience on what makes a designer successful or unsuccessful in an interview setting.

Sound like something you might be interested in? Sign up today!

Find this course and more in the UArts Continuing Ed Fall brochure.

Erik Summa received his BFA in Graphic Design from West Chester University and graduated with a MA in Graphic Design from University of the Arts London. Summa is currently self-employed as a freelance designer.

His personal website can be found here: http:www.eriksumma.com.

Summa will be teaching courses offered in the Print Certificate program in the fall.

J. Paul Simeone Photographic Workshop Announced


CE photography faculty member, J.Paul Simeone, announces the first of a series of photographic workshops for those interested in furthering their fine art photography skills.

The first series of workshops will be held in the hills of Tuscany at one of the most luxurious and exclusive destinations in Italy – Casali Di Bibbiano. This villa, vineyard and winery offer a bit of “heaven on earth” to its visitors who can’t wait to spend a week in paradise.

The one week workshop, in spring 2012 and fall 2012, will include daily lectures and personal instruction as well as photo shoots in Florence, Siena and Montelpulciano.

Accommodations’ include lodging, meals and the finest of Italian wine at the five star villa Casali di Bibbiano.

Fall 2012 dates

September 8 – 15, 2012
September 15 – 22, 2012

Spring 2012 dates

May 19 to the 26, 2012
May 26 to June 2, 2012

Workshop 2012 Overview

Day 1 Saturday
Morning arrival at Rome FCO airport. Travel by coach through coastal towns to Casali di Bibbiano. Lunch and relax at the villa.
Wine tasting and welcome dinner with Paul.

Day 2 Sunday
Visit Abbazia di Monte Oliveto- a beautifully located abbey with majestic frescos picturing the life of St. Benedict. Lunch in the town of Bagno Vignoni, known for its pool in the main square that bubbles with water from the sulfurous hot springs below. Caterina de Medici used it as a summer spa.
Dinner At CDB.

Day 3 Monday
Visit Pienza, the birthplace of Pope Pius II in 1405 and Montepulciano, a small walled town, lined with splendid Renaissance palaces and churches. On the way home, stop at one of our favorite cheese shops for a wine and cheese tasting.
Dinner at CDB

Day 4 Tuesday
Florence-Journey to the city of art and the birthplace of the Renaissance.
Guided tour of the Uffizzi Gallery & Michelandelo’s David at the Accademia.
Dinner at CDB

Day 5 Wednesday
Relax at CDB. A cooking class will be available in the morning for those who are interested. Lunch will be served on the terrace at the conclusion of class. Spend the day with Paul photographing the grounds of the villa.
Dinner Later then critique the days images.

Day 6 Thursday
Visit San Gimignano- a medieval walled town crowning the countryside with its 14 stone towers. Stop in Siena-Visit the Duoma, renowned for its spectacular use of colored marble & Piazza del Campo,famous for the Palio festival.
Dinner at CDB

Day 7 Friday
Relaxing at Casali more time with Paul in the field critiquing the weeks images
Farewell Dinner

Return to Rome for flight home

Visit: www.jpaulsimeonephotographicworkshops.com

One Toucan Too Many

The Maya Archaeology Initiative, a nonprofit that supports education for Guatemalan children, is challenging a claim by Kellogg’s, the maker of Froot Loops, that its use of a toucan image infringes on the cereal giant’s Toucan Sam character.

The MAI logo can be viewed at www.mayaarchaeology.org or below.

MAT logo

In a detailed response to Kellogg’s, Maya Initiative legal counsel Sarah Mott explained that the toucan in MAI’s logo looks nothing like Kellogg’s cartoon character and said the two entities are not in competition. MAI’s logo is based upon a realistic toucan native to Mesoamerica, while Kellogg’s Toucan Sam is a cartoon character with colors that represent Froot Loops’ food coloring.

Mott also challenged Kellogg’s claim that it uses “Mayan” imagery, another reason Kellogg challenged MAI’s logo, and accused the company of sending racist messages in its online children’s games.

Toucan Sam

“There is nothing Mayan in [the Froot Loops] Adventure,” Mott wrote to Kellogg’s corporate counsel David Herdman. “Disturbingly, the villain in this Kellogg’s Adventure—and the only character of color—is a ‘witch doctor’ who cackles malevolently when stealing from children. At best, this is culturally insensitive. I would characterize it as a demeaning caricature of an advanced and ancient civilization.”

“Kellogg’s products are a staple of many Guatemalan households,” said Estrada-Belli, a Guatemalan national whose organization promotes education opportunities for Maya children, archaeological work and defense of the rainforest. “We expect a brand that is so familiar to children to play a role in supporting cultural and racial understanding around the world, rather than undercutting it by promoting demeaning racial stereotypes.”

a real toucan- name unknown

The company has a history of unsuccessful challenges to others’ use of toucans, claiming to hold a trademark on all images of the Central American bird.

The Maya Archaeology Initiative is a project of the California-based World Free Press Institute, a non-profit with a history of defending free expression and challenging repression of cultural heritage issues. The organization has conducted programs for the United Nations, the Ford Foundation and others.

“We are concerned about both consumer confusion and a dilution of our strong equity in these marks. Kellogg is also concerned by the inclusion of the Mayan imagery in the mark, given that our character is frequently depicted in that setting,” wrote David Herdman, Kellogg corporate counsel, in a July 19 letter to the organization.

In its response written to Kellogg, the Maya Archeology Initiative said its own logo uses a realistic toucan, while Kellogg’s Toucan Sam is a cartoon character with colors that represent Froot Loops’ food coloring.

As designers how do you feel about this issue? What is your opinion regarding the use of cultural iconography appropriated for use a product logo? Weight in on this issue and drop us a comment telling us how you feel.

Consumerism + the Ethical Responsibilities of a Contemporary Graphic Designer By Erik Summa

The ‘idea’ of a graphic designer has undeniable appeal.

Where once the occupation was seen as mundane and unnecessary, graphic designers are now regarded as a vital and meaningful role in every company. In the consumerist, advertisement-laden world we live in, demand for the position has never been higher. Graphic designers control the very way viewers see and interact with products and services. Now, more so then ever before, graphic designers need to be cognizant of this very important fact.

It is my opinion that we, as graphic designers, need accountability for the work we create. In his manifesto ‘First Things First’, Ken Garland attempts to bring this very important fact to the forefront of discussion. His manifesto speaks of the woes of mindless avocation for products we, as both consumers and designers, don’t need. Garland concedes that this type of commercial work makes fiscal sense to pursue, but adds that taking too many of these jobs is a misappropriation of the creativity that graphic designers employ to solve visual problems. The manifesto ends with a call to arms, favoring allocation of the creativity used for mindless consumerism to projects with more worthwhile endeavors.

My personal belief is that Graphic Designers have a social responsibility to help, not hamper positive human progress. Opinions on this complex and widely discussed topic vary from designer to designer. The book ‘How to be a Graphic Designer without Losing you Soul’ touches on this topic. The book tells of how many agencies have tried to tackle this issue, making it company policy to take moral stances on certain issues. The book then impresses the importance in taking personal, ethical stances against that which a designer might find objectionable. “If we believe in nothing, our clients will have no reason to believe in us…in a world of no principles, people often respect those who have some.” By standing up for beliefs (creative and ethical), you can acquire self-respect for yourself and from those around you.

Whatever a designers reasoning happens to be when they make a decision to do or not to do a certain job, you should be consistent. In a world of questionable morals, being someone that takes a stance can separate you from the droves of other ‘yes men’ designers. This attitude can sometimes be dangerous, as it might lead to you into getting fired, or turning down work that you shouldn’t. But that’s the high price we pay for integrity.

For further reading, be sure to check out the following:

Erik Summa received his BFA in Graphic Design from West Chester University and graduated with a MA in Graphic Design from University of the Arts London. Summa is currently self-employed as a freelance designer.

His personal website can be found here: http:www.eriksumma.com

Summa will be teaching two courses offered in the Print Certificate program in the fall.

Photoshop for Print Design

Professional Practices for Graphic Designers

Live Arts + Philly Fringe Photo Contest 2011 – launches on August 22

The famous (and infamous) Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe is about to hit the city in a big way. This multi-day, multi-art annual performance showcase brings, as they put it:  “the world’s newest and most cutting-edge cultural experiences to our city, amplifying the vibrancy of Philadelphia as a renowned cultural center and an unparalleled place to live, work and visit.”    I agree!  This marks the 15th year and, of course, it will be pioneering, challenging, exciting, off-kilter and inspiring for all.

Title: Namasya Photo: L. Philippe Pictured: S. Shivalingappa

Use the creative spirit of this fest, running September 2 – 17, to see great work and inspire your own photography and you could win highly valued passes to the 2012 festival.  Submit your best photos at the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival & Philly Fringe Photo Contest and document as much as you can this year.

Official Rules

Are you not up-to-speed on what is this two-part fest?  As I still am getting used to explaining the difference, so here’s how they say it:

The Philadelphia Live Arts Festival is the curated festival of the world’s most cutting-edge, high-quality performing arts groups who are invited by the Festival’s Producing Director Nick Stuccio. Live Arts presentations elevate Philadelphia as a performing arts destination through offering audiences artistic experiences that are both entertaining and intellectually challenging. The Live Arts Festival is often the only opportunity the region’s audiences will have to see these works without traveling internationally.

The Philly Fringe is an unfiltered festival, where a platform is provided for new and established artists to present their work free of a selection process. For some it’s a once-a-year, or once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a show; for professional companies, it can be an opportunity to try something new. The Philly Fringe seeks create a cityscape filled with theater, dance, music, and everything in between for audiences to enjoy; encourage artists to give expression to and develop their talents and artistic visions in total artistic freedom without any curatorial barriers in bringing that work to an audience; to help artists become successful independent producers; and ensure the growth and continued health of the local and regional performing arts community. In 2011, over 200 Philly Fringe shows will be self-produced by thousands of artists throughout the region.

So, will you be Fringin’ this year?  Last year, I saw two fantastic dance pieces (in a warehouse, ‘natch)  that I absolutely loved. Oh, and a scavenger hunt (of sorts) that was a fun activity.   And I will never forger the year I saw the giant stilt-walker/dancers perform on a pier and set the stage on fire in a haunting war-based piece that was just amazing.  I’m making my plan for my 2011 shows  ASAP.  Hope to see you there, snapping pics!

Lady M by Swim Pony Performing Arts

CE Salutes Faculty Member Greg Pizzoli – SCBWI Portfolio Showcase Winner!

Greg Pizzoli's Award Winng Piece

An esteemed panel of judges pored over more than 200 portfolios to choose winners for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Portfolio Showcase at the 40th Anniversary SCBWI Summer Conference in Los Angeles. A portfolio grand prize winner and three honor winners were chosen.

Greg will share his award winning talent this fall in a new CE course, Children’s Book Illustration, a class designed for illustrators looking to tailor their portfolio to target children’s book agents and publishers. Participants get the opportunity to develop new portfolio pieces with a focus on narrative and promotional materials, while examining the works of contemporary illustrators. Discussions regarding techniques, materials and the development + refinement of personal style will complement guided studio work. This is a unique opportunity to study alongside an award winning illustrator as you develop your talents and potentially break into the rewarding market of children’s book illustration.

Strange Seas is a repeat pattern made in 2010. Click on the images and check out the buttons packs I had made as well. More patterns to come!

This win is Greg’s second award recognizing his talent that he has received this year. An earlier blog posting detailed his award from SCBWI for his illustration, Elephant in the Room.

5 layer silkscreen for a warm weather themed group show.

Visit Greg’s incredible webpage and check out more examples of his work, his process and how to purchase pieces.

Congratulations to Greg from all Continuing Education Faculty + Staff on this well deserved win!

Hope to see you this fall!

CS Faculty Enrichment Grants: Christina P. Day attends June Residency at the Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT)

By: Christina P. Day (Instructor, CE + Pre-College)

This past June, I was awarded a month-long full fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, an internationally recognized art residency that offers writers, painters and sculptors four to eight week stays.  During the residency, I planned to complete a double “twin” window frame wall-hung sculpture, a piece that I started while on residency at Sculpture Space in Utica, NY in 2008.  I received a Continuing Studies Faculty Enrichment Grant this year to help with the financial costs of materials and tools needed to create the piece.  With this grant I was able to purchase lumber and materials as well as a Dewalt router and router table necessary to complete the construction of the piece.  The VSC full fellowship and supplemental grant from Continuing Studies at UArts allowed me to focus on articulating this piece to its best effect during my stay at VSC.

I teach Fiber both in the undergraduate Crafts Department and in Pre-College programs at the University, and I am still learning in the woodshop.  I am taken with heavy construction whether it be in cloth or wood, and revel in good craftsmanship.  Learning to build this piece took the work through many different phases of construction.  Each stage had it’s own maquette, diagram, and test which helped me further visualize the evolution of the piece.  I’ve always felt that woodworking and sewing have a lot in common, with the “measure twice, cut once” saying.

Though I planned to make the final piece out of poplar, I created a mock-up of the piece in disposable materials, starting with a rough cardboard “foot print” to see the piece in space before I began making real cuts to the wood:

The piece is constructed as a mirror image of itself with a trim “split” running down the center.  At its final size it will be roughly 55” inches tall, about 6” deep and 66” wide.  There is a forced perspective that was built into the piece to create the illusion of a reflection and to mask the physical construction.  As a result, all of the parts are tilted slightly on an angle where they join.  Negotiating these angles became the central challenge to the piece’s construction.

A series of tracing paper drawings followed to serve as blueprints for the inner trim details.  I constructed small wooden jigs to help individually support the pieces during the sanding stage of finishing the parts.  The construction of the sills above and below sit on a two-degree pitch from the center of the piece out – which each of the adjoining parts needed to match.  Many an hour was mulled over creating the right jig to properly hold the pieces in place while they were sanded.  Working out how to safely make a repeatable process (as there are two sides that mirror each other) was an important learning experience for me.

Here is my pile of poplar which I very excitedly purchased with my Faculty Enrichment Grant!  It is laid out in the order of the parts neighboring one another just before cutting and shaping the wood down:

I made a to-scale tape drawing on the floor of the woodshop to help me align the pieces on a completely flat surface as I sanded them.  I was able to align my parts and check angles as I worked.  Maintaining a high level of specificity was essential for success at this stage:

Happily figuring things out and cutting lots of small pieces of wood in the process:

For a final showing at the Residency, I rested the unconnected pieces on top of one another on the floor to outline the joinery involved with the parts, much in the same way it had been built in the woodshop on my tape template.  The piece, however, when completed, will be mounted flush to the wall.  I intend to fully encase the whole piece in many layers of high gloss house paint to finally “lock” all of the pieces together.

Though I was unable to fully complete the piece while at the residency, I have continued to work on it here in my studio in Philadelphia.  I plan to exhibit the work on the University grounds once it is finished.  Stay tuned to see the finished piece!

I consider myself very lucky to have gotten the Continuing Studies grant this year.  The uninterrupted time and financial freedom I had at VSC, as well as the other opportunities the residency provided me including visiting artists and writers as well as public slide and reading nights, helped me review and clarify my construction process.  My studio mates in the Schultz building were an industrious group and the community at VSC in June was thoughtful, respectful, challenging and smart.  I found my pace again and have properly reset my studio goals.  I learned a ton in the process and got a lot of work done that otherwise may not have been possible.  In short, the Faculty Enrichment grant from Continuing Studies helped me get back to work!

New Music Venue in Philly – Union Transfer

What fuels designers?  Creativity, coffee….and good music would be near the top of that list.

I just heard about  a new live music venue opening in Philly: Union Transfer. Named after the original train station that occupied the building at 1026 Spring Garden Street, this venue was developed by The Bowery Presents, an independent promotion company based in New York City, Sean Agnew of R5 Productions, and Avram Hornik and Mark Fichera of Four Corners Management, in order to meet Philadelphia’s need for a mid-sized live music space. Union Transfer is slated to officially open on September 21, 2011 with a show by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.

Visit on facebook or follow on Twitter at twitter.com/uniontransfer.

From their press release:

Sean Agnew, a fixture in the Philadelphia indie-music scene, is responsible for booking Union Transfer alongside Johnny Beach of Bowery Presents.  Avram Hornik and Mark Fichera, who own and operate Philadelphia nightlife staples including Drinker’s, Lucy’s Hat Shop and Noche, oversee all operations for the venue including production elements, concessions, box office and ticketing.  The group expects to book around 200 shows per year, targeting a cross section of live music from diverse performers.

The temporary box office location can be found at AKA Music, 27 N 2nd Street.  Tickets can also be purchased through TicketyFly.com.   Once Union Transfer opens, there will be a permanent box office window where no-fee tickets (yes!) will be sold for current and upcoming shows.  For additional show line-ups and pricing, please go to www.UTPhilly.com

I’m ordering a few tickets now… hope to see you at a few shows this fall!

Web I Students Complete Site Mock-Ups

King Taco Photography_Christopher Boetticher designer

The students in Mia Rosenthal’s summer Web I course have agreed to share the websites they built using HTML + CSS. The process involved the creation of Photoshop mock-ups to be used as guides. The students understand the importance of having a solid idea of what the design ‘should’ look like before starting on the coding and how it can be a great help. It is important to remember that a website is not an image. A finished website is a flexible, moving thing, built with HTML or CSS. Photoshop gives us (and the client) an ‘expectation’ of how a website will look- but not how it will behave. The students were also challenged to thinking about how their design would translate into code all the way through the design process– never forgetting- for a good designer, content drives design!

Act Up Philadelphia_Kaytee Riek designer

Students were reminded to keep the three fundamental design principles- Layout, Type + Color, in mind, when developing their sites.


Layout is without a doubt the most important part of the process. You could have the most beautifully selected fonts, perfect colors, and delicious little details, but without a solid layout, the whole design falls flat. Fortunately, building a solid, float-based layout with CSS is one of the easiest things you can do as a web designer. A List Apart has a Great Article on the subject that is highly recommend for the technical details of building a CSS-based layout. If there’s one thing you should already know before going into your code editor, it’s the layout of your design. If you have a specific layout in mind, it’s a simple matter to code it up. However, if you go in without a layout in mind, you’ll be disappointed at the results. Layout isn’t a thing you can just experiment and switch out on the fly, it’s a matter that requires careful consideration from the designer.

One of the great things about “Responsive Web Design” is how it encourages designers to think in proportions, rather than pixels. For instance, you could say that this element needs to be 30% of the main container, as opposed to 200px or a similar measurement. This especially comes in handy for in-browser web design when one has to structure a page. You could start off with a main container element that is, say, 70% of the browser window, and then design the rest of the page inside that container in proportion to that element’s width. No more messing about with exact pixel measurements and that stupid Ruler Tool in Photoshop!

Ajar_Tori McNally designer

At this point, you should all have at least heard of @font-face, even if you haven’t used it in a project yet. @font-face is a way of embedding and using any typeface for use on a website, even if it is not installed on your users’ computers. This simple idea has brought a whole new era of web typography in a matter of a few years. Entire businesses like Typekit and Fontdeck have cropped up for the sole purpose of serving up beautiful typefaces for your website.  It’s a lot easier to manage typefaces when they are managed by CSS rules, not Photoshop. I highly recommend using Typekit, as many more fonts are available there than with a standard @font-face license. You can always manage the code yourself, but dealing with licences and having to purchase each font individually gets pretty ridiculous pretty fast.

Door_Kate Stevenson designer


In a “traditional” web design process, often the designer starts by constructing a grayscale mockup of their design in Photoshop, before adding the colors and details needed to make the design pop. This process is integral to the layout and overall feel of the design. Even if you don’t use black and white, constructing your design in sets of boxes and simple shapes really lets you see how your design will work from a higher perspective. The building of a design using simple boxes is really easily converted to our in-browser workflow. Just use <div>’s with basic CSS applied to them. Once you have your layout and typography marked up and styled properly, introducing color becomes a trivial matter with a few lines of code. This isn’t to say that choosing the colors is an easy and simple technique (although there is a great article for that too), just that coloring the objects on a technical level is very simple. Even displaying beautiful gradients is easy with CSS3.

Toro_Emilia Apostolova designer

Design Philadelphia 2011

I know October may seem a long way away on a hot summer day, but excitement is already building for the 7th Design Philadelphia event this fall.  Mark your calendar for October 13 – 23 to check out incredible design openings, lectures, events and more.  Here’s a video recently filmed at First Friday with Philadelphians talking about design in their lives: First Friday Video about  Design

Design Philadelphia

Learn more about Design Philadelphia and hope to see you in October!