Name Plate

Art 1600 / Design Foundations I / Greg Clayton


Personal Nameplate

— Create a nameplate, plaque or self-identifying object that can sit at your workspace and identify who you are.  
— Your name must be prominent and legible.  That’s essential.


— Go past that and aim to express something of who you are
               Make this object a distinctive and unique expression of a distinct and unique person – design it reflect you.  

Identify yourself, express who you really are.
Introduce yourself to your classmates and teacher.  
Aim to make this as graphically interesting as possible. 
Engage our attention. 
Make us remember!

Required Traits: 


Your (preferred) name must be legible from 15’ away.
Your actual name must be legible from 3’ away.


You may use any materials. 
(any safe materials…pyrotechnics are discouraged.) 
(Use of living creatures is also discouraged.)


The nameplate must be able to stay at or near your desk so that it is clearly associated with you (and not your classmate).
It must be able to survive the semester (under reasonable conditions).


Your nameplate must be able to fit entirely inside an unaltered Pringles™ can or a tennis ball can. 

(Note: It must be able to fit into such a can for transport —if it assembles, unfolds, unrolls, blossoms or inflates for actual use, you must be able to set it up in less than one minute.)



      1. Identify the problem boundaries and goals.
        What must be done?
        What should be pursued?
        What must not be done?

      2. Explore your own traits and graphic/formal/material preferences...what look is you?   
        What colors, textures and shapes suggest who you are? (are you a triangle or a circle? or blue? ...smooth or rough?)
        What materials suggest who you are? (are you granite or velvet? ...tissue paper or cardboard? ...wire or string?)
        What words or text might present you well?
        What images?
        What symbols?

        Aim to collect far more possibilities than you can actually use.
        Fill your sketchbook with ideas, sketches and notes.
        Then cull down to the best raw ideas... then to the ideas that can work together.

      3. Assess the technical/craft skills you have right now to manipulate tools and materials.
        List the tools and skills you might use to create this nameplate.
        List any skills you have— then discover whether you can use them on your nameplate concept or not.
        Explore materials you have or can quickly get.

      4. Conceive, refine and create a simple design that reflects you.
        Explore one idea after another.
        Refine and revise promising ideas.

      5. Observe your own creative process — discern your current habits of problem analysis, problem solving, ideating, idea-refining and selecting.
        Notice what's easy for you.
        Notice what's hard.
        Notice where you get stuck or stalled.



Ideate: lots of ideas... then more... then refine

Sketch lots of ideas...quickly.

There is no "right" answer to this design problem.

Give yourself lots of options — require yourself to create 20 possibilities in 10 minutes. ( can do it.)

Then step back and see which ones seem more "right" than the others. Do they do what you expected?
What's missing?
What's working?

Refine, combine, revise as needed — sketch more.
Then clean up several of the best concepts as best possible — take them to the next level of clarity, detail and completeness.

Remember that your idea is more important than your skill...but push your craftsmanship as far as you can in the intentionally short time you have to do project.

Type Legibility: Make sure they can read it

Your job is to create type that allows your name to be read from a distance of 15'.
How do you create — or protect — type readability?

Note: you will be able to read your own type better than others will ... you already know what its supposed to say.
Design for the viewer... design the user's experience, not the object.

There are few hard, fast rules on type selection. Many varying traits alter readability. Below are issues that influence readability, and thus type selection and layout. Note that a problem in one area can often be compensated for by improving another area.
Type size: bigger is easier to read
Type face/design: ornate/complex faces are tougher to read -- simple letterforms, closest to the most familiar letter-shapes, are most readable. Hand-rendered type and script are most likely to distort classic letterforms.
Type weight (boldness): bolder faces tend to be more readable...until the boldness begins to distort the basic gestalt of the letterform.
Type-Background Contrast: The greater the contrast between letter and background, the easier to read. Common black-text-on-white offers the most contrast, but much less contrast can support adequate legibility. Subtle contrasts need other traits to compensate (such as a very bold typeface.)
Type Spacing: Very tight line-spacing or tight letter-spacing will interfere with readabiliy. On the other hand, extremely wide letter-spacing will also "break up" words, making them awkward or impossible to read.
Busyness/Clutter of Background: If the background behind/around the type is not constant/even (all one color), then the textures, shapes and colors of background elements can interfere with reading the distinct shape/gestalt of the letters.
Clarity/Focus/Sharpness of Letterforms: Blurring isn't often used, though in Photoshop, Flash, AfterEffects, Illustrator etc. you can easily blur type. However, a soft-edged letterform looses readability, while sharp edges are most easily readable. Basically, a blurred shape is, obviously, a less distinct and less recognizeable shape.
Regular vs. Irregular Baseline: Most type is positioned along a nice, steady, strait horizontal line — the baseline. If, however, type is allowed to flow along a curve or is allowed to jumble up and down, readability will drop. Also type arranged vertically is more difficult -- in fact, any baseline other than a horizontal one will decay readabiity.

Your job is to conceive, create, view and respond -- then repeat as needed. Always give yourself type to read -- at the final size and in the final medium. Then assess how well the type actually reads. Get others to try to read it -- folks who don't know what is supposed to say. Notice how quickly the "get it". Then, of course, adjust as needed.


Check the semester schedule for dates and full specifics:

Project deadlines usually include the following, each during its own class period:

1) Sketches: 30 sketches exploring at least 3 distinclty different concepts.
2) Presentation sketch of your concept.
3) Present your completed design!


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Greg Clayton
Design Foundations I
Design Foundations II

Senior Seminar

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