As part of my hunt for a job in Detroit I worked with my class on nonprofits at Michigan State University to create a map of Detroit connections I had and ones I wanted to make. Through personal connections, emails, social media, and introductions with my professors I was able to meet or interview 10 different individuals involved in different avenues of Detroit communications. I interviewed Richard Feldman with the Boggs Center and Adriel Thornton with Allied Media Projects during the 2012 Detroit Design Festival. I interviewed via email Joel Heeres, Deborah Schumack, and Catherine Jun. I personally knew Issac Miller, Sam Molnar, Ben Alfaro, and Carlos Garcia from previous work and friendships. I was introduced to Joshua Breitbart through my interview with Adriel Thornton and was able to speak with him while he worked in Washington D.C. on behalf of digital initiatives here in Detroit.
Detroit Thought Leader Map
Each interview and meeting created a new branch on my connection tree in the city. I knew I had leads with many different organizations but it took an assignment for me to design the map. Each placement is intentional as are the color ways. For example Carlos Garcia is a secondary connection I was able to make, reaching out to my former friend, who at the time was living Downtown.
I was able to use my newly developed skills in Photoshop and Illustrator to create this map based off of an old transit map. This project wonderfully put together my interests in music, nonprofits, Detroit, communications, and design.
One of my first freelance clients that I had the pleasure of working with was Patty Brennan, Director/Owner of the Center for the Childbearing Year. It taught me a number of important lessons that I know and use on a daily basis such as having clear deadlines and expectations, how to build in already built custom WordPress themes, and lastly how to manage working with other freelance designers.
Services accomplished in first two months:
- Redesign of the navigation menu
- Social media training
- Newsletter set up with Mailchimp
- Plan for site redesign
Projects completed in the next 6 months:
- Logo redesign with area designer Krista Pass
- Site redesign in partnership with Patty
- Launch of new site with redesigned elements
Goals met over 9 month timeline:
- Created social media channel management program
- Launched and sent e-newsletters
- Site and logo redesign
- New branding and marketing efforts
During my internship for Michigan Energy Options the communications team was tasked in creating the quarterly newsletter. The organization had previously sent out one other E-Newsletter and had created an account with MailChimp. Being unfamiliar with the program I immersed myself in the forums and learned just how tough it can be to work with newsletter clients. In the previous newsletter they had had issues with delivery and content. That is to say they had written articles and delivered it exculsively in email format and for my opinion I do not read full articles in my email, let alone 5-6 articles.
Therefore I came up with a plan proposal for Executive Director John Kinch and the rest of the communications team to reinvent how we send the newsletter. I offered up to create a new template in MailChimp which would give snippets of information and then link over to a PDF full text document. Initially it was rejected but after convincing them that users don’t read past the first two articles with some impromptu user testing I was allowed to continue. With that I did just what the plan prescribed. I took the content we had after it was finally edited down and built out a full PDF with relevant images, formatting, and newsletter look and feel in adobe Acrobat. I then took those articles and edited them down for the email version that would be sent out to people on our list serve. You can click the image for a full sized version. I redesigned how layout of the article by putting the “call-to-action” buttons along the top of content and then used images and a slightly altered color scheme to have a “Read More” button that would then direct users to that article’s page in the PDF hosted on the Michigan Energy Options site.
View Full PDF
Michigan State is very privileged to have one of the most recognizable mascots in the nation, Sparty. What most people may or may not know is that there is always a student buried under that muscly Grecian warrior costume and each year there is a call out for students to apply for the position. Generally, student affairs sends a pretty poor looking application so for a project in my visual design course I redesigned the application. There are numerous important factors when it comes to who should become Sparty, specifically that they are within a specific weight and height range and have excellent grades. When I designed the document I used Adobe Acrobat so that this PDF could be sent out, filled out digitally in a web browser and returned to allow for data collection for the application process. With proper back-end database coding it would be able to filter those people that would not match the requirements and then allow for only appropriate applicants to end up in the proper mailbox. The PDF is available below.
During my course based in visual rhetoric were were tasked to create a document that epitomized a song, poem, or phrase. At the time I was going through some of my old hip hop and Blackalicious is one of my favorite groups so I knew immediately what I wanted to do. The caveat to the assignment was that were only allowed to use Microsoft Word to create the document. If any of you have worked in MS Word for document design I think it’s safe to say you just don’t do it. With the background coding MS does to documents and test along with the wacky constraints they put on the user, this assignment was not as easy as I first thought. Thankfully I was able to work through the struggles to have something that made sense. After turning it in I was told that my work was exemplarily and that I should re-examine it with a different software program.
That is precisely what I did, and took the initial idea and reiterated it into poster form using Adobe inDesign. This poster is available for print from the link below.
For this visual project I was asked by my insanely talented and smart brother to help him create a logo for his new student group, Students Organized Against Prisons (SOAP). It is a group that was birthed out of his work at the University of Michigan and is an advocate for prisoners and those affected by having their family members incarcerated. There has been flood of young men into the prison industrial system, specifically black and brown young men, and SOAP works to break the cycle through advocating for prisoners rights, abolishing mandatory drug minimum sentences, and recitivism of released prisoners.
For this logo I was tasked to create something that was simple while conveying the overall message of SOAP and make sure to have the groups acronym in the logo. As you can see below I am very much a minimal designer as I chose a font with strong lines to emulate the bars of prison, the fist for the O, and stark contrast to make the image stand out when printed or in web form.
During the fall of 2011 I was enrolled in a course on visual rhetoric. For this class we were taksed to create a poster related to something we felt we could claim expertise. For this my group decided upon making a beer poster detailing our favorite types of brews.
Click image for full size poster
In continuing with my fascination with hip hop and developing and more intricate understanding of the 5 pillars of hip hop I was involved during the fall of 2011 and spring 2012 in a study and research project based around Lansing hip hop. For my part in the project I created a comic detailing some of the finer details of graffiti culture. We successfully entered in the Michigan State University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) where we presented a full catalog of multimedia work – our booklet with photos and my comic, a research poster, and a video in which we interviewed local graffiti artists in REO Town in Lansing.
Here you can view the entire Graffiti Comic
517 Theory: An Interview with Local Artists from Jessie Whitmill on Vimeo.
During the month I spent in New York City I was privileged to have an independent study based around the hip hop culture currently in the city. New York is and always will be the mecca of hip hop, from its roots with Afrika Bambatta playing street parties, to the Brooklyn and Queens legends that have shaped our culture in America. I have always been interested in the 5 pillars of hip hop:
5. Knowledge and overstanding
For my independent study I was able to visit a number of places and conduct reviews and interviews. Previous to visiting NYC I would shop endlessly on the Turntable Lab website and I had to visit and, admittedly, spend too much money. I wrote up a full review of the shop and created it into a full PDF article for easy distribution. I hope you enjoy.
To read my entire review of the shop please click here for the PDF Turntable Lab Review