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.
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
For my first attempt at creating my own Professional website I was fortunate to have a course based in web authoring. During the spring of 2012 I learned web development and design, information architecture, and proper semantic markup. I initially had a very novice understanding of HTML and CSS but this course took me from knowing how to make a <div> to actually designing databases and my entire own WordPress Theme. This course entirely shifted my outlook on my professional life as I knew once I starting building dynamic web pages I could become a front-end web developer. At the time I was also hired by The State News web team so I was able to use the skills I was learning in class at work and vice versa.
Version 0.5 of the site was a hard coded HTML and CSS site that showed just how little I knew about web design. However, it showed me just how much work goes into simple HTML semantic markup. I hard coded all the lists and pages enhancing my knowledge of tags, the DOM, and how web pages work in general.
After this initial design I worked on creating wireframes and detailed views of the actual pages using adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Once I had created dynamic markups and designs documents we were able to transition this into a WordPress theme, which you can see the final result below. Taking these initial designs into full HTML markup was another example of learning at a rapid rate because I was doing the same with my job at State News at the time. I continue to use these skills of markups everyday, so this skill will continue to benefit me for years to come.
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.
One of the most rewarding and research projects I have worked on was a comprehensive communications strategy for The Ave community project. The Ave is the brain child of professors John Monberg, Vincent Delgado, and designers at Red Head Design Studio. Meant to do many things this project had three main audiences and purposes.
- Create a vibrant community between students at Michigan State and the corridor of Michigan Avenue
- Connect the artists of the greater Lansing area
- Be a major linchpin for the businesses of Michigan Avenue and build viral marketing
This project was worked on by a fantastic and talented team consisting of Rebecca Zantjer, Jamison Sheppard, Emily Dixon,Laura Allen, and myself. Using multiple methods of research we worked for two months straight on developing out this communications strategy. Starting with ethnographic research and stakeholder interviews we were able to get a feel for the organization and where the stakeholders mentioned above wanted the project to move towards. Taking this into consideration we developed a strategy that used the already existing goals but focused on creating personas, place-making, and network building. The entire project culminated in the document you can view below and is one of the most comprehensive projects I have had the privilege of working with.
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