Deconstructing Design at UCDA

OK, so it's day three at the UCDA conference, and finally an interactive session! It's been mostly powerpoints and lectures, just the sort of presentations that my group tries to teach faculty NOT to use so much. So this was a boxed lunch event presented by Henk van Assen, dir. of undergrad studies at Yale Univ. School of Art. He also has a NYC studio, HvADesign, and taught at the School of Visual Design in NYC and at UT Austin. The session was "Design Elements and Principals Creative Workshop." After a very brief reminder of the basics, we were given scissors, glue sticks, a nice, thick, white 11"x14" stock, piles of mags and newspapers, and the directive to solve this design problem: create a piece that demonstrates good design focusing only on type, in one hour and ten minutes. Well, with a room full of professional designers, you can imagine the depth of creative ideas. Henk was stunned. He said he imagined that the group would sit around chatting for a while, munch on lunch, start clipping, get distracted and begin to read the articles rather than concentrate on the problem, and that most of us wouldn't finish in the allotted time. He was nearly speechless when he called time and one by one folks threw down some high quality stuff. It even attracted the attention of Michael Walsh, art director for Visual Arts Press, the design studio for the School of Visual Arts. He was equally impressed. What had taken their students most of a semester to complete we designers knocked off in less than an hour and a half. We hastened to point out that since most of us worked for colleges and universities, it was because we were used to insane deadlines. Of course the pieces weren't polished, but probably every one could have stood up as a preliminary design.

Soooo...then Henk asked the group to comment on pieces that stood out and gave a brief mini-critique, someone pointed mine out! And Henk liked it! He got it! The idea of the letters exploding, and the fact that it went "outside the lines" and transcended the borders. Since I am not a schooled designer, except for the one where you get hard knocks, I was quite flattered. Nothing like a little professional affirmation to make you feel included...


Ann Richards, Remarkable Woman

This is a view of the Texas State capitol rotunda in Austin where Ann Richards is lying in state, and where I would be paying my respects, were I not attending the University and College Design Association (UCDA) annual conference at a nearby hotel. As Travis Co. commissioner, State Treasurer, other capacities, and finally governor, Ann included more women and minorites in political appointments than any other politician or group of politicians before or since. She would have gotten a second term as governor had it not been for a particularly nasty, rotten smear campaign mounted by Karl Rove for his boss, GWB. She fixed everything that needed fixing in her first term, and would have gone on to lift Texas back to its former glory had Bush & Co. not worked their stinking swift-boat syndication and fooled the voters.

Ann was one of my sheroes. She was building a leadership school for young women here in Austin which should open in '07, and left instructions that donations be made to the school in lieu of flowers. You can bet that even though it may be only a few bucks, I'll make sure her school gets a couple from me. Goodbye, Ann, I will miss you, and I thank you for your good work.