🍂 Fall 2022 Electives 🍂

Typographic Multiverse
1:10pm–6:10pm / Pouya Ahmadi / Building on a collection of texts at the intersection of language, identity, and societal conditioning, this course examines the extent to which typography can engage in world building and the production and dissemination of proposals for alternative systems. Through a series of parallel assignments including reading, writing, and making, we will individually and collectively explore different strategies and mediums through which we can activate a multitude of voices and approaches that comprise our complex world of many worlds.
UX Research & Strategy
8:00am–1:00pm / Aaron Simmons / In this course students will explore a series of UX research and strategy methods and processes that build towards a cohesive body of work on a specific topic area of their choosing. By exploring a variety of UX tools and methods, students will ultimately develop their own process that they can articulate throughout their work at RISD and beyond. In addition to exploring a diverse range of research methods, the class will read, write, and engage in discussion on texts related to research in the design space. Throughout, there will be an emphasis placed on professional practice, and developing skills that will be applicable in a professional setting. Practicing UX researchers and designers from a number of sectors will critique and evaluate students' projects throughout the course.
Reframing the Poster
1:10pm–6:10pm / Nancy Skolos / This course will invite you to explore future possibilities and contexts for the poster—as paper and as screen—building on its singular capacity to transform ideas into iconic picture planes, and examining the dynamics of typography and image, both still and in motion. Prompts will progress from individual posters, to sequences, to site-specific installations that explore the potential for interactive discourse in public space. Studio assignments will be supported with presentations and readings about poster history and contemporary poster design.
Image, Data, and Identity
1:10pm–6:10pm / Livia Foldes / Today, all images are computational. This studio elective grapples with the aesthetics, ethics, and social and cultural implications of images that are always, already data, and contextualizes them within broader fights for algorithmic justice. From emotion recognition to nudity detection, how have machines been taught to understand and misunderstand our images, our bodies, and the identities attached to them? Conversely, when we open the black box of automated image analysis, what can we learn about the logics and ideologies embedded in the computational gaze, and the artists and designers who subvert or disrupt them? Some familiarity with code is recommended, but we will focus on using code-free tools like Runway ML to create, deconstruct, and talk back to computational imagery. GD seniors and grads only.
Critical Issues
8am–1pm / Anther Kiley / In this combined seminar/studio course we will survey and engage some of the critical conversations that shape graphic design thinking and practice today. Through collective reading, discussion, and research, we’ll unpack and question the critical lenses and conventions that shape contemporary design discourse, confront design’s relationship to structures of power, and look at some of the ways designers and thinkers have proposed rethinking design’s position. We’ll explore all of this through a series of studio projects that interpret, test, and extend ideas from our research and discussion. Taken together, our activities in this course will model a design practice that engages its context in informed and intentional ways.
unMaking Studio
1:10pm–6:10pm / Ramon Tejada / How do designers respond, think about and make for equitable futures? How much do we need to scrap or throw under the proverbial bus (ourselves included)? Unmaking studio is a space that explores possibilities through collaborative experimentation and reflection on how we can design in pluralistic ways. We will intentionally break habits, structures, tools, methods, and models of thought that have become canonized as the way to make Graphic Design. Along the way, we will experiment, at times in collaboration, with a series of prompts that explore analog and digital outcomes — forms, images, stories, languages, publications, the unknown, the emergent — thinking about the stories our work tells about ourselves (our lineages, our choices, and our values), our communities, and how all of this has the potential to radically and joyfully shift how we engage as human beings.
Motion, Sound, Vision
1:10pm–6:10pm / Rafael Attias / This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of motion graphics, as well as the implementation of video, and sound design. Students will learn a variety of motion graphics software, such as Adobe After Effects and Premier, as well as studio tools like Ableton Live, and/or other audio-visual programs. Students will learn how to capture, manipulate, mix and optimize audio visual material for final production and implementation. Through a series of in-class and multi-week assignments, students will create animated projects that include motion design real-world assignments, as well as experimental exercises, with the goal of exploring intersections between graphic design, story telling, visual composition, and the realms of rhythm and sound. Adobe After Effects will be the primary production tool for this class. Each student will propose a long term project, this project will be developed throughout the semester and presented as the final project for the class. In addition to our software tutorials, there will be a series of short weekly lectures to review specific histories, and also current practitioners who are using motion graphics and sound to create works in the worlds of design, fine art, and performance.
Design for the Anthropocene
11:20am–4:20pm / Justin Cook / No shortage of crises vie for our attention: climate, pandemic, injustice, nuclear war, collapse. Some call this era the Anthropocene. In the first quarter of the 21st Century, society mounts its response to these crises with the dominant institutions such as the UN that were largely designed in the 19th century. These institutions are faltering. They are not up to the task of helping humanity transit through the discontinuity of this century. Whether you believe that they are no longer fit for purpose, that they have been made unfit for purpose, or that their purposes were never legitimate in the first place, there seems to be growing consensus that they are not up to the challenges that face us today — challenges they created. As a global civilization, they have been better at generating existential threats than they are at managing them. Afterall, institutions can be places that sustain humanity’s worst ideas such as racism, illiberalism, colonialism, and dominion to name a few. Whether we say, “burn it down, nothing of value will be lost,” or seek opportunities for renewal, renovation and adaptive reuse, there is an urgent need to describe what should come next. This is the work of artists and designers. In this studio, we will do some of that work. Advancing significant and transformative change in these arenas means confronting the core questions about how we organize our society and the institutions that make it. What are the roles, norms, values, that will enable humanity to flourish? What materials, technologies, cultures, logics, operations, practices, and social and natural systems will bring those abstract ideals into reality? What alternate models might we adapt and adopt? How will they be set up? How will they be maintained? Centuries from today, will the Anthropocene be notable for humanity’s failure to address the threats it created, or for being a turning point for planet and people alike?
Brand Identity Design
8:00am–1:00pm / Richard Rose / Designing an identity and identity system is a critical skill practiced by today’s designers. In this course, students will create two identity systems: one for an arts organization and one for a socially constructive campaign. While a traditional identity system is defined as a logo and a set of rules for governing that logo's application across a range of media, the goal of this class is to expand upon the ways an identity can be conceived through the manipulation of language, materials, and audience expectation/participation.
Type Design
8:00am–1:00pm / Richard Lipton / This elective is an opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the process of designing a typeface; to consider all the design decisions that are a part of this creative exercise, and to learn the finer points of letter structures and systems, serif and sans, spacing, kerning, and all the other details of execution which turn a roughly-formed idea into a more complete, rigorous and polished digital design. This course will provide a fundamental understanding of how typefaces work in addition to understanding a tool that can further your design goals.
Virtual Space and Interactivity with Unity 3D
1:10pm–6:10pm / Ed Brown / This course will lead students through the entire game design process, from sketch to publishing, in both 2D and 3D. Students will be introduced to Unity 3D, software that creates interactive designs and publishes them as desktop, web, and mobile applications. The course will also consider media theory and address video games' influence on our culture. Topics to be covered will include: analog and digital history of games; their ritualistic and symbolic origins; their use in contemporary art; an analysis of gaming subcultures; an analysis of the male gaze, hyper masculinity and violence in commercial gaming; a critique of the lack of diversity in the game development workforce; video games' influence on other mass media; and their role in how we perceive the world around us. There will be special focus on the graphic designer's role in a professional game development team. Once familiar with the Unity environment, the course will open up to other kinds of interactive software including AR and VR mobile applications. Unity 3D is free to use. There are no prerequisites but experience with 3D modeling is desired.
Graphic Design for the Web
1:10pm–6:10pm / Minkyoung Kim / This course will explore the possibilities of design online from a conceptual, historical, and programmatic perspective. The class celebrates the Internet as a space for social exchange and independent expression, while questioning the cultural contradictions embedded in online discourse and the motivations of individuals and entities behind online platforms. Through projects, readings, workshops, and presentations we will explore the relevance of network technologies in the context of contemporary art and design practices. Students will learn basic HTML, CSS, and JavaScript along with methods for conceptualizing, designing, and developing websites. Outcomes won't necessary be practical, nor pragmatically functional. Instead we will strive for a poetic understanding of design and the Internet as mediums for critical research and action.
Workshop: RISOGraph
1:10pm–6:10pm / Fri / Lois Harada / This workshop will use the ideas from Risograph (RISO) printing to combine practical pre-press skills, encouraging experimentation formmaking. The aim of this introduction workshop is to teach students to consider the craft and value of well-planned files to produce high-quality outputs that can be replicated and shared. Students will work within a series of technical constraints that will require creative solutions as well as an understanding of this particular printing process, color, paper, and file preparation.
Workshop: Letterpress & Inkjet
1:10pm–6:10pm / Fri / Franz Werner / From Letterpress to Inkjet: this workshop will offer the students a unique opportunity to connect the dots. Two technologies more than 500 years apart will inspire the students in finding either harmony or discord. Neither is proven wrong. Students will be introduced to the Type Shop through the techniques and procedures for setting and printing metal and wood type on the Vandercook proofing presses. Engaging in this historic craft, newly developed skills will be transformed into contemporary results. The students will unite the digital with the analog technology, for example by feeding a letterpress print through the inkjet plotter or to digitize hot metal type. The options are endless. Specifications on paper selection will be discussed and samples of letterpressed books will be shown for inspiration. Any such targeted integration of science and art goes beyond the sheer structural and aesthetic qualities of given "product." But as regards graphic design "product," it must contain the conscious integration of the human factor, technology, and aesthetics to prove effective.
Workshop: Photo & Lighting
1:10–6:10pm / Fri / Tom Wedell / This workshop is an introduction to the methods involved in studio photography for designers with an emphasis on lighting-bringing objects to life by articulating their shapes and surfaces with various lighting sources: soft/hard, direct/reflected, focused/diffused, etc. Additional attention will be given to digital file preparation and printing. Throughout this workshop, students will explore the use of DSLR cameras, lenses, exposure meters, and related equipment to create original images of selected 3D objects.
Workshop: Screenprinting
1:10pm–6:10pm / Fri / Tycho Horan / This workshop will focus on establishing a basic understanding of a variety of screen printing techniques and how to make use of those techniques in your work. Through in-class demos and out-of-class assignments, this workshop will encourage experimentation with screens and ink. The class will start with simple paper stencils and move quickly into making screens from images and text generated digitally.
Workshop: Web Programming
8am–1:00pm / Fri / Gabriel Drozdov / This workshop will use the processing programming language to introduce students to programming concepts. Students will not only learn the fundamentals of the processing language but will research contemporary working methods around programming and explore the ways in which algorithms affect the design process. The aim of this workshop is for students to develop procedural literacy and to open their design work to indeterminacy, interactivity, generative processes, participatory working methods, and new opportunities afforded by technology in general.
Grad Elective
Mondays or Tuesdays / Course, Timing, and Instructor TBD