Personal Aesthetic Statement

My personal aesthetic is continually being explored and refined. One of my greatest sources of inspiration is nature. Floral, foliage, and animal motifs consistently exist in my work. I find meaning, passion, and fulfillment in exploring nature, observing plants, and transforming what I see into simple, bold, and modern silhouettes. The use of color in my design is another aesthetic strong point. Bright, fresh, harmonious color plays a major role in my clean, organic style. Influences from indie crafters, vintage ceramics, and thrifted fabrics have also nurtured my personal aesthetic.


Design Portfolio


March 19, 2010 at 5:42 am Leave a comment


Definitions of Gestalt:

1) “The study of gestalt originated in Germany in the 1920s. It is a form of psychology that is interested in higher order cognitive processes relative to behaviorism. The aspects of gestalt theory that interests designers are related to gestalt’s investigations of visual perception, principally the relationship between the parts and the whole of visual experience.”


2) “Gestalt psychology of gestaltism (German: Gestalt – “shape” or “figure”) of the Berlin School is a theory of mind and brain positing that the operational principle of the brain is holistic, parallel, and analog, with self-organizing tendencies, or that the whole is different from the sum of its parts. The Gestalt effect refers to the form-forming capability of our senses, particularly with respect to the visual recognition of figures and whole forms instead of just a collection of simple lines and curves. In psychology, gestaltism is often opposed to structuralism and Wundt. ”


3)Gestalt is also known as the “Law of Simplicity” or the “Law of Pragnanz” (the entire figure or configuration), which states that every stimulus is perceived in its most simple form.”


My Gestalt Images:

gestalt image of martine glasses/houses

Above: A row of martini glasses or houses.

gestalt image

Above:Two birds and nest or a mustache and mouth.

gestalt sun

Above: Gestalt – “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

March 19, 2010 at 5:16 am Leave a comment

Cultural Differences in Symbols & Color

As a designer, being culturally aware is an important responsibility as well as an ethical issue. As the communication landscape has exploded with the internet and social networking, people around the world are connected more than ever before. Because my designs have the potential to easily reach anyone in the world, I must stay culturally informed so my work does not unintentionally offend anyone.

There are many examples of symbols carrying different meanings across cultures. Something as simple as a hand gesture can hold many different meanings. Back in 1992 in Australia, George Bush Senior help up the letter “V” with his pointer and middle finger, intending a message of victory. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize the direction the palm faced held different connotations. As he signaled the crowd with the back of his hand facing the crowd, people became offended because in Austrailia this means “up yours mate” or ” go – you/know/what– yourself.”

george bush senior

Colors also have cross-cultural meanings. For example, the color white is often associated with purity, innocence, cleanliness, in western cultures. This is why white is worn by brides and associated with marriage. In contrast, Eastern cultures associate white with mourning and funerals. Color is a huge part of design and personally my favorite element of design. I use a lot of color in my work, but I must be cognizant of how my colors may affect other people.

Like I said earlier, designers must be aware of cultural differences and the implications their design could have on another society. In 2004, Nike released an commercial titled “Chamber of Fear” that drew controversy in China. The ad starred basketball player Lebron James (rookie of the year at the time) defeating kunfu masters, Chinese women in traditional attire, and dragons. The Chinese banned the ads from their television networks because they were insulting to Chinese culture. Not only did it diminish important cultural symbols to the Chinese such as dragons, it sent the message that American culture is superior to or more powerful than Chinese culture.

nike chamer of dragons


March 11, 2010 at 6:56 am Leave a comment

Icon, Index, & Symbol

Group: Jen Rogers, Jen Pearce, Anne Hornung

Icons, indices, and symbols are various kinds of signs though they are often confused or used interchangeably. The following examples should help clarify the differences among them.

Icon –

Gas station icon

This is an icon because it is a recognized visual representation of a gas pump. The pictorial representation is directly related to the concept.

Hollywood icon

Works for Icon since it is universally recognized as sign of Los Angeles and movie making.

warning electricity icon

The danger: electricity sign is an icon because the visuals are clearly demonstrating a universal warning to beware of electrical consequences.

Index –

escalator to the right

This is an index because it is providing information for the viewer. In this case, the viewer would come to the conclusion that the escalator is to the right.

lightning danger warning index

Works for index example because definitely shows meaning through illustration.

duck xing

This duck crossing sign is an example of an index because it is informing the viewer to be aware of the potential presence of ducks and ducklings. It can be assumed that the driver should try and avoid them, even though it does not directly say so on the sign.

Symbol –

Swastika symbol

The swastika is a symbol because its visual form is not a logical, direct representation of what it stands for. The swastika has cultural significance and experience has taught people to associate it with racist German Nazis and WWII.

shamrock symbol

This works for symbol example as it does not have a direct logical connection to what it represents but has been learned as luck, Irish, St. Patricks Day, etc.

rainbow symbol

The rainbow is a symbol of gay pride. Rainbows have nothing to do with homosexuality, but the image has become associated with it.

(All images are linked to their source)

March 8, 2010 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

Web Accessibility

The KUOW podcast discusses universal design and more specifically, web accessibility. Wendy Chisholm, a computer programmer and developer in the Seattle area, shares her thoughts and ideas about the current state of web accessibility as well as the changes that need to come in the future. In the early 1990s when the web was text based, it was a great avenue for those with disabilities to acquire more timely, accessible information and news. Unfortunately, as the web has transformed into a rich multimedia landscape, accessibility has suffered. Chisholm, who helped write a set of universal accessibility guidelines adopted by many countries, insists there must must be equivalent alternatives to all sounds and images online. Though you’d think in this technologically advanced society web accessibility wouldn’t even be an issue, this is definitely not the case. Chisholm demonstrates the lack of accessibility found within a Seattle metro bus website. The site was not constructed for the screen reader to effectively read the bus schedule aloud. This makes it nearly impossible for the visually impaired to know which bus to catch. Chisholm believes three things need to happen in order to produce successful, commonplace web accessibility. First, she proposes technology be developed to better integrate or automatically enable accessible alternatives. Second, there needs to be a cultural shift involving the understanding of the disabled. Just because a person has a particular disability doesn’t mean they don’t wish to view and interact with websites like the rest of us. They have the same intentions, just different needs. Finally, Chisholm is adamant about the disabled becoming active participants in the development of accessible technologies and web solutions.

This last point Chisholm made, incorporating the disabled into the development, is so important. A person who doesn’t struggle with these various impairments can never fully understand or appreciate how it affects web interaction. “Bringing them to the table,” as Chisholm puts it, can bring a wealth of valuable insights and solutions. Personally, I find web accessibility somewhat daunting. In my AAS degree, I didn’t cover much more than simple image alt tags. This barely scratches the surface of making a website accessible. Web accessibility involves considering usability for many different disability genres, such as visual, auditory, motor/mobility, and cognitive. From color blindness to dyslexia to seizure conditions (which can be triggered by flashing effects), how can I make sure my website is fully accessible? I agree with Chisholm, the technologies – whether it be the browsers or the design programs – need to be developed to make accessible alternatives more intuitive.

Web accessibility is of course very important, but it seems that it is not all black and white. Until it becomes better taught and better understood, it is the designer’s role to ensure a website meets the disabled person’s needs. Like Chisholm said, “the wheelchair doesn’t make the building inaccessible, it’s the stairs.” Surely, there is an effective solution for web accessibility which is currently inefficient within many websites. Honestly, I think inadequate accessibility within many sites boils down to laziness because it does add a lot more work. Google seems to enjoy taking on gigantic projects in their effort to take over the internet. Maybe they should venture on a new accessibility project. Surely if they can digitize every book ever written they can “accessitize” every website…

February 18, 2010 at 6:12 am Leave a comment

Interruptions & Interruptions as Emphasis

Anne Hornung & Andrew Matson


An interruption is a break in uniformity or continuity (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). As it applies to art and design, interruption can be described as the disruption of a composition’s uniformity, continuity, repetition, rhythm, or harmony. In art and design, emphasis exists when stress or importance is given to certain components (Landa). Therefore, “Interruptions as Emphasis” is when the disruption becomes the most prominent or the focal point. Interruptions can break up the monotony of a design and create visually stimulating variety.

Examples of Interruptions:

"Encourage Opinions" by Robin Cameron

Carry Me There by Amy Ruppel

Scheharazade Remix by Maja Sten

Poster For Peace by U.G. Sato

Unnamed Title & Artist - From "World Graphic Design" by Geoffrey Caban

Dessins by Jacques Camus

Interruptions in Graphic Design:

The Avon Gorge Fly Poster Graffiti by Heath Bunting

Galactic Tutorial Poster by Spoon Graphics

Hitchcock For Haiti by Matt Needle

Reasons to Stop Smoking

Anne & Andrew’s Designs of Interruptions:





Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Graphic Design Solutions, Robin Landa

Art Deco Textiles, Alain-Rene Hardy

World Graphic Design, Geoffrey Caban

Over & Over, Mike Perry

February 17, 2010 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment

Gestalt Experiment

Gestaltism attempts to explain the psychology behind human visual behavior, especially the way we organize and group things. A concept related to these principles is the human’s tendency to see the whole rather than its individual parts. I subjected 3 people to an experiment to explore this tendency.

The experiment involved two parts. During the first session, the test subjects were shown five unrelated photographs. Then a screen appeared with what appeared to be a bunch of organic black shapes scattered randomly. What the test subjects would hopefully identify within these shapes was that they created a horse and rider. The participant was instructed to click through a series of 20 steps; after each step the black shapes moved slightly closer together. If at any point the participant recognized the black shapes forming an image, they were to say what they saw aloud.

For session two, the same process took place, except that the first five photographs shown were of animals. This was to see if the similar body forms to the horse and similar subject matter would trigger recognition of the horse and rider image earlier.

My first test subject was my mother. After clicking through the 20 steps in session one, she hadn’t identified any image from the black shapes. Then she mumbled, “Well, I thought maybe I saw a Santa Clause face or something…” I thought this was interesting because one of the five images prior to session one was Christmas related and had a couple Santa figurines in it. After clicking through the 20 steps again in session two, she still had not identified the horse and rider. She noted one of the individual black shapes resembled a duck bill to her. Again, it seems her perceptions were based on the previous five images which were of animals.

The second participant was a 28 year old male. After clicking through all 20 steps in session one, he hadn’t identified the horse a rider. His only comment was he thought he saw a face briefly. After looking at step 20 for about five seconds in session two, he identified the horse, but not the rider. He said it was the shape of the horse’s front legs that triggered his recognition.

My final test subject was a 30 year old female. She isn’t a designer, per say, but she has an excellent eye for good design, illustration, interior design, and is very crafty. She identified a horse and rider on step 16 from session one. After seeing the images of animals in session two, she found the horse and rider identifiable at step 13.

What I found most fascinating about this experiment was how my first two test subjects were really influenced by the first five images. What they saw in the black shapes were dramatically effected by the context of what else they had been seeing. This is an important takeaway as a designer. I must consider the visual context that will surround my designs and how that will affect people’s perceptions of what I create.

February 4, 2010 at 6:34 am Leave a comment

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