Outside the creative comfort zone

At the end of last semester, I decided to register for JOMC 484: Information Graphics not because I needed the credits, but because I wanted to expand my design skills. I had heard that the class would be challenging — professor Terence Oliver is known for pushing his students to their limits, but I was up for it.

Little did I know, the most challenge part of the course would be bringing it back to basics. For our third assignment, we were told we would have to incorporate traditional art mediums into our information graphics. We could use paint, colored pencils or anything we could think of to create a graphic about science and nature. Sounds easy enough right?

I struggled with this project more than any other assignment this semester. I can make things look pretty decent on the computer, and I have some artistic ability offline. But merging the two was a completely new challenge. And needless to say, I am not a “science and nature” person either, so the subject material was not exactly up my alley.

I decided I would do my graphic on the monarch butterfly and would use watercolor as my medium. After outlining the butterfly in Illustrator, I printed out the file and painted over it. I scanned the files into the computer, edited them in Photoshop and then began composing the graphic in Illustrator. The results were….not pretty, to say the least. I know I can be kind of a perfectionist when it comes to design, but this was just not going to cut it.

After getting some feedback from my classmates, I had just two days to complete the project and a lot of work to do. I needed more illustrations, more information and a completely new layout. 48 hours later, this is what I got:


I’m a lot happier with it than I was with the final version, but still not completely satisfied.

On the bright side, I got some great perspective from this project. Sometimes when designing graphics, we have to look beyond what we are used to and step outside of our creative comfort zones. I’m sure I will be able to use the techniques I learned from this project in the future, hopefully with more success!

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  1. This is awesome, Alexa! I wish I could make graphics as beautiful as this one.

    1. Thanks Megan! Like I said, I can be a perfectionist sometimes!

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