As a dual Humanistic Studies Major, I became interested in our Post 9/11 world, one of monstrous military expenditure, ruthless resource conquest, erosion of rights, hidden agendas and public deception. The subject matter is massive: there are a thousand pieces and perspectives that must be woven together to tell an accurate story. I felt there was a dire need to bring something into the world that combined a synthesized narrative with compelling visuals. And stigma aside, the content was super rich and an made for an awesome design challenge. How do you create a book that people actually read and are profoundly affected by?
My thesis manifested as a robust, layered publication and lenticular environmental display. The book worked on several levels: the main spreads were big (22x14in), bold and image-based, while smaller inserts of heavier text were placed throughout the book. These inserts were broken into differently-sized mini-books, which gave context to different key topics. I made the book coil bound so it would lay flat, a feature I thought was essential to encourage interaction.
The 100 foot-long lenticular complimented and drew viewers to the book. It dealt thematically and quite literally with perspective and illusion, presenting two different viewpoints which lined up at the right angle. It acted as an entry point into the subject matter, starting a basic dialogue between the different realities: War ON Terror vs. War IS Terror.
I did months of research, pulling excerpts from books and writing some of my own. I was creating content up until the very last minute before print, and did 70% of the design the last week (!!!). While I’m extremely happy with how my project turned out, it could have been so much better if I had allowed for time to catch mistakes and typos and gotten more feedback on it. In regards to time management, please don’t be like me.
1. Really push yourself to present something tangible each class. It is a huge luxury to have weekly feedback and your work will progress exponentially. Conversely, unformed ideas are difficult to critique and bringing in nothing will set you way back.
2. Thesis should be the best thing you have made thus far, but keep in mind that it will likely phase out of your portfolio in a couple years. Point being, it’s not worth the stress. It should be the most compelling project that get’s you hired, so have a great exhibition, but more importantly make sure it translates into strong documentation for your website.
3. If you are writing, researching or generating a large amount of content, get it done over spring break. Or you will be sad.
4. While I absolutely applaud seniors learning to code, I don’t recommend using your thesis as a vessel. It won’t be portfolio worthy.
5. Unless absolutely integral to your project, don’t have looping audio. It echoes throughout the space and takes away from all the other projects. Not cool!
Kacie is a designer currently at Post Typography in Baltimore.
See more of her work at kaciemills.com.