Out of all of the media I currently work with, I have been painting for the longest amount of time, mainly acrylic and oil but more recently watercolor as well. Throughout high school and the first couple of years of college, I would strive for realism in my paintings. I wanted to capture accuracy in color, proportion, texture, and space. As my content developed, I have allowed myself to move away from realism in visual representation and focus more on composition. I wanted to elevate the “normal” parts of life and to do this, I decided to begin experimenting with cropping. I believe there is a connection between the visual aspect of cropping an image and the concept of being present to the small details surrounding me. In the process of creating my composition, I decide what to include and what to crop out. I think there is truth in snippets. All we have is our limited perspective but there is validity in our experiences. This is what I hope to convey.
This website design project was completed in the Fall of 2019. Throughout this project we had the opportunity to redesign a website for The Spine & Scoliosis Clinic that needed improvements in its user experience. In the beginning of this project, we were instructed to completely redesign and update the user experience of the old website. With this project we were given the logo and the information to include on each website page.
After reviewing all the requirements, I ended up creating 5 web pages in the final design. These included the homepage, a services page, a page for the biophysics, a page for making appointments, and lastly a FAQ page. Throughout this design, I wanted to create an informative and interactive way for people to view their website.
With the homepage design I created a modern layout which spoke about their story as a company, the services they provide, and their mission to serve their customers. I carefully planned the layout, by starting off with paper and pencil and having a creative vision in mind. Carefully guiding the visitors on the website from start to finish. With this design, I was striving for what it would look like if somebody came into their appointment and the step-by-step process.
The services section lists the type of services they provide as well as showcasing the team members, this was all a concept idea. I also created another section on the page where it says “Get Personal” so people can learn more about who they are as a company in a video embedded on this page.
What has to be my favorite part of this website was designing the appointment fill-out section. This design takes an approach of an online form where people would be able to fill out their forms online and from home. This way they would not have to repeat the same process in the office and wait longer. This was an idea I came up with so once they get to the clinic it would be an easy and seamless process to get to their appointment.
The Biophysics page is where visitors could learn more about what biophysics are. This design was created in the direction to be very clean and easy to read, and the right amount of text.
The last page is the FAQ page. What I was striving for with this design was to make the bolded text the most visible so people would be able to quickly find what they are looking for. Each section is categorized and organized nicely with the blue text separating them.
Overall, this project helped upgrade my design skills from start to finish. I really enjoyed designing each page and it was a super fun project to update, upgrade and redesign an existing website.
In this next blog post, I want to talk about my passion for audio and highlight some of my works which influenced my ideas. I started getting interested in making music around the age of 12 when I was learning about computers and all of the tools the internet had to offer. I stumbled onto an online program in which I could arrange certain sounds on a grid and have it play over a set amount of time. Soon, I was creating my own beats, and eventually those became songs. Around 14, I started listening to a lot of electronic music. I loved that with music, your mind could wander endlessly; but at the same time, I was in awe of fact that someone had created it. Someone could alter or mash or combine an infinite number of sounds to create something completely new.
I soon wondered if I could create something like that, and after some research, I found a program called FL Studio. This program and others like it are called Digital Audio Workstations. D.A.W’s allow users to alter or create sounds with digital synthesizers and effects. The possibilities are almost endless, but I don’t want to get all nerdy about it, so I’ll leave it at that. Around the age of 17, I started releasing some of my beats on a website called SoundCloud so that I could share my work more. This motivated me to start taking my practice more seriously.
Click on the image above or use the following link to hear the music: https://soundcloud.com/terpalien/sets/zeal-ep
After getting some support from friends, I was feeling good about my music. So, when it was time to look for a college to attend, I decided to find a program in audio engineering and learn more about the music business. I chose to attend Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee and it was great. I learned about recording technology, media and society, and temporal processing, but I missed my family in Spokane. The decision to move back home did not hold me back or deter me from making music. It just allowed me to focus on my other passion, graphic design.
Click on the image above or use the following link to hear the music: https://soundcloud.com/terpalien/sets/ooze
Attending Whitworth provided me with both an education in one of my passions, and the ability to be close to my family. While learning about art, I realized how similar art and music are to one another. I wanted to start integrating music into my artwork at Whitworth and during my Senior Seminar class in 2020, I was able to do just that with my “Amplex Zeal EP” project. In this project, I created a four track EP album and the accompanying album artwork. This project really allowed me to refine my skills as well as learn new ones in audio and graphic design.
I didn’t start printing until Fall 2020, but I quickly found myself enjoying the new medium. For this series of prints I initially created the images digitally using an iPad. Then, I used a laser cutter to make the sets of linoleum blocks used to create each print. This allowed me to get finer detail with more accuracy much faster than if I was hand carving the plates. Since there are two colors in each print there are six plates in total. The pink goes down first and is followed by the black.
For me, printmaking is an opportunity to focus on making pieces that are more reflective of myself. The process of printing forces me to step back from the fast-paced world, slow down and embrace the tangible. The concepts behind my prints come from the process of grieving and healing from past trauma. During this process, I often find myself at a loss for words to describe everything I’m experiencing. By turning these feelings into images, I am forced to slow down, process, and feel all that life throws my way.
Coming into 2020 I was excited to start a new series of pieces, with different design constraints. Many of the bongs from the Shatter series used slip (liquid clay with the consistency of “sour cream”) colored with mason stains, as a paint to decorate the surface. At that point, the colored clay stayed on the surface and the base was always the natural white of the porcelain. In the next series, I would use stains to color the main clay body so that I could create more color combinations and contrast in my compositions. Texture was also a large focus. Thinking about how the bongs would feel in the hand was the driving factor for this series.
Mixing mason stains into the clay body is a troublesome task when done by hand. Several hours of work for this series were spent kneading clay (and admittedly, several hours were also put into getting stain out of my clothes). That, and the onset of quarantine, kept the series unnamed and limited to five pieces. The first two, Thanks for the Boof, Abby and Thanks for the Boof, Jay, named for the friends that they were gifted too, were purely focused on creating a design through texture. Deeply carved sgraffito strips cut through the white or black surface, revealing the contrasting blue or yellow body beneath. This simple design was meant to be aesthetically pleasing but lacks any representative details.
The composition worked well, but I wanted to see if I could push it a little bit further by adding subtle representational features. Burning Banana was my first attempt at this. Using colors that I associate with sunsets in the tropics I carved out small monstera deliciosa leaves (often mistakenly called banana leaves). The background remained similar to the texture on the first two pieces. Because the leaves and texture are the same colors, the leaves remain a subtle feature of the overall texturing of the surface.
This is a series that I would like to revisit in the future. With new techniques for production that I am learning, the color combinations could vary even further with the simple addition of a third layer. But I would also like to flesh out the textural aspect more. The addition of representational tidbits was a good start, and I would like to try out other similar ideas.
Last year I began experimenting more with limited color palettes and schemes. By using colors that arerelated, I can achieve color harmonies that evoke certain emotions or project a certain mood. By limiting the colors in the piece, different colors can interact without interference from too many varying hues. This can help create a mood, be aesthetically pleasing, and appear natural as the same type of light is hitting everything.
In this painting, I went to a bar in Spokane and asked if I could take some photos. I took numerous photos of the scene and the people, noting the atmosphere, the lighting, and soaking in the feeling of being there. The painting I composed is reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks in which people gather at a café but do not interact with each other. In this piece, I decided to show a place that people would normally go for social interaction. Yet in the painting, no interaction is being had and everyone is keeping to themselves. The room seems empty with no one sitting at the tables, and the three figures at the bar are not looking at each other. I used the arrangement of the figures sitting at the bar and the warm color scheme to create a somber but intense mood. The color scheme is mostly analogous with the only complimentary colors being in the clothing of the closest man sitting at the bar and in the American flag, making both a point of emphasis. Another connection between the American flag and this figure is the stripes used in each. This hints at the way the piece is commenting on society and the desire we have as humans to connect with each other yet often do not for a variety of reasons.
This painting was inspired by a cowboy’s ride in the 2019 Cody Stampede Rodeo. I composed the piece using references I had taken at the event. In the piece, the bull is the point of emphasis. I used warm neutral colors and a very limited palette to paint this piece. I placed the cowboy’s legs at the right of the composition, showing the cowboy flying out of the painting. This adds both humor and mystery to this cowboy’s wild ride. In the way I composed the piece and painted the dust around the bull, I wanted to suggest movement. The painting captures the bull’s moment of triumph over a cowboy.
Find me on Instagram @zachrossart or online at https://www.zachrossart.com
After enjoying the Circle Icon project, I began searching for more opportunities to incorporate illustrations into design. Logo design works best for this because it often requires creative use of iconography. In my Typography 1 class, I had a chance to create a logo for myself. While the process of brainstorming was fun, I found that settling on a personal brand was rather difficult. It is one thing to create for another company or person, but it is a lot harder to examine my own identity in this way. I eventually came to a design that communicated my interest in illustration while remaining simple.
Since my Typography class my design style has changed to incorporate more geometric forms. My current Graphic Design course offered an opportunity to show my growth through a fictional rebranding assignment for the Whitworth Art and Design Department. This minimalist pinecone design better represents my current design style, and if I were to rebrand myself, I would use this project as a starting point.
Find me on Instagram @kyles_illustrationsanddesign or on Redbubble at KyleSmithgall
While I have always sketched little cartoons in the margins of every one of my notebooks, illustration is an area where I have been wanting to truly grow for a while. I had plans to study abroad at The University of Plymouth in the UK and enroll in their Illustration track in the Fall of 2020. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, I was unable to attend. Since then, I have been determined to develop my illustration style by practicing on a program called Procreate, watching hours of instructional videos, and researching illustrators on my own.
One of my core values in artmaking is to create from an authentic inner place. Authentic artmaking results in work that reflects snippets from life around me, in every medium. Some of these illustrations are still-life’s, and others are adaptations from my memory. I illustrate with a mix of bold and soft colors, flat color planes, slightly distorted proportions, and the utilization of negative space in the image overall. Illustration and children’s books are intertwined in my mind, so I often create while channeling my childlike nature. This is why I am hoping to one day illustrate children’s books.
My next piece is the Whitworth Art & Design Branding Project which was completed during the Graphic Design 2 class. This project was created by Professor Ben Necochea and was based on the renaming of the Whitworth Art Department to the Whitworth Art and Design Department.
Throughout this project, we were given the opportunity and freedom to reconceptualize the logo for the department. We also were free to stray from the established Whitworth University brand guidelines. This was a great opportunity to practice creating original logo designs.
After many phases and ideas, I settled on a concept inspired by Whitworth’s beautiful campus.
The logo was to be simple and professional, while making the letters clearly visible. I wanted this logo’s letters to connect well together and have balance. The “W” is in the shape of a person which helps to represent student growth in all aspects of their art. Hopefully this design projects the department’s shift in direction.
In this next blog post, I want to talk about how my ideas of critiquing consumer culture in advertising formed. Then, I will try to explain how I convey this idea within my own work. Before getting involved with graphic design, I only saw advertising in two ways; informative or annoying. The more I learned about graphic design and technology, I slowly realized how manipulative and aggressive consumer advertising has become over the past few decades. Entire million-dollar industries are built on selling users’ personal data for targeted advertising and there is no sign of this trend slowing down. I was disgusted not only in this societal trend, but also in myself for being a part of the problem as a graphic designer. To combat this, I started researching how graphic design can be used ethically. The best way to reveal the dangers of advertising is through counter advertising. More specifically, promoting awareness of this problem through graphic design.
My first project involving this topic is my “Consume Magazine” made in 2019. This magazine was meant to be about how we consume resources; whether it be food or media. The project was fairly successful in my opinion, but due to my limited knowledge of digital graphic design at the time, it now looks a bit mediocre. Nonetheless, I believe that this project helped me start thinking about art and design in ways which provide some sort of information to a viewer or consumer. Particularly information about how technology influences human life.
Another project dealing with this theme is my “Consume Catalog”. It is fairly similar in terms of content, but I feel it was more successful in conveying the idea of mass consumption. Pictured within the design are various dismembered cow parts or tools used in the cattle processing industry. They are advertised as if they were for sale in some high-end market and the prices listed are ridiculously high. For example, one of the images is a jar of cow eyeballs listed for $1,520. What I was hoping to convey in this was the brutality of the cattle industry and the extents that some people go to in order consume what they want, whatever it may be. In this particular work, I juxtaposed these ideas with trends which can be seen in the fashion industry of soaring prices for seemingly common items.
This project was created to fulfill an assignment for Graphic Design II, Spring 2021. The brief required us to create a new logo for the recently renamed Whitworth Department of Art and Design. We were instructed to create a new identity and completely forget the established guidelines set by the university. I decided to create a dynamic logo that can stand alone or change depending on which degree track is being referenced. I kept the logo minimal so the art and design work it is placed next too can speak for itself.
I started this project by creating the branding guide and dynamic logo. This established a set of rules for myself and others to follow when using the brand. I chose to go with a dynamic logo that fit with each track in the department. Even though each track fits under the larger Whitworth Art & Design umbrella, each one is unique and has instances where it should be distinguished.
The next step was using the dynamic logos to create business cards for each professor in the department. The front of the card features the logo and the back features their information along with the Whitworth A&D icon.
While designing the business cards I decided that I wanted to create a folder of information that would be sent to students when they were accepted into the department. I created several postcards, letterhead, and stickers that would be included in this folder. It would provide students with information like classes they need to take, what the department can offer them, and welcome letters from their advisor and the chair of the department.
The final portion of this project was creating a series of promotional posters that could be used to advertise the different tracks in the department. I adapted the tagline “Create Your Future” which can be found in the admission folder to fit three of the tracks the department offers. I wanted these posters to be eye-catching, engaging, and readable. To accomplish this, I used photos where the subject took up most of the frame and large text interacting with the subject. It creates an intriguing design that is still legible from afar.
After struggling with internal components and experimenting with different forms for way too long, I decided to make some drastic changes in my approach to making bongs. As mentioned in my last post, the first and biggest change was the cessation of hand building problem pieces, such as the bowl and down-stem. These components were to be replaced by premade glass components. By making this switch, I saved myself a lot of headaches in the production of each bong, and it also made them more user friendly. This made things easier for me, because I no longer had to deal with the down-stem (which was prone to cracking) or the sizing of the bowl (it is easier to size clay to glass rather than clay to clay, as clay shrinks at semi-predictable rates). The bongs became more user friendly due to the glass down-stem being removable (easier cleaning) and the standardized sizing of the bowl (easier to replace if lost or broken). These changes to the mechanics of my pieces also led to changes in the design process. Since I had finally figured out the internals of my pipes, I finally felt comfortable moving towards regular production. It was at this point that I started working in series, my first being the Shatter series, of which all these pieces are a part.
An 8-bong series, Shatter is largely inspired by Kintsugi; a Japanese approach to ceramic repair, that utilizes lacquer, gold, and other precious metals, to reform broken pieces. The idea being that there is beauty in the cracks and that they should be highlighted rather than hidden. The main difference from this series to actual Kintsugi is that the cracks in my pieces are simulated and “filled” with gold luster rather than gold lacquer. This, and the form of the pieces, were the only constraints that I had made for myself when conceptualizing this group of pipes. The surface designs were left open for me to explore different ideas. That is why the pieces vary so much in decoration, and why a majority of the series is just finished with different, solid colors. Having put so much effort into the mechanics of the pieces, up to this point, I was just starting to actually think about how I want to design the most visible part of my pieces.
In addition to wildlife, I also enjoy painting the human figure. It is exciting to capture someone’s expression with paint. In a series I did last year, I used my nieces as models and attempted to express what it is like to be childlike. Children have many qualities that often get left behind as people age. In these two paintings from the series, I used the setting of a playground and my color choices to illustrate some of these qualities.
In Joy, I captured a moment of a young girl getting ready to go down the slide. The setting of the playground accentuates the childlike feeling that is already found in her expression. I also chose colors that would suggest playfulness and childlike joy.
In Curiosity, I attempted to depict the childlike curiosity that many possess in learning about and discovering the world. In this painting,we see a young girl in the act of climbing on top of the monkey bars, an action that adds to the idea of wanting to learn and see things new. The girl’s expression is a very important part of the painting, and she looks off into the distance as she appears to be pondering something. I wanted to contrast the thoughtfulness of this expression with vibrant and playful colors.
Find me on Instagram @zachrossart or online at https://www.zachrossart.com
Growing My Illustration Skills
After taking my first Adobe Suite class and discovering my love for design, I was able to improve my skill in a Graphic Design 1 course. I was originally concerned with the amount of layout and print design in this class, as the rigid structure of body text and magazine formatting did not lend itself well to my design style. Luckily, we eventually started an assignment called “Circle Icons” where were needed to illustrate different subject matter within the bounds of a circle. I took this project as an opportunity to test what I could do with Adobe Illustrator. Opacity, gradient, and shape builder tools were all used to create these icons. I think the koi pond is my favorite because the transparency of the water and the unique colors of the fish forced me to learn new illustration strategies.
This course narrowed my focus in illustration and allowed me to experience what my profession might look like after graduation. While the stylistic choices for this project were beginning to emphasize simplicity within complexity, it was not until the following semester that I began to use abstraction as a means for expressing this concept.
Find me on Instagram @kyles_illustrationsanddesign or on Redbubble at KyleSmithgall