The Instagram Influence

Instagram stories are known among users as the best social media platform for sharing parts of your life on their “story” feature.  Instagram’s editing within their “story” options are the most updated and most advanced when it comes to writing your own words with their pens to editing photos and adding gifs or stickers.  With the popularity of instagram for influencers and businesses the use for “stories” to promote yourself or your business to draw in followers and customers is at the height of popularity. 

As a graphic design student I’ve noticed that many stories use similar basic design elements that we are taught to use for our designs i.e. an underlying grid, hierarchy, type choice and placement.. And so on, and influencers and marketers for companies have been using these tools to create commercially designed looking “stories” for their Instagram platform.  In the picture at the beginning of this post I screenshotted a “How To” video that I’ve seen floating around Pinterest for awhile now on how to make your posts aesthetically pleasing and more designer looking.  When looking at internships on various sites I’ve also seen the position of “Social Marketing Intern” with the description of “Social Media Platform Posts” as a requirement and skill that this student must have, but I hardly see this for the Graphic Design internships which is interesting.

When it comes to the future and where Graphic Designers may need to broaden their talents in, I’m in the opinion that social media platforms are going to become more and more popular as time goes on – we already know that “in a world where we’re more connected than ever, we’re the loneliest we’ve ever been” is a fact that has been trickling around in articles and social science posts, and with this people are going to want to feel connected socially through their devices even more so.  I believe that as a Graphic Designer we’ll need to be updated with social media platform designs, moving media, and videos to continue being successful in our careers as designers.  So find that artsy mural to stand in front of kids, and start snapping away cause “influencers” aren’t going anywhere and if we can’t beat’ em’, join’ em’. 

Design with Disabilities in Mind

In researching a design project that was intended for someone who is blind I came across an early development of an app that would help a blind person find a place through their phone/audio with detailed accuracy for an easier way around local traveling.  

I feel that it doesn’t fully satisfy the identified need, that being making in-city traveling easier for the blind.  It’s hard to really deeply describe better solutions since I’m pretty ignorant in the difficulties blond civilians have, but I would think that there would need to be some type of secondary digital structure that maybe pairs with this app to fully connect the dots for efficient, easier, and helpful maneuvering of the city for people who are blind.  I don’t think that this app invention is trying to “fix the person” at all, I really do believe that the intent was to create a technological solution to a problem that has been around for decades for anyone with a visual disability.  

“Maayan Ziv founded the app, AccessNow, to create a more accessible world. As a person with muscular dystrophy, she knows the challenges many people encounter when trying to determine whether a building is physically accessible. AccessNow is an interactive crowdsourced map where people can pinpoint and rate the accessibility status of places around the world.” -

As for is this the best use of resources I feel that an app is a cheap and simply way for a company or organization to try and help someone with a disability get around the city better, but an app is already difficult for a blind person to navigate since screens tend to be flat already and a lot of a digital screen is visual indicators instead of vibrations or texture.  That’s why I feel like digital/physical structures that had braille and vibrations included into the directions at different locations would help someone who is visually impaired to find their way to their destination easier and safer.  In a TED talk that I watched called “When We Design For Disability, We All Benefit” by Elise Roy a huge point that she made was “we should design with disabilities in mind first, and the majority of people second” I was like, wow, this seems so obvious.  She later discusses how many popular designs that were created for people with disabilities were later popularized by the society as a whole just shows how designing with disabilities in mind helps everyone in the long run.  For this App and directions for the blind, I feel that the design team should reconsider a visual aid to be the first resource someone with blindness would consider first, and if they were blind what sort of resources would they enjoy having to use for inner-city travel such as physical monuments, audio that comes with a physical map that vibrates or moves with your fingers.. Design elements that incorporate sound, touch, and movement more, and less digital flat interfaces. 

Just Don’t?

In as recent as 2017 the famous sports apparel and shoe brand Nike released a new set of athletic wear that featured a very cultural appropriated pattern that is used by the Tatau islanders of Fiji, Samoa, and New Zealand.  As soon as they were publicly released the people of Tatau origin were immediately outraged and made it apparent that Nike had offended them greatly.  For one, the print that you can see on the clothing above is that of geometric shapes, forms, and patterns is what is traditionally seen on the males within the Samoan culture, not women.  Seeing as Nike decided to put this cultural pattern on the female line of workout clothes was their first mistake, but the second and largest mistake was not consulting with anyone who the pattern may have significant meaning and importance to.

Nike’s women’s “Tattoo Bodysuit” 2017

On top of Nike’s design team not doing their research on the patterns they were using, Nike didn’t even pull the line of clothing down until after a petition was created and then signed by more than 750 signatures.  After the pull, Nike’s PR statement said “The Nike Tattoo Tech collection was inspired by tattoo graphics.  [They] apologize to anyone who views this design as insensitive to any specific culture.  No offense was intended”.  

What’s most upsetting to me is how recent this was.  This was only barely four years ago and this major clothing brand’s design team failed to see how this “tattoo pattern” as they’re calling it, wasn’t somehow cultural appropriation?  Even if you didn’t know exactly where these tattoos originated from, I would say that most Americans right off the street would refer to them as “Hawaiian Tattoos” because that’s how Hawaiian men and sometimes women are depicted in movies and shows as having this type of tattoo pattern displayed on their bodies.  To me it’s unbelievable that the Nike team didn’t know that this might have been seen this way, I think that they were hoping no outrage would come from them taking a nation’s cultural markings and patterns offensively and make a good dollar from it.  It’s not difficult to do some research when it comes to possible cultural references that you may be designing from or getting inspiration from, especially when you’re a fortune 500 company, use that money to hire a good research team so that your company doesn’t look ignorant and disrespectful with their product designs and ideas.


Fourth Source

The Genius of Japanese Design

Sherman E. Lee, the author of “The Genius of Japanese Design” was an American academic, writer, art historian and expert on Asian art.  From this he wrote many books on Asian art forms such as “Japanese Decorative Style”, “Reflections of Reality in Japanese Art”, and “A History of Far Eastern Art”.  He lived in Tokyo Japan after his service in WW2 and began cataloging, preserving and protecting Japanese artworks. 

What’s most important from this book source is the history and reasons why Japan came to assert their own aesthetic and curated their own style and design look.  It shows many examples of Japanese art and how they differed from the Chinese and where you can truly see where Japan took off in their own artistic direction.  Sherman Lee discusses in his book on Japanese design what inspirations the Japanese take from their surroundings and social beliefs and how this plays into their own artistic tastes.  He covers the natural and social environments that are present within all aspects of their art pieces which will be useful when researching where, why, and how the Japanese art and design aesthetic is so unique and different to the many other countries around the world. 
Lee, Sherman E. The Genius of Japanese Design. First ed. Tokyo ; New York: Kodansha International, 1981. Print.,contains,japanese%20design

Third Source

Japanese Aesthetics of Packaging 

Yuriko Saito is a professor of philosophy at Rhode Island School of Design and was born and raised in Japan where she got her Arts Degree.  She didn’t quit there though, Yuriko went on to receive her PhD in Philosophy with a minor in Japanese literature.  She went on to write many different books and articles on aesthetics and has many on Japanese aesthetics.  She’s also presented at many different universities on her studies and findings that include the U.S, Japan, and Finland. 

Within this article on Japanese aesthetics within their packaging design, I found a few key terms and sections to most likely be important in my research.  There’s a section on “Miegakure” design which I feel will explain a popular design and art aesthetic used by Japanese artists and designers.  There’s many other design aesthetics that are varying like “Noren” and “Kami” that are also discussed and greatly described.  This article also explains how Japanese creations consider the “recipient’s experience” when designing as well as the respect for the material that they use within their design. 

Saito, Yuriko. “Japanese Aesthetics of Packaging.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, vol. 57, no. 2, 1999, pp. 257–265. JSTOR, Accessed 13 Feb. 2021.

Second Source

Spoon & Tamago: Japanese Art, Design and Culture 

Spoon and Tamago is a blog that is written and founded by artist and writer Johnny Waldman.  Johnny grew up in Japan and often visits Tokyo to this day.  He also has a twitter where she often posts updated news on Japanese design and art with links to where you can read more about these design shows or competitions of designers in Japan.

This blog is filled with fourteen years of blog posts all about Japan and the designs that come out of it.  This blog is filled with youtube videos, articles, galleries, and much much more all about Japanese design and art.  This blog is also helpful in translating some articles that are in Japanese to English so that non-japanese speaking people can learn about the Japanese design world.  The co-founder of the blog is named Tomomi, and another contributor to the blog’s name is Masaki who also grew up in Japan and often visits Japan even though she lives in NY currently.  With the three blog contributors you really get a variety of information on Japanese design and art and different takes on what’s going on with the trends or customs.

Waldman, Johnny. “The 2021 Japan Packaging Design Awards” Blog Post.* Spoon & Tamago. Bento Graphics, September 14, 2020. Web. February 12, 2021.

First Source

Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics & Culture by Patricia Graham

Patricia Graham was a former professor and museum curator who specialized in Japanese art, who also conducted research at the University of Kansas.  As well as being a scholar of Japanese art she has also lectured on East Asian studies and is a professional consultant and appraiser for Asian art for institutions, businesses, and collectors.  She has been awarded many fellowships relating to the study of Japan and Asian culture which includes the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership, the Asian Cultural Council, the Fulbright Program, and the National Endowment for Humanities.  She has also published two other Asian and Japanese art books that were published by the University of Hawaii. 

This book will be very helpful in my research on Japanese Design because it covers almost every aspect of Japanese Design from Shibui (which was my original goal of covering in this research paper) as well as Wabi Sabi (a close second to what I wanted to look into for my research paper) and many other aspects of Japanese Art and Design.  Japanese Design: Art, Aesthetics & Culture also cover the cultural parameters in Japanese design which I feel will help me in my research of where Japanese designers draw inspiration from or what design rules they might follow that differ from the American ones we are taught in school.

On top of covering the differing wings of Japanese Design and also the cultural scopes of where these design aesthetics come from or originate, this book also covers the history of early Japanese or artistic Japanese history spanning from the 1830s-1950s.  While doing research I can refer to the imagery that is included throughout the book when showcasing the different design styles that Japanese artists and creators use, which will be helpful in my research and will also give me material to refer to within my own paper.

Graham, Patricia. Japanese Design : Art, Aesthetics & Culture, Tuttle Publishing, 2014. ProQuest Ebook Central,

This Is Not A Drill | Environmental Design

When it comes to environmental design I gravitate the most towards sustainable packaging design because I feel that this is where most of our waste truly comes from.  When I think landfills, recycling centers, or garbage island – oh, excuse me I mean the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – that is a trash vortex that is mainly composed of U.S. garbage that’s accumulated in the Pacific Ocean and has only been growing and destroying more and more over the past few decades.  This island of trash is only an extension of the island of North American trash, and if we don’t push corporations to clean their act up, we’re all going to be in a world of polluted hurt.

Instead of writing out my anger, pessimism, and depressing opinions and thoughts on this topic, I would like to talk about some hopeful dreams, options, and opinions when it comes to helpful design in the environmental world.  First and foremost I would love to see the popularity of 100% biodegradable packaging.  If this means that people have to re-use or re-plant or re-whateverthehellthey’retoolazytoactuallydo then so fucking be it.  I remember in high school “Sun Chips” came out with a completely biodegradable chip bag (see below) and the response was “this bag is too loud when we reach in to grab chips with” and resulted in a 11% drop in revenue sales1.  So what did the Coca Cola company owned business do instead? They just redesigned their bag to make it a little less loud, but still biodegradable and healthy for the planet.  I would love to see every chip bag or sack sold product redesigning with this idea in mind.  If a lazy person decides that they want to dump their used snack on the side of the road instead of taking it to a recycling or garbage container, can it naturally decompose? 

2011 compostable SunChips® bag

Another positive change that I would be delighted to see would be major food chains, be that fast food chains, restaurants, or grocery stores having a recycling and donation bill placed or implemented for their businesses. I’ve worked in either food or retail for the past ten years and I can tell you first hand the amount of waste that these major corporations produce is mind boggling.  I cannot believe that there is no regulation as to where these plastics go, what leftover food can be kept or thrown away, or god forbid you drop a cup on the store’s floor, even a whole sleeve of 50+ cups must be thrown away if it even brushes the tiles of the business floor.  “Well it’s a health concern!” you might say, well Karen, if you’re more concerned about getting a cold or disease from a sanitized floor possibly covered in crumbs of dirt tracked in from outside, I must say I’d highly suggest you reassess the health of yourself and the rest of the human population when those countless sleeves of cups end up drowning, contaminating, and killing our ocean and really then reevaluate the concern of “your health”.


Let’s Get Political, Political ♬

Banksy’s newest mural in Brooklyn, New York. Photo courtesy @banksy via Instagram.

“How does the inevitable intersection of design and politics make you feel?” I’ve been staring at this question for what feels like twenty hours, I feel a lot of things, and also no things towards this question.  If I could choose, I would love to have a design career where none of my designs are for a political statement.  I guess scratch that, I don’t want to be involved in the Democratic or Replublican idea of politics.  When it comes to the split party idea of politics, the “whose side are you on?”, the “well you’re either with us or you’re against us” side of politics, I’m not about it, and I feel that the current split party politics is very delusional.  I’m not a fan of supporting political leaders or movements who are busy dividing us between red and blue than they are uniting us as human beings in our overflowing similarities.  Media is nasty, and has only gotten more deceptive, click-baity, and straight up dishonest over the decades that I’ve personally seen.  If I were to have any input in political design it would be promoting nobody, it would probably be something close to Banksy’s street art graffiti – the political party as a whole is a scam and almost none of them truly care about any of the people in the country that they’ve “sworn to protect”.  

The design of political messages hasn’t ever really caught my attention.  I’m not sure if you would consider graffiti artist known by Banksy to be a political designer, but I feel that his work is the closest to political artwork that I have admired or paid attention to.  I really enjoy how his pieces make you think, they show the audience’s ignorance into the world of the working class, the 99%, the lower class, the unseen.  I’m not even sure how I would get these sorts of messages across as a designer – I suppose through any media or form I decided to, but politics mostly make me depressed so I try to “share” my part, be that Instagram, Facebook, social groups.. But for the most part I’m not designing 8X8 squares of a political belief of mine in hopes it gets virally spread across the internet.  Maybe I need to start. 

With a name like Smuckers, it’s rebrand has to be good.

Your eating your toast, it’s early in the morning and you’re watching “The Today Show” before you make your way out the door for the school bus, and you see Al Roker showing the Smucker’s jelly jars showcasing the images of the elderly who are turning wild ages on it’s label, you kiss your parent goodbye and begin your sweet elementary carefree day – this is the memory my mind goes to when I think of Smucker’s jelly and jam.  So when I was scrolling through logo after logo and landed on the almost unrecognizable rebrand of the classic “Smuckers Co” my toast-eating elementary school ass was downright shell shocked! Not THE Smucker’s?? What?? Even Smucker’s is turning into this wildly modernized and futuristic looking brand.  As surprised and unhealthily attached to the nostalgic logo of my childhood’s past, I found my opinion on it’s new modern identity slowly changing into absolute adoration.

So why is Smucker’s looked upon so sentimentally by most Americans? Well it probably has to do with this jelly company being around since 1897. Many generations have used their spreads since as far back as most of us can remember and there’s just something special about breakfast and starting your day with some warm coffee and jellied up toast.  When looking at the evolution of their logos and packaging, I noticed that Smucker’s hasn’t ever shied away from rebranding.  There were many different label designs and logo styles to sift through, and this ultimately swayed me away from being a boomer in my idea that Smucker’s shouldn’t rebrand or modernize their identity system, I mean, they had been since the day they were established, so why not now?

I did my own research on the logo design history and this image (above) captures their logo evolution the best.  As you can see, Smucker’s has always been changing their look, pretty dramatically.  They had an apple as a logo to begin with, which turned into berries, which over the decades teeter-tottered from a wordmark back into a logo with a wordmark time and again.  Even though on a whole it really shows how different they’ve designed their look, there’s always this “classic” theme, the font is serif, mostly decorative, and detailed.  Today’s redesigned J.M SMUCKER logo is completely 180’d from anything they’ve done before.

Smucker’s, or as they now would like to be called, The J.M. Smucker Co, started out in Jams and Jellies, but as time went on they found themselves growing into many different brands, they bought out Jif, Crisco, Folgers, Meow Mix.. and so on.  The CEO and other execs found themselves wanting to move on to the modern age with a modern image, and this is how the J.M. Smucker Co branding began.  As I dove into their history and reasoning behind their rebrand I found myself going, “ooohh okay this totally makes sense”.  This initial repulse turned into a moment of “wow this is actually genius rebranding” which I did not expect to have after the research. 

I feel that their logo represents the modern day Smucker’s brand, which is exactly what the CEO and design team was striving for.  They mainly found this inspiration and messaging through the colors of their current logo as well as playing with the berry shape of their past logos.  When they went on to explain that the main red berry was “Heritage” throwing it back to the “familiar strawberry” of their original start, to the lime green berry representing “spark of inspiration and fresh ideas” on to the back berry leaves of “Creativity, Culture, and Growth” which is honoring the culture and leading creations in the forward thinking company values.  I do feel that this is appropriate for their current and past audiences because they’re still honoring the base of the company being a jam and jelly company onto their wide range of products in the modern day and showing these many facets in the multiple elements of the current logo.

The J.M SMUCKER Co. is a rebrand that I ultimately am a fan girl of.  I love the ideas and motivation behind the rebrand itself, it’s a company that wants to stay modern and forward facing while still respecting their humble beginnings, and they’ve successfully encapsulated this within their sleek and fresh new logo and identity.  Though I will miss seeing the classic “Smucker’s” berries and name plate, you’ll still catch me eating my morning toast with some Smucker’s homemade jelly.