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Month: February 2019 (Page 1 of 4)

Secret Agent Power-Hour Poster

Above is the poster I created to promote my group’s radio show! For our show, we will be listening to and talking about music from different spy flicks. We will be discussing our favorite songs and giving the audience information about them.

I created the poster with Canva, a site that I discovered and used last week for various design projects. I decided to make a bright and colorful poster that would really catch people’s eyes. I also tried to incorporate the theme by adding various things related to both secret agents and music. I didn’t go with the minimalist look that many of my classmates decided to do, but I tried to design it so that it was interesting and fun to look at while still getting the message across.

Smells Like Love and Sauerkraut

Growing up as the granddaughter of Polish and Italian immigrants, it’s not surprising that food has been a huge part of my life. This, combined with the fact that I was born and lived in Pittsburgh for my younger years, has resulted in many food experiences that tie me to my ethnic background and fill me with a sense of gratefulness and respect.

In my family, food is a love language. I have many fond memories of being at my Ciocia Bebe’s house and being stuffed with homemade pierogies fried in butter until I could barely move. To her, they weren’t just food. It was like love and kindness were stuffed inside of those delicious filled dumplings.

On the Polish side of my family, nothing says “I love you” quite like the sharing of oplatki on Christmas Eve. Those thin, tasteless wafers stand for the love and care that we all feel for one another. Each person gets a small rectangle of the unleavened bread and goes around the room breaking off small pieces of the others wafers, wishing them a merry Christmas and good fortune in the coming year. This beautiful tradition has been continued down the generations and is a reminder of our heritage.

It’s the same on the other side as well. To me, Christmas brings thoughts of hand-pressed ravioli, minestra maritata (wedding soup), hand-rolled meatballs, and freshly baked cannoli and pizzelles. I realized that I honestly wasn’t sure what the average American family ate on Christmas until Googling it as I wrote this post! For my family, Christmas is a celebration of culture and food passed down from generations.

I lived in Pittsburgh for the early years of my life before moving to Virginia. Almost all of my extended family remains there, which means that I have spent a good part of my life traveling back and forth. Pittsburgh’s multicultural heritage is shown through its food and rich ethnic traditions. The Strip District is a wonderful example of the melting pot of cultures that make the city unique, with its variety of customs and cuisines.

One example of a tradition that both sides of my family (all living near Pittsburgh) share is carried out on New Year’s Eve. Sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, and kielbasa are served and thought to bring good luck. This is what I have eaten every year for as long as I can remember. Although my immediate family is not able to travel to Pennsylvania as often as we used to, we have still upheld this tradition. In times like these, when we are not able to be with our extended family, food still connects us.

A dish that I have eaten countless times throughout my life is called kluski z kapusta, or noodles and cabbage. This cheap, simple meal, passed down by my Polish grandmother, is an example of one of the many ways that the culture and traditions of the generations before me continue to stay alive. You can find the recipe below.


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cups chopped or sliced cabbage
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 1 package (8 oz.) egg noodles

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion. Saute until soft. Add cabbage. Saute 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in salt and pepper. Meanwhile, cook noodles in salted boiling water as directed on package. Drain well. Stir noodles into cabbage. Cook 5 minutes longer, stirring frequently.

Throughout my life, food has been much more to me than just something to eat. It has been a way to give and receive love, to carry on tradition, and to remember those who came before me. One day, when I have my own family, I know that I will continue to carry on this delicious language of love.

Week 6 is Done!

This week was a great learning experience for me. Unlike the other things that we focused on previous weeks, I had never experimented with design. I started off the week by reading “The Vignelli Canon.” and the article A Kid’s Guide to Graphic Design by Iconic Designer Chip Kidd. These were great design resources and prompted me to think about design in a new way. I wrote this blog post as a reflection on the articles and my experience with design.

Throughout the week, I completed a design blitz, which prompted me to look for different aspects of design around me. I also did 12 stars worth of design assignments. For the first assignment, I created a bumper sticker for my character Mia. I did a character related post for my second assignment as well, where I created an invitation for a movie night she was having. For my third assignment, I talked about my favorite movie quote and designed an image that incorporated it. My fourth assignment involved designing a postcard. All of these assignments involved being creative in ways that I haven’t been before. I think that the different aspects of design I learned will be extremely beneficial for future projects.

Below are the four daily creates that I did this week.

I really enjoyed building on the skills learned through past weeks’ assignments to design things this week. Design is something that I haven’t explored much in the past, but I think learning about different aspects of design is important and will be helpful in the future. I’m glad that I had the opportunity this week to experiment with it more!

My Thoughts on Design

I had never studied design before this week. I thought it wasn’t something that related to my degree or my education, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. However, I learned from the brainpickings article “A Kid’s Guide to Graphic Design by Iconic Designer Chip Kidd” that “Whether you realize it or not, most of the decisions you make, every day, are by design.” Well okay then! I guess design has a bigger part in my life than I had previously thought!

As I thought about it more, I realized the huge impact that design has on everything that we do. Especially in our social media world, where people can design their online presence and tailor it so that others will see what they want them to. Another quote that really stuck out to me is “Everything that is not made by nature is designed by someone.” I realized the huge part that design plays in the world for all of us.

I also read a short booklet called “The Vignelli Canon.” The author states that there are three important aspects in design: Semantic, Syntactic, and Pragmatic. These three aspects gave me an unpleasant flashback to my linguistics class last semester. However, it was interesting to learn about these aspects in design. Semantics refers to the search of the meaning of a design. The syntax of a design is provided by many components such as the structure, grid, typefaces, text, headlines, and illustrations in graphic design. If a design is understood after it is complete, this is pragmatics. If a design is not understood, it fails to communicate, and is a wasted effort.

I also liked what the author said about wanting design to be visually powerful. He states that “We think good Design is always an expression of creative strength bringing forward clear concepts expressed in beautiful form and color, where every element expresses the content in the most forceful way.” He goes on to express the endless possible ways there are to achieve this goal.

I followed up on the reading by thinking about some examples of design and considering questions like: What makes a poster look like a poster? What makes a book cover look like a book cover? I would say that a poster usually has a large attention-grabbing picture and minimal words. A book cover is usually a little more modest, highlighting the title and possibly some additional quotes or statements about the book, along with a picture or design that reflects what the author wants you to take away from a book. Unless it is a book with a picture from the movie, which I am not a fan of and would be more similar to a movie poster.

Overall, there are a lot of aspects of design that I had never considered until this week. I also really appreciated that I was able to build on the skills I learned other weeks and use them in thinking about design. I think I would have really struggled if the design module had come before photography or audio. As I go forward, I will definitely be thinking more how everything around me is designed, and how those designs help to tell stories.

Blitz 2.0

I was happy to see at the beginning of the week that we were assigned another blitz. The photography blitz was a lot of fun, and I definitely learned a lot about photography through it. The design blitz was a little different, since it had us take pictures throughout the week instead of all at once. Before I started, I read through the design resources page and learned a lot about the different concepts of design. I referred to this page throughout the week as I took pictures and looked for examples of the concepts in designs. The four concepts I chose to photograph and discuss are color, form/function/message, metaphors/symbols, and typography.

The first concept that I found was color. In the above picture, both the absence of color and the use of bold color are used to draw attention to key elements and get the message across. The color in this photo also creates a mood that helps to tell a story.

The second example I found was a door in the HCC that was a bad example of form/function/message in a design. As you can see, the door has a handle, which usually gives the message that the door is supposed to be pulled. However, it is a push door. It was designed badly enough that they needed to put a sticker on the door informing people that it is supposed to be pushed. I’m sure that many people still try to pull it open every day.

The third design that I chose used metaphors/symbols. The use of the picture behind the message causes people to think about recycling as a way of saving or taking care of the planet. This is a great tactic to encourage people to recycle.

The fourth design I focused on was a bad example of typography. There are so many fonts used on this flyer that the reader has no idea where to look. Typography can definitely be used to get a message across, but the extremely random and varied look of this flyer only serves to confuse.

This design blitz was a creative and interesting way to learn more about design. I put a lot more thought into the different designs around me this week, noticing stuff that I never have before. I haven’t thought much before about the individual concepts of design, so this was a great way to learn something new.

Greetings From China

The instructions for the “Destination Post Card” assignment were to “Create a destination postcard using any design software of your choice. Start by choosing an image from a location and put some some words over the image just like a postcard.”

For this assignment, I chose a picture that I took in Dongguan, China last summer. It was taken in Keyuan Garden, which is a place full of beautiful architecture and scenery right in the middle of a city. It was definitely one of the highlights of my time in China, and is a place that I wish I could have taken friends and family to explore.

To make the postcard, I uploaded the image to Canva. I used asymmetrical balance to decide where to put the words and chose a font that was a good match for a postcard. This was a fairly easy assignment to do, but it made me think a lot about design and why postcards are made the way that they are and what makes a good one. You can see the final product below.

We’re Just Ordinary People, Changing the World

My favorite movie quote is from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The instructions for the “Favorite Movie Quote” assignment were to “Choose one of your favorite movie quotes and insert the quote over an image from the movie you chose.” I absolutely love the Lord of the Rings, but this is a quote not found in any of the books. It was created for the first Hobbit movie.

I think that this quote is an important reminder that we don’t need to be rich or powerful to make a difference. Each of us has our own gifts, and just by spreading kindness and love we are able to change the world around us for the better.

I created this image with Canva. I found the movie still on this site. I wish that I had found the site the week that we did photography, since it has thousands of stills from all sorts of different movies. It’s definitely a great resource for the future. I uploaded the still to Canva and added the text, making sure that I quoted the movie correctly. I experimented with fonts and placement before finalizing my creation, which you can see below.

Mia’s Movie Night

The “You’re Invited!” assignment was to “Make an invitation for any event, whether it occur or not. Pick an event from a movie even! What does the invitation say about the event? Get creative.” I decided to tie my character Mia in with this assignment.

Mia doesn’t have a lot of time to spend on herself, since she is both a librarian and a secret agent. This results in her not being able to spend much time with her friends. However, this week she had a pretty light workload, so she decided to get together with some of her friends. She is throwing a movie and paint night at her house.

I used Canva to create the invitation. Previously, I have only used invitations with a template, which requires almost no work. This was the first time I’ve ever designed an invitation from scratch.

As I was designing, I tried to keep in mind what I wanted the invitation to say about the event. I used different design concepts such as minimalism, symbolism, and typography. I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out! Maybe next time I need an invitation I will design it myself. You can see the final product below.

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