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Thesis Process Journals

An ongoing documentation of my process in creating my final thesis project towards my BFA in Graphic Design at the Maine College of Art.

Week Four: Part One

What We Said We Wouldn't Do, Part 1.

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Obviously upon starting this blog, just like any small or large project, you make promises to yourself to keep up with it. Some of the things that went through my head when we began:

  • It will keep you honest, and on track.
  • You can never have too little documentation.
  • Reflecting on your own work is not only beneficial for what you are producing but it is also beneficial to the way that you produce. Keeping in touch with thought processes can clarify missteps and important motions forward. Instead of making the same mistakes twice, you may remember what steered you off course and be able to avoid it in the future. Determining why something worked well is probably even less common in my practice, but something I have a feeling will prove indispensable over the arc of a personal project of this depth and scope.
  • It will provide content for your final book.

I was motivated (and have remained in touch with a similar vision) at the beginning, but but somewhere within the last two weeks, lost touch with the discipline that had initially held me to my regimen of process-oriented consideration.

Well, I'm back now—it's been two weeks, but I will attempt to recap what fell between the cracks.

Item 1: I did some panicking: not in the crisis sort of way, just in the grinding to a slow and painful halt sort of way. Like a puffy isolation room used to keep a volatile body safe, it is a hauntingly familiar experiential sort of stasis. It is something I can always feel coming, and—throwing my foot on the break—I took the afternoon off from thesis work to cultivate a kind of counter-productivity. So, the drawing on the left was done immediately after finishing the "What if..." poster project, which we wrapped up in week three. What this meant, as I came to understand, was the beginning of the next phase: a horrifyingly self-directed beast.

Item 2: I did some half-baked planning. At the beginning of the semester, we all made a list of personal deadlines, parsing out the work for our thesis projects and contextualizing everything we could--and maybe couldn't do--within a vague (if distant) timeframe. For mine, I had decided: Week One: Proposal checklist. Week Two: Typefaces, color palettes, frameworks & dimensions. Weeks Three-Four: Questionnaire printed and distributed; participants contacted, materials sent. Then, "buffer time": which I defined to be "non-content-specific visual development." While, Weeks Four-Eight: Data graphics; built and incorporated plus external content acquired. Week Six: Data processing, sketches for data representation. Weeks Eight-Twelve: Rough drafts "DONE", all content finished two weeks prior. Weeks Thirteen and Fourteen: Exhibition work & environmental equipment. Now, I am at Week Four, and feeling decently alright because even though the first project occupied the preliminary weeks in a way other than I had outlined, I was still miraculously poised to keep myself on track. So, I decided to skip the brand guideline phase I had outlined for Week Two (Margo had said I didn't need to be doing that yet anyways), and  tried instead just to get the ball rolling with my surveys. I had been thinking about the questions I was asking in general throughout the duration of the first assignment, and was feeling alright about sitting down for a few hours to generate this first, and not terribly consequential survey to go out to all BFA faculty and students.

Item 3: I slunk beneath a bunch of self-imposed, and external deadlines. Obviously a byproduct of the panicking, but we all know how that works. It only ever makes it worse. Margo and I had decided that by the start of week four, i.e. February 6th, I would have my first round of surveys out. This was my plan as well, knowing that I couldn't do much of anything without the data from the surveys. I had been thinking about what kind of questions I wanted to be asking, I had a two part Google Form survey which I bounced off of Margo, who confirmed that all I had to do was choose between a few questions I was unsure about, and send it out.

It is Tuesday, February 6th, and I sit back down to do the final round of revisions on my questions, and—instead, decide to flirt with something closer to an existential crisis. I throw myself into one dizzying mind-map after another, trying to find different ways to stratify the questions I had made into smaller subsections which I could target with more questions, more specifically. I am worrying here about the implications of the data I receive. What is it saying overall? What application will the answers I receive have? How can I make this the most effective balance of data? All the while, time is passing, Thursday comes and goes, and the pressure for yield within this survey compounds exponentially. 

Item 4: I hit on something productive.

Mollie EnnisComment