Posts Tagged ‘pratt institute’


4 by Leo Reynolds. See more on Flickr here

This fall, my humble little design blog turned 4! This August also marks my 4-year anniversary of moving to New York City. How time flies. I started this blog while attending Pratt Institute and earning my Design MFA. In a Motion Design studio we were to document process and inspiration for the semester and speak about design. Now, almost 200 posts and 61,000 views later my blog is still chugging along. Today there’s a tighter focus design, be it Scandinavian design, textiles, prints and patterns, photography, advertising, fashion or my rants about life. While this blog is no “Design Sponge,” or the myriad of other blogs out there, it servers as an opportunity for me to share what I’m into, curate content and write about design. This has been particularly useful for getting jobs and getting my name out there, something I never expected. So I just wanted to say thanks for browsing and following me these 4 years. So here’s to the next 4! 





See more photos by Leo on his Flickr page. Get into it! 



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Several weeks ago, I was invited to speak at the United Nations Youth Assembly about my 2010 trip to Australia for the 63rd UN DPI/NGO Conference. I blogged about my experiences in Australia (here), and blogged a lot about this trip inspiring my Pratt MFA thesis. So when I was asked to speak to youth about my experiences at the UN, I gladly accepted! I was nervous speaking to experts in the field about my outside experience in Australia several years earlier but also thought my outsider perspective might resonate with other youth people at the conference. I remember attending a conference like that three years ago (read here) and wanting to connect with the speakers but never really got there. With this in mind, I focused my presentation on the importance of youth and why design matters.


My ID tag, officially welcoming me into the United Nations!

youth_presentation_2.1.2012_p2.indd youth_presentation_2.1.2012_p2.indd

One of the biggest points I made is the amazing potential designers and nonprofits have when they collaborate together. Collaborations between unexpected partners often lead to unexpected and surprising results. One prime example is my experience as a graphic designer at a UN Conference centered on Public Health. Attending this conference sparked my interest in the subject of joy and using one’s skills and abilities to create change in the world. Many of the projects we created in the class at Pratt strove to do just that.


Kelsey Welsch redesigned the MDGs icons and created an amazing project linking Material Health to all the other MDGs. youth_presentation_2.1.2012_p2.indd youth_presentation_2.1.2012_p2.inddThe MDG Youth village created by myself and students at Fordham University.

In closing, I wanted to bring focus from design back to YOUth, and end on an aspirational note. On the last day of the Australia conference, Patrick Ip (my roommate for the week) spoke about “What and Why” in regards to youth. He said, “Often youth are defined by WHAT we are; teacher, student, doctor, etc … not WHY we do it. Many of us, no matter WHAT we do, want to help, and it’s important to focus on WHY. For when we define ourselves by WHAT we do, we limit what we are capable of doing. But when we define the WHY, the possibilities are endless.” This really spoke to me on the last day of the conference and is still something I think about today. If there was one thing people took from away my speech, I hoped it would be Patrick’s great words.



A packed house of students from all over the world.


If you want to learn more about designers and nonprofits/NGOs partnering together, check out Pratt’s Project Public initiative. And remember, if you focus on the WHY in life, and not come from a place of WHAT, any door can be open to you no matter what you do in life. Cheers!




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Hey guys – this is my last thesis-related post (I promise) … and why the last?? This week I turn in everything signed-seal-delivered to Pratt. It’s been quite a drawn-out process but I guess that’s to be expected trying to finish and thesis and working full-time. But in the end, I’m so happy with how everything turned out. I spent the last few weeks designing my thesis book and I’m thrilled with how it looks. I’m going to post a few of the spreads in this post, but you can flip through the entire book here. I’ve also spent a bunch of time tweaking my website and trying to polish it up, check out the progress at dcwdesign.com

So now that my Pratt MFA thesis is done – it’s time to plan for the next 5 years. I was talking a few weeks ago about how everything I’ve done post-Appalachian was to get me to this point, living/working in NYC with my masters. So what’s next? I’ve had an amazing job these last few months so I’m off to a great start. I’d also like to start creating my own work again and possibly send another round of letters out for The Joy Project. So lots on the horizon, lots of things simmering in the kitchen – stay tuned to what comes next!

Joy, Delight and Growth: Harnessing the Power of Joy in Design
by Daniel Wiggins

In order to strive for a remarkable life, you have to decide that you want one. -Debbie Millman

Maira Kalman spread about And the Pursuit of Happiness.

Spread with my poster for the United Nations Youth Pre-Conference,
Summer 2010.

The Joy Project spread.

10 Things I Did in 2010 (need to work on the 2011 version of this!)

Take your pleasure seriously -Charles & Ray Eames.


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Hey everybody – awesome news! I’m featured in the 2011-2012 Pratt Institute Graduate Bulletin (aka catalog)!! I guess you can say I’ve come full circle. Wasn’t too long ago I was a bright-eyed design student at Appalachian State University dreaming of moving to New York and studying Communication Design at Pratt. I remember looking at the catalog years ago thinking .. if only I could get into Pratt. And three short years later my work is featured in their bulletin for new prospective students!

Also this week I’m printing and submitting in my final thesis paper and book. Now that my Pratt chapter is wrapping up it’s time to start planning for the next 5 years. My next project is reworking parts of my website (www.dcwdesign.com) and then it’s time to start making big post-school moves in 2012. Wish me luck – and best of luck to everyone in the new year!

Here’s the project that’s featured in Pratt’s 2011-2012 Graduate Bulletin. My Sophronia project based on Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities book.

Front of double-sided poster/mailer.

Calender of events detail.

Fold out poster advertising Sophronia – half circus, half “real” city.

Voter card for Sophronia.

:: And coming soon ::

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It’s been a rough few weeks trying to finish the semester and a lot of ‘ish has gone down. My thesis show has come and gone, wrapping up in the beginning of May. From there I had to finish one last studio project, wrap up my internship, and prepare for Pratt Show and graduation. As many know, I spent the Spring interning at Jonathan Adler. All signs pointed to the internship leading to a long term position. Sadly, that fell apart in the end. My boss worked really hard to make the case for them to keep and pay me, but it just wasn’t in the cards. I felt really let down when I got the news as I worked so hard there. I invested a lot of time and effort into doing my best work for them, and it’s sad when they don’t invest in you in return. I was given to opportunity to keep working through the summer (for free), which I quickly turned down. I would be undervaluing myself as a designer if I agreed to stay. So many graphic designers talk about refusing to do speck work, design competitions, or free work in general. But some of these same companies hire unpaid interns. It’s just sad, we talk about elevating the profession, but many designers are doing that on that backs of unpaid, or low paid interns. I think JA expected me to stay there and work, for the opportunity, but they need to one day realize, if you want good design, you’re going to have to pay for it.


Right before graduation a little thing called Pratt Show popped up. Every year Pratt rents a huge exhibition space in Manhattan where graduates from across the Institute are given space to display their work. While it ended up being a bigger time commitment than expected, I was so happy I did it. I just found this blog post about it, “Work by more than 300 of the Pratt Institute’s most talented students is on display at The Manhattan Center. Pratt Show 2011 features communication design undergraduates; digital arts, jewelry design and interior design students; graphic designers from the associate’s degree program; and graduate industrial design students.” My business cards are featured on this site! Yay for that. Just like the blog says, it was a great opportunity to get our work seen by those in the industry. I ended up with about 6 interviews alone just from Pratt show. I was the only MFA ComD student to participate and it was a missed opportunity for anyone that didn’t do it. I really wish more people in my program did it as I know everyone’s work would have really shined. In all fairness though, we had to apply during one of the busiest times during the semester, so I think it was just bad timing.

My cards featured on Art Observer

My setup at Pratt Show

Me talking to someone during the Friends and Family Opening

I did a bunch of interviews and in the end, I found a place that will hire me part time before I go to Copenhagen. Everyone else wanted to hire someone immediately and I can’t truly work full-time until August. I had a second interview for this one place I’d LOVE to work as I really think it would be a perfect fit, but they want me to check back in August. I just pray something is open then. It’s nice to know people are interested, but I get so resentful when school causes me to miss job opportunities, but I NEED TO FINISH MY DEGREE!

A few days after this, we had graduation. My Dad and friend Meghan flew from NC to attend the ceremony and spend a few days with me. The ceremony in typical Pratt fashion was a bit of a mess, the venue was a huge warehouse on a pier. It was raining, people had to line up and wait outside, and we were herded like cattle through the space. Grad school at Pratt has felt very atypical compared to my four years at Appalachian so I figured participating in this would give me some sort of closure and feeling of accomplishment. I’m happy I did it, but I had no idea the email I was to receive the next morning …

The venue! Pier 94 in Manhattan’s west side.

Where we lined up, who knew backstage would be so glamorous right?

Singing one of many songs during graduation, really funny actually.

Three of my fellow MFA ladies at graduation! Aren’t they pretty??

So why is joy coming back? The day after graduation, I received an email from my thesis committee saying there were “substantial problems” with the materials I submitted for my thesis (ie my exhibition project and my paper). I was scheduled to defend and have my paper signed the next day. One day I’m walking across the stage and “graduating” and 24 hours later I’m held back with no explanation. The next day I met with my committee and for an hour and a half we talked about all the things that were missing. Some mention of ANY of this before that date would have been helpful. As one can see by looking at my blog, I’ve had a thesis exhibition plan designed for MONTHS, and never was I told I needed another project. In the stress and confusion of the semester I feel like I was let go only to be held back at the end. My advisers put all this energy into building a case against me, I just wish they’d used some of that energy to say something sooner. There were ample opportunities. But as they say, what’s done in the dark will someday come to light. I know why (or should I say whom) this whole issue truly steams from, but as my good friend Jason says, don’t be bitter, be better.

So in the interest of not playing the victim card, I have a bit more work to do this summer/possibly this fall, and I should hopefully FINALLY be finished. I just spent an A-MAZING week in North Carolina with a bunch of friends laughing, singing, dancing, hanging on the beach, and celebrating love, friendship and family. It really helped put a lot of this shit in perspective. This too shall pass. I’m not totally sure what project I’ll do in the coming weeks, but I’d like to continue the Joy Projects I was working on. I’m just going to dig deep for a few more weeks and get past this whole mess and close this chapter as soon as possible.


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My MFA thesis exhibition officially opened Friday April 22nd at Pratt Manhattan on W14th. If you’re in NYC, it’s open to the public until May 3rd! Check it out!!

After all the blood, sweat, and tears the show came together. I guess it always does right? I will get better pictures in the coming days but these are all I have for now. The opening went great! I saw lots of people I knew and meet lots of new ones too. In terms of how the show was received, I think my exhibition accomplished all my goals. My hope was that people would read the letters, see the work, take a moment to pause and smile, thinking about what brings joy/happiness in their life. I also wanted to make a project that was easy to understand and digest. I think I did just that. I can’t describe the joy I felt seeing people read the letters with a huge smile on their faces. It made me feel like all the stress was worth it. A lot of people said the work was beautiful and let’s be real, that’s one of the greatest compliments one could get. So everything worked out, mission accomplished.

I still have a feeling the powers at be aren’t convinced about my inquiry into joy and the body of work I created for the exhibition. I judge this b/c the only thing my adviser said to me during the opening was, “Are you getting good constructive criticism?” .. how about “good job,” or “it came together nicely,” or anything nice to say, EVER? I told her a lot of people were touched and were excited to talk to me about the project and how beautiful everything was. She just said, ohhh okay, in that sort of judgmental way, as if people saying beautiful design work is a bad thing. I’m sorry, its not easy to make beautiful work and work that people actually connect with. She’s such a hater. BUT — my plan this week is to use my paper to make my argument perfectly clear. I say this now, but I’m actually excited to finish it.

I had people in the space write down  joy statements and I got a TON of responses, I think I’m going to post them on the wall during the show. I think it will make my wallpaper a little more interesting. One flaw I noticed was that many people weren’t connecting the dots between the projects, they didn’t realize the letters came first, which inspired another project, then another. I think I could have labeled things differently, or been more clear. So there’s room for improvement there! I also wish I could have left an address sign up sheet during the opening to collect addresses of people that would like to participate in the future. Would have been great to have another 20+ people to send new letters to … for the next wave. Ideas for next time! Here’s a few more pictures.

My framed visual responses on the floor of my studio, all 60 of them!

This was my space during set up on Thursday. A mess!

My finished space Friday morning. Added a third row of cards last minute.

Close-up of postcards, and the postcard packaging (right, hanging on wall)

The website thisbringsmejoy.com – will be the digital home for this project in May!

Thanks to everyone that came to the opening and a special thanks to Nick, Theresa, and Nefeli, who were each so helpful to me during the entire process.

I couldn’t have done it without you!

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Because by TD Jakes, this brings my joy.

Today was my 1st official day of set-up in my exhibition space. My primary goal was to wallpaper the removable wall and cover my large wall with 6 yards of fabric I bought at Mood yesterday. When I got to my space to hang the wallpaper, I noticed the printed pieces were still too small. The prints I spent over $50 on were a waste. Luckily, Staples didn’t have a line, so I printed in B&W, and it actually looks pretty damn good. Should have done it from the beginning, I have no idea what I was thinking.

Later in the day my friend Theresa came by to help me hang all the fabric. It’s insane how much time and money both of us spent just COVERING our walls. This has nothing to do with our projects, but we’ve invested so much time prepping our walls. In the time we did that, another classmate hung his entire show. Oh well, good things from to thosethat face adversity, I like to think. Note to self, always pick exhibition spaces with finished walls. Here’s some pictures from the day.

Oh, and tomorrow I get to see Debbie Millman speak at Pratt! Can’t wait for that!!

My wallpaper and the monitor, which will display my animated project logo. The text is every joy response I got from my letters, all 760 of them, in alphabetical order!

Another shot for context.

Before …

After! – My friend Nefeli.
I’ll be doing this on Thursday. Yes, we have to sand, prime, and paint our own tables ..

La Vie en Rose by Louis Armstrong, this brings me joy.

1 of 60 that will be on display at my show!

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