Photography & Design

Over the past few weeks, I experimented with incorporating my own photography into a design – more specifically into a poster.

For this exercise, I created a poster that advertised one of the plays featured at the Next Stage Theatre Festival. This exercise proved to be more challenging because it required me to balance all the elements included in the poster and express the feeling of the play while also implementing visual hierarchy and interest.

As I have previously mentioned, the play I chose to do was Piece By Piece. While I was unable to actually see the play before designing the poster, the design thinking exercises that I previously did really helped me narrow down the emotions and feelings of the 6 characters in the play. I wanted to represent how a time like this would be chaotic but that love would always be a present element.

For my poster, I implemented a more grid-like design, using different crops of an object. While I did want to show the chaos and the uncertainty, I still wanted my poster to have a structure so I thought using a grid would really help balance everything. I also chose to break up the words in the title to again play on the disconnect the characters would be feeling. However, as a title, I also wanted the audience to be able to read it clearly so I chose a more formal and structured font.

As for the photograph, I really wanted to incorporate textures you would typically find in hospitals. The photo I took was actually a face cream by the brand First Aid Beauty, which I thought was funny considering the play was set in a hospital. By looking a ways to crop the image, it really helped me find something that was visually appealing and also convey my theme. For the colour scheme, I again wanted to incorporate colour palettes that hospitals usually had but also add a touch to warmth using hints of purples and pink to show that love is still apparent during times of loss.



Piece By Piece – Design Thinking Exercises

For my next project, I will be designing a poster based on one of the plays performed at the Next Stage Theatre Festival. To begin brainstorming ideas, I continued doing the design thinking exercises. This time, they are based on the play Piece by Piece, which will be performed at the Next Stage Theatre Festival in January.

Here is a brief synopsis of the play:

“16-year-old Steffie can’t leave the ICU where she lost her mother. Barb is slowly losing her husband as his memory fails. John can control everything in his life but his wife’s fertility. In this compelling ensemble piece, strangers are drawn together in a story of sorrow, hope and remarkable moments of love in times of loss.”

Since the play debuts in January, the synopsis is all the information I have on the play. So by doing design thinking exercises, it allows me to brainstorm ideas while helping me imagine what the play is about, forcing me to form questions that I want answers to.

Below is an idea map and my 50 questions:


50 Questions

Let’s Crop!

This week I played around with the crop tool. Cropping is when you remove the outer parts of an image to either change the framing or to emphasize a particular area. For this exercise, I took a photo of three different things I interact with daily. Then, using the crop tool, I created three new images from each photo. By doing so, it altered the meaning of the original image and created new ones due to the new framing and focus.

I hope you enjoy the results from this exercise!

Object One



Blank Space

Blank Space



The Sweet Escape

The Sweet Escape

Object Two



The Smooth Divide

Fade Into Me



Tick Tock

Tick Tock

Object Three



Better to Hear You With

Better to Hear You With

Realize Real Lies

Realize Real Lies



Drinking Coffee

Grabbing a morning coffee is an essential part of the day for millions of people worldwide. For me, I need a cup of coffee almost every day. I decided I wanted to document this process and show how drinking coffee makes me feel in the form of a personal process map.

While researching the subject of coffee, I found out that most people drink coffee for a boost of energy so my focus was on how coffee can help a person be more alert and focused. However, in my research, I also found that someone should only drink a maximum of three cups of coffee. So I decided to include a fourth cup to showcase how too much coffee can make you hyper and jittery.

For my design, I was inspired by the chalk board menus and signs you generally see in coffee shops. Usually I would only stick to 2 typefaces for a design, however the variety of the typeface choices compliments the overall design while fitting with the theme. Since I already used so many typefaces, I decided to stick to one colour to add some hierarchy and cues.

Here is my final poster:


Experimenting with Grids

This week, I did some experimenting with type and layout design using a grid system. This exercise is great because it promotes freethinking and enables flexibility in your layout design.

I have always implemented a more minimalistic style to my designs by taking advantage of negative space. Instead of having elements on the entire space, negative space helps aid the overall design and prevents the design from looking too cluttered. By using grids, it also helps you place text or pictures in a way that can promote visual hierarchy.

By using grids, I found it really helpful to get an idea on where to place images and text to get an effective yet simple design. It allowed the design to appear neater and made it easier to play around with alignment and spacing within the design.

Below are the different text and layout designs I created using grids:

Lei_Rachael_Project2B1_Page_2 Lei_Rachael_Project2B2_Page_1


Drinking Coffee – A Personal Process Map

For my senior thesis, I am creating a brand identity for a fictitious coffee shop. Since I am still in the research stage of the thesis, I wanted to use process maps to solve problems by using words, names, images, and colors, all of which refer to a central idea or word in the form of diagrams. Ideas and concepts are not visible and can only be imagined, making the process of developing ideas very difficult. By using various mapping tools like mind maps and idea maps while also taking a look at other points of view and asking questions, we are able to create a structured plan and have all our ideas in the form of a visual diagram.

As a coffee lover who drinks coffee pretty much daily, I am the perfect target for my thesis project. While I am using the process map as a part of my thesis planning, it looks at my personal intake of coffee and its effects. While working on the map, I document my experience with drinking coffee and the effects it has on me. What I noticed is that coffee keeps me awake and alert, making my memory slightly better than usual. After a long night or a bad sleep, I find that I need coffee to perk me up or I will be in a bad mood. I’m much happier when I’m drinking coffee and it helps with my headaches. I do think I might be addicted to coffee, which might be the cause of why I need to have a cup almost every day. In regards to where I buy most of my coffee, I tend to gravitate more towards Starbucks and their specialty coffee beverages.

50 Questions

Idea Map


Mind Map


The Zoom


The 180




Egyptienne Typeface: Expressive Text Compositions

Design Process

This week, I continued experimenting with the Egyptienne typeface but this time using it as body text. Here are some of my initial sketches I did while thinking of ideas for the layout of the text:

photo 2(1)

With its thick, block-like serifs, Egyptienne and most slab serifs are commonly used in large headlines and advertisements, and seldom used in body text so this exercise was particularly challenging. When I tried applying my sketches on Illustrator, I realized that some of them did not work due to the restrictions of the exercise and also the issues with kerning. So I found it easier to just experiment with ideas on Illustrator.


Using a quote by Woody Allen, my typographic treatment of the text plays on the theme of moving backwards through life using triangles as a representation. In the first composition, the body text is in the shape of an upside down triangle and the sentences become shorter and shorter and the reader reaches the bottom of the quote and ends in an orgasm. The justification of the text made the composition look very simple and clean, which easily gets the main idea of the quote across. However, it was very challenging to have all the words evenly spaced and many adjustments had to made with the shape of the triangle and I also had to tweak the justification of the text. The first line of the quote is capitalized to act like a title to the text and the emphasis on the word “orgasm” gives it a surprise finish – playing on the fact that I was quite surprised at the ending myself!

The second composition also plays on the theme of moving backwards. For this composition, I still wanted it to look clean but also confuse the reader a little bit and make them experience moving backwards. The text is left justified and placed in two arrow textboxes that pointed to the left making it resemble the rewind symbol, but the paragraph reads from right to left, which is not the way we are used to reading. The two text boxes are also placed close together and the sentences are aligned so if the reader were to read too fast, they might misread the passage. Again, emphasis is placed on the word “orgasm” but it also ties in the two text boxes, sitting right between them.

Expressive Typography

Design Process

Expressive typography is an art form where the text becomes an image. For this exercise, we were challenged to look at letters as not just carriers of meaning, but also physical shapes. With this idea in mind, we were asked to use the letters of a word and express their meaning in the design. In order to clearly communicate the meaning of the word, we would have to see the graphic elements on the page and arrange them in a way that seems logical and natural for the purpose.

For this exercise, I chose the words compression and elimination. Both words can be interpreted in different ways and that was something I took into consideration when creating the designs. Take a look at my designs below!


Sketching out my designs allowed me to brainstorm ideas before executing the design onto Illustrator, a tip I also learned while interning at an advertising company over the summer. By sketching out your ideas first, it allows you to see which designs work and which don’t before you start executing it on screen as it saves you a lot of time. One difficulty I had was trying to make use of the entire frame. It’s true that placing something in the center of the page is the most comfortable but usually not the most interesting. With this in mind, I tried avoiding placing my design in the center of the page (with an exception to one of them). Once I began executing my ideas on Illustrator, it started to come together very nicely. However, I find that because Egyptienne is used for headlines in advertisements and newspapers, the typeface did not look every good small. This made it very difficult as I had very limited space to work with. Also, with its slab serifs, I sometimes found it difficult to place the letters next to one another without covering the other letters or taking up too much space.

photo 2

Initially, my designs in the sketches were very simple or they did not interpret the word as clearly as I wanted them to. I started to think about using the letterforms as objects to act out the meaning of the word. For example, in my second interpretation of compression, The letters “com” and “ion” act as tools that are pushing the letters “press” together in the center, making the letters very packed and squished together. My second interpretation of elimination also acts out the word. Thinking about Egyptienne and how it was created for use in advertisements, I decided to try making some of the letters bigger. In this design, I use the “e” and the “i” to make the shape of a person throwing up – eliminating –the rest of the letters.

Egyptienne Typeface – A Typographic Research

History of the Egyptienne Typeface

Egyptienne is a typeface designed by Adrian Frutiger in 1956 when he worked for the Deberny and Pegignot Foundry (“”). The typeface gets its name from the popularity of Egypt after Napoleon’s return from a three year Egyptian expedition and the publication of Description de l’Égypt in 1809 (“I Love Typography”). It appears the founder of the typeface simply named it after a word that was on everyone’s lips. The Egyptienne was the first typeface created for the process of photocomposition (“”). Egyptienne is a trademark of Linotype GmbH but Linotype, MyFonts and Adobe distribute it (“Typedia”).

The typeface Egyptienne belongs to the slab serif classification. That particular grouping is known for having think, block-like serifs. The terminals differ from another since some are angular while others are rounded and typically, they contain no brackets (“Typography 1”). However, because Egyptienne is based off the Clarendon model, it actually does have some bracketing and some contrast in size in the actual serif. The characteristics of the slab serif classification are a large x-height with little to no contrast between the thickness in strokes and the letters have a vertical stress (“Typedia”). All of the elements make the slab serif a typeface that is easily readable.

The slab serif was born in Britain, taking inspiration from a new wave of advertising where the bold letterforms could be found on just about every billboard and poster. Until this time, type was designed for long stretches of text for books. With the rise of printing technology, advertisers were looking for a type that was eye catching and stood out from the crowd (“I Love Typography”). With its thick, block-like serifs, the slab serif began being commonly used in large headlines and advertisements, and seldom used in body text. Here are some examples of Egyptienne used in advertisements and posters:

The typeface can also be found on the cover of the ANTICIPACION sci-fi book series:

One exception to the lack of the use of slab serif in body text is the Guardian Egyptian, a typeface that was designed for The Guardian newspaper in the UK. The Guardian uses the typeface throughout the paper and within its body (“Typography 1”). Another common exception to this rule is if the typeface is monospaced, which is modeled on the typefaces used by typewriters (“Typography 1”). Today, Egyptienne is losing popularity due to the more recent rise of electronic publishing. However, there are thousands of slab serif types available today and some are simply digitalized old typefaces .


“Egyptienne.” – Fonts In Use. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2014. <;.

I Love Typography. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2014. <;. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2014. <;.

“Focus: Slab Serif Typefaces.” Typography 1. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2014. <;.

“Typedia.” : Egyptienne F. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Sept. 2014. <;.

Nylon Magazine – Design in Everyday Life


Nylon Magazine is one of my favourite magazines in terms of how it is designed and its interesting content. When I first discovered this magazine on the shelf of a bookstore, I was immediately drawn to it. What I like about Nylon is that the designers make their target audience want to pick it up and flip through it. But what is it about the design that draws the attention of magazine readers?

For my first blog post, I will be looking at the cover design of Nylon’s November 2013 issue, with Lana Del Rey on the cover. This post will discuss the magazine cover designers’ use of layout, visual hierarchy, typography and colour.


When I look at the cover, I always think about my appreciation of its legible and eye-catching design and layout. Although eye-catching, the covers are always simple: a white background, the cover star, features down the sides and the Nylon logo at the top in different colours. The Designers also utilize visual hierarchy and gives the reader visual cues to better understand what the issue is about. With Lana Del Rey as the cover star, she is the center of interest and her name should appear on the cover. To highlight that Lana Del Rey is the cover story, the designers placed her name on the left side of the cover using a bright orange font and a font size that is larger that the other text. People read from left to right so they would first focus on the feature with her name. By creating a visual hierarchy on the cover page, the designers enable the cover to be scanned and make information easier to understand and find. Also, let’s take a look at the photo of Lana Del Rey herself. The almost symmetrical way her arms are placed behind her head help guide the viewer on where to focus on.

DSC_0383 DSC_0394

Magazine covers are literally flat but that does not limit the designer to place all the design elements on a single plane. A common approach for Nylon, as well as many other magazine covers, is to place a photograph so it partly covers some text while appearing behind other text. This sets up 3-layered planes as to a single flat plane. On this magazine cover, Lana Dey Rey covers part of the Nylon logo while also appearing behind the feature text down both sides of the cover. This allows the cover to look more dimensional and allow some of the elements to stand out more. Below is a closeup of the magazine that shows all three planes.



Typography is visual but it is primarily utilitarian. One of the main functions of a magazine cover is to sell the inside stories of the particular issue. Much of magazine cover design is finding a suitable spot to place the text. This means a lot of short feature lines float around the cover page. The designer must come up with a method to draw the reader’s eye to each feature text. As a popular fashion magazine, Nylon goes for a loud approach using bold and hyper-legible text. For text to be readable, it must be light and set against a dark background or vice versa. By using a white background, Nylon is able to have bright text on the cover as it is able to stand out and grab the reader’s attention. Visual hierarchy is also important in typography, especially on a magazine cover. In the examples below, we can see the various sizes and colours of text. Some text is larger to let the reader know that those are “must-read” articles while the features with smaller text are less important. The visual hierarchy in typography prioritizes the different articles on the cover and aid in communication.

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Colour Scheme

Nylon utilizes a lot of big and bold elements and injects them with some serious colours. Their colour selection is never random and is used to either match or compliment the cover photo. On this particular cover, the designers use bright colours of the text to compliment the dark shades of Lana Del Rey’s outfit, while also matching the bright colour of her lips and eyeliner, using a bright shade of orange. Visual hierarchy is also used in the choice of colours, for example, the larger text are in brighter colours to make them stand out more.

DSC_0389edit DSC_0368(edit)

For magazines, typography is used to reinforce the meaning of the text and if it does not do that, it is a failure. With Nylon’s hyper-legible typography, it immediately prompts the reader on the main highlights of the issue. The designer’s job is to reveal the magazine’s content in a way that makes it jump off the shelf. These design choices work well together to help grab the attention of someone who may come across the magazine and encourage them to flip through it.