Ding! I had just received an email from my school’s yearbook committee in response to the first draft of my 2018 cover design. “We like the background, but the illustrated academy symbols are lacking originality.” I stared at my design in Photoshop and fidgeted with my stylus pen, without a solution. How could I create a clever retro-themed cover that integrated the visual, theatre, music, and dance academies of my school? I left my computer and went for a walk. Standing beneath my neighbor’s expansive tree, it became obvious that I needed to branch out and find inspiration from artists of the past.
After looking at countless works, I discovered that styles from the 1900’s-1920’s resonated the strongest for this project. Finally, I was ready to transcend my own limitations.
Referencing the simple color schemes from the artistic movement of De Stijl, I restricted my palette to shades of red, teal, and primrose yellow. I incorporated contemporary trends and Russian constructivism to transform the numbers “2018” into bold geometric shapes. These were then layered and intermixed with figures, instruments, and artistic tools all influenced by the jazz art of the Harlem Renaissance. What was a “0” had become the lens of a camera, and what was an “8” had become a cello being strummed.
In many ways, I saw my artwork as a geometry puzzle. Each shape was created in Photoshop with Bezier curves, whose control points I manipulated to stretch along tangential lines. In the background, I created movement with sharp cubistic angles and converging colors that wrapped around the cover. After numerous revisions of many symbols and shapes, both sides of my artistic equation eventually found balance.
Through research and experimentation, I was able to discover unique ways to combine design concepts, math principles, and my school culture. My efforts were rewarded by winning 1st Place for the Friesens North American Yearbook Cover Contest. Though the honor was humbling, the true prize was in the process.
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