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Graphic designer shares experiences

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Published on February 11, 2009 in The Huntington News

Images dating back to the 1100s, or as recent as a few years old, were projected from international graphic designer Krzysztof Lenk’s Macintosh laptop onto the wall of Raytheon Amphitheater Tuesday night as part of the the Art + Design department’s lecture series.

Lenk, a former partner and design director of Dynamic Diagrams, a consultant group for website information architecture, and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) professor, discussed concepts of designing and connecting ancient images to current concepts and shared some of his experiences. He also showed examples of visual communication and website architecture.

As he took to the podium in front of about 60 students and teachers, he joked about his accent, a blend from his native language, Polish, and where he learned to speak English, Rhode Island. He began with a brief background about himself, emphasizing when he immigrated to the United States in 1982 to teach information design, despite his specialty in publication design. Information design uses graphic design to effectively convey important information like airport signs and websites, while publication design is the graphic art of designing everything from newspapers to product catalogues.

“I was asked to teach something I didn’t know,” he said. “I started to learn and it was an interesting process of learning and applying that to classes. I’m not a particularly bright person, but every new discovery led me to another.”

Lenk then began a slideshow, first showing a presentation he had created by applying existing human ratios to a theoretical group of 1,000. Through this he showed how race, land use and other statistics would be reflected in a visual format. He stressed that this was visual communication, and without the simple sound effects of tings and claps throughout the presentation, the meaning would be lost.

“As a human I am connected to the outside world,” he said. “When I turn off the sound images are only half as powerful. ‘hellip; Sound is helping this message reach others.”

After describing the importance of sound, Lenk referred to historical images, some dating back to the 1400s and quoting St. John of Damascus, a father of the Catholic Church, on divine images.

He then described the process of how he consults clients, for example, asking what their goals are as a company and whom the company wants the message to reach, bringing upon the importance of color.

“Color conveys different messages better,” he said. “You have to think about your audience. If you’re sending a message to Latinos you want more color contrast than if you are sending it to Norwegians in Minnesota. These are important things for a designer to know.”

Such details are determined by the quality of questions the designer asks, and when these extensive questions are not asked the designer ends up getting the short hand, he said.

“I’m a designer and I’m not that powerful,” Lenk said. “But if I don’t ask enough questions, someone will send me back to redesign on my own budget.”

After explaining the consultation process, he diverged back to relating ancient sketches to important design concepts like spacial relations, optics and proportional realities.

He then finished this portion of the lecture by showing and explaining one of his largest projects, the redesign of the Samsung Global website, what some students considered the highlight of the entire presentation.

“The Samsung example [was my favorite part],” graduate information systems student Amit Navare said. “It was a problem about showing a website in a good way. So it was interesting to see how to go about doing that.”

The lecture was then concluded with a brief question and answer section, in which he expanded on points from the lecture like color usage in addition to answering questions regarding how to supplement a design curriculum.

As a whole, the lecture was enriching and informative, Navare said.

“I was looking for something about graphic design that could help me with website design and something with artistic expression,” he said. “I would say it gave me perspective now to how a graphic designer looks into a problem and how it effects everyone from the vice president to the marketing department.”

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Written by jdunccc

February 11, 2009 at 12:00 am