Last night at the AIGA’s Mentor Mashup Wrap Up party, I stood up in front of a roomful of graphic designers and spoke about some book covers I’d designed, including illustrations, which were projected on the wall behind me. Public speaking plus putting my work out there in front of a crowd of talented designers – even a year ago I’m not sure I could have imagined this moment. I’m just going to say, the experience made me appreciate that I am making some kind of progress – I’m not hiding, at least. Also, I’m feeling thankful to the friendly design community of Pittsburgh for making the experience a positive one.
This was the first year of the Mentor Mashup program. Interested participants submitted a short questionnaire, answering questions about their background and what they hoped to gain from the experience. At the opening session, each participant was matched with a group of three to five people based on shared interests. There were no particular assignments for what each group should accomplish over the course of the ten weeks, the aim being to “meet, collaborate, and learn from each other.”
My group decided that we would like to design book covers. We created our own assignment. First, we each chose a particular graphic style – one person chose Bauhaus, one person Neo-Modernism, and I chose Psychedelic (yes). Then we each chose a book (I chose Joy of Cooking). Our self-assigned task was to re-design each of the four book covers in our chosen graphic style.
There were a few reasons I wanted to try out creating something psychedelic-inspired. First, psychedelic design revolves around illustration, which is what I do. Also I’m drawn to the crazy lettering and bright colors, which definitely took me out of my comfort zone. My attraction to the psychedelic might also have something to do with my parents, as well, who attended Berkeley in the 60s and had this Jefferson Airplane poster framed on the wall. Apparently it made an impression.
Last night, at the Wrap Up party, each group took ten minutes to show some slides and talk about what they’d worked on during the ten weeks. Projects ranged from learning new processes (screen printing), to planning performance pieces, to putting together tips for new designers, to launching initiatives to empower women designers.
Here are my four book covers. I have to say I did have fun making them! I also created a new illustration work-flow and ended up using the apple illustrations from one of my covers to create a series of greeting cards (which I’m going to sell at the Bryant Street Festival). All in all it was a very positive experience and I might consider doing it again if they repeat the program next year. Thank you for reading!