This is Sammy Sparks reporting for WKLMTZ…

Recording my own voice…the thought terrifies me! So, when I saw the assignment to record myself pretending to be a newscaster, I got a little freaked out. I also realized that I would have to learn how to use yet another new tool, SoundCloud [since this is audio week, I’ll let you know that I let out a big sigh]. However, I found the activity fairly painless.

I began by setting up my SoundCloud account. I chose a name similar to my Blog to help users make a connection. Based on feedback from another classmate, having pictures helped provide a connection. Therefore, I decided to use a picture of me as my Avatar. However, since the site is a little funky and cool, I decided to use a funnier picture of me from when I completed the Warrior Dash.

Next, I had to find a funny article to record. I tried searching for articles using things like “ridiculous news stories” and “funny news stories” and didn’t really come up with anything appropriate. So, I used inspiration from one of my classmates and her use of an Onion article. I selected an Article on American Idol contestant Bo Bice and recent news that Alabama was going to cancel Bo Bice Day.  The article resonated with me because I am currently staffed on a project in Arkansas and have witnessed firsthand how southern states love their local celebrities.

Next, I searched on SoundCloud to find some appropriate news intro music. I was pretty excited with what I found. I then made my recording. It turned out ok…I was just happy that my dog didn’t start barking mid-recording. The intro music didn’t turn out all that well so I’ll learn in the future that I need to record differently. All in all…I was pretty pleased and didn’t totally cringe at my voice.


Missed the Boat on Graphic Design

Life has been a little crazy! My project is launching at the beginning of June, my sister is getting married, I’m getting a new roommate and I’m finishing up with school…all within the same two week period. So, in reviewing the Design Safari blog posts from fellow DS106 participants, I realized that I had missed the boat this week.


I was really proud of myself for keeping my head up and looking around to recognize and capture pictures of design elements. I had watched this week’s video and look more of the Georgia O’Keeffe landscape photographs rather than signs and designs. Although the exercise really got my creative juices following, I realize that my design safari wasn’t on target. Speaking of Target, I’ll be sure to be on the lookout this week for graphic designs and provide an update NEXT week.

I loved the video on Symmetry. It really made me rethink the definition of symmetry which, prior watching the clip, I would have defined as matching, balanced or proportional. The video made me think more about relational, cause/effect and partnership symmetry. Some of my favorites included the cop/robber, the baby walking/old man walking and the families. It was eye-opening.

Similarly, I loved the video from Kelli Anderson. Her take on the Christmas card and the wedding invitation were amazing. In keeping with the theme of wonderment and looking at the unexpected, I found a really cool article of artwork that is so realistic, it looks like photography.

Reviewing the Finding Design Elements document sparked some inspiration for my final project on how using the wrong font can really send the wrong message.

I also had a lot of fun completing one of the design assignments in creating a four icon storyboard to represent a movie. I was super impressed that someone got it right off the bat! Apparently I need some help in my creativity since I thought the movie was more obscure than I realized. Reviewing the other blogs and seeing how they depicted movies was also great!

All in all, although I missed the design safari assignment and ran out of time to complete a second design assignment, I really feel like I learned a lot this week!

One of my all time favorites!

This week, for one of my design assignments, I opted to do the One Story/Four Icons assignment. I wanted to attempt to reduce a movie to four symbols. Although I am not a huge movie-goer, I realized that after completing the Five Card Flickr activity last week, I needed practice in brevity of storytelling.

My first quest was finding a movie that could be conveyed with icons BUT not easily distinguishable. I searched through my mental movie library of favorites. When I had one or two, I went off in search of icons. I found a bunch using the free icon finder. As I started to peruse, that’s where I found my inspiration to help me hone in on the story I wanted to portray (Clue # 1).

Since the movie is a more obscure choice from my childhood (Clue # 2), I opted to tell the story using icons that represented the pieces of the plot rather than characters (Clue # 3). I looked for symbols that would resonate as if I was playing a game of charades. I copied each of my icons from the site and pasted them into PowerPoint. I then top aligned them and horizontally distributed them across the page. I then put a black border around the pictures and turned it into a .jpg using a snipping tool. I just hope that I told the story as well as its award-winning director (Clue # 4).


You can find the answer here!

Final Project Idea: Mixed Messages with Font

I had to chuckle when I watched the John Stossel on Graphic Design video that ends with “never use Comic Sans”. It reminded me of an email that came out a few years back. As context, Dan Gilbert, a highly successful businessman from the Detroit area and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, published an open letter to fans after LeBron James announced he was leaving the team for the Miami Heat. The letter contained lots of strong language including the sentence, “I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE CLEVELAND CAVALIERS WILL WIN AN NBA CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE SELF-TITLED FORMER ‘KING’ WINS ONE.”

The interesting thing about the letter is that it was published in Comic Sans. So, despite the clear display of negative emotions, the font really sent a mixed message that if you just looked at it, kind of made you happy.

As a final project idea, are there other published letters/signs/etc. that send a mixed message because of the font used.

Look Up! But I Don’t See Anything?

When I was little, one of the commercials that ran locally featured Detroit Pistons guard Isiah Thomas teaching kids about electricity safety. In the commercial, Thomas asked a little boy, “Look up.” To that, the little boy responded, “But I don’t see anything?” The commercial went on to discuss looking up for power lines. However, the exchange resonates with me this week as I thought through graphic design. I don’t claim or pretend to have an artistic eye. I tend to take things in the most literal sense. And, I frequently find myself engrossed in my iPhone reading through emails instead of observing what is happening around me.

At the beginning of Kelli Anderson’s TedTalk, she explains that she gets to tinker with the designs in every day lives. This week, I committed myself to “looking up” so I could take in the world around me so I could take in and think about design concepts and “tinker” with the things that I probably see every day but am too busy “looking down”.

As part of the design safari, I collected representative pictures. In full disclosure, I did not necessarily take all of the pictures featured. However, they were images from the past week that I either enjoyed “live” because I was there in person. Or, “admired and appreciated” because someone shared them with me.

Color: I love color! It helps convey mood and settings. When I’m feeling bright and happy, I’ll frequently put on a pair of red heels. My first car was bright yellow and strangers frequently stopped me and said, “Looking at your car just makes me feel good!” When my team was out visiting the local city square for lunch, we chanced upon an old Beetle car. Even though it was pretty rusty, the red paint still gave it a vibrant yet nostalgic feel. It was parked next to a Good Humor Truck with a red strawberry sundae bar and had a wagon on top (also two items that “tie” into the red theme and remind me of my childhood). All in all, I left the square with this image and couldn’t help but feel happy and reminiscent.    


Metaphors and Symbols: It’s been a long winter! When I was out walking with a friend at a nearby like, we came across a single dead leaf clinging to a tree. The bright blue of the lake provided a backdrop for the single leaf that, although still dead, symbolized that spring WILL come (eventually) and the leaf’s sheer determination to stay put instead of fall off…despite the horrible winter. This picture also struck me as something that could go under “Unity” as it does represent the connectedness of the branches and seasons (bright lake for summer vs. dead leaf for winter).


Balance and Symmetry: I am a perfectionist. So, I love straight lines, linear angles, etc. One of the photos I posted included dual rainbows that came after a huge thunderstorm passed through the area. I love the perfect matching arcs of the rainbows, particularly against the “quilt” of grass and trees below.


The other picture comes from a friend on vacation who was trying to make me jealous! The pool and sky appear almost as mirror images. Her legs follow the strips of the towel and buildings in the background. This photo also made me think of “Movement” since I can almost picture the person jumping into the water at any minute.


Rhythm: I never really thought much about a still photograph having rhythm. However, I changed my mind when we captured the sky after a series of storms passed through. The sky was beautiful and the clouds left such a pretty pattern and almost “parted” for the sun to make an appearance.


I also captured a photo of the Detroit skyline. The press is usually so negative about the city of Detroit. However, there really is a new rebirth going on. In looking at this photo, it reminded me of a heart beat pulse monitor. The skyline is Detroit’s new pulse. I know that this is definitely creative interpretation of the photo (and “rhythm”).


Proportion: Finally, we came across a bench in the forest. It seemed so small and simple compared to the large trees and bright sun. However, the tall trees made me feel like I would be safe and protected should I decide to sit and take a nap there.



Final Project Idea: The Importance of Grammer and Punctuation

I create training material for a living. Grammer and punctuation play a HUGE part in helping people understand the content. I saw a post on Facebook earlier in the week about how the correct punctuation “saves lives” when used correctly. Below is a another good example. For my final project, I’m toying around with the idea of creating story on how to use grammer and punctuation to clarify or change meaning. I’m still not 100% on how I could make this work but I think it might be helpful, especially as I continue to work with team members who speak English as a second language.


Week 3: Layers

This week, we learned about the importance that visual pictures can make in telling a story. I started by watching a fun video that played off of words and their “definitions” using images. It was interesting how they linked all of the images together but that each definition had its own unique meaning. I think my favorite in the video was the series on falling which ranged from things actually falling to falling in love.

Then, the director of photography of National Geographic shared his viewpoints on photographic imagery. I thought the story he told about his son getting pulled out to sea was interesting. In his mind, he could picture everything…including himself as the hero. His son on the other hand pictures him yelling at him from the shore. I thought was fitting…it reiterates the point that even though photos are 2-dimensional as Jason Eskenazi described, there still is something interesting that one focuses on in the picture.

Next, I moved on to working with photo picture taking and editing. We went on a photo safari in search of unique pictures and thinking about picture taking as a whole. I realized during the activity that even with a suggested list, I’m still really boring in my photography skills. Then, I moved on to play with Pixlar and make my own unique picture updates. While working on this assignment, it was interesting because my boyfriend texted me a picture about 8-hours of LAX plane take-offs layered together in one photograph. The picture is amazing because it shows how photography can be used to layer together activity over an extended period of time for one “moment in time” photo.

LAX planes<

This week really got me thinking about the power of a photo and the cool things you can do with it. However, it also made me think about cyberbullying and how things can go terribly wrong when the power of a photo is used in the wrong, evil kind of way.