Saturday, July 21, 2012

Manuscript/Book Graphic Design Review

After Elizabeth Blackwell’s cousin/husband’s financial woes lead him to debtors’ prison, she took it upon herself to provide for her family and erase her husband’s debts by undertaking the arduous task of creating “A Curious Herbal”, published from 1737-1739. This resourceful woman who had some background knowledge of medicinal herbs and plants, created a go-to herbal with botanical illustrations which included new plant species form the Americas. Along with drawing, engraving, and coloring the illustrations herself, she also included a description of the plants, their common names, scientific names, and their medicinal properties. She would eventually catalog 500 species, free her husband from debtors’ prison (even though he was later executed for political conspiracy), and provided for her family in a time of desperation. She may not be the most recognizable Elizabeth Blackwell (the first woman to receive a medical degree in the U.S.), she proved to be a pioneer and gave new meaning to the endearment “devoted wife”.

Concerning the four basic principles of graphic design, described by Robin Williams (no, not that one) in “The Non-Designer’s Design Book”, “A Curious Herbal” by Elizabeth Blackwell encompasses many qualities that prove functional and aesthetically pleasing. Though her work doesn’t provide much contrast and there is a lot of blank space on every page, its simplicity is what made this collection so popular. It was easy to find and identify the plants because her illustrations were not crowded or overbearing. The text was aligned in the same way on every page, divided by crisp clear lines and equal amounts of space and “type”. The proximity of the information presented was adequate, but predictable. The consistency and repetition is what made this collection functional and popular for centuries. Her keys and descriptions were easy to identify and provided the reader with the information necessary to make a quick decision in what was often a life or death situation.

What we’ve learned from this passage:

1. Men never learn.
2. Never underestimate a woman.
3. "A Curious Herbal” would look much different if held to the standards of Mr. Williams.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

EDLD 5363 Review of Web Conferences

I participated in one web conference on Saturday, June 30th and viewed the conference videos from June 4th and 16th. I appreciated the fact that we were allowed to view the conferences at a later date because I often find it difficult to fit the conferences into my schedule. I love to take online classes because of the flexibility and the ease of watching the conferences at a later date really helped me get the most out of this course. I did need clarification as to what we were supposed to submit when there wasn’t an assigned section on the document. It was reassuring to see that I was not the only one confused! Web conferences are great for getting to know your fellow students, asking questions to clarify confusing topics, checking to make sure you are staying on track, and sometimes they are even good for a laugh or two! One thing that I find very frustrating is that some students tend to repeat questions that have already been answered and it seems as if they are not paying attention to what is being discussed. It ends up taking way too much time to answer questions and often it feels as if we do not get much accomplished because of this inconvenience. I value input from my fellow students and realize the importance of attending or viewing web conferences. Until next time!