Monday, September 21, 2009

Round-up of Week 1 at RISD

I've concluded with certainty that this semester at RISD is going to be very expensive. And busy. Don't forget busy.

I'm starting my 3rd year here, and I'm taking 3 studio classes and 1 liberal arts class. The required studios for graphic design majors are Making Meaning (which meets twice a week) and Color, and I'm also in a photography elective called Intro to Photo for Non-Majors. The liberal arts class is called Philosophy of Religion.

First up, last Wednesday, was Intro to Photo, which is all about analog photography and learning to use the darkroom. The first class was kind of overwhelming, because there's so much to learn, and my teacher didn't exactly tell us everything in order. Also, I've never done photography so manually, where I need to keept track of the light meter, F stop, aperature, etc.

I had a bit of a fail when it came time to do the homework as well. I took the required 2 rolls of film with no problems (though I have no idea if they're going to end up being completely blurry or washed out or whatever), so I thought processing the film wouldn't be very hard either. I mean, I had the handout with the order all the chemicals need to go in, and I've got my shiny new funnels and thermometer. But no. When I went into the tiny completely dark room to move the film from the film canister onto the reels that the chemicals are dumped on, I tried for 30 minutes to crack the top off the canister and could not get it off. So now my film is trapped inside a impenetrable cylinder of plastic and metal, so close and yet so far away. Keep track of my Twitter if you want to know how this saga is going to end, because I'm sure I'll continue to post my annoyances there.

Thursday brought a class I was very glad to see, Making Meaning, which I was mostly looking foward to because it meant the computer was relevant again. We started with a series of lectures by all the different section professors who are teaching Making Meaning, and some of them were absolutely brilliant. They spoke about how images and ideas can stand for other images and ideas, and how the world is really a big mess of symbolism if you just know how to think. Also, one of the teachers had a very entertaining talk in which he discussed what a broom could represent, and he "flew" around the stage on Harry Potter's flying broom and joked about picking up Emma Watson. My professor for the class is an adorable Polish guy who has a very strong accent and a non-completely-complete grasp of the English language, and whose posters he showed us at the beginning of class were abolutely beautiful.

The assignment he have us wasn't quite as beautiful, however. I'm not exactly sure where he's going with it, since right how we're not designing anything, just using words. Basically, we had to come up with a list of 5 people, 5 places, and 5 things, and then for each of the 15, write 5 words that could represent it, going in a progression from most specific to most abstract. For example, one of mine is Coffeehouse > Mugs of Foreign Coffee > Comfy Couches > Books of Poetry > Pastries > Conversation. After that, we need to write a short story using all five people, places, and things. I don't know if I'm doing it exactly right, but I guess we'll find out tomorrow afternoon.

Today was the first Color class. I've been looking foward to this all summer because I honestly don't know much about color. When I need a color palette, I often just steal one from the internet instead of figuring out how to make it myself. However, I wasn't expecting having to buy quite so many materials. The first thing our professor said after taking attendance was that she was handing out the supply list and we should go buy everything before coming back in half an hour. About half the stuff was basic things like rulers and tape, but I had to purchase a lot of gouache (basically expensive, opaque watercolors), some special brushes, a porcelein dish to mix paints in, an 11"x14" sketchpad, and an 11"x14" Bristol pad. Luckily, I've done a few commissions lately that will help to pay for it all so I don't feel so bad about spending so much of my parents' money.

Once we got back to class, we spent the next 3 hours painting color swatches that would represent words like life, love, peace, etc. It wasn't very exciting, but it was useful to get used to using gouache again, since I haven't used it regularly in about 2.5 years. I really couldn't stop myself from thinking the whole time though, "This woule be so much less expensive and so much more precise in Photoshop." I know there are some skills you really do need to learn off the computer, and mixing colors is probably one of them, but still.

So that's been a summary of my first week. I didn't write about my Liberal Arts class since all we've done so far is one reading and buy some textbooks. But I'm excited to learn about religion since right now it just doesn't make any sense to me, at all. Hopefully by the end of the semester I'll at least understand it, even though I doubt my athiest beliefs are going to change ;)

Overall I think I'll learn a lot this semester, even though I'm going to be incredibly busy. Doing 4 studio days is a lot of work, but add on a liberal arts class and everything I do online, and there's basically no free time unless I sacrifice sleeping or eating. Sometimes it's a bit overwhelming, when I think about all the videos and fun graphic design projects I would do if I didn't have homework, and then I remember all the homework I do have and how little time there is in the day. But I think it'll all work out ok, although if you see me tweeting about how stressed I am, now you know why.

If you've managed to read this far, I commend you, and I would offer you a cookie if the nature of the internet didn't prevent such things. Let me know if you have any questions, and I'll probably be posting some new work (both homework and other stuff) onto here soon.

1 comment:

  1. i remember my color class, and the gouache... sigh i ended up buying more paint as i ran out, but maybe your color class won't require as much as mine. it's a time consuming class that you like a lot after over a year after finishing it because you do learn a lot.... as for during... well...