How many graphic designers does it take to change a light bulb?
As part of the Core Concepts in Graphic Design course, students are asked to creatively develop a set of designs featuring an image of a light bulb, the word ‘light bulb’ and a block of colour. The exercise is deliberately restrictive in the visual elements it uses, but at the same time encourages students to explore a range of possibilities of how to organise these elements on the page.
As I have seen more and more student’s responses to this project I’ve been struck by both the sheer range of creative possibilities they’ve developed but also the general reflection on the exercise being a useful and enjoyable learning experience.
Students have explored layering in different ways, foregrounding the text and image on the block of colour or using the colour as a structural element the other elements can play off. They’ve developed ways of organising the page symmetrically, playing with diagonals, off-centred designs, or using space for dynamic effect. Scale has emphasised a particular element, while cropping has been used to create new shapes and dynamics.
With choices of typeface, shape and colour to consider, what started as a series of restrictions soon expands into a broad range of possibilities and variations. Being creative uses both divergent and convergent thinking at different stages of the process. Divergent thinking goes from the narrow end of a funnel to the wide end as it takes an idea and expands it – while convergent thinking travels from the wide end to the narrow as it refines and focuses ideas into outcomes. Perhaps it’s this sense of transition from a fixed starting point to a wealth of ideas that students enjoy and find useful about this exercise. I like to think it encourages playfulness – the exercise has elements of a game about it with students encouraged to test the boundaries within a simple set of rules. Playfulness is often overlooked as an important part of a creative toolkit, but this exercise shows its worth having the time and space to visually play.
Other examples of student responses can be found here: