A few weeks ago my friend Rory and I were emailing back and forth about what our lives have been like since graduating in May and we both remarked that we missed the process of working on school projects. Obviously both of us have continued in design since graduation but we have since realized that those class design projects provided a unique set of challenges we don’t always get in the professional world.
In short, a class design project provides three things: (1.) a set goal and planned finished product, whether that be a logo system or a poster series, starting the project you know what you are working towards; (2.) chosen content, whether that be content and/or topics chosen up front or those assigned by the professor; and (3.) an open environment and forum for experimentation, growth, and exploration. The first two happen in the professional world, but the third is what makes the project more interesting. We realized you are essentially presented a project much like you would working in a studio but are given complete free reign in style, aesthetics, techniques, and approach and we missed that and wondered if it was possible to work in that process to continue our own personal growth and development as designers. What came of these late night email exchanges is an independent zine we are calling Sway. The idea and process behind developing Sway is much like that of approaching a class project: Each issue of Sway would have a predetermined theme we both agreed upon and we then had six spreads and two weeks each to respond in any way we wished to that theme. Because we are designers, we crave restraints so we also decided we must stick to twelve-column grid on 8.5x11 pages and selected three types that must be used. Aside from that, those six spreads were our canvas to explore the chosen theme.
For this first issue, Rory suggested “space.” We were both intrigued by this because of it’s wide range of meanings (outer space, spacial perception, personal space, etc) and found it to be open enough that we’d approach it differently but would still feel unified when we came back together at the end of the two weeks.
We separately spent two weeks researching and exploring the theme and finding essays, imagery, articles, and facts from various sources we could include. I had a few ideas going into it I wanted to look into, most notable the ideas in Ray and Charles Eames’ wonderful 1968 film The Powers of Ten and the spacial work of Robert Irwin. I also knew I wanted to experiment in a style I hadn’t worked in much before. When we came back together at the end of the two weeks, it was exciting to see the different things we included but also interesting to note the similar styles and layouts of our spreads. One could easily look through it and think we sat next to each other working on the publication. We each then made a cover and put our spreads together into the first issue. We both found some great writing on the internet that could serve as the driving force for our content.
I’m proud of my spreads, which can be seen below, and really enjoyed seeing what Rory had put together (and found myself jealous of some little details he included). A full PDF of the first issue is available here if you are interested in seeing it all together and Rory’s spreads are available on his site.
I think we are both very proud by the outcome and were excited to recapture some of that fearless exploration we feel we lost a bit since graduation. Though this was nothing more than a little personal project to provide us a creative outlet, we had so much fun working on this that we are already well underway on the next issue and have some different plans to try new challenges and experiments in the future.