Kelly Chu, a sophomore at UCLA majoring in Design/Media Arts, was introduced to illustration at age 8 when she began art classes at YMCA San Francisco and began to experiment with design as she got older. During her first year at UCLA, she designed The Absurd Kind of Uniformity in Carolina Trigo's typography class, which includes eight booklets representing an eight week design process of book covers for Walter Benjamin's Illuminations: Essays and Reflections and On Some Motifs in Baudelaire, a poster documenting a typographic paper sculpture, and a small intro/artist statement card. She fell in love with typography and its culture and is interested in creating printed media and books about various subjects.
What guidelines were you given for this project?
Each week I was given the assignment to design ten very different covers with parameters that gradually gave me more freedom. The parameters accumulated over eight weeks. The first week had the most basic parameters: use Times New Roman Regular or Times Regular, 9 point size only, type in black on white. Additionally, I played with leading, letter spacing, and upper or lower case. The second week had similar parameters except I could use any single point size per design. Parameters for the following weeks allowed me to include bold font, italic font, point size combinations (limit three per design), rules and solid blocks of black, white text on black, and finally color and photographic images.
I felt that this design process, starting with the bare minimum and gradually increasing in complexity, really helped winnow out and improve on the best designs.
I would design book covers that respond to the critique I received from the previous week. I thought about what worked and what didn't, which covers could improve/which covers I could build off of and which ones needed a different approach. Each week I would read over the assigned short passage of Benjamin's Illuminations, and design covers in response to the text. A lot of times I would design around twenty covers and eventually bring it down to the ten that I found most reflective of the text.
I found Benjamin's writing very bold but also very poetic. It gave me a feeling of "erosion" but also a kind of harmony between the machine and the human hand. I chose colors and manipulated textures to mirror those feelings.
What was your process? Did you plan beforehand?
There was minimal planning during the eight weeks as it was more about experimenting with type and composition in designing book covers.
Which typefaces did you use?
Times New Roman. This was part of the guidelines. I used Regular, Bold, Italic, and Bold Italic.
What's the meaning behind the color choices?
The color palette was chosen to represent my personal aesthetics.
I spent a lot of time color correcting. I had a lot of pastels and grays so I wanted to make sure the colors didn't look to dull or overly washed out. I really had to work with the printer I was using to make sure the colors came out the way I wanted them to. There were some challenges with the fold outs as well. I went thru a few mock ups until I had the perfect fold and cut marks. I trimmed the booklets after I bound them so I didn't want any folds to get cut off.
Thanks so much, Kelly. You can see more of Kelly's work at cargocollective.com/kellychu