Looking Back { More Freshman and Sophomore Art }

March 15, 2016

am curled up on the recliner in my family's living room with a beautiful view of our hilly yard and our neighbor's field.. A mug of amaretto coffee is steaming next to me, and the busy sounds of my homeschooling siblings are wafting up the stairs in a comfortable chatter.

Right now I am on spring break, and for the first time since last summer, I have a few days with no plans whatsoever. There will be lots of reading, board games, hiking, visiting friends, and the bare minimum of homework and Shoppe work.

My major leaves no time for downtime. In the design program, we are in the classroom for six hours a week per three-credit-hour class. Inevitably, the entire class time is spent on critiques or rambling lectures, so after eight or so hours of classes I have to spend all night doing the actual work. Tack on the occasional necessary night class, the extra requirements for gen-eds and honors, having a social life, networking stuff, and, of course, running my Shoppe-- boredom is a luxury that I'm soaking in right now.

And so, I'd like to share some of the work I made in freshman and sophomore year!

I've already blogged about Drawing I, Drawing II, 2D Design, Color Theory, a project for Typography, and about a third of the good pieces for Photography.

(It's hilarious to go back and look at these old posts; not only have my skillsets grown since them, but my opinions and perspective on school have changed).

Click "read more" if you are reading this on the main page of my blog:

3D Design (Freshman)

3D design was, unfortunately, not the world's greatest class. It wasn't a sculpture class, and the projects were all over the place. Some of the other sections had interesting projects (the coolest sculptures made from books!) and others had really, really strange ones (hanging things made from glue, nylons, and toilet paper). Ours were, on the whole, pretty decent.

I'd like to share two of the projects for this class. The first is a sculpture version of M.C. Escher's Drawing Hands.

This was a paper mache project that was supposed to bring a famous 2D artwork "to life." I created an armature of wire and duct tape before attacking it with paper and glue. These little fake hands were enough in the Uncanny Valley to creep out my roommates.

If I were to do this again I would not do paper mache. It's a hassle and creates strange textures.

This thing now lives on my brothers' bedroom wall, adding a new level of creepiness to our family's collection of Escher posters and books!

The project pictured below was supposed to be a sort of kinetic sculpture, but it was mostly destroyed when I left it on a shelf in the classroom to dry overnight.

A photo posted by Shaylynn Ann (@shealynnsfaerie) on

Some of my other projects including sticking rocks into a pile and photographing them, making some tiles with resin (without really good ventilation-- it stunk up the whole art building-- but the tiles turned out alright in the end), and a clay sculpture inspired by Barbara Hepworth. The last one turned out fairly well but I didn't take pictures before I gave it away.

Intro to Computer Graphic Design (Sophomore)

Freshman year was spent on gen-eds and "Foundation Studies" for the arts. We began classes in graphic design during sophomore year.

This first design class was another one which didn't reach my Favorites list, mostly because of several horror stories which have become the stuff of legend to the years below us.

That being said, despite it all I learned a lot about the technical side of using Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. I had taught myself before this, and had missed out on a lot of the logic behind the softwares.

We did weird projects like this vector drawing of the strange paper dolls pictured below. From an illustration perspective, this piece is horrific, but at least I learned the basics of vector artwork.

Our final project was a booklet of all the projects we created. Again, I learned a lot about the technical side of InDesign-- but from a design standpoint this booklet needs help!

Design Systems (Sophomore)

This was our first of many classes taught purely by a GA (the assistants weren't assisting anybody-- they taught the classes on their own on top of doing their graduate studies).

Honestly, I'm not sure what the point of Design Systems was, but I did come out of the class with some really cool projects.

Most of the design work consisted in projects like those above; good for training us to think or teaching software, but not polished work.

But some were pretty fun. One of the projects was to create mashups between animals and objects; I clearly went crazy with this one!

There's a Giraffe+Unicycle (obviously inspired by the Giraffe Unicycles that I want to learn to ride so badly; I can only ride the short ones), a Camel+Ship, a Needle+Fly, and a Peacock+Mirror.

In my opinion, the Peacock Vanity Mirror is one of the most hilariously punny things I've made and I now rival dad for Royal Pun Maker. :)

And my favorite project was this pencil drawing for the final! It's a mashup between M.C. Escher's Print Gallery and Frank Lloyd Wright's famous building Fallingwater.

You know that a project is good when you work with a perspective grid this this!

Typography 1 (Sophomore)

This was the BEST CLASS EVER. Well, one of them. (It's tied with Color Theory, Drawing II, and Illustration II).

I don't have as much to show in the way interesting projects, but I learned so much about the theory and technical side of typography. While taking the class, we all worried over deadlines and complained about the amount of memorization work-- but now that its over I wish all my classes were like this one.

We began with logotypes and somehow I actually designed something slightly macarbe for once...

Then we spent a week obsessively adjusting kerning and letterspacing and then handtracing each sheet three times until it was perfect... I was so convinced that this was a stupid project, until I later realized that tracing each letterform made me intimately familiar with the tiniest details. This became very useful when studying the terminology of typography.

A few projects later, I drew over fifty letterforms with a rough brush dipped in India Ink, scanned them in and created about as many sketches, and worked with provided quotes to make typographic posters.

One portrays the meaning of the word "discordant," the other, "concordant."

We had many exercises on typographic hierarchy. A few projects later, we did presentations for famous typographers and posters inspired by their work for (fake) lecture series.

I spotted my typographer, Neville Brody, "in the wild" while watching NCIS-- one of his typefaces I researched is featured in the opening credits!

Our final project was, of course, the handmade books!!!!!!!! Check out the blog post about the book for many more pictures and some extensive project notes. 

A quick summary of the project: I read and analyzed T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, created a series of illustrations, created a grid system and laid out the text, and printed and bound the books by hand. Sadly, the school kept my best copy and I'm going to try my darndest to get it back when I graduate because I really want it for my portfolio.

Graphic Production (Sophomore)

This graphic design class left me a lot of leeway to take the project prompts and do whatever I wanted, however I wanted to do it. So my classmates and I challenged each other to step outside of our comfort zone and try new techniques.

As with Design Systems, I'm not really sure what the class was about, but still came out of it with some interesting pieces.

First, we created twenty page booklets using a limited color scheme and provided photos and text.

The body copy called for an entire spread talking about the letterpress machine, but despite being a junior right now I've yet to actually see it in person. They keep it locked away in a tiny room and only occasionally have special topics courses on it.

These are two duotone book covers for the (curiously interesting and terribly creepy) book Codex Seraphinianus.

Duotone magazine spreads for an article about an architect.

Then there was this project... two wordless t-shirts. My assigned topics:

"Racism in the economy in South Africa"


"Racism in the economy in Romania"

Because that's easy research and put on a tshirt in one week. The Romanian one was a flop and there's no way I'm sharing it anywhere, ever.

This one, though, was by far my favorite! We were creating posters, album covers, and CD artwork for musicians or bands. I wasn't coming up with any good ideas until I stumbled across the work of Yuko Shimizu and decided to try to emulate some of her photoshop techniques.

I drew the design by hand and then spent about ten hours learning how to mask off shapes and do my first ever digital painting.

Any chance to draw twisting vines and swirly water is fine by me!

The other musician I chose was Lindsey Stirling; I was clearly focused on playing-in-the-photoshop-sandbox when I made this. :)


One of my gen-eds was a music class with a hilarious and intimidating professor. Our dreaded group project was actually very enjoyable; we made a quick stop-frame-animation video for Vivaldi.

The second semester of sophomore year was spent freaking out over the Candidacy Review.

Everyone wanting to take upper level art, design, and illustration courses has to create a portfolio to be judged. They limit the number of people allowed into the program, so the pressure was on. You don't want to have wasted your first two years of college. They worked this up so much-- in classes and at portfolio workshops, they told us that our whole future depended on the quality of the portfolio... if you don't mount every piece properly and cover it with the exact right kind of tracing paper and put each piece in its own expensive plastic sleeve, it proves that you have poor craftsmanship... do you really not have any better pieces to show off this technique? etc.

Yeah. None of us slept much the week of Reviews. 

Happily, almost all of my classmates and I were accepted into the programs we were working for. I now officially have two comprehensive majors: Graphic Design and Illustration. My additional minor is Art History. I'm so glad that the reviews are in my past. The year below us is going through it right now, and I feel sorry for all the kids obsessively trimming and mounting drawings in the breaks between classes.

There is only one more class from Freshman year that I haven't blogged about: Metals 1!!! That blog post will be coming soon. :)

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