Make Something is a choose-your-own-adventure style zine created through a senior level design course at SPU’s Visual Communication Department. I was tasked with gathering research on a topic of my choice, and creating a human-centered artifact based on my findings. Make Something seeks to help people who are currently experiencing the inability to create what they dream of. As a young designer I experienced a writers-block-like feeling many times, and wanted to help others who were experiencing the same feelings. Make Something doesn’t want to fix you, because you’re not broken, it simply wants to give you a reason to get creating again.
Make Something spawned out of the interest to help people who are at a creative impasse get to making again. I have found myself in many “writer’s block” like situations, and I know many colleagues who have experienced this as well.
I spent most of my research talking to people that have been at a creative impasse at some point in their lives, and through this a list of needs were presented:
- Designed for a person experiencing an inability to create
- No clear agenda, or not sounding too “preachy”
- A self-driven artifact, or one that lets the user be in charge of the end goal
- Text near the outside of each page so users can read and create at the same time
After finding these problems, my stakeholders and I agreed on a choose-your-own-adventure style of publication where filled with various creative tasks that a user could navigate through. A non-serious tone was also needed, due to many artists commenting that a “self book” wouldn’t be helpful at all. Interestingly, Make Something seemed to be more effective the less someone read it. This inspired the choose-your-own-adventure style.
Due to the nature of this artifact having a less serious tone, than what I originally intended, I decided to create visuals that were sleek looking, as to not make the zine not too satirical.
Antiquity recorded that Michelangelo could look at a piece of marble and see a sculpture within it. Some believe that his intimate knowledge of sculpting helped him glean what each piece of marble held within it. I personally believe that he explored what each block had to tell him while he was carving. In a close relationship, Michelangelo’s marble explored him, as much as he discovered it. Due to this finding, Make Something has a texture made up of many curved lines. This texture is meant to imitate some of the patterns found in slabs of marble.
Via my research with stake holders, a relationship between artist and work was very interesting to me, and I wanted it to be the forefront of Make Something, without it being overtly stated.
I was also highly inspired by old techniques of book designs, particularly something called “paper marbling” which is used in the inside covers of many older books. I felt that a pattern like cover wouldn’t undermine the zine’s goals.
After sketching many marble-like patterns, I shifted to patterns that utilized more lines than shapes. I found that these lines were much more interesting than an explicit marble pattern, because they weren’t instantly recognizable.
From my sketches, I found that a line-like pattern was most effective and interesting to use for the cover of Make Something. I added a circle around part of the lines to create a logo.
I also chose to only use black, white, and pink in the renderings. I chose white and pink, because it is commonly found in marble it’s self, and black because it made my previous colors stand out the most. Also, having three colors created more hierarchy than just two.
Here is Make Something in it’s final iteration. I decided to use an envelope to enclose the contents of Make Something, because I felt it added to the overall aesthetic of the zine without detracting from it’s core values.
Inside I used old photos featured in the New York Public Library Digital Collections. I used these images due to them being royalty free, as well as I felt these older photographs fit very well with the overall aesthetic of the zine. I also used some photos provided by a good friend.
Also, here is the full .pdf if you would like to read it.
Overall I believe that Make Something succeeded at it’s primary goals, however it failed at goals that were over-looked until the end of my creation process. Make Something needed to be designed for a person experiencing an inability to create, required no clear agenda, and would optimally be a self-driven artifact, or one that lets the user be in maker of their end goal. I felt that all of these goals were met, however some other problems arose that I had not foreseen. One being how Make Something was going to be distributed. I always envisioned it as being passed from person to person, but that didn’t seem feasible towards the end of my research. I figured that many would not be willing to pass Make Something along due to not wanting to admit that they had been in a situation of “writer’s block” or assuming that another was as well. Being delivered by mail seemed to be the best option for this zine, but that also takes away the personal contact between people that I wanted Make Something to evoke. Overall, I believe Make Something was a success, but not without some oversights.