{February 2012


* Lecture by Tom Ockerse in auditorium
* Review pattern assignment in small groups
* In-class activity


Review Pattern assignment

Break into groups of four and present your patterns. What did you make? How did you make it? How did the single part produce an unexpected whole? What did the addition of color and the combination of patterns do? As the viewer, respond to which of the patterns departed most from the single unit.


I have brought 12 examples of recently published books for you to study. I am asking you to spend an hour scrutinizing a single book in order to dissect its whole into its core visual parts. How do those parts relate to form systems? How do those systems connect to form a cohesive book design.

The systems used to organize content within a contemporary book may rely more on paper type, image use, and type families than on the repetitive placement of elements.

Note page size(s), text block size(s), running heads, folios, colors, and other organizational matter. What paper is used? How do the systems connect or fragment the work? What reasons might the designer have had for arriving at these choices? What system(s) does the book rely on to define its grammar? Is there an overall concept that produced the systems?
Present your findings to the whole class.

For next week

Collected Book

The activity today was meant to show how a book can hold together without relying on an overly repetitive structure. The books from today’s activity each interweave seemingly disparate elements (parts) to create a varied but cohesive whole (system).

Create a bound book of any size and page count using printouts of your own previous work, found magazines or newspapers, discarded paper and/or other material. Make an effort to collect a variety of material to sort through.

Although your sources will vary, the overall book should hold together as a single work. Consider the paper type, the trim size, the use of type and images. Although there are factors you can control, the trimming of the book will produce unexpected internal proportions. Be open to retrimming and reordering sheets to create an engaging and unified system. Do not be concerned with the subject matter of the pages unless they are a part of your system.

Do not collage or add marks to the printouts. You are gathering, arranging, folding, rotating, trimming and binding only. Take risks within this small gamut. Be prepared to present what systems are at play in your book next week.

Updated pattern compositions

Adjust your patterns and upload one from each of the three assignments to the class site. Upload 1200px wide jpgs and insert the three in a new post. Place within category “Assignment 1”.


Pages 32–37 from the week one packet. Optional reading from Vignelli on grids.

Next week’s class

Meet in the auditorium at 11:20a for the lecture

* To create rhythm and variety from a limited set of parts
* To make disparate parts serve a whole

4 Week 2    f       


* Lecture by Tom Ockerse in auditorium
* Introductions, review syllabus
* Examples of systems

For next week

Pattern-making: Black and White

A pattern is the simplest example of a system. It is a single form made the ordered combination of a single part. The below exercise has been a staple in Tom Ockerse’s class for years. It appears virtually unadapted below.

Begin by designing a module as the unit (part) for a pattern (whole). The module must be square module and divided (about equally) in black and white. Keep the design simple. The beauty will emerge from what you do with it! Repeat this module into a square grid of 6×6,
to create a pattern.

Create at least 8 different patterns. Vary the systems to pattern the units in that grid (keep track of the system used). For example, rotation, inversion, and flipping. Consider and try as many variables as possible.

After working with this squared grid, you may experiment with (systemic) grid shifts (offsetting verticals, horizontals, or angles), but always retaining a solid field (to avoid introducing other shapes).

Bring at least 8 final compositions to class next week selected for their diversity, dynamic interest, and comparative uniqueness. For presentations print each pattern on a sheet no larger than 8.5×11, trimming out any extra white space. On the back, note how you arrived at the pattern.

Pattern-making: Color

Substitute black and white parts with colors in order to create new relationships. Do not change the module or base pattern, only how parts within that field coordinate. The intention of the exercise is for you to find new ways of organizing the same material – to alter the existing relationships to reveal others. Create 8 color pieces from any of the black and white patterns from part one.

Pattern-making: Combination/Subtraction

Working with either the black and white or color patterns, combine a complete pattern with another. Think of whole patterns as single parts, and your new composition as a new piece made from those parts. You may subtract one pattern from the other. You may find it is easier to work in Photoshop for this phase. Produce two pieces at whatever size you feel appropriate. Trim off excess white space.

* To create a singular whole from a series of parts
* To better grasp how system is defined and is at work everywhere


Read the first 25 pages of the reading from this packet. Pages 26–31
are optional, but interesting. Consider the definitions and examples offered for the word ‘system’. After completing the reading, observe your surroundings and find a system at work.
Try to answer these questions: What is the system? What are the parts of the system? Is the system at equilibrium? Can the system be expanded or contracted into other systems? How was the system generated and what keeps it going?

Next week’s class

Meet in the auditorium at 11:20a for the lecture

4 Outline / Week 1    f