2009 UTC Senior Exhibition – show two

April 15, 2009

Michael Mahaffey and Stephanie Tate


A conversation is a negotiation, each person involved analyzes the information received and chooses how to respond. We respond differently depending on the source. When confronted with a visual image the viewer instantly becomes involved in this same negotiation. Small parts of the whole begin new thoughts and ideas creating new venues in which the thought process travels. The effect of symiotics; the sign, the signifier creating the signified. In this body of work, we have attempted to engage the viewer in such a conversation while having a conversation ourselves. When approaching the senior thesis project, we wanted to develop a system in which we could engage in this visual conversation. We each contributed five items in ten containers. These containers include appropriated image, appropriated text, found objects, self work, song lyrics, information systems, social symbols, typefaces, color palette, and any graphic elements; that is 100 items per container which quickly snowballs into 1,000 items to design with for each book/panel. Also for this thesis, the catalyst for discussion had to be created. The Ten Commandments were chosen because they represent a set of rules. Also, being from the rural south (the bible belt) we both have been inundated with these rules since childhood. They have a cultural meaning and inflect upon people from any faith. This is our conversation about the Ten Commandments through cultural mediums. We have individually explored aspects of page layout, book making, and three demensional works including furniture design and mixed media. To further explore this conversation we decided on two formats of viewing. The book form is the intimate conversation and the large format transfers are the loud shout, the confrontational statement. Within the space we wanted to exaggerate this constant negotiation.

The show went very well. The work was well recieved, it seems. I was SO nervous about the presentation, but we got up there and rocked it out! Many thanks to Leslie Jensen Inman and the rest of the faculty at UTC.



April 8, 2009

The search for a decent looking and reasonably priced portfolio box / folder came to an abrupt end about a week or so ago when I came up with a brilliant idea. “EUREKA,” I thought…I’ll just make my own. Most of my professors tend to sway from this idea. I guess there are a lot of hokey, or shall I say…disgusting looking hand-made portfolios out there. And I’m sure that they’ve seen the lot of them. Well, with a somewhat sturdy background in wood-working and furniture design I designed and (finally) built my portfolio box out of a solid piece of oak (which happens to be three times as old as I am).

It was tough to say the least. From the first cut to the last, it took me about 10 hours. It may not look like it, but it was extremely dificult to accomplish. Now that I’m finished (minus a few minor changes), I couldn’t be more happy. It turned out a bit smaller than I wanted orgininally, but dealing with the materials i had, I think I can make the inner dimensions (9×15) work. Now if I could only finish the boards that go inside…

Progress Report

April 1, 2009

After weeks of research and design for the books and panels, Steph and I are starting to see some finished products. The night of printing was an absolute nightmare. It was a great learning experience, which means I learned that I TRULY respect printers and never EVER want to be in that profession. Its very time consuming and stressful. One thing I need to remember during future projects is that everything sounds and goes well in my head during the planning phase…not so much during actual implementation. Everything takes longer than planned and something will ALWAYS go wrong. At the moment I’m hand stitching all of the books while Stephanie is starting the transfers on the panels. Everything has been VERY labor intensive since the beginning. Why stop now?

This is the biggest project that I’ve ever worked on and I am very excited to see what others think when we show on April 14 at the Cress Gallery.

Collaboration is a GO!

March 3, 2009

Stephanie Tate and I have always wanted to work together on projects outside of school, but never had the time to accomplish our goals. So, we’ve found a way to join forces for our senior exhibition. Now we will have 10 books and 10 panels. We started the collab with this idea of the power of 10 seeing that we both had originally wanted to have 10 pieces.

We developed a system so that we could do equal amounts of work and input. For each book we have 10 containers: Appropriated Image, Appropriated Text, Color Family, Found Object, Graphic element, Information system, Self work, social symbol, song lyrics, and typefaces. For each box we both added 5 items, equalling 10, wow! Now, we are in the design process. We have each started to design the first spread in five of the books. Then, we respond to each others design with the following spread. When we run out of items to use, the book is finished.

Next, we’re taking the best parts of each book and designing the panels. book one will have it’s own panel and so on. The panels are going to be 20 inches by 2 feet tall. I think we’re both very excited and are realizing very quickly that we have SO much work to get done. But, I have faith that the final products will be beautiful.

here are some of my first spreads..

No time to breathe.

February 24, 2009

The end of my senior year is coming Way faster than I expected it too. And of course, as usual, I’ve done myself the injustice of procrastinating on most things that should be done by now. My life has always and will always be made up in long lists of goals and deadlines. For now I’m working on the senior show collateral with my group (Tenley and Shaina – good team), my senior thesis project, my stationary package (resume, cover letter, business cards, the whole nine yards) and in the process of trying to get an internship.

Nick Dupey came to class yesterday and talked about life after school. Sounds just as busy and loaded with work. I love to keep busy with work and all, just right now I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Anonymous Interpretation failed miserably, and I’m okay with that. That’s the point of starting early I guess. Now the ball is in my court and I’m designing and working at a jack rabbit pace. I know all of my peers are in the same boat, and I think one thing we need to keep in mind is the idea of PLAY. My last presentation for Leslie Jensen Inman’s class was based around this idea. The more fun you have with your work, the better it will be. SO, with that in mind I intend on pushing forward on all my work with the mind-set of a child – just play.


February 17, 2009

I recently stumbled upon this group..


This is something that I’ve been thinking about for a about a year or two now. I honestly would enjoy working along side with people from my class. I think we did a great job handling the parameters of TAKE ROOT and I realized then, that we can work well with each other. So, I began to think of my future and how exactly I wanted to enter this working world of graphic design. I definitely want to work in a firm so that I can gain more knowledge and network, but part of me really just wants to try out freelance. But when I stumbled upon this site it made me think about how you can have a collective group of freelance designers working separately and at the same time collaborating.

It could be a revolving door with people leaving and coming back to the group, but ultimately it would be a great way to show work and recieve critique. Regardless I’m very excited about my future as a designer and can’t wait to get into the working force.

power verb presentation

February 10, 2009

I may not be a big fan of creating presentations or even speaking in front of
people for that matter, but I’m glad I stumbled upon this idea of serious play.
I think it’s a great way to approach design or art. I can totally relate to the fact
that we gain a fear over time. In fact, during high school I received so much criticism
from my peers that I actually stopped drawing and making art all-together.

I guess the main thing is that kids are just downright mean. But at the same
time, I think teachers should encourage more creativity as a base level in education.
Being creative not only helps us as designers, but also helps develop critical
thinking skills that one needs to get ahead in the business world.

I enjoy hearing what others have to say about being a little more childish in their
work. Its not just enough to love what you do. To keep loving it you have to keep
re-inventing the wheel so to speak. When things become stale or over-done, it’s
time to turn that child-like wonderment on and rethink the situation. From now
on, I’m going to try to leave fear behind and just play.