Tuesday, November 17, 2009

a workshop at KU

11-16-art-and-design

11-16-label-design

11-16-lettering-exercise

11-16-resources

11-16-folders


i'm always up for teaching something i don't know much about because i've had a lot of practice at it. in my days as a corporate dweller i was constantly called upon to transfer my lack of knowledge to others, so much that by the time i left grad school my MBA degree should really have read as Master of Bullshit Administration. so when this lovely, talented lady asked me to speak to her typography class at the University of Kansas yesterday, i was not going to miss the opportunity, especially since this time i got to talk about something that i have a deep passion for: the process of creating a letter by hand. i could have yip-yapped to the moon and back about how much i love hand lettering, but i kept my talk short and turned it into a workshop instead. we gave the students 3" x 4" pieces of paper and asked them to design on the spot: a wine label, book cover, coffee logo, something, anything, as long as it was composed of letters drawn by hand. i brought prints of my doodles, my favorite go-to books for lettering inspiration, and folders for them to take home with lists of resources and ideas for lettering exercises. at the end of the class they brought their hand drawn labels to the front of the class and were most gracious about letting me take a photo of their collective work. as you can see, their styles were all very different and that's why i prefer hand lettering to simply typing a message: it reveals a lot about the individuality of the person behind the pen.

i enjoy teaching this way, making a class interactive and spontaneous rather than prattling on and provoking glazed stares. this way topics come up that i would otherwise miss, and it gives the students the chance to share what they know. i believe that no matter what the discipline, students have just as much to teach as instructors do. if i did it over, i would have asked even more questions of them because most of these students have been designing and illustrating and playing around with the technical aspect of it since they were children. i asked how they did their hand lettering. many of them like me drew on paper and scanned it; another was firmly attached to the mouse and a handful were wacom tablet devotees. one student pulled out her laptop and let me play around with her wacom tablet while she worked on her labels. they were a super group to work with and it was an honor to be there. thanks, amanda and students, for the great opportunity.

now if i could only teach my children how to get ready for school in the morning! the interactive workshop idea has been a spectacular failure in my own household and it is undoing me. it does not matter what we lay out the night before or how early we get up in the morning, our house nearly always folds in on itself in the half hour prior to departure because they suddenly turn into immobile robots. if you have any suggestions on how to motivate these kids out of the house without a histrionic performance, i'd be grateful for the lesson...

39 comments:

Alexandra Hedberg said...

yes. Your own kids - another story!

I've been painting with toddlers (when my son was 2,5) and it was great - except for that screaming monster that was supposed to be my son.

I showed Max (the offspring) my drawings for the weekword LESSON - and he asked" Did he die?". I felt "good, he understood that it can have serious consequences". But the next day when he was climbing and doing weird things at the dinner table - and I reminded him of the drawings - he just answered " But I don't have a fork in my hand"

Jenn said...

As a graphic designer, I'm glued to my screen most of the day. This is a great reminder to get off the computer and do something by hand. So many fun surprises!

lori vliegen said...

my gosh, aimee......i would have paid the price of admission JUST for your handwritten "guide sheets" that you included in those folders!!! wowowow!! i've decided that i need to move to the midwest so next time you teach somewhere, i won't miss it (or maybe i could just take you out to lunch....that would be a lot easier and a lot more fun!!). :)))

cindy said...

the class sounds like so much fun! the folders look terrific! it's great to get out those pencils, makers and paper and create things like they did in the 'caveman' days.

i don't know what to do about motivating your kids to get up and out. i'm still distracted by your use of a cuss word. i'm wondering, if someone says a curse word some will say 'wash their mouth out with soap'. in the old days, at least. now, that might get you arrested. but, if you type one, do you have to wash your hands with soap as a punishment? seems like it could be a good thing ;).

Martha Lever said...

I am also very passionate about hand drawn lettering and I would have loved to be in that little class of yours. I love you fun style and enjoy your blog so much!!!

SBS said...

A - About your children - You are unhappy with their behavior, have asked them to alter it, and have put systems in place to enable alteration. This has not worked. Now, the next step is to move to punishment as the behavior modifier. I read and reread James Dobson's The Strong-willed Child, as mine is very intelligent and I needed reassurance that I could set schedules, etc., and expect my child to mind me! You know your children best, so you can figure out what to take away or impose to get them to do what you want. A lot depends on their ages, too. I found that taking favorite toys or games can be effective, or imposing additional chores or maybe if they make you 10 minutes late, you make bedtime 10 minutes earlier. All of this is trial and error, but at some point you find a price that they chose not to pay to continue to their behavior that you don't like. I had to pick one issue at a time to focus on until it was better, and I had to remember to be consistent. Never, ever let the behavior slide once you begin the corrective behavior modification. That book really helps me.

Jill said...

Always inspired by your lettering - I was writing in a hand-made card for a friend's birthday and noticed how much more confident my lettering was after lots of journal writing and exploring some of your techniques - so your lucky students will have had a great inspirational input - as for getting kids ready for school - if you find the solution and can bottle it - you'll be made for life!!

Leenie said...

Like Jenn the computer brings in $$. Brushes, pens, paper=fun. Great when you can find a way to combine fun art and making a little on the side.

Shannon said...

hey cutie pants! it's nice to see your vulnerability at something you're so damn good at. i am so drawn to lettering and i'm excited to try the exercise that you did with the students. thanks for sharing your wonderful talent with the world. and i love that you are so willing and wanting to learn from your students. when i teach yoga, i truly learn the most from the students in my class. happy rainy evening.

painted fish studio said...

you are so f-ing awesome! to have you visit my typography class o-so-many years ago would have been a breath of fresh air: we were all so focused on figuring out how to use a computer to design that the thought of hand-lettering was never even spoken of! and yes, interactive learning, i cannot say how much more valuable it is... next time i'm in lawrence, will you teach me?

Chopsticks and Spaghetti said...

Should we call you prof aimee now?

daisy janie said...

what a stupendous opportunity for giving and getting alike! you're such a natural at anything you attempt that you can get by with bullshitting and it's still better than 80% of the people! and that's also what makes your art so real and so transfixing. least for me anyway. thanks for sharing! peanutman has a cute thank you card i'll be posting this week - you'll appreciate it!

Candied Fabrics said...

What a great class that must have been! I try to keep my class active like this. But it is hard to always come up with activities!

RE: not getting out of the house...I feel your pain! Perhaps the consequences aren't severe enough? My boys have on a few occasions gone without electronic entertainment of any kind for longer and longer periods of time...it has done the job, somewhat! Occasional reminder/reinforcements are needed though!

Christy said...

You are so good! :)

Inner Toddler said...

Wow. what a cool opportunity for you and the students. YOur materials are amazing. you're a first rate prof lady. A+.

As far as the kiddos, I tell you my life turned around when my kids had to be at school by 9:00 instead of 8:30. They just need more time. Next year will surely suck when my kindergartner needs to be at school by 7:50. I'll be asking you for advice then. Just drive away without them and see what happens...

joanne said...

i want to be in your lettering class... :)

L'Atelier said...

oh i wish i could have joined your class! sounds like so much fun!

i agree with you on all, the first paragraph made me laugh soooo much! it reminded me of my chemistry carrier ;)
and in my experience as a teacher but more so as a student - yes those interactive classes bring the most for students and teacher alike! and they are the ones i still remember!

Christine said...

I love these. And I would love to take one of your classes :-)

Kirstin said...

I would have loved to be there. Your instruction sheets are wonderful.

I occasionally watch Supernanny on TV with my kids. Its kind of fun to see their perspective on kids misbehaving and neat to hear their suggestions on changing behaviour. Maybe they have some ideas that they think would help them get out of the house. My kids hate to be late for things so that is my best motivation.

Good luck.

Cori Lynn Berg said...

I like teaching something you don't know about because it forces you to learn and explore yourself!

Beth Niquette said...

How wonderfully unique! Have you ever visited 26 letters, a blog by Abraham Lincoln? You would enjoy it.

Sarah said...

I am afraid I don't have kids so am not able to advise about behaviour motivation at home. I hear a lot of similar stories from parents of the kids I teach and I am always waffling on to parents about consistency, boundaries, blah, blah, but what do I know?! Good luck with it anyway!
I love the sound of your class and the way you teach-it is so much better to be doing than sitting listening. I love hand lettering too but seem to produce the same style. I want to develop different styles and I like your advice of producing something. Great book list. I have a few books of different lettering styles. Lettering is great as it is everywhere so ideas abound!
To answer your question-I covered the page in a garish combination of vermillion and cerulean ink with a black frame. Then I decided what I was doing on that page. The blue of the jumper is acrylic ink. The outside is the ink covered in gesso as I didn't like the colour. The other parts are watercolour pencil.

peggyfussell said...

I would have given much to be in that class!! Sounds like it was great fun all around.
Now-I must read every one of the preceding comments carefully in hopes that someone, anyone, (please, please, please) has a solution to the grumpy-morning-sluggish-missed the bus-bottleneck that threatens to destroy what little is left of my sanity.

The Original Drama Mama said...

Am I the only one who snickered at "Hand Job" by Mike Perry?
I fear my years as a high school English teacher have forever corrupted me.
I would have loved to heckle you in class, Prof. Artsyville! (no, really, I was a wonderful model student - really).

Love the encouragement on the "advice" doodle - I am so applying that message to my writing today!

The Original Drama Mama said...

PS - I'm borrowing your words: "Only you and your pen and the paper and the process and whatever you discover along the way."
It's going up at mu blog right now ;)

aimee said...

muchas gracias all for the feedback and the wise input! xo

cactus petunia said...

I love your slant on teaching. I totally agree with the interactive part! Students are sooo much more interested when they're engaged with the process, and artists are so very visual and hands-on that a lecture alone provokes mass snoozing!

When my kids were little (back in the dark ages) we believed in logical and natural consequences for your actions, ie: if you don't get dressed for school, you'll have to go in your pajamas. I guarantee, that after one or two days of showing up in their pjs to school, they'll be more motivated to make sure they're ready in time. (We actually cheated a little and dressed our kids in leggings or sweats at bedtime, but they still thought everyone would surely know they were really pajamas) And I guess it worked. One's 29 and the other is 25 and they manage to get to work in their street clothes every day!

sue said...

thanks for posting your list of resources! I'll have to check out some of the books.

pixie said...

The term "immobile robots" cracked me up, this describes Miles so well! I think he gets anxious about leaving the house, maybe it's because I'm frantically grabbing coats and talking to myself. He sort of shuts down and I think I know where he gets it from! I have to be gentle with him, he's a sensitive soul. Sometimes that means keeping my sense of humor, singing a fast song opening the door and even lifting him out of it. I break all sorts of rules and negotiate, as in, "If we leave now, we can hear 5 songs instead of 4, or we can stop for a donut" or some such bribery. If parenting and childhood aren't fun (which they aren't when I can't keep my cool), I dislike it! And that makes all of us cross. When I'm at my best, I'm patient and try to think about what it must be like to be a kid in this busy world.

I love your sense of humor, woman!

●• Thereza said...

fantastic! sounds and looks like you and the students had a lot of fun :)
ohh and thanks for the pegs mention on the last post!

Aris said...

is there some sort of a device where you can shock them, just a little to get everything moving?
JK sort of(:
And as for your class that's fabulous!!!! You should teach you are a natural motivator and creator of community.

Caroline said...

Great post Aimee - they were lucky students! I love letters too - thank you for the resource list, I'll have to check out those books!

Fruenswerk said...

1)
Grap them one by one and run out of the door like hell...
2)
Make a game: -The one who get out as the last one have to do the dishes later or something just as boring...haha...( I hate my english !!! haha)
Have no more bad suggestions right now...I have to raise my voice a TINY bit, just to get a certain young man (16) out of his bed...so I´m not the right one to ask...haha...

jane said...

so wish i could have been in class with you! on the other matter... my kids are teenagers and i still haven´t figured it out... ;)

Bella Sinclair said...

There's no hiding it. You speak like a veteran teacher, and a fabulous one at that. Bet you could teach a whole course on hand lettering. Sign me up!

vanessa/NessieNoodle said...

oh that would have been a really fun class to attend!

Alexandra Hedberg said...

I've been thinking about your problems with your children and I feel I should help you out with some advice.

Strong minded children should get food very low on protein. You should also make sure they don't sleep too much. Combine this steps with telling them that they are worthless (comment on the way they look, that they can not read properly, that they are short etc) - and you will in a few moths have totally broken them down.

This has worked very well for me with my child. He obeys me totally nowadays.
I wish you good luck!

Megan Walker said...

Well as you can tell - being that I'm commenter #38 - I have been out of town and boy, am I behind on my fave blogs :(

Gosh, I would have given anything to have been a student in this class of yours Aimee! What a great opportunity to learn from your genius! Way to go - nice job :)

And as far as the kids go, I dropped my oldest off at elementary school in his pajamas once. As I recall, it didn't happen again ;)

xoxo

Coreopsis said...

I laughed and laughed about this post--it sounds like a marvelous workshop, and I bet they all got something great out of it.

I have ZERO suggestions for the getting-out-of-the-house problem. That's just life with kids.