Week 1, Assignment 1 – Jan. 18: Directions Poster

Assignment Description

The assignment is to design a poster with traveling directions from your home to Cecil College. Since this is a warm-up assignment to get you back into thinking differently about typography, you will solve this problem strictly typographically (no use of photography or illustration.) Remember your design principles – contrast, alignment, proximity and repetition. You should start by writing the actual directions one would travel from your home to school. Once the information has been written in clear, consise language, use it to design a poster (12″ x 18″). You should focus on using unusual and interesting typography, however, the information should still be clear and easy to understand. You, as the designer, must be able to communicate the basic information to the audience. Beyond that, the design should be visually interesting and grab the viewer’s attention.

– Conceptually driven idea based on typographic principles
– The poster must function (the reader must be able to understand the written directions and use them to travel from point A to point B)

1. Size: 12″ x 18″
2. Color: Full Color, no limitations

Very often in the “real world” designers are given text written by someone else. Sometimes this text is well written, sometimes not. Nonetheless, the designer must work with it. In this assignment the designer has the distinct advantage (and challenge) of being both the designer and writer. Begin by writing good copy. Be descriptive, even flavorful, in your writing. Visualize some of the scenes as you are reviewing your text, and imagine visual ideas or treatments that could come out of this text.

Due by 2 p.m. on Wednesday, January 25:
Jpg rough draft of your directional design. You may create this design in Illustrator or Indesign. Be sure to save your native file, then save a copy for your jpg file. Before saving your jpg file, turn all fonts to outlines. Save it this way only for the jpg file.


Assignment 1 Grading Criteria:

Maximum Points

Successful design and conceptual solution.


Communicated information in a manner that is clear and complete, leaving no information implied.


jpg file saved accurately and in correct location.


Provided a clear, accurate and concise design statement.


Participated in the discussion by providing a critique of classmates’ projects.




Note: 5% of the assignment’s point total will be deducted each day an assignment is late. 


Assignment 1 – Examples

Writing a Good Critique

As a graphic design student you know that good, constructive criticism may really help you improve a design. Critiques are the venue we use for giving each other constructive criticism. Critique skills can be learned and strengthened – like any other skill – by having a good (1) model, by (2) practicing and by getting (3) feedback.

1. THE MODEL As a Graphic Design student, you must learn how to “think like a graphic designer,” which includes formulating and communicating a good design objective and concept and actively participating in meaningful critiques of graphic design work. You will play two roles in this assignment. First, you’ll play the part of The Designer. As The Designer, you must think deeply and logically about your own design and communicate that thinking clearly and precisely. Your second role is that of The Critic. As the critic, you must think deeply and thoroughly about your classmate’s design in order to evaluate it effectively. To perform both roles well, critical thinking is crucial: A good designer thinks carefully about his/her design, and a good critic thinks carefully about others’ designs.

Strategy and Design Objective: what does your design need to do for your client? (What’s the purpose of your design? Who’s the target audience (gender, age, culture)? What personality should the piece have? What’s the main message? What’s the marketplace/competition?)
Poor example: “The purpose of this design is to tell about an artist.”
Not clear – Isn’t it the written copy, not the design, that really “tells” the story?
Not complete – For example, who’s the target audience? What’s the marketplace? Give more details.
Better example: “The purpose of this editorial design is to create a magazine layout that will entice subscribers of Art in America, typically 30-40 year old females, to read an article about Frida Kahlo.”

B. Design Concept: what is the logic behind your design? (This is the underlying logic, thinking or reasoning for how you design a piece. You must have a reason for the imagery and colors you select, for cropping an image, for using a particular font, etc.) Successful concepts are innovative and creative, not stereotypical and commonplace. (Robin Landa)
Poor example: “I used green because it’s my favorite color”.
Not relevant – design choices should be based on your target audience’s preferences, not yours.
Not complete – defend your format, selection of images, fonts, etc.
Better example: “Orange is the dominant color in this menu design because color studies suggest that orange stimulates the appetite. The folding kimono format was chosen to reflect the Japanese culture of the restaurant, The photos, from PhotoDisc, show asian food which is appropriate for this restaurant and the font choice for the Papyrus, is meant to simulate hand calligraphy with ink on rice paper. ”

Please write out your design objective and concept for assignment 1. Save this as a word file along with your PDF of your assignment.



DATE: Part 1:

Project Information
1. What is the purpose or function of your design? To sell a product or service? To inform? To entertain?

2. Who is the target audience? (gender, age, culture, other relevant characteristics)
3. What is the competition/marketplace?
4. What message needs to be communicated? What’s the main selling point?
5. What kind of personality should be conveyed? Make a list of adjectives you’d use to describe the client’s service or product.
Define your design objective (a brief summary of 1-5, above). Be sure that your answer is clear, complete and logical.

Part 2: Design Concept
The design concept is the creative solution to the design problem. This is the underlying logic, thinking or reasoning for how you design a piece. You must have a reason for the imagery and colors you select, for cropping something a certain way, for using a particular format, shape, font, etc. Defend your design concept. Be sure that your defense is logical and relevant to the design objective. What assumptions are you making about the target audience and what are the implications for designing for that specific group? Why did you choose the format, shape of design, fonts, colors, images, and other graphic elements? At this point you will swap projects with another student and change roles.

After your projects are posted with your design concepts, you will then provide critiques for the other four students. This part will be posted in the comments section of the student’s assignment.

FEEDBACK on the Design Objective and Concept



Take a careful look at the design and read the design statement. Now that you have a good understanding of the design objective and concept you are ready to give meaningful constructive criticism of the actual design.


  • “Specs” (Were project requirements met?)
  • Aesthetics (Were elements and principles of design applied?)
  • Editing & Proofing (Are there any errors?)
  • Resolution of Digital Images (Do you see jaggies, or soft focus or crisp, good detail?)
  • Creativity (Is there evidence of truly original thought?)
  • Craft (How would you rate the physical workmanship on the comp./dummy? Are the trims, folds, and gluing accurate and neat?)
  • Purpose: What’s the purpose of the design?
  • Point of View or Perspective: Who is the target audience?
  • Assumptions: What are we assuming about the target audience?
  • Implications: What are the implications for designing for that specific group?