Get Out of Place: Widening the Horizon of Design Students through Travel Journals

By Paul Bruski.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There is a long tradition of travelers keeping journals, from antiquity, to the Grand Tour of Europe, through The Motorcycle Diaries of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and to many of the travel blogs that can be found online today. Through text and image (drawn, photographic and video) the chronological experiences of the traveler are documented as they visit new locations, have new experiences, and thus serve to remind a person of those experiences when they are still fresh in the mind, as well as for potential future reference. For students of design, these experiences are particularly important to document, because as designers, they are frequently called upon to draw upon their own experiences for creative inspiration. Travel can offer a great opportunity for student learning, as evidenced by the many college programs that offer study abroad opportunities for example.
This paper discusses and portrays the use of the travel journal form during a 5-day field study conducted in New York City for graphic design students from a mid-western university. Students are required to document evidence of design in the environment in the form of a journal, as well as take notes as they visit museums and design firms. The journal contains examples of design (whether professional or otherwise) in the form of sketches, photographs, printed examples, and maps. The types of design include found typography, poster and billboard designs, wayfinding systems, graffiti, stickers, flyers, postcards, and advertising, and often focusing on one or two specific forms, so as to minimize the amount of visual clutter potentially encountered. These examples of design are then annotated and critiqued, considering not only its form, but also its context, answering such questions as: Where is it located? Why is it located there? Who put it there? As a result, students have been able to use the final journal as a personal visual inventory from which they have been able to draw inspiration for their creative work. In addition, the very act of assembling and creating the journal has also allowed them to reflect on what they have experienced and learned.

Keywords: Creativity, Design Process, Graphic Design Education, Qualitative Methods

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp.379-390. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 5.505MB).

Prof. Paul Bruski

Assistant Professor, Art & Design, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA

Paul Bruski is an Assistant Professor of Art and Design in the Graphic Design program at Iowa State University. He specializes in multimedia and information design, and his research interests include cultural iconography, form design, and cartography.

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