Illustrations: To Use or Not to Use

Lately, I have been attempting to revise my e-portfolio into an increased simplistic nature. By revising, I mean taking my janky and overall obnoxious gateway portfolio and ultimately repurposing it for a much more sophisticated look. This revamp has included many choices in design, aesthetics, and you named it: illustrations.

My gateway eportfolio was busy. There were photos and design aspects flooding the page, and I wanted to eliminate that clutter for my revised eport. The overall theme of my capstone eport is the reflect myself as a writer and an individual, so I wanted to keep the focus on one theme: me. Originally on the landing page of my eport, I had a photo of a laptop accompanied by a follow. I altered this photo into a black and white form, fitting the overall design aspects of the rest of my eport–greys, whites, and blacks. While it look aesthetically pleasing, once I took my eport into class for peer review, the insignificance of the photo was brought to my attention. While on my previous eport the follow had matched my purple color scheme and had tied into the theme, as a reflection of myself, the photo wasn’t doing much. Yet, I liked the way it fit on the page and separated text from illustration: so what to do?

I thought about my peers’ suggestions and was torn at first. I felt as if the page needed some kind of illustration, and leaving solely text on the page would be boring. Personally, I’m not a big fan of text heavy pages, and even though there in minimal text on the landing page, I was afraid of it looking too bare. Now, I had to think about purpose.

Since the theme of the eport is overall myself as a writer, it astonished me that I never actually thought of portraying a sole picture of myself on the page. While I had photos of myself on my previous eport, I never left it as the only photo, and usually made it a small sector of the page itself. Yet, the best way to reflect on yourself is to portray yourself. I found a photo that I found fitting of my personality, which also ties into the visual elements of my theme. I allowed for the picture to be in color, offering soothing blues and beiges to the page, to contrast the white and black color scheme throughout.

When looking at the image, it gives off a sense of purpose–an identity to the eport, rather than a random laptop that isn’t even mine. As I further revise my eport, I’ve been myself eliminating much unnecessary design elements that clearly don’t have a significant purpose (and many of the images to keep the attention on the purpose of writing, rather than looking around). I don’t want my eport to be filled with Google images, I want it to be filled with significance. When scrolling through the pages, there shouldn’t be question on why something it there–my goal is to make these ideas clear.

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Identifying Audiences: The Evolution Essay

Thinking about my evolution essay, there’s a list of four individuals that I would target:

  1. Susan Noyes—founder of Make It Better Magazine
  2. The individuals within my specific writing 420 section
  3. My close friends and roommates—such as Kylie Davis, Claire, Dijak, Jenny Veith, Danielle Shindler, Maggie Campbell, and Caroline Saca
  4. My parents, who aren’t experts in writing or the journalism/media industries

Reading my work, I feel as though many of the individuals that I’m targeting would be able to relate to this piece. I believe the piece shows the story of my growth through process, as my ideologies regarding writing processes have completed been altered since beginning the minor in writing program. I definitely think that the most relatable aspect of this is the power of story—since everyone can envision a story, whether you’re familiar with writing or not.

Although I think that a wide audience would understand the story, I worry about the structure and overall read of it. While the relatable aspect is there, I find it a bit boring. Within my writing, I hope to incorporate a strong voice and overall engage a reader, which I feel as this piece as is isn’t doing. For revisions, I’d like to restructure the essay so it’s broken up into separate subsections, or even stories, to break up the text. Right now, it appears text-heavy, and I find it hard to believe individuals would have the motivation to read straight through. My challenge for revision with this piece is to still show my evolution as a writer, but in a way that’s both unique and engaging to a reader. After seeing the draft as is, I know that I definitely need to approach this structural aspect and insert a creative, new element—now what that is, I still need to figure out.

 

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Discovering Complications Late in the Game

I’ve done a lot of thinking about different aspects of my final projects. This project has many different sides—a serious side, a helpful side, and an overall informative side. But aside from all of the structural and useful elements of the project in and of itself, it embodies a particular humorous side.

Thinking about a food blog, humor may not be the first word that comes to mind. Typically something more along the lines of baking, recipes, or even shopping are bound to flood your mind first. But my blog is particularly aimed at college students attempting to cook for themselves. While this itself could be quite comical, there’s a funnier part: I don’t actually know much about cooking.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a total newbie. I do love food, I do love making new things, and I enjoy spending time in the kitchen and putting it all together. But have I ever actually looked up new recipes to make them myself? Not much. And do I tend to stray away from foods I already know that I like, in an attempt to try something new? Rarely. And so, thinking about the idea of myself actually making this food blog is a bit humorous and absurd. I’m not nearly a professional chef—although I do sometimes image what I would put on my own restaurant menu, and that consists of about five dishes I know how to make well. I also don’t exactly have the college-student funds to buy a plethora of new ingredients to mix them together. And I don’t even have a car at school to get these ingredients—more humor.

But this underlying humorous aspect is what actually creates a purpose for my blog. When beginning this assignment, I was nervous that I didn’t have a particular message to go along with this project. What’s so different about a cooking blog? I’ll admit I still struggled with the purpose well into beginning the project. But as I continue on—and even throughout this mini assignment where I in fact discover the complications within my project as a whole—I definitely have targeted its purpose. The point of the blog is to juxtapose previous cooking ideals. We’re college students, and often we have much more on our mind than simply what we’re going to cook that day. We have tests, papers, meetings, and a range of activities that add to the time constraints of both preparing and eating meals. So this blog is funny—it goes against the ideologies of cooking, and adapts it to a fast paced, confusing, and overall disorganized college lifestyle. Whether you’re looking at where to run into the hottest shoppers, order in late night food from, or simply what to make for dinner with the few ingredients you have, this blog is simply for that.

It’s funny, it’s disorganized, but it’s reflective of the lifestyles we live. So in reality, if I knew much about cooking in the first place, I’d be a hypocrite to the blog.

 

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Images: What Does It Say?

I feel that within many eportfolios, there is always that token ‘professional’ photo. It’s typically a headshot, something fancy, or something even just funny—a photo that expresses the identity of the writer. Within my eportfolio, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to equal out the audience of my peers versus professional contacts, such as employers. In this sense, I want my eport overall to be appealing to my peers and an enjoyable eport to scroll through and read, but also show my passion and overall skill set to potential employers within the business realm.

 

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It doesn’t help that I don’t have too many professional photos. One photo that I was planning on incorporating into my eport is a picture that my sister had taken of me this past summer, where I’m standing in front of the lake—no bathing suit shots, don’t worry. But in this photo, I’m wearing sunglasses, exhibiting a ‘soft smile,’ and the line boarders the line between showing my personality and giving off a professional vibe—pretty cool and collective, if I say so myself.

 

The photo focuses in on mostly my face, revealing the area from only my torso up. There are miles of blue water in the background, which distract from anything else in the photo. I am standing off center and towards the left of the frame, emphasizing the lake behind me. I am aware that the photo is being taken, as I am making eye contact with the photographer. My sister had taken this photo on her nice camera where she tends to do her artsy photography projects, so the image itself is exceptionally vivid. I am wearing sunglasses and my bare arms are exposed; yet nothing is portrayed as revealing as I was actually on my way home from work when the photo was taken. The soft smile shows both a friendly and artistic representation of my identity, as the facial expression does not seem sarcastic or over the top.

 

Since this photo was taken in the middle of the day, the sun is shining—there is a clear gleam of light that rests against my face, but still appears to be professional—although could also double as an ‘artsy’ Instagram post. The calm blues behind me juxtapose the browns and lacks of my attire, sunglasses, and hair, offering a nice color contrast within the photo itself.

 

After analyzing the photo, I think that I would ultimately include it within my eportfolio. This photo would be present on a page about me—possibly where I share my resume or information about myself in general. I think that this photo would give context to the author of the eport as a whole, allowing readers to put a face to the name—or words. I think that this photo could definitely appeal to my two core audiences—peers and professionals, as it evokes both an artistic yet seemingly professional tone. This analysis leaves me with relief considering this is the photo I use on my LinkedIn page.

Analyzing Audiences

When I’m writing, I think that it’s too easy to get carried away with what you want to include, and not necessarily think about your audience. In short, it’s easy to be selfish–and with writing, I find myself constantly being selfish. Too often I don’t necessarily think about the audience when making decisions, but instead, only considering what I think should be included. That needs to change.

Since my eport is actually going to be online, and shocker, lots of people will have access to it, I want to be able to cater it to a larger audience than just myself. While it would be nice to log in daily and reflect on my own writing, that’s a little unrealistic. I definitely think that our discussion today evoked a new awareness of a larger audience looking at our work, as we analyzed past eports and what their target audience looks like.

For my eport, I think that I may have a wide range of audiences: this audience includes my grandma’s friends who she will call up immediately after I publish it, my parents, my friends, and even future employers. I think that this last category is imperative, because I plan on incorporating this eport into future job applications, etc. So aside from my grandmas friends, I hope to have this eport reflect myself as a professional writer.

Each of these audience members will come with a different agenda: my friends to look at or even judge my writing, my parents and grandparents to most likely brag, and employers to get a better sense of my personality, my identity, and my voice as a whole. In this sense, employers or professionals in general will expect to see well written work with a purpose, rather than an array of random thoughts. I’m not quite sure if there is a specific tone that would be expected within my work, but whatever tone the writing takes, for it to be strong and again, purposeful. If I take on a satirical tone, there should effective reasoning behind that satire and an overall argument. Overall for all of my audiences, I think that behind all of my writing there should be some kind of argument, idea, or overarching theme apparent rather than jibber jabber.

When your writing has a clear purpose, it’s tough to say what should or should not be seen within this writing. Possibly for employees, anything too political or controversial may raise flags depending on the organization. I don’t tend to write anything too extreme, I would say, so I doubt that would be an issue. Sometimes I worry that for audiences, any kind of sarcasm could be misconstrued and taken the wrong way–which I think is something risky for any audience, and could be a real turn-off for readers who don’t understand the tone.

After reading my eport, I would like all audiences to recognize the work that I have put into each of my artifacts. I hope that after reading, individuals will be able to identity my overall identity as a writer, along with my voice and personality through my writing. While I think that any audience is important, as I mentioned before, I do hope to use this eport in the future for professional endeavors–so I am probably trying to impress potential employers the most, sorry mom. But I think for my eport to be affective, it needs to appeal to a wide range of audiences, including myself. I know that if I am happy with my final product, the audience will be as well (well, I hope).

 

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Myself as a Writer: Reflection

Today in class, we had discussed different aspects of writing/writers relative to ourselves. Who are we as writers? What are we missing? It’s easy to get tangled up in a surface level identity as a writer. For me, I’ve always written very casually and a bit sarcastically, typically relative to everyday life. Think of more of an advice column, minus all the credentials actually necessary to have such a column. I had thought I had my own identity as a writer, but after reflection today, began to second guess my writer identity.

The first question that Shelley asked us was, “what characterizes your writing at its best?” To that, I simply responded with what writing I did best–conversational, humorous, light-hearted. Yet, began to later reflect how that may not necessarily be my best writing, but what comes most naturally to me. Later, she followed up with the question, “what do you still not know about yourself as a writer?” That’s where the real thinking set in. I found myself juxtaposing my previous answer to the earlier question, thinking about I don’t truly know myself relative to genre. What I mean by this is, I’ve always stuck to the same genre–maybe by habit, maybe I just liked that genre the best. But as my interests began to change, suddenly, my curiosity and exploration within writing did as well. As I began to seek out career opportunities post graduation, I found myself truly wondering if writing is something I could continue to do as a career. Unconsciously, I was limiting the world of writing to one specific, normalized genre for myself.

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As I think about what I still don’t know about myself as a writer, I find myself questioning what other types of writing intrigue me. That’s where my final project comes into play. I’ve always been interested in food, but had never ventured to write about it. I was constraining genres without even realizing. And so, this project will truly reveal something about myself as a writer. While I am still targeting a similar audience to my previous works–always preferring to attract a similar-aged audience as myself, finding it easier to relate and express particular ideas–I am attempting to try out a new category. This project is like a trial run, but one I think will reinvent my love with writing as a whole.

I first became infatuated with extremely conversational writing, but over time, began to limit myself to a particular niche. Today’s discussion, along with heading in a different direction with my final project, allows for a greater exploration into the writing realm.

Blogging About Draft

I found that talking to my blog group about my draft thus far helped with pinpointing the voice and overall language I want to incorporate into my project. When writing the draft itself, I was ‘iffy’ about how the language would work. I prefer writing in a conversational and even humorous tone, and was hoping to somehow incorporate that into my food blog as well. I found that my blog group, and further–my audience as college students, appreciated that language and informed me that it was a fun read, rather than something that went on for decades. Since there are many food blogs out there, I think that highlighting my specific purpose and targeting my particular audience through language will be an important factor–and I am glad I was able to do a language test run with my blog group.

Writing the introduction for my project definitely made everything seem more real. Yes, I’ve been thinking about the project a lot, but this was my first step and constructing something that will actually be featured within the blog itself. Since writing the introduction, I have become increasingly motivated to continuously work on the blog–even getting distracted in my other classes by playing around with format. I’m feeling excited to continuous to experiment with different layouts and designs, along with adding addition content.

At this point, the most appropriate role of further research is really design–which are my next steps as well. I’ve already found myself starting from scratch, and finding it difficult to work with pre-designed layouts on Wix, which is the site I chose to create my blog from (I’m a big team Wix advocate ever since using it for my e-port in the gateway). And so, I’ve started over, rearranged, and am ultimately trying to research what the best ways to digitally design the site as a whole. Looking at other models along with experimenting with different designs has helped aid the technical process as whole, which I plan to continue.

As for my introduction itself, I think it was helpful to narrow down the language with my blog group and see what works and what doesn’t. Originally, I was a bit confused with the assignment because I wasn’t sure if this introduction was for the class or for our audience, so I attempted to address both. My next steps with cleaning this up will be eliminating the class components and addressing the audience more widely.

 

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Pitching the Capstone Project

While pitching my project yesterday I was pretty confident with what I wanted to say, yet not completely solidified with all of my ideas. It sounds good in theory, but then I have those moments where I realize how am I going to create a food blog, how am I going to cook so many things, also my ingredients are a bit repetitive–so yes, minor freak outs. But, I don’t think this doubt is necessarily bad, simply because I know that I’m challenging myself. As I stated in my pitch, a large part of the blog for me other than the overarching concept of food would be design elements, and implementing new sites and design techniques that I can later use within a future career. I was previously signed up for two minicourses in design elements but dropped them for another course–did I megiphyntion this already? As a senior, I’m getting old and possibly loosing my mind a bit–but I hoped to create a sense of a portfolio from those two classes, which I am now attempting to implement into my final capstone project as well.

 

I really appreciated the class feedback on my project idea, especially because I’m truly starting from square one. An aspect I didn’t consider was the presence of Spoon University on campus, which is similar–but a bit more professional than my nonexistent and unknown food blog at the moment–to my overall idea. I want to stress something new for college students, and not simply clutter my peers’ news feeds on social media with something they’ve already seen.

 

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As I am a proudly broke college student, I know that budget is a huge part of what students prepare to cook–and that was enforced within my feedback as well. I love the idea to cater my blog specifically to UM students, which would allow me to better cover my geographical area and include restaurants, coffee shops, reviews, etc. Also, a peer pitched the idea of where to get your groceries–whether it’s produce at Walgreens (is that socially acceptable to purchase?) or loading up at Babo without breaking your budget. Even doing some sort of interactive map of nearest grocery stores, how to get there, and what to get at each to be the budget conscious foodies in AA would be something new and exciting for me to experiment with.

 

I left the discussion feeling inspired, which I think is definitely the point of pitching our ideas to the class. I’m excited to write up my proposal, and continue to elaborate on further ideas I can implement into my blog as a whole. I’m sure that some new ideas that I play around with may fail, but I am confident that there is much untapped potential within this idea–and I’m excited for a new experience! Food writing, food blogs, here I come.

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Homeless in LA: Discussion

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As drawn from the title, this article outlines the homeless populations in LA and how heavy rain is affecting that population. Rainstorms are causing major flooding and damages to areas highly populated by homeless individuals, which addresses the greater issue of homelessness in LA–in the sense that the rainstorms are causing much distress to the only “homes” these individuals currently possess. The article introduces the reader to the reasons behind the increased homeless population, along with the initiatives being created to aid and combat this issue.

I picked this particular article because of the narrative and conversational aspects engrained into a news story. While I’m not an avid reader of hard news, it’s something that we need to know to become informed citizens in society. Yet, The New Yorker—as evident through this particular article, alters the representation of dry news stories. I’ve found as a reader that while facts are important, there must me more to grasp a reader’s attention. Within this article, I find t
hat the audience is not only informed on the homeless population in LA, but also, is showed a story through imagery and descriptive language.

This story draws an audience in with its choice of diction and usage of narrative aspects throughout. The tone is informative, but also is providing a full scenario to readers, rather than shooting facts out. Does this make the story more memorable? Do you think that you’re more likely to remember a narrative piece over a strictly informational piece?David Lowe, 37, a homeless man, holds a sign as he offers a plate of cupcakes during May Day demonstrations in Beverly Hills, California May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: CIVIL UNREST)

While reading, I urge you to note the phrases that differ from a typical news story. Wording such as “hurling boulders,” “cement-lined chute known as the LA river,” and conversational additions such as “besides the frustrating waste of much-needed water in the middle of an ongoing drought,” and “obviously, the homeless need more than a share of what the rest of us aren’t using anyway.” What do these additions bring to the story? How do you, as a reader, feel when reading such a piece over listening to a news story from an anchor or reading a brief newspaper article?

Activity:

  1. Identity the narrative and conversational aspects of the article, and write/type them out
  2. Identity the places of strong imagery/descriptive language, where the author is showing rather than telling

Then, compare The New Yorker article to this brief write-up on homelessness in LA by the LA Times.

  • What do the two articles do differently?
  • Which is more engaging to a reader?
  • How are the stories told differently?

*Think about these ideas for a group discussion, and how the particular writing styles/aspects can relate to your own project when it comes to ghomeless_larasping an audience member’s attention.

 

 

Writing Communities: Separation of Genres

Two writing communities that I currently belong to are both SHEI Magazine and The Black Sheep. Both publications have distinctively different voices, as SHEI focuses on more fashion forward ideas, and The Black Sheep is very satirical and sarcastic writing. While I tend to write with a strong narrative and conversational voice for both, the topics greatly differ. For SHEI, I would write about different clothing trends, beauty products, or concepts happening in the fashion world—like fashion technology. For The Black Sheep, I would pick topics that I could easily poke fun of—similarly which tend to be dress codes, humorous things happening around campus, or well-known people or ideas in the community—like Jim Harbaugh or ‘senioritis’. The seriousness of each article vastly differs, as with SHEI I use hard evidence and facts, while with The Black Sheep I use more of a hypothetical and comical outlet as I’m afforded the opportunity to make things up or suggest humorous ideas without the fear of backlash. There is more freedom in what I write for The Black Sheep because I can typically pick any concept that involves college students, as long as it can have a satirical edge to it—this allows me to work with a variety of people, places, and ideas surrounding campus. With SHEI, I am more structured with what I write, which is sometimes helpful when narrowed in on specific topics. The things that I write about for SHEI are linked together, and form a common trend that allows me to work off of previous works and ideas.

Both communities definitely have their benefits, whether it’s the freedom of expression or the structured format, because they educate me on incorporating different genres into my writing. I find it important to not stick to a specific genre, and appreciate the opportunity to express different kinds of writing within my works. Additionally, each community addresses different interests of mine. I love the fashion world along with humorous writing, yet it is difficult to combine those two aspects in typical writing—there is not much fashion humor writing, unless you are simply making fun of trends. In this case, I can separate these two interests, while also combining them at times—but having the structure to still write about them individually in a designated community/publication with a particular voice and brand.im-scared.jpg

Something that I’ve noticed regardless of the writing community is the public aspect of the writing, and the idea of audience sharing. Whenever I write a new article, I sometimes become insecure in regards to what my audience will think about the writing–will they think it’s bad? Good? Boring? Since The Black Sheep is more of an acquired taste, I get nervous that some won’t understand the humor or take the brand in all seriousness. When it comes to the professional world, I find myself less likely to share my satirical articles, in fear that they will be taken at face value in the professional world–or that older professionals will simply have no sense of humor and hold my satire against me.