Visual Communication II


Course Syllabus [57KB]

Professor: Rebeca Méndez rebecam (at) ucla (dot) edu
Visiting Lecturer: Bob Stein
TA: Kevin Haywood khaywood (at) ucla (dot) edu
Class meeting: Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:00 - 11:50 AM, Broad Art Center, Room 4240
Rebeca's Office Hours: Wednesday 1:00 - 2:00 PM
Rebeca's Office Location: Broad Art Center, Room 5260
Kevin's Office Hours: Tuesday 4:00 - 5:00 PM
Kevin's Office Location: Grad Studios, Broad Art Center, Room 3211

Course Description:

Studio, six hours; outside study, nine hours. Enforced requisite: course 154A. Focus on creating compelling messages and appropriate communication strategies. Development of coherent verbal and visual systems, research, concept and content development, and articulation of methodology for visualization across various media. May be repeated once for credit. P/NP or letter grading.

Class Structure:

Classroom time will be used primarily to review work either as class discussion or individual meetings. Every week you will have a new assignment due the following class. Work is to be presented according instructions by 9 am.


In General:
You must demonstrate through the projects (both process and end project) as well as through classroom discussion that you grasp the material being taught.

You must attend each class. This class will cover a lot of material in a short period of time. There is little, if any, way to make up for a lost class. You are responsible for work due on the day you are absent and for assignments given on the day you missed. An emergency or illness is the only acceptable excuse. You must let the T. A. and me know, as soon as possible, that either you will a) miss the class and the reason; or b) why you did not attend.

If you are 15 minutes late you get a tardy. Every tardy is a half grade point down on your final grade. If you are later than 15 minutes, do not interrupt the class, you will be marked absent. Each (unexcused) absence will result in one full grade letter down (A+ to B+). Three unexcused absences will result in a failed grade in the class (F).


Each class you will be evaluated equally on the following:
Success of project
Quality of effort
Class participation and engagement
Attendance, depending on the circumstances, will also affect your grade as stated above.
Your final grade is the average of all grades in combination with your attendance records.

DMA Lectures:

Your attendance is required in at least 3 lectures offered by the DMA during the fall quarter. The class T. A. and/or I will record your attendance.


Turn off cell phones during class
No food in class.
No text messaging, ichatting, skyping, or emailing during class.

Project: Book design for 'River of Shadows' by Rebecca Solnit. High-end print edition and electronic edition.


The course will focus on research, strategies and processes for the concept and design of Rebecca Solnit's recent book River of Shadows. The book is a cultural history of technological change in the second half of the nineteenth century as told through the life of Eadweard Muybridge. Bob Stein, the founder of The Criterion Collection and Voyager and currently the director of The Institute for the Future of the Book, has purchased the rights to publish both a large format print edition which using the highest quality digital scans of the Muybridge images and an electronic edition which expands on the original text in three ways: extensive linking from the text out onto the broader net, access to motion imagery where appropriate, and a powerful social component enabling readers to communicate with each other in the margins. Stein intends to publish both versions of Solnit's text on the same day, aiming to make a bold statement: that there are some things that can best be done in print and others that can be best done in the context of a networked, digital edition.Throughout the course, the students will develop concepts and design proposals for both editions.

The paper back edition was published in 2004 by Penguin in both hard and soft covers and it has 320 pages of text and images.

Reading Materials


River of Shadows by Rebecca Solnit
The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
The Institute of The Future of The Book website and blog:
Design Observer website
MIT World: The Future of Publishing Symposium


The Designer and The Grid by Julia Thrift and Lucienne Roberts
Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Joseph Muller-Brockmann
Making and Breaking The Grid: A Graphic Design Layout Workshop by Timothy Samara


Note: All homework MUST be uploaded to the class website prior to class meeting. You will present to the professors and students from the class website. Embed all images and movies, and activate links.

Week 1: Monday, September 28:

Review of class guidelines and project.
Presentation by Bob Stein
Review examples of high-end book editions and digital editions.

Homework for Wednesday, September 30:

Begin reading River of Shadows: Chapters 1-3 minimum.
Listen to: MIT World: The Future of Publishing Symposium.

Research high-end publishing:
Go to Arcana on 3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica
Go to Taschen Store in Beverly Hills.
Books by Artists: i.e. Ed Ruscha, Anslem keifer, Lawrence Weiner.

Research high-end publishing:
Best of class examples, including
Gamer Theory by McKenzie Wark:
Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

Research technologies for designing, producing and publishing,

Research Creative Commons and DRM (digital rights management).

Week 1: Wednesday, September 3:

Discuss research.
RM Presentation: Designing books for print.
River of Shadows content distribution

Homework for Monday October 5:

Read Chapters 4-6 of River of Shadows
Read Foreword, Historical Synopsis and Chapters 1-3 of The Elements of Typographic Style
Continue your research
Envision what is next: Begin the conceptual phase of the project. You'll present ideas informally, but bring samples, drawings, diagrams, to convey your ideas in the most compelling manner. Presentations can be physical and/or digital.

Week 2: Monday, October 5:

Discuss research, readings and your ideas.
River of Shadows content distribution

Homework for Monday, October 12:

Read all remaining chapters of River of Shadows
Read Foreword, Historical Synopsis and Chapters 4-5 of The Elements of Typographic Style
Refine your ideas and present them in a formal manner. Articulate your thoughts through drawings, mock-ups, bring samples, materials, and digital files. You are not yet designing the books, but you are presenting your ideas.

"Ideas are the images of thought." - Guilles Deleuze.

Understanding the content:
River of Shadows content analysis:

Book sections:
Covers + End Leaves
Front Matter
Table of Contents
Back Matter
Photo credits

Content typology:
Create a coherent chart containing all the different kinds of text and images.
The following breakdown is an incomplete list, but you can use as base to create your chart:

Headlines (various levels-subhead, sub-subheads, etc...)
Main text
References to Publications
Book titles
Essay titles
Artwork titles
Pull quotes
Photo captions

Still Images-Format/Resolution
Moving Images-Format/Resolution
Handwritten Texts-Format/Resolution

Make a list of what materials are relevant for the book. Consider all photographic materials.
Bring samples of these materials.

Week 2: Wednesday, October 7:

Rebeca Lecturing in Monterrey, Mexico.
Field trip led by Kevin to Charles E. Young Library Special Collections.

Week 3: Monday, October 12:

Review research and ideas.
Work in class: Book concepts and strategic proposals.

Homework for Wednesday, October 14:
Conceptual ideas about the digital version of the book. If the digital book is to carry a 'conversation' with all other media and content, what is that content and what is that media? The student is to develop a breakdown of potential media and content, as well as how will they migrate their concepts for the print version to the digital version. Class group critique.

Wednesday, October 14
Review conceptual ideas on the divital version of the book.

Homework for Monday, October 19:
Refine your concept for both versions of the book - print and digital, and start working towards a creative direction. (Refer to the design process document in the class website under required reading).

Present your homework both as text and visual references. Describe your ideas and creative direction verbally and visually with images and diagrams that clearly illustrate your thinking and visual decisions. Upload all necessary materials (details matter), and bring to class material, dimensional and structural references.

Week 4: Monday, October 19:

Bob Stein Presentation and review of your work.

Homework for Wednesday, October 21.
Read Chapter 6 of The Elements of Typographic Style

Book concept, creative direction and size defined.
Think of the following for both the print and digital versions:
What is the idea or ideas appropriate and unique to this particular book?
How are those ideas expressed structurally?
How are those ideas expressed visually?

Present your homework both as text and visual references. Describe your ideas and creative direction verbally and visually with images and diagrams that clearly illustrate your thinking and visual decisions. Upload all necessary materials (details matter), and bring to class material, dimensional and structural references.

Wednesday, October 14

Presentation and review of your work.

Homework for Wednesday, October 26.
Read Chapters 7 and 8 of The Elements of Typographic Style
Continue with the creative development above.
Definie your photographic, animation and typographic direction.

Week 5: Monday, October 26:

Presentation and review of your work.
Bob Stein presentaion and review of work (from 10 to 12)