Ana Llorente + Mary Banas

“Neither culture nor its destruction is erotic; it is the seam between them, the fault, the flaw, which becomes so.”

—Roland Barthes

"The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is—it’s to imagine what is possible."

― bell hooks

“The most beautiful thing in Tokyo is McDonald’s. The most beautiful thing in Stockholm is McDonald’s. The most beautiful thing in Florence is McDonald’s. Peking and Moscow don’t have anything beautiful yet.”

—Andy Warhol

new ways  


Welcome to your first studio course.

This class will help you to forge the skills needed to make ideas into form, as well as to understand form as ideas. We will explore a variety of formal and conceptual methodologies.

The ultimate goal is a sense of control, foundation, and purpose for your craft. Mastery in Graphic Design not only consists of the development of technical craftsmanship but also of the capacity to think and discuss critically about the practice, as well as to use its knowledge and mediums to deeply explore other topics.

Visual communication has huge social, political, economic, and philosophical implications.

This is your class. It is the time and space to explore your aesthetic concerns and investigate your personal interests. Be self driven—the class will provide you with structure and you are expected to meet some requirements. You are also encouraged to push the boundaries. Challenge yourself, your classmates, and your instructor.

Assignments should not be taken as prescriptions, but as starting points – prompts aiming to catalyze your personal agenda, to start building your body of work, and to motivate your search for your own path as a creator.

Take this commitment seriously. 

A note on the state of the world RN:

→What are things you notice you need more of now? Less of?

→What should we be critically reflecting on?

→In what ways have current events become a call to action for design? In what ways should we (designers) be inactive?

→What are some strategies for joy and human connection?

of seeing


1—Graphic Lexicon

Graphic Lexicon is a four-week exercise in learning how to see. To be able to see is to first explore, then analyze, then translate. This is an opportunity to become deeply involved with a topic and through that involvement, engage in serious visual research and image creation.

What are many ways to create an image?

How do designers make meaning?

What’s the relationship between research and form-making?

2—Fluid Mutualism

“Then is Now”

Today—and specifically in the last year or so—we have seen current events reverberating the traumatic past of the United States of America. “Then is Now” asks how we can learn from the past, connect it to the present, and speculate on possible futures.

You will identify an urgent and/or historical and/or contemporary issue you feel a connection to. Your choice will need to relate to ancestry, lineage, identity, or personal culture. Using physical and/or digital archives, you will research your subject matter with the goal of identifying connections between the past and the present or the present and the past.

Using your research as content, you will employ the concept of “Fluid Mutualism” as a design methodology* in order to design a series of broadsheets that would be published in a 8 to 12-page newspaper.

*you will interpret and transform “fluid mutualism” into a way of making. 

What are design methodologies?

What are the visuals of a culture?

What are non-western and non-dominant practices of making (anything)? Why does this matter?

What is monoculture?

What is cultural appropriation?

What does mutualism mean?

What visual works and methods am I interested in or drawn to?

How do I design using a method I define?

From Creative Citizens in Action at CCA:

The theme “Fluid Mutualim” was selected to investigate intergenerational symbiotic relationships, networks and strategies expanding within different communities, species, disciplines and territories. Inspired by the ancestral practices and philosophies of harmony by many Indigenous people from around the world, Fluid Mutualism will center Indigenous knowledge and technology. The Program Series will focus on four elements: land, assembly, tequio (communal responsibility), and joy.

3—Speculative Journey

The goal of this project is to ask “What if?” through the use of form and material and to use graphic design as an ideological form of inquiry.

What is speculative design? Who are some of its practitioners? Why does it matter?

This project asks you to “map” a speculative “journey”. You will first develop a conceptual matrix analyzing a journey, then craft a fictional narrative in written form, later you will design and collect a set of objects to illustrate your narrative, and last you will develop a “map” that brings your story to life.



Fall Term

September 07—December 14, 2021

This class is scheduled on Tuesdays for 4 hours with a 1-hour break.

8am–10am (class)

10am–11am = break 11am–1pm (class)

All times are in Pacific Daylight Time (California, USA)

There will be 2 hours of asynchronous activity each week.

Class Format

This class will meet in person on Tuesdays for the entire semester. Ana will be with you on site, and Mary will be beamed in from Rhode Island. Students will research, design, read, and write asynchronously in our remote community as well as participate in synchronous critiques, workshops, small group meetings. Both in person and asynchronously you will present and witness presentations from peers and professors, and contribute to collaborative group work.

How can we connect in a remote setting?

We will discuss, watch, critique, and collaborate together. Students will access rich online archives, readings, and resources to support their work.

Our class is a community—respect others and enter our class community with an open mind.   

Goals of the Course

—Development of formal and conceptual craftsmanship

2—Exploration of a variety of mediums and methodologies

3—Insight into the history of graphic design and the relationship to contemporay culture

4—Stimulation of critical position(s) toward the discipline


Resources for this course:

Setting up your home studio (PDF via undergraduate Graphic Design)

Suggested materials list for this course:
Below is a list to get you started. Any other art supplies you have on hand or are inspired to try are fair game! You will be making marks, so you don’t need lots of colors of ink or paint, one color is fine. Additional materials might come into play later in the semester but this is what we will be starting with. Let us know if you have any questions.

- Paper (a ream of regular printer paper or card stock, or a spiral bound sketchbook)
- Pencil (soft lead)
- Ink and/or paint (India ink, illustration ink, acrylic water based paint)
- Brushes of different sizes (cheap is good)
- Black markers of different sizes (Sharpie is good)
- xacto knife & cutting mat
- metal ruler

CCA Moodle (& tutorial)
CCA Library Graphic Design Research Guide

Elizabeth Goodspeed’s Spreadsheet of Collections (use the tabs at the bottom)
People’s Graphic Design Archive
Graphic Design Readings
Creative Citizens in Action at CCA
BIPOC Design History

Speculative Journey: Kyle Neal

Design Methodologies: Sora Won

Speculative Journey: Chloe Looker

Graphic Lexicon: Nick Lamkin

Graphic Lexicon: Nick Lamkin

Graphic Lexicon: Nick Lamkin

Design Methodologies: Sora Won

Some of the fall 2019 cohort featuring Ana and pizza.

Design Methodologies: Sora Won

Design Methodologies: Malik Sapp

Design Methodologies: Francis Shen

Graphic Lexicon: Kyle Neal

Design Methodologies: Malik Sapp

Design Methodologies: Madeleine Page

Speculative Journey: Dom Granato

Speculative Journey: All of the 2019 cohort

Design Methodologies: Yeqi Liu

Design Methodologies: Yeqi Liu

Speculative Journey: Kyle Neal

Design Methodologies: Fanni

Speculative Journey: Mitch 
Speculative Journey: anonymous masked person

Design Methodologies: a student presentation

Speculative Journey: 2019 cohort producing signage for exhibition
Design Methodologies: Kyle Neal

Design Methodologies: Kyle Neal

Design Methodologies: Francis Shen

Design Methodologies: Francis Shen

Design Methodologies: Francis Shen

Design Methodologies: Francis

Graphic Lexicon: Yeqi Liu

Design Methodologies: Madeleine Page

Graphic Lexicon: Kyle Neal

Design Methodologies: Malik Sapp

Speculative Journey: Fall 2019 class

Design Methodologies: Kyle Neal

Graphic Lexicon: Juan Pablo Rahal

Design Methodologies: Madeleine Page

Graphic Lexicon: Nick Lamkin

Design Methodologies: Sora Won

Design Methodologies: Francis Shen

Design Methodologies: Sora Won

Design Methodologies: Madeleine Page

Speculative Journey: Madeleine Page

Design Methodologies: Kyle Neal’s presentation on designer April Greiman