CATALYST
An expression of American wildfire's effects on our environment.
Project Overview
Tasked with designing the future materials for the exhibition of our choosing being housed at the SCAD Museum of art. Centered around the topic of our choosing, I eventually decided on wildfires because of my experience with wildfires during the 2020 summer. Before any visual communication is made, it was imperative to determine ‘the Story’ to ensure the success of a connection to the audience.
My Contributions
This project was done solely by me, however, it is important to emphasize the role of my classmates and professor for the duration of this project. As I went through the phases of this project (research, design, develop, deploy) my professor and classmates acted as the audience and investors, determining the success of my visual communication.
My Roles
Graphic Design
Research
Environmental Design
Graphic Design
Product Design
Project Manager
Team Members
Professor Jane Zash
Our entire Class
Deliverables
Physical Prints
Digital Mockups
Process Book
Timeline
10 weeks
09/20-11/20
The Problem
Who, or what, is to blame for the start of a wildfire? Natural forces, deliberate burning and human negligence can all be at fault for some of the world’s worst wildfires in history. Today the balance of growth and destruction has been troubled; fighting to restore an equilibrium in nature is the only way to protect earth, the place we call home. Time is ever fleeting and soon our world could face irreversible effects. It takes one catalyst, a break in the chain of events, to help reset our ecosystems homeostasis. This exhibition looks at the brutality of wildfires and the scars they leave behind, while demonstrating the regrowth offered in it’s wake. Scars are proof of healing.
The Limits of the Class
With any exhibit it can be relatively easy to create graphics and narrative literature that appeals to someone who has always been interested in the topic. However, the challenge with this project was not only to develop and tell a compelling story, but tell a story which intrigues and interests people who may not necessarily care about wildfires. That means creating deliverables which are not only compelling to the target audience, but compelling to a random person walking along the street.

Additionally, the project required the creation and application of successful graphic design and literary elements on a number of different mediums. This started with developing the identity program and then applying it successfully to walls and exhibits, narrative literature and the product. This required successful application and pacing of single large page formats as well as multi-page books and prints.

The process book goes into detail and chronologically shows the process for this project. During the 10 week project, we worked on the process book to guide us chronologically, this means immense detail is in the process book and if you are curious about more of my design processes, go to the process book!
Graphic Identity
Developing graphical identity elements, to be represent the topic in creative, new and visual stimulating ways. Using mood boards, and other inspiration. From sketching, transitioning to digital sketches, I learned to look much deeper than the obvious with the branding and graphical identity of this project. My initial title was "Smothered" yet after discussion with the whole team, it became clear to seek a word outside of the obvious to represent the topic.
The Design Process
The process book goes into detail on this subject, however, to create this whole project we used a set of guiding principles introduced by our professor. First we did intensive research into the topic itself, pulling out words of intrigue, importance, emotion and otherwise. We used those words to create mind maps and generate even more words. Then, we went back and picked the best words, and used them as the guiding principle for the entire project. These eight words were represented in some way by our design decisions and choices, and always pulled me back toward the topic.
Suggested Changes from Critique
-Look beyond the obvious exhibit title "SMOTHERED"
-Reduce the number of words to define your direction of storytelling
-Develop some less literal mood boards
-Explore different ways of creating the identity mood board
Physical Exploration
As part of my project, I took the extra step to explore the world around me to seek inspiration for the graphical identity. Using found objects and even creating typography myself, I explored different graphics.
Physical Comp Testing
Before our final printing and mockups, it is important to print tests. Ensuring that type size is working, graphical elements print as they should, and to get a better understanding of how your print will come out in the final version. I printed all of the physical elements of the project, besides the museum wall. That includes the booklet, matchbook, books, and personal note.
CATALYST
Wildfires Fleeting Homeostasis.
Reflecting on the project
Being my first rewarding virtual quarter due to COVID-19, this project gave me a new appreciation for graphic design and branding. Often times in UX design, our curriculum requires us to do many similar branding and graphic design but within maybe a week or less. Dedicating 10 weeks to this process was game changing and resulted in much greater storytelling and insight.

With that being said, there is always room for improvement. Although it was not a requirement for this class to write the copy for our project, I took it upon myself to write all the copy. The subject matter could be improved, especially with the journals which referenced recent wildfires. Furthermore, I found great engagement with the poster deliverables, exhibit walls and journal sleeve, but less engagement with the journals themselves and the product. I think the cover pages to these deliverables and the content inside of them were not as compelling when compared to previous deliverables like the poster. Doing additional user testing to determine where changes could be made would be a great first step towards improvement.
Overall I was happy with the final deliverables, but exploring different ways to improve the pacing of the journals and further enhance the exhibit experience is something that I would have loved to develop given more time!