Class Exercise 5/Reading Response: My Roots

On page 115 in Graphic Design: The New Basic, the following quote struck me:

“Like fashion, graphic design cycles through periods of structure and chaos, ornament and austerity. A designer’s approach to visual hierarchy reflects his or her personal style, methodology, and training as well as the zeitgeist of the period.”

Normally I would create a new picture to try and replicate a thought that a certain passage from a reading assignment gave me. However, I found that the class exercise that we conducted last week actually somewhat reflects the reading. In fact, I believe the assignment was somewhat influenced by the “Hierarchy through Contrast” project discussed on page 120 in Graphic Design: The New Basic (please correct me if I am wrong Professor Simmons). To recap, though, here is what we were assigned to do for class exercise 5:

“Create an 8 x 8 inch flyer using color and a grid system to direct the viewers’ eye and to establish visual hierarchy. Select various tools and strategies from Photoshop to develop your composition. For instance, color shapes at various opacities can be added as another layer of information or parts of one image can be cloned into another. Attention will be given to effective use of typography, line, image, figure/ground relationships (open space) and experimentation. Use the whole page. Make sure your document is RGB and properly resized for the web before saving as a jpeg and uploading to the blog.


1. Write a set of facts about your life, and create a photographic image of your hand. Other images can be used but your hand should be clearly represented.

2. Map your life onto the image of your hand. Position each element on a 30 or 45-degree angle. Use scale, position, color and transparency to organize the information to create visual interest.”

With this in mind, I decided to use the image of a tree stump and its roots as a mini timeline of my life (much in a similar way as this). I cut out my hand and placed the stump inside it, in a sense cropping the root’s images to make a new frame, and thus new meaning (page 103). I also used saturation to create a black and white visual to give it an almost contrasting texture. I then placed different text at certain points of the stump/roots to signify the timeline. You can view the original images of the hand and stump after the jump/down below.

As explained in chapter 13 of Digital Foundations: Intro To Media Design, “The grid is the principal way of organizing page elements in multi-page documents.” In a sense, the frame of my hand serves as a way to unite all the elements/events that have shaped me into the person I am today. In other words, it has helped organized a hierarchy of my life/outline from the start of my life to where I am currently and hope to be in the future. (Brownie points if you can determine the significance of where I placed 2013:?)

As I always ask: What do you think?


Pictures used for this exercise:



2 Responses to “Class Exercise 5/Reading Response: My Roots”

  1. Lynn Simmons Says:


    As usual you are at the heart of the issue. Yes, hierarchy through contrast is what this exercise is based on. In fact, the exercise is one of Ellen Lupton’s from her companion-working website to the book (

    While the use of tree rings of growth and your hand is brilliant, I wonder how you would create hierarchy in the text, or typography, if you wanted to. This can be done with size, color, grayscale, and so forth.

    As for the placement of 2013, I’m not sure. The tip of your middle finger is further out from your birth center than the other fingers but not as far out as 2011 on your arm. Pending any undisclosed life event such as marriage, perhaps you are saying what will be will be. The middle finger is almost universally associated with “flipping off” something or someone. This might be way out there but it’s my guess at the moment.

    Prof. S.

  2. zach-attack-shaw Says:

    You are correct about the middle finger/”flipping off”! haha

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