First-Semester Reflection

I, Nadine Shu, have gained a lot of inspiration through the first semester.

Although I major in Fashion Design, I learned nothing specifically about fashion this semester, but instead, I learned a lot of conceptual knowledge and gradually formed a designer’s way of thinking. The styles of all my courses were similar in some ways, but also differed from each other. Some courses taught me specific technique, for example, my drawing and imaging classes taught me how to use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and my integrative studio classes taught me how to use Premiere. In my drawing and imaging classes, my instructor Emily always planned carefully for each class and uploaded files of technical instruction on Canvas. Some courses had a freestyle and taught me nothing technically, like my space class – my instructor Nick never taught us how to do anything, but instead, he always gave us informative speech, shared inspiring videos with us,  guiding us how to think as a designer. The same difference appeared in my literature classes: I learned most of boring “rules” of English in my ESL courses, but I learned more interesting things in the integrative seminar course because we always wrote a creative paper rather than a traditional research paper. In addition, I observed an interesting connection between my integrative courses: because seminar and studio shared the same topic of bridges and were interrelated, sometimes the research I did for one course can be applied to another, which sparked new ideas!

I enjoyed that many courses were asked me to do innovative things. In my space classes, I was always assigned to achieve a result, so I self-studied the principle of making things and explored a lot of new techniques such as wood shop and laser cutting; in drawing and imaging and studio classes, I followed the instruction to make something new about myself. Therefore, I learned new things in all of my courses, and all the knowledge I gained pushed me to be more curious about new possibilities.

The most important thing that I learned in this semester was a unique way of gaining inspiration.

One of my drawing projects began with making tonal drawings of shapes, and then experimenting with “boxy”, “mapping”, and naturalistic drawings. All these drawings were done traditionally, while we were asked to make a 3D landscape collage at the end of the project, and we needed to place one of the model drawings we did into the composition. We were not asked to make our collage at the first class of the project, but we were taking steps to learned from our previous work. By making model and still life drawings, I learned more about human proportion and how to show shadows on objects, but at the same time, I learned a sense of space. The spacial knowledge I gained gave me a direction on how I could add depth to my final 3D landscape.


[drawing/imaging – landscape project]


In my final 3D collage, I created a view of a beach, the sea, and mountains. The scales and position of the objects distinguished the distance and space in the work. I did the cloud in Japanese style, which was inspired by my previous study in Japanese patterns. One interesting thing about this project was that I used a lot of materials that I made my own from my previous projects, like mark making and texture rubbing.

Similarly, one of our space projects asked me to make a screen composed of repeated connected modules without using glues, and one previous project was about creating a wooden joint mutated from a traditional joint. I learned basic traditional joints in my previous project and tried to transform these joining method into my screen project. I was always thinking “less is more”, so I decided to repeat a simple shape. I took one part from my wooden joint, enlarged it and repeated it, and took the shape as my module from the synthesized diagram.


[mutated joint & module diagram]


I have tried hand-cutting, so this time I decided to do something different. Then I came up with the idea of using the laser cutter – a technique that can cut shapes precisely. At the time, I knew nothing about the laser lab, so I signed up the orientation, and then I realized that the laser cutter was not difficult to use. How can I make my piece elegant and clear, complex but not busy? I have never use a transparent material before, so I experimentally used acrylic – I cut all my repeated modules on acrylic, a transparent sheet by laser cutting. All these decision were made based on my own interest in experimenting new things.


[Space – screen]


The final piece worked well for me, and the experiment with laser cutter opened more possibilities to me in my future projects: For my studio final, I used translucent materials and cut them on laser cutter as well!

[My studio final in progress]

My question to everything in art and to myself is always “how things happen?” Therefore, I hope I can learn more principles in design, and most importantly, I hope I can learn more about how to think like a designer. I hope I can learn some techniques about fashion and other kinds of design as well, and at the same time, I hope I can improve my aesthetic value and develop my work. I believe that every art I made this semester would be inspiring to trigger new ideas in the future.

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