© Keetra Dean Dixon & JK Keller

Snippets from workshops and curriculum

In an effort to “share the conversation” we keep one foot in academia via workshops and lectures. From 2010–2012 Keetra taught as a full-time professor in the Graphic Design department at the Maryland Institute College of Arts. During her time at MICA she developed a curriculum for upper-level undergraduates and MFA students that encourages the integration of exploratory methods and self-assessment into the design process.

Examine Your Process + Methods

The following inquiry is most beneficial when looking at a few projects that have been tracked in INTIMATE detail from beginning to end.

Look at the flow of a completed project. Within each phase consider steps taken and askā€¦

is this method working? If so, why?
Is there a reason it happens when it does? Is there a specific context or tool required? Do you feel in control of this process?
When were you frustrated? What did you most enjoy?
Highlight your most difficult periods in the timeline. Why are they difficult?
Did you have a contingency plan? Did you need to use it? Did it work?

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Externalize your habits, strengths, weaknesses and goals.

When does a majority of your process happen in each of the following arenas? Are you more focused on one? 1. Idea 2. Form 3. Fabrication 4. Other

List making stimuli:

look at your portfolio.
look at your sketch book, notes, & collected inspiration.
Identify reoccurring themes. Are there methods/lack of method which lead to these themes? How can you clarify, reinforce, expand and improve these inherent traits?

Consider the following. Make a record of your response:

EXPLORATION

Do you give yourself opportunities to learn new tools? Do you have an objective in mind when you learn new tools?
Are there specific processes, techniques and methods that you excel at or enjoy? Why?
Do you deliberately pursue the creative process outside of assigned work? How does this impact your process for other projects?
Do you have an ongoing collection of inspiration? A sketch book? How & when do you utilize these tools/collections?

IDEATION

Where did your inspiration come from? How did the final idea come about?
What tools do you use to brainstorm? What kind of ideation technique do you use? Do you write? In what form: lists, paragraphs, stream of consciousness? Do you sketch by hand?
Do you get most inspiration via example collection? Where do you look when collecting those assets?
When do you get your ideas? Is there a consistent condition during which you get ideas that result in the final design?
How do you cope with creative block?

DEFINING, EDITING & FOCUSING TRAJECTORY

Do you clearly define a problem? Do you ad goals to or clarify briefs/assignments?
How do you choose what idea to move forward with? How do you edit?
Did you keep the audience in mind throughout your process?
How do you frame your goals? Do you check your goals often?
How do you Self Critique?
Do you seek peer feedback outside of Work/Class?

TIME MANAGEMENT, ORGANIZATION & MOTIVATION

How do you keep yourself on task? What tools do you use for managing your time?
Are you a list maker?
Do you schedule yourself?
Do you start a project with an organizational structure? How do you archive your projects?
Do you give yourself achievable goals? Realistic work loads? Task which you can execute within the timeline? At what points did you need more/less time?
Do you offer yourself rewards?
How do you cope with self doubt?

PRODUCTION, FABRICATION & CRAFT

How often do your projects require skills that you do not have?
Do you allow enough time to master these skills before beginning final production?
How often do you seek guidance? Where do you seek it?
Do you ever commission assistance or outsource craft?
Does most of your craft take place in the physical or digital realm?
Are you inventing new fabrication techniques?

REFLECTION & EVALUATION

Do you assess projects after completion?
Do you summarize lessons learned?
Do you evaluate your overall body of work? If so, how? What platform do you look at it in?
Do you establish goals for future work base on evaluations? Do you externalize these goal and refer to them often?