THIS IS NOT GRAPHIC DESIGN is the 2013 Grad ComD MFA Thesis Show at Pratt Institute. The exhibition explores new currents in graphic design and reflects the ongoing expansion of the field through critical, interdisciplinary, and research-based practice.

THIS IS NOT GRAPHIC DESIGN makes process visible, as investigation and ideation translate into methodology and form. Works include printed matter, video, interactive installations, typography, silkscreen, and photography.

Opening reception
Friday, May 3, 2013

Open to the public
May 3–June 7, 2013

Pratt Manhattan GradComD Gallery
7th Floor
144 West 14th Street
New York, NY

Click here for directions

F, M, 1, 2, 3, L to 14th St at 6th Avenue
N, Q, R, L, 4, 5, 6 to 14th St-Union Square
A, C, E to 14th St at 8th Avenue

THIS IS NOT GRAPHIC DESIGN is the collective thesis work of André De Castro, Joseph Cuillier, Maura Frana, Rob Gonzalez, Devin Grosz, Will Hoffman, Yanwen Hu, Leigh Mignogna, Greg Riestenberg, Liz Seibert and
Karin Storm Wood.

André De Castro

This exploration will shed light on how certain images take on importance over time with special emphasis on social agency, numerous media, and the role of designers. By articulating the relationship between the semiotic icon and the cultural icon in terms of Barthes “mythical discourse,” this thesis deconstructs the process I am calling iconization. It also considers the importance of new technologies and their influence on this process and, consequently, on our identity as individuals and as a group.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
B.A. Graphic Design

Joseph Cuillier

Society shapes language and language shapes society. So, language, naturally, inherits the political dimensions and power relations present within a society. This thesis intends to develop a critical design methodology, which utilizes linguistic theories of meaning to question the nature of graphic design, a mode of language use, and the socio-cultural institutions and practices that contribute to its production in an effort to “reclaim” language, as if to say, “this is what it’s for, not that.”

Houston, Texas
Prairie View A&M University
B.A. Business Administration

Maura Frana

In a time of never-ending input and expected output, communication design has jumped on board with an accelerated pace of messaging, yet has not created a new form to reflect, or better yet, mitigate, this constant flow of information. I seek to find the value of “calm” in contemporary design, to examine mechanisms by which calm can be deployed in design, and to explore the practical and ethical implications of calm in design.

Cedar Rapids, IA
Iowa State University
B.A. Art & Design

Rob Gonzalez

Networks of connections define every level of our experience. They are the basis of our physiological, cognitive and social processes. As such, connections are an important aspect of the way that designers contribute to the visual culture around them. Informed by studies from complexity science, psychology, cultural studies and design history I explore the development of design methodologies related to the creation of culture.

Hoboken, NJ
Rutgers University–Newark
B.F.A. Graphic Design
Devin Grosz

This thesis is a series of experiments in narrative structure shaped by and in reaction to the information machines that we use to mediate and structure our lives. Design and storytelling are disciplines in a constant state of flux, being expanded, reformulated, and reconsidered as new tools become available. This thesis critically examines the long-term impact of communications technologies, narrative in everyday life, and the role of designer as author.

Bedford, NY
Haverford College
B.A. Art History

Will Hoffman

This thesis investigates the reductive effects of the digital paradigm on our collective cultural evolution. It identifies ways that graphic design can engage the public in dialogue about its technology, reestablish a critical examination of its own practices, and provide an environment of rich and progressive cultural participation. “Burn Your Loot” means freeing yourself from common practice and consumption and fostering new ideas for the here and now.

Granby, CT
New York University
B.A. Gallatin School of
Individualized Study

Yanwen Hu

Currently, we are facing information overload. Digital information is vast in volume, largely unsorted and fragmentary. In order to make sense of this information, I intend to develop design strategies aimed at humanizing information, which emphasizes on emotion is foremost of function, and how to transmit information in both effective and affective ways.

Beijing, China
Tsinghua University
B.A. Visual Communication Design

Leigh Mignogna

As a graphic designer, form-maker, and lover of language, I’m fascinated with schools of experimental poetry and literature that look at form and process as fundamental tools for creating meaning. Treating the written text as something constructed, these schools investigate the structures behind language’s functioning. My work explores how the mechanics and ways of thinking behind experimental poetics can offer graphic designers unconventional and underutilized ways of thinking about the generation of form and meaning in the communication process.

Tarrytown, NY
Lehigh University
B.A. Graphic Design and Political Science
Greg Riestenberg

The political theory of agonism can provide a framework through which to view issues that arise from the allocation of power in any organized civilization, and the act of revealing hegemony can provide the impetus to challenge impediments to an open and egalitarian society. My thesis seeks to examine designed artifacts and actions that contribute to, and result from agonistic dialogue and antagonistic tension.

Cincinnati, OH
University of Cincinnati
B.S. Graphic Design

Liz Seibert

New media requires new metaphors—especially those that offer transparency. As technology becomes increasingly dematerialized, the ways in which it filters one’s subjective experience of the world are hidden from view, making critical awareness of media’s influence difficult or impossible. Taking cues from postmodern notions of the sublime and the uncanny, my research explores how to render those invisible processes and systems visible—in part by deconstructing ‘the screen’ as a site of illusion and deception.

Chelmsford, MA
Stanford University
B.A. Religious Studies

Karin Storm Wood

Both learning and creativity require an embrace of the unknown. But paradoxically, engagement with unfamiliar ideas, skills, and activities—particularly at work, school, or other social contexts—can provoke anxiety that inhibits the ability to learn and create. Informed by research on motivation, play, and the nature of making, my thesis examines this anxiety and explores experimental design tactics that can mitigate it, potentially yielding more successful processes and outcomes for designers and design students.

New York, NY
Yale University
B.A. English