Visual design

I regularly use graphic design and illustration to strategically translate client’s ideas (often technical), to share research results, and build brand identity.

Translating technical concepts

It is always a fun challenge to translate scientific or technical concepts into designs that are also accessible for non-technical viewers.

A recent 1 day project that I worked on was a EMBO reports magazine cover contest. The cover design reflects the findings of a new journal article illustrating the link between specific proteins (tauA152T and AB), epilepsy, and Alzheimers. Working with researchers from the Gladstone Institutes, I built on the concept of a neuron forest that has been partially destroyed by the proteins.

To this initial concept, I added the idea of lightning exciting and eventually killing the trees, analogous to the idea that neurons become over-excited before dying. AB and tau A152T are arranged to look like statically charged electrons in clouds during lightning strikes.


Design process

My design process follows the following steps: understanding the problem, searching for inspiration, developing low-fidelity ideas, choosing a concept, experimenting with styles, and increasing fidelity in iterations. During each step, I discuss ideas and iterations with the client to converge each others expectations.

Two more examples

The visual identity that I developed for two control and modeling symposia for the University of Illinois also shows translation of technical ideas visually. One was on the subject of alternative energy systems (2009), and the other on the subject of biomedical systems (2010).

For both of the designs, I linked the symposium’s subject with control diagrams through visual design. A heart beat that is visually analogous to resistance in control diagrams connects to the heart in the biomedical systems logo. In the alternative energy systems logo, the “I” for Illinois is replaced by a wind turbine. These main concepts were integrated into all other graphic communication: web and print mailers, website collateral, gifts, etc.

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Visualizing research results

Communicating research results visually is also one of the core aspects of my work. An example end result is the illustrations and photos that I contributed toward Volume Magazine’s issue, The Block.

This output was the culmination a collaborative research trip into the suburbs of Moscow’s neighborhood, Veshnyaki. There we documented resident’s strategies to make pre-fab building complexes and associated public spaces their own.

The left image below show photos and illustrations of the door keeper, Ludmilla, and the cozy entryway filled with books and plants. The right image shows little illustrations how residents adapted pubic spaces for their daily use.

We exhibited our work at the International Architecture Biennale, Rotterdam (2009). The exhibition abstracted the feeling of the entry way, and newspapers containing our research findings could be read on the chairs or taken home to be read later.

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Identity development

Finally, brand identity development is one of the starting points for visual design. The two examples below show different representations of identity. The Dutch Proof logo is clean and playful, the ME LIKE YOU CD booklet attempts to convey a cinematographic rawness combining band photography with the zombie theme.

Dutch Proof logo

The Dutch Proof logo shows the iconic architectural skyline of Rotterdam (Erasmus bridge and the Nationale Nederland, Euromast, cube houses, and Unilever buildings). The Netherlands is infamous as a rainy country, and a rainbow-turned-umbrella stretches across the top of the image turning rain into fun.


ME LIKE YOU booklet art

I developed the booklet art for my band, ME LIKE YOU’s, Zombies EP. All our songs in that period could be loosely linked to the theme zombies, and we did several guerilla shows throughout the city, including one during Rotterdam’s Halloween zombie walk.

The design juxtaposes live concert photos with zombie and death imagery. Each of the pages is tied together hours from dusk to daybreak.

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These examples show the strategic aspect of my visual design process and the underlying goals driving different forms of design communication.