As JHU_Ebo mentioned in her blog today, we’re in a class together called “Visual Rhetoric”. It’s a graphic design class for beginners that’s specifically oriented around creating visuals for marketing purposes: logos, flyers, et cetera. There’s just one problem: you’ve gotta keep a sketchbook, make copies of your sketches, and print them out for the entire class to observe and critique. THIS IS A BIG NO-NO FOR A HUMAN PERSON WHO GOT A ‘B’ IN MIDDLE SCHOOL ART. And yet, here I am!

I’ve been wanting to take a graphic design class for quite a while, but I could never gather the courage to sign up for some basic Photoshop class at MICA or pop into the Digital Media Center for a tutorial or two. Why? Because, as I’m sure you can guess from my middle school ‘B’, I have just enough drawing talent to sketch basic shapes in a fairly recognizable manner: squares, triangles, rectangles, even ovalish circles. Beyond this, however, I’d consider myself wholly devoid of the artistic gene that seems to have been bestowed on all of my siblings AND on JHU_Ebo. Still, when some schedule reshuffling left my Tuesday afternoon open AND a spot opened up in VR, it was clearly fate: I was destined to put all my petty pride aside and finally learn about this thing called “graphic design”.

Our first assignment was to make 50 thumbnail-sized sketches of potential logo material related to a catering company, a library, and/or a cell phone company. Despite my initial trepidation at such an undertaking, I did my sketches, brought copies to class, and hung them on the board. Lo and behold, THIS CHEESE GRATER caught my professor’s eye:

IMG_3118She said, and I quote, “I find this cheesegrater sketch charming — it’s a funky kitchen instrument, and the roughness of the lines adds personality to it.” I almost wept with joy.

It’s only the third week, but VR is unlike any other class I’ve ever taken, at Hopkins or even in high school. The pressure is less on the perfection of your form and more on your ability to creatively problem solve in a visual way, which requires me to poke and nudge at a side of my brain I’m not used to using. Given my generally abhorrent drawing style, I don’t exactly casually doodle as I daydream. But somehow, VR enabled me to sketch a “”””‘charming””””” cheesegrater that stood out from the wash of forks, knives, and mini chefs on the class board.

Alas, most of my drawings are NOT cheesegrater grade. They mostly just look something like this:


Yup! That’s a star with a chef’s hat, a spatula, a knife, a cleaver, tongs, and a pan with “heat lines” coming out of it. Clearly a winner!

Admist the crappy drawings and self conscious sketching, I find myself having a weird amount of fun, considering that this is essentially an art class — I still retain some traces of my middle school traumas as I start each assignment, but by the fifth or sixth sketch, I really do get into a groove. THIS WAS MY BOOK GROOVE.


Visual Rhetoric has made the start of my spring semester funky and frightening but ALSO fresh, PLUS it’s the first (and only) class JHU_Ebo and I will ever take together at Hopkins. Something about that feels appropriate. In the meantime, I’ll just be over here, staring at this other book sketch I made that may or may not be the greatest work of art I’ve ever produced. This is what creative problem solving looks like, people!