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Aleksandr Rodchenko

Print / Branding / Layout

Overview

My classmates and I collaborated on a project to create a book honoring the creative thinkers who helped define, craft and shape the industry of design. Each student picked a famous designer from a curated list created by our professor. We each were responsible for developing three book spreads on our designer that would be included in the book. I chose to study Aleksandr Rodchenko, the famous Russian artist who helped pioneer the Constructivism movement.

Rodchenko was known for constantly pushing his artistic limits. He pressured himself to try out experimental styles and mediums in his work.  He held a strong influence over other artists, designers, photographers and painters at the time. 

For the first part of this project, we individually studied our designated designer. We generated as much research as we could within the given timeframe. The goal was to summarize a timeline of their career by the end of the research period. I spent time researching online and reading books in the library about Rodchenko, learning about his about early life, influences, education, collaborators and more.

Designing Book Spreads

Next, we translated his we dived into the process of developing book spreads to communicate our findings. Each of us designed three spreads. The content is organized in chronological order so readers can easily see how the trends and styles change over time. 

Below are the final designs that I created for the class book. The first page introduces Rodchenko's early life and education. Then it goes on to explain how he changed his interests many times, shifting from being a painter to a photographer and then to a designer. The final page examines how his style and talents influenced modern-day artists like Shepard Fairey and Barbara Kruger.

The designs seek to emulate his strong rebellious and bold personality. I made sure to incorporate his signature color scheme—red, white and black. The section on Rodchenko is easy to spot within the book. It was a risky decision to have white text on black but I wanted these spreads to stand out from the ones my classmates did. 

Translating Print to Digital

As an add-on to this project, we were tasked with creating an interactive website to go along with our spreads. From doing this exercise, we learned about how communication styles differ between mediums. A design that you make for print might not translate well over to web. The website and book spreads we designed had to follow the same sort of patterns and visual style. The video below shows the simple site I made in just a few days. Since we didn't spend much time on this part of the project as a class, the design doesn't look very polished. 

Final Thoughts

From this project, I learned a great deal about layout design. If I had more time to work on this project, I would give myself the opportunity to think about this from a different perspective. What would a version of these spreads look like without the heavy use of white on black text? Now that I'm more experienced in working with grids, I'd try to create a structure that isn't so rigid. At some point in my process, I tried making the images overlap with the text. I thought it'd be interesting to explore a collage-like style since Rodchenko produced so many photomontages. 

If you'd like to learn more about my approach to this project, please take a look on Medium!


Process: Early Iterations

I developed multiple iterations of the same spread before I could settle on the final design. I spent quite a bit of time playing around with the initial page in particular. I wanted the cover page to make a strong first impression. The slideshow below reveals my process of getting to the final cover page design.