Project 2
Expressive compositions I–II

“Another reason for my interest in the use of black-and-white in design lies in my intense preoccupation with the forms and analysis of signs and symbols.”
— Armin Hoffmann

Enoch Light and the Light Brigade, Provocative Percussion, Josef Albers, 1959
How can you convey meaning to a broad audience through simple forms?

Having been limited to the expressive possibilities of 6 black rectangles in round 1 of this exercise, now use black horizontal and vertical lines of any size or number to create 6 new compositions for 5 of the same previous concepts, with the 6th concept open to your choice:

1. order
2. chaos
3. public
4. private
5. organic
6. one-word concept of your choice

This expanded visual vocabulary hugely extends your aesthetic and conceptual options so be sure to take advantage of this, but keep working as abstractly as you can, avoid the temptation to work figuratively.

Consider what additional characteristics of a particular concept you might want to communicate (rough order, precise order, large order, small order), as well as the tone of your expression (forceful, quiet, humorous, dramatic, objective, whimsical, elegant, idiosyncratic).

As you work aim for visual variation with each successive composition you make such that you begin to explore the breadth of your personal visual vocabular (the examples from the Hoffman handout can serve as initial inspiration).

Compositional tools to consider:
  •  complexity/simplicity
  •  contrast in scale
  •  visual balance
  •  symmetry/asymmetry
  •  figure/ground
  •  repetition & rhythm
  •  depth/flatness
  •  tension/slackness

For reference only: Do not copy any of these

As before, create one composition per word, each on a white bristol board, 8” square. Good craft is important. In pencil on the back of the board, write your name and the concept represented. You will take another set of presentation photographs of the compositions you’ve completed and please place them in the dropbox by Wednesday, September 20 at 2:00pm.

Learning objectives
  • explore traditional tools and materials
  • build awareness of craft and detail
  • communication through simple forms
  • an understanding of rapid ideation
  • build an understanding of form and composition

One Week

Week 2, Sept 11
Week 3, Sept 18
Visting critic
Henry Nuhn, Penguin Random House

Required reading 
“Language of Vision”, Ellen Lupton and Abbott Miller
“Graphic Design Manual [Dot & Line]”, Armin Hofmann
“Ways of Seeing” (excerpt), John Berger
Elements of Form
Principles of Compositions

This project is a translation from Julian Bittiner’s “Introduction to Graphic Design” course at Yale University. Thank you.