Workshop 2
The Rotation System

“I guess I’m never sure that print is truly linear, It’s more a simultaneous medium. Designers know a lot about how to control perception, how to present information in some way that helps you find what you need, or what it is they think you need. Information is only useful when it can be understood.”
—Muriel Cooper

Messages and Means, Visual Language Workshop, 1962
How can you let the process and tools guide you to an unexpected solution?

The rotation system was devised to reduce real time spent on the offset press and to maximize the results.

The plate is divided into a grid which generally allows four people to work on the same plate and produce four color ‘image’. That image can be cumluative or the same image rotated on itself.

The professional designer and user is seperate from such communication tools and an entire intermediate lanuage is devised for the user and the printer. Once the commitment to print is made, there is no return without great cost. Mistakes are irretrievable. Options minimal. Creativity is confined to the beginning of the process. Mass production requires this in order to survive.

Experiment and play as a part of professional discipline is difficult at best. This is not only true of an offset press but of all activities were machines are between the concept and the product.

The re-establishment of a complete relationship between process and product and person is perhaps the most valuable aspect of this course and workshop.

—Muriel Cooper, Messages and Means, 1962

We will break up into groups of 4, each designer will have 15 minutes to design a quarter of the poster template attached. You must rotate the image clock-wise everytime a new designer steps in. Your design must relate in some way or form to the original piece designed (the person who designed the first panel). You must work as a team and collaborate on each step along the way even if your not designing that specific section. You can keep this intial design stable through the piece or choose to modify it.

Your poster should revolve (no pun intended) around the theme of “Time”. 

Learning objectives
  • Experiment with the possibilities of editing/altering/remixing/hacking in graphic design
  • Excercise an understanding production methods
  • Develop a distinct visual voice
  • Practice transparency of process and generosity with creative methods
  • Learn how to collaborate with your peers

  1. Black and white
  2. 24in x 24in (Use template and bleeds)
  3. 15 minutes each designer
  4. Work as a team to complete each section
  5. Printed out on zoomer on 1st floor 

You can find the poster template here.

One Week

Week 8, Oct 23
In-class: The Rotation System
Reading: Reading: “The Vignelli Canon”, Massimo Vignelli

Week 9, Oct 30
In class: Bring in your final 24in x 24in poster printed off the zoomer on the 5th floor. We will have a quick in class critique in the beginning of class.

Required reading
“This stands as a sketch for the future,” Dexster Sinister

Critique questions
  • How did you work together as a group?
  • Did what you made get seen? How did you make it seen? What were the reactions?
  • What did it offer? How did it affect relationships, positive will toward each other or other human benefits?
  • What would you change based on the feedback?

This workshop is a translation from Muriel Cooper’s “Visual Language Workshop” at MIT. Thank you.