Project 6 – Stationary and Business Cards

  • Description: I created stationary and business cards using Illustrator, for myself as an event pianist. The project was intended to practice simplicity and unity in the theme of pieces for a company. Also practiced were good file management techniques between Illustrator and InDesign.
  • Process (Programs, Tools, Skills): I created the all the “keyboard” type objects in Illustrator, using the pen tool for the main logo’s dividing lines and the pencil tool for the keyboard at the foot of the stationary’s wavy line. I used the pathfinder tool to divide them and color the separate objects differently.
  • Message: I wanted to convey a certain power and diversity to the music I can play, especially since this is meant for any type of event.
  • Audience: The intended audience are those who are in need of music for their event. I wanted to show professionalism in the design, since few people want an amateur to play for their event, but I also wanted to express an ability for fun, to show that my music is enjoyable.
  • Top Thing Learned: The usefulness of the pathfinder tools mixed with the pen and pencil tools for diversifying my designs.
  • Color scheme and color names: The color scheme is complimentary, between orange and blue. In a humorous error, I actually put in purple and yellow at first by accident. The scheme was still complimentary, but my inability to see red caused me to put entirely different colors in.
  • Title Font Name & Category: This font has been edited from the original, but is a sans-serif font.
  • Copy Font Name & Category: Adelle, an oldstyle serif font.

Stationary

P6StuartMayo

 

Business Card

P6Business Cards Stuart Mayo

Media Observations – Where do we put our ads?

Answer: Not on Hulu.

Another answer: Youtube. But only sometimes.

Yet another one still: At the point where your consumer is going to want the product anyway.

Why? Because you can push an ad at a consumer, but you can’t make him pay attention. If you pull the consumer to the ad by making it noteworthy and entertaining, then you get the consumer to take it in willingly. So put it somewhere publicly available, and make it really good, and share it through real people who think it’s hilarious/entertaining/inspiring/emotional.

Broadcast advertising is good for getting you to think about a product, but if the ad is too invasive or annoying, or simply doesn’t relate to the audience, then your reaction will likely be negative. Hulu is a great example of this. They pretend to customize your ad experience, and then repeat the same non-relevant ad to you over and over again, for however many commercial breaks there are in the program. If you say the ad wasn’t relevant to you, then they give you another option for an equally non-relevant ad.

This kind of thing can actually have a negative effect on sales. If you start to hate the ads, you’re going to start hating the company that is expertly portrayed in them.

That’s why the industry is starting to try to incorporate pull advertising more than ever. Phenomenally well-produced pieces of video that coincidentally advertise the product you want to sell are often more effective for getting a positive image onto your brand than an entire ad campaign broadcasted to people who don’t care.

The trick is getting ads to you right when you would otherwise be interested in what they’re selling. Is it lunchtime and you’re out of the house? How about a push notification to your phone, based on the restaurants you’ve checked into recently, showing you where you can get the food your phone already knows you like? Are you looking for a job? Why not receive notifications as your phone passes by businesses that are hiring? Is that billboard interesting to you? Why not give it a WiFi transmitter to send your phone more information? With some GPS and map manipulation, these things could become reality very quickly, and in some cases already are.

Does this seem practical to you? How soon do you think the ad industry could make this happen, and who would they have to team up with?

Media Observations – Youtube, the Great Distributor

“Those cats are hilarious. They deserve their own site.”

And so Youtube was created.

Youtube is possibly the most flexible, powerful internet tool for sharing media that exists today. There are few other places on the web where you can find a bigger variety of video and audio media content.

There’s no limit to the site, other than their rules for content and certain copyright restrictions. Anyone can make a free account, and post as much content as they want.

While the logistics of Youtube’s bandwidth issues and buffering speeds are worth another post altogether, the site remains a leader in the online community.

The reasons for this are pretty clear. If you want to distribute your content for free, in a format that’s compatible with almost everything online, then Youtube is your best friend. Because of this, some people with low production costs for their content make quite a bit of money through Youtube, not necessarily from the views on their videos (though Youtube’s ads can generate some income from that), but from popularity and sales of their other merchandise that people appreciate due to their Youtube fame.

Then again, if money is not your goal, Youtube is still free. It is commonly used for scholastic and casual purposes, providing instructional and tutorial videos (and the ones of your friend doing his awkward dance at the party) for anyone who wants them.

What do you like most about Youtube? Cat videos or not, leave it in the comments.

Media Observations – Streaming Audio

Does anyone remember buying records? Man, you people are old. My parents listened to music on cassette tapes in the car when I was growing up. I barely even remember ever buying CDs. 

This is because, right around when I got around to being a consumer myself, with some money to spend, iTunes was becoming the biggest thing around. But now even iTunes and its competitors are having a hard time. 

That’s partly due to the lack of importance the current generation gives to actually owning a copy of their music. With wi-fi or 4G coverage accessible in most major parts of the U.S. and internet connections readily available in nearly every home, there’s a new method of listening to music that’s become the norm: streaming audio. 

Why buy it when you can listen to it for free? Sites like Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud all offer free streaming music and other audio, that simply load as you listen to them online from the sites. You can download them for a price (or subscription fee), but why bother when even your phone can stream the music from most urban locations anyway? 

How do they do it? Well, using Spotify as an example, they pay the artists a negligible sum to get the rights to stream their music to the general public, and they advertise to cover their costs. As we speak (which is to say, as I typed what you’re now reading), I’m listening to my favorite music on Soundcloud, and I’m not paying a cent. 

Why would musicians just accept this? It’s free publicity. They may not make a lot of money off of the music you get from Pandora, but it gets them the publicity they need to make money in other ways, like concerts, tours, and music videos. It also helps new artists become recognized faster than they ever could if they have difficulties getting a recording label, letting the internet decide if they’re worth any attention. 

How do you take your audio? Streamed or sold for 99 cents? 

 

Media Observations – Gatekeepers

One of my teachers has an interesting term he uses. In our Mass Media and Society class, he frequently mentions the “gatekeepers” of the mass media. I found this concept fascinating, especially because of what it has come to mean.

The idea of having a media “gatekeeper” implies that someone is in charge of what comes through the pipeline to us. This could be a head editor at a newspaper. It could be the agency manager for an ad agency. It could be the network director at a major television network.

Whoever it is, in the age of broadcast media, it was evident that someone was pulling the strings behind the media that the general public saw. The thing is, that situation of absolute control is changing, meaning that more and more content gets through to us.

It’s more an issue of numbers than anything. Now more than ever before there are increasing numbers of sources for people to release their media content through. If one gatekeeper says no, someone else might say yes. This changes the playing field dramatically for the gatekeepers, who tend to make a profit off the things they let through their company’s gates. If one won’t run a specific variety of content, their competitors might run it instead, and thereby get viewership that the first company won’t.

This means that, more and more, the content we’re allowed to see is entirely up to us. We are becoming our own personal gatekeepers for the media content we take in. Most of the time, it’s all out there within our reach from one source or another, so all we have to do is choose what we really want.

Do you feel intimidated or liberated by being your own personal media gatekeeper?

Media Observations – Books

Books are the best. They are both the containers and the objects of much prose and poetry. They’re described as both portals to another world and storage for the world’s greatest ideas. We’re told that they edify us in ways other entertainment can’t.

It’s interesting then, that books are one of the most primitive media available.

We’re going to need a history lesson: in 1450 Johannes Gutenberg is credited with the invention of the printing press. You might think books would just have exploded in volume right away, but the truth is the opposite; they grew in popularity only somewhat slowly. Think about it. The average citizen couldn’t read or write. The price of books, while much lower than before, was still too high for many commoners. It’s not as if there was a line outside the local bookstore or library, clamoring for the latest titles. The infrastructure for books simply did not exist yet.

And so it is that for about 400 years, the printing press stayed pretty much the same.

Now, the methods of printing are considerably more advanced, especially in the advent of digital technology to plan, format, and edit printing projects, then send them to the fully-mechanized printers that can print around 18,000 sheets of paper an hour.

Just the same, though, books remain the slowest, most expensive, and most time-consuming medium out of any mass media. There’s no real mystery as to why.

Creating a book, even just producing the content, can take months or years. Editing it can take months. Gaining the attention and approval of a publishing company can take months, barring any pre-existing connections. Physically printing the book can take weeks.

Now realize that this is all for a very low exchange rate. An average book doesn’t sell above 1,000 copies.

It makes sense, then, that book reading is not on the rise. It’s in decline in the United States, more than in most countries. We have more options than some other countries for media intake. We have more money to spend on those other options. We have less attention to give to books, which require complete focus. We read online, or on kindle.

What do you think? Do we still need blocks of processed wood and ink bound in leather? While I wouldn’t mind having many of them, are they just an unnecessary part of the electronic age, or does the romanticism we attach to them give them sufficient value to keep around? How much longer are we really going to use pulp for our fiction?

Media Observations – Push and Pull Advertising

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink– Unless the horse is already thirsty anyway, and then he’ll probably mosey on over to the ambiguous water source all on his own, and you won’t have to do a thing.

This is the basic idea behind the concepts of push advertising and pull advertising.

Let’s start off with the bad guy: push advertising is the kind of advertising you hate. It’s the stuff that, by the network’s financial necessity, interrupts your television show, or precedes your Youtube video, or fills up 60% of your magazine. Push advertising is the stuff you don’t go looking for, but that instead is forced into your attention or consciousness because it’s interspersed among the media source that you’re taking in. It’s the frequent ads between songs on Spotify or Pandora, or the jingles on the radio. Generally, push advertising is a part of broadcast media, with the goal in mind being to get it in front of as many people as possible as frequently as possible. This shotgun method to advertising has been the norm for decades, essentially ever since the television was invented.

Enter the good guy: pull advertising is the stuff that goes viral. It’s things like the Ok Go music videos, or the Virgin America Safety PSA, or the corporately-endorsed publicity stunts that get twenty-million views on Youtube. These are the kinds of commercials that you would happily watch, because to see them, you actually have to go looking for them. They get spread around by word of mouth and internet posting. They get shared at (admittedly slow) parties, or become viral memes. They’re usually internet-based, and they’re transforming the advertising industry.

If pull advertising becomes a norm, it will blow push (or broadcast) advertising away completely. Spastically shotgunning an ad to everyone so many times that they start to hate it cannot compare to creating a work of art or well-produced piece of entertainment that is now attached to your brand. Advertising could become less a business of slipping your ad in as many times as you can, and more a business of designing the best project to expose your company brand to the world.

What advertising have you been pulled to recently? Have you willingly watched anything that was meant to be an ad?

Project 4 – Montage – I Teach Piano

Stuart_Mayo-P4_Montage-Piano_Lessons

  • Description: The project in question is a montage, in which the assignment was to learn to use Photoshop masks, color levels, and some more advanced tools within the program. My final draft is an advertisement for piano lessons.
  • Process (Programs, Tools, Skills): I Google searched for some specific images, looking for some inspiration before planning out the project. I had a vague idea that I wanted to make a musically-based project that reflected how musicians have to use the whole brain in creating their art.
    After finding the background image (the girl on the piano staircase), I started to free-draw and sketch out an idea of what I wanted for the layout. The final draft is very close to what I sketched.
    All the images used had filters and colorization applied to them to achieve the desired color scheme. The text also had a stroke effect applied to aid in legibility.
    The masking tool was used to achieve the blending of the 3 images, making the staircase come down to the front, rather than hiding behind the images to the sides.
  • Message: The intended message is that learning to create music is a rich, gratifying ascent, in which we develop and apply both creativity and logic.
  • Audience: The intended audience is not experienced pianists. They might find the design a little idealistic. The intended audience is one of the many, many young college students I meet who say they wish they could start to learn piano, having never learned before. They don’t have any idea of what they’re getting into, really, and the poster hopefully could encourage them to start, getting a basic idea of what is entailed. The color scheme is meant to excite and encourage, hopefully motivating some students to give piano a try.
  • Top Thing Learned: The importance of making sure the resolution on any original image is sufficient for the size of the final project; stretching photos very rarely can work, if ever.
  • Filter / Colorization used and where it was applied: I used the Photoshop Oil Painting smart filter on the image of the girl on the piano staircase and the green, plant-overrun piano fountain, which helped them blend together. I altered the color balance on the sheet music texture to make it orange instead of brown, on the girl on the staircase to make it purple instead of boring, and on the piano image to make it a deeper green. The text color is taken from the sheet music with the stroke taken from the sidewalk below, using the eyedropper.
  • Color scheme and color names: The color scheme is big-split complimentary, using green, red, orange, and purple. (The red is in the girl’s dress, and the bars on the top and bottom of the image.
  • Title Font Name & Category: “Piano Lessons” is written in Lush font, a script font found in Adobe Typekit.
  • Copy Font Name & Category: The copy is written in Nyala font, an Oldstyle Serif font found in Adobe Typekit.
  • Thumbnails of Images used:
    Right-Brain Piano 3 Left Brain Sheet Music 2 Right-Brain Piano
  • Sources (Links to images on original websites / with title of site):
    Piano Staircase
    Piano Fountain

Media Observations – Project 1, Don’t Watch TV, and Become Successful

In this project, I hope to explain the social, mental, and personal effects that take place when an individual stops taking in televised media in a society that occupies much or most of its free time doing exactly the opposite. The consequences were interesting, and the observations I was able to make have led me to form a specific media theory of my own, based in part on the media selection theory, though it extends more to the internal processes we undergo when we are simultaneously presented with more than one media source.

The nature of this experiment was simple: Stop watching televised media (and movies) for two weeks, record what happens through a video diary, and then use the observations and information gained to synthesize some insightful conclusions.

Putting this into practice was actually quite a bit harder than expected. The situation in my apartment is such that there is always someone home who is watching the television, and in my room, there’s usually an anime playing on my roommate’s computer screen. I decided that would give the experiment some flavor and would make it a challenge, so I began anyway.

The observations I made can be grouped into three categories. These are, first, the social impacts of televised media or its absence, second, addiction to and freedom from televised media, and third, the near-omnipresence of televised media.

I would first like to cover the social impacts of televised media, especially considering the way it extensively influences our daily behaviors.

When trying to avoid television consumption, I found very early on that it was helpful to me to just stay out of the house. There was no place in my apartment that I could be entirely out of range of television programming, unless I wanted to impose fairly grievously upon my roommates. This led to me getting out of the house and finding activities around the BYU-Idaho campus that occupied my time. I did most of my homework in the various places the campus provides for that purpose. Unfortunately, I also nearly stopped talking with the people I lived with, since they were always watching television and I was not.

The next observation is related. To compensate for the inability to take in the same entertainment medium as my roommates, I started taking every opportunity I could to talk to them personally, face to face, about their day or their homework or their girlfriend or their family, or any other personally defining aspect of their life they could currently be experiencing. I was able to get to know the people who surround me much better than I otherwise would have if we were simply watching the same TV show at the same time.

Often, we use the television to intentionally soften or dull a social setting. When we want to avoid sharp social interaction, such as real human conversation about things that matter to us, it is not uncommon for us to turn on the TV and talk idly about a show with whoever is present. I personally found a relief from this to be refreshing. At first my roommates were taken slightly off-guard by conversing on pieces of their life, but they adapted to it, and sometimes the TV would just stay off while we talked.

An unexpected observation I was able to make was that not consuming televised media did not ostracize me in any way from any group of people. Certainly, there were some jokes made about my experiment, but at no point did I feel like I was no longer part of a group with the others present in my apartment. This may have been unique to my case. In some settings, it is true that taking in the same forms of media as others do is necessary to really gain a sense of belonging in a group, and to receive acceptance from the group itself.

In my case, however, the avoidance of televised media in a dwelling in which all present are constantly consuming it actually forced me out of my comfort zone, and helped me form a closer relationship with many other groups of people, because while I would otherwise have been at home watching TV, I was out ballroom dancing in the Hinckley Building, or drinking Máte with hispanic students, or playing a board game with my home-evening group, or having a deeper-than-usual conversation with my girlfriend.

The act of dating becomes much more effective, and also imaginative, when movies are out of the question for date ideas. Without the ability to watch movies, dating starts to introduce the concept of actually going out when I and my date are “going out.” In just a week we went latin dancing, found three restaurants we like in town, and, admittedly, played a lot of air hockey and ping-pong. Little of this would have happened if we had even had the option of watching a movie. The advantages mentioned previously, specifically of getting to know the people around you, apply here as well. Sometimes a good date can be as simple as playing a game, and then sitting on the couch and talking about each other’s lives (past, present, and future). Constant TV or the plot of a movie don’t allow for that level of human interaction.

Social observations would indicate, then, that choosing other options over the entertainment values of the televised media grants to an individual consumer a certain increased level of freedom.

It would make sense, then, that I next cover the topic of addiction to and freedom from the televised media.

There are many reasons for which a media consumer will choose to watch TV. Some choose it to be informed through the news, or to learn about the world around them through documentaries. Some watch it out of habit; it’s been around their whole lives. Others choose to watch it to feel something, be it happiness, humor, joy, fear, sadness, or grief. This can be used appropriately, but problems begins to arise when we use this capacity for televised entertainment media to fill emotional needs in our lives. The entertainment can’t fill the emotional need; it can only dull the senses to it for a while.

This is how addiction to anything starts. We use any substance or form of distraction or entertainment to fill an emotional absence in our lives. We equate this to being easier than actually finding a working solution to our problems.

With televised media, it is no different. Eventually, we reach a point in which it is physically difficult to look away from the television, because it’s what fills our niche emotional need. I would hazard a guess that most people, be they adults, teenagers, or children, are addicted to their favorite television programs, and their list of favorites may be alarmingly long.

One observation I made was that after a short time (a few days) of abstaining from television, I began to feel like I was hitting a mental wall. The TV in the living room seemed like a magnet for my eyes. Every time I walked out to get food or on my way out the door, whatever was on the TV felt like the most interesting thing in the room.

I took some countermeasures to deal with this, mostly by leaving the apartment and putting myself in places where the TV was less accessible. Soon after (within a couple more days) the mental wall began to break down, and even the desire to watch anything televised started to evaporate.

A short time after, I began to notice the mental freedom I was enjoying by not needing to know what was happening on the television screen. I could focus on my work more readily, and found that I had more mental room to ponder and think.

This lucidity achieved by eliminating a great distraction of TV let to another observation: we don’t notice our addiction to TV because it is almost everywhere and our connection to it is fluid and convenient.

Therefore, I will cover next what I observed concerning the near-omnipresence of the television.

There are few public places where the television can really fully be escaped from. In the Manwaring Center and in many main buildings on campus, there a screens set up to broadcast certain school-related messages; there are students watching TV shows or other programming on their laptops or other devices; and in private residences, there is a relatively high chance that, unless the occasion specifically does not call for it, the TV will be on.

Two nights, by necessity, I found myself stuck at home with no convenient way to avoid being where the televised media was being transmitted. I decided to make an experiment of the situation, and brought in two other mediums for my attention: music and the Internet.

I wanted to see if I could plausibly completely “drown out,” or make ineffective, the television as a medium simply by introducing two other media for my consumption. I discovered that this was not possible, at least not completely. The TV could be drowned out partially, and partially ignored, but some messages would always make it through, no matter how much I focused on the other two media.

This, along with my other experiences, has led me to the formation of a media theory. The Inevitable/Selective Media Processing Theory can be briefly described in four pieces:

  1. If the consumer is within range of the medium, the medium is being digested, no matter the interest level of the consumer.

  2. The medium can be digested to different degrees, depending on the interest level of the consumer.

  3. A consumer can digest more than one medium at a time, with the priorities determined by the Media Selection Theory (whatever is most important and worth the effort to us will probably take priority, though actual importance seems to play a lesser role to effort required)

  4. The consumer actively or passively chooses which medium takes the mental foreground. (In my case, I could choose to put music in the foreground by raising the volume in my headphones, or I could put the Internet in the foreground by angling myself away from the TV screen)

This kind of theory is the reason that LDS missionaries ask if the TV can be turned off before a lesson, and is the reason that some teachers often prohibit cell-phone use in their classes. These people want the groups they are communicating with to give them their full attention, rather than one piece of it, possibly getting a lower priority and therefore smaller piece than the TV or other entertainment. Their message requires high investment of attention, with a high-return of information, and so it can’t be fully digested by a consumer (such as a student) if the consumer is giving only partial attention to it.

If anything was demonstrated by this experiment, it was the power of the television as a medium of communication. Whether viewed as a social shaper, a potential addiction, or an ever-present media force, the messages we receive through the TV will always take their effect on us, whether we realize it or not.

So what do you think? Does your TV consumption shape you? How?