In this course, I practiced developing and communicating ideas clearly, concisely and effectively through the multimedia perspective using text, graphics, audio and video with Adobe Creative Suite. My focus was on the inherent tension found between the individual parent and the community when it comes to child rearing.
Kids don’t come with manuals. Or at least they didn’t. But once Dr. Spock cornered the market dispensing child-rearing advice, the market ballooned with tools, advice columns and guides for parents. Businesses create scads of must-have items in a dizzying array of options. Local, state and national governments create laws and benchmarks in an attempt to produce the best possible outcomes for child development and learning — often starting before pregnancy! Well-intentioned family members, friends and neighbors chime in with their advice, solicited or not. All too frequently, these laws, products and personal opinions do little more than further confuse the issue, conflict with one another, and increase a parent’s anxiety level. And worse yet, parents are not at the table in any meaningful way to help guide the national conversation, the local regulations, or the development of the must-have goods.
What would it look like to learn from parents? To ask them what would support them in their important work of nurturing and raising children? What could we learn as a society if we took the time to listen instead of lecture or offer unsolicited advice?
The Vision of Autonomous Parenting
The external complexity surrounding parenting, and the resolution of inner and outer forces are important stories in the parenting journey. We live in a society that values self-sufficiency and autonomy. On the other hand, we live in a society that rarely passes up a chance to share an opinion, or make a buck. We are drowning in theories, tools, and opinions on how to best raise a child. How do parents navigate the changing tides? How do they trust their inner being when the outer world says not to? I want to both honor a parent’s autonomy and respect the communities that support parents in this critical work.
In considering the Adobe Photoshop collage project, I spent considerable time choosing components that would take into account the gestalt theory and unity we studied. The flow of the pictures and words creates a continuous sense of movement from left to right-hand top corner. The proximity of the pictures helps the brain see the collage as a whole. Repetitious use of elliptical shapes, ocean themed pictures, and similar color schemes leave a visual sense of belonging together. The text is a bold black, uses the same font, with slightly different emphasis on one set of words in font size, making the point that the collage is about the journey of parenting. The collage doesn’t really address a sense of closure, however, parenting is never a done deal, so that makes sense.
Catching the Busy Parent’s Eye
A February 28, 2014 article in the Guardian admonishes communications’ practitioners to keep in mind that “instant access to a wealth of information from numerous sources” has led to a “loss of patience and a lack of deep thinking.”
In today’s fragmented, fast-paced, overly busy world people in general are moving too fast to want to wade through a great deal of fluff, so messages (text, visual, auditory) need to be on target and captivating. A helpful article by Victor Yocco (July 2014) simplified the application of the elaboration likelihood model to design, reminding me that motivation (relevance of topic to the individual) and ability (mental capacity to process message) are two critical considerations.
Given that parents are both motivated and generally overwhelmed and stressed, how could I capture that all-too-fleeting attention span?
Michael Tuck, in his article Gestalt Principles Applied in Design said, “Gestalt principles aren’t artificial constructs that people have concocted to apply to design; they are attempts to describe and verbalize how we naturally perceive things.” I needed to design a logo that presented a sense of completion, unity, and connectedness. Something that brought a lift to the spirits, that offered a boost of confidence. The tagline “wisdom worth sharing” hopefully arouses a sense of curiosity in the viewer, and keeps the brain engaged. What’s the a-ha for? Whose wisdom? What wisdom? Adobe Illustrator challenged my patience in achieving the desired product, but perseverance won the day, and the logo slowly came to life.
What Does This Sound Like In My Head?
Adobe Audition was the platform for our next project, and this was truly the easiest of all four projects for me. When I opened the software the first time, I could have cried in relief — it was just like being behind a sound board of which I had spent plenty of time in the late 1980s/early 1990s learning to operate. That boost of confidence freed me to explore the overwhelming noise of the community. I wanted to open the story building tension and capturing the anxiety created by competing voices and philosophies.
To achieve this effect, I overlapped and layered the Laura, Joyce and narrator voices, and broke the percussion track into three overlapping sections. The tension resolves with “Stop!” and then the thumb harp starts growing in volume as the narrator introduces the story. At various spots, I faded in the thumb harp as a softening addition to the background, to add some flavor to the story. I also used brief percussion effects to punctuate a thought. I went back and forth several times between different track segments, arranging and then rearranging them to achieve the best possible transition and flow.
And voila! Exactly! Parents know! They’re the ones living the reality day-in and day-out. They have lived-wisdom to share. They know what they need and want. They know where they are strong and where they can grow. They know what questions or concerns are most crucial to them in the moment. Now, how to get society to listen to them? Because, really . . . when you consider the day-to-day barrage parents experience, you need to offer some optimism and hope.
The final project used Adobe Premiere Pro to create a video story building off of the audio story. I wanted a story that both captured the tension and also showed the growing wisdom, experience and strength of parents. The community is critical, but the parent and child are central to that equation. Hopefully, this video captures both the overwhelming nature of today’s society on parents, as well as highlights a new family finding their way with courage and optimism.
Please click here to review this work.