You are on page 1of 22

Abigail Maxim

Final Reflection Paper

MAWRM Defense
April 5, 2018

Presented to Dr. David Blakesley, Dr. Tharon Howard, and Dr. Sean Williams
Abigail Maxim
April 5, 2018
Final Reflection
MAWRM Defense
Building Unbuilt Clemson
From August 2017 until March 2018, I was involved in one of the most

challenging but rewarding things I have ever done. Unbuilt Clemson was intended to

justify my exit from this program as an expert in Writing, Rhetoric, and Media. I believe

it did that, but also did much more. During the seven months that I was involved with this

project, I met with my clients, Dennis Taylor and Kathy Edwards, weekly, receiving

feedback and sometimes just talking about their own process in creating Unbuilt

Clemson. I also produced numerous iterations of the design, beginning with one that I

talk about below in September 2017 and ending with the one that I will turn in as a part

of my Portfolio Defense. It has been rewarding, frustrating, exciting, and confusing. It

has challenged me in all the way that I would expect a project should in order to conclude

one’s Master’s degree, but also in some ways that were unexpected. In short, it has been

worth every second.

When I originally approached John Morgernstern of the Clemson University Press

with the desire to use CUP as my client project, I thought I would be working on projects

similar to what I had done in the past. Previously, I had worked on books and journals

such as the South Carolina Review and a poetry book called Scranton Lace. Each of these

projects were challenging in their own right, but perhaps were not as design-intensive as

a final project should be for a student with a cognate area in digital publishing. With that

in mind, John pointed me towards an unfinished future project called Unbuilt Clemson.

With this project, my job would be to create a design, create the book upon that template,

and then create the cover. I was warned, though, that my clients might not have the

manuscript finished in time for me to complete the book in full. There was an air of

uncertainty surrounding much of the project, beginning with this news.

Nevertheless, I took it on. The following paper details the theory which

influenced me in its creation, the entire design process, and my overall thoughts

regarding the process.

Literature Review
Throughout my time as a student in the Professional Communication/Writing,

Rhetoric, and Media program, I consulted a variety of theories, studies, philosophers,

industry professionals, and experts in the fields of rhetoric, composition, usability, user

experience, publishing, and so many more. While I will only cite a few of the readings I

read that directly influenced this project, know that it would not have been possible

without reading everything over the course of these past two years. Each article I
struggled to understand, each book I nearly threw across the room, and each book that

now lives on my bookshelf contributed to my scholarship in this program.

It should be a given that Aristotle’s Rhetoric provided the basis of my education

at Clemson and the basis of this project—as it does every single time that we use rhetoric.

While I do not necessarily want to get into the specifics, as we all know the definitions of

ethos, pathos, and logos, I would like the point out his definition of rhetoric. Aristotle

defined rhetoric as “the faculty of discovering in any particular case all of the available

means of persuasion.” This, however, I will elaborate on.

How did I use rhetoric, particularly visual rhetoric, as a faculty to persuade an

audience when designing this book? I think that is the overarching question I should

tackle before introducing theory or any other readings—after all, it is this basic question

that influenced all the rest. Perhaps the answer is straightforward as well: I used all that I

have learned about visual rhetoric, design, and the field of publishing to design this book.

Particularly, I enjoyed looking at ways to create a modern, yet scholarly, design fit for an

architectural book on a university. I wanted it to be engaging, yet not so out-of-the-

ordinary scholar’s would turn their noses at the book. It had to be a combination of both.

The content also meant that it had to appeal to two different audiences: scholars, as I

mentioned, but also a more general audience interested in the history of Clemson. The

latter could either be alumni, professors outside the field of architecture, and locals.

One of the main was a designer can make rhetorical decisions is through

typography. The main typefaces I used in my design were Adobe Minion Pro, Helvetica,

and Fester, with Fester being the lesser-known, more unusual choice. I read a variety of
books on typography, but one of the main influences to my work was Jo Mackiewicz’s

“How to use Five letterforms to Gauge a Typeface’s Personality.” It has long been

recognized that typefaces each have a different “personality” and promote distinct

reactions from a reader. Mackiewicz takes this further and applies research to this

thought. Written in 2005, Mackiewicz’s study is one of the first of its kind. She says

about her research, “There remains a need, though, for research that examines the

personality attributes people assign to typefaces, explores people’s reasons for assigning

those attributes to different typefaces, and investigates how different typefaces convey

different personalities” (Mackiewicz 292). While Adobe Minion Pro was not included in

the survey (it is a fairly new typeface), Helvetica was judged to be a more “professional”

font. Another font the participants saw as professional? Times New Roman. Adobe

Minion Pro might not have been tested, but given that other fonts like it were, it can be

assumed that Minion Pro would be considered “professional” as well. For a scholarly

book on architecture, professionalism should be the primary goal. Using Mackiewicz’s

research, I was able to assuredly choose typefaces that would promote the kind of

aesthetic my clients and their readers would expect.

While I have worked with book design prior to this project, I had not yet worked

with an untraditional book like Unbuilt Clemson. Needless to say, architecture books are

generally much more involved than a journal or even a book of poetry (both of which I

have worked on before). Before I met with my clients, I knew the book would have a

multitude of visual elements, and likely not just pictures. Gunther Kress and Theo van

Leeuwen’s “Meaning of Composition” presents the reader with composition theory

regarding visuals, and with their help, I was able to come up with a design that would

better serve the book’s purpose.

On page 183, Kress and Van Leeuwen detail three systems of composition that

dictate the meaning and presentation, being information value, or “the placement of

elements [which] endows them with specific informational values attached to the various

‘zones’ of the image.” This, for example, would be the format of the chapter headers at

the top of the page. Then, there is salience, “the elements…[that] attract the viewer’s

attention to different degrees,” such as forefround/background placement, contrast, and

size (image or font). Lastly, there is framing, which can refer to lines of the lack thereof,

which “disconnects of connects elements of the image, signifying that they belong or do

not belong together in some sense.” The example Kress and Van Leeuwen show is a still

image from a movie, however these three elements are not just applicable to images and

stills. Indeed, they can apply to the multiple pages comprising a book design.

I chose to place the chapter headers on the top of the page, with the chapter title

specifically being on the left-hand side. I could have chosen to put the chapter title on the

bottom of the page, but chose to follow a more traditional format. Kress and Van

Leeuwen say this about the placement of an element at the top of a page versus the


“If, in a visual composition, some of the constituent elements are placed in the

upper part, and other different elements in the lower part of the picture space of
the page, then what has been placed on the top is presented as the Ideal, what as

been placed at the bottom as the Real.” (193)

The top of the page in Unbuilt Clemson is symbolic—the beginning of another chapter

provides the reader with context for what he or she will be reading. It is “ideal,” and the

information and text presented on the lower half of the information real. It gives the

reader more information about the chapter title, makes it real and more tangible.

I could relate Kress and Van Leeuwen to every aspect of the book’s design,

however I feel that would be redundant considering the section titled “Design.” However,

I feel it necessary to point out the influence of Kress and Van Leeuwen’s work on my

own design. While it might seem obvious that titles go at the top of the page (unless

you’re one to play with the rules), Kress and Van Leeuwen give that meaning. They tell

us specifically why we want to put the chapter title at the top of the page, rather than in

the middle or at the bottom, and why it is the only placement that really seems to come



Book Design
Going into the project, I already had an idea at how I might like to design the

book. I knew I wanted something with a more modern aesthetic. At the time, I was not

particularly concerned incorporating a more traditional academic ethos into my design,

which, of course, grew to change. Instead, I wanted to play around with what I could do. I

wanted to see how far I could push the design without taking from its main purpose—to

inform the audience of the unbuilt history of Clemson. Knowing the book was going to

be print in color, I ran

with the opportunity to

show a little design flair.

Looking back, some

aspects of the design

definitely look like I ran

too far. However, I am a

fan of this cover page.

While the “ONE” is hard

to read, it only takes up

one page and has interesting typography at the top. The only pop of color is the rule at the

bottom of the page (which I believe was ruled too distracting). Out of my original

designs, I feel this one is probably one of the strongest. While there were a few other

pages I liked, in the end, the design did not serve the purpose that the book intended.
For example, this page was one where I felt confident in the design. I still do. I

think that in another type

of book, it might fit in

well. But, with a book on

architecture where

pictures need to have

captions and be explained,

it does not fit its purpose.

It is not clear what the

picture is. At close

inspection, one might be

able to tell that it is a map of

the campus, but other than

that, we do not know what

purpose it serves or what its

context is to the text beside it.

The design below this,

on the other hand, is one that I

never felt was strong, at least

in the days after I finished it. It is a somewhat interesting design, at least if I were going

to put it on a poster. For a book, particularly a scholarly book on architecture at a

university, I went to far in trying to play with my design skills. To compare it to

something every young writer has done, it is like when you have just learned about the

“thesaurus” function on Word and find yourself using it every other word. The main

focus of this page should be the images. They are not—the main focus here is the

background. It is distracting and the caption can hardly be seen over all the different

colors. The color scheme also clashes with the colors in the photograph. With a book

printed in full color, it was tempting to put all the color I could into it. In the end, that

takes away from why full color was chosen for this book in the first place—the multitude

of images the book requires and the experience the reader should have.

The final version includes much less color and is much more simplistic. While it

still has a modern flair, it seems more like something one might pick up in a university

library than the “art” section of a bookstore. Given the material, that feels much more

appropriate. When comparing the changes between the first version I showed my clients

to the last, there are a couple things that stick out: the typography is much more

professional and condensed, the color palette has narrowed, and the design as a whole is

more streamlined. Each week, I showed a new design to my clients, and each week they

would give me feedback. As one of my clients was an architect, she always gave detailed

feedback in regards to the design of the book. While some requests were not as feasible

as I would have liked, having another person with an artistic eye look at my material

helped me create a more fitting design.

To go over my final book design, I will analyze each element separately, starting

with color choice. From what I attached of my first design, it was easy to see that there

was not a clear vision for a color scheme. While turquois, lime green, and yellow were all

present in the design, there was no thought that I put into it other than the fact that I

thought it was aesthetically pleasing and presented the audience with a more modern

design. Due to my clients only having one chapter of the book finished at the time of my

defense, I was only able to put together one mock chapter of the design. The intention is

to actually change the color

scheme each chapter. The second

chapter, which is the one I finished

as part of my client project,

features a turquoise as the main

color. I have included another

iteration of the project in order to

show the process I took through

developing the design. While the color and overall design are a bit different here, it is

clear that this design is much closer to the final. This color scheme was taken from an

image I was given, and one that I thought would be used in the book at the time. My

clients changed what image they wanted to introduce the chapters to one that was the

same throughout (the intention was to be able to see the construction of buildings at

Clemson as time passed). In the final version, the layout design from the olive green

version has transferred over. However, this one utilizes less ink and is a bit brighter and,
in my opinion, is more eye-catching. While I am a fan of turquoise, I originally got this

color through another masterplan image than I put at the start of a December version of

the book design. That image

changed, but I kept the color.

As opposed to the original

version, this color scheme is

quite monochrome. While the

colors are intended to change

each chapter, overall the book

has a much less distracting

color scheme compared to the first version. Gone are the blues and yellows and greens

replaced with something much more simple. The color and design is modern, but the lack

of color diversity keeps the scholarly tone of the book design.

I originally changed the title font to Helvetica from Fester when my clients told

me of their fondness for Helvetica. Fester is predominantly featured in the folios and on

the section titles—a more minor role than chapter title. Given that Helvetica is a more

“professional” font, having been around for over fifty years, I thought it would be a good

choice for the chapter introductions. Then, there was also the fact that much of Clemson’s

development happened in the 50’s and 60’s, a time when Helvetica was new and

incredibly popular.

One of the most noticeable changes in design is the inclusion of the masterplan

front and center, taking up a whole page of the chapter introduction. Even the olive
version, created in October 2017, does not have the master plan featured that

prominently. When I created the first design, I did not know that the authors would want

a master plan of the university on the first page of the chapter, thus the first version of the

book design is without one. That said, this was something they soon made clear—each

chapter should have a masterplan to introduce it. Originally, the chapter was to feature a

master plan from the chapter’s time period. Later, my clients decided they wanted to use

one master plan from the 2000s, but alter it to show the evolution of construction on the

campus. Due to the master plan’s increasingly important role in the chapter introduction,

it went from taking up half a page to a full page. The final design also has a black and

white master plan compared to others that were not. This not only makes it less

distracting, but also easier to edit chapter-by-chapter.

Another major change between each of the three versions that I have shown in

this paper is the timeline. When I created the first version back in August, I did not know

where the timeline would be featured in the book. It was proposed that the timeline could

be a pop-out, at the beginning of the book, at the end of the book, or take up its own page

at the beginning of each chapter. Since I did not know exactly how to approach the

timeline on my first go, I left it out. The timeline was one of the last elements to be

included in the design, with me first putting it in the mock pages at the end of October.

The current iteration was actually something I added in February after consulting

numerous times with my clients. The timeline has a bit of modernity but follows the same

color scheme as everything else. A faded, straight line keeps everything in place and

simple pictures of Clemson’s buildings are the primary features.

While most of the design work in Unbuilt Clemson takes place on the front two

pages, there have numerous changes in design between iterations of the text-based pages

as well. Starting from a version created in early October, the top margin of the text pages

followed the band of color

found at the top of the chapter

introduction pages (I have

added a black border to the

photo to show the margins).

This was a feature my clients

requested, and one I was not

sure would make it to the final

version due to the amount of

white space it necessitated. The

final design utilized space in a

much more efficient manner.

The columns reach to the top

of the page so that the space for

text is maximized (it also ends

up being less expensive to

print, and given that the book has so much color, using cost-saving measures in other

areas makes sense). Due to printing restrictions, the columns also had to be made more
narrow. This had the additional effect of making the text a bit easier to read; the wider

columns ended up straining the eye.

With the black outline on the images, it might also be apparent that the spacing of

the images and margins has changed. The first set-up was based on a book the designers

gave me as an example. That book, however, was made by a seasoned designed who

knew enough to know how to break conventional rules. In my case, and in Unbuilt

Clemson’s case, moving the images into the margins onto the very end of the page does

not work as well. In fact, it looks a little unprofessional. Later designs are more

traditional with the images centered on the column and accompanying captions that are

strategically placed. While I have chosen two pages that do not quite match in terms of

color, the comparison between image layout is clear.

Unfortunately, the final mock page design does not have complete captions as the

authors have not gotten to that point yet. However, my design does provide some

examples and guidelines for how captions should look. The captions are simple and

straight-forward. Each picture is labeled with a figure number (for easy identification and

in case it is to be referenced in the text) and a short caption, generally the building name

and construction date. Early versions have the title bolded with a longer caption. The font

remains Helvetica, but I found the bold to be a little distracting for such a small space. As

the focus should be the images, the captions simply need to inform the audience of the

image’s contents, not be content themselves.

Cover Design
Part of my project was also to design Unbuilt Clemson’s cover. When I reconvened

with my clients after winter break in January, they had an image they wanted me to use in

the cover design. It is the image you see spanning the front and back of the cover above.

The image for the cover came from plans for a Center for Visual Arts, proposed in the mid-

2000s and, as fitting the content of Unbuilt Clemson, remains unbuilt. My clients chose

this image for the cover due to the contrast the two different halves of the image, the angular

lines that add visual interest, and the balance between complexity and simplicity the image

holds (while there is quite a bit of white space, the image could not be described as boring).

I agree—it is a great image for the cover. There was even a built-in spot for me to put the

title on the bottom-right corner.

The image did not originally come in greyscale; that was a change I made after an

hour or so of messing with the image and trying to decide on a color scheme, only to realize

that keeping the cover in color would likely make it too busy. Changing the image to

grayscale insured that I could add color to the cover design without it being too distracting
or busy. As it is, there are only two colors that really stand out on this design—the turquoise

which is replicated in the layout design and the bright yellow-green of the title cover.

Due to the extreme contrasts between the blacks and whites of the image, it was

hard to simply add a light or dark title. There had to be something a little more to it to make

it visible. I believe the first thing I tried was the band at the bottom where the authors’

names are now. At the beginning of the Fall semester, my clients gave me around ten

architecture books whose design they admired. There

was one in particular that stood out to me. It was

modern and a little flashy, yet still scholarly. At the

right is Never Built Los Angeles’s cover. It is the one

I got quite a bit of inspiration from during the process

of designing Unbuilt Clemson. I liked what the

designer did with the bright yellow on the cover. That yellow is not one of the main colors

on the image the designer used. Instead, it is a smaller accent color that one can see if

looking more closely. With the background of my own cover being monotone, I liked the

idea of adding a couple flashy colors to really make the cover pop and seem a little modern.

I do not think it is too modern for a scholarly piece of work—the typography I chose was

quite traditional and the cover remains fairly simplistic. The color and cover image do all

the work.

I found the cover to be one of the more easy aspects of Unbuilt Clemson’s design.

At that point, I already knew what sort of design we had for the interior, so it was easier to

convey the same appearance on the outside. I had a couple ideas of what I could use for
the main colors and the majority of my time was spent trying to find the perfect font and

color for the main title. It is also one of the parts of the design that I am most proud about.

I feel the cover looks like what a modern architecture book’s cover should look like if its

content is based around a university.

You might notice that no part of the Unbuilt Clemson design really evokes Clemson

itself. There is no orange, no purple, no tiger paws. That is intentional. This is a book

primarily about architecture. While I am open to changing the colors to more closely fit

that of Clemson’s style guide (they do have a turquoise in there), I wanted the design to

first and foremost fit a book on architecture at a university. I did not want it to scream

“Clemson,” because the first thing I think of when I see Clemson’s orange and purple is

the football team. Orange and purple may directly correlate to Clemson’s ethos, but I was

not sure I wanted the book to encapsulate that same ethos.

On my computer, I have around fifteen different versions of Unbuilt Clemson’s

book design. If I had more time, there would likely be fifteen more. All the changes I

discussed in this section were over a six-month period of time, and thus happened

gradually rather than all at once. I have showcased three different examples of Unbuilt

Clemson’s design, but these do not tell the whole story. They do, though, give an

overview of the process and the steps I went through to create the design. It was a

collaborative process, particularly since I met with my clients every week and they

almost always had a clear vision of what they did not want, even if they were not quite

sure what they did. It was often up to me to find solutions knowing what they did not

want the design to have or look like. One of the biggest things that this project has taught
me is that working with a client is always a collaborative effort—neither side has more

influence than the other. While I might make and propose designs to my clients, they can

do the same to me. My job is simply to create the best work out of what my clients want

and interpret their needs in an innovative and creative way.


Whenever the Rhetorical Situation is applied, constraints are a necessary part of

the process. As one can imagine, a months-long project involving multiple people

certainly had a few constraints. Of course, the constraint of working with multiple people

is something in and of itself—I certainly was not able to make unilateral decisions about

the book design, nor should I have. However, sometimes the process of working with

clients and getting things like the typography, color scheme, and overall look and feel of

the book design does add some difficulty to the project as a whole. That constraint is a

given no matter the project and it is one that, as a collaborator, I should be more used to

than not.

Then, there are added constraints to a project that are not a given and certainly do

make things more difficult. In this case, it was the fact that the manuscript had yet to be

completed. Looking back, the manuscript was only in its early stages at the time I agreed

to take on the project. There are a number of reasons why the lack of a manuscript makes

things difficult: First, it is impossible to know the size of the book. It is hard to calculate

costs, page numbers, and even the amount of work and time that it would take to

complete the book design fully without a complete manuscript. Second, as the chapters
were not yet finalized, parts of the layout could not be decided. For example, the time

periods that Chapter One covered changed from August to January. While my clients

might have wanted a particular photo to introduce the reader to Chapter One in October,

the image they wanted would have likely changed by January. The timeline would also

be apt to change as the chapters and the materials that they covered did. Third, during

much of the time that I was working on Unbuilt Clemson, I did not have exact photos to

match with content. All the material that I made up until around December was just a

template—the actual material still had to be applied later. Given such a dynamic text, that

is not easy. The entire page’s layout depends on the text and which images are needed to

compliment the content. While my clients were incredibly helpful with the design process

and troubleshooting, my project eventually fell behind due to the lack of a manuscript

until early February.

Coming into the project, I was optimistic with a goal of having a finished book to

show my committee. That, of course, did not happen. I was only able to make a template

out of one completed chapter and its endnotes. I would have loved to be there for the

completion of the book and have my full input over the design. Being that I am

graduating in May and my clients may not have the manuscript print-ready for another

year, that is unfortunately not possible. I am happy that I do have a solid template of the

second chapter to use as example. The process of designing this book was not exactly

what I expected when I went into it in August and presented me with a number of

constraints, but nevertheless I feel that it was a success.

Unbuilt Clemson was more than I intended. When I completed my first design, I

thought, “Wow, I might be done with this in September. What am I supposed to do

now?” I was not done with Unbuilt Clemson’s design in September. Nor was I finished

with the design in October. Or November. I spent until the last weeks possible working

on Unbuilt Clemson. The amount of time it took to complete the project to the best of my

ability meant that I ran into some challenges along the way. I did not have a manuscript

to work with for much of the project and finished the design having only seen one chapter

completed. That said, that was not an unforeseen challenge at the time and I could have

prepared better for it. Despite the fact that the project ended up a little differently than I

expected when I started (doesn’t everything?), I am glad I did it. I feel that helping design

Unbuilt Clemson prepared me for a career not only dealing with design, but also for a

career in which I may have to engage with clients and unexpected challenges.
Works Cited

Kennedy, George A. Aristotle on Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse. Oxford

University Press, 1991.

Bitzer, Lloyd. “The Rhetorical Situation.” Philosophy and Rhetoric, vol. 1, no. 1, 1968,

pp. 1–14.

Blair, J. Anthony. “The Possibility and Actuality of Visual Arguments.” Argumentation

& Advocacy, vol. 33, no. 1, 1996, pp. 23–39.

Hendel, Richard. Aspects of Contemporary Book Design. University of Iowa Press, 2013.

Kress, Gunther, and Theo van Leeuwen. Reading Images: The Grammar of Visual

Design. Routledge, 2006.

Mackiewicz, Jo. “How to Use Five Letterforms to Gauge a Typefaces Personality: A

Research-Driven Method.” Journal of Technical Writing and Communication,

vol. 35, no. 3, 2005, pp. 291–315.

Norman, Donald A. Emotional Design Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things. Basic

Books, 2005.