Archive for the ‘Visual Aesthetics’ Category

A Cover Letter That Says it All.. And More!

19 Feb

Here is a revised version of my cover letter taking in all the suggestions I was given.  Thanks for the input, keep it coming!

Dear Sir or Madam:

If you are looking for a designer who can take your projects from concept to creation with enthusiasm and skill then I am the designer for you.  I am positive that the (position) at (company) is a position at which I would excel.  I have eight years experience in designing and editing everything from photos, to videos and motion graphic projects.  Four of these years were spent earning my Bachelors Degree in Interactive Digital Design from Quinnipiac University where I am continuing my education with a Masters Degree in Interactive Communications.  Design is both a career and a passion for me.  I have professional experience in motion graphics and editing, and am continuously improving my skills in all areas.

I graduated college Magna Cum Laude and developed a strong work ethic by maintaining my GPA, working two jobs, and competing as a Division 1 college athlete.  All of my past coaches have selected me as a captain of my team; relying on me to lead and inspire.  As a result of this team experience I work well with others either as a leader or a member of the team, perform well under pressure, and can handle the pressure and responsibility of a leadership role or projects on my own.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. I know that I will be a great asset to the company and I would love to meet with you to discuss a future within (company).  I have attached my resume and my portfolio site can be viewed at  I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Alicia Chouinard


More Than Just a Pretty Design

13 Feb

“Three Rules of Work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein

Creating a good design concept for a show open takes more than just a snap of the fingers.  The boss comes to you with the title of the show and occasionally a description of what kind of show it is. As a designer you need to just go with it.  For this “how to” we are going to assume the still logo is already created and all we need to design is the environment where the logo will live and the animation that will introduce the logo.

To begin, lay out all of the information you were given and all of the information if you can infer.  For example,the name of the show is “The Baseball Show“.  You can presume that the show is about baseball and thus the open must reference baseball in some way.  What takes the thought is hopefully not what you will be referencing, but how.  You want your reference to be simple rather than in your face.  Go crazy brainstorming baseball elements; the ball, bats, helmets, the field, bases, grass, anything you can think of that can be related to baseball.  Now how can you simplify these elements to create an entire unique environment based solely on baseball?

Break each element down.  What makes it unique to baseball?  The laces of the ball.  The wood of the bat.  The look of the helmet.  The shape of the field.  The fabric of the bases.  The patterns in the grass.  Start sketching things out, searching through images, playing with images on the computer; whatever is easiest for you to visualize the clutter of ideas you are coming up with and weed out what works and what does not.

Create a color palette.  Because we already have a logo this will be a bit simpler for us.  We know it will include red, white, black, silver, and any colors we add to the palette will have to compliment these colors.  One of the baseball elements we came up with was grass, which would most likely add the color green to our palette.  This would be a big mistake because of the HUGE Christmas association that the colors red and green together have.  However just because we want to use the grass element does not necessarily mean we have to use the color green.  This is where you need to play around and create a visual that will allow you to see more possibilities.  Put in the grass elements and adjust the colors.  You will know right away whether this will be a disaster idea or a stroke of genius.  In this case our color palette is already strong so we may want to come up with an environment that reflects these pre-determined colors.  Red grass? Duotone red/black grass?   We seem to be getting somewhere, but then the boss walks up behind you and tells you he wants a cleaner more metallic look to fit the metal logo.

Back to the drawing board.  What elements did we come up with that could be adjusted to have a metal look.  Bats, but then it would no longer reflect professional baseball where they use wood bats.  The bases but those would create a very simple shape that does not necessarily link back to baseball.  But using the shapes of the elements is a good idea.  This way you can insinuate baseball without putting a field in the background.  So what other shapes are unique to baseball?

Stare at the logo for another minute..

Screen shot 2011-02-13 at 9.05.28 PM

..unique to baseball.

Laces!  The sewn laces on a baseball could easily be adjusted to look metallic, would create a unique pattern that could be animated to create a background environment, AND would already be included in our color palette.

Then it is back to sketching and visualizing.  You now have your puzzle pieces that can be used to make a beautiful image, but you need to put all the pieces together for the image to be seen.  You need to look at the shape of your pieces and see how they fit together best to create the image you want to create.  If you are new to designing, and even if you have been in the business forever, the only way  to figure this out is trial and error.  Use the pieces you have, play with them, and eventually you will find something that works.

The final step to creating a successful design concept is to set a deadline.  Whether it is for a job, a class, or just a fun project on your own you need to set a time when it needs to be done.  If you do not do this you will stare at and adjust your pieces over and over again convincing yourself that something is not right.  So set a deadline, make your adjustments, get feedback from others who have not been staring at the same image for hours, and then finish your design.

Baseball Show Open Test 1_0068

It is not an easy process.  You will become frustrated at times, but when this happens walk away.  Then come back to your design and appreciate what you have created.


A Cover Letter That Says it All

06 Feb

This is a sample copy of the generic cover letter I created and tweak for each position that I apply.

Dear Sir or Madam:

If you are looking for a designer who can take your projects from concept to creation with enthusiasm and skill then I am the designer for you.  My name is Alicia Chouinard.  I am a Quinnipiac University graduate with a Bachelors degree in Interactive Digital Design, credits obtained towards a Masters Degree in Interactive Communications, and experience in a variety of design fields.  Design is not only a career for me but also a passion, and although I have a deep love for motion graphics and editing, I am very well rounded and am continuously improving my skills in all areas.

I am a very responsible and committed hard worker as demonstrated through my college career where I graduated Magna Cum Laude while participating in a Division 1 college sport and working two jobs. Every one of my past coaches has selected me as a captain for my team because I always give one hundred and ten percent.  As a result of this team experience I work very well with others, but I can also handle the pressure and responsibility of a leadership role or projects on my own.

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. The (position) at (company) sounds like a creative position that I would both love and excel at. I know that I will be a great asset to the company and I would love to meet with you to discuss a future within (company).  I have attached my resume and my portfolio site can be viewed at  I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Alicia Chouinard


Final Portfolio Site

30 Apr

Site went live yesterday!

I still need to make some adjustments on the coding to accommodate all of the browsers, there are a couple issues in firefox, but the design is solid. Each window should have a consistent design, navigation and logo stays the same its just the right side of the screen and the bottom that shift, so if it looks weird and inconsistent when you’re looking at it it’s probably not supposed to be that way! :) Trying it in another browser may fix the problem. Let me know what everyone thinks! Comments and criticisms are appreciated, this is an important site for me!


Inspirational Site Critique

18 Apr

Picture 1

The site above is one of the sites that I bookmarked as inspiration for my portfolio site.  I really liked the grid structure and the screenshot that was created when you rolled over the links.  Another element that I found interesting from his work page that I am considering adjusting to fit the elements within my site is the color change of the screenshots that are links to work from a duo-tone image to a full color image.  I think it really helps to blend each element together overall, and make them stand out when needed, in order to help create a visual hierarchy.

As much as I was inspired by pieces within this site there are quite a few elements that I do not feel work well design-wise and that I strongly dislike as a user.  Number one on the list of Layout Sins is “Things That Blink Incessantly”, and although the content on the splash page does not ‘blink’ the continuous motion is very distracting and unpleasant. I think visually the creator of this site made a gorgeous and well designed site, but as a user I feel there are still a lot of elements that are missing and annoying to the user.  So after reviewing the pros and cons to the design of the site I will help use what I discovered from this site in creating my own portfolio site.


Lost in the Mix

03 Apr

man-storyWith digital cameras and cell phones that take relatively high resolution pictures in the hands of practically everyone age twelve and up, the beauty and emotion of a good photograph often gets lost in the mix these days.  In Gasping for Life & The Kiss this beauty and emotion is once again brought to light and discussed in detail.  This post highlights two incredibly powerful images as well as the strength of contrast within an image as both images are black and white with strong contrast between. I thought the authors description of each image and the emotions that it evoked were right on.  There is so much pain in the world that often goes unnoticed or gets brushed aside but images such as the “gasping for life” image shown above bring this pain to light and make it incredibly hard to ignore.

Kourtneycover-222x300Real Versus Fake

With the ability to manipulate photos with programs like Photoshop the reality of images is often questioned  and the surreal shows up more than the real. Seeking the Truth discussed this in the post about altered photos with the example of Kourtney Kardashian on the cover of OK. It is commonly known that magazine covers often manipulate their photos, although those are not the exact same photos, it is likely that the cover was still edited as they often are.  It is sad that these are the kinds of images that get all of the attention these days where the images mentioned above, especially the gasping for life image, show the powerful effect that a REAL image can have.


Hey! That’s Not What I Chose!?

01 Apr

ASN2-ACBeing a designer and having a close relationship with color can be very rewarding but plenty frustrating.  I am sure I am not the only one who has had a number of times when I  have gone back and forth for days (or even weeks) between which color scheme I like better on a certain project only to have it projected on the screen in class or printed out and seem to be an entirely different shade, or color altogether, than I had intended.

Jackson Pollock's Original Work

Jackson Pollock's Original Work

In the TV chart to the right that I created for one of my typography projects reflecting the work of Jackson Pollock, shown on the left, I tried to replicate the color from his original painting which seems to be more powerful than a simple grey.  However when printed on my ink-jet printer at home the color seemed just that, a simple grey without a hint of any other color within it.  On the screen the color seems to have a hint of green, which when reading more about the relationship between colors may just be a result of the colors around it.

The reason I chose this piece of work for the project to begin with over his other pieces of artwork was because it stood out strongly among the rest. After reviewing his posters at, each image has a fairly similar design, it is the color combination that makes each unique.  I found this selection of white, black, and a cool, calm green with a hint of grey and blue to be beautiful and calming compared to all of his other work.  Each of the posters has a different feel to it despite having a similar look.  It’s amazing the difference that colors can make!


But How Can That Be?

26 Mar

Sidewalk Art by Julian Beever

Simple Yet Effective Chalk Drawings

Simple Yet Effective Chalk Drawings

For years I have seen examples of images that trick your perception into believing they are things that they are not, a seemingly 3D composition on an obviously not 3D medium, or a single image that somehow becomes multiple images right before your eyes.  Is it magic?  Not quite.  It is simply an artist with a detailed understanding of human perception.  The strangest part about these pieces of art work is that no matter how many years I see them or how much I understand about how they are created it still boggles my mind and my eyes every time I look at one.

Take the images in this post for example, although I know that they are created on a flat surface it is hard to allow myself to see them as a flat image rather than a 3D creation.  Artists who create art that fiddles with our perception build off of what we already know and expect from something and suddenly make something seemingly impossible, possible.  For example, The “Ames Room” experiment.  Because of the angle from which the room is viewed it seems as if all of the angles are right angles making the room square and making it seem like the people inside the room magically grow.  When you look at the room from a different angle as seen in the video below you understand that nothing is the way it seems yet somehow when you watch the video from that particular angle again it is still extremely difficult to see anything other than the two individuals growing or shrinking depending on where they are in the room.

Gestalt’s Theory goes into detain about the many reasons that your perception is influenced this way including figure ground, proximity, similarity, closure, and continuity.  All of these groups are based, as previously mentioned, on what we already know and understand to be true which then effects how we perceive what we are seeing.  This is a very interesting area of art and psychology that has so many different and interesting angles to it.  Hopefully in this case the angles are what they seem!


Web Aesthetics

19 Mar

As a user browsing the web, the impact that the aesthetics has upon the look and feel of the site often goes unnoticed but most likely has an impact.  Even the most simple sites that have distributing information as the primary function still have an underlying aesthetic whether the creator intends to or not.  Certain colors evoke certain emotions and feeling, as well as certain textures and images.  With a simple color choice or layout design the creator can influence the target audience and the experience that the user has within the site.




I am currently in the process of creating a portfolio site for my motion graphics work.  The original site I sketched had a very rigid grid and a clean feel that was easy to navigate, but not very personal.  The second composition I made was much more rough and with a more casual feel and more earthy colors of greens and tans.  I preferred this site to the original composition however I still felt it was missing something and did not quite fit the look and feel that I was hoping for.  The final composition that I have chosen to build of f of and begin to create started with the more earthy colors from the second site but went with a more grid like structure like what I had in the first site.  This created what I thought was a more casual and comfortable feel that fit my personality while still making the site easy to navigate and clean for the user.

The other obstacle that I hit while building the site was the use of Flash versus Dreamweaver.  As a motion graphic artist it seemed more logical to create a Flash based site; however my personal experience with Flash sites have been incredibly frustrating with load times and improper plug-ins.  I did not want the visitors to my site to experience the same frustrations that I had previously experienced so I decided to create my site in Dreamweaver and possibly open with multiple options for users with different internet speeds in order to remove and difficulty and frustration that my site may cause.