Starting Point

When I applied to Emily Carr, I had to write a Statement of Intent that was 300 words or less. Writing the statement was a challenge. It caused me to focus my thoughts and hopes for grad school and I worked hard to make sure every word counted. It has been the most valuable resource. I constantly refer back to this when I get overwhelmed and confused. Reading the statement helps me filter new ideas through my goals.

Here it is:

“Designer Paula Scher once said, “Be culturally literate, because if you don’t have any understanding of the world you live in and the culture you live in, you’re not going to express anything to anybody else.” My objective in graduate research is to examine sustainability and ways cultural relevancy lead to longevity within design.

I intend to explore how ideas are durable in an ever-changing culture and the need for enduring design given the material impact on the environment. In terms of culture, I will observe not only how corporations communicate to society but also how visual communication intentionally builds our visual surroundings.

I will examine whether longevity and cultural relevancy are competing ideas or if they can work together harmoniously to progress social causes. Michael Beruit observed, “The best thing design can do for a company is to express that company’s personality accurately and compellingly, and in doing so permit that organizations inherent strengths to prevail.” My research will attempt to define those personified characteristics and visually identify expressions that promote sustainability.

This thesis is motivated by my personal experience in branding and interest in two grassroots movements: sustainable agriculture and the uprising of handmade DIY (Do-It Yourself) culture. The core messages of these movements simultaneously engage culture while promoting authentic sustainability in visually compelling ways. My portfolio demonstrates experience in corporate branding and design focused on social causes. In brand building, I strengthened my clients’ voice in order to build connection with their audience. With my current position at Pyramid Communications, their objective is ‘giving voice to good causes.’ Our clients are organizations who make positive impacts in their communities. ’ I anticipate bringing knowledge from this thesis to benefit organizations making social impact to better connect with communities they aid.

I take wisdom from designers and typographers who shaped society to be more visually cognizant. Historically, the cyclical nature of design trends is apparent. What is consistent is how great designers communicate memorable messages while simultaneously advancing culture. In early adolescence my perspective on art and culture was deeply shaped by surrealist philosophies and artist Renee Magritte who said, “A thing which is present can be invisible, hidden by what it shows.” The mystical and unexpected qualities of surrealism influence me to explore deeper levels of conceptual thinking in my design.

At Emily Carr I expect to be challenged in my design theory and execution. The environment should facilitate research, provide access to innovative thinkers and promote engaging discussion on design’s potential impact on society. My academic goals are to learn so I may pass knowledge forward, equip myself to be a leader in my field and become a professor of visual communication. I require an office area with adequate space for a drafting table and computer desk along with wall space for critiquing work in progress and a small shelf for reference material. Upon internship placement, I aspire to participate at a company that upholds my goals in maintaining cultural relevancy that emphasizes sustainable practices."

Thanks to the dozen friends and colleges that helped me edit and revise this when I was applying to school.

JournalKaren Whistler