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We're almost at the end of the road in my PR Pubs class. This course has taught me so much, from the technical parts of using the Adobe Creative Cloud, to filtering my creative energy to design solid, aesthetically pleasing pieces that strategically communicate a message to an audience. The technical aspect has broadened my skills across all platforms, which is great. What is even better is that this course has taught me to develop my eye for design and meander my way through the creative process. 

Before this course, I had taken a graphic design class when I was working on my associate degree at Eastern Oklahoma State College. I was fairly proud of some of my pieces from that class, but I still knew that I could do better. I wasn't quite where I wanted to be in the quality of my designs. The video from "This American Life" that we watched the first week of class before ever starting an assignment put these feelings of mine into words. I was looking forward to getting my designs closer to what I recognized as high quality. 

Another thing I struggled with was the creative process. I knew what the creative process was, but I thought of it all in terms of an end-product. It's not about the destination, but the journey. Though that saying is trite, it is nonetheless true. During that first week, we also watched the commentary from "Inside Out," where the filmmakers discuss the long, arduous process of creating the movie. After trying many ideas and having a few epiphanies, the director and crew were finally able to come up with a film that satisfied them as well as told the story they so wanted to tell. Watching this process made me think of my own creative process. I needed to be more open to playing around with my designs instead of focusing on a path that will get the job done. 

As for the more technical stuff, we learned the keys to design the next week of class. I am referring to the design principles: contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity. I had struggled with these principles in my past graphic design class. Something I perceived as good contrast wasn't good contrast to experienced designers. Something I felt had good repetition but didn't, etc. Seeing these designs in practice realigned my design eye to think about the principles. I knew I could start applying them in my projects. 
Air France Business Card (Front)

Speaking of projects, we jumped right into our first one the fourth week of class. It was the  business card we were to design for a brand of our choosing. I chose Air France. This project taught me about the concept creation part of the creative process. As I remember, we were to filter through ideas on Pinterest to get an idea of what our design should look like. At first, I didn't like using Pinterest, and then, when I got into it, I really loved Pinterest. I started like 20 boards since the business card, most of them about graphic design and branding. After getting through that concept phase and shifting my ideas a little, I produced a business card that reflected Air France's brand. 
Air France Letterhead

In a similar vein, we expanded on the business card idea with the next design project of a letterhead for the same brand. This project progressed easier since we had already done the brand research for our designs. The letterhead just had to be on brand with our business card. This was the point where I felt that my design skills were advancing in the right direction. My concept skills had become stronger, and I worked through the design process thinking about it as a journey instead of an end-product. 

Our third project was by far the hardest for me to complete. It made me realize that maybe agency life is not for me. This project, the direct mailer for the OU Residential Colleges, required a lot of me. I had strong feelings about the Residential Colleges that I needed to get over in order to focus on communicating their message. To help the process, I made marketing personas whom I would be targeting. The design process this time was taxing, to say the least. After getting through
Dunham Hall Direct Mailer (Front)
my own feelings, I feel that I produced a design that accomplished the task of communicating to my target audiences. 

That assignment was tough. Luckily, the next one was so much fun. At the same time, I feel that I grew once again in my design skills. For this assignment, we made social media pieces for a brand on Canva. I had been advising an artist and family friend on his public relations efforts. I decided I wanted to do my pieces for him to use on his social media pages. I was fortunate that one of his paintings was in a show in the Fred Jones Art Center. I went over there one day and photographed his work to possibly use in my designs. In the end, I incorporated the painting into two designs. I made a social media profile picture, an event post and a Facebook cover image. He was very pleased. In addition, several of his art colleagues commented on his posts, asking who designed them. He was not shy in saying that I was responsible. 

Jason Wilson Social Media Profile Picture
Our last assignment before this "Summary of Learning" project was a video, inspired by the StoryCorps project. Everyone in the course was paired up, and we videoed interviews with each other. From that interview, we had to build a coherent story. This project was difficult for me for two reasons. I hated working in Adobe PremirerPro. In my experience, PremierePro is the least user-friendly of the Adobe Creative Cloud, save maybe for After Effects. Next, I wasn't at all confident in my storytelling abilities. What I had failed to realize is that I had been doing it all along. I played through my interview with Sierra Abbot multiple times and condensed that nine-minute-long interview into a two-minute long story. Anytime I didn't know how to use Premiere, I asked my instructor. I looked up videos. I played around with the program until it did what I wanted it to. It was a lesson in being resourceful. I am very satisfied with the resulting story. This project paved the way for the video I did for my Choctaws of OU banquet. 

Our final project, the Summary of Learning piece, is on my mind. I want to do a piece that details what I have learned about the creative journey. The form will be a brochure. As for its contents, I'm still concepting. 

I am very proud of the progress I made this semester. Out of all my pieces, I take the most pride in the Canva social media items. The project I feel I could probably improve would be the direct mailer. Now that I am over my feelings about the project, I can rework it to make it look a little less generic and more branded. 

As a public relations professional, I have grown in my creative abilities in this class. My enhanced understanding of the creative process will transfer to other domains of the field, such as writing, advocating, event planning, etc. I will always look at my audience and the people to whom I wish to reach. All my efforts will be geared toward telling a story with the two-way, mutually beneficial communication between my organization and target publics at the head. 

This course was so much fun. I'm sad that it's almost over because it gave me an outlet for my creative energy. It also inspired me to utilized my sharpened skills in real life situations. This year has been fun. Really fun. 

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