Monday, August 31, 2009

Design Systems: Possible Industries

1. Transportation: Taxi Cab Company

While most prevalent in the urban communities of large, congested and restless cities such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York City, there is an increasingly high demand for quality, convenient and affordable transportation services here in the vibrant Midwest metropolis of Kansas City. The major competitors in this industry would be the current 14 taxi companies that hold permits issued by the City of Kansas City, MO licensing them to pick up passengers within the city. As a 24 hour service, thousands of customers rely on safe, efficient and inexpensive transportation from one place to another, to and from work, home from the bar, etc. In order to offer the best value and service to every patron, our thriving company will be dependent on cleanliness, quickness and reliability.

2. Place: The Kansas City Zoo

As the Kansas City Zoo celebrates its 100th birthday, many residents of Kansas City have never even been to it. The zoo, however, offers the unique experience of seeing more than 1,000 animals in naturalistic settings; all stretched across 202 acres in Swope Park. It has has been ranked one of the best zoos in the country and offers a fun and educational adventure for families, sight seers and animal lovers alike. The competitors of the Kansas City Zoo include the other zoos within the midwest which are constantly making improvements and additions to their exhibits, animal habitats and guest services. By redesigning the current identity and branding system for the Kansas City Zoo, we will be able to attract more local and visiting guests to come spend the day at our beautiful park.

3. Ideas: Daily Info Text Message Service

As the world connects and communicates via technological devices such as cell phones and computers, keeping up with emails, news sites, gossip blogs, social networking profiles, etc. can become overwhelming. Additionally, millions of people subscribe to services that send out daily text messages containing horoscope information, sport statistics, bible verses, motivational and inspirational quotes, as well as trivial wisdom and humorous wit. Our company will offer an easy to use website for people to specify what they want sent to their phone every day in a quick and simple packaged text message, instead of 5 or 6 different texts. Our competition will include the current most popular websites that offer daily text message services such as,, and

Visual Advocacy: Narrowing Focus

"There seems to be a lacking supply of public information concerning the prevention of contracting HIV. One of my best friends has HIV and I want to find an innovative way to spread knowledge to the gay community about this issue."
I believe that in order to successfully infect knowledge, it needs to be given when people aren't looking for it.
Being a 21 year old male in the Kansas City gay community, I can honestly say that the threat of being infected by HIV is something I heavily overlook. Like most human beings, I have the tendency to feel invincible and convince myself that bad things won't happen to me. The truth is, anyone is at risk of being lied to, taken advantage of and exposed to the HIV virus. I realize teaching an old dog new tricks isn't an easy thing to do, but the gay community will take a more emotional response to things that speak to them directly and to things that give them a reason to think. Perhaps modern technology and tools, with the help of dramatic/powerful imagery, slogans and ideas can help promote the success of a campaign like this. Activism is one thing, awareness is another. I want to figure out how the two can be merged into a powerful movement that will educate Kansas City in a creative and innovative method.

This is a public health issue that affects the entire world, both heterosexuals and homosexuals, but I want to focus on the local gay community that I can directly relate to and speak with. There are many HIV awareness programs and organizations that don't make a loud enough impact on the busy lives of Kansas City residents. There is plenty of information readily available online and at clinics and hospitals for the gay population to access any time they choose to, but that isn't the problem. The issue is, how can this information about prevention and protection be broadcasted and forced into the lives of the unaware. Despite the thousands of fliers, pamphlets, posters, billboards, etc. containing knowledge about HIV, AIDS, prevention, transmission, symptoms and testing information, many of these tools go unused and unnoticed because they are outdated as far as means of effective communication is concerned.

According to Wikipedia, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a condition in humans in which the immune system begins to fail, leading to life-threatening opportunistic infections. Infection with HIV occurs by the transfer of blood, semen, vaginal fluid, pre-ejaculate, or breast milk. The majority of HIV infections are acquired through unprotected sexual relations. Scientists believe that when the virus enters the body, HIV begins to disable the body's immune system by using the body's aggressive immune responses to the virus to infect, replicate and kill immune system cells. Gradual deterioration of immune function and eventual destruction of lymphoid and immunologic organs is central to triggering the immunosuppression that leads to AIDS. There is currently no vaccine or cure for HIV or AIDS, so its seriousness should not be taken lightly. reports that in the United States, over 600,000 reported cases of AIDS have been recorded since 1981 and it is believed that 900,000 Americans may be infected with HIV. Although development time varies from individual to individual, since 1992 scientists have estimated that roughly half of the people living with HIV will develop AIDS within 10 years of becoming infected. The CDC estimates that around 1.1 million adults and adolescents are living with HIV in the USA, including those not yet diagnosed, and including those who have already progressed to AIDS.

According to, there are currently 4,900 males and 790 females (15 cases per 100,000 population) living with HIV in the Kansas City 11-county area. The most recent data from the federal level says that as of 2006, there are 160 people living with AIDs in Kansas City.

Young gay men are more affected by HIV and AIDS than any other group of people. In the USA, it is estimated that nearly 220,000 men who have sex with men were living with HIV/AIDS in 2006, and nearly 5,000 had died. Around 48% of men diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in America in 2006 were probably exposed to the virus through male-to-male sexual contact.

Despite the continuing impact of HIV & AIDS, there are signs that awareness is waning among young people. On top of the decreasing prevalence of awareness, many young gay men, may underestimate how likely they are to be exposed to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV. There is also evidence that in some places, even where they are otherwise well-informed about HIV and STIs, young people do not believe that they are vulnerable to contracting them.

The data on HIV infections show that there is a need both to sustain current prevention work with young gay men and to develop new approaches. It is important to do both, so that young gay men don't forget messages about HIV & AIDS or start to think that they are no longer relevant to them and to meet the needs which arise as circumstances change over time. For example, young gay men may need to get updated information about new testing arrangements in their area or new types of condoms. At the same time basic information needs to be provided all the time because new young gay men are beginning their sexual careers and may never have been reached with information, support and advice about HIV & AIDS or thought it was relevant to them.

HIV does not target or "go after" any specific group. HIV infection is due to behavior, not ethnicity, orientation or age. Practicing safe sex and avoiding high-risk behaviors are the keys to protecting yourself from HIV. This begins with understanding that there is a risk of transmission any time infected blood, semen, vaginal secretions or breast milk are exchanged. By limiting the possibility of these fluids entering your bloodstream, you are lowering the possibility of HIV infection. You can achieve this by limiting the number of people you have sex with, never sharing needles with anyone at any time and avoiding the use of alcohol or drugs before having sex. Drugs and alcohol may influence your decision and may reduce your ability to practice safer sex. Safe sex involves using a latex condom for sexual activities -- when used properly, latex is an effective barrier against the spread of HIV. In addition, the use of lubricants should be limited to water-based only, as oil-based lubricants can break down latex condoms within seconds of use.

HIV prevention and awareness programs and/or activities for young gay men should take into account the particular risks that can be associated with unprotected anal sex. This means that programs need to include the following:

  • Information about how HIV is transmitted and why unprotected anal sex is particularly risky.
  • Information about where to get and how to use extra strong condoms and lubricants. Really effective programs will include making sure that both are available to young gay men through health and community-based sources.
  • Reminders to young gay men that it is their choice whether they have anal sex or not and opportunities for them to develop and enhance their confidence and inter-personal skills through which they can exercise this choice - enabling them to negotiate confidently with sexual partners about having sex, talking about HIV and about using condoms.
  • Information and access to HIV testing and counselling. This may involve promoting existing services which offer testing and developing new and specific services which are easily accessible and especially appropriate to the needs to young gay men.
  • Realistic messages targeting settings and situations in which young gay men can find it more difficult to maintain safer sexual behaviour. This can involve developing materials and information especially for distribution in clubs, bars and holiday venues and resorts.

By researching and educating myself about HIV and how it can be prevented, I believe I can make an impact on the gay community in Kansas City by visually attacking the issues of HIV education, awareness and prevention with new materials and information that will be distributed in public places. I will be targeting young gay males who need to be reminded of the dangers of unprotected sex and the risk of HIV. My initial ideas include innovative methods of delivering important knowledge and information, such as through very creative and unique fliers, online advertisements, typographic installations/projections, packaging designs for condoms (and lube), etc. I would also like to work with local HIV awareness organizations and activists who help me distribute and carry out my ideas.

Overall, I want to use design, information, and technology to wake up my peers and make them realize they aren't invincible to the threats of HIV.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Multimedia Experience: Activity and Community Model

"Sense of Community is a feeling that members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group, and a shared faith that members' needs will be met through their commitment to be together." –McMillan & Chavis

Me and my partner Genia have chosen BODY MODIFICATION for our activity and we plan to create an online community building system for people interested in body piercing and tattoos. Roughly, this will include a networking website for people involved in this unique culture of modifying the body with piercings or ink who want to connect with others by sharing pictures, stories, knowledge and contact information with each other. Our audience will be able to login to their profiles, share experiences and communicate with other members. The website will also include polls and surveys about favorite and most popular piercings/tattoos, contests to enter for best and most unique, ratings of local parlors, etc.

Our targeted audience, or community, will range from approximately 17 to 27 year old Americans who are involved in the culture of body art and alterations. Many people are interested in tattoos and piercing, but we will be focusing on the individuals who are serious about multiple and ongoing modifications to their bodies in an attempt to express themselves in an artistic and creative manner. Our website will be advertised at tattoo shops and piercing parlors, on other social networking sites, and in magazines.

The world of body modification can be extremely painful, expensive and addicting, but to many, it is seen as a beautiful art. Piercing the skin on the human body with needles has become very popular. Most piercings are done with specially designed needles and tools that allow for the safest and cleanest penetration. Equipment, such as piercing guns, are necessary for most of the popular body piercing. Most commonly done on the ears, nose, eyebrows, lips, nipples and navels, any part of the body can be pierced. Piercings are seperated into three main categories: soft tissue, cartilage, and surface piercings. Soft tissue are by far the most common. Soft tissue piercings will penetrate the thickness of the body segment, with the jewelry protruding from opposite sides (earlobes, eyebrows, nipples). Soft tissue piercings tend to heal easily for most, with proper care. They are usually done with a ring (captive), but after the piercings heal properly, can adorn an assortment of jewelry. Cartilage piercings such as septum (inner nose), and ear cartilage are generally more difficult to heal, and are prone to infection if not cared for properly. Surface piercings are usually the least common piercing. They tend to be more painful, and are not permanent. The life span of a surface piercing will depend on the area pierced. A corset (back piercing) can usually stay inside the skin up to 48 hours before the skin will start to tear.

Tattooing is just as popular as piercing, but allows for even more creative expression. According to Wikipedia, a tattoo is a marking made by inserting ink into the layers of skin to change the pigment for decorative, cosmetic, memorative or other reasons. People are drawn to this form of body modification because of the endless possibilities of what can be inked onto their body's canvas. Most people decide what they want to get a tattoo of and then bring their design to a shop (or choose something they find while at the shop) and then it's up to the tattoo artist to recreate their idea on his or her customers skin. Tattoo artists are usually highly trained and very experienced with their skill. Parlors have equipment for the tattoo artists to use, such as tattoo guns, needles, tubes,machines and inks.

A Harris Poll, done in 2003, nearly triples those numbers and estimates that 16% of Americans now have one or more tattoos. Thirty-six percent of those ages 18 to 25, and 40 percent of those ages 26 to 40, have at least one tattoo, according to a fall 2006 survey. . The highest incidence of tattoos was found among the gay, lesbian and bisexual population (31%) and among Americans ages 25 to 29 years (36%) and 30 to 39 years (28%). Regionally, people living in the West (20%) are more likely to have tattoos. Democrats are more likely to have tattoos (18%) than Republicans (14%) and Independents (12%) while nearly equal percentages of males (16%) and females (15%) have tattoos.

Among Americans with tattoos, 34% (over one third!!) said having a tattoo has made them feel sexier. Interestingly, more tattooed females (42%) feel this way than males (25%). Additionally, those with tattoos said that having a tattoo has made them feel more rebellious (29%) while others said a tattoo makes them feel more attractive (26%). But tattoos apparently won't do much for your intelligence or your physique, as few Americans reported that tattoos make them feel more intelligent (5%), more healthy (4%), or more athletic (3%).

Tattoos tend to be more expensive than piercings because of the labor and time that goes into creating tattoos compared to the quick execution of a piercing. Both of these forms of body art have become huge components of a culture that continues to push the limits of what can be done to the human body.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Multimedia Experience:Possible Activities

I have a website/domain name already. Check it out.

Some activities that I am considering to pursue for this semester are:
Magic tricks and Illusions
Track and Field (High jump or sprinting)
Weightlifting/Body building
Board games (Chutes and Ladders or Scrabble)
Getting Tattoos/Piercings

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Visual Advocacy: Initial Research

I am researching local issues and major social problems within the Kansas City community so that I can brainstorm some possible topics to pursue. Eventually, I will be designing a concept to ignite a positive change to an important issue within my community. There are general issues that immediately jump to mind such as poverty, crime, violence (domestic), gangs, drugs, racism, gay rights, discrimination, gun control, pollution, going "green," recycling... and hmmm teen pregnancy.

I've spoke with friends who are involved in the community—whether through their volunteer work, profession or cultural interests—and found some issues that seem more on target with this project.

1. Mail carriers are often at risk of being bitten by dogs and their safety needs to be brought to attention.

2. The swine flu is still putting pregnant women, infants and their families, children and young adults at risk. Many people are oblivious to the threat of this virus and need to be informed of the H1N1 vaccines becoming available in October.

3. There seems to be a lacking supply of public information concerning the prevention of contracting HIV. One of my best friends has HIV and I want to find an innovative way to spread knowledge to the gay community about this issue.

4. Many drivers's safety is being put at risk due to the large number of teenagers who are irresponsibly cellphone texting while behind the wheel. Safety precautions need to be emphasized so that this issue can be kept under control.

5. The "panhandlers" on the plaza and surrounding intersections obnoxiously beg for money from sympathetic people and rack in $25-45 K tax free dollars annually while the city government seems to not want to address this issue. Most of these "homeless" people are crooks and have homes, families and fancy cars. I think there should be a ban, ordinance, or movement to make this illegal so that people start donating money to people who truly need it or to charities.

6. There is a gap here for homeless teens, especially with HIV, and the existing places like a covenant house are limited and due to their religious funding sources, they will not embrace condom HIV related education. Not too mention the legal and practical challenges of housing youth that technically may not be emancipated from a parent and not under a court order. The funding to house them doesn't exist like it would in a group home for offenders or people on disability. Is there a way to direct the community's attention to these kids in need?

7. Blind adults who want to engage in fitness activities and exercise have limited resources and are often disabled from the opportunity to work out like normal "seeing" people can. Ironically, I have seen a dedicated and determined blind man at 24 Hour Fitness being escorted around the gym by a trainer everyday while his walking dog is kept in an office. This is extremely rare, yet inspirational. There needs to be a better system to orchestrate and facilitate all blind people who are interested in fitness.

8. Cell phones have revolutionized life for most people, but for people with vision loss, finding a cell phone that they can use is nearly impossible. For example, features such as keys that can be identified by touch, displays that can be read by people with limited vision and phones with speech output for people who cannot read the phone's display are not widely available. Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 requires cell phones and phone services to be designed to be accessible for people with disabilities. However, far too many cell phone manufacturers and carriers are not taking seriously their accessibility obligation. The iphone has a new application that does make cellphone use easier for the blind. (see video)
What other ways could cellphone technology be improved to help local blind people use mobile devices to communicate.

9. The issue of Marriage Equality is a war of words, the definition of marriage, but also a question of rights. Are we all equal under the law? Why is Missouri not jumping on the bandwagon and joining the other states who are pushing for equal rights for gay Americans who want to marry their loved ones? There needs to be a strong campaign in Kansas City to instigate and spread open mindedness among a conservative midwest community, in order to open a doorway for passing a gay marriage law.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Summer Work

This is an abstract painting I did for a friend of mine. It is 24"x36"
Here is a painting I made for my apartment. It is 30"x40".

These are from my printmaking summer class.