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Assessment Files Comic: The Data of Orientation 2015

On a week when there was a bit of lull, workwise, for my particular talents, Akeisha Lari borrowed me to help her create a poster. This poster, as was explained to me, was to be used at the RyersonSA PD Conference, “Start From Within” during the lunch break, to showcase the assessment efforts Student Life was making in regards to Orientation Week. She gave me free creative reign, and I had done enough design work in SA to know what kinds of things will fly—and which will plummet to the ground. Student Affairs has a friendly design aesthetic, it’s not really edgy or crafty or minimal (which is popular right now), and I was excited by the challenge.

And challenge it was; have you ever tried to make assessment data interesting? Akeisha gave me a bunch of numbers, some survey results—you know, the data—and told me to “tell a story”. She laid out a few prompts: the beginning (what information makes up Orientation Week), middle (Orientation Assessment Survey stats), and end (what she’s planning for the future), but beyond that, left it up to me.

First off—telling a story versus visualizing stats are two very different things. I sat down and looked at all the information, stared deep into its numeric soul, searching for its story. I didn’t have a lot time to work on it, so I knew whatever I was doing needed to be photo based instead of illustrations. What tells a story that has a lot of images? Epiphany: comics!

As a student in the Fashion Communication program, I’ve been taught to spend a lot of time honing my design sense, visual communication skills, and creative thinking skills. So my epiphany was probably a product of that alchemy, rather than a creative “aha!” moment dropped into my head by the cosmos. Either way—comics! A perfect medium for assessment storytelling.

So I vetted the idea with Akeisha and she liked it (did I say like? Loved it). We brainstormed the comic title together. After that, I edited the photos to look comic-y and the rest just kind of came together. My favourite part was adding the “To be continued” text at the bottom. In what other design document could I add that without it being weird? But in this case, it was just perfect for the story and the aesthetic.

Orientation 2015 assessment poster, done by Cathy Nguyen.

by Cathy Nguyen