MICA Plus Five

To write something that anyone else will read is like those dreams where you are at school in just your underwear or even less. So please forgive my reticence to write, my halting patterns and my inability to articulate my thoughts in a manner that entertains and inspires. Yet, I think it is important for my continued development to write. (Whatever that actually means “my continued development”). I debated just deleting this whole blog but I couldn’t bring myself to erase the record of my MFA project experience. And since I found that so hard I think I might find recording my next giant adventure to be beneficial as well.

I have lived in Portland now since August of 2010, I went through two jobs in three years. Luckily I have been employed at the same place for the last two so that’s a good thing. I was beginning to think … well never mind that. David has graduated High School and is in his second year of college down at Oregon State University. Maddy graduates this year and Biz will be a Freshman in High School after this summer. Carrie has a full time job and life is busy. Yet there has always been something missing, something I was supposed to do. Something that might make a difference to someone. I needed a new plan…..

Recently (as in almost a year ago now) I founded a company with my brother-in-law Chris Mautz and our wives Carrie Walser and Donna Mautz. The name of the company is Good Move Studios. In a nutshell we want to create quality American products that we would want for ourselves and give 10% of our net profits to the NoKidHungry campaign to end childhood hunger in the U.S. There is no logical reason kids in this country should be going hungry. None. The issue is black and white for me. I have created three distinct sub-brands to help make this dream a reality.

Learn more at: www.goodmovestudios.com & www.itsagoodmove.org

1. BlockChess: A Toy and Game brand based on Chess printed on wooden blocks. We are working on a deal with Uncle Goose to be our manufacturer and hopefully partner for at the very least our first set. The first set is called BlockHaus and is inspired by the Bauhaus chess set from the 1920’s. This brand is very important to me and has got lots of legs and could turn into something huge. We just have to be very smart and very persistent with it. I have several ideas for at least 7-12 products already for this section and I would like to invite other designers to do limited edition sets. Then there is a whole possible online component and future Trans-Media world creation and all that sort of awesomeness.
www.blockchess.com

2. Bones & Ivy: A lifestyle brand that should appeal the the “rebel with a cause” in all of us. It should awaken a bit of the pirate within. Not all endings or deaths are bad, the end of childhood hunger for example. And many beginnings are good such as a new way dawn of kids in America not worrying about where their next meal is coming from and focusing on learning. We are starting with some t-shirts and hats designed by the famous Danielle Davis. I’ve chosen Danielle for three important reasons. A. She is an amazing designer. B. She can rock a style that is somewhat foreign to me but I know it’s the look I wanted to launch with. And C. She is a wonderful human being.
www.bonesandivy.com

3. Olly Oxen Free: A home decor brand that will launch with a few select prints focused on travel and kids rooms. It may also get into home decor objects but we will not be pushing that unless the market leads us there. We may engage some of Danielle Davis talents and perhaps some other designers as well to broaden the offering. As of today this brand has the least amount of product developed for it but it does have a lot of seed product lined up.
www.ollyoxenfree.me

I know I need to listen to my own advice I give to clients all the time. FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS. And no worries, we will but I needed to layout the plan to organize it like a road map for all the different ideas I couldn’t get out of my head. The next adventure begins.

Finding Harry: A Promise Made, A Promise Kept

Finding Harry: A Promise Made–A Promise Kept. from Aaron Walser on Vimeo.

Finding Harry is a film project created in After Effects to run on a triple projection system at 16 feet by 4 feet in the context of an exhibit space which completes the story with more details.

Song Credits
Hemipode by Amiina used by permission of the artists.

This short film was presented using three projectors in a 4:1 Ratio 16 feet wide by 4 feet tall as a central focus of the thesis exhibit. I suggest you use the vimeo link to go directly to the original if you want it full screen. (The 400 px wide just doesn’t cut it:)

Thesis Statement Rd 2.0

A humble business card, an integrated brand strategy, a title sequence, a blaring broadside–each graphic design, each telling a story. And storytelling is storytelling no matter the medium. Either you engage your audience or you don’t. Either you communicate your story well or you don’t. Graphic designers tell stories. Therefore good graphic designers are good storytellers. My whole reason for giving up a lucrative career, uprooting my wife and three kids to pursue a masters degree was to be a better graphic designer, hence my efforts to become a better storyteller.

The story I have chosen to tell is that of S/Sgt. Harry Clawson. Harry was an American paratrooper who went missing in action during WWII. Twenty-seven years after his disappearance, a Dutch tree farmer from Opheusden, The Netherlands, found his remains in a shallow grave in his tree nursery. Harry’s story is one of personal sacrifice, love of freedom, and the enduring cost of war.

The first step to telling a good story is really knowing the story. I had to research Harry’s story and this being grad school and all, I decided to try something different with my research approach. Using method acting as an inspiration, I developed a process I’m calling “method research”. I immersed myself into Harry’s life by going where he would have gone, seeing what he would have seen, and doing what he would have done. I traveled to Arizona, England, France and The Netherlands. I stood where he stood, where he lived and died. I spoke with those that knew him: his brothers in arms, his sisters, sons, and daughter. I have done some of the things he did: intense physical training, camped in the mountains, jumped from an airplane. Using method research has deepen my understanding of Harry’s story and drawn me closer to its realities, enabling me to tell his story with more sensitivity and authority.

To tell Harry’s story I explore design disciplines that are new to me such as motion graphics, exhibit design, and (gasp) even some writing. At the same time I am further developing current skills like branding and information design. My thesis exhibition is my stage and serves as a place for my actors to hone their craft. I tell Harry’s story utilizing multiple graphic formats combined into exhibition design. I use information graphics in the form of a contextualized timeline combined with geographic mapping. I use the simple and powerful presentation of plain text. I have motion graphics in a triple projector ultra wide film presentation. I also employ semiotic artifact imagery to convey elements of Harry’s character and life. These linear and non-linear, quick and involved formats of Harry’s story combine to give the audience a multi-faceted view of Harry’s life.

Thesis Statement 1.5

A humble business card, an integrated brand strategy, a title sequence, a blaring broadside—each graphic design, each telling a story. At its heart graphic design is storytelling. And storytelling is storytelling no matter the medium. Either you engage your audience or you don’t. Either you communicate your story well or you don’t. My thesis is about exploring new mediums and testing old forms. It’s about trying new things and seeing what happens, while simultaneously honing current skills.

The story I have chosen to tell is that of Harry Clawson. Harry was an American paratrooper who went missing in action during WWII. Twenty-seven years after his disappearance, a Dutch tree farmer from Opheusden, The Netherlands, found his remains in a shallow grave on his tree nursery.

My thesis uses an experimental research approach. Using method acting as an inspiration, I developed a process I call “method research”. I immerse myself into Harry’s life by going where he would have gone, seeing what he would have seen, and doing what he would have done. I traveled to Arizona, England, France and The Netherlands. I stood where he stood, where he lived and died. I spoke with those still around that knew him: his brothers in arms, his sisters, sons, and daughter. I have done some of the things he did: intense physical training, camped in the mountains, jumped from an airplane. Using method research has deepen my understanding of Harry’s story and drawn me closer to its realities, enabling me to tell his story of sacrifice and loss with more sensitivity and authority.

My thesis exhibition functions as an experiment of my thesis and a stretching of my abilities rather than an exhibit of my process and results. The exhibit is Harry’s story utilizing multiple graphic formats combined into exhibition design. It uses information graphics in the form of a contextualized timeline combined with geographic mapping. It uses the simple and powerful presentation of plain text. It has motion graphics using a triple wide film presentation. It also employes semiotic artifact imagery to convey elements of the Harry’s character and life.

In the end I have learned that my thesis is about me becoming a better storyteller, a better designer, and a better human being.

// First Forays Into Visual Language


// 4:1 Ratio Test (Best in Full Screen Mode)


The images and sequence and sound are just there to show the capabilities. They aren’t not meant to be interpreted at all.