The plan: to co-design a yearbook with a group of kids between 8 and 12 years old in a weekly workshop. Introduce them to basic principles of graphic design and give them the feeling of empowerment that comes with doing things yourself. Get the book to print.
Did it work? Yes it did! And we sure had great fun with it.
How we went about it: Over a period of four months I met up with a group of 6-12 kids in frantic 50 min workshop sessions every week. To make the layouting possible without having to teach kids a layout programm, I opted for an analogue approach: cutting and pasting with scissors and glue. We started by producing display type, backgrounds and clip-art in individual sessions and then the kids assembled the layouts on their own or in pairs. Once the layouts were finished (stuck together), they were photographed and imported as full page photos in a layout program. The kids left space for texts, working with dummy text which I took off before photographing and added in the final digital document.
Here are some impressions of our co-design process:
An easy way to create whacky letters: First, draw your letters simply in pencil as a guideline, then draw crazy lines in black marker around them.
Let the marker ink dry and then erase the pencil marks.
Tadaah! Each topic gets their individual type treatment.
Finally we copy all display type unto see-through acetate sheets, so that we can later place them in our layouts.
We also need some background images to make the pages more lively. So we are off to a photographic pattern hunt around school.
Once you start looking, there are patterns everywhere! Some seem to have come about by “accident”…
… others are found ready made!
Now about some clip art to flourish our pages. Before we start, I ask the DESiGN KiDS to range their desks into one continuous line, because they will be churning out clip-art in an assembly line today. I have assembled seven sets of stickers in different sizes and colours, so that every event has a different type of sticker.
Each student gets one sheet with a different theme. I explain to them that they will have one minute for every drawing, then the timer will go off and they have to pass the sheet over to their neighbour and work on the next theme. So each group of clip-art will be assembled by the whole group. Ready? Steady? Go!
They are all clip-art professionals – of course – that is what kids are doing all day at school: doodling in their exercise books.
Look at these amazing Halloween clip art stickers!
Now at last, we are ready to start lay outing! All the ingredients are ready: The photos ( taken by parents and teachers) are printed out on photo paper, our backgrounds laserprinted out on A3 sheets, the clip art on stickers and our type designs on acetates. Let´s go!
The DESiGN KiDS work in groups of two to threes on each topic. These two are busy at work on two spreads about Maths Week.
The DESiGN KiDS leave space for the final text by working with dummy text which I take off before photographing.
Once the layouts are finished, they are photographed and imported as full page photos in my layout program. The real text was then added by me in the final digital document.
This technique works really well, the printed book has retained a three-dimensional feeling to it.
The co-designing experiment was a success: the Berlin Bilingual School Yearbook 2012 / 2013 got printed in time and quickly sold out. Apart from it being a very authentic document of a busy school year in this extraordinary school, it looks just fabulous. Thank you everybody!