Reflecting on Midterms: My Creative Process & Top 5 List

blog
Image via http://www.blogging4jobs.com/hr/shrm-2012-bloggers-conference/

For the midterm, I was most excited about the creative aspect of the project as a whole: i.e. designing the blog, editing my video, and writing my content. My first endeavor was to create my header as I figured that would be fun and also set the mood and aesthetic for my blog. As we’ve done in class before, I used Pixlr to create a header containing some of my press clips (FYI: I did my blog on my work in PR).

Theme-wise, I chose a clean, professional-looking blog layout that I thought would be stylish enough to engage visitors while also minimal enough to look attractive to potential employers and other PR practitioners. However, having only the free version of the theme proved to be a limitation/challenge as I would have loved to have customized my layout even further. (Maybe I’ll do this in the future though!)

Image via https://www.examtime.com/blog/top-10-reasons-to-start-blogging-today/
Image via https://www.examtime.com/blog/top-10-reasons-to-start-blogging-today/

The video, as fun as it was to make, was also a challenge in and of itself as I wanted to make sure it upped the game more than my previous video for this class. Gathering and organizing all the images and clips I wanted to use, as well as selecting effects that made sense and looked seamless in the video, was another challenge, but again, one that was entertaining to execute.

Unlike my screencast video, I did the voiceover for the midterm video after editing the video together. Selecting my music bed was also a lot of fun, though I struggled a bit with the audio levels.

Finally, I found actually writing and organizing my blog content to be fairly simple, intuitive (I’ve blogged before), and fun, as I quite enjoy blogging. I’d never actually blogged before about my work in PR, so it was kind of refreshing to tackle that as being such a personal topic.

Top 5: My Classmates’ Midterm Blogs

Everyone in my class did such a great job with their blogs. In no particular order, here are my favorite midterm blogs from my peers!

The Daily Orbit:
I think this blog is particular great because it’s such an interesting topic. I can also see that the person behind this blog is incredibly passionate about the topic, which makes me more invested as a reader! When a writer cares about what they’re writing about, you can tell, and it makes for a better blogging experience all around. Also, I really love the consistency of the posts on this site; the blogger updates and provides content in a consistent stream, which is very important for a blog in my opinion. Also, you can clearly see from the design alone what the blog is about.

Naturally Curlie:
I think this blog is so positive and empowering. From a feminist standpoint, I really appreciate the blog’s topic, which is to celebrate natural hair and hair diversity. This blog is uplifting in its mission to squash homogenous cultural beauty standards, and I love how passionate and dedicated the writer is to her topic. I also think the blogger did a great job with her video, creating a professional-looking, personalized video that was both informative and fun to watch. I also think the “About” page does a great job highlighting and clarifying the mission of the blog.

Cosmic Drag Race:
Anything pertaining to drag queens is okay with me! This blog is a lot of fun, with a bright, colorful design theme that very much so reflects its topic matter aesthetically. I think the posts are fun but also really quite informative, which is very important for successful blogging. I love how thorough the post discussing what drag is and I actually learned about drag kings, which was cool! Finally, I think the video content was executed very well, particularly in regards to transitions/title cards/captions and overall audio editing.

College Chic:
This blog is beautifully designed. It’s very stylish, clean, pleasant to look at, and reminds me a bit of Tumblr which, aesthetically speaking, is a good thing! You know right away when you access this blog that it’s a personal style blog, and the blogger does an exceptional job in terms of personalizing her content with personal style and outfit photos. The content here is not text heavy but relies on quick information and great photos, which is another great way to blog. Finally, the video posted is incredibly professional-looking with really great editing.

How To Drive Like A Moron:
This blog is pretty much hilarious. The person behind it has a great sense of humor which translates very well to their content. As someone who is personally highly frustrated by idiot drivers, I can relate to a lot of this content, even if the topic isn’t that “heavy” or personal. The best part of this blog in my opinion, however, is the “About” page, which is really, really great in terms of giving me a real sense of who this blogger is, their ideology, and how important this topic truly is to them! This quote from their page stood out to me: “But the one thing that stays the most consistent about bad driving: a belief that your own decisions are more important than anyone else’s. I believe this is what is at the root of most bad driving practices.” This is so true, and really resonated with me! And that connection with a reader is what makes a blog successful.

Advertisements

Adding & Editing My Header

Original unedited base image via Wikimedia Commons
Original unedited base image via Wikimedia Commons

So unfortunately, I was out sick for the class that we learned hands-on about image-editing. But fortunately, I’ve had some experience over the last decade with various lite image editing software like Jasc Paint Shop Pro, among others. So I was relieved to launch Pixlr and find a similar, user-intuitive interface that I was already comfortable navigating.

The first thing I did was find two complementary images on Google Image Search that I would be happy using. This was probably most challenging due to the need to find two images that I liked that were licensed properly for free, non-commercial, editable use. I’m very picky when it comes to aesthetics, and really wanted to keep my cactus theme since cacti have a personal meaning to me (as a unique flora they are beautiful, strong, resilient, contradictory and enigmatic). Also, I didn’t want two very different images since visually, for me at least, I really prefer thematic consistency. (Which is probably my OCD kicking in!) Luckily, I found some images I was happy with – even more so later when I got to editing!

The editing part came fairly naturally. I opened my base photo first, edited the brightness, contrasts (to make it pop), saturation, and hue (to make it more green and mystical-looking), and set the size to the necessary dimensions for my WordPress theme. Then I opened the additional image of a single round cactus, tinkered with the saturation, hue, and contrast again, and free-hand cut the image to make it rounder around certain edges, finally placing (pasting) it atop the right side of my base image.

Edited, un-cropped base image with altered hue, saturation, contrast, etc.; original photo via Wikimedia Commons
Edited, un-cropped base image with altered hue, saturation, contrast, etc.; original photo via Wikimedia Commons

Before this assignment, however, I hadn’t actually known of Pixlr, but I think I can now use this in my everyday life to make my social media more visually interesting, as well as use the software to edit images for some sites and blogs I run or work for. Since it’s an open online software, too, I am definitely happy to know I can use it anywhere, not just on my laptop or desktop at home!

In “Phreaks, Hackers, and Trolls,” Coleman talks about the emergence, cultural implications, and popularity of Internet memes, noting that these are always “under constant modification by users (p. 109).” This got me thinking about image editing and remixing, since most Web users, I think anyway, are always saving and taking images they find that they like and editing or altering them into something new and valuable in their own right, adding their own spin or perspective on it. I think that’s what this assignment had us do, as well.

Getting Started: Creating This Blog

Via Brains on Fire
Via Brains on Fire

I found creating this blog to be incredibly easy and user-intuitive. I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now, first on LiveJournal, then on Blogspot, and currently on WordPress for a number of other personal and work-related projects, so creating this blog was very familiar for me.

I began by selecting my theme and customizing it visually to feel “right” for me, and then moved on to creating the core pages as well as adding content to them. Finally, I selected general blog widgets and settings in order to meet class requirements.

According to Ciotti’s article, “a ‘clean’ site is an inviting site that is easy to read, easy to navigate, but that still has some personality.” I tried to keep this idea in mind when customizing my blog, keeping the user interface minimalist and appropriate for class, while still injecting some of my personality into the colors of the theme as well as the more personal content, such as my “Meet the Editor” page and header.

Via TechGYD
Via TechGYD

In addition, in Turner’s article, “Where the Counterculture Met the New Economy,” the author discusses the emergence of virtual communities, and speaks of these communities as hearkening back to tribal, social communities. Since this blog is a place for discussion and conversation, I tried to create a comfortable and simple space for my peers to contribute, a place that would be easy to navigate, feel friendly, and welcome feedback and commentary.

So, welcome!