Articles, Abstracts, Papers, Lectures & Talks

This is an archive of journal articles, presentations, and published papers I have given to a variety of organizations and conferences, as well as on campus at the University of Idaho. If applicable, the paper and/or proceedings document is available for download as a PDF.

Visual Culture - ART 205 (Invited Guest Lecture)

The Visual Culture of Theme Parks

February 19, 2018  |  University of Idaho


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New Media - ART 407 (Invited Guest Lecture)

The Origins of Cinematic Subsumption

November 14, 2018  |  University of Idaho


Being invited to speak in Greg Turner-Rahman’s New Media course was a terrific opportunity to road test our theoretical material on cinematic subsumption for our upcoming design writing fellowship on The End of Architecture. I outlined the origins from early animation and the spatial philosophy of the multiplane camera through to Disneyland and the apex of the dark ride experience with Pirates of the Caribbean. Greg then followed up a few weeks later with a second lecture covering the evolution of video games to virtual reality. During this talk I showed film clips from Steamboat Willie, The Old Mill, the Disneyland TV show (segment explaining the multiplane camera), Bambi, Pinocchio, as well as POV footage from the Pirates attraction.

Integrated Art + Design Communication - ART 110 (Invited Guest Lecture)

Coursework and Careers in Interaction and Experience Design

November 13, 2018  |  University of Idaho


For my second guest lecture for the Art + Design Program's core survey course I decided to make closer connections with a text that I assign in my own courses which is now also used in ART 110: Design is Storytelling by Ellen Lupton. I retained the background material from Pine and Gilmore’s The Experience Economy but then expanded via Lupton to focus on experiential design as an increasingly participatory and co-designed process. Aften explaining UI/UX concepts and the taxonomy of theming, I then illustrated the career paths available to students taking coursework in the Interaction Design Emphasis Area by showcasing recent student projects from ART 271, ART 272 and ART 370.

Introduction to the Built Environment - ARCH 151 (Invited Guest Lecture)

Thematic Design and the Disney Theme Park Model

October 29, 2018  |  University of Idaho


After presenting twice prior for the Architecture Program's core built environment survey course, I developed a second guest lecture as a platform to expand upon the work that Greg Turner-Rahman and I have done with the concept of cinematic subsumption and its effects on architecture. The focus here is on thematic design as perfected at the original Disneyland, and the combination art direction & set design, storyboards, and the multiplane camera which framed the spatial philosophy of the park.

Introduction to Media Design - JAMM 267 (Invited Guest Lecture)

Adobe CC Suite Software Metaphors and Practical InDesign For Page Layout

September 26, 2018  |  University of Idaho


This guest lecture for the Journalism and Mass Media Program’s introductory software class was an opportunity for me to clarify the various operational metaphors associated with the essential Adobe CC Suite design tools: Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign from the perspective of Art + Design studio coursework expectations. I also spent time detailing best practices for editorial design and print layout using InDesign; guides and grids, master pages, and stylesheets.

The Malcolm M. Renfrew Interdisciplinary Colloquium (Juried Lecture)

Letters Across America: A Study in Mentorship and Creative Collaboration

August 21, 2018  |  University of Idaho


In July of 2017, Dave Gottwald, Assistant Professor, Art + Design and MFA candidate David Janssen Jr. embarked on a road trip across the United States. Janssen had expressed an interest in incorporating typography into his practice of painting and printmaking. Neither had any real experience setting type on press. The Hamilton Wood Type and Printing Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, holds the largest collection of wood type in the country and was on their route. During the drive eastward, they decided to document all the typography they saw through seven states together—the letters that form the backbone of roadside America.

Upon returning home, Gottwald designed a book of this photography, 88MPH, and David Janssen Jr. designed the cover. They then co-curated a selection of photos for inclusion in the 2017 Faculty Exhibition at the Prichard Art Gallery. The book was exhibited as well. Gottwald will show how his experiences with David Janssen Jr. on the road and at the Hamilton workshop demonstrate the value of mentorship and collaboration between graduate students and faculty.

Design Incubation Colloquium 4.4 (Peer Reviewed Presentation)

Teaching the Truth About Eric Gill in the Age of #MeToo: A Classroom Case Study

June 14, 2018  |  Parsons Integrated Design


When I was in graduate school, it was occasionally remarked that widely revered English artist Eric Gill was “a bit odd.” However, it was not until I had to prep a new History of Typography course that I realized this was a euphemism for “monster.” I knew that his eponymous san serif is essentially the Helvetica of the UK—you can find everywhere from British Rail and the BBC to the Church of England and many children’s books. Gill Sans is the face that advises all to KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON.

The truth is that Eric Gill molested two of his daughters from their teen years onward. He exposed himself to children and to women who worked for him. He maintained a sexual relationship with his sister for most of his life, and he even had carnal relations with the family dog. We know this from Gill’s own journals, which were brought to light in a definitive biography published in 1989. Yet in the two design history texts assigned for my course, one is completely silent about Gill’s crimes, and the other glosses over it.

I believe we have a responsibility as educators to provide young people with honest information so that they are empowered to make choices that reflect their values. Even though I teach at a rural campus in a conservative area, my students were more prepared to hear and talk about Gill’s crimes than I had anticipated. I will present a case study outlining the material presented, including highlights from our lively discussion about what responsibility one has in using a typeface. I will share the posters they designed about the subject, and quote from their written responses—both about Eric Gill and his typefaces, and their assessment of how I delivered the material.

CGRN 2018 International Conference on the Constructed Environment (Peer Reviewed Presentation)

Thematic Design and the End of Architecture

May 25, 2018  |  Wayne State University
with Greg Turner-Rahman, Ph.D.


Discussions about our contemporary built environment tend to look at themed and virtual spaces as something irrelevant at best or, worse, as something disdainful. Our polemic: Entertainment, as a visual and experiential thrust, has consumed the built environment to the point that nothing escapes theming. Granted, physical and imagined spaces have always conveyed narrative; there have always been themes. Yet, what we term thematic design is something quite different. It is a form of visual storytelling executed primarily in consumer spaces that is at once popular, profitable, prolific, and above all, problematic.

We reject the more conventional terminology “Architecture of Entertainment” and posit that thematic design, owing to its roots in the motion picture industry of the early twentieth century, now challenges the very primacy of the architect, elevating instead the role of the creative director. Thematic design is not the architecture of anything. Art direction (in the cinematic tradition) itself, in the thematic mode, becomes "The Mother Art." We outline and mine the genealogy of themed environments, both physical and virtual, to pinpoint the influences supporting a story-based vision of space and function; this is the mode of thematic design. To that end we speculate on thematic design’s contribution to the "spatial turn" in which the world of visual communication further evolves into predominantly a language of environments.

Innovations in Contemporary Art + Design - ISEM 301 (Invited Guest Lecture)

Disneyland and the Psychology of Play

January 29, 2018  |  University of Idaho


The University of Idaho's Great Issues Seminar Series Spring 2018 entry for Art + Design was structured by Associate Professor Greg Turner-Rahman around the concept of play in contemporary society, using Steven Johnson's delightful and recent Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World. To that end I delivered a guest lecture discussing Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom in the context of his inspirations for the park as a playspace, and the design techniques (as articulated by Imagineering master John Hench) which contribute to Disneyland's overall psychological messaging of reassurance and safety.

InnovATIONS IN Contemporary Art + Design - ISEM 301 (Invited Guest Lecture)

Experiential Design in the Experience Economy

November 7, 2017  |  University of Idaho


This guest lecture for the Fall 2017 entry of the University of Idaho's Great Issues Seminar Series for Art + Design was a curious challenge; how to discuss The Experience Economy, UI/UX for Mobile Devices, and Experiential Design for the Built Environment in a classroom filled predominantly with non-visual arts majors? Given the amount of engineers and other STEM folks in the audience, I took some time to dial down into the nuts and bolts of how UI/UX fits into a larger technology product framework, and articulate how that process relates to various design disciplines.

Integrated Art + Design Communication - ART 110 (Invited Guest Lecture)

What the @#$!? is Experience Design...and Why Should I Care?

October 27, 2017  |  University of Idaho


This guest lecture for the Art + Design Program's core survey course provided students with an overview of the coursework I teach at U of I in Experience Design. Beginning with how The Experience Economy operates relative to design, then touching on UI/UX concepts and the taxonomy of theming, I demonstrated examples of student project work from ART 271, ART 272 and ART 370 throughout and make a case for the emphasis area within the BFA Studio Art + Design degree.

Design Incubation Colloquium 4.1 (Peer Reviewed Presentation)

Beyond the Page: InDesign for Rapid UI/UX Prototyping

September 30, 2017  |  San Jose State University


I was faced with some interesting challenges this past spring when I was asked to revamp our Interaction Design coursework in the Art + Design program at the University of Idaho. I had to bring it up to current industry practice, which was no problem on the syllabi end. Software tools, however—that was going to be tricky. There are currently a handful of applications for UI/UX development that allow for the design of complete interfaces, user flows, and live prototyping. The most popular tool in the industry is a Mac-only product, but more than half our students own PC laptops. Ouch. Industry stalwart Adobe had recently introduced a competing product, but it’s still in beta for PC and Mac, so my university IT department said no go.

In hindsight, forcing me to innovate and leverage a tool which was already supported was actually the best thing the university could have done. What I discovered is that Adobe InDesign has value far beyond the page—the master pages, robust stylesheet support, and typographic finesse actually make it a winner for interaction design work. I was amazed at how quickly my students advanced, and all were UI/UX first-timers. The advantage they all shared was their familiarity with InDesign from prior courses.

Rather than having to teach students new thinking and completely new software within the same course, I could focus on conceptual pedagogy. I had found a hidden virtue; using a familiar tool in a new context, rather than trying to introduce a new tool. I argue that students in my Interaction Design I course experienced an accelerated learning curve—while producing portfolio pieces exhibiting far higher levels of craft—by repurposing software they had already mastered. All quickly developed fully tested, live, mobile app prototypes within a single semester.

Intermediate/Advanced Printmaking - ART 350 (Invited Guest Lecture)

Hamilton Wood Type Workshop

September 21, 2017  |  University of Idaho


MFA candidate David Janssen Jr. and I were invited to speak to U of I printmaking students about our experience at the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, and the letterpress workshop we attended there on July 8, 2017. In addition to showing extensive photography, we brought examples of the print work we produced to get students excited about the possibilities of letterpress. 

UCDA 2017 DESIGN EDUCATION SUMMIT: HAND & MACHINE (Peer Reviewed paper for Presentation)

Operational Metaphors & Input Biases of Design Software: Old Promises, New Challenges

May 22, 2017  |  Kutztown University


Every technology has inherent biases that determine its use, and a designer’s digital tools are no different. When I describe “input biases,” I’m referring specifically to how pointing and drawing hardware (mouse, tablet, touchpad, and touchscreen) affect the design software experience. When I speak of “operational metaphors,” I’m describing the language used within a software environment to denote tools, techniques, and processes.

In relation to hand and machine, today’s students lie along a gradient between two poles: what I call Analog Artisans and Digital De Factos. One may think of Analog Artisans as more traditional fine art students. They likely had art education starting in primary school, and thus learned to work directly with their hands; drawing, sketching, painting, and sculpting. While computer literate, these students don’t automatically consider the computer a content creation device. Digital De Factos, conversely, are less likely to be traditional fine art students. They often have a long history with computer and platform gaming. These are the kind of students who first explored applications like Photoshop in secondary school, and they consider the computer to be the primary content creation device.

We are currently in a state of transition in which the operational metaphors and input biases of our most popular software tools are shifting in relevance. At the same time, we are seeing the widespread proliferation of alternatives to the traditional mouse as the dominant input device. Operational metaphors are where mind meets software, and pointing and drawing hardware are quite literally where hand meets machine. I argue that in teaching design software to today’s students, we must carefully consider their preference as an Analog Artisan or Digital De Facto, introduce operational metaphors with student relevance in mind, and instruct students to use the input devices best suited to particular software tasks.

Professional Practices - ART 410 (Invited Guest Lecture)

Pursue Your Digital Self: Online Portfolio Platforms for Art + Design Graduates

March 24, 2017  |  University of Idaho


This guest lecture for the Art + Design Program's Professional Practices course introduced graduating seniors to the world of online portfolios. Major WYSIWYG editors (Adobe's Dreamweaver and Muse) and popular CMS platforms (Squarespace, Wix, WordPress) were reviewed, as well as portfolio sites (Adobe Portfolio, Behance, Coroflot). Domain registration and hosting were explained (I prefer Hover), and the pros and cons of "owning" your web presence versus "renting" a platform are weighed.

Introduction to the Built Environment - ARCH 151 (Invited Guest Lecture)

How Disneyland Makes the Built Environment Better for Everyone

November 4, 2016  |  University of Idaho


This guest lecture for the Architecture Program's core built environment survey course provided students with an overview of my research and theories about thematic design. Case studies from both the Disney Parks around the world and projects I have worked on at the Oakland Museum of California formed the framework of the presentation.

Idaho Art Education Association Annual Conference, fall 2016 (Juried Presentation)

Mickey's Ten Commandments

October 7, 2016  |  Post Falls High School


I was invited to give a presentation at the IAEA's Fall 2016 conference at Post Falls High School. Drawing on lessons from both the Walt Disney Company's approach to design and my own experience in the museum field, I adapted the lessons of Marty Sklar's famed "Mickey's Ten Commandments" for the art classroom.