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visual communication practice

Shift: Exchanges



Description of idea

Describe your idea and concept of your work in relation to the festival outlines:

The Shift series is an annual, student-run publication based out of OCAD University in Toronto, Canada. Each edition features a selection of student work that is loosely based around a theme. This year’s theme is exchanges, as we wanted to highlight the conversations, relationships, and collaborations that take place within an academic institution. By presenting the work in a publication we were able to reveal relationships between work that was created independently of one another. This constructs a retroactive dialogue between work that, while produced within the same establishment, was separated by the bounds of disparate academic programs during the course of its creation.

What kind of communication approach do you use?

For the sake of this competition we are submitting a high resolution PDF. Our final form was a 144 page, perfect bound, soft cover book, printed in a run of 500. The cover of the book shows a detail of one image from each project assembled as a collective whole. The reverse of the cover maps the contributors of each image based on the programs in which they study. The rest of the book is a departure from the program-specific organization, as this order does not appear again within the publication. The interior of the book consists of three sections. The first section, printed in black and white, introduces the concept of the publication. It features a foreword written by artist Micah Lexier, alongside a series of found images he collected in collaboration with fellow-artist Michael Dumontier. Micah is an artist whose work embodies the themes of exchange and collaboration we aimed to convey in this publication. The second section presents the first representation of the work in large, full colour images. The projects are sequenced in order to encourage relationships between adjacent pieces in a purely visual way. The third section shows the same sequence once again, this time with supplementary text and images. This section is printed in a single dark Pantone colour to draw attention to the text and differentiate it from the introductory section. Presenting the same sequence of works in different ways encourages multiple interpretations, while reinforcing the constructed narrative sequence of the publication as a whole.

What are in your opinion concrete benefits to the society because of your communication?

The benefits of this publication are primarily within the OCAD U community, but can also be viewed in the broader context of all academic institutions. The Shift series was born out of the need to catalogue and disseminate work created by students at OCAD U, which for the most part fails to be recorded in any tangible format. Not only do the publications create an internal archive of student work, but they provide a means of sharing high-caliber student content with the broader creative community. This work continues a tradition of student-organized publishing within OCAD U, providing students with an autonomous platform by which they can discuss and distribute work and ideas. It also presents an opportunity for engagement and learning, as students from various programs within the school collaborate in the production of the publication.

What did you personally learn from creating your submitted work?

By working with contributors, editors, and printers to facilitate this project we have learned about the technical processes involved in putting together a publication. Having completed the project, one of the most striking things we have come to understand is the permanence of the printed book. In an age where we are constantly able to edit and update, there is a responsibility that comes with producing a high volume of a physical artifact. At a point, all choices become final and consequently energy, resources, and space are consumed. The responsibility is to produce something that warrants these consequences.

Why is your work, GOOD communication WORK?

When considering the design of the publication, we aimed to establish a visual style that presents the work objectively and consistently. As designers, there is often a desire to let aesthetic decisions based on trends precede the requirements of the content. We have opted for a subtle editorial voice that aims to enhance the content without overpowering or detracting from the work.

Where and how do you intent do implement your work?

Since its establishment in 2007, the OCAD U Student Press has had difficulty garnering awareness among the student body and faculty. The programs within the institution have a tendency to operate in isolation, however the Student Press presents an opportunity to bridge those gaps. We aim to engage and provide platforms for as many students from different disciplines as possible, and with each publication we strive to achieve that goal. We plan to launch the book at a public event on campus, and increase our presence within the school by securing a distribution contract with the OCAD U bookstore. We plan to send a number of printed copies to other university presses both nationally and internationally in hopes of establishing relationships with other like-minded groups. We also intend to create a digital version of the book that can easily and freely be distributed Online.

Did your intervention had an effect on other Media. If yes, describe the effect? (Has other media reported on it- how? Were you able to change other media with your work- how?)

We have not yet received the final printed publication, and therefore can not yet speak to its impact. That said, within the Student Press community, we have had a number of discussions regarding the current state of print media and its relationship to a digital environment. Printed books have value, as they can be traded, given, or sold. A well-produced book has the ability to increase the perceived value of its content. When designing a book that is meant to represent the student body, this can be problematic, as there are only so many student projects that can be included in one publication. As physical items, books have limitations; networks of distribution, production costs, resources etc. Digital platforms provide solutions to these issues, as we can automate processes of content collection, provide a larger platform for inclusion, and increase the frequency and distance of distribution. The limitations of the medium in which we are working revealed opportunities presented by other media, as we realized we could use online resources to help us with the processes involved in producing a publication. So, while we have not yet changed other media with our work, we have been considering the ways in which our work can be changed in order to integrate with other (digital) media.

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

The idea of dialogue here is being played out in an interesting manner through editorial design and the educational community involvement. There is actual dialogue taking place through the way that the information has been collected and then structured.

While this might be seen as a very nice student publication appropriate to an art and design school, there is some real potential to think through the strategy of participation and dialogue & how these strategies could be vastly expanded in a less 'safe' environment with other subject matter relative to another audience and community, or communities.

View other works commented by Scott Townsend  ››

Other comments

8 years, 6 months ago

Scott, Thank you for the comment. You pose a good question. What would be the outcome of constructing a dialogue between more politicized entities? That kind of speculative practice could definitely be applied to a conflict as a method to propose alternative narratives, explanations, and possible outcomes. Or, it could simply be a means to create space for an existing dialogue in as you describe "a less 'safe' environment".

Curators comments

This work has been commented by 1 curator(s):
Scott Townsend go to comments ›

Entry details


Shift: Exchanges


OCAD U Student Press

Concept author(s)

Ansel Schmidt; Emma Novotny

Concept author year(s) of birth

1989; 1991

Concept author(s) contribution

Ansel Schmidt and Emma Novotny have directed this publication and managed all aspects of its concept, curation, design, and production.




Ansel Schmidt; Emma Novotny

Designer(s) year(s) of birth

1989; 1991

Designer(s) contribution

This publication was designed in constant collaboration between Ansel Schmidt and Emma Novotny.



Copy author(s)

Micah Lexier; Michael Dumontier; Claire Scherzinger; Brooke Wayne; Layne Hinton; Jessica Tai; Noah Scheinman; Jordan Maddox; Askua Michihiro; David Aaron Cohen; Iris Karuna; Stephanie Flowers; Jenna Crook; Mike Goldby; Ibrahim Abusitta; Sona Safaei-Sooreh

Copy author(s) contribution

Micah Lexier provided a written introduction to the publication. Micah Lexier with Michael Dumontier provided an image contribution title Call Ampersand Response. Text and images contributed from OCAD U students include: Claire Scherzinger, Brooke Wayne, Layne Hinton, Jessica Tai, Noah Scheinman, Jordan Maddox, Askua Michihiro, David Aaron Cohen, Iris Karuna, Stephanie Flowers, Jenna Crook, Mike Goldby, Ibrahim Abusitta, Sona Safaei-Sooreh, Vuk Dragojevic, and Raymond Salaber.

Other author(s)

Vanessa Nicholas; Caroline MacFarlane

Other author(s) contribution

Vanessa Nicholas and Caroline MacFarlane were the editors of this publication.

Competition category

visual communication practice

Competition subcategory


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

Ontario College of Art and Design University/Design/Graphic Design