Recently on Twitter I asked for people to send me as many design limitations as they could, explaining that I was doing a project that required irrelevant design parameters. I asked for anything at all—in fact, the more bizarre or unexpected the better.

However, I was lying. These limitations were actually for my students in my Typo-Photo class, to use for an assignment I call "fortuity." First, I asked my students for their favorite project they have done while at school. We then watched the film The Five Obstructions to help set up the assignment. I then asked the students to literally pick of of a bag three kinds of limitations: formal, methodological and conceptual.

Since this kind of assignment is directly tied to my Thesis ideas and queries, I also chose three random limitations which are: 1) 36 degree angles, 2) must change mediums 5 times and 3) it must be useless. The project I will use for this is my "Let Forever Be" data visualization.

You can see the results of one round of this investigation here.

The assignment is as follows:

Fortuity, noun: a chance occurrence, the state of being controlled by chance rather than design; luck.

As we have seen so far in this class, Typo-Photo is an attitude towards making and thinking about design, not just an aesthetic starting point in your process. This project pushes that idea further. You will use fortuitous and seemingly irrelevant limitations to redefine how you create design in terms of process and concept.

In this project you will also be asked to take almost total control: you will choose the content, how you will work with it, what you will make, what format and medium you work in, if the work has a limited context or specific audience, and what the deliverables will be.

Take the project you declared as your favorite as a starting point, and use the limitations you choose in class to recreate, rethink or remake it. Use the combination of old, existing work and new, random parameters to spark ideas on how to take the existing project and create new realizations of it. On 31 October, you will choose a new set of limitations to work with.

You will decide how much of the original project you use in terms of form, concept and methodology. How literally or loosely you interpret the limitations is up to you. If you are not sure of how to start, think of the most outrageous, ridiculous thing you can possibly think of doing, something you know you should never do, and then do that.

This project is self-directed and self-motivated, therefore it is up to you to keep making it interesting for yourself. You should find your own ways of working, your own process and your own relationship with how you think about graphic design.

As you work, you will likely become confused and paralyzed about what to do next. When that happens, stop thinking and make something. You will likely become irritated and not understand why you are being made to work this way. When that happens, stop thinking and make something. You will likely start finding yourself over-thinking and pre-rationalizing your next steps. When that happens, stop thinking and make something.

This project has exactly one requirement: you must make. You may not do nothing.

—To embrace constraints in your design process.
—To allow yourself to be confused.
—To embrace fortuity in both how you choose to work, and in how you think about what
you are working on.
—To learn to overcome seemingly impossible restrictions through creativity and iteration.

Assigned: Wednesday 12 October
Obstruction One Due: Monday 31 October
Obstruction Two Due: Monday 21 November

At your discretion. Note that a series of experiments or a “body of work” is a perfectly acceptable culmination of this project.