Personal Visual Narrative


Jesus Hernandez, Look How Far I've Come, Installation and Photography

Min Tan, The Heart, LED Light Plexiglass Piece and Printed Pamphlet

Dexter Walker, Escape Through Inner Reflection, Posters and 360 Video

Duration: 5 weeks
Category: ,
Filed Under: , , , , ,
Bookmark Project

Project Brief

Students will create a personal visual narrative on based on a common universal story theme with a focus on more experimental approaches in design/art. Show off your creative skills to come up with a unique concept developed through your research. Your piece must integrate type and image and in span at a minimum of two different mediums. Draw on your personal interests here or things you would like to explore that are relevant to the project.

1. Choose Your Theme!
You will select your narrative theme by first choosing from 20 theme options sourced from Ronald B. Tobias book 20 Master Plots

Choose from 1 of the following as an overarching theme for your personal visual narrative:

  1. Quest
  2. Adventure
  3. Pursuit
  4. Rescue
  5. Escape
  6. Revenge
  7. The Riddle
  8. Rivalry
  9. Underdog
  10. Temptation
  11. Metamorphosis
  12. Transformation
  13. Maturation
  14. Love
  15. Forbidden Love
  16. Sacrifice
  17. Discovery
  18. Wretched Excess
  19. Ascension
  20. Descension

2. Conduct Research + Develop Your Creative Brief
Conduct research and write your creative brief defining the problem.

3. Create Your Copy
The word "copy" is a term used in publishing that refers to directly to the text. How will you apply your theme to the written component of your personal visual narrative? You are invited to use any of your pre-existing previous writings (such as journal entries, emails, texts), create something new, or collaborate. Focus on using copy that could generate an appropriate emotional in your audience and relates directly to the theme. Copy may be further edited as part of your process. You don't have to be literal here, you are encouraged to be poetic and experimental with your copy as well.

4. Brainstorm Creative Concepts
Brainstorm and sketch many different concepts. How will you tell a specific story to the viewer? The concept is the core of your idea.  It is essential that you sketch first and refine your concepts on paper before moving to the computer. Brainstorm and sketch many different visual concepts.  Start off with a minimum of thirty thumbnail sketches and continue brainstorming as necessary. What are memorable, unique, and appropriate ways to approach this challenge? 

5. Pitch
Identify three best concepts from your brainstorming and create refine sketches for each. Include all the project components (or deliverables) with each of your three ideas. Pitch your concepts to the class.

6. Iterate and refine
Iterate and refine a single concept based on Pitch discussion. Refine your concept based on feedback as necessary.

7. Execute

Learning Objectives

  1. Create effective and engaging story experiences supported by design principles such as: color, form, typography, composition, research, and appropriate implementation.
  2. Further expand their ability to brainstorm, develop concepts, and visually communicate ideas.


Turn in an organized pdf file featuring all project components, including high quality photographs of any physical pieces. For any time-based media, upload on vimeo or youtube and submit a link.

Note: Your deliverable if appropriate could be purely in concept form (but presented professionally) if it is unreasonable to execute with in the specific timeframe and more appropriate to present that way. For example, an app concept could be one of your mediums and it does not have to be functional but needs to be a professionally presented design concept. 


Course text: Design is Storytelling - Ellen Lupton

Other Resources:

Visual Storytelling - Debbie Millman

Things I learned In My Life So Far - Stephan Sagmeister

40 days of Dating - Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman

The Complete Persepolis - Marjane Satrapi



I have taught this project both in person and online. Students were successful in having a wide range of unique responses to the assignment. If teaching this project again, I would further expand on what I mean by integrating at least 2 mediums as that may have been confusing especially for the online class.

Related projects