Saturday, August 31, 2013


As our first project for VISC 404, we had to pick a well-designed object that moves us. Then, we researched everything about it and wrote 250 words explaining the object's history and what it meant to us. To wrap it up, we created a poster with the image of our object and a design that visually explained the connection we have to our object.

Growing up in Iowa and being home this weekend, in the land of everything John Deere, I chose the John Deere tractor for my object:

"In order to adequately provide food and fuel, the world needs to double agricultural production while using the same amount of land and less water. As the world’s leading manufacturer in agricultural and construction equipment, John Deere needs to complete one hell of a monumental task. As Mike Whiteman, the director of information technology at John Deere puts it, "We fail, we die."

My family, just like John Deere, is linked to the land. I come from a family of hardworking individuals that have worked the earth and fed thousands. In 1861, my great great grandpa moved his family, by covered wagon, to Illinois where they farmed the land with ox-drawn plows for survival. In the 30’s, my Great Grandpa Lynn bought my family’s first tractor, a 1020, 4 cylinder McCormick. In 1965, Great Grandpa Lynn and my Grandpa John bought their first John Deere tractor. “We switched from International Harvester to John Deere because of the design. John Deere tractors were easier to maneuver, more versatile, looked better, and lasted longer.” And after that purchase, they never looked back. Today, my Uncle Mike continues to farm that same Illinois land with John Deere equipment.

Both sides of my family grew up working on farms in their Illinois homes. Growing up, my dad earned money bailing hay on neighbor’s farms. “For three cents a bail in 120 degree weather, I would stack 50 pound bails of hay into barns. We mostly worked for the food, Wilma Harnacke’s lunches rivaled everyone’s cooking in Middletown.” My mom spent her summers walking beans. To keep from getting a farmer’s tan, she pulled weeds in her swimsuit. Having just started dating at the time my dad recalls keeping the town flirt at a distance, “I made Randy walk beans two fields over just so he wouldn’t get any ideas about your mom.”

The 175-year history of John Deere tractors parallels my family’s story. In 1837, John Deere, a blacksmith and inventor, used a piece of scrap steel to create a plow that cut clean furrows into the sticky Midwestern soil. In 1939, Henry Dreyfuss, an industrial designer known for his work on locomotives, airplanes, and buses, joined the John Deere team and redesigned Deere’s model B tractor. Streamlined. That was Dreyfuss’ goal. With his design, grills were added in front of the radiator and the tractor’s sheet metal became “styled.” 

Despite the improved, newly stylized look, quality, efficiency, and dependability remained at the core of Dreyfuss’ and Deere’s design philosophy. Today, with the monumental task of feeding the world’s ever-growing population, Deere’s mentality is that much more important. And similarly, as a designer, I want to continue this philosophy. Function and design, not function versus design. I want to design things that create change in addition to “looking good.” Continuing my family’s values of hard work, perseverance, and persistence, I want to make a difference in my career as a designer."

Inspired by my family's connection with John Deere and the company's slogan, "Linked to the Land," I decided to try something out of my element and make my type out of, uh, dirt. 

I used different mixtures of dirt and water to make different tints of dirt.
It got kind of windy so I had to use my brother's shoe to keep things from flying away.
I printed out the word, cut it out with an exacto knife and then used it as a stencil. The dirt needed to be a little more fine so I had to work it with my fingers after I had removed the stencil. 

From there, I started designing my poster. I started out wanting to use as many elements I could, which I found out made my layout unbalanced and lacking in hierarchy.
JD Poster - Version 1
JD Poster - Version 2
JD Poster - Version 3