Writing project

This essay is a substantial part of the class and should demonstrate college-level writing and your ability to research appropriate sources.

The title of your essay should be a question

That means it should end in a question mark.

What questions do you have about the ideas, feasibility, or historical context of your work? What unexpected connections can you make? What is missing? What is confusing?

The essay should seek to discover an answer (or possible answers) to this question or explore the context that gave rise to the question.

Analyze a specific work by an artist, designer, filmmaker, or studio

Incorporate a discussion of one creative work or project into your essay. This should somehow relate to your central line of investigation, and relate to your own project somehow. It might be someone working in the same medium, or with related subject matter, or some really amazing work that you aspire towards.

Include a thorough and detailed description of the work's design — how it looks, its colors, shapes, movement, structure, and so on. Use lots of vivid, descriptive adjectives to help the reader picture the work in their head, as if they had never seen it before.

Include the title, date, medium, and location (as relevant)

Some potential resources are listed below; you are encouraged too look for new, obscure, historical, or otherwise thought-provoking creators—not just mainstream pop culture.

Include two citations to professional writing

To support your arguments and explore the work of your chosen artist, incorporate quotes or data from two published sources. Do not cite Wikipedia (but you can peruse the citations of a Wikipedia page to find authoritative sources).

Search for articles and ebook at the Penn State Library or Google Scholar


Not sure where to begin?

You could start with an artist or designer, and pose a question that intrigues you about their work, or suggests a possible connection to your project.

You could consider the historical or theoretical context of your project, and find writing and creative work that lies in a similar orbit.

You're basically writing art criticism (a critical and reasoned examination of a cultural object), so think about what your unique point-of-view is in regard to all of this. Do you have an axe to grind with some genre of work? What's something you already know about that relates to your project? Imagine someone else was writing a serious essay about your work, what connections or questions would they include?


Your essay should include discrete paragraphs that give structure to your writing, including an introduction and conclusion.

Please use MS Word for this project.

  • Name, date, title
  • Minimum of 1000 words (2 pages single spaced)
  • Bibliography using citations throughout writing
  • Submit a DOCX file


  1. Word count met: 5%
  2. Formal writing style. Includes use of art and design vocabulary throughout writing: 40%
  3. Thoughtfully and critically answered writing prompts: 45%
  4. Spelling, punctuation, grammar: 10%

Resources for Discovering Artists and Designers

  • Fast Company: An essential design publication; features mainstream design and weird creative stuff.
  • We Make Money Not Art: A quirky blog of new media art; search for keywords to browse years of material.
  • Dribble: A social media platform for designers (mostly UI and graphic design)
  • Creative Bloqq: A very pop-y blog of creative tech stuff.
  • Surface Magazine: A high-brow publication on "architecture, art, design, fashion, and travel."
  • 99% Invisible: Every designer's favorite podcast; browse years of stories on design of all kinds.
  • Abstract: The Art of Design: A Netflix series about innovative designers.
  • Art21: A great video series on artists of all kinds.
  • TED Talks: You know what they are; search for designers, artists, and practioners.
  • The world around you: look through your books, albums, video games, or other design work that you love and find out who made it.

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