Logo Workshop at Greenleaf Elementary with Citizen Schools

So often within this field, designers and companies tend to stay to themselves, recruiting from and engaging with similar groups of people. It is my firm belief however, that if one is a part of a bigger community, one should seek to actually and truly be a part of it. Being a good designer is such a powerful and valuable set of skills that only a privileged few are able to achieve. But surely there's a way we can change that.

While at Odopod, I've been spearheading projects and efforts to engage with the greater Bay area community, using the talents of the passionate and caring individuals at the company for the greater good. Recently, I reached out to Citizen Schools, an organization dedicated to partnering professionals with young people from underserved communities. Their goal is to close the opportunity gap for students from low-income households and equipping them with the necessary skills, practice, and access they'll need to succeed in a professional setting.

We worked with them to create a 1.5-hour workshop for Greenleaf Elementary School in east Oakland. The ongoing curriculum was centered around the idea of developing a personal brand and as a design studio, we saw an opportunity to work with the kids to make their own personal logos. It was our hope that by getting them to start thinking about branding and logos and realizing that it can be a lucrative, accessible career, they would be inspired to pursue the creative fields. As designers in the real world, we were also able to bring professional credibility to their curriculum.

I served as the liaison between Odopod and Citizen Schools, lead the brainstorms leading up to the workshop, developed the lesson plan, and created the necessary materials. With a team of two other Odopod employees, we lead the workshop at Greenleaf for a group of 12 middle schoolers. Despite not having much experience conducting workshops with kids of even in lesson planning, we had a great experience getting the class engaged, excited, and curious to explore visual identities. We learned a lot about what worked well, what didn't, and, surprisingly, that the kids loved using tracing paper. As the workshop came to a close, many kids were still heads down, tracing away and designing their very own logos. A few even went home with extra sheets of it, hoping to continue their iterations after class.

We looked at familiar brands to understand how designers can use recognizable and abstract shapes to convey ideas and emotions.

We were surprised to see how much the kids had already observed about companies and their visual identities. The next step was to push them to think about what made those successful and to apply those ideas towards their own logos.

We also introduced the idea of using typography to convey an emotion. The class was able to emotionally react to some of the typefaces and identify the visual elements that lead to that, eventually using these learnings to guide their own design.

Surprisingly to me, the tracing paper was a huge hit! It made creating a nice-looking thing quick and easy, allowing them to experiment and play around with the letters.

Some kids even began to draw out their own typefaces, using the existing letters to build off of. It was awesome to see what they came up with in such a short time frame.