In most of the courses I teach, I am entirely agnostic in regards to the materials or medium my students work with. People assume that I am a ‘digital guy’ because I know my way around a computer, can hand-code HTML, and I like to use PhotoShop, Illustrator, etc. But the reality is, I first got into art by using pencil, pen, ink, markers, crayons, and collage – image-making tools that are all around us. At that time, I actually hated computers and opted to never touch one. I only started using computer aided design programs because of the speed, immediacy, and ability to separate the content from form…and to make fake IDs.
That is all to say that in this course, you can use any medium you feel comfortable with. Or you can perhaps explore materials that you’re not entirely comfortable with in an effort to discover some creative urge you didn’t know you had. Here are just a few media that I like to use for 2D design.

Pencil and paper

  • Simple and direct, this is actually my preferred medium for starting any piece. Having learned to put pencil to paper when I was still young, there is a lessened barrier between what I want to create and what I am able to sketch out.
    prolly drew this in 1996 or 97...idk.

Pen and ink

  • Sometimes exact, often unpredictable, and somehow always very captivating. Pen and ink is a simple way to achieve high-contrast, expressive, and immediate works of art and design. Below are some of my early pen and ink drawings.



  • Collage can be achieved by hand, like the work of Kurt Schwitters, Max Ernst, or Henry Matisse:
Kurt Schwitters, "No Charge for Delivery." 1947
a page from Max Ernst's surreal masterpiece, "Une semaine de bonté (A Week of Kindness)"
Henri Matisse, The Snail, 1953

But it can also be achieved through digital means, such as the piece I created below entitled Old Money (2008): a digital collage of photographs and old Vietnamese currency:

"Old Money" (2008)

Digital media

  • CAD programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. The picture below is almost entirely digital collage:tree of boobs landscape WORKPRINT


  • Wood cut, lithography, silk-screening, and other printmaking techniques


  • Full disclosure: I actually became interested in art through photography at the age of 8. I would take all sorts of photographs with 35mm film. Gradually I got into medium format, alternative processes, and digital photography. The same elements and principles of graphic design that appear in traditional art and graphic design are found within photography, making it an interesting medium to tackle these concepts with. Photography also plays a big part in graphic design as well, as images are often paired with type (this very web page is a good example).
  • "Vatican Square" (2011)
  • The image above is a high-dynamic range panorama of Vatican Square, in Vatican City. It is actually a collage of 16 images I took in 2011.


  • Fabric, buttons, thread, and other fiber-based materials fall into this category. My project 21 Trucks of San Antonio Texcala is a fiber-based design. I find that the immediacy and texture of fiber allows me to render point, line, form, space, and color in a familiar and exciting way. 

Found objects

  • I love the aesthetic of reused, recycled, and out-of-context materials. Just rummaging through the garbage for scrap materials can be very inspiring, breaking the mundane process of sitting in a studio making something. Artist Robert Rauschenberg was well known for using found objects in his ‘combines,’ works made from materials he found near his studio in lower Manhattan. The image below is of Rauschenberg’s 1995 work entitled Rebus, just one of his many combines from that period.
    Robert Rauschenberg, "Rebus" (1955)

Something I Haven't Thought Of?

  • Y'all fill in the blanks. All I ask if that you be creative, are prepared to defend your artistic choices, and that it makes the class more interesting!