The “Narrative 1” unit was an exiting introduction to the world of art for Freestyle Students. This unit focused on skills such as Conceptual Art, storytelling, personal website design and coding and photography as well as letting students experiment with music production and projects of their choice. Not only did this unit teach Students practical skills that could be applied to many modern-day jobs but it also developed crucial communication skills by making students step out of their comfort zone and express themselves through storytelling. Below, are some examples of what I created thorough this unit and the creative process behind these projects.
The “Flash Fiction” project in English class was the main focal point for all Freestyle Classes throughout the Narrative 1 Unit. This assignment required students to write a short Narrative story about a topic of their choice. First, students began to sketch out the personality of their characters as well as a timeline for the story known as a Plot Map in their writers notebooks.
After planning out the story, students quickly got to work drafting and revising their essays with help from other students through the peer review process used in our English class. Finally, After perfecting our stories Students were taught to record and edit the audio recordings in our Digital Media class using the software Avid Pro Tools. Finally, we created album art for the stories as they were published Freestyle’s SoundCloud page.
By: Alessandro Valdevit
He was a small kid, about 5’2 with thick black curly hair. He always tried to dress nice no matter where he went, always trying to imitate what other artists wore in internet posts. It had been exactly one month today since he posted his debut single on his Soundcloud account and it still hadn’t gotten the attention he wanted only ever reaching 20 or so plays. The song wasn’t anything special, he recorded and edited it all on his phone. It did have a few clever lines, most of them just being regurgitated from other popular artists writing.
On this particular day he was wearing his best outfit, a brand new shirt from some fancy designer with a clean pair of cargo pants and Nike shoes. Today was a special day, one he had been waiting for what felt like years. He looked up from the register as the clock slowly ticked towards 5:00. Swiftly, he punched out, took his apron off and hung it up on the wall as he walked into his bosses office with his head up high. His boss handed him his monthly check and sent him on his way. It was usually about a 20 minute walk from where he worked in the city to his small house in the Bronx but today he made it in only 10, speed walking through the city streets as he felt the excitement sprinting around his stomach. He’d been using these walks throughout the past few months to write the lyrics to his next song that would finally be recorded and mixed by a professional with the money he’d saved up through his cashier job.
As he walked up the grease soaked front steps to his house he reached into his pocket, pulled out his earbuds and placed them gently in both of his ears. Reluctantly, he toggled on the noise cancelation mode and knocked weakly on the hollow, wooden door 3 times bracing himself for what was to come. The door violently swung open and with it came a flash flood of words as if they had just been released from a pressurized water tank. His mom, Pilar stood in the front hallway holding this semester’s report card that she had crumpled up earlier in a fit of rage, all her words being canceled out by his blasting music. Ever since his music career started he was skipping classes, ignoring his assignments and spending all his free time in his room scrolling through social media or outside with his friends. His mom would raise her voice at him from time to time but never really did anything that pushed him to make a change. Even though she didn’t agree with his choices, he still loved her more than anyone in the world and just wanted to do better for her and their family.
As he shut the door to his room he breathed a sigh of relief. His two closest friends Alexander and Xavier were already outside, ready to hit the studio with him so he quickly washed his face, sprayed some deodorant on himself and crept out the back door, since the recording studio was only a few miles away from his house they decided to walk. The three of them talked on the way and their anticipation grew as they got closer and closer until they reached the street corner by the mall where the three of them usually hang out.
“What’s wrong” they both asked as he looked off into the distance.
He had seen It. A huge billboard which seemed to contain all that he had ever wanted. His body froze, mesmerized by such a beautiful sight. The jacket he had been wanting since the beginning of high school when he saw all his favorite celebrities wear it. The billboard flashed “only 399” as he looked down at the 4 crisp hundred dollar bills in his hands. Two symphonies of good and evil competing to overpower him. He walked towards the flashing sign as if he was hypnotized and his friends followed close behind without saying a word.
After writing my story, I recorded and edited my short story using skills that I had previously learned in Avid Pro Tools to add sound effects, music and transitions between the clips.
After learning to use Adobe Illustrator in Digital Media, Freestyle Students were assigned an project where they were able to choose what they wanted to design in Illustrator. This design would later be printed or made by Freestyle. For this project I chose to create a Moroccan Candle Shade. I decided to go with this option because the final product would be a nice souvenir to remember this unit by. By using design techniques that I previously learned in Illustrator, I was able to create a simple Moroccan Pattern that would later be made into a candle.
Another form of art that Freestyle students were able to experiment with in this unit is music. For this project students were instructed to record, edit and upload a parody of a popular song. For this project my partner Vinh Le and I parodied popular Drake song “Hotline Bling” where we talked about the struggle many students were facing during the Coronavirus pandemic. This project was a bit of a challenge for us at first as it was our first time using the software “Pro Tools” to create a final project. After some trial and error, my partner and I were able to create a professional sounding final project by using a variety of different plugins and mixing techniques to remove the vocals from the original song and replace them with our own lyrics.
Verse 1: Vinh
Ever since quarantine started, I
Have been so bored at home since then
I got nothing to do at my house
I’ve been wanting to leave my house for a while now
Online school out here got me stressed out
Starting to play more video games for now
I hope i see my friends soon
And have to be able to have fun
You can only call me on my cell phone
Because we can not leave our house
Call me on my cell phone
Because we have to stay inside
Suffering from quarantine
Video games all day long
Suffering from quarantine
Video games all day long
Verse 2: Alessandro
Ever since quarantine started I, I, I
Haven’t been getting enough exercise
Haven’t’ been able to see anyone
Not going any places where I belong
Ever since quarantine started I,
Don’t even know what’s been going on
Running out of things to do at my house
Staring at my computer screen all day.
Freestyle’s Design students spent the majority of the narrative unit creating a symbolic creature and background based on our Flash Fictions that combined body parts from 5 different types of animals. First, students were taught the basics of Adobe Illustrator as we were given practice assignments which taught us how to make a linear perspective background for our creature.
After learning the basics, design students got to work planning their project using a mood board which is a common tool designers use to plan out their objects and color schemes.
After some time to plan, students were finally ready to create their final projects. Using Illustrators pen tool, students traced images of the body parts they selected and blended them together, added their own color schemes and merged it with the linear perspective backgrounds they created.
Once the creatures were finished, it was time for students to write an artist statement explaining the intention behind their creatures and each body part. All this work was then posted to this year’s Freestyle website.
By: Alessandro Valdevit
In my narrative short story entitled “Follower” the main character Quin is a confused teen with a deep desire to fit in. He aspires to be a successful musician and provide for him and his struggling mother however he’s struggling to find his own style and fan base. After recording a few songs on his phone and posting them to popular streaming service SoundCloud he finally decides to find a job in order to pay for real studio time. After a few months of working he is excited to go to the studio however, this excitement is short-lived as he ends up giving into peer pressure and buying a popular jacket with the money instead.
I designed my Narrative Creature keeping in mind Quin’s personality and traits. I decided to use distinctive parts of very different animals that didn’t necessarily fit well together. I did this intentionally in order to demonstrate that copying or borrowing elements of style or ideas that have worked well in the past for others isn’t a good approach to take when pursuing an artistic career. I decided to use body parts from a Sheep which is a common word used when referring to followers, a Vulture which scavenges in a similar way to how Quin constantly scavenges for inspiration, a Mimic Octopus which uses camouflage to hide it’s real appearance, a Snake which is a metaphor for Quin’s behavior when he wastes his money on non-essential items in a desperate attempt to fit in and finally, a Hercules Beetle which has a unique horn which is meant to indicate to the viewer that Quin has his own unique personality that he’s scared to show to his audience. To design this creature, I used the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator to trace an outline of all the body parts I selected. I then created my own color scheme, feathers for the creature and a studio background for my creature which I drew in 1 point linear perspective. This process was a bit difficult at first as I was experimenting with different body parts and ended up having to throw some of them out after having drawn them already however, once I got past this small issue the rest came naturally. Overall, I’m happy with the final product I created considering that it was my first real design project in Illustrator.