Creative Practice

Assist. Prof. Sosa-Tzec discusses critical approaches to the visual essay in the AIGA DEC Symposium

The AIGA DEC Symposium Lens 2023 took place this October 12 in New York City, within the AIGA National Conference. Assistant Professor Omar Sosa-Tzec participated in the panel "Making Space for Graphic Designers as Visual Essayists." In this panel, Dr. Sosa-Tzec discussed the notion of the visual essay as a multimodal argument and outcome of research-through-design and the application of poetics, semiotics, rhetoric, and aesthetics as critical approaches to peer-review the visual essay in graphic design academia. Sosa-Tzec also discussed sketchnoting as a form of pre-writing and content for visual essays. Accompanying Dr. Sosa-Tzec were Patricia Childers (CUNY/CityTech/Pratt), Heather Corcoran (Washington University in St. Louis), and Joshua Unikel (University of Houston). All the professors were AIGA DEC Design + Writing Fellowship members in 2022. This panel and their work from the fellowship seek to legitimize the visual essay as a research product in graphic design academia and pluralize and diversify its voices. 

Slide listing poetics, semiotics, rhetoric, and aesthetics as critical approaches to the visual essay
Image showing Omar Sosa-Tzec's visual essay and sketchnotes and listing uses for the sketchnote in visual essay creation

Assist. Professor Omar Sosa-Tzec Presenting on Delightful Screen Time Visualizations at NorDes 2023, the 10th Nordic Design Research Society Conference

Assistant Professor Sosa-Tzec will present an exploratory paper on delightful visualizations of screen time for smartphones at the 10th Nordic Design Research Society (Nordes) Conference, which will take place in Norrköping, Sweden. This paper focuses on how to help smartphone users to attain digital wellbeing–that is, a balanced relationship with technology–through unconventional, delightful screen time visualizations. This exploratory work applies Design Delight–Prof. Sosa-Tzec's experiential framework to design for a happy and flourishing life–and sketching to conceptualize such visualizations. Through this paper, Prof. Sosa-Tzec argues that delight (in relation to digital well-being products and experiences) plays an important role in helping people attain digital wellbeing. Moreover, he urges designers to recognize sketching as a valuable activity concerning research through design.

The paper is available in the digital proceedings of the Nordes 2023 conference, published in the Design Research Society Digital Library.  


Bringing Science and Design Together Through Visual Storytelling


(image: Josie Iselin)

School of Design, May 02nd 2023.

This semester, students in Prof Fernando Carvalho’s DES.410 Product Design 2 class will be participating in the Biodesign Challenge (, an international competition promoting the integration of design, innovation, and biotechnology. This is the very first time San Francisco State will be a part of this prestigious event, taking place in late-June, in New York City.

Students heard from lecturer faculty Josie Iselin and her deeply inspirational work, combining design, art, activism, ecology, and storytelling focused on kelp, and the marine coastal life.

Chasing Kelp: an artist’s journey into the science of seaweed

Josie Iselin took our Product Design 2 class on a visual journey into her process as an artist, writer and designer deeply involved with bringing the world of marine algae (seaweed) to a broad audience as artwork, architectural installation, and visually beautiful books. She concluded with her current project, designing a comprehensive website bringing art and science together to tell the story of bull kelp, the foundational forests of the California oceans.

Josie Iselin

Josie Iselin

Josie Iselin is the photographer, author, and designer of many books, with new projects always in development in her San Francisco studio, Loving Blind Productions. Her books focus on those forms in nature we find at hand and in particular, at the beach. Her newest book, The Curious World of Seaweed features visually rich narratives of sixteen iconic West Coast seaweeds and kelps. It was released by Heyday Books in August 2019 and has been shortlisted for the Northern California Book Award and the Alice Award, recognizing illustrated books. It was awarded The Tiffany Award for science communication by the Phycological Society of America and is the basis for a traveling exhibition of prints.

Josie’s writing and art focusing on seaweed, kelp, and sea otter put her at the forefront of ocean activism, presenting and working with scientists, other artists, and environmental groups working to preserve the kelp forests of our Pacific Coast. She is the co-director of a collaborative known as Above/Below, working to bring the recognition afforded the forests on land to the kelp forests below the ocean’s surface.

Josie holds a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies from Harvard and an MFA from San Francisco State University, where she currently teaches in the School of Design.