S T U D I O 1 R

Stephanie Plenner // Designer, Writer, Sun Enthusiast

During a material investigation for patterns, my associate, Cris Morales, and I took to the Textile Resource Center at SAIC. With a micro lens, we explored materials for an installation at a scale we have never seen before. Here are some of the most intriguing images of varying materials: human epidermis, cow epidermis, cork, felt, diamond, and speciality fabrics. The first image is a swatch made specifically out of peacock feathers for Mick Jagger’s pants. Hopefully those feathers dropped naturally from the bird. In doing this research, I’ve also learned that felt’s composition (last image) is akin to dreadlocks. 

August Gold

There are so many spiders on the balcony this season, they should be paying rent. In lieu, I’ll take pictures. 

Floating Towers, 2014 

A compilation made from shots of last night’s fog.


Bruce Mau isn’t going to change the world. However, he will tell you where to position yourself in order to do so. On May 1, 2014, the Canadian-born visionary emerged from his island of Winettka and spoke to a packed house in Morningstar’s red-cushioned theater. 

Between consulting, educating, and publishing, Mau shares his wisdom, but it’s up to us to get our hands dirty and affect real change. In order to do this, we must work at the nexus of art + technology + science—the science of what’s possible combined with technology that allows us to do the possible, and “none of that is worth anything if it doesn’t make you cry”. 

Mau’s current gig is working with the Imagineering team at Disney. Most people allow failure, and at Pixar they calculate how much failure is allowed to keep producing number one box office hits. Fourteen consecutive to be exact. Mau was brought in to capture the culture so they can keep it going, reproduce it to perpetuate their work at the nexus. As Mau points out, one cannot innovate by doing what one knows. Design is a learning methodology. If you’re not learning you are just doing what you are good at. Repeating. And that’s production. In many contexts that’s okay, but not at the nexus. 

During the Q&A, one brave soul asked about transplanting those imagineers out of Hollywood and into Washington D.C. Well, they’re already working on that. A team of imagineers figured out how to throw a car, a rover, onto Mars and have it land. Over the next fifty years, these imagineers are doing a moonshot, thinking about the best possible things they can do for humanity. Perhaps, we all should take a step back and ask ourselves the same thing.

Written originally for AIGA Chicago

MoMENTUM, 2010

A college I started after my second visit to the east coast and first visit to the Museum of Modern Art. At the time, I considered this collage unfinished. However, looking back on it four years later, I like where it stopped. 

I’ve been co-teaching the Adobe Illustrator for Digital Output workshop with Erika Uzmann at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. If you’re a current SAIC student, staff, or faculty and would like to learn how Illustrator is used for laser cutters and the like, come lunch & learn this Thursday at noon.

Fashion Balance, 2006

I have finally begun a 365 Day Challenge. I plan to do a map a day with non-digital materials to keep my mind and hand flowing off the computer. Of course, I am starting with familiar territory, and then I’ll break away into the unknown, conceptual, and bizarre.

A digital campaign I designed for Sustainable SAIC. Overall message: While we have made progress in reducing our greenhouse gas emissions despite our growth, we still have a huge impact on our environment. To help visualize what this means, here are some scenarios based on annual numbers from 2012. The equivalencies were calculated using EPA’s website.
To help develop the scenes, I turned to The Noun Project and downloaded symbols from the public domain. 

My latest instructional collaboration for SAIC. We did the first round on the risograph. The final print will be in placemat-like formats for classes. We’re also working on an interactive version. The scale of this how-to lent itself to be explored in various mediums. 


Pretty soon, you’ll see some printed copies of “How To Stretch a Silkscreen” around the print studio! The Instructional will walk you through Materials & Preparation, Stretching the Screen, and Taping the Frame. 

For a preview online, you can scroll through the images above or Click here to view the PDF.

This Instructional is brought to you by Stephanie Plenner (IRFM) and Cristian Morales (BFA 2014) in collaboration with Melissa Leandro in the Fiber and Material Studies Department. 

Thanks Stephanie and Cristian! 

Doodling away some cabin fever.

I’ve been working on a greenhouse gas signage graphic for my department. While brainstorming with Illustrator, the imagery began to take a familiar direction.

Last night’s reading was a blast. I’m still thinking about how well each of our stories meshed for a night of technological musings. Thank you, Guild Literary Complex, for bringing us under one underground roof.

Small details make designing icons a miniature world of colorful fun. Here is a gif that shows the initial concept of the L transform into an abstract intersection for the Chicago Literary Map, my latest literary project.

Note: This is my first time making a gif. For the purists, the canvas size is the same, the icon size varies slightly. 

I’m dwindling down to my last days at the Roger Brown home in Michigan. It’s been an amazing time, to say the least. I’ve had space to sketch and write, while suspending all pending deadlines. There were days when all I did was drink coffee and draw imagery that surrounded me. I had a couple visitors and will have more this weekend. My friend Jamie, in particular, came last weekend and brought her latest obsession, mylar. Here’s a video of the sculptural material.

You can only write in the moment once. I have been doing a lot of that, and it’s time to do more.

(Photography by Jamie Sebold)