So my fifth semester of grad school has officially begun and I already feel behind. It’s grad school, everyone is always behind.
I started meeting with an advisor for some insightful and engagin 1×1 sessions (thank you miss Jenny) and it’s come to my attention that rather than focusing on the “thingness” of my thesis (translation, read: end product, book/website/app/cooking class/etc.) I really need to focus on the content of what my thesis is about and how in the world it’s going to change cooking in America. My Thesis Development class I took over the summer was helpful, but far too rushed. For anyone who still has to take it, it’s definitely doable over the summer, but I would highly recommend taking it over the course of a full 15-week semester to really get the most out of it. That class was meant to lay the groundwork and really set the pace for my thesis. Unfortunately, as is life, it was far too rushed and I feel almost as though I’m in the same spot I was when I started 3 months ago.
So often, it feels like I’m in this alone and doing everything on my own, but the reality of it is that others are walking right along side of me, doing the same thing—there’s just a wall up between us so we can’t see to the other side. Many have gone before, and many will come after. Every generation of designers trying to be better than the rest.
In my first two meetings with Jenny we went over my target audience. It’s amazing how much can change when someone begins brainstorming with you, rather than forcing my over-worked brain to do it once, twice and then three times because it wasn’t right the first time. Two heads are better than one, it’s official. It’s meetings and revelations like this that encourage me. Back to my audience, it’s changed (as has most things within my thesis besides the premise that I want to get people in the kitchen cooking). Initially I was thinking that I could only include people that have never cooked before and don’t know the first thing about cooking. The problem with my choosing of this audience is not only that it’s semi-unrealistic, but I’m also not qualified to teach people how to start from scratch. What people need is a head start. They need a prod, a push, a nudge to get them into the kitchen. But what is that push? This is what I’m trying to figure out. My audience, evolving due to my research thus far, shows that people are interested in cooking and want to know more (two key components of an ideal target audience member: interest and love for learning) even if they know the basics. People get stuck in a rut and need help getting out. There is still fear of the kitchen of course, it’s still what’s keeping most people out of the kitchen, but there’s also a wall that needs to be broken down, much like the wall up between other designers going through the same process as me. LOTS of people don’t know how to cook! You are not alone in this quest if that’s you!!! That’s one of the greatest revelations I’ve had so far, is letting people know that they’re NOT ALONE in this and that there are a ton of people like you. Now, what do I do with this information, that’s the problem at hand.
Graphic design is really all about problem solving. Lucky for me I loved math and work problems growing up (perhaps one of the reasons I love design is because it is organized and there are right and wrongs in it, much like math, but there is creativity and freedom in the process). My next step is really to figure out the problems I want to address and then figure out solutions for them that I can use to design to accomplish.
just in case you’re wondering:
MY CURRENT TARGET AUDIENCE
My thesis targets a towards younger, post-college “new-nesters” in America. These people range in age from their mid 20s to early 30s, they’re educated, urban dwellers. They are technology savvy, green-minded, busy, preoccupied, hard-working people with a busy social life. These are the people who eat takeout multiple days a week, or eat out at a restaurant in place of a home-cooked meal. These people like food, would love to cook but don’t feel they have the time to cook and don’t know the first thing to do in the kitchen.
NOT IN MY AUDIENCE
There are many efforts already being made to address the younger populations in America. Children are important if we are to change as a nation and population, but they are not my target audience.
In general, older generations know how to cook and have been doing it for many many years. They may be unaware of more modern cooking methods so they could potentially benefit from my thesis, but they are not my target audience.
Parents are busy and have to cut down on anything and everything they can. They also have a way of doing things already. Young, first-tme parents could benefit from my thesis, but soccer or PTA moms are not my tartget audience.
PEOPLE WHO DON’T LIKE FOOD.
I’m not interested in addressing people who have no interest in my topic or willing to change their ways.
For an interesting read, take a look at Ramit Sethi’s blog (this post was written by Tynan):