School of Communication and the Arts


Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art (MFA)


Christopher Phillips


Critical Thinking, Illustration, Art, Decades, Comics, Generation Z


Art and Design


The youth of today, especially Generation Z, lack the ability to think critically. An area that seems to be especially difficult for Generation Z to critically evaluate is visual media. This is an issue because visual media has an influential hold (both emotionally and mentally) over this generation and is a key factor in swaying the opinions and behaviors of these young minds. Visual media is a powerful tool that. should continue to be used by future generations, but with the knowledge that there will always be potentially negative influences, and more importantly, ways to identify and defend against them. This thesis is designed to explore a possible method to combat this lack of critical thinking in a visual manner by creating a beginner’s guide to evaluating visual media. The most important question to answer was how exactly visual media is used to mentally and emotionally influence people. Initial research investigated four areas of influence that exist in nearly all visual media: color theory, symbolism, literature influence, and emotion. Literature reviews explored each of these areas in greater detail. Next, case studies reviewed other similar projects and how they tackled similar issues in a visual way. Then, content analysis was used to dig deeper into the four areas of interest: color theory, symbolism, literature influence, and emotions. Finally, concept mapping and image boards were used to begin testing and establishing the best ways to tackle the visual deliverables. In light of this research, it was determined that the deliverables would consist of five illustrations infused with color theory, symbolism, literature influence, and emotion, as well as four illustrated charts explaining the basics of each influential category, so the viewer can engage with the project.