Staff Specialism | Tracy Lannon

In today’s morning lecture, tutor Tracy Lannon took the time to talk to us about her professional practice. In the previous week, we had our tutor Anneke do the same thing. I found it interesting to hear about my tutors talking about their practice; it made quite a refreshing change to the norm lectures and gave us insight as to what they are interested in- not only as creatives, but people.

Although a tutor in Graphic Design, Tracy has a degree and background in Behavioral sciences. She then came back to university to focus on design and worked as a packaging designer. This ranged from numerous products, such as Bacon packaging, to Nike trainers. She also worked with Hallmark in creating festive cards and products which would be commonly sold in shops such as Sainsbury’s or Marks and Spencers. With her background in behavioral sciences, and experience in design, Tracy is interested in Design and emotion- meaningful, effective communication and social context. Tracy broke her interests into categories:

Perception- Illusion, persuasion and propaganda

Meaning of Life- Design and consumer culture

Animation Heroes- Defying cultural convention

Designing Data- Colour and visual storytelling

Advertising and Immersion- A sign of times

Blurred the Boundaries- Survival in C21st

Post digital features- Data deluge and digital divide

The Creative Brain- Insight and Eureka moment

Tracy then continued in saying that during the lecture, we will explore the first category- Perception. As well as our Tutor, Tracy also takes leadership as Placement Rep. Meaning that she works closely with the placement team and is the tutor to approach should you have any questions regarding placement.


To begin with Perception, Tracy showed us this intriguing optical video on you tube.

Tracy then tried to get us engaged by trying an optical trick. She instructed us to draw an X on our page and a dot on the same line but on the other side of the page. If your eyes focus on one of these symbols, when you move the paper closer from a distance, you will notice that the other symbol will disappear from your eyesight.

We then moved onto to talking about how treatment off other people can influence or effect performance. Tracy told us that a teacher tried an experiment in which her targeted the weaker students in the class and would praise and encourage them to improve their confidence in learning. By the end of the year, the weaker students were the strongest in the class.

She then moved on to talking about Mice maze experiments. The experiment was to see the animals reaction time to get out of the maze. Tracy said that when doing the first experiments, the lab workers used to keep good care of the mice- feed them well, and give them attention which helped their performance within the maze. Tracy then gave another example and said, if you was to ask a child to draw Santa Claus in December, the drawing will be fun, colourful and festive. However, if you was to ask a child to do the same thing in June, the drawings would not be so enthusiastic because children are not excited for Christmas. Your attitude and mood reflect your performance.

Tracy then showed us an image and asked if we could read it. As a class we read aloud together. This wasn’t this exact image but very similar.

Can you read it? 

I was very surprised to easily these examples. It seems as though you shouldn’t be able to- but some how can. With the first example. Apparently, it does not matter in which order the letters are in. If the first and last are the same, you can still read it through association. Cool right?

The next example not only uses letters but numbers. Again I found this strangely very easy to read. However I think it is because I have been brought up in a generation that simplified every word possible when texting in teenage years.

What do you see?

Tracy used this as an example of perception and how an image can have more than one subject. Here some people either focus on the black space, or the white. Each will mean you see a different subject. You either see the Chalice, or the two faces. Some people may see both straight away, or others after one another.

This is an interesting one…try staring at the 4 dots for at least 60 seconds, then look at a wall and relax your eyes. What do you see?

Tracy then moved on to talking about the famous Mona Lisa painting. The painting is known to be Mona Lisa smiling, however, there have been many people arguing that she isn’t smiling, and in fact looks quite miserable. There is a theory that due to the shading around the mouth- shaped like a grin, it tends to perceive Mona Lisa as smiling, where is in actual fact, she is smirking at the most.

Nature Vs Nurture 

When we view things, are eyes receive the information upside down. However, it is our brain that turns them the right way around. When you are a baby, it takes a long time to get used to using your eyes, moving and interacting with objects. However, over time we automatically learn and adapt. As an adult, if we strip these capabilities back, it is like being a baby again. The BBC featured a unique experiment in which a man had created upside down goggles and tried to live everyday as normal as he could in hope that he would adapt to the change.

The image below is called the Muller – Lyer Illusion. It features two images. The long horizontal lines are actually exactly the same, in length, thickness, everything, yet for some reason the top image seems longer.

Here is another little experiment. Count every F within the following text.





How many did you count?

This test is known as the Alzheimer’s Eye Test. The answer to the question is 6. However many people result in 4 F’s- myself included. This is because our eyes don’t register the “OF”‘s and instead focus of the words ending or starting with the letter. When I realised I couldn’t believe I had missed them out. If you also didn’t realise- don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you have Alzheimer’s, it is just a common way of testing. It just goes to show how effected our perception can be.

Social Influence 

Enjoy this entertaining video of an Iphone super glued to the floor in Amsterdamn. Check out what people do.

To summarise the lecture, Tracy talked about her PHD in Neuroplasticy. Tracy is really interested in the way the brain works and receives information and how this can be applied to design. She is currently working on a computer aided learning project for victims of dementia which she plans on pitching. Overall, I found the lecture very interesting, and was engaged throughout. I really like hearing about what my tutors have done, and what they are interested in. By knowing more about what they specialise in means that we can easily pick their brains if we ever choose to do anything on the topic ourselves.