Here's the final piece I ended up with. I still think it needs some improvement to make it more legible of the word GIVE, but - for now - this is it.
Taken from the assignment's handout:
Experiment with one word of your choosing and imagine ways
in which you might illustrate the meaning of the word through
its composition. The aim is to express some of the power or
emotional content of the word.
Work with contrasts of size, weight, form, structure, and direction
to explore many variations. You can take letters from the word and
reverse them, repeat them, delete them, reposition them, resize
them, change the typeface, etc.
You may complete this assignment by whichever means you feel
is appropriate for communicating the meaning of your word. ie.
You may choose to illustrate or paint your word, you may choose
to build your word and photograph it, or you may choose to
compose it digitally.
I began by quickly sketching both some layouts/words as well as different methods which I could find a word to fit into.
I also started looking up interesting words, but I wanted to keep it simple as short words are often more powerful than long, elaborate ones. Additionally, I researched different, unique methods of art/ art forms or materials that artists use. On the left are inspiration pictures which I found on the internet (Disclaimer: Those are NOT my artwork, but were found online and their respective artists have complete ownership).
I narrowed down my ideas to three:
1) Walk: the idea was to make this word out of people's legs as they walked through the streets of New York, so to speak. When I fleshed out this idea though, I realized that it is more difficult than you'd think to make the word obvious as well as "natural looking".
2) Look: Originally the word "SEEK" in my first sketches, I turned towards a telescope instead of a magnifying glass and put the word "LOOK" in the eye. The issue with this one is that the word needed to take up 2/3 of the composition, which this idea couldn't do without cropping out the person looking through the telescope, making the concept unclear.
3) Give: In my initial sketches, the idea of someone giving a homeless person an apple and making pieces of this word out the parts of the composition was viewed from the side. To bring the letters together, though, I changed the angle of the scene, viewing it from the giver's elbow. This is the one I ended up going with.