Book Design


A collection of illustrated short stories.

Png of the Belonging book open to a spread

My Role - Individual Project

Book Design, Poster Design, Ideation, Research, Branding, Illustration, Printing, Writing & Editing


September 2021 to April 2022


Indesign, Procreate, Figma, Google Scholar, Various databases and books, Google Docs, Printers & Hand binding materials


This book is a collection of short stories and illustrations that center around the topic of belonging. It encourages people to cherish or create their own moments of belonging.

The book also looks at belonging as a 2nd or 3rd generation Romanian immigrant and using stories to preserve traditions & values.

This is the final deliverable of my University thesis. The development process is broken down into 3 phases: phase 1 is a Visual Analysis, phase 2 is a research paper and the final phase is the book.

Initial Questions

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What is the connection between belonging, identity, being a second-generation immigrant, and the arts/ music/food?

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Can pop culture be used to create shared experiences of belonging and form communities?

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How can we use storytelling to share and preserve cultural experiences?

Phase 1: Memes & the Romanian Culture

How can memes be used to connect second-generation immigrants - particularly Romanians - to their homeland and preserve culture?

My goal was to see how platforms like Instagram and Facebook can facilitate feelings of belonging and start conversations about cultural identity. I particularly looked at Romanian group accounts.

The Power of Memes

World icon to symbolize community

Community builders

They can bring people from diverse backgrounds together.

Fire icon to symbolize Spread like wildfire

Spread like wildfire

Eye-grabbing & quick digestible modes 
of entertainment.

Volume Louder icon to symbolize Socially aware

Socially aware

Provides a platform for large numbers of people to voice their opinions.

Icon of a happy face to symbolize people


They can bring a smile to your face and unleash your interest in a topic.

Key Findings

two speak bubbles with EN for english icon to symbolize that 72% of posts were non-material values like language

72% of posts were non-material values

Traditions & language are less likely to change in short periods.

heart icon to symbolize safe space

Safe space

The social platforms created spaces for people to share their own experiences

Open book pages icon to symbolize learning


Being able to learn more about your culture and ask questions.

Comment bubble icon to symbolize Commenting


Group interaction creates a sense of community.

Methodology & Organization

I organized the collected Romanian memes using two lenses, the first being Non-Material Values (i.e., Values, Norms & Beliefs, Symbols and Language) and Material Values (i.e., Food and Drinks, Objects, Religious Images, and Music) and the second through a tier list of my personal experiences.

Memes and the Romanian culture poster

Phase 2: Belonging & 2nd gen EE immigrants

What is belonging, and how do second-generation Eastern Europeans (EE) maintain their belonging in their ethnic background?

After my visual analysis and exploring memes, I wrote a 20+ page paper where I analyzed the psychology of belonging, the Romanian immigrant experience and belonging as an immigrant.

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Five Aims

  1. What is belonging and why do humans feel the need to build connections?
  2. How does loneliness affect a person’s mental health?
  3. Provide a background on the Communism and its continued effects on Eastern Europeans.
  4. Explore the difficulty in maintaining your ethnic identity as a 2nd-gen Eastern European.
  5. How do Eastern Europeans preserve their identity through intergenerational relationships?

Final Phase: A storybook

How can I facilitate a space where people can self-reflect on their memories of belonging and then go forth and find their own happiness?


After all my research, I realized that instead of focusing on feelings of exclusion, being lost or unwanted, I wanted to create a storybook that cherished the little moments of belonging in life. My goal was to inspire people to find or create more of those memories.

Stories and Illustrations

I drew around 100 illustrations and wrote about 18 short stories.

While not all of the stories were included in the book (due to time restrictions), they either focused on moments of childhood belonging or looked at nostalgia as a 2nd generation Romanian immigrant.

Photograph of belonging book
Close up photograph of belonging book (text says strong together and united forever)
Close up photograph of belonging book (text says Grandma's house - The early morning sun shines on my face and I feel the warm summer breeze rush over my skin)
Photograph of belonging book (text says - the new sibling)
Photograph of belonging book (text says: Our Kingdom- We built a castle today. My siblings and I. We made the walls and erected the gates)


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Importance of goal orientation

Setting goals helps guide your direction and focus. It helps us better prioritize our aspirations, manage our time and limit distractions.

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Step out of your comfort zone

Be willing to put yourself through change - to go through new experiences and challenges. There is always something new you can learn or improve on. Don't regret the opportunity you didn't take.