Thursday, 6 August 2009

1st Year Digital Portfolio

Click here to view the fruits of my first year labours.

The quality of the slides vary with the quality of the work, no suprise there!
Thanks everyone for a great year, heres hoping for a successful 2nd year!

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Speaking From Experience: Evaulation.

1. What skills have you developed through this module and how effectively do you think you have applied them?

I have developed in many areas throughout this module. Practical skills involve a new approach to bookbinding that I have never tried before, and pretty much perfected. I feel I have developed the most in areas like time keeping, and project management. Some of the areas I touched on in the self evaluation for my elective, I have made great progress with and I feel I am really getting to grips with some of the problems that have held me back in the past. As I was putting together all my work for submission, I realised exactly how far I'd come this year, and exactly what I'd achieved. Even though the tutors have said this to us many times, it was fantastic to actually see it for myself, and really believe that I've made a great deal of progress.
My time management and ability to stay focused has increased tenfold in the last few months. The more I begin to enjoy this course, the more I want to engage with it, and the less I am distracted by other things on my life. So what I haven't gained in practical knowledge of skills, I have certainly made up for in life skills, confidence, time and project management, and a greater focus on what I want to achieve.

2. What approaches to/methods of research have you developed and how have they informed your design development process?

The length of this brief really allowed me to explore ways to gather research, and research that will actually help my design process. I think the most innovative way I collected research for this project was how I collected information on the types of design that our class found inspiring or were influenced by. I collected information firstly by sending out questionnaires asking for the names of 1st and 2nd years favourite designers, this then lead to me collecting a good selection of their work (I tried to be fair in this selection process, picking pieces that showed the best range of the designers work) and passing these sheets out to the entire class, asking them to pick their 3 favourites, and a brief explanation as to why. This proved to be a particularly efficient and practical way of gathering research, and I spent a long time gathering, processing and using the information gathered to inform my design process. I will say however that perhaps my project was lacking in secondary research, and I should've looked at the work of other designers, other calendars, other books to gain inspiration. However I did feel that the information gathered from my peers was at the heart of this project, and any secondary research would not have had as much bearing on the resolution.

3. What strengths can you identify in your work and how have/will you capitalise on these?

The research gathered was definitely the strongest part of the entire project, I spent such a long time processing it, and unlike other modules, it actually helped direct and inform the entire project. I feel I have already capitalised on this, however research will always be something that I can improve upon, and the skills I have developed in this area I will remember, and take with me into the second year. I don't think its ever possible to have too much research on any project, so although this was my strongest area, I can't say I was particularly satisfied with what I did gather, I could easily have processed much more. As I mentioned before, my project and time management has come on a lot since the last module hand in. Again this is something that will be ever improving, and I'll probably never feel like it's good enough! However I can recognise that it is improving, which can only be a good thing.

4. What weaknesses can you identify in your work and how will you address these more fully?

Weaknesses. Where to start? The resolution I was severely disappointed with. The feedback I managed to get from the rest of the class was mainly positive, however I can't help be feel it looks completely rushed, because it was. I am so disappointed that I didn't manage to get a complete calendar done, and I wish I'd spent a bit more time adding the details to give it a professional edge. This aside though, I think the negative view I have on this is purely a result of me yet again not achieving what I set out to do, not because the resolution was particularly bad.
The lack of development work I feel had an impact on the quality of the final piece as well. I think maybe I spent too long gathering research, and neglected to develop the design of the piece. I think also it is the work from other artists included in the work that makes it look good, not my own design? It was quite difficult to design something that was simple enough to act as a backdrop for the pieces of design that were all so incredibly different, but still reflect the time and energy that went into designing it! I think this could have been a lot better, had I given more time to development. I just need to get a good balance between research and development in the future, as the two go hand in hand.

5. Identify five things that you will do differently next time and what do you expect to gain from doing these?

1 - Remain focused.
If I can focus, and remain focused on a project, for the entire duration of the project, which I still haven't managed to do yet, great things are sure to happen. I know I haven't reached my potential yet, and I can only hope what I've learnt will stay with me through the summer, and into 2nd year.

2 - Allow more time for the final resolution.
I am so fed up with not resolving anything to the standard that I had in mind. Though I don't think it's such a big deal right now, as we have been mainly focused on the design process, by next year a higher standard of final piece will be expected of us, and this may be the area that lets me down most.

3 - Don't neglect development.
Developing the final resolution is something that should happen naturally anyway, so when it doesn't happen the finished piece will suffer massively. The development I did produce wasn't nearly enough to bring out the best in the calendar I produced, like I said, I spent too much time researching and I need to strike a balance between developing and researching to bring out the best in any project in the future.

4 - React to the feedback I receive. (positively!)
I think I can misconstrue constructive criticism as negative remarks, when really I'd probably benefit from taking what they have said on board and actually doing something about it. I know my own feedback can be quite negative sometimes, so it seems quite hypocritical to dish it out, but not be able to take it myself!

5 - Involve more practical print processes.
I have tried my hand at screen printing many times this year, and each time I have came away with the worst results I could've imagined. I'd love to have to confidence to use it in my work, without the worry of making a mess of it and running out of time to change my idea. Screen printing is a great way to achieve really professional results in your work, and I'd hate to miss out on this next year, when I assume the resolution will have more bearing on module grades.

Overall. This project has been one of my more successful. It's had it's ups and downs, though I feel I have learnt a lot about myself, and the way I work, and how to overcome some of the problems I've suffered from in the past. These are things that are obviously not evident in my work yet, though they are things that are just as important in my eyes for my own personal development.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Statement of intent - Speaking from Experience.

What is the problem?

The problem I have chosen is not only something I suffered from during the first few weeks of the course, but on and off throughout the entire year - Creative block. This is one of the most frustrating and stressful issues I've had so far, and if it goes on too long can potentially result in the failure of a module. Not something you need hanging over you when your bogged down with work, as well as the usual feelings of unease after moving to a new city.

What am I going to do about it?

Well the cure for any kind of creative block is inspiration, this can come in many forms, it could be something someone says or does. It could be a photo, a book, a memory, a song... anything. To narrow down ways in which I can feed this inspiration to my audience, I must first consider who that audience is! The new first years, graphic designers, my class 8 months ago. I have no way of actually interacting and gathering information from the new kids, so I have to work with what I already know. The most obvious pieces of inspiration, and the most useful, would be things related to what they are about to experience. So pieces of graphic design from all areas of the industry would be the most sensible solution to this problem.

Areas to include:
  1. Typography
  2. Package Design
  3. Illustration
  4. Colour
  5. Photography
  6. Hand crafting
  7. Mixed media
  8. Digital - information graphics
  9. Book binding
  10. Collage

How am I going to do it?

Taking into account everything I have just talked about, and the feedback I've had already, I figure the best way to resolve this problem is in the form of a calendar. As creative block can strike at any time I feel a calendar would be the best resolution, as this would follow the passage of time, and the user would feel a sense of security knowing that there was a piece to inspire for every day of the year. I would like to base the calendar on the module year plan for 2009/10 as well if it is possible but I'm still waiting to see if I can do this. If it I possible, I will organise the pieces to go in the calendar according to the module or brief the new students will be working on.

The calendar will also function as a book, so whoever uses it can either tear off each page as they go through, or keep the whole thing in tact and refer to it as and when they need to.

I will collect the pieces of design for the calendar with the help of my peers through surveys and questionnaires. This will make sure that there is a good mix of different design, and the finished piece will not be limited to what I find inspiring, as this obviously differs for everyone.
My main focuses will be on the collection of images, the bind, and the layout of the calendar. For the layout I will draw on knowledge already gained from type and grid sessions, as the collection and sorting of the images will take such a long time, I need a grid that can used to replicate each page, though still allow room for the alteration of individual pages should I need it.

On a final note, I would like to take this opportunity to find out what I failed to in my elective, is it harder to produce a piece of design that is sustainable? Does it cost more money and time? Exactly how feasible is it be be a sustainable designer? These are questions I would like to answer for my personal development.

Speaking From Experience - Calendar Mock up.

Sunday, 26 April 2009


It's been a long time fellow bloggers, but rest assured I have a lot to get through.

The collaborative brief. What an eye opener! After the short, and frankly embarrassing process of advertising ourselves and picking partners (the kind of process you'd associate with school kids picking their football teams) me and Will decided that to save us being the last two without partners, to team up. It's so strange working with someone that you already know well, we're both completely different people when we're in 'work mode'.

I found that I changed into the lazy, useless sack of shit that becomes a burden to the other half of the partnership, which i quickly corrected the following week, and I felt he naturally wanted to lead the proceedings... not necessarily a bad thing, but I didn't want to be left out of the process.. Anyway I think we worked really, really well together and would work with him again any time.

That aside, I'll get on with what we did!

The first task was to come up with a problem, we chose the starting point "Get people to do something new" and came up with the slightly sarcastic take of 'Get people to do their chores'.
Initially we didn't have to make whatever we came up with, so we could be as imaginative as we wanted. Me and Will decided to design a range of cleaning products, so tea towels, scouring sponges, bin bags etc... with a blunt, yet humorous message printed onto them.

The idea behind this being that the 'victim' of the messy housemate would be able to present the offender with a gift bag, full of the things they would need to clean up their act!

Here we have our first set of boards.

We experimented with slogans, type and obviously the finished product. We thought a lot about audience, and had many a long night arguing (constructively) over the actual deliverables, and how they would communicate to said audience. This was possibly the most difficult part of the whole collaboration, because without a clear sense of audience and product, we would be left floundering around in our ever growing pile of cool ideas.

The next phase was a lot shorter, and came as a horrible, but expected turn of events. After all our hard work and disagreements, we we're to pitch our ideas to another partnership for them to take to through the next steps. They would be free to change our designs as they saw fit, and we would be free to do the same to theirs!

We had Becca and Heathers design boards. They planned to create a calendar, with the idea including local charity events for every month. Will and I soon realised the biggest flaw in this design was that it was just the wrong time of year to make a calendar for 2009, as a good percentage of the year has already passed, and it was too early to make a calendar for 2010...
We tore their idea apart and re arranged it in a way we felt worked best, and then pitched their idea back to them...

The final twist, and the most frustrating one, was after the 2ND pitch, both couples were told to swap back to their original ideas, but with the changes the other team had made. Parts of this process were helpful, as the other partnership had simplified areas we had previously struggled with. But to have to go through the process of finalising an idea so its ready to create, and being so ready to create it, and then having to pass it on to someone else. Twice?! Very frustrating stuff, but I suppose this is the nature of the industry.

After we had pitched back to each other, and the concept boards handed back to their original owners, Will and I discussed the changes that had been made to our initial designs. I'm unsure whether I didn't like the changes Becca and Heather had made because I felt our ideas were actually better, or because I was being stubborn and wanted to do what we originally thought of.
Either way I don't think they took on board many of the changes we made, though we did totally massacre their concept hah.

Anyway, making compromises where we thought necessary, Me and Will decided to really simplify our message, and the deliverables for that matter.

We were originally going to make a pack of branded household cleaning products to kick start those lazy housemates into cleaning up their mess. There was a lot of confusion as to how many products the pack should contain, or indeed what products would be included, the biggest factor was whether or not a product could be screen printed, or stickered. As time began to run short, and we realised just how much money this was going to cost us, we decided we had to change the final product or we just wouldn't have enough time to make it.

We opted for what we thought was the most effective resolution, a tea towel, screenprinted with our original message "Do the fucking dishes" along with series of patronising instructional drawings to aid the user with their washing up duties. Simple and effective.

The final boards produced should give you a better idea of the nature of the product...

Despite the stress of other project deadlines, and a good few hiccups at the beginning, both Will and myself we're extremely pleased with the final outcome. I personally feel that we managed to overcome every problem that was thrown at us, and our completely different personalities and styles of working complemented each other really well, and we managed to pull of a well designed, well thought out resolution with a good amount of research and documentation to go with it. Well done us.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

How to...

...choose flattering eye glass frames.

This brief was one of my better ones I think. I managed to collect research and develop my ideas in relation to a specific audience with relatively successful results. The audience being pre-teens, who have found they need glasses and are feeling unconfident about it, for some reason the younger generation of spectacle wearers have this "geeky" stigma attached to them.
Anyway, I planned to get two posters done, one for a boy's magazine, and one for a girl's, since there is such a huge divide between the sexes at that age.

I only managed to produce a girl's poster for the deadline on Monday, though I plan to get a second done for the module hand in.

As far as feedback was concerned, we seemed to be pretty much left to our own devices, and though that's helpful in some circumstances, I felt my feedback suffered as a result. It got some pretty general comments, so I was left wondering how I could take this forward. One comment I did receive was about the girls face, and the fact that she seems a bit older than my target audience. I think this is because of the style I chose to illustrate in, the lines around her face look my like wrinkles than expression lines... Something I'll have to address in the next few days.
Everything else seemed pretty positive! I'll take another look at my hand-drawn type face as well, that could do with a bit of a tidy up. Oh, and I'm going to revise what I write at the bottom of the page, it sounds awful as it is.