I really messed up! We were also asked to produce a short video pitch. I was in charge of doing the voiceover for the video, which was the last part to be done. I don’t know what happened, but I forgot to send the finished video to my team members at the time and have somehow managed to lose all of the files between now and the Real World project. So, I’ve had to remake it:
(This next part isn’t related to the Real World project, so don’t feel obligated to read it, it was just nice to type out how I’ve been feeling)
I’ve had a lot of issues with my memory this year, but this is the first time that it’s really affected anybody else. It’s really embarrassing having to admit to forgetting something like this and it’s actually quite scary to realise that I have. My issues with memory seem to be getting better, as do some of the mental symptoms of CFS I’ve been suffering from this year, but it’s been one of the worst years for me, in terms of my illness. I found the first year quite scary, sometimes feeling trapped inside my own body because I didn’t have the energy required to control it, but it’s nothing compared to the lack of control I’ve felt this year with the mental symptoms. Feeling like you’re no longer yourself, or that you’re not in control of your brain is horrible! And I really hope that I’m never faced with these symptoms again.
As I said, I feel like they’re getting better, or that I’m getting more used to them. I just hope this continues.
So, this is the Final Major Project. The last project, not just of the year, but of university as a whole. I can’t believe it’s gone so quickly!
Ideas and Research
I felt like I was really struggling to come up with an idea at the start of this project. I don’t know whether it was the pressure to think of something substantial, as this was our very last project at uni, but it just seemed like I couldn’t think of anything that was good enough/could work for a 6+ week project. Everything I was coming up with was either something I had previously done a project on, or just something I didn’t think would have enough substance/hold my focus for the whole project.
In one tutorial, while people were trying to think of things I was interested in, I mentioned something about language and creativity. I think the conversation then went on to puns, but it was then brought back to something slightly more serious.
I’ve always had a bit of a fascination with the English language, particularly in things like music and jokes. Both music and jokes use a lot of double meaning to add humour or wit. I also regularly watch watch Don’t Flop, a rap battle channel on YouTube. I don’t watch these videos because I’m an angry, drug dealing youth from the ends. I watch these videos because they show some of the most creative uses of the English language I’ve come across in modern society. Unlike the restrictions of social media (140 characters), the limitations of fitting your verbal assault into a rhyming scheme or sometimes just a few bars seems to breed creativity in the battlers.
I took this idea of creative language and I came up a lot of possible routes for it, so that I could settle on exactly what the content would be at a later date.
I started doing research and found that a lot of articles were actually saying that creativity in our language seems to be dying off, one even saying that our language is devolving. When thinking out it there are some pretty obvious example of this in our society, one being a rather unique world leader.
This made me think that maybe my project shouldn’t just be able creative language as a whole, but that it should be about trying to encourage people to use more creativity.
I knew before the project even started that the I wanted to do a book or magazine because I haven’t done any proper typographic/layout work before. Now that I had settled on doing a project about language, I was definitely going to do something like this. I then started looking at pieces of layout/editorial design for inspiration and to try to figure out what kind of style it was that I like because I’ve never done any myself before.
I noticed that a lot of the designs that I liked were using a lot of white space and used a bold, sans serif. Before starting to design any spreads, I decided to choose which typefaces I would be using because I thought it would make the designs process a bit smoother, having one less thing to worry about.
Using articles found from my research, I then wrote the content for my book. I originally wrote 6 chapters, but for a better flow to how it read and due to the length of it, I decided to take one of these out.
Before starting this project, I had an idea that I really liked for exhibition. The idea was to have a book that was part printed and part projected. Body copy, and things like page numbers, would be printed onto the pages of the physical book, but the more visually interesting, expressive typography could be projected and therefor animated. I loved the idea of having a physical book that could animate because it would have been so striking and interesting. The problem was that the book would have to know which page the reader was on to be able to let the computer know which pages it needed to project. I had no idea where to begin with this. When I realised this could work perfectly for my book about language, I went to speak to David (and most importantly Matt) about just how feasible an idea it was. Rather disappointingly, it wasn’t, at least not for the time frame I had.
I was quite frustrated because I was struggling to think of an idea that I thought would have impact in an exhibition, but I then realised that I could compromise a bit and adapt the idea to work with posters. I had no idea what these posters would be, but I thought it could be cool to have physical posters that could animate. The best part of this idea was that all I would need was posters and a projector with a looped video, meaning I wouldn’t have to code anything!
As I thought the book would take the longest to design and I wanted to make sure the posters and book had the same look and feel, I wanted to design the book before doing anything for the posters.
I started work on the book almost as soon as I had gotten it written (did some visual research and picked out typefaces first). It was quite an unnerving and uncomfortable task for me. Most of the work I’ve done in the past (both in and out of uni) has been either quite illustration based, or it hasn’t really required much handling of type. The majority of the time, I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing, I was just creating things and hoping that they worked.
I could tell that some of the spreads weren’t working straight away, but I could only tell that others were working once somebody (usually David) pointed it out. As well as layout design, I think I was struggling with the typographic side of the design. I knew a little bit about typography, things like widows and hanging punctuation, but I still felt like it wasn’t really enough and that I didn’t really know what I was doing. One tutorial in particular, where David told me that I need to fix my rag. I had no idea what he was talking about! So, I did what I did throughout this project when I was confused about typography or layout design, I went and asked a few of my course mates that I knew were more comfortable with this kind of work than I was.
During a tutorial, it was suggested that the designs of the 3 posters should be taken from the more expressive spread designs in the book. For the presentation, I designed print versions of all 3 posters and made animated GIFs of two of them.
I went through quite a few iterations of certain spreads before the book was ready for the presentation, but I had managed to produce a 68 page book that I was fairly happy with. There were still things to change before it was ready for exhibition, but it was nothing major.
I’ve had quite a lot of trouble with my posters. Since the presentation, I have animated the third poster and put all 3 into a video, ready to be projected (The black border is to stop the light from the projector from showing on the wall around the posters, when on display in the exhibition). I have also created print files for the posters, without the expressive typography, ready to be projected onto. The only problem is the projector. I’ve tested projecting the video onto A2 paper (the size of the posters), but if I match the width of the two together, the projection bleeds off of the paper by about 60/70mm. Now, I know that the dimensions of the paper and the white spaces in the video are the same, so that means the projector is stretching my video. This means I’m not going to be able to have these posters for my submission, but I’m going to try to sort out the issue before the actual exhibition.
I made quite a few changes to the book between presentation and printing, although none of them were very big. I think the most challenging part of this post presentation/setting up for exhibition time has been printing. It just seemed like yet another in a long line of things I’ve had no idea about throughout this project. Printing was different to the other things I didn’t know much about, with the other things I at least had a little bit of knowledge.. I knew nothing about printing. Things like paper weight and needing your number of pages needing to be a multiple of 4 were completely alien to me. And, actually, I think this is all stuff we REALLY should have been taught about (and I’m meaning more than just one or two workshops in first year). Thing like how to correctly setup a document to print and even the finer details of what the different paper weights and types are should be things we know by the end of our final year, but I went into this project knowing none of it (slight exaggeration, I mostly know how to setup a document to print).
Printing has also been very stressful because, as of writing this, I am yet to receive my books from the printer, so I’m really worried that I’ve messed up somewhere along the line and it’s just going to be a mess.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with my work for this project. Despite feeling lost and confused throughout the majority of this project, I think I’ve managed to produce a book that looks good. Although it’s been very stressful, I think I’ve learnt a lot too, mostly from my course mates. I definitely feel much more confident with typography and layout now, although I’m still unsure what I’d be like with proper editorial work. I’ve been very reluctant to call my work editorial because it’s all type based and has a lot of expressive typography in it. I feel like working on something like a magazine, that would require imagery and much bigger bodies of text, would be a completely new challenge. I think that after uni, I would like to try working on something like a magazine to see just how different it is. I also want to do something like a magazine because the research for this project has sparked a real interest in magazines and editorial work in me.
It feels very strange to think that my time at university it over now, the time has gone incredibly quickly! Even though I don’t feel that my technical skills have improved much over these 3 years, I do think that coming to Cardiff Met has changed that way that I design and definitely the way that I think about design. I feel like I think for myself a lot more now, no longer just emulating designs I like. I also think I now place an awful lot more importance on the thought behind a design. I used to think that a great design was great just because it looked good, but I now see that it’s more than that. A great piece of design looks good and has a reason why it looks the way it does.
As a whole, I’ve enjoyed my time here.
Thank you for having me.
At the start of this project, we were given the option of either designing a cover for In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote, or The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾, by Sue Townsend. I knew that pretty much straight away that I wanted to work on In Cold Blood. My portfolio has been full of illustration and silly, fun work, so I wanted to avoid doing yet another project like that.
I started with visual research, looking at past In Cold Blood covers and looking at covers that I thought were striking/interesting.
I didn’t know a thing about the book and I knew that, at the speed I read, I wouldn’t be able to read it before the project was over, so I looked at a lot of cliff notes for my research. Even though I knew it was about the writing of the story, as apposed to the story itself, I watched the 2005 film Capote. I didn’t really find the film very helpful, but the rest of the research gave me a fair bit to work with.
After a tutorial with Anna, one idea really stood out. The idea was to have an image of an Eagle, swooping down as if about to catch something, because the main character of the book, Perry, had a reoccurring dream of a giant eagle swooping down and taking him away. He had this dream because he had always had a terrible life and the eagle seemed to be his wish for an end to it all. I had planned to illustrate the eagle in the style of illustrations on dollar bills, to also nod to the reason they went into the family’s house in the first place, but I decided that this would take far too long. I then did some research, looking at different illustrations, trying to pick out a style that I thought could work.
I picked out a particular style and started trying to do something similar. When I finished the outline of the eagle, I decided to place it into the document I had, so that I could start playing about with layout too. I’m really glad I did this, because I actually ended up preferring the line drawing of the eagle.
I played about with the layout of it a bit and produced my first outcome for the presentation.
I didn’t really get many comments. One person said that the text on the back needs work and I agreed because I only settled for the design on the back cover to meet the deadline of the presentation. Other than that, nobody really said anything. I find tutorials quite frustrating because I try to make sure I say what I think about other people’s work as I know that without people saying something needs changing, the problems quite often go unseen. But, I feel like a lot of people in my class don’t do this. I always get the feeling in tutorials that people are either saying nothing because they’re afraid of hurting somebody’s feelings, or they’re just not interested.
One rather fortunate thing from the presentation was actually a printing error. For some reason, the printer printed my work with a gradient, making the bottom half of my work a lot lighter. Although I was annoyed at the printer at first, I actually quite liked the gradient, so thought I’d try to emulate it when working on the cover more.
Between the presentation and the competition I mostly worked on the design of the back cover. I’m not really that interested in books, so I’d never really paid any attention to what was a good design for a back cover. I tried a lot of iterations before finally settling on one I thought worked fairly well.
I was pretty happy with my final cover! Considering I rarely do cover designs, I think I’ve managed to produce something fairly good. The brief asked for a design that was striking and would stand out on a shelf. I think I’ve managed to do that.
I was a little bit disappointed to not get shortlisted. I felt that my cover had a strong design and, although the back cover could still do with a little bit of work, I’ve produced something that I’m happy with.
At the beginning of this project, we were given a load a briefs from a few different places (D&AD, YCN, ISTD and RSA). I remember looking through them all and not really finding any one particularly interesting. I also found that they way a lot of them were written made them quite confusing. I eventually settled on the Amazon Fresh brief, which was asking us to “define an identity or persona to drive the way the brand is expressed through content. Foodies don’t know that treats and essentials from the most incredible local, specialist merchants are only a tap away.” Being raised in my family means that you’re brought up with a love of food, which was a huge reason why I chose this project.
As the brief suggested I target foodies, I started off this project by looking at various top food blogs and Instagram accounts. I noticed that they all have a very similar look. Most images use soft tones and a top-down shot. Most of the blogs used either a script typeface or a soft sans serif. I also looked at a lot of foodie Instagram accounts, most using images with the same kind of feel, with only a few breaking the mould.
I also looked at some competitor’s websites, as well as Amazon Fresh’s current website (which is really quite ugly!)
I didn’t really know what I was supposed to be creating for this project, I felt quite confused by the brief (as did a few other people doing the brief, so I didn’t feel too bad), but I knew that I was going to have to designs a website, as it is an online service. This meant that the vast majority of my visual research was website designs. After looking at the clutter of the Amazon Fresh website, I knew I wanted to try to make it look a lot cleaner, so I tried to keep an eye out for designs that used a clean design and used things like buttons as navigation, instead of a big drop-down or list.
I started sketching some ideas, but I was still feeling very confused by the brief and didn’t really know exactly what I was supposed to be doing/working towards.
Because I was aware that time was quickly passing, I decided I needed to just get started on something and put my confusion/worry to one side for now.
I came up with 4 different ideas for outcomes, so (although they were worked on at the same time) I’m going to talk about each one separately, just to make it a bit easier.
Shop by Map
Shop by Map is an idea for a feature on the website which would allow shoppers to shop based on the store’s location. The aim of Shop by Map is to make the shops on Amazon Fresh seem more local by showing that they’re from around the corner or down the road.
I started off with a very rough design, just to illustrate the idea to my class mates and give an idea of the layout.
I then started trying to improve the look of this idea; drawing my own map, figuring out what would go below it and trying out different ‘pins’ and buttons. I tried out a few different things for the buttons, but I struggled to get something I was actually happy with, so I ended up settling for something that was just OK, mainly because I was pushed for time.
The final design for this Shop by Map feature was alright, but I feel like it looks a bit too generic. That being said, I am fairly happy with the shop part of the design because I think I’ve managed to really simplify what the current shop has and I’ve created a nice, clean design.
Before designing the actual website or layout for the website, I tried out an idea I had for some buttons on the homepage.
The aim of these buttons was emphasise the local aspect of Amazon Fresh by making it seem like you’re buying to a local butcher, bakery, etc. I decided not to go with these/take these designs any further because I thought the were a little to comical/juvenile, and I wanted something that looked smart and clean.
Although I scrapped it, I did like the idea of buttons, so I designed a rough layout for a website and made a few quick mockups of what the buttons could be.
I really liked a couple of the buttons designs, but I was unsure about having them as illustrations. For this whole project, that part of the brief/Amazon Fresh I wanted to focus on was the local shops. I thought that illustrations could be too impersonal for the feel that I was going for, but I did like these buttons, so wanted to try them with photos instead.
I think that a few areas need work, like the shop by isle buttons, but overall, I’m fairly happy with this design. I’ve kept my design very clean, meaning that it’s a lot easier to navigate than the current site, being less cluttered. As I know how much Amazon love to advertise, I’ve left a banner at the top that could always be scrolling through different adverts/promotions.
I think that the best idea I had was for the postcode posters. The idea actually came about during a group tutorial, when I was trying to help Connor with his project. The tutor was saying the he needed to tie the local aspect of the site into his work, I had a sudden brainwave and told him an idea that I think could have worked really well for his project. I then realised how good an idea it was and, a couple of days later, asked him if he was using it. Thankfully he wasn’t, meaning I could use it for my project.
The idea was to do a range of posters that would contain different London postcode made out of different foods. The plan is for the postcodes to change based on each posters location. I planned for the final posters to be built up using photographs of food, but as a place-holder, I illustrated a number of food items.
As well as illustrating the food, I started playing about with layouts for a billboard advert.
Once I chose a layout, I changed the postcodes to correct London postcodes, adapted it to a different size and tried out a couple of other possible aditions to the poster.
The final posters still has illustrations in as place-holders because I didn’t have time to photograph real food, but the intention is still to eventually replace them.
At the time, I was quite happy with these posters, but now I’ve had a little time to reflect on them (and see some other people’s work), I think they could really benefit from some more colour or a slightly more interesting design/layout.
The final part of the project was an app to partner the website and work with the adverts. I hadn’t designed an app before, but I knew I wanted it to follow the design of the website as closely as possible, so I started developing the designs for the buttons first. I worked on the banner and the menu.
I also wanted to do an app to work with the posters. The idea is that the app has a feature that allows the user to scan a poster when they find them. The app would then highlight a local shop, using augmented reality. I wanted a very clean design for the scan feature. I’ve also added text like “whoops” to try to make it more human and slightly funnier, to keep the ‘buying from a person’ idea going throughout the different parts of this project.
I’ve tried to keep the design of the app as close to the website as possible. I had to add a ‘menu’ button because there’s not room for everything that was in the top bar of the website.
The scan feature would allow the user to scan a poster and, when scanned, the app would highlight a local shop, showing one of the shop’s owners of staff member to make it feel as human as possible. This is all to add to the idea that you’re shopping locally using Amazon Fresh, buying to real humans, not just a computer.
I’m very torn by this project. I’m pretty happy with parts of my designs, like the app and most of the website, but I don’t think that the other parts are working perfectly. I do like the idea for the posters, but again, I don’t think they’re quite there, I still think they need something.
A big reason why I’m still very torn about this project is because I still don’t think I properly understand what it was I was being asked to do/produce. I get the feeling that they were asking for something closer to a branding project, creating a visual identity through a range of touchpoints. I’m not sure whether I’ve done this or not. I feel like, instead of touchpoints, I’ve come up with a range of ideas for things Amazon Fresh could implement.
As this is our final year, the tutors (for this project at least) are trying to get us more used to the real world. This project is all about working in a group/design team, for a real client.
We were going to be working for Healthy University, who’s aim is to improve the staff and student’s experience at/of the uni. They do this is 4 main areas: Environmental Management, Health and Wellbeing, Welsh Culture and Equality and Diversity.
Each group/team were allocated one of these 4 areas and would be targeting either students or staff. My team was initially 4 of us, me, Dan C, Katerina and Laura, with Connor joining us later. We were given the task of finding a way to better inform the staff members of the work that the Environmental Management team (EM team from now on) do. I was kinda disappointed when we got this one because, from the presentations they gave, the Environmental Management task seemed like one of the least interesting to me.
The project started with a lot of mind maps! It seemed like it was all we were doing for a while. (I didn’t get images of them all, so here’s a selection of them).
After these mind maps and thinking about the problem for a while, our team felt that the issue was that it’s always the university that gets praised for solving/helping with the environmental issues, but the staff aren’t receiving any thanks or praise, meaning they’re probably not feeling that interested in the information or interested in helping. We thought it could be good to do something that said “Because of you, we can do this.”
We agreed that, after some research, we would all go away and try to generate some ideas to come back to the group with.
It took forever to come up with/settle on an idea! I really hated the idea generation stage of this project. It seemed that no matter what the idea was, how good it was or how many of us agreed on it, there were always a couple of people that would pick fault with it and sometimes almost refuse to go with it. This meant that we wasted the majority of our project on trying to get an idea and, until Matt B saved us, a few of us were arguing about whether we should just pick an idea and go with it or whether we needed to pick out certain things that the EM team do. Matt got us to try to look at the list a different way and we ended us realising that most of them could be spun to be a ‘free [something]’.
This was it, we had an idea and we weren’t going to turn back!
We worked on an idea of an activist group that were trying to tell the staff about the ‘things that were happening without them knowing’ and about the ‘free’ things they could be taking advantage of. I thought this could be done through a guerrilla style advertising campaign that would have “Free [Something]” plastered around the campus, not trying to give the staff the information, but make them interested enough to go a find things out for themselves. I quickly did a bit of research to show the others the kind of things I was thinking.
The team seemed to like the idea, but thought it should have a partnering website that would house the information, so that the adverts a subtly nudging people to the website.
As we were very short on time at this point, we split up tasks. Connor and Katerina would be working on the adverts, Laura and Dan C would work on an animation for the site that would explain what the EM team do and I would be working on the website.
Some of my initial designs were trying to make it seem like a group of ‘hacktivists’, but the client thought this was too sinister, so I scrapped them and tried to design something lighter and cleaner.
The adverts, that would direct people to the website, were worked on by Connor and Katerina. The images to the right are of some of the adverts Connor worked on.
I really like that way these have turned out. I like the hand rendered type style, although I think it could maybe be a little bolder? Some of the feedback from our presentation as said that we didn’t need the QR code because we already have a URL there, and nobody uses QR codes anyway.
The final designs for the website have a big banner image of one advert, which would scroll though, showing each advert. It also has a small piece of text, slightly explaining each advert, which would change with each image.
The information page takes the existing wibsite that explains everything the Environmental Management team do (below), but seperates up the big block of text into more managable chunks, each viewable with the filter.
Both pages of the site were animated, to show how they would work.
At the end of the project, along with a presentation, we had to present our work for the project on two boards, so that people could walk around each group, asking us question and giving up some tips.
I’m very happy to be done with this project! I don’t know whether it was the collection of people or whether it was the sometimes very dull, dry task, but I don’t think that our team worked very well together. There was an awful lot of disagreement, and there seemed to be a lot of miscommunication as well. That being said, I think we’ve managed to somehow pull together in the end and produce some interesting work.
I wouldn’t mind working as part of a team for another project, but I think that I only do it if we got to choose who we worked with, because I feel like I know a few people that I would work well with, and got a more stimulating brief.
I honestly can’t remember the last time I had to write an essay before university; it had been quite a while. So, when I heard that I would have to write a 10’000 word essay (quotes not included), I wasn’t best pleased. Especially considering that my writing in both first and second year hadn’t done that well. I wasn’t looking forward to it. Whilst I can think analytically about many subjects, especially those I become most interested in, I find it difficult to express my thoughts in writing. I am much more confident expressing ideas graphically, which is why I have such passion for pursuing a job in Graphic Communication.
The next barrier to overcome was choosing a subject to research and write about.
I’ve had an interest in clothing/fashion for a good few years now. Not to the extent of catwalk fashion or anything like that, but I’ve certainly been far more interested in what other people are wearing, and what I think looks good than I ever have been before. People-watching has definitely become a bit of a hobby; especially on the many bus journeys to and from Uni. I think this interest was a big reason why, in the first year, I chose Smells Like Teen Spirit, by Cath Davies, as my Constellation option. Learning about sub-cultures and how to analyse a person’s outfit/image, along with the research I did on the Mod culture, for the writing piece that year, grew my interest in clothing/image even more. It started to take it from just seeing what I thought looked good, to trying to figure out what each person’s outfit said about them.
While I was on the bus in my second year, I remember I couldn’t stop thinking about everyday objects and how, surely, they must have to say something about the person using/wearing/carrying them. A few days later, we had our Constellation options lecture. Ashley Morgan got up to tell us what her option, Stuff: Objects and Materiality in Society, was going to be covering. I remember she mentioned something very similar to the thoughts I had been having about objects, so I felt I had to pick her option.
In one of Ashley’s lectures, we covered some writing by Daniel Miller, which was asking the question “How do things ‘make’ us?” as opposed to just reflecting aspects of us. I found this fascinating! It was the first time the thought that objects can change us had ever crossed my mind. Therefore, when it came to the dissertation proposal, I knew I wanted to focus on the relationship between image and identity. In the initial research, I found that there was quite a lot written about clothing communicating identity, but not much written about clothing actually changing identity. Reading more of Miller’s work, I could see how clearly clothing can affect identity and was very surprised that I could not seem to find more written about this. Wanting to take this aspect further, I tried to find examples of case studies in which clothing had an affect on the wearer’s identity.
When I originally began trying to figure out what the structure on my dissertation could be, it didn’t include the involvement of choice in clothing. I went to Ashley to speak to her about it, hoping she would be able to help, but most of the time I came away even more confused than I was before. It felt a lot like every time I went to her, she would suggest a completely new way of structuring it. Reflecting on this now, I can see just how complex the relationship between clothing and identity really is! There is so much that has been explored, the options for study seem endless. However, when trying to structure my studies, I found the greatest challenge was in refining what I was really exploring and even looking to say something new.
I eventually just settled on one of my first structures. I realised I had to change it, to what it is now, including choice and a lack of choice, because I became aware that the structure I had settled on before Christmas wasn’t going to make much sense when it was all written. I was a lot happier and found the writing a lot easier when I found a structure that I thought would work. I guess it has helped me to see that the best work comes from choosing what to leave out, as much as what to put in. This is an important lesson for me, which I can certainly apply to my own work in Graphics.
I struggled a lot with the writing before Christmas. I became aware that my condition (CFS, meaning Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) had changed again and that I was now only really suffering from the mental symptoms that CFS can come with. This was a big reason why I was struggling with the writing because of issues with my ability to concentrate and with really bad problems with my memory. This was a big reason why I decided to just focus on reading before my Christmas break. My parents have been an incredible help over the years that I’ve had CFS and have supported me whenever I’ve needed them. I knew that they would be able to help me focus at home over Christmas and that they would be able to help me become unstuck, whenever my brain would fail me or get tripped up. By answering their questions and speaking out what I was learning, I was able to find better clarity in my writing.
In the end, I have no idea whether I’m happy with my dissertation or not. What I’ve written makes sense to me, but I’ve been confused by every part of Constellation. I’ve been confused by what I’ve been told by tutors, and asking for clarity has just left me more confused. This means that, even after finishing the dissertation, I have no idea whether what I’ve done is correct. I’ve enjoyed some of the reading, finding out about some really fascinating stuff, but I could not be happier that writing is done with.
And so it begins, the third and final year of university. I’ve had a really boring summer, so I’m really eager/excited to get back to doing briefs (and to be back in the studio with everyone)! Speaking of the studio, it’s been slightly revamped/rearranged. It’s really nice, I feel like the little splash of colour has given the place a bit of energy.
We’ve started off the year with ‘Real World’, a group project. The class were separated into teams and given a brief by one of the Healthy University staff members, each team either targeting staff or students. My team were given the Environmental Management targeting staff, and consisted of me, Katerina, Laura, Dan C and Connor. Each team was also given a mentor from outside the university that we could contact and get advise from throughout the project. We were given Julian Sykes of Hoffi. We’ve not had a mentor on any project before, so I’m looking forward to meeting up with Julian and getting feedback from someone other than a tutor.
This first day was a bit odd. Nobody knew what was going on or what exactly we were supposed to be doing, even after asking a tutor. We mind mapped the two different main points of our brief (Environment and Staff), then had to pick one thing from the mind map and come up with some ambient designs to do with it and then show the client at the end of the day. I must have asked about 5 different people throughout the day what we were supposed to be doing, but nobody had a clue. And then when we showed what we’d been doing the the client, they clearly didn’t know what was going on either.
Hopefully the rest of this project will have a bit more direction and be less vague.
The two field options I chose were Publish! and Information is Beautiful, possibly the two options most directly linked to Graphic Communication. This is why I chose them. Although I completely understand that having different experiences to draw from can be very useful for Graphic Communication, I didn’t want to spend my time doing other, possibly more theoretical work, when I could spend it learning and improving upon skills that could more directly improve my work.
Although these options were the closest thing to my course that I could do, they were focused on two areas of design which I feel the least comfortable with. Information design is something that I’ve never really taken notice of and editorial design is something that I’ve only briefly covered in the past, so I thought there would be a great opportunity to improve areas of my work and make me a better designer. Unfortunately, after doing both options, I don’t feel as though I’ve improved in either area of design.
I’m not saying that the options didn’t give me an opportunity to work on improving these areas of my work, because they did. The reason I don’t think I’ve improved is because I think that in both of my final outcomes, I went for what was a very safe option for me; illustration. By doing this, I didn’t give myself the opportunity to really work on the areas of editorial and information design that I’m less confident/comfortable with.
Although I don’t think I have really improved any design skills from doing this year’s field, I do think I’ve learned things that will help me with my work in the future. Working with someone else for a final project and working in groups for other small projects has helped me realise how I work as part of a group. In all of the group work I did, I really felt as though I took the lead. I didn’t do this because I like to be in charge, but because I kept noticing that nobody else would be. I know that I’m organised, so I like to know what’s happening in group work, and I wouldn’t shy away from choosing one direction to go down, so that we got our work done on time and each piece was coherent. Information is Beautiful has also started making me question my work a lot more than I had done before. I know this might not seem great, but I think it’s really good. It means that I’m thinking a lot more about my work and the ideas I generate for projects instead of jumping into an idea that isn’t really good. I also think that becoming aware of the amount of illustration I do has helped because I’ve been making sure I focus and work on other areas of design that I’m not quite as comfortable with.
I think this second year of Constellation has gone a lot better than my first.
It started off, at the beginning of the year, with us being given our options for that term’s lectures. The options were:
- Theory as Object: Explorations of Methodological Practices in Art and Design – Dr Rita Cachao
- Puzzling out Contemporary Art – Dr Jon Clarkson
- Goddesses and Monsters: Glamour and the Grotesque in Visual Culture – Cath Davies
- The Many Guises of The Absurd – Jayne Hall Cunnick
- Art/Science – Dr Alexandros Kontogeorgakopoulos
- Stuff: Objects and Materiality in Society – Dr Ashley Morgan
- Mannerism and its Contemporary Implications – Dr Mahnaz Shah
- Archaeologies of Seeing and Knowing: Non-linear Histories of Practice – Dr. Martyn Woodward
Now, this will probably sound a little strange and sound as if I’ve made it up, but I haven’t. On my way into Uni, a couple of days before the options lecture, I was sat on the bus by myself and I couldn’t stop thinking about objects. About how we’re completely surrounded and consumed by them and about whether these object had something to say about the person they’re on or carried by. Because, surely, being so surrounded by them, our choices in which clothes we wear, which objects we carry and the things we work with must have something to say about who we are or who we want to be portrayed as? When Ashley got up to talk about her option, Stuff: Objects and Materiality in Society, she briefly talked about the same/similar topics, so I felt that I had to choose it.
Over the five sessions/lectures of Stuff, it felt like we covered a lot of stuff. Some of it, like consumerism and different types of value, I didn’t find too interesting, but I thought the fifth session/lecture was really good. In week 5’s lecture, we looked a bit of writing from Daniel Miller, depth ontology and the question “how do things ‘make’ us?”. I found all of this stuff fascinating. As I’ve said, I had thought about how objects represent us, but not that objects could maybe change who we are or dictate what we do. It must have been pretty evident how interested in this I was, due to how active I was in the class wide debate that spawned from these ideas.
At the end of this first term, we had to write a (very) short essay which, I think, had to be about a theory or something we covered in the five weeks. I wrote my essay about the significance of a laptop. I didn’t get a very good response for it, which I wasn’t very surprised about because I really wasn’t happy with it myself. I kept putting off the reading for the essay and just ended up rushing the whole thing, which meant that it wasn’t written well and had very easy references (most of which I think were covered in lectures over the 5 weeks). I’m not very happy with the way I worked and I knew I had to change it before we got to the dissertation proposal.
After the Christmas break, we started having to think about our dissertation proposals. I knew that I still wanted to do something about Daniel Miller’s theory of objects ‘making’ us and depth ontology, but I had no idea about what specifically I wanted to do it about, what I wanted to say on the subject or what my argument is. I had talked to Ashley, previously, about an interest in fashion because, as the objects usually first seen by somebody, clothing clearly has a lot to say about person’s ‘self’ or identity. She told me that, to get a better understanding of what I specifically want to do my dissertation on, I should start reading books. It’s such a simple thing to do, and I really should have done it, but for some reason reason, I didn’t. Well, I didn’t do much. Just like with my short essay, I kept putting off the reading.
It got to just before the easter break before I started doing some reading. Because I didn’t have much time left to do this proposal, it meant that I crammed a lot of reading into a relatively short space of time. I know that I’ve never gotten on well with academic reading because some of the writing can be so hard to understand (and could easily be written in a way which is much easier to understand), but I think that I find it a lot easier now after having to read so much of it (it’s still hard, but it’s not quite as hard as it was). This is definitely what’s made me realise just how stupid putting off the reading is and makes me want to continue reading fairly regularly.
After what felt like a lot of reading and a lot of stress about completing it in time, I finished my dissertation proposal. I’m pretty happy with the work I’ve done for it because, although this is the longest piece of writing I’ve ever had to do, I think that it’s actually been one of the easiest to write. Because I’ve chosen something to focus on that I’m actually really interested in, I felt like it was a lot easier to write for and I felt like I wasn’t waffling, trying to fill up the word count.
I’ve enjoyed this year’s constellation a lot more that last year’s, probably because I’ve been learning and reading about a subject that I have a real interest in. That’s not to say that I didn’t find the first year interesting, because I did, I just think that I find what clothing and fashion has to say a lot more interesting than it’s history and the reasons behind certain subcultures starting up. I’m glad I picked what I did for both first and second year because I think they’ve slightly complimented each other, and I think having a slight understanding of fashion has helped me understand theories like depth ontology a lot easier. I also think it’s pretty evident that both have influenced my choice of subject for my dissertation proposal.
Overall, I think it’s been a good year, and I definitely think I’ve improved my reading and writing abilities, I just need to make sure that I don’t get complacent and that I keep reading.