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.
So, this was my second term field option, Information is Beautiful. I wasn’t completely sure what this was going to be when I first chose it as my option, but I thought it would have something to do with infographics. Thankfully it hasn’t been infographics because I’m really not a fan of them! On the first day, we got told that it was going to be all about information design, which was something I hadn’t heard before, and were shown some really good pieces of work, all of which were far better than the ‘infographics’ I was expecting to see. I don’t think I had ever really paid much attention to pieces of information design before, but after being shown a range of work and through doing research throughout this field, I’ve definitely developed an interest in it.
All of the pieces I thought were best had a really interesting way of displaying their information, often using clever imagery. I think that throughout these projects, I’ve tried to make myself do the same with my work. I’m not sure if this has helped me or not.
The work I produced (with my group) for the 1 week project at the start of the term, 3 pairs of shoes with information displayed on the shoes, was done because it was something a little different to just making a poster and it was a more interesting than if we had made posters, but I’m still torn about what the graphics on the shoes should have been. At the time, I was pretty happy with this work because I felt we had produced something different, but I keep wondering whether we did produce something different or whether we used the same basic ‘infographic’ systems (graphs), just on a different medium.
I struggled a lot with my final piece. I knew from the start of Significant Information that I wanted to do something that had meaning to me because, from the work I had seen so far, I loved the designs that were completely based on personal thing, particularly Christoph Niemann’s Good Night and Tough Luck.
I had the idea of doing something about my local pubs and how I used them because the pub, to me, is all about socialising with my friends. After my first tutorial with David, I realised that I misunderstood just how significant the information we used had to be. So, with help from David, I started to slightly deviate from how I use a pub and research pubs a little more. Even after deviating a little bit, I started to lose what little passion I had about pubs. After a little more time, I had another tutorial, in which I realised that I wasn’t going to get enough significant information about pubs, so I made the decision to scrap it and think of something new.
This is when I thought of doing some work about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I knew that there was definitely a need for information about this illness to be spread because I suffer from it and have only once had somebody know what it was when I mentioned to them that I had it.
I’m pretty happy with the idea I had of making it a pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey kind of game for this because I think it gives people an idea of what the symptoms are quite well and does so in a slightly humorous way, but I’m still not sure that I’m happy with the entirety of the final work. I’m having the same problem I had with the shoes. I’m just not sure that what I’ve produced is unique, or just the same stuff in a different form.
I have enjoyed this field option, if only because it’s introduced me to area of design which I had previously overlooked, but I can’t ignore the fact that it’s left me feeling slightly confused. I certain don’t think information design is my forte, but I’ve not helped myself by second guessing everything I’ve been doing. Choosing this option has pulled me pretty far out of my comfort zone, so I’m looking forward to some new Subject work now, as I want to get a little closer to my zone again. I’d be interested to come back to this work at a later date, to see if I still view things the same way and whether or not I’d do things differently.
This is our new week long brief. For this, everyone was put into groups of 3. I was put with Walaa from Graphics and Andrea from Design and Maker. We struggled to come up with something we were all happy with at first, but eventually settled on looking at shoes. At 3pm, we each went off and took note of a few aspects of every shoe that walked past for an hour (which got me some really strange looks!). We were each keeping note of the different genders, shoe colours and shoes conditions. Our group had one person positioned at Zen bar, one person at the Atrium and me, sat in the Box. These 3 locations are going to be how we split up our outcomes, one outcome looking at the shoe stats for each place.
I’m hoping we can come up with an idea, as a group, that’s pretty unique. I really don’t want to do something with footprints because I think that’s just a bit too easy and might not look great. I’d like to avoid the bog standard infographic style of work throughout the whole of field too and try to create things that are different and take a bit more thinking. I think I’ll be a bit disappointed with myself if I can’t do that, because the whole point of uni is to try to do/learn new things. But, it’s still just the start of this project, so I guess I’ll find out if I manage it later.
First day back, after a really nice Christmas break, and we’re jumping straight into our second field option. It feels a little odd being back in Cardiff after a few weeks at home, but I’m happy to be back with everyone and eager to start doing some work again.
So, this term’s field for me is Information is Beautiful. Our new tutor, David, started off the day with a presentation, taking us through what information design was and showed us some really nice examples of pieces of work. These pieces were all really interesting, beautiful and pretty unique, which was really good to see because I’ve never been a fan of the far too common, really generic infographic posters which are plastered all over sites like Pinterest.
One piece of work that really caught my eye was Atlas by Joost Grootens. “The Metropolitan World Atlas documents a total of 101 metropolises and analyses them through a combination of same-scale ground plans and statistics, with categories ranging from population density to data traffic to air pollution.” (Taken from Grootens’ website: www.grootens.nl) Basically, it shows statistics from around the world, but it does is in a beautiful way and keeps the scale the same size throughout and keeps each country in the same position throughout the book. I love this! The attention to detail and accuracy in this is fantastic.
Another piece of work that caught my eye was I Hate Mosquitos / Dream / Sleep by Christoph Riemann. I really like the playfulness of these and I think it’s cool that they’re about his own life and all have an element of humour in both the information and the way they’ve been made.
After the presentation, the class did the the first data task. For this we all had to answer 7 first date questions. The answers for these questions would then become our data and, as groups of 3, we had to develop a visual system to organise and display the data. The questions were:
1/ If you had to be stuck in a lift with somebody, who would that be?
2/ What is your favourite book/publication?
3/ If you had to listen to one song on repeat, what would it be?
4/ When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
5/ What is your Guilty Pleasure?
6/ Who inspires you?
7/ If you won the lottery, what is the first thing that you would buy?
I was with Seb and Callum for this and we had question 3 to work with. We produced this poster as our visual system.
We broke our data up in 4 different ways: genres, decades the songs were released in, alphabetical order and how many were solo males, solo females and groups. Because we were working with music, we decided to display the information using a sound wave (looking) graph. We liked the look of the 4 graphs overlapping, so our plan was to break down the big graph into the 4 separate categories and have the information on these so the poster was less cluttered and the information was easier to read/understand.
I think we were all pretty happy with the look of this and didn’t realise this was just a short exercise, so we were a bit disappointed when we realised we wouldn’t be carrying on with this.
Initially I had hoped to gain work experience in this term’s field. With this not being possible, I was drawn towards ‘Publish’, because I had done some editorial work before on magazine layouts, at College, which I enjoyed, and haven’t done anything like that since.
First in the ‘Publish’ group, we were introduced into the theme explaining that it would focus on editorial and layout. We made small hand-made books to play about with layouts. I struggled with this; I was working slowly and was not happy with anything I created. It seems harder for me when there is no process of ideas generation before making. After that I was slightly concerned, as it made me realise that editorial work is not my most comfortable area in Graphics. However it did make me think that maybe I was in the right option, to learn and improve.
We were then set a project as a group, to create a set of small books, but I wasn’t able to go in for the presentation, due to a migraine. I was really disappointed, as I was happier with this than the workshop.
In another group project to produce two magazine covers, conventional and unconventional, I found imagery and made the masthead for the conventional, working with another member to combine this with text. For the unconventional one I felt I did a lot of it myself. It seemed that when working with others, it was more like working independently.
Working on magazine covers I found easier to generate ideas. This is probably because an element of magazine covers is making a masthead, which is similar to coming up with a brand identity, which is one of my stronger areas. I joined the group having missed the brief, missing the idea generation, but still did a lot of the creation.
I have found it difficult collaborating with others, when we have different visions for how images should look and seem to put in very different amounts of effort. One thing I have learnt from this process is that I often seem to find myself taking a lead. When collaborating with others, while we all have our skills and ideas to bring to a project, it needs someone to pull it together.
For the final project, I wasn’t initially sure what I wanted to do; there wasn’t anything I was particularly inspired by, that I hadn’t done before. I didn’t want to create a magazine, so I then thought of producing an illustrative story book. I have not done much illustration before, and never a whole story book. Both myself and Toby said we wanted to do something interesting that we hadn’t done before and both liked the idea.
I browsed on Behance and searched for anything to spark an idea. I found an illustrated story book, with a distinctive style. The use of a limited colour range, still managed to create real depth in the imagery, which I really liked. It reminded me of the clever use of a limited colour range, which I enjoyed using in a previous project; my first real illustration.
We started with each of us going away to explore possible stories. After this, we came together and Toby wrote up the story for a five page spread, which we then storyboarded. After this, it was a case of going away and producing the work. We started by producing the scenery and backgrounds, leaving out the characters. I made the characters and applied them across all the spreads; keeping consistency across all pages.
Talking to out tutor, he suggested changing in to a close-up of the character, which gave a better focus on one main character. Throughout the book it created variety and interest, seeing parts of the story from different perspectives.
I finally gave the spreads to Toby, who applied the text to complete the layouts. In the end, I was very happy with the images I had created from the layout, but I was unhappy with the way the type fell on the illustration, feeling it did not complement the illustration. Time meant that I was not able to talk these views through with Toby.
This project has been crazy stressful; the most stressful thin I have done at Uni. I think I underestimated quite how long the illustration would take to do… well! I am glad that I have taken the time to do it well as I think the illustrations are very good, but I am frustrated with how the overall project works together.
I have never worked with anyone else on a main project. It was good using someone else’s skills in generating the story, but I think I would have been happier with the end result had I worked on my own; not giving myself such a lot of work to do in such a short space of time.