For my whole life, I have been unsure on what I wanted to be when I grew up. When I was 8 I wanted to be an actress, when I was 13 I wanted to be an accountant, when I was 17 I wanted to be a photographer and when I was 19 I wanted to study astronomy. A big mix, right? At A Level I studied Photography, Performing Arts, Physics, Maths, and French. I didn’t go to uni straight away and instead dipped my hand in the world of work, doing jobs ranging from customer service to baking cakes and desserts (I was fortunately given the opportunity to really test out my creative design skills in this role) to patient administration for radiography. Again, a big mix!
I discovered things about myself when in each different job…
I enjoy socialising with people
I enjoy a job more when there is a variety of things to do
I don’t like to be bogged down with mundane, repetitive tasks for very long
I can push myself further than I thought – 16 hour days and physically exhausting
I’m good at organising a small team and making sure things run smoothly
I won’t leave a job half finished
I can find creative ways to make a job easier
I am physically stronger than I ever thought
If I push my creative skills towards the right people, it will be recognised
Once I set my mind to tackle something I become very focused
I make a mighty fine tuna mix!
If I keep a positive mental attitude I can enjoy any job
I have a hunger for knowledge
Only when I fully understand something can I do my best work
I find ways to make tasks quicker and easier
I respond positively to pressure and deadlines
My most recent job dealing with PET scans made me realise I was always going to be more than an office employee inputting meaningless (to me) data day in day out. I was constantly curious what things meant and why we did them. I kept googling terms I came across that I didn’t understand and must have driven my colleagues and managers crazy with all my questions! It was there that I shared my passions with people, baking, photography and designing. I brought in cakes regularly which was always received well. I offered my photography skills, which lead to me organising and shooting a maternity shoot which was great fun! I always expressed how I would like the opportunity to design things for others, hoping someone would give me a brief to work to when I was offered the opportunity to design a pregnancy announcement! It was then that one of my colleagues asked me why I didn’t study something related to design, perhaps Graphic Design? And it was as though a light was turned on and everything became clear! Why I hadn’t thought of this before I couldn’t answer. Graphic Design, the perfect answer to solve my crave for creativity!
Looking back at my past work before I came to uni, it was all very basic but you can clearly see a progression of creativity and ability. If I could redo them all I probably would now that I’ve learnt some important things! I just wanted to create! I guess really that’s why people go and study a subject! So here’s some of my work that I did (please bear in mind I was a lot younger and didn’t have much experience!)…
Information design –The practice of presenting information in a way that is understood efficiently and effectively rather than just attractively or for artistic expression.
In November 2016 our tutor organised for us to visit Compton Verney, a local art Gallery housed in an 18th century mansion. Initially we were shown around the grounds and taught about the history of the building and art works. Then we were given a task in groups to cover the whole of an orange with a piece of paper, without creases or overlaps. This proved impossible and it demonstrated how, if the orange was the earth and the paper was a map, that it is difficult to get an accurate representation of the earth from a map. We discussed that although maps are recognised globally, they are highly inaccurate, for example the north pole is simply one small point on earth however on a rectangle map of the world it has been stretched out to be a continuous line which covers the same distance as the equator, but it is clear the point of the north pole does not have the same length as the equator…! To design an accurate map would be near impossible, there will always be distortion, even at a small scale!
We then went on to talk about the different type of maps you can get, topographic, plainmetric, topological, point of view map and illustrative.
Then we were given our brief – to design a map for Compton Verney, including the key features such as the grounds, the lake along with the local roads, house and galleries. It can be graphic or illustrative and must be different to previous maps they have produced. We must consider the type of visitors who would use the map and had a specific fold pattern to keep to.
I immediately knew that I wanted to approach this brief with an illustrative style. After speaking to staff about what type of visitors the gallery attracts I decided to cater for international visitors with limited English skills and also create a map that could be kid friendly. I began by researching similar maps and deciding what elements of them I liked and disliked. I then asked myself why I liked and disliked those elements, further understanding my personal design knowledge.
Using my graphics tablet, I drew sketches of the key attractions, exaggerating recognisable features so they would be familiar then digitally coloured them. This was good practice for me using my tablet as I hadn’t had chance to use it appropriately before and it was great to learn how to use it properly! I then placed these sketches onto a background showing the lake and relief of the grounds and added footsteps to show the direction to walk in.
I got some great feedback from my classmates
Things they thought were good:
Drawings are detailed and clear
Has a friendly feel to it
Colours are complimentary and natural
Liked the idea of footsteps to show the footpaths
Exaggeration of features works well and adds interest
Things they thought I could improve:
Make images bigger
Car colour needs to blend in, isn’t in keeping with the rest of the colour scheme
Background red on front is too much and doesn’t fit in
Needs names (and maybe details) of attractions
I developed my design according to the feedback and finalised my map ready for hand in.
On reflection, I learnt colour schemes are important and having a contrasting colour (such as red) doesn’t always make the piece more exciting and interesting, I should take time to explore colour palettes. I enjoyed drawing the attractions and would try this technique out again when suitable. I would like to become confident with my graphics tablet and my drawings. I found it really interesting to learn about different types of information design and would enjoy looking into this further!
Task: Write to someone who inspires you, explaining what their example has meant to you, how they helped you deal with problems
I like to hear about when you started your baking business. It’s inspiring to hear how you took a skill that you had and turned it into a locally well-known business, providing delicious desserts to so many local restaurants and cafés and most importantly supporting your family and friends. It just shows anyone can achieve anything if they work at it and are committed! I know this meant giving up time spent with your family in the evenings, it meant some days you were so exhausted yet you had such a supportive family (who learnt from the best!) to help you get through. This has shown me that to reach your goal sometimes sacrifices must be made but with the support of family and friends anything is possible!
When I first started studying Graphic Design at Coventry University I had so much self-doubt, I felt like my work standard was so much further lower than everyone else and that I could not reach all the deadlines set. Then I thought of your determination, the struggles you went through and the personal time you had to sacrifice to create such a successful business and realised I had the same blood in me and that I could reach the deadlines required if I took a leaf from your book! I wish to start my own business, similar to yourself but focusing on Graphic Design instead and I know that if you could manage it with three children and a husband to feed then I can manage it!
Even today you still inspire and encourage me to do my best, you never give up and are a determined and dedicated figure I can always look to for personal strength. Thank you for being you.
Last Monday I participated in a linocut workshop. I went in never having done it before with a few design ideas for our most recent assignment brief. I was looking forward to learning a new technique in design as there are certain things that are difficult to replicate on computer software.
Initially Alisa explained to us how the whole process worked and demonstrated different tools and the different lino sheets you could use and the benefits and drawbacks of each. We had a choice between a blue soft and flexible rubber type lino that was easy to carve out of and a firmer grey lino which although produced a more reliable and professional print, had to be warmed up before it could be cut out of easily. I experimented with both but decided to use the blue softer lino as the grey lino would have cooled down before I had finished my design because I was still learning the techniques of cutting. It would be good to try using the grey lino next time to see the difference. We then went to practice with the cutting tools and cut out our own designs. Once we had done this Alisa showed us how to print, we had already learned how to roll ink out in a previous workshop (which I will do a blog post on about once I receive my work back from my first hand in). This involved covering the lino with an ink colour of our choice (I chose black as my designs were geometrical and felt this would show best in a dark colour to contrast with the white paper) then placing paper over it, covering it with heavy fabric to stop the press from being damaged then putting immense pressure using a press between the inked up lino and the paper to transfer the ink.
If done correctly, the ink will have transferred from the piece of lino to the paper, and depending on whether I used a soft or hard roller to spread the ink, the final image will either be full of fine detail (using a soft ink roller presses the ink into the smaller, lower, more detailed parts of the lino) or contain little detail (if a hard roller is used the ink will only spread onto the highest parts of the lino, therefore leaving only the largest crests to transfer detail to the paper). I tried both rollers to see what different it would make with my design however as I had cut out a very extreme pattern with little detail there wasn’t much difference.
I enjoyed this workshop, it was great to get hands on with the design and have to create the drawing by cutting out material rather than drawing. I was pleased with my overall result and it will fit in well with my ideas for the current brief. If I were to do this again I would try a more detailed intricate design so the soft roller has more of an effect. I would also like to try it with two different coloured inks, perhaps printing one then cutting more detail out of the lino and then printing a second coloured print on top.
In October 2015 my sister got engaged and asked me to create the wedding invitation. This was when I was still very much an amateur designer however I appreciated the opportunity to create such a meaningful and significant design so I nervously took on the challenge. I had previously designed an anniversary invitation which wasn’t as high profile which was well received so I took inspiration from that.
To begin with, I was shown a few different examples that the client liked particular elements from and then was asked to create something that was a combination of the different preferred specifics. I began by studying what worked with previous wedding invitations, what style of font and how ‘frilly’ the style would be.
All example styles I had looked at were uncomplicated in design with a plain background and printed in black only. Each had a combination of large script and smaller serif or sans serif typeface and they were all aligned centrally. I took these design elements and created an invitation which was then tweaked as requested. I had to think about the interaction the receiver would have with the invitation and RSVP card, how they would perceive it and if it was easily understood how to fill in the response.
Once I had created the final draft it was sent off to be printed. I checked all details and once I was happy that it was as it should be the rest were ordered.
This was the first time I had done something so high end. It included the processes of collecting the different preferred design elements and combining them to create the final wedding invitation and also keeping in constant communication with the client to ensure what I was doing was exactly as they requested. I felt it was also important to consider how it would be received when posted to the guests and how clear and self-explanatory the format was. Finally I then had to get the first proof copy printed, choosing the correct paper and communicating with the printing company leading to the final product being mass produced.
This opportunity helped me to understand more about the audience of the design and how it would be received. It also gave me the chance to interact with a printing company, thinking about what format files are needed, sizing and paper, things I had never taken into consideration when designing on screen. Creating a wedding invitation was also a good opportunity to work to a client’s exact needs and wishes, communication was a vital part of the design process as they had precise requirements with the design and wording to be included.