First year

We have received our final results back for first year and I’m happy to say I have passed! I have delayed posting this blog until now as I wanted to take my time thinking back to what I had done and what I would do differently, I didn’t want to rush my review and cloud my judgement.

 

So first of all, what have I taken away from my first year?

I have learnt a lot, about Graphic Design, about myself and the student life (to a limit!). I already find myself utilising what information I have learnt when I am confronted with design work.

When shopping and I find myself attracted to a certain product I take a step back and wonder why that specific design worked for me. I also often find myself observing typography, something which I had never even given a second thought to previously. I’ve even looked further into coding, I actually find myself reading the codes for other websites I like and enjoy understanding what I’m reading (even if my knowledge is very limited!).

I have done a lot of evaluating of myself as a person, how I have dealt with the work load we were given this past year and how I’ve controlled my motivation. I found I worked best early in the morning when I had company and was in a quiet working environment. Outside of uni I have realised I work best to a deadline and enjoy setting myself targets yet have difficulty sticking to them – something I aim to improve during my second year. Since very young I have always found myself to be energetic in the evenings, when others are settling down and relaxing I get up and start doing jobs/make a cake/write a blog/anything! My poor partner has realised this since moving in together!

My (limited) experience of the student life has been enjoyable, I have met a lot of wonderful people, some of which I hope to keep in contact with and look forward to working with in the upcoming years. I have realised how much of a difference the support of a fellow student can make, even about subjects that expand university life! I enjoyed joining the choir although unfortunately this was only for a few months, it was nice to release myself from my studies for an hour a week and focus on music and friendships! I would like to join another choir this upcoming year as I felt it really helped me reconnect with my love of music, something I had lost when I left school.

 

Secondly, what advice would I give myself for going into second year?

I want to enter second year with a less constricted imagination. After seeing others works displayed amongst my own I felt I had put a lid on my creativity, perhaps something I forced myself to do when at school for fear of not being understood. I think once I can have confidence in my ideas I will become a stronger designer and have the ability to stem new and unique ideas in the future.

I also don’t want to be as nervous about other peoples opinions of me. Although I have improved on this a lot in the recent years I still find myself worried what others will think. I wish to have more confidence in my designs and know that even if what I have created isn’t used, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad design.

 

Finally, how do I feel about my results?

If someone had asked me a year ago what results I would want to pass my first year with I would have told them as long as I passed I didn’t really mind. After passing my first year (and being told it is impossible to achieve a 100% grade in an art degree) I wish I had gotten higher. I passed with module results ranging between 60% and 75% (we had 6 in total). I think it is positive of me to aim higher rather than simply settle for what I have achieved however I’m not on a journey to get the highest grade, I am on a journey to become a broadly talented, confident and professional graphic designer, with a wide range of abilities and knowledge on the subject and I mustn’t lose my focus.

I will face some big challenges in my second year, we are in the process of purchasing our first house and in order to keep up mortgage payments I must ensure I keep a steady income from work. I also want to keep up personal projects and better myself at relevant design software. In order to achieve my best at university, our new home, at work and self-set goals I will have to keep myself organised and motivated. I will keep up regular blog posts documenting the highs and lows of my journeys and ensure that throughout it all I have my final goal in sight, to establish my own small design firm (and enjoy life!).

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SWOT Analysis

Strengths – What you have

Weaknesses – What you don’t have

Opportunities – Things you can exploit

Threats – Things that hold you back

 

Goal: To complete at least one more personal project

 

Strengths – Ability to create simple designs, contacts

Weaknesses – Confident knowledge of suitable Adobe software for a professional client, time whilst working and other personal life goals

Opportunities – Contacts for potential clients

Threats – Prioritising other projects, getting distracted

 

Make an action plan on how you are going to achieve said goal

  • Specific actions you could take to enable goal
  • When you should do them

 

Actions:

  • Find a client and discuss what’s wanted/required
  • Learn any specific skills needed
  • Keep in contact with client and check progress

 

Why Graphic Design?

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…

Customer service

  • 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

 

Bakery

  • 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
  • I’m consistent
  • Once I set my mind to tackle something I become very focused
  • I make a mighty fine tuna mix!

 

Patient administration

  • 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!)…

 

Setting SMART goals

Task: Set yourself 3 smart goals, for different stages in the future.

To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

 

3 smart goals…

…for the end of next week:

  1. Write at least one more blog post (may not be able to post due to hand in)
  2. Hand in all uni work due in
  3. Begin designing a mood board for my next oncoming project

 

…for the end of the year:

  1. Reflect on the first year
  2. Reflect on and set in motion my work for my Add+vantage – Social Networking for business
  3. Complete at least one more personal project

 

…for the coming year:

  1. Become confident on Adobe software
  2. Keep on top of second year work and most of all… ENJOY IT!
  3. Complete at least three more personal projects

 

…for 10 years time:

  1. Work in the Graphic Design industry
  2. Be in contact with other Graphic Designers
  3. Have helped at least one business build their personal profile

Trip: Compton Verney – Information Design

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.

Compton Verney Map front – Unfinished
Compton Verney Map Back – Unfinished

I got some great feedback from my classmates

Things they thought were good:

  • Not fussy
  • 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:

  • Add shadows
  • 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.

Compton Verney Map Front – Finished
Compton Verney Map – Finished

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!

Alternative approach for a blog post

Task: Write to someone who inspires you, explaining what their example has meant to you, how they helped you deal with problems

Dear Grandma,

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.

Love from,

Your eldest (and favourite 😉) granddaughter!

Having fun with Grandma! From left to right – Me, Grandma, Jonathan (brother), Rosemary (sister)

Workshop: Linocut

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.

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My lino before being inked up

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.

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Rolling the ink onto my piece of lino using the hard roller
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The ink had to be rolled out onto the table before applying to the lino to ensure even distribution

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.

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The press…

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.

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A cheesy grin and my lino inked up and ready to be printed
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Some of my prints!