Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Cristiana Couceiro

Great use of layout, typography, colour and images from designer Cristiana Couceiro. The above images are from a book review spread in The New York Times. Love the modernist influence throughout all her work.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Self Evaluation

As part of my 'Reflective Journal', I was required to begin by answering a set of questions regarding my experiences as a 'Graphic Communication' student at CSAD. This has given me the opportunity to reflect on the positive and negative aspects of the course and myself as a designer and a person, my developments, strengths and weaknesses, and also my future plans.
Please click here to view a PDF of this questionnaire.

Development Reflection - Reflective Journal

Upon arriving on my first day as a ‘Graphic Communication’ student at the Cardiff School of Art and Design, I felt (possibly naively) that as first year students we would all have relatively unrefined design skills. However, I quickly realized that several students had quite a thorough understanding of digital design software that they had developed from various college graphic design courses. During my foundation course at Newport University I had been more involved with a hands on approach to mark making, such as painting, ceramics and illustration, so I instantly felt like a “lesser” student and became intimidated by their design and computer software knowledge. It was at this point in time that I questioned as to whether I was good enough for this course and contemplated deferring to a fine art degree instead. Yet I quickly learnt that graphic communication isn’t about a shiny, sleek end product, it’s about the message you want to communicate. An aesthetically pleasing computer generated image means very little without being able to convey a meaningful message. This may have taken time to understand, but I am highly relieved that I persevered with the course enough to learn that fact.

During my first year I was introduced to many aspects of graphic communication that I had either never heard of or had very little knowledge. For example, before this degree I had given very little thought to the formation of letters, yet now typography has become one of my favorite aspects of design and I will often find myself trying to guess the typefaces used within various graphics. I had never even previously heard of several Adobe programs and all previous software knowledge had been obtained by myself without any additional help. I quickly learnt that the only way to become proficient in these programs was to familiarize myself with them, and so I made sure to take the time to experiment with this software in order to expand my digital design knowledge. ‘Critical and Contextual’ studies were an opportunity to explore many historical matters such as art, design, modernism, post-modernism, communication, technology and the Industrial Revolution. As my studio work involved being surrounded by students that were producing very contemporary designs, I found these sessions highly refreshing as it was a chance to view the history behind what we were currently studying in the studio.

Personally, while I found that the first and second years of this course were about being introduced and experimenting with the world of design, I believe that my final year was more about implementing the knowledge I had gained and applying my working technique to fulfill degree modules to the best of my ability. This doesn’t mean that I didn’t progress during the third year, as I believe that I am constantly advancing my skills every day, yet I found that my final year has been more involved in executing my existing skills to the best of my creative capabilities to successfully fulfill design briefs.

One of the most pleasing results I gained from this course was the completion of my dissertation. It gave me the opportunity to produce a thorough academic insight into a topic of personal interest and I learnt to communicate critical thinking of a subject coherently and academically. The whole process became a real test of my time management skills, yet while it became a very full workload to juggle a dissertation, studio work and a part time job I found that my studio work influenced my dissertation and vice-versa. I found that the research methods I had adopted for establishing content for my dissertation helped for my studio research. While the knowledge I had achieved through my studio work influenced the content for my dissertation and I believe that they had both come to complement each other well. Our course trip to Bournemouth was very insightful as we had the opportunity to see how other students approached their dissertations. Upon learning that the Bournemouth students had chosen topics directly related to graphics, I found myself truly grateful that we had been given the freedom to choose our dissertation topics and were not constricted to exhausting the field of graphic design.

I have built up many strengths over these last three years including: the ability to document my work neatly and orderly, a comprehensive understanding of typography, constructive criticism, an attention to detail, program knowledge (Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash and Dreamweaver) and the skill to communicate and contribute to a team. While I am very proud of my development so far, I understand that I am still weak in certain areas. As I enjoy the research part of a brief, I sometimes don’t balance my time and can become behind on developing the research forward into producing finalized design ideas. I also find that by constantly comparing my work to that of others, I become very critical in what I do. However, I have learnt that I will get nowhere by being in constant competition and need to work on my own strengths, and not those of others, in order to communicate myself to the best of my ability.

Reflecting on my development as a designer over these last three years, I am astonished at what I have learned, both as a designer and an individual, including communication, time management, software knowledge and professionalism. While I may not progress into a career directly involved with graphic communication, my development through this course has been a true asset. Having currently spent my entire life involved in an academic environment I am both extremely nervous and excited at the prospect of life as a professional, and whilst I am now officially ending my academic studies, I am only just beginning the future of my career.

Please click here to view a PDF of a feedback sheet from a personal tutorial with Annie G White. This session was used to reflect on myself, discuss the course and my possibilities for the future.

Module Evaluation Sheets

As part of my 'Reflective Journal' I have cataloged all grading sheets/ audio feedback for all 3rd year modules. I have also included all tutorial sheets and student evaluation sheets for the corresponding modules, these have all been included within a PDF that displays these items as listed in the order below. Please click here to view this PDF.

Real World Module - 'The Link' Group Project
Real World Brief Notes
Written Module Feedback

Creative Meaning Module - 'Site Project'
Creative Module Tutorial Sheet 1
Creative Module Tutorial Sheet 2
Creative Module Tutorial Sheet 3
Research Presentation Student & Tutor Feedback
Student Module Feedback
As audio feedback was given for this project, please click here to access this file.

Competitions Module - 'Penguin & Puffin', 'D&AD' and 'YCN'
Penguin & Puffin Tutorial Sheet
Penguin & Puffin Student Feedback
D&AD Tutorial Sheet 1
D&AD Tutorial Sheet 2
D&AD Student Module Feedback
YCN Tutorial Sheet 1
YCN Tutorial Sheet 2
YCN Tutorial Sheet 3
YCN Student Module Feedback
Written Module Feedback

Student Set Project - 'Government Spending'
Research Presentation Student Feedback
Written Module Feedback

Module Reflection - 'Real World' Project

One of the projects that really stood out to me on reflection of this year was the ‘Real World’ module. This was a month long project that involved creating an identity for a youth centre in Newcastle where young people could meet and get involved in a range of creative activities, appealing to a target audience between the ages of 11 and 23. I believe it stood out to me greatly as it was an opportunity to work in a group that consisted of five students. As we were collaborating in a group effort we were all able to identify our strengths and weaknesses in order to achieve the maximum potential from our work. While some students are highly accomplished with using digital software, I feel rather confident with copywriting and was able to put forward this strength and contribute greatly in this area while helping to produce visual designs using the Adobe suite. This group dynamic really inspired me to work hard and contribute as a team member.

As part of this module our group had the opportunity to visit ‘Departures’ design studio in Cardiff Bay to receive tuition from the creative director, Aled Phillips. Gaining constructive criticism from a professional outside our university surroundings was highly helpful as he was able to inform us of how to make an original outcome with his knowledge of the commercial design industry. As Aled found one of our concepts to be more original than the other, we were able to take this advice on board to further develop our more unique idea for a more distinctive design outcome.

At the end of this brief, I received some very informative and encouraging feedback from our tutor Olwen. I really enjoyed this module and it's always good to hear how others think you performed. I am definitely my biggest critic and what stood out most to me within the feedback was,

"If there's one thing that comes out loud and clear it's that you should be more confident about your abilities and be assured that you have much to offer."

When working in a team it can be easy to compare yourself against others and I found myself rather intimidated by the skill level of my four other team members. However, this feedback gave me confidence in my design capabilities and made me realize that we all have our individual strengths. I just need to make sure I have confidence in order to really play to my full potential.

Overall, everybody put in a very solid effort and as a result our team won a weeklong work experience opportunity with Elmwood in London after presenting our concept to the client. This module was able to develop my team working capabilities and refine my design skills by learning from others more proficient in this area. On the whole I found this experience very rewarding and am extremely pleased that our group managed to successfully answer the client’s brief that resulted in gaining a work experience opportunity, resulting in the best outcome from a project I have had all year.

Module Reflection - Creative Meaning

In response to the brief for the ‘Creative Meaning’ module, I was asked to choose a site and document several aspects about this object in a creative way. I decided to choose something that is quite personal to myself: my make-up bag. The overall design was an information booklet that documented how to use the contents of my make-up bag, named 'The Guerrilla Girls' Survival Kit', to display how to “wage war” on facial imperfections. One of the aspects of my site was based around how I use make up to target my insecurities, which I interpreted as a war on my facial flaws. With an army theme throughout the booklet I communicated several features of my make-up bag including the make-up ingredients, colour palette, frequency of use, where to use it and also what items to use in order to hide and enhance certain facial features.

The audio feedback I received from Annie proved very helpful, as she had managed to pick up on some weaknesses that I had missed. One of the main strengths of my outcome was that I had managed to successfully communicate the intended aesthetic. The feedback stated that,

“The idea of it being a survival kit is a strong metaphor to be working with and you have adopted a strong visual style that compliments and expresses that message.”

This enforced that the ‘army’ visual style of the information booklet effectively accompanied the content of a war on facial flaws. However, I had failed to notice that due to using the same photographs of my make-up within the booklet, it had adopted a slightly repetitive look.

“Looking at the booklet as it is at the moment… there is a certain repetitiveness that makes it difficult for the reader to distinguish the different points you are making visually.”

As I plan on reworking this design for my portfolio, I have taken this comment on board and aim to document these images in an alternative way to present this piece in a more interesting and effective visual style.

As this module began straight after our group project for the ‘Real World’ brief, it was unusual to be working by myself as I had spent the last month as part of a team. However, I found that the skills I had learnt from the other students such as time management and software knowledge, complimented my working method for this brief too. I found the research side of this project to be the most enjoyable as it was a chance for me to get away from the usual Internet, books and magazines, and instead produce some primary research on an object that is personal to me. It was essentially down to me to get the most research I could out of my chosen site by looking at in ways I hadn't previously thought of. For example, I had never looked at my make up ingredients and was interested in what I had found (like the hydrogenated vegetable oil in my eye liner and salycilic acid in my lip balm). The research skills I have gained from this project were one of the most rewarding aspects, and have influenced the way in which I approach my research methods for other design briefs. Overall, it was a good opportunity to produce some interesting first hand research while looking at a personal object in a completely new light.

Work Influences

As a student it can be valuable to gain experience working within a professional environment to prepare you for your future career. A variety of skills can be developed within this setting that can help you to develop yourself as a well rounded and experienced individual.

My first work experience that I found greatly rewarding was at ‘Llantarnam Grange Art Centre’ for two weeks during my GCSE work experience. While this placement took place several years ago, it had a significant impact on myself and helped to expand my understanding of the professional art world. I was fortunate enough to be involved in helping to set up an exhibition that was opening on my final day of placement. I helped to unpack and sort all of the exhibition pieces, such as paintings, jewelry and sculptures, then arrange them around the galleries to be displayed in the professional manner in which a member of staff had taught me. I had also been involved in preparing the galleries by painting, sanding and filling in the walls , labeling the work and issuing exhibition invitations. This experience helped greatly when it came to preparing our second year degree exhibition. One of the most rewarding experiences at the art centre was being involved in a ceramic workshop for disabled children. This presented me with the opportunity to work hands-on with the clay and give direction while interacting with the children. It was a great experience to see these children being involved in something expressive and creative, while helping me to gain a very insightful experience.

During my final A-level year I visited ‘Boyes Rees Architects’ for one week, an architect firm that was previously situated in Newport but has since moved to Cardiff. This work placement was quite intense, as I became fully involved in helping to work towards a live brief with a team of architects. I sat in on team meetings and took notes regarding the current brief that involved constructing an industrial cleaning room within a hospital that would have a specific architectural structure to deal with bed linen, staff uniforms, patient gowns and surgeon’s scrubs. I was also able to gain an understanding of the design program AutoCAD, a piece of software used by architects to plan out their designs. While this experience was challenging, I found that being involved in a live brief while working within a team allowed me to gain various skills that I could translate into this year’s ‘Real World’ group module.

Whilst studying ‘Graphic Communication’ at CSAD, I have also maintained a part time job at HMV Plc as a sales assistant in their Cwmbran branch. By balancing this part time job alongside my academic studies, I have developed strict time keeping methods by making sure I work towards personal deadlines to ensure I don’t fall behind with my university work. These time management skills have helped to maintain a professional attitude within my work at both HMV and my degree course. As this job involves dealing with the public I have learned how to uphold a professional attitude within the workplace, and I believe this skill will translate when faced with potential future design clients. I was also involved in a group design project by producing staff posters for the store as part of a campaign to communicate everybody’s personal interests within music, films, and games.

I am currently looking forward to my work experience with ‘Elmwood’ design studio in London, as it will be my first design related work experience within a professional environment. Whilst all my previous work experience has not necessarily been directly associated with design, they have all helped me gain valuable professional skills that have helped to shape my understanding of the professional world I have today.