12 IN 12- Craig Oldham

Another Tuesday lecture and we were introduced to Craig Oldham who gave a very helpful and entertaining lecture in which he discussed 12 things we might learn during our first year of being a designer in a very 'matter of fact way!' I really enjoyed the lecture and it opened my eyes to the actual harsh reality of the graphic design industry. There is so much work to do if I want to make a career out of this industry when I graduate eeek- best get my head down...

The 12 points in the lecture were displayed in a newspaper style booklet (see above) and it felt quite refreshing to be given reading material which accompanied the lecture as it is something which can be used for referance later on. The points:

1/ Understand what graphic design is to you. Define Creativit, and what you value as good design then you'll know what it takes to acheive it. Am I bunch A (the logical) or am I bunch B (big ideas)?
Not really sure how I would define myself. Probably bunch myself with the B's. I never really have a concept and I certainly do not have much logic- I just go with what I feel and see what happens.

2/ Be honest with yourself about your strengths and your weaknesses. Know what you are best at.
In other words do not be scared to say you cannot do something. I'm not that great at computer stuff but could attempt the basics, there would definitely be no hope in me building a website like craig said in the lecture "Web design- It's like the darks arts." FACT! I need to stick with my hand rendered work using paper...much more up my street!

3/ A portfolio is for life, not just for an interview. Treat it like an ongoing project and update it everytime you do something.
I need to start this! Maybe I should update it like I update my blog (which is a bit haphazard at the minute) but it could be an idea.

4/ Placements matter, so do them.
Erm enough said on this one!

5/ The design insdustry is small: everyone knows evrybugger else.
Need to get my foot in the door.

6/ Participate with other peopl and share your ideas: two heads are better than one.
This is good because I quite like to share my ideas, it's nice to know what other people think. It's the only way to improve.

7/ Graphic Design is just a job. But being a designer is different.
Being a designer means that you are constantly thinking- I don't think I will ever work for a graphic design agency, it's just not me.

8/ If you don't fail then you are trying.
Sometimes I feel like I am always failing, maybe I'm doing something right for a change.

9/ Life and work exist outside London.
Good. Because I don't want to live or work there, maybe only stay for a few days and shop.

10/ Designing I'd say is only 20% of your jobs. Thats it.

11/ Have a life ouside of design. Let your life inspire your design.
Currently this degree is my life, when I have graduated this whole 'having a life' lark will be something I will DEFINITELY considering!

12/ Work hard and be nice to people.
I try my hardest to do this...it's not always possible though!

Craig was young himself, only graduating 3 years ago he understood what we are currently going through, the lessons we face and the difficulties which will creep up on us as we try to establish ourselves. All in all though I left the lecture feeling enlightned and a little more confident in my practices, similar to how I felt after listening to Libby and Nicola talk about their experiences after graduation. Time to get moving...


Last week during our Tuesday lecture slot, we were briefed with a series of competition briefs. Some of which were taken from the new YCN book so Alex from the agency came in to have a chat with us. YCN began as a student award foundation and each year they publish a book which is full of winners/commendations from the previous year's briefs and a selections of new ones from vast aray of companies. The first ever brief was sponsered by Ben and Jerry's which paved way for companies such as Google, Sainsbury's, Orange, BBC2 and Sky to name just a few. 

It was very interesting to see how the company has since developed and the introduction of A is for Awards campaign. Pictured above the new award will be presented periodically to emerging talent in the art and design industry. A similar, smaller verison in white will also be awarded to those commended in the live student briefs.

I didn't really absorb much information during this lecture (I began to day-dream) but one point which Alex made has stuck with me was 'Think about your studio practice when answering the briefs.' It wasn't until this final year which I have begun to do this and I think it's a sound piece of advice as there is definitely no point what-so-ever doing something you just cannot do and failing. This is something I am going to focus and improve upon, by concentrating on my strengths I think any potential I have will be more evident within my work. I am really looking forward now to answering the Fedrigoni Paper Promotion brief- as I quite like paper, I think I might have mentioned that fact before!


Yummy Stuff

Take a look at Rifle Paper Co., stationary by a very talented painter/designer called Anna Bond. I'm not sure how I stumbbled upon this, but I would like to buy every single piece...

An Aladdin's Cave

With my ever increasing desire to make books, I thought it was time that I began to get euipped. Yet another very rainy day and armed with directions I found 'Ratchford,' a book binding suppliers. Before I knew it and with the help of a very friendly assistant I was stocked with an awl, paste brush, linen thread, needles, grey board and a large selection of book cloth and papers (which were a complete bargain). I'll definitely be venturing again to buy more supplies, I could have spent hours and probably could have gotten lost in there.

Manchester Artist Book Fair 2009

A bit of a late post...but better late than never! On one very rainy Saturday at the beginning of November I wandered down to the Holden Gallery at MMU to have a nosey at the Artist Book Fair. The space was packed with lots of different things going on, on every table ( I really wish I had remembered to go to the cash machine before hand, £10 didn't get me very far!!) I was really inspired by everything I saw, and definitely intrigued to discover how many artists create beautiful books as a form of self expression. I loved nearly everything although somethings were just a little too 'conceptual' for my liking and I found a bit of it was 'art for arts sake.' There were so many wonderful things to absorb, and I wandering around some of the tables my inspiration grew and I wanted to start designing and making straight away. Previous to the book fair, Graham had been in to lecture us on 'Self-Promotion,' so I began to gather a sample of buisness cards of the artists (to be honest I just picked some of my favourite)

My favourite pick of the buisness cards was the one in the centre which is for illustrator Mary Lundquist. The beauty of the simple card reflected the very simple amd delicate aesthetic of her work, I loved the attention to detail Mary had applied to the way her stand was displayed even down to the vintage typewritter ( of which I was very jealous and was told it was not for sale!!) Her work was lovely and I really wish and hope that I could make work just as nice. It was the hand drawn elemants of the work which drew me in, such simple illustrations have such a powerful visual impact that blew me away.

Another stand which really caught my eye belonged to Sarah Morpeth, who as a result I am now in correspondace with in regards to my dissertation. Her work was just fascinating, working with paper Sarah creates wonderful papercuts and layerd artist books, I asked her for some advice for making such neat and perfect cuts, her response was simple 'Just change your blade after every 10 single cuts.'


Competition Time!!

Finally, it's time to get away from the good old 'Silence' brief and venture into something new! We were given a list of various competition briefs to choose from which were provided by D&AD, YCN and ONEDOTZERO. When I looked I was immediatly drawn to the YCN brief named 'Fedrigoni: Paper Promotion.' "Oooo" I thought, this looks like my kind of thing, anything to do with paper and I seemed to be attracted! So today was the first tutorial with Sue regarding the brief, armed with not very much to show, I went and finished totally geared up and motivated to make something that looks lovely and pretty and  nice. The main aims given in the brief are to make designers want to visit and use the Fedrigoni London Showroom bringing the paper company and the design community closer together. I'd had a few ideas, for example things that could be sent out to customers such as calenders and different installations/events that could take place in the space of the showroom. Everyone seemed to want to head in a similar direction however the main point which was put across by Sue was, "Don't resolve the project straight away." So instead of jumping straight in I am going to taken some time out to play with paper and explore the endless possibilities of a single sheet. Doing this will point me in the right direction and who knows where this will lead?


Window Dressing

For the past 5 years I have worked at Next part-time to earn some extra pocket money during my studies. Over the summer I showed an interest in the visual merchandising and the designs for the shop window, a few weeks ago I thought my interest had paid off when they asked me to help them in dressing the window ready for Christmas!! Needless to say I didn't spend THAT much time in the window instead I got to unpack the gigantic baubles and iron about a million metres of ribbon...but i suppose everyone has to start somewhere, I might be allowed to design the windows next time- I can dream :) ...


Finally we wandered across Liverpool and finished off at the TATE and got the chance to see 3 very different exhibitions...

Mark Rothko: The Seagram Murals

Immediatly after entering the gallery, I was overwhelmed by the scale of Rothko's dramatic paintings which seemed to have a very atmospheric and sombre effect on the space. The paintings grand size would have been very suitable for the interior of The Four Seasons luxury restaurant for which they were initially commissioned. The series of paintings were all in deep shades of red and brown, and this darkened the entire space they were in- quite a calming place to sit and examine each one and really look into the true 'concept' behind each piece. They were nice to look at but again weren't my thing, so we moved on!

Joyous Machines: Michael Landy and Jean Tinguely

I was really annoyed to discover we couldn't take any photographs in this exhibition as there were some really interesting pieces which created some fantastic shadows against the wall- but I suppose it's fair enough really! I liked this exhibition and could have stayed and sketched allday (if I had remebered to take a pen and sketchbook with me). I was particularly fascinated with the second part of the exhibition which showed off the drawings and paintings of Micheal Landy.

There was so much detail in each one of his drawings and they looked so vivid hung against the very clean white walls. Landy's work was significantly influenced by the work of fellow curator Jean Tinguely in terms of his constructive and destructive tendencies. I also really liked the small illustrations created on black paper with correcting fluid, alongside the sculptures of the fan and the bike wheel pictured below

Jean Tinguley's work was really different and it was interesting to see how two totally different and unique artists had collaborated to curate a show together. Tinguleys is known as one of the most 'radical and inventive sculptors of the mid twentieth century.' This part of the exhibition was also based on the mechanics of machinary but was presented in a totally different way, with a chance to interact with parts of the exhibit such as the moving pieces on many different canvases.

This was one of my favourite pieces 'Black and White Relief Meta-Mechanique, 1957.' I found Tinguley's work rather delicate to look at and really enjoyed the mono colour scheme which was carried throughout the entire exhibition. Overall this was probably the most enjoyable exhibitions of the day, nothing was too 'arty,' and everything felt alot fresher and I felt was a unique approach to the subject matter!


Next stop on our trip after realising that the Openeye Gallery was closed was FACT, a gallery which is centered towards the exhibition of film and motion picture. At the timeof our visit the main exhibition was artist Apichatpong Weerrasethakul's (apparently known as Joe!!) 'Primitive', a video installation which is shown across different screens. Each one depicting something different such as the creation of the spaceship, explosions hitting the ground, portraits of soldiers, sleeping and dreaming. The whole experience of entering the exhibition was quite strange, the room had a red glow and screens were playing different films on each wall. A huge watch tower was central in the room and everything seemed quite chaotic. I'm not a fan of most conceptual video installations and didn't grasp the whole idea of the exhibit, I felt quite uncomfortable being so out of my depth and not having the slightest understanding of the meanings behind the films. Perhaps I should have allowed myself a longer period of time to watch the films, but in this instance I didn't like them.

The above image is of The Yes Men's 'Halliburton SurvivaBalls.' They were designed by The Yes Men, as mock survival suits to be used to protect corporate managers from natural disasters. I liked the light-hearted aesthetic of these two pieces which hung high above the cafe and shop area, refreshing after being in the oppresive atmosphere of the 'Primitive' exhibition.


The Walker Gallery

First stop on our school trip to Liverpool was 'The Walker Gallery.' We initially went there to have a look at Bridget Riley's 'Flashback,' but also had a wander around 'The Rise of Women Artists,' exhibition. There were excitable school children running around everywhere, and we got told off for taking pictures but all in all a good experience.
"You cannot deal with thought directly outside practice as a painter, 'doing' is essential to find out what form your though takes."

I will begin by looking at Bridget Riley's 'Flashback.' The exhibition tracks Riley's career and we were given the opportuinty to have a look at her earlier sketchbook drawings to the huge, optically vibrant paintings which she created later on in her career. From her original black and white paintings she later moved onto studies of greys and in the late 1960's she went onto draw with colour.

The above image named, 'Ecclesia,'(the last image I took before we got told off!) was one of my favourite pieces of Riley's work in the exhibition and is simply oil on canvas, created in 1985. I loved the use of colour in this piece, it was refreshing to look at work which used colour as its something I rarely use in my own studio work. Unlike some of the other pieces, this one didn't send my eyes all funny, I don't usually enjoy exhibitions of paintings, especially not old relicy ones from millions of years ago. However I found 'Flashback,' rather inspiring as the use of coulour and line was really poweful with the final aesthetic resulted in being quite magnificant. Maybe in the future I can refer back to this exhibition and look at the bold use of colour and the optical illusions it can create, and utilise this in the future.

The next exhibition we moved onto was 'The Rise of Women Artists.' There was only really one pice in this exhibition that really stood out from the rest and that was a piece created by Helen Chadwick called 'Viral Landscapes No.2'. A pioneer of British art, Chadwick made use of her own body, and examined bilogical structures and cells to create really scientific pieces.

'Viral Landscapes No.2,' is part of a series of 5 montages made in the late 1980's when AIDS was inspiring artists to explore the nature of viruses. Chadwick montaged images of cells from her cervix, with a rugged coast line then splashed paint on it to suggest the colonisation of the body by a virus and the colonisation of the world by man. Not really sure why I was drawn to this image, I usually don't like 'arty' pieces like this but for some reason it struck a chord! Maybe again it was the bold use of colour or the lack of any structure to the image. The strong concept is very prominant but the freedom in which this piece was created, also shines through. I shall observe it some more to discover what it actually is that makes me find this image appealing.
Overall a good trip to 'The Walker,' didn't really look at the permanent exhibitions as I'm not really interested in renaissance work but I shall definitley return to the gallery if the we get the chance to see more work like Bridget Riley's.

Death by pigeon...but everything was sequinned!

Today myself, Isobel and Kat braved the bitterly cold weather and took a trip to Liverpool in order to pad out the old journal and to soak up some culture in the art galleries, we visited exhibitions at the 'Walker Gallery,' 'Tate' and 'Fact' we also attempted to go to the 'Open Eye Gallery' but it was closed when we eventually found it (Kat's Duke of Edinburgh award was definitely a huge help!!). Bad times. We didn't let this dampen our spirits and we carried on walking around before we allowed ourselves to have a browse in Topshop. On our wanderings whilst being attacking by several pigeons, we walked past the offices which is where the winners of the £45 million prize money from the euro millions work and saw this sign in the window reading 'I'm Minted', which made us laugh (although since I arrived home, I've heard that the picture has already been in the news!)

I found visiting the exhibitions really useful and some pieces of work inspiring however there were pieces I really did not like and really did not understand..but I suppose art's what you make of it and you don't have to like everything!

Sesame Street turns 40!

As I grew up I absolutly loved sesame street, and I have just discovered that it turned 40 today when I went to search something on Google. All the characters are now on the opening page of the search engine to celebrate it's birthday, I thought I would have a browse at some old clips to cheer myself up after a looong day in Liverpool and I came acroos this video called 'A song about Elmo'...have a look, it made me smile. Elmo an Grover were my favourite :) so HAPPY BIRTHDAY SESAME STREET!!


Libby Scarlett

A little bit of a late post...but I thought it was something I had blogged. Libby Scarlett is a former student who came in to talk to us 3rd years about how she survived her final year. The main point of the lecture was a look at journals and what to include, with a strong emphasis on us recording everything we do as we go along. (and I'm really trying hard to do this and keep up with the year!) Libby's journal had a really beautiful aesthetic and was so well executed, something I would like to replicate with my final journal.

I really liked the idea of the postcards in the box, a much nicer idea than the standard file format I usually use! We are frequently being told, that it's the content rather than the appearance of the journal which is most important and the method and language we use to contextualise the past year. But surely theres something wrong with making something look pretty...

Libby's lecture was a great inspiration especially with regards to dealing with the final year and the journals. I also really enjoyed seeing how she developed her blog and website, it has clearly helped her self-promotion Libby also reassured us that keeping the blog is definitley the way forward to mapping out thoughts, feeings ideas etc based around this final year!

Mid-term reviews

 I felt rather nervous in relation to last Thursday’s review. I wasn’t too sure how my work would be perceived and I felt completely clueless in regards to what direction I was heading in, with both this current brief and any other future briefs. I began by showing the summer Kino project, initially I was really pleased with my outcome as it had meant I had produced the final designs on the computer (something which I am a little afraid of doing) but after analysing it and presenting it to the rest of the review group I was able to look at it with a critical eye for the first time. My inspirations were drawn from the work of Kuntzel and Deygas and their opening sequence for the film ‘Catch Me If You Can.’ I chose to use a similar theme in my poster however my design for the identity didn’t comply with the overall design. It was suggested this was something for me to work on further, and we discussed how I could use typography and incorporated that within designs for the identity. It was good to finally discuss the work carried out over summer to gain a better understanding of what everyone thought. It is definitely something I would like to carry on with, I would like to pick my own range of films and complete a series of designs, which eventually may end up in my portfolio.
Next I presented the current Silence project, my work for this included pages of research from my sketchbook, illustrations, and paper and photographic experiments. I went onto explain my current struggle with sourcing a suitable narrative, which would be easily associated with my imagery and the subject of 9/11. I really want to keep the narrative sympathetic to the subject matter still at the same time not turn it into a memorial towards the event. I was given a number of pointers to think about in order to collect suitable narrative such as; thinking about my target audience think about a title and how anything found will relate to my chosen imagery of feathers. I don’t think it was clearly understood why I had chosen the image of feathers but it was all in relation to the photograph taken of the ‘falling man.’ Before the review I was in the process of gathering peoples thoughts and recollections of the event but John and Hitch suggested I look at quotes from the workers, the families and the witnesses- anything I could source from the media. I feel maybe the more mundane quotes may work against the delicacy of my imagery. I found the review at this stage totally useful- especially getting a chance to see where everyone else was up to. The only aspect I of the review I was not pleased with was being given our grades in front of the other members of the group, I’m not trying to argue with my grade as I agree and understand why I was given the grade I was given however I just didn’t think it was fair and thought it should’ve been done confidentially. The review allowed me to gain a more positive view of the Silence and Kino work and has really motivated me; this was down to gaining a critical perspective off two tutors and also see everyone elses work and processes. Definitely not as scary as I first thought it would be!

Long time no blog...

Well it seems I haven't been updating this much recently as I feel like I've been really busy. So I've taken some time out to sort out what I've been upto....
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