It’s all coming together.Posted: February 24, 2017
After two and a half years of jarring interest in university work and lulls of skimming through projects (maybe I’m a bit hard on myself) and well intended but mediocre attempts at design solutions, I finally feel like I can settle into the work and get everything in order and to a standard I can be proud of, and which will hopefully land me a job doing design and/or photography work… With only 4 months to go. The last six months have been punctuated with mini-meltdowns, adopted anxiety and missed deadlines and trips and presentations, but I have spent the whole week waking up early, getting into the studio for as close to 8:30am as I can and refusing to let myself leave until at least mid-afternoon after I have done a sufficient amount of work and it feels good. It turns out just being in the university building puts you right in the centre of everything: all the people, conversations and opportunities you could want. Today has not been an exception.
It is time to focus on the final major project, which will hopefully be presented in the degree show (either this or my Big Idea piece). But first I have a few loose ends to tie up; mainly commission work, social obligations and competition submissions; something that after the pricing lecture on Wednesday and some light intervention from well meaning friends I feel I am entirely capable of finishing. I still have to rework my outcome for the D&AD competition for the 22nd March and I have to do the photo-shoot for the Big Idea brief from last term before I can fully throw myself into this brief. Yesterday I entered my book cover design to the Penguin Random House Competition, which I will post as soon as the deadline rolls past and there is no chance of my amazing ideas being stolen *cough*. I still need to do a final design for The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, which I’m aiming to submit that too before next week.
Earlier today, I went to Creative Mornings talk by Suzanne Carpenter, an illustrator and pattern maker from Paternistas, who also worked for Stills, and had a lot of inspirational things to say and stories to tell. It surprised me how few people even know about these events never mind have the motivation to turn up. I would strongly recommend that all creative people in Cardiff go at least once to see what it’s like. Meeting people is so important in this industry and the talks provide a welcome nudge in the right direction every month when the momentum might have slowed down for a project or even just to get you out of the house, to have a refreshing couple of hours to reset before getting back to work.
While I was there I also spoke to Olwen, the Dean of the school and the one member of university staff who never fails to motivate me to move forward and stay positive. She gave me some direction in terms of who to contact and where to research for my project idea. This was then followed by a tutorial with Ian, which was really helpful in following Olwen’s advice and giving an alternative, objective approach to my initial idea. During this tutorial I also got to hear other people’s ideas and plans and share my ideas and advice with them. I think it’s really important to give and receive feedback as often as possible, especially when working on student-led projects and so this morning, for me at least, was really useful.
After the tutorial I headed down to one of the lecture rooms for a talk from Neil Hubbard from Heatherwick Studio. He started with “I specialise in vagueness” which had me hooked from the beginning. One thing that was said was “Design for the moment rather than something that lasts forever” This particular quote resonated with me mainly because of my interest in temporary things having as much worth as permanence, and design for a small amount of time can be just as astonishing and grand as those made to last, possibly more so.
Another thing that was said is that designers should take their inspiration straight from the brief before heading off in different directions to find the solution. Sometimes the answer is in the question or the problem. Neil also said that it is important to think about the pace of a project, to create a focus point to work on, not all of the outcome has to be grand.
He spoke about the moon bridges of China and described some of his work in on re-designing a modern functioning version of these in response to a request for Heatherwick’s famous rolling bridge (seriously, check out their projects, they’re incredible), among other design projects in China; a couple of projects in Shanghai and then how he worked in Hong Kong for six months on the Pacific Place. Neil spoke about working on the smallest of details on such a large scale piece of architecture, and was so passionate about what work they do, he’s given me a new wave of energy and motivation to be this successful.
Firstly, the scale of work that is available to designers is much bigger than I have been imagining; poster campaigns and A5 publications seem so small compared to English Heritage building complexes and Indian architecture designs built into massive steel structures. I could, one day, be working on projects like these and that blows my mind a bit. Secondly, each of his comments on Shanghai and moon bridges, alongside photos and animations, poked at how increasingly determined I am to go back to China. I know I probably talk about it too much and my current plans are very uncertain and reliant on outside forces, but hear me out.
Before this year I had absolutely no interest in Asia, no inclination of the opportunities I could be a part of or motivation to look for myself, but after visiting and hearing about just a fraction of the things that are happening there, after every talk, every article and offhand comment on social media, every friend or friend of a friend who makes their way over to the East, every step closer I get to the internship in Chengdu, the more I feel I just have to be there. If I don’t get this internship (I have to prepare for that outcome) I will put all other trips abroad on hold and enrol myself onto a Mandarin course and one day soon, find myself back somewhere in China. I am too invested now to let this idea go.