I thought designing a map would be easy. There is tons of inspiration online (yes, I am guilty of occasionally searching through Pinterest for ideas), I’ve taken ideas from the outside too, I had a strong image in my head of what I wanted it to look like and yet every time I sit down at a table with my laptop or a piece of paper, paints, pens (I’ve tried everything), my mind goes blank and I throw out some amateur looking clip-art nonsense.
But the final EVER deadline is fast approaching so I gave this little nightmare another go. Here’s what I have so far:
Next up, my dissertation design and some more progress with my final major project. *groan*
Term 1 | Art & the Conscious Mind:
Art and the conscious mind was a topic I have had an increasing interest in this year, especially at the beginning of the Field module, and this was the reason I spent so long and put so much effort into pestering people to swap their place with me. After finally receiving a message saying I could swap I was eager to begin the term and expand my knowledge of consciousness and perception of environment, or at least just being engaged in productive conversations and lectures on the topic.
The class was taught by lecturer and artist Robert Pepperell. We learned about Agnosia, a condition where the victim loses their ability to recognise the meaning and secondary connotations further than the shapes, angles and colour of an object, among many other angles on the topic of consciousness and perception. Throughout this term I was prompted to consider my own views and how they agree with and contrast those of the lecturer, philosophers and my peers in the class, and I think this is a skill which will be endlessly helpful during my time at university and working in the world of design.
I also got to experience the different teaching styles of different lecturers and a whole selection of sub-topics within the ‘umbrella’ of Art and Consciousness. These included James Green’s session on hallucinations. It was refreshing to speak to someone who seemed on the same level as the students in the class, offering advice about the industry but also speaking to us like we were having a casual discussion about our own personal experiences. I think this teaching style is really positive and helpful for learning and engaging people in a topic. We also had the chance to create an art piece with chalk and charcoal, a technique I would not have necessarily chosen on my own and one which I really enjoyed doing.
We also had a session with Theo, where the class simply played a mass game of consequences, or exquisite corpse, and learned about the benefits of play for creativity and breaking through the ‘block’ artists sometimes experience while working on a project. My favourite lecture from this term was Anna’s session on meditation. After just completing her mindful meditation course I was happy for the extension.
At the end of the term the class was asked to individually prepare and deliver a five-minute presentation communicating what we had learned during the term and express our own opinions and how we will use this new knowledge in future artistic projects and ventures. I initially found this quite challenging, especially considering the presentation was recorded and posted to the Moodle page for everyone to listen to. However, I used this opportunity to ‘face my fear’ and although I haven’t plucked up the courage to listen to myself online yet, I think it was a very productive experience. I thoroughly enjoyed this term and would really encourage future students to also give it a shot.
Term 2 | Tipping Point
After completing the first half of the Field module, it did initially slip my mind that I would also have to participate in the second half. This then resulted in further desperate messages to other students to swap from Imagination is Beautiful to Wendy and Anna’s topic, Tipping Point. The promise of working with a ‘real-life’ client seemed more beneficial and engaging than what I thought would be just drawing bar charts in pretty colours. In retrospect I am still not entirely sure this was the right decision to make, as all of the people who took Information is Beautiful seemed to really enjoy the work and all left with a solid final piece to display in their portfolio and be proud of. I, on the other hand, struggled through the tasks of Tipping Point and ended with a badly put together blog post on our final event and nothing at all to add to my portfolio or website.
However I did take a lot of valuable knowledge and benefits from this half of the term, including connections to Size of Wales, a charity who now hopefully know my face and who I could potentially approach for design work in the future with an existing idea of the charity and their work. I also gained an insight into the varying work of a professional designer; it is not all posters and clever signage, but more the ideas that I can contribute to a client, activities they could conduct to raise ‘footfall’ or awareness of a concept, in addition to the design work that would go into these activities. I got tips on how to write an effective brief and how to contact and interact with a client, which will hopefully be really helpful when it comes to doing this alone or as part of a professional agency in the future.
As well as these, I also learned quite a lot about teamwork, and looking back at my blog posts I can appreciate that I did not handle all of the situations the best I could and I have identified that this is something I will need to work on in future. One of my biggest weaknesses is my commitment; not because I am lazy or spend my time avoiding responsibility but because a lot of the time I will prioritise too many things and jobs to do at once, and will therefore only be able to apply a fraction of my commitment to each. I have since left my jobs outside of university and I hope this will help me to focus fully on projects in my next year of university.
The Field module, for me, has been eye-opening in terms of learning new ways to work and how people work together (especially in difficult situations), and it has certainly been eventful. Although I much preferred the first term, with the comfort of the classroom, thought-provoking questions and varied lectures, I can appreciate that both have improved my awareness of the design industry and the different possibilities a future in design can offer me, and what I can offer it in return. Tipping Point showed me that there is much more to design than pretty posters and Adobe software, and given me experience with a client in a secure environment. Art & the Conscious Mind taught me to be more aware of myself and to consider more philosophical ideas, and to apply this thought to my design and art work in future.
I did enjoy Tipping Point, in-between the times of frustration, however I do think that the first term better reflected my ambition. The mindfulness session especially, although Anna conducted more sessions through Tipping Point I think the connection with consciousness was much more appropriate. I am grateful to Anna for sharing her passion with the group and I would recommend that everyone practise meditation or even just general mindfulness; it is so helpful for centring yourself and feeling calm in what otherwise could be stressful situations. I will continue to use the skills Anna has taught me this year, in her own mindful meditation sessions as well as those conducted during Field, and I hope she gets the chance to continue to share her knowledge with students next year and throughout her time working at the university.
Anna also introduced the technique of recording the group’s discussions and idea generation, so that we could look back at our ideas and critique our teamwork. This seems to be a technique growing in popularity and proved to be fairly beneficial to our work as it also meant that there was an added pressure to come up with ideas and not stray too far from the topic at hand.
At the beginning of Field students choose their favourite topics and are assigned according to their choices and the space available. This process must work to a certain extent, however after spending hours looking up students on Facebook to ask each of them if they would change places with me, if there was one thing I would suggest to change about Field it would be to add a form for students to request a swap. I am aware that ideally all students should choose their subjects within the time frame given, and stick to those choices, however people change their minds and there will always be situations which make choosing on time impossible. Other than this I think the module is really good for integrating students from different subjects and I have found my time during Field ultimately very interesting and beneficial to my studies and design work.
Today has been an odd one. I was sent ‘home’ from work just to sit in coffee #1 (yes, again) feeling very ill but relatively motivated, then to head over to uni, stopping every five minutes to spin in circles facing my camera up at the trees and taking photos of birds. When I managed to finally make it in, I was captured by my Field group, given pens and paper to make promotion posters (half an hour before the actual event. I miss one session and this is what happens) and shuffled towards the elevator where we hosted a picnic in aid of protecting the rain-forest and scared off everyone who proceeded to attempt to avoid the stairs on their way to class. I think we did a fairly adequate job of boosting everyone’s fitness, oh and raising awareness of Size of Wales of course.
I’m not going to lie, it got a little stressful at first and the feeling of seasickness after spending an hour going up and down in a lift was not pleasant, but overall I think we got the message across, and were definitely noticed. I am glad to have fought this horrible head cold and went in, and I think we’re almost ready for the final pitch the the client this Thursday.
Apparently digitalising isn’t a word. Hmm.
So, advancement. Great. Being the enthusiastic little designer I am, I couldn’t wait to send my idea into the digital realm, and after about an hour and a half of fighting to Photoshop to do what I want it to I have ended up with this:
Deciding that green probably isn’t the best colour to use in this context (it will blend in with the trees and is a bit of a cliche and overused when it comes to being eco-friendly), I made a red copy instead, that will stand out and catch peoples attention. I know it’s not the most imaginative piece of design in the world, but it is something. And it is far from finished.
I then made the back of the labels, however after doing a quick survey of the target audience discovered that no-one ever really uses QR codes so this is something I will need to consider when adjusting the design.
I also did a leaf shaped version of the label, thought it looked a bit more authentic, but lacks the connection between the text and shape of the label.
The hashtag (#hugatree) comes from something the client said during their presentation. They mentioned how the label “tree hugger” is seen as negative, and they wanted to keep away from negative stereotypes. But there can be a lot of power in taking ownership of these stereotypes, and switching their meaning to be positive, also if they could use such a well known name to their advantage then why not? The charity is already active and popular on Twitter, this could be their way of moving into Instagram, which is quickly becoming a main form of social media, now on roughly the same scale as Twitter and Facebook.
I’ve spent a lot of time moaning about how I am not enjoying this topic and I think it’s time I maybe got my act together and focused more on the cause than the means. The project I am taking part in is for Size of Wales, a Welsh (and proud) charity that is working to sustain an area of rain forest the size of Wales, and educate children (and us oldies) on the facts of what is going on in countries such as Africa and South America and what we can do to help.
The client came to uni last…week? (Possibly. I really should remember) and gave us an overview of the charity and what they want us little art elves to do for them. Initially I thought the task was to maybe create an advertising campaign of some sort to boost their ‘footfall’ if you will, or maybe to add some sort of fresh design to what they already have going on. Apparently I was wrong (and apparently I would have known I was wrong if I had read the brief properly, but hey) and lots of people are focusing more on creating a whole new scheme for the charity to carry out, from education packs to take into schools to full blown festivals. To be honest this has thrown me a bit off track; I am much more comfortable making design work to steer people in the right direction that I am organising whole events and models and who knows what else.
Also I am much more comfortable working on my own or in a group of people I know, but instead we have all been mixed into “clusters” *sigh* and I am working with a group of people who find it impossible to communicate and who all have different ideas. Although we are all “individuals working in a cluster”, so after hours of attempting to integrate myself into this group of people who don’t know each other at all, finding out that no-one is integrated anyway (I get the idea quite a lot of people are unhappy with the topic as a whole), and failing to get anywhere with our plan of a celebration or collaboration of charities and activities, I have decided to break away and go it alone. This may be a little unorthodox as in a real life design studio situation I would probably have to work as part of a team to get the work asked of us done, and I am not always going to just go off and do my own thing. However this is not the real world and I am not going to stay in a situation where I am consistently made to feel pretty unhappy.
So, enough of the ranting, I shall explain my idea. My plan is, first of all, aimed at children, and people who spend time in the park (commuters without transport, students, arty nature types). I did consider aiming the campaign at the least likely people to care about the cause, for example lumberjacks, energy and fuel companies, however reaching this audience seems an impossible task and surely encouraging people there is actually a chance with seems a lot more logical. I wanted to create something interactive, that was more than just a sheet of paper with information on or a talk on the street when people just want to get away to their shopping or their walk home. I want it to be a way of connecting the people of Wales in a way that is enjoyable, which seems like an important part of the charities work, to encourage unity.
I began thinking of things like games the community could play, something interactive that commuters would find on their way home, or children while they’re playing in the trees (do people still do that…go outside?) I also thought of something that will alter the appearance of an everyday landscape, to challenge people’s expectation, for example changing the colour of a tree or wrapping it in gift wrap (with the phrase “Make a difference” or “Nature is a gift” attached. Cheesy? Yes, but possibly effective too). These were my notes:
There are lots of things to consider when conducting a public campaign: getting permission, using waterproof materials, not harming or defacing anything natural or otherwise, and so on. I will have to remember all of these things when designing my installment into nature and avoid or work around them.
WARNING! WARNING! Yet another far too negative post coming up.
The last week has been fairly mild in terms of enjoyability and drama (I know I spend a lot of my time on this blog complaining about the extremes of my mood swings and my sensitive reactions to the smallest of variations in my day, but for now I will be slightly less dramatic).
I have already failed to keep up to date with these posts and I think that’s mainly down to my lack of motivation for this topic. I know, I know, I shouldn’t complain, and the knowledge that there are always going to be jobs in “the real world” I am not going to enjoy doing but will have to do for my reputation, income etc.
And now it is too late to keep jumping from group to group anyway. So I’m learning to deal with it.
I think my main problem is the fact that (at the risk of coming across as a small school child) I do not ‘fit in’. I feel as though I share nothing with these people, and I don’t mean in a way that I am ‘above them’, I just mean I travel in different circles. University is just one part of this phase of my life; I am also holding down two jobs as well as a voluntary position at Women’s Aid, about twelve groups of friends, attempting to hold together a photography ‘venture’ and at the same time juggle the responsibilities of university.
I feel a bit like the other people here have a lot more time and money to focus wholey on the work the Field brief requires from us. It is evident in the amount of research the other students have done and the physical structures and outcomes that have already been made. And if it wasn’t for this I think I would really enjoy working on this brief.
And I know it’s petty but it’s kind of difficult to keep up moral when everyone else comes in looking like they spent all the time I was at work doing their makeup, straightening their hair, picking out a perfect outfit etc etc and I waddle in all windswept, no makeup on, in my stupidly oversized Metro jacket, looking like a right muppet.
But enough with the sad judgemental moaning, I have got up, admittedly bailed on work but I went to the gym and I am now sitting in a coffee shop in the city, drinking a chocolate covered cappuccino and writing this post while riding a bit of a caffeine induced buzz. With the exception of dodging my boss and that feeling that comes with looking over your shoulder knowing you’re in the wrong, this is how I would like to be living my life right now.
I have an extremely rare day off (minus the hour of work I did on the dark streets of Cardiff this morning), and I intend to fill it with as much productive work I can, between going to uni for an hour for a dreaded talk on my dissertation (groan) and an encounter with the big bad estate agents to sort out the mess that is my house for next year.
One of those very important productive things will be abandoning my very disfunctional group and their half thought out idea and work on what I would do to respond to this Field brief, which will include hugging trees and attaching ribbons to things.
The life of an art student is a fun place to be sometimes.
Watch this space.
Today has been the worst day for a long time. But apparently, among many other demands, I have to write a minimum of three posts a week. So here it is.
It is now three days into uni, ten hours of what might be referred to as “work” and I am already very done with saving the tropical rain forests. I am also done with being spoken to like a shy little child. Trust me, coming up to me and talking softly about how “overwhelming” the situation can be is not helping matters. Neither is elaborating extensively on every single sentence for half an hour when some of us would just like to get on with the task at hand. I was having a bad day, people were acting like I was invisible, that is all.
Also being called mental and being made to question my own sanity throughout the day is not a fun experience and not one I can say was very fruitful. But that’s a story for another day.
I don’t mean to rant but it just felt like I spent five hours, not including the unreasonably long lunch break, doing not very much. The first session was great, I got to mistake the client for students in the class and I feel like I made a small connection. They talked about their charity and the task they wanted done, and what they wanted at the end of it, if not a little vaguely.
And to top it off I made the mistake of spending too much money on an unhealthy and overpriced lunch. I had hoped the mindfulness session at the beginning of the day might have made a difference. It did not, and I suppose this was partially my own fault.
Let’s hope Tuesday will be better.