This post contradicts the title entirely but I have just walked all around town in search of something to eat, and I am not very happy with Cardiff, or the general attitude to vegetarianism here. All I wanted, in life, my absolute main focus, was something veggie friendly (preferably vegan) in a crusty bread roll, potentially warmed up or toasted, preferably avoiding burning a hole in my wallet. That is all, and apparently such a thing simply does not exist. And then to make it worse, each time I turn a corner I see this (or variants of):
And I’m just stood there like “I would! If it was possible to find something (anything!) to eat then I absolutely would!” And I feel guilty for the chocolate croissant I just ate because after half an hour of trying every supermarket and coffee shop on the high street I couldn’t find anything else. It is NOT the general public these pleas need to be aimed at, I am sure many people would cut down on animal products if an alternative was readily available to them, it is the shops, coffee shops, organisations which are providing the food and drink to the public. Walking into Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s this morning, all you can see are shelves and shelves of Chicken, bacon, cheese! Ads for local restaurants displaying “extra ice cream, fresh cream…” There is no way to escape it, three Greggs outlets later I think I have to resolve myself to the fact that their tiny vegan range failed its first few weeks; a shame.
It doesn’t have to be a big statement (I am very glad the Pret are opening up veggie stores but it doesn’t always have to be this grand), just having a few more vegetarian options, and the occasional vegan one too is all we need. To be honest, one of the best things about going vegetarian/vegan is that it’s easy to choose in restaurants because there’s usually just one or two suitable meals; we don’t need much.
So, my tiny little solution to this is applied to my final major project (I have a bit of an obsessive relationship with my work at the moment so why not direct this frustration towards uni?). Stalefish will provide AS MANY vegetarian options for food as meat options, and also a selection of vegan ones. It will not make a show and dance of it, it will simply exist. Obviously this is a few years down the line when the essentials have been covered and we can move on to serving food (I’m still considering the coffee shop idea to draw people in, but it isn’t the main focus). One aim of Stalefish is to encourage a healthy and positive lifestyle so all food and drink available will be healthy and of a good standard. “You are what you eat” so we want our customers to be eating well.
And as a side note, much like the site Bumble does in London, it will circulate positive messages such as these:
Another minor frustration from today is that there is so much pressure to network within the creative community here in Cardiff, and that’s all well and good when you’re in a sociable outgoing mood, but this morning I was feeling hazed and just wanted to sit quietly by myself without feeling anxious or ignorant, and listen to the talk. This was difficult to do with a whole room of people actively engaging in conversation and in all honesty by sitting out of the way I felt like a bit of an outsider. From the information I have gathered since starting this project, it appears that many of the target audience are introverted and much less confident in their skills and accomplishments than the older existing community, and networking is one of the reasons they are so intimidated by co-working spaces and events. To tackle this is and open the idea of working in a studio up to younger people, the events will always begin within a few minutes of the advertised start times, possibly stating that there will be a half an hour socialising time before the workshops/events begin so that more introverted people can avoid this. It is important that the studio is a comfortable space and that guests don’t feel awkward or out of place.
I used to think that we have to do far too many presentations as part of this course. It feels like after every couple of weeks we’re presenting our ideas, our designs, in different ways to different people; spending a lot of time watching and waiting and not really getting much from it. But it seems that every time I do a presentation I mess it up, however much I plan and prepare for them, however confident I am in my idea and how developed my design is, and more might be necessary if only for the advancement of my public speaking ability.
I am not a nervous person. I have to stress this; even recently I am still being reminded that I am not an anxious person; I can speak on the phone to strangers, talk at length about my ideas and passions, I am more than comfortable meeting new people and throwing myself into new places and situations; seemingly small feats and yet a few years ago I would not be so certain, so centred and sure. And yet however confident or caffeine fuelled I enter a room to present, my voice still shakes, my eyes skim over the words I have prepared and my mind goes blank. This is something I am determined to work on, and unlike before I am eager to do more, to throw myself into as many opportunities I can, to speak in front of an audience. I must be good at this, I have to be if I want to do well in the industry.
I tried using cue cards today in an attempt to override the blankness that appears in my head when stood in front of a crowd. This only aided my nerves, I was very aware that I was speaking off a sheet of paper and not being as authentic or interesting as I could have been. Next time I should probably make shorter notes and go back to speaking from the images on the screen as well. As a small note, I am still not sure if it is the presence of the lecturer I am uncomfortable with (in this case two), the number of viewers in the audience or the connections I have with each of them. It could also be adopted anxiety from the people I spend time with or the negative spaces I keep finding myself in. This is something I should resolve in order to understand why I become so unnecessarily, irrationally nervous. I am happy with the extent of my research and what I have so far and I am excited to do more with this project. I got some useful advice from feedback today, including:
- Experimenting more with the typefaces
- Do more illustrations
- Work out how the visual identity will look on different touch-points
- Condense the audience down to just the skater community, as it could be intimidating for people outside this to get involved (or change the name/theme)
This is the project I want to display in the degree show, and I really hope I can develop it enough for it to be accepted.
Here are a few images of what my presentation looked like today:
Update: Since the presentation I’ve put together a board to direct people to Stalefish, a logo painted onto the outside wall, coffee cup and thank you note designs. I also thought about putting together a short publication for guests to contribute to. This won’t be something I can show in the degree show as their simply isn’t time, but it is a decent idea for the development of the project. I am also aiming to create some promotional posters for Stalefish and a couple of social media posts encouraging people to try it out. These will include positive phrases such as “keep pushing”, and “You are flippin’ great”.
This last week has been even more productive than the last, it is Tuesday and I have already done so much. This evening was spent in the Student Union at a ‘mingling event’, getting to know new faces and finding out interesting perspectives on starting up your own business from experienced professionals. Originally just an idea, thrown around the studio, a possibility if we had nothing better to do, and it ended up so much more; a really insightful and enriching couple of hours.
I even asked a question. A seemingly small feat but I am still shrugging off unwanted anxiety. It is so important to be careful when choosing who you surround yourself with, the effects each one has is more prominent than you think. So I asked a question, to Helen from Recycle Scooters, and her answer was really helpful. I asked how, with such a busy schedule and a want to get involved with as many things as possible, she went about choosing when to say no. Her answer was basically that when presented with an opportunity; a conference, networking event, the chance of new/more work etc. you have to consider what you will achieve from going and what you can add to it yourself. Where your expertise might be of use and when they can evolve from going. Sometimes people only want you there to make them look good or to make up numbers, and sometimes you can tell there will not be any enjoyment or use in going. That is when you say no.
One of the designers from The Wonky Chair Co. added to this by saying that sometimes it’s good to have the “fear of missing out”, you never know what you’re going to get out of going to events and networking, get involved in as much as possible. Which is basically what I’m doing. It’s good to get yourself out there, make yourself known, tell your story, it will put you in situations where you can get help if you need it, and also use your expertise and skills to help others. So I am feeling motivated, and awake, and excited to get my teeth into researching and setting up my own business. I’ll get there.
Afterwards I went home, threw on some nicer clothes, fixed my hair and makeup and headed out to photograph a live music event, Nuclear Lullaby in Fuel, a bar in Cardiff. I really love taking part in things like this; it’s like you’re half way in between the crowd and the performers, dancing around in your own little untouchable bubble of space, every step around the space in front of the stage is a step forwards in my professional journey. I’ll upload the photos to my creative blog soon, after editing, but for now I just want to say that I am so pleased I’ve managed to rise past all the clutter at ground level which was holding me back. There are still a few things which need shrugging off and still a long way to go but I am feeling positive, and looking up.
One of the most prominent aspects of Beijing, and I imagine the rest of China, is that it holds a great conflict, a tension between old and new, tradition and modern advancement. One way this conflict is made visible is through the use of type and design decorating the city, old painted lettering on sandbags in dusty hallways and hand drawn calligraphy in ancient temples, standing out against the pristine sharply printed lettering of popular American chain stores and coffee shops, and clean black and white English words on the backs of hoodies. Even in the traditional, historical parks and religious buildings there are electric billboards advertising the latest drink or phone brand.
The typography is one of the things that amazed me most about Beijing, and something which inspired my application to InternChina to do a design internship in Chengdu in the Autumn. The characters and calligraphy are just beautiful, and makes even the worst design look interesting. Here are some photos I took along the way:
There is a whole post on my creative blog about my (probably very limited and uninformed) opinion on the city if you’re interested in reading more.
Today I filled out most of my application for an internship in China (Qingdao, Chengdu or Zhuhai to be precise). Just a couple of scanned documents and a reference from the Dean and I am set.
In order to get my written reference, Olwen asked why I wanted to go, and so I wrote out an email giving all the generic reasons why anyone would want to go to China to work for a couple of months: the language, learning new skills, gaining experience. Then I thought about it more and while what I wrote was all true, there is also a lot more China has to offer me, what I can give back and what it is exactly that I want from this. So here’s a more accurate, less formal response…
I want my life to open up before my eyes. I want to escape the South Wales community, if only temporarily, and come back with a bigger understanding, a wider reach. I want to roam around streets and fields and be completely overwhelmed, I want to not understand the language at all and have to learn for my dinner, I want to try new food and meet new people. I want to find happiness and strength in supporting myself, in knowing I have only my own judgement to keep me alive and safe. That kind of trust is exhilarating. I want the adrenaline rush of getting off a plane and the air feeling different, to be surrounded with unfamiliar smells, sights, people, animals, customs that I can only hope to learn about. I want to have conversations with people with completely different opinions to me and a completely different upbringing. I want to be swept up in the fast pace of China, to see the system with my own eyes, the quirks and subtle differences to the UK as well as the extremes, to be more aware of what the world has to offer. I want to find out what I can give back to the design industry, in China as well as the UK, to find where my skills are valuable and in which ways, and to come back hopefully alive, and proud and with stories to tell.
The more I think about this opportunity the more I want to grab hold of it with both hands and get on a plane and go. But I have to wait to fill out the rest of my application and there is probably so much competition the chances of me actually getting to go is probably rather slim. But this feels like something I really just have to do. Consider all of my fingers and toes crossed.
Just a short post to appreciate the design for the new BT adverts on Newport Road, Cardiff.
I wasn’t sure if I liked them at first but after walking past them a gazillion times I figured that, even if it is in the smallest way, they make their audience think and have a tiny sense of accomplishment when they ‘decipher’ them and I think that’s pretty clever. Especially with such a simple design.
…Or maybe I’ve just had a few too many thoughtful tipsy walks home in the dark this week.