I expected a lot from the final three weeks; some kind of dramatic punctuated ending, a meaningful shared experience, an empathetic collective wave of emotion maybe. Instead, the approach came quickly, jarringly, and the end rolled over ironically unexpected and tense. And “That’s it.” She said, what I remember most about the last day, just yesterday, was an air of tension and then another of us repeating the words “that’s it”, “that’s it” as if this would somehow spark an ingenious revelation of possibility and hope. Instead I feel drained, dazed, like I am tilting off a clifftop blindfolded. I’m hoping the fall will surprise me with candy floss and diamonds but it could equally be a pit of snakes, tigers even, and I won’t know until I let myself fall. I have to trust that I fitted a rope, or a parachute, in preparation. I have to hope that I will somehow find and grab hold of the energy needed to throw myself forwards into the void. Into something better than just a kitchen porter job found on Indeed.com.
What is left, temporarily, the last string attaching me to university life, is the exhibition. Maybe I should have blogged more, maybe I should have spent more time on my portfolio of 3rd year work. Now it’s all handed in and there is nothing left but the silently standing exhibition space, regrettably sparse corner filled only with ‘secretly’ unfinished screen printed t-shirts and hand painted skateboards. The unrealistic initial ambition muffled underneath a simple branding project, hopefully it will be enough.
Three weeks off and two days in I’m already pulling my hair out. This is too much free time, I don’t know what to do with it all.
What I have done so far is work more on my Final Major Project (it has basically taken over my life at this point), I’ve been to the Bay to photograph the Cardiff Bay 10k Run and taken part in the IgersCymru photowalk. In doing so, I discovered Coffi Co, a little coffee shop in the Bay, situated in three storage containers and branded perfectly. I’m a bit annoyed that I didn’t know about this place sooner, maybe their marketing could do with a bit of work? Or maybe I just need to make do with having found it now, we just need more sunny days to spend sitting outside on their cute beach chairs. They also have coconut milk and bike stands which made me very very happy, and the container idea gave me an idea for my project I’ll explain further on!
[I’m looking for sponsorship for the summer so I can afford to take myself to the land down under, message me if you fancy a hand with bigging up your business, if you need photos taken or just some help keeping on top of social media.]
This whole weekend has been really great, and I have started my Monday with my head screwed on and a smile on my face. Life is sweet.
So I started with a quick sketch of the floor plan of Stalefish, I figured if I could visualise the space more I might be able to get a better feel of what the branding should look like. Although without an exact premises to work from or a plan of the rooms I wanted to include, this turned out to be a rather fruitless task.
One of the comments from my assessment was that I should do more illustrations (I think the koi drawings went down well in my presentation). So with the (probably quite silly) themes of skating, space and tribal culture in mind, I came up with these. Just some inspiration for further work, but sometimes it’s nice to close down the laptop for a while and just work with pen and paper.
Next I cycled down to Bute park, 8am on a Friday morning, to sketch out a plan of what rooms I eventually wanted to incorporate into Stalefish. This way I could better plan out the workshops and events I want to host and visualise the floor plan. I also wrote down the different stages of development, obviously I can’t start out with all of the things I’d like to do.
Another note I made from the assessment was that I could be more experimental with my typography for the project, and so I planned out some alternative logo styles. Although what I ended up with was very similar to what I started with, just with a slightly more rough, grunge appearance using grainy textures and slightly more freedom with the outlines. I don’t want to over-design or over complicate the visuals, I quite like them being bold and minimal.
I’ve been doing a lot of work on the logo design and merchandise and haven’t really made a solid plan about the pieces needed for the exhibition. This is what I did next:
I decided the most important touch-points that I will include in my exhibition space are:
- The website
- Merchandise (Hats & T-shirts)
- Clothing labels
- Badges & Stickers
- Social media
- Skateboard designs
And I made a quick plan about what it will look like:
And then I played far too much Sims, went to sleep and this morning I have cracked on, in Kin+ilk, with the logo refinement, some merchandise designs, clothing labels and the designs for skateboards to hang on the wall. I will also use old skateboards to make shelves for the clothing.
My original plan was to print onto a film to stick to the skateboards, but I decided instead to make use of the available resources and honour the visual style of Stalefish and engrave the designs straight onto the wood using a laser cutter at university. I could also try screen printing straight onto the wood, and varnishing the engraved images or paint in the spaces.
As well as all this I’ve struggled through and (I think) achieved something by adding to the Stalefish website on Wix. I am still getting to grips with the software but I think it’s coming along okay, and my workflow is getting quicker the more I use it.
Some of the best advice I’ve heard this month has been that “if you’re feeling down, smile until you feel it.” It works. And I’ve been getting up early and working hard on this project every day and I am honestly feeling so good about it. It turns out smiling when you’re already happy works too. Until next time!
After a tutorial with Matt, I had decided to take his advice and focus more on the non-visual side of the brand and let the imagery fall into place in the background. This would have meant producing a more meaningful and interesting piece for the degree show than a simple branding task applied to various touch-points. However, then having a critique by Ian and lots of direct ‘constructive criticism’, it became clear that the visual branding needed to be actively refined, as “this is a graphic communication course after all” and I “must be aware that we only have two weeks left”.
So I spent the weekend doing odd jobs for extra pocket money, and spent some time with my brother in the city and at a gig on Saturday night, these last weeks have been jam packed full of exciting things and I just needed a break. This week I have retreated back to Ammanford to spend some well needed time out, chilling out and working peacefully on this project away from the pressures of the studio. This is what I’ve been up to: