Thursday, 10 December 2009

Helen Murgatroyd.

A graduate of the design and art direction degree at Manchester came to talk to us today. Helen Murgatroyd is interested in drawing and printmaking and is currently doing a printmaking MA at the Royal College of art in London. It was good to get some information from someone who didn't go on the commercial route after university and instead she carried on studying what she loved. Even after setbacks.

I wasn't to sure on some of the reasoning behind a lot of Helen’s work but after looking on her website I thought she had some beautiful drawings. 

In her third year Helen worked a lot on the idea of mapping, and the different ways you could map movement particularly among human movement and movement in the kitchen. Her sketches were rough but showed the idea well. A lot of the work that Helen did wasn't at all commercial or even graphic design so it was mentioned to her that she should do something to validate her work to fit the 'graphic design' bracket. I really related to this as I feel that I am less graphic 'designee' and more art and crafty. If I can some way find a way of validating my work as a successful piece of design I may be in with a chance of getting through my third year. 

Human movement Map.

Human movement within the household poster. A way of validating Helens work within the graphic design industry.

Movement in the kitchen map.

On Helens website are some beautiful drawings, based on the Vicar of Dibley. 
This was my favourite!

A commision piece for the cafe, cup

Overall I thought this presentation was quite useful for me especially as I have been feeling as though I maybe on the wrong course. Although I think Helen felt uncomfortable in talking to such a large group she got her point across and I thought a lot of her work was very nice.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

"When you can do anything, You often make a mess."

Hamish Muir always enjoyed making things, it wasn't until later he realised he was interested in taking photographs. It was these traits that made him enroll on an art course. He left university being taught by some of the greats of the graphic design world, such as Zehnder, Wolfgang and Weingart, who all taught at the Basel school of design.

Hamish spoke of his journey through university, the starting of his company with two other friends and the work they had created pre and post computer. His lecture was very interesting and thorough, he talked of the techniques he had used and gave us tips on professional and technical practice. I have to say I did prefer the pre computer part of the lecture. I found it interesting the way Hamish and his team had created these wonderful pieces and the aspect of change from when the piece was created using collage and when it was printed.

A lot of the work shown was that created by hamishs’ company 8vo. Most predominantly they created work for factory records and the Hacienda in Manchester. The posters and album covers that they designed were all worked on at full size, they used collage processes and real type that was usually hand drawn. Because in this period of 8vo it was pre computer it was hard for them to save the different designs and mistakes they had created. It was this element of surprise that meant they never really knew how the work was going to turn out. I suppose that this is linked to the comment made by Hamish about liking to find their work, out in the wild and on the streets to see how it looked lined up against the other promotional pieces that would wallpaper the urban sprawl.

The next piece that Hamish showed us was an album cover he created using sheets of glass to collage layers of imagery and text. This ‘collage’ was then photographed and that would be the basis of the album cover. 

The next part of Hamishs’ presentation was about the magazine they created called octavo. This was also pre computer. This was to be the international journal of typography.The first issue was released in 1986. The predominant typeface used in the magazine was univer and the magazines principles were all about breaking form and content. It was this that lead on to the point which I found really useful, which was about making mockups on all the work you make. Hamish told us to not always trust our computer screen. I couldn’t agree more. 

In 1989 8vo bought their first computer. Because it was so expensive they could only afford the typefaces that were already on the computer. This is when they had to first start working with Helvetica, when really they didn't like it at all. 

The main points that I took from this lecture were those about form and content and about collage. It was nice to be given an insight into how graphic design worked before the trusty computer. I will definatly take on Hamishs’ advice about creating mock ups of the final idea before completing them to final piece standards. A lasting comment that I noted down was that, design is all about content, but sometimes its nice to work on something without content. Sometimes it is this ideal I like to work with, Why does they always need to be a concept?

'You scratch my back, i'll organise a print for yours!'

So Craig Oldham came in today to have a chat with us. Craig is a designer who graduated not so long ago from Falmouth college of art. After leaving university, and working for a string of succesfull design agencies, he decided to create a document that highlighted need to know lessons you will ultimately learn in the first year of working career. Craig seemed at ease in front of the class and his down to earth and honest nature really warmed to me. Its so much better to be told about the ups and downs of the design industry by someone who actually seems like a normal human being. 

At the beginning of the lecture we handed the 12 in 12 leaflet (freebie!) And it was this that was to be the basis of his presentation.     

He started with the basics on understanding what sort of a designer we are. He explained his opinion on the two different ‘bunches’ of designer and the characteristics of these. ‘Bunch A’ is the logical designer where form follows function and clarity is important. ‘Bunch B’ is the emotional designer. This designer uses any form of communication i.e. Wit and humour to create an emotional connection between the designer and its audience. Although this would work for a lot of people I think I have qualities of both bunches and I'm sure a lot of people feel the same. It is these strengths and weaknesses that transported Craig to his next point about being honest with ourselves. As designers we are inevitably going to have things we are good at and things that we aren’t and Craig’s words on this made me feel calmer. Like me, Craig mentioned his phobia of making websites, calling it “the f***ing dark arts” (I couldn't agree more) He said that when we are asked to create something in the work place we should be honest and state that we don’t feel we would be the best person for that job, maybe we could design some areas and get some help from colleagues to do the areas we don’t feel confident in. I suppose it is placements that will be the best way to find out the tricks of the trade and maybe see what would be expected from a young designer. Craig mentioned that placements are the most important thing that we can do as third year students. As Craig is someone that may have a say in the employment of designers he spoke of the importance of someone having experience in the design office environment and that it is less risky to employ someone like that than someone who hasn't got any experience what so ever. (ie ME!) It is this that leads me to the portfolio and getting those crucial placements. “A portfolio is for life, not just for an interview” Wise words from Mr Oldham! My portfolio is definatly something that has worried me since my feedback from second year. I think it is becoming obvious this year that if we want to learn something on our third year we have to do it ourself so I am glad that Craig gave us some websites to look at for tips on a successful portfolio. All the points that Craig outlined in this document were so so helpful and it has to have been one of the most useful presentations this year. I felt motivated to work on my portfolio, get work experience and make tea for designers. The top tips I think will definatly help me on my quest for a pass at the end of my degree. Heres hoping!

A few pieces from Craig Oldhams Website...

The 'I forgot' piece... Craig Stated on a post it note everything that he had forgotton in one month.

A pet hate of Craig Oldham... People who photograph poster like this!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

A place for escapism....and tea and cake!

New brief time. A number of live briefs were offered to us and we were to choose one to work on. I chose the paper brief which in short, is to encourage more designers to visit specialist paper company, Fedrigoni’s, show room. I was most interested in this project as it would allow me to have a play with paper and gave more scope for creativity. After the disaster of the slow moving silence project which is STILL incomplete, I wanted this project to be really fast pace and fun, so I started researching straight away, I researched the company and what their show room offers, past and future events, exhibitions etc. And then moved onto paper artists and the ways that paper is manipulated in the design world. While researching I came across this artist, Matthew Sporzynski.....  

He creates objects, predominantly food, out of card and paper. I instantly liked his work and thought that I would like to create objects using this method.

For my dissertation I wrote about escapism and how shop windows were a way of transporting consumers into new and exciting worlds different to our own that would ultimately persuade people to buy into false needs. I think that this is a proven way of advertising and I think that this is something that Fedrigoni should use in order to entice people into their showroom. I brainstormed the idea further and was trying to think of ways that this feeling of escapism could work as an event or exhibition. I eventually came up with the idea of a ‘mad-hatters’ tea party. 

The mad-hatters tea-party was something that I thought would be fun and had some really enjoyable text and imagery. Although I have taken this as inspiration, I don’t want it to be about this particular tea party and the guests that were there, i.e. no Alice or dormouse. 

I thought that the feeling of being sociable with tea and cakes in a warm and welcoming environment would be attractive to potential clients, as it is becoming clear to me, that designers enjoy tea! I hope to have a table which is set with cutlery, plates, bowls, tea cups and tea party food all made of paper. It will be open for people to come and visit but will be originally opened with an event, with drinks and cupcakes. I think that this idea could work and I’m hoping know one will burst my bubble. All I need to do now is start making :)

You are invited to the marriage of text and Image.

I am very lucky to be chosen to attend Lucy May Schofield's once a week tutorial sessions. Friday was our first meeting and It was so helpful. Lucy showed us homemade books that she had made and others she had collected on the way. We first of all went around the class and talked about our silence project and how we wanted to further that project using skills in the bindery. It was good to talk to new people about this brief which seems to be haunting me. She gave us some useful advice about the connection between form and content and how they must relate. What is going on the inside of the publication must relate to what is presented on the outside. The book as Lucy sees it is something that should be a piece in itself not simply something that documents something else. After a visit to the special collections library and a lesson in French and pamphlet stitch I think I am ready to start creating work on my Silence project. I hope to in someway create a sort of confessional, where silent thoughts can be kept and stored.


Ok something I need to get off my chest...... BOOOOOOORRRRRRRINNNNNNNNG! phew.

So Alex from YCN came to visit today, to tell us a little bit about the work that YCN does and how that the awards and the company work. I don’t really have much to say about this lecture because to be quite frank, I didn’t get anything from it. What I do remember from the ‘talk’ though was Alex saying 'Do lots' This is something that a lot of people have said when talking abut their experiences at uni and in the design world so I think I maybe should start thinking about this....

Archiving place and time.

Wowzers, its been a while since I blogged so I hope im not too rusty! This week as I was walking through the Holden Gallery I noticed that there was an interesting exhibition on, about contemporary art practice in Northern Ireland since the Belfast agreement. Although I dont know alot about this subject I found the work quite thought provoking and shallow as it may sound, visually nice to look at. Among my favourite pieces in the small exhibition was this piece of work... 

Im pretty sure that this piece is by Rita Duffy (My photographs seem to have jumbled!) I was drawn to this piece because it did remind me of Tracey Emins work. This little 'houses' were set up along a long white piece of wood. There were all different shapes and sizes. I’m not quite sure on the reasoning behind the piece because there was any accompanying text, but I was just drawn to it.

These two pieces of work were by an artist called Conor McGrady. My favourite was the bottom piece with the two men looking for something in the water, It is called Silent Forest, and is Guache on paper. What I love about this piece, is it looks really complicated the way it is created but if you look closely its just deep black paint and then water of the top so the line bleeds in lighter shades of grey and black. I found it intriguing to be introduced to a new way of creating  images.

I would definatly recommend a visit to this exhibition if your passing. It was interesting to look at work that had a deep concept and aesthetic. The paintings, photographs, sculptures and paintings were by real people showing there interpretation of a real subject. The only thing I would say, is that I think it needed some sort of exhibition guide or leaflet as some people probably wouldn't understand the meaning behind the connotations of the Belfast agreement (i.e. me) But overall its good to go and see, even if its only for the machine gun made of chocolate!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

'Thats Entertainment'

This week while the rest of the group have been 'gallavanting' around New York ive been writing my essay. I was researching British department store Selfridges and found this gorgeous advertising piece for the store. It wasnt until I looked further into the image that I found out it was by Si Scott. Si Scotts work will never fail to amaze me, and I think this piece is another example of his ground breaking work....

Manchester Artist Book Fair 2009.

So yesterday I decided to take the day off work to go to the annual Manchester artists book fair. The fair held stalls showcasing the book art work of around 40 independent artists. It was a really inspiring trip as I am interested in experimenting in this area of work. Some of the pieces were abit dissapointing and some very expensive!! I bought a couple of things my favourite being a beak book made by Sarah Morpeth, A paper cut artist....
Sarah's Business card

The book was encased in this little pouch. It caught my eye as I like things that you have to pick up and 'play' with. I think this maybe useful for my silence work as I am exploring the idea of hiding thoughts when silent. So if I created a book and thought of ways to encase them like a secret.

The front cover of the beak book...

Exploring the beak book...

The work sarah had produced was absolutly beautiful. I could have bought it all although some of the books were a little over my budget and went up to £250! I found Sarah's stall really helfpul and I got lots of new ideas on how to set myself up as a 'respectable' artist and designer. Everything on her stall was well thought out. She had work which ranged in price from £1.50. She didnt leave any stone unturned by creating postcards, business cards, bookmarks and even christmas decorations. One of the books which I loved was called buterfly and she had sewed onto the bookcovering material to give it something extra. unfortunatly I cant find an image to show you!

Mary Lundquist was another artists work which I loved. Her drawings were gorgeous and had a little something extra. She had created books which were fully illustrated but had also made lovely notebooks. I thought this was a great idea as it still got her work out there by being on the cover, but it also meant you could take it away with you. I think that this can be a problem with artist books. They are beautiful to look at, but what do you do with them when you finnished looking, Mary solved this! Something which I might think about when I start to create work for sale. Mary, as well as creating cute little notebooks had printed her own canvas bags with her designs on the front. Her work was really useable and visually nice too look at, her are a few of her amazing drawings..

Mike Frodshams work also stood out to me and I bought one of his beak books because I thought his drawings were lovely. I wanted to buy a book he had made which was called birds and had lots of illustrations of birds, but it was over my budget! 

Front cover of the beak book.

The lovely drawings in the book

All of this talk of book making got me thinking about a book that Sue showed us last year which was created by Lucy-May Schofield. I decided to have a ganders on her website and I thought it was beautiful. Heres one of her interesting books, and I think her website is well worth a look...

Friday, 30 October 2009

Scary Review!

Today ive had my Autumn term review. It turned into another council Gemma session, which was abit embarassing but I do feel a bit calmer in my thought process even if I am still bloody confused. 
I was given some useful feedback in terms of what I should be doing next. I definatly need to have a clear concept of what im trying to achieve with this project. I am going to start writing down what I want to achieve and produce, how I want it too look and the message I am trying to communicate, That  will be my plan of action.
Ive been really struggling with this silence prject and I just dont seem to be getting anywhere, so it was made clear to me that I need to sit back and think. What am I passionate about? What do I want to create?
Clinton made a really good comment which I think will really help me move on in the project...

What do I want to make today?

Make it exciting, Dont be boring....

Libby Scarlett.

Libby was a student from Manchester Metropolitan who graduated last year with a degree in Design and art direction. She came too talk to us about her journal. Libby was highly marked on her journal and I can see why. It was beautifully made in a bounded box, encasing cards which housed the different aspects of her third year, required for the journal section of the year. Mack had mentioned that we don’t get any extra marks for doing a gorgeous hand crafted journals but I agree with Libby when she said that if you are going to make something that is about yourself and personal to you and your experience of third year, why not spend a little extra time and make it something that you can keep or even use as part of your portfolio. One of Libby's comments was too make the journal interesting and not boring, and to do it as you go along, which I am trying to do at the moment!!

I was getting worried about the evaluative writing on the lecture series as a few times in previous years I haven't been that impressed by the designers work shown or it just didn't match the work that I would normally be interested in, but Libby mentioned that you should always find something to take from the lesson. 

It is clear that its important to have a cultural mix in our journals so I think I need to travel more, watch and review more films and definatly venture outside of my 'box'.

Libby's lovely journal.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Finding clients will be the main battle of your career...

So Graham came too talk a little bit about self promotion. This lecture had to be one of the most motivating and useful lectures of this year. I came home thinking how I wanted to promote myself in the design industry. What my message is as a 'designer' and how and what I was to do to get myself noticed. Graham started the lecture with a couple of quotes; 

'Self promotion is the one aspect of design that cannot be taught', I can see where Graham is coming from on this one. Self promotion is so personal to yourself, and the message you are trying to put across is something that has to be personal to you.

'You are really out on a limb and on your own with this one, and the pitfalls are numerous: should it be funny or serious?' I see this as definatly something to think about, when in many situations you only have a business card to communicate with a perspective client. Im all for humour in work and I think a lot of the time people take a lot of things just too seriously but I think that there’s a fine line that needs to be acknowledged between being too funny and a serious worker in terms of getting the job done quickly and effectively. I need to start thinking about where my own boundaries lie.

Graham outlined the need for self promotion in the competitive and fast pace area of graphic design. He said that the ways of getting yourself noticed are Identity, portfolio, Websites and printed literature, All of which I really need to work on. He also stressed the idea of going the extra mile, don’t stop at designing a business card, make the compliment slips, the letterheads, the little stickers you put on the envelope fit in with the identity you are trying to create. This is in parts showing that you are a serious designer who doesn't leave anything unconsidered.

Graham spoke of and showed images of the identity he designed for 'Via' design company. I unfortunately cant find any images of there work or identity on the internet to show you, but I really loved it. He had used his surroundings within the via office to create something visually appealing yet personal to the company. From the font of the logo to the pattern on the back of the letters and the colours and imagery chosen for the compliment slips. Everything linked together which looked really considered, when actually it was the financial struggles which inspired the designs in the first place. 

Graham had some helpful tips, and it was good to have someone talk in such an honest and frank way. One of the tips was to always leave a compliments slip when sending out work because its the extra details which is what graphic design is all about. 

Graham mentioned the importance of having a business card, not to mention always having a selection on you. Give them too everyone. Even make them unique by having a number of options of colour and stock to provoke conversation with the possible client requesting your card. Graham showed us his business cards which were printed on all different coloured papers, as were his compliments slips and letterheads.

The main message throughout the lecture which I found really hit home and has been helpful in my thought pattern, is that its all about the message you are trying to give out. What do I want say as designer about myself or the work I am creating? This was not only helpful in my ideas for self promotion but also in my project work which I am finding difficult to conceptualise. Graphic design is about communicating to an audience and as a designer I need to think deeply about what it is I want to communicate. 

'Finding clients will be the main battle of your career, not only to find clients to start your career, but to be constantly finding clients to keep you going.'

To keep clients coming, your work needs to stand out from the crowd, and if its only your promotional work that is being seen it needs to be different from everyone else's. Graham told us about the 'gifts' he sent to clients while at via to remind them of his and the companies ongoing work in design. The most popular being the ruler guide and also the calenders. He made a very good point, 'people like it when you send them something nice!' 

It was made clear to me that my work needs to stand out from the crowd, thats what people are looking for from the creative industry, it was good for a successful designer to reiterate that too us. 

Some more of Grahams top tips:

Keep people informed of your work (i.e. blog)

Be different and interesting.

Get your personality in there.

Be there to machine proof prints.

Get on flickr and behance.

Make the effort.

Make things personal.

Make your portfolio fit your identity.

Do great work to get noticed.

Overall I found Grahams lecture so helpful. It has really motivated me to start thinking about where I want to go as a designer and the ways in which I could 'promote' myself. It was definatly a thought provoking lecture and one of my favorites. I definatly want to start designing my business card, postcards and maybe start producing limited edition prints to get myself noticed. I cant wait to get cracking, and thought Graham was inspiration to us all.

Grahams Business card.

Identity work for 'The Lab'.

Identity workfor 'Belyfeel'.

Identity work for 'Interval'.

Identity work for 'Loose Collective'.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


I have finally done the kino4 project and it feels like weight has been lifted off my shoulders. The process wasnt as scary as id expected, and I probrably shouldnt have left it as late as I did. 
I decided to give myself a days limit to start and finish the project and I felt the pressure worked well for me. I wish I could do all my projects in this way! Id done research into the films in the summer and watched a couple of the films (Stalker and mirror). I decided that I wanted the posters to be informative and describe the different genres within the film so people could decide whether they would enjoy the film and ultimatly go and watch it. I started by listing all the types of films, i.e. comedy, horror, romance and thought of colours that I felt linked together.  I wanted there to be a key and the image to work as a sort of graph. The line in the middle stands for the conventional sort of film... so the closer the coloured squares are to the line the closer they are to genre boundaries. As the sqaures move away from the line they dont conventionally fit that genre but do in some way. Im really pleased with the posters as they pose a porpose. I think the only issue is that if I was to design more posters using this idea theyd look a little boring and too much of the same. If I was too design more andI have to utilise the idea but create something that looks different to whats allready been seen.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Gerhard Richter.

After visiting the joyous machines exhibition at the TATE I had to take a trip to the gift shop. I find it dificult to go to the TATE gift shop and not buy a postcard! This time I was drawn to this piece of work by Gerhard Richter,called 4096 colours (1976).