Assignment 2 – Reflection on Tutor Feedback

Some general thoughts on the feedback from my tutor for assignment 2 and the exercises for part 2 of the course.

General thoughts so far:

I am really enjoying the course so far. Some parts feel familiar – like analysing a brief and really considering what would work for my target audience rather than what works for me – in my past work as an IT system designer, this was something I was used to doing. Some parts, however, are very alien – like drawing!!

I also find coming up with ideas quite a slow and painful process. I was worried that this was a sign that I wasn’t a very creative person but I am feeling a bit more reassured that this is normal – and even prolific creatives have to work quite hard to develop their ideas. I had it in my mind that a true creative person would be given a brief and ideas would just immediately pop into their head and I was frustrated that this never happened with me. I am learning that you need time and space to develop an idea. Discovering mind maps has been a great asset for me – I can start with nothing but a single word on a page and slowly, if I’m patient, thoughts and ideas will start to emerge 🙂

My tutor has suggested three general areas for development:

1) Exploring your thumbnails and a happy level / medium for producing these

I am getting more relaxed about drawing thumbnails and noticed I have started to add tone with pencil. I will try to develop this further with marker pens, and will experiment with some colour 🙂

2) Documenting influences and theories with greater independent focus

The influence of work by other graphic designers, current trends or historical influences, is not something I think much about at the moment so I need to explore this more.

3) Explore sentiments of fun in your work

My tutor has noticed that my work so far has often involved an element of fun. I like drawing cartoon characters and child-like illustrations and am often drawn to work that is humorous, witty, entertaining and fun. I had not really noticed this myself but I will explore this a more as it could be a direction for my ‘design style’.

Working to a brief

My tutor found it interesting that I would choose different briefs depending whether I was working commercially or personally. Working for a client, you have a responsibility to produce work that meets their expectations, on time and within budget,  and to do that you need a clear understanding of what they want. I felt commercially, brief 1 would give the best chance of a successful outcome. Personally, however, I probably would have found brief 1 a bit dull, because I know what needs to be done and that I could do it, so I think this suggested that creatively, I like to be challenged, but not when someone else is paying for it or breathing down my neck to get it done!

This led to an interesting discussion about how commercially, creative work is often about just following trends and doing the same thing that everyone else is doing, which is often exactly what your client wants. This was something that was a real issue for me working as a wedding photographer for 5 years. There was an expectation that I would produce exactly the same photos for every wedding (..the shoes, the dress hanging up, the cake etc.) and there was certainly no time or desire from the clients to do anything different. This sausage factory approach to photography became very repetitive and I eventually gave it up because I was so bored with it!

My tutor has suggested some reading material by other designers who have tackled the issue of keeping the creative spark alive while still doing the more mundane day-to-day work to earn money to live. I definitely liked the idea of taking periodic ‘creative sabbaticals’ from work!!!

Interestingly, my tutor also suggested that the different briefs could give an indication of where my design interests might lie, with brief 2 indicating a more authorial / personal driven approach. This wasn’t something I considered in choosing this brief  and was a bit of a surprise as I would not have said I much like talking about myself and my experiences.

Visualising your ideas

The leaflet design was an interesting exercise in how you might share design ideas with a client. I raised a concern that ‘scruffy sketches’ would not be professional enough to show to a paying client, but my tutor made a very good point that if the ‘rough drawings’ look too precise and tidy, it is harder to quickly throw them away. At the early stage of a design process, it is much easier to reject a sketch that has had little time invested in creating it. Very good advice!

Finishing your Artwork

I had so much fun creating the POS displays for this exercise and learning how to make an animation, I am glad that the ‘risk’ I took in creating digital displays paid off. My tutor raised the question of how, after successfully getting the kids into the store, I would actually get them to eat (and therefore, their parents to buy) any fruit and veg. I had given some thought to this around my ideas of the ‘5-a-day gang’ and the ‘fruit and veg explorers’ in maybe having the store do something in conjunction with the school about healthy eating, or handing out stickers to children when their parents buy fruit and veg but it wasn’t something I explored very far.

Assessment

My tutor has suggested that I consider  switching my degree path to Visual Communications and studying graphic design and illustration. This is certainly food for thought!! I was already thinking of moving away from a purely photography pathway and had investigated the illustration course but had rejected it on the basis that I wasn’t an artist! My tutor thinks I may have more ability for illustration that I think, so I am certainly going to investigate this again. The idea is very appealing!

Feedback on Assignment 2

Overall the feedback on this assignment was very positive and I was very pleased as I had worked quite hard on this assignment. My tutor raised the following points to consider further:

The cards show appropriate use of folk references, how could this ‘folk visual language’ be raised further?

I felt that style of my finished cards had drifted away a little from the ‘folk art’ styling of my mood board. If I am honest, it wasn’t quite straight in my head exactly what I meant by ‘folk art’ which is why I don’t think I adhered to it very closely, so better research and a clearer idea of the look I was trying to achieve would have helped. As my tutor pointed out, using a particular colour palette or patterns might have helped to reinforce the folk art feel. I hadn’t really considered the colour palette at all (except for wanting my collages to reflect the colours of what I was depicting, such as brown for a donkey). I had actually tried to make my cut out flowers look like the folk art flowers on the mood board but it was too difficult to cut out the flowers like that by hand. I did also consider adding some cut out flowers to the envelopes and the inside of the cards, which may have given a more folk art feel to the whole product, not just the front of the card.

A sensitive font is used – but why does this work?

This is a really hard question for me to answer and I’m thinking that ‘because it felt right’ isn’t going to be a satisfactory answer!!

I had to think quite hard about why I though this font worked.. I think it is because the serifs give a sense of the font looking a little old fashioned and therefore ‘traditional’. The rounded letters are gentle and friendly and the circles at the ends of the ‘r’ and ‘y’ are quite decorative, fitting in quite well with the ‘folk art’ theme.

An additional part of your research might be into the aesthetics of cards and ascertaining an understanding of where your images might be located here.

I wasn’t quite clear what this meant so I will need to clarify.

Does your approach lean towards storybooks? Children? Playful responses?

Interestingly, yes! Without thinking about it, I knew I wanted the cards to be playful and have ‘jokes’ on them. I do think I lean towards this approach and need to explore this more.

 

Advertisements

Assignment 2 – Self Assessment

Creativity

I tried quite hard, for this assignment, to create a series of cards that really had not been done before. I thought of a reasonable number of ideas for the card ‘audience’ before deciding on the cards for morris dancers.

It is possible, if you look very hard, to find a small number of cards which have morris dancers on them but not cards that feature more specific morris dancer ‘jokes’ or are for morris specific events. I was pleased that I eventually created 5 cards with very morris specific sentiments.

Research

I spent quite a lot of time researching for this assignment, first exploring some of my other target groups (e.g. people with a terminal illness) and then researching the world of morris dancing. I really wanted my cards to resonate with morris dancers so I wanted to understand their costumes and props, the terms they used, the names of dances, morris events they would attend, what were typical ‘morris’ problems etc.  I was pleased that my research allowed me to create 5 cards that were very ‘morris’ specific.

Visual and Technical Skills

My final card designs were quite restricted by what I thought I would be able to achieve technically. I am still finding my way around Adobe Illustrator and I did struggle with printing the cards on my home printer. Although my collage images were quite simple, I thought they were quite effective, especially as I felt that a simple image, hand-crafted from recycled papers, would appeal to my morris dancer audience.

Context

As my cards were intended for morris dancers, I made a point of avoiding the obvious jokes which would ‘poke fun’ at morris dancing. Instead, I wanted to celebrate morris dancing and understand what morris dancers would connect with. I also wanted to counteract the notion that morris dancing was very old fashioned by using quite a contemporary style of card. My simple and eco-friendly design was also intended to appeal specifically to morris people.

Assignment 2 – Thoughts

I started out on this assignment thinking it was going to be quite a straight forward task – designing greetings cards did not sound like it was going to be too difficult! However, it turned out to be quite a labour of love!

Most of the effort involved in creating these cards actually went into researching who my cards should be for, researching my chosen audience (the morris dancers) and thinking of ideas for the cards themselves.

It was surprisingly difficult to understand enough about a target group to make a series of cards that would resonate with and be meaningful to that group. I was fortunate in that I had access to a small group of morris dancers who were able to explain the morris community to me, suggest ideas for cards and critique what I had done. This would have been a very difficult exercise without the input of this group.

Also, printing is a black art that requires infinite patience.

Assignment 2 – The Final Cards

 

The image is of a pig’s bladder on a stick, used by the morris fool. Morris dancers will be very familiar as to what this is.

 

Beer drinking is a favourite pastime of morris dancers. A ‘caper’ is a morris dance step.

 

It is well known that morris dancers wear bells – usually tied around their shins.

 

‘Shave the Donkey’ is a well-known morris dance, hence if a morris dancer is ill, the rest of the side can’t ‘shave the donkey’ without them.

An Ale is a party hosted by one morris side, to which other sides are invited to dance and socialise. This card combines the ideas of the flowers on a morris dancer’s hat with giving flowers to say ‘thank you’.

 

 

Assignment 2 – Making the Cards

My intention for the finished cards was to have text printed directly on the front of the card and for the image to be a hand-made paper collage.

I investigated using an on-line printing service to print the cards but it was not possible to find a company who would print a very small print run of greetings cards for my different designs. I decided, instead, to print the cards myself on my home printer.

I bought some 6 inch square white card blanks (with envelopes) which were ‘pre-creased’ for folding.

I created a document in Adobe Illustrator which was the same size as the open card (12 in x 6 in), placed my text on the document and saved it as a PDF (using the ‘High Quality Print’ PDF option).

I then had to print a few test cards to ensure that the text was centered on the front of the card. The centre of the front of the card on my Illustrator file did not correspond to the centre of the printed card and I could not work out why. I think my printer might be adding a margin when it prints? I ended up finding the ‘centre’ of the printed card through trial and error.

I then printed out my cards with just their text.

I added the images to each card by hand. The images were paper collages created by cutting shapes out of some old sales brochures that I had.

 

 

 

 

Assignment 2 – Critique

Review of Thumbnail Designs

I reviewed the thumbnail designs for the card sentiments with one of the morris dancers that I had access to. I wanted to see which of the designs he thought really worked as a card for morris dancers.

Get Well Soon

My reviewer particularly liked the ‘hipster style’ bearded donkey and the morris hat with flowers. He also liked the hobby horse but noted that I should use the term ‘dancer’ rather than ‘morris man’. He did not feel that the hobby horse with crutches worked. He also liked the ‘fit as a fiddle’ design but felt it was more specific to musicians than to morris dancers.

Welcome to the Side

My reviewer quite liked the Darth Vader design but felt the drawing was a bit weak. He felt the ‘light sabre’ morris stick idea did not work. He felt that the ‘Keep Calm’ design has been overdone and it did not appeal to him. He liked the ‘It’s a Morris Thing’ design as the felt the drawing (a pig’s bladder on a stick) really would be something that only morris dancers would understand.

Let’s Celebrate

My reviewer liked both of the designs for the ‘Let’s Celebrate’ card and thought that they both worked.

Love

My reviewer liked the design for ‘love’ sentiment and was able to ‘get’ the reference on the card.

Thank you for the Ale

My reviewer liked the thank you card and liked the concept of ‘giving flowers’ in the form of a morris dancer’s hat.

Critique of Card Styles.

I also showed the two mockups for each of my styles of card to my morris dancer. He liked both style of card but felt that the hand-crafted card using recycled paper was more interesting and impactful. I decided to create my cards in this style.

 

Assignment 2 – Mood Boards

I developed two mood boards for the morris dancing greetings cards. I wanted my final cards to all be of a similar style, so the mood boards each explored a different style for the cards:

Modern, ‘Minimalist’, ‘Hipster’.

My aim here was to suggest that morris dancing can be cool, by following the current ‘hipster’ style trend.

Folk Art Style

People who enjoy morris dancing are often into folk music and crafts. Morris dancing itself is typically very colourful and exuberant. My aim here was to give the cards a colourful  ‘folk art’ feel and to play on a ‘hand made’ craft theme using recycled papers.