Part I – Beginning, end
All objects spend their lives doing what they were made to do. But eventually these objects fail, they break and stop working, they expire. Yes maybe you can use the object for something else, or replenish the batteries, but what I’m more interested in is that they change. Their once sole purpose in our lives, gone. Or is it?
Why don’t treat objects or products that we own as though they are living things?
What if we did treat them with such compassion?
What if they evolved or grew as we did?
Would this forge a connection with an object or product that may have been looked through otherwise?
These are some of the questions I have been asking myself since a lamp I was making evolved into something much more captivating.
Part II – Breathe
At this current time, I’m working in Barcelona, exploring material uses for lamps, furniture and installations. One project we’ve been working on is ‘Dipping Lamps’ – using white globes, we dip them into paint multiple times, creating different layers of coloured opacity from the paint overlapping. The leftover paint then sets like silicon within 24 hours of being made.
Why waste the paint? Why not do something with it? … I had an idea to take the bucket of paint and make a lamp using a glass jar. The result worked well, the paint set around the jar and I was able to flip it over. It seemed like it could work.
I knew that the paint was prone to cracking once dried, but I still wanted to see if it was possible… A week went by and like expected it cracked, but beyond the extent I had predicted. The best way I could describe it would be when the bottom of a lake dries up and the top layer cracks open.
Soft smooth surface,
Blue toned cracks,
Part III – Expired
Not only did this transformation alter the way it looked, but also changed the amount and direction of light that was being spread. This week long evolving lamp now shone through the cracks, as well as below.
This got me thinking, what if I made a deliberate choice, during the process of designing and making an object, to give it an expiry date. What if you knew this object was going to evolve, mould, modify, reform, reshape, and change the way it works and looks over a noticeable period of time. Would that add more value to the object?
I could make :
[one day] objects,
[1 week] objects,
[1 month] objects,
[1 year] objects.
You could have objects that lasted for as long as you lived. They are born when you are born, live, grow and eventually decease when you do. Your own little object companion, (wo)man’s best friend. It could grow little hairs, like those grass seed soil tight puppets you used to make as a kid. Think about how you connected with that little grassy being, feeding it, nurturing it, trimming its little hedgehog hairs when they got too long. That was love, that was companionship.
There’s something nice about an object that you know is going to expire, because not only will it change its form or function, but it may change the way you see it, it may just bring you closer to something that is just as alive as you are.
I will leave you with this statement written by Palle Oswald and adapted by Charlie Boyden – “If to live is to die, then to die is to alter your state of being and live on”.
Live it, love it, die for it.
A brand is something that is incredibly important in this day and age, you can see brands all over the place. In shops, on billboards, on your TV; they’re everywhere, gaining the attention of all of its viewers. A brand, allows companies to sell their products in a way that makes it exclusive to that particular product or experience. For example, when a brand is being built and designed, it is important that as a designer we think about how this identity will be presented; what makes this company or idea different? We have to understand the values and messages that this brand is being created around for it to be successful.
When we think of the word ‘brand’ and what it stands for, most people will start to list off names such as ‘Coca-Cola’, ‘Nike’, and ‘Apple’. But what does a brand do for the sporting industry, how do these elements of branding become incorporated into a football team. What makes you want to live and die for a club; that you willingly spend a lot of money on, through travel, memorabilia and tickets to see them play? Is it the colour of their shirt? Or the location of the club? Maybe its just that your family have raised you to be a ‘Chelsea’ fan and that’s something you have have just accepted.
When I think about how a football club is branded, I realise that the same way ‘Coca-Cola’ will sell a product; ‘Chelsea’ will reinforce this idea that you as a fan will feel some sort of pride to wear the same shirt as your favourite players. An investment is made, when someone buys into this experience of being a part of something, a club, a family, it could even be possibly considered a cult? Fans are very passionate about the team they support and take the game incredibly seriously. Bill Shankly a former Liverpool player states that “some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it's much more serious than that.” Making a statement as strong as this shows how much this sport means, not only to the players but to the fans as well.
Similarly to ‘Coca-Cola’, football teams have rivalries and competitors; within football this just happens to be different clubs. So, how do you beat your competitors? You beat them with quality and price so that you can be the best. ‘Coca-Cola’ may introduce more flavours to outdo the sales of say ‘Sprite’; whereas a football club will show a player they’re interested in, the perks of playing for said club. They would have competitive wages to interest the player, but will also show that their club is of a high standard by winning cups and the league. On the other hand a player that has started at a young age and has grown with a club, they will feel a similar feeling to the fans about said club and may not ever leave because of how they have become attached to the team; no matter what offer come in for them.
Overall, whether you like ‘Coca-Cola’ or ‘Pepsi Max’, you buy into these products because of their brand statements. The messages they provide in their marketing campaigns; how they set up the product for success and how the consumer is rewarded for using these products. With a football club, it is very similar. A fan will buy into the experience that they receive when watching their team play, wearing the badge on their chest and the highs and lows that every football fan experiences.
DPS so far...
The biggest obstacle I had to overcome was myself. With little to no experience other than my two years at uni, I struggled to get into a positive mindset and to stop comparing myself to my peers and the work I had seen on company websites. The hardest part is probably sending applications to as many companies as you can to only receive one or two replies, however I continue to persevere and I am enjoying this experience as it puts a lot of things into perspective. I have realised that there is a lot of competition within the kind of work, as art it majorly based on opinion it’s difficult to know what somebody is looking for; it is about being confident in your own style and process, something I am learning to do.
I landed my first paid placement with Ave Design Ltd. in September and I am here until Christmas. I feel a sense of responsibility in my job role as I am being given work that I do independently as well as being part of larger jobs with the rest of the team. This has really encouraged me to be more direct and confident in my design work, presenting my ideas with a conviction that I know and understand what I am talking about.
The company have a small team, made up of three people; Adam (Designer), Darren (Senior Designer) and Ellie (Creative Director). The close relationship that this group shares is a nice environment to be in, as I can bounce ideas off of them and know that I am going to receive honest constructive criticism. Seeing Ellie, a female designer taking charge and having the drive that she does to keep her team working with efficiency; is something I would like to aspire to.
I have learnt a lot in the short time I’ve been with this team and I feel I have already advanced in my skills, by simply being around professionals that have more experience than me. They’re really helpful when it comes to answering my questions and showing me how to improve something; they provide me with excellent feedback that I can work with to further improve my work, which means I am constantly becoming a more experienced designer.
Being in the industry and experiencing how the team works in regards to meeting deadline and taking on multiple jobs at a time has helped me with time management and prioritising my work. I feel as though this is something that is going to help me immensely in my final year, as I will have learned how to manage my workload and be efficient with my time; without jeopardising the quality of my work.
In conclusion, I have had an incredibly positive start to my DPS year, however, I am not deluded into thinking that everything that follows this position will be just as positive. I am expecting there to be many more hurdles to overcome, but I am prepared to take on the challenge to allow myself to grow as a designer.
Working For Free
This is something that has been on my mind a lot this year. Especially after applying to hundreds of companies and having a few reply to me, it always boils down to this question: How much will I get paid?
I have been approached by a few companies during my placement year with people saying the following:
“We don’t pay but you can work 3 days a week and have a part time job on the side, that’s what our other interns do.”
“I don’t pay but it will be great for exposure.”
“We’re a small company, we cannot afford to pay.”
Which is ridiculous in this day and age, London is already expensive enough and you expect me to work for free? What if I have to pay rent? What about my travel costs? What about my social life? I have heard stories from many of my friends about working for free in the creative industry (it’s even worse in the fashion industry) and they all say it’s to build experience or training.
It’s a shame and damage to the creative industry because if people agree to work for free then creative companies will continue to exploit them, while people who would want to do the work for a wage will lose that job. I believe it is an old school culture that the older generation of creatives have created and kept, back then if you wanted to get somewhere with little or no training then you would get your foot in the door of the company by working for free but I feel that shouldn’t be the case anymore.
As stated before, London is expensive and for people who just wants to survive in the creative industry, they also have to survive living in London. It isn’t ethical to have creatives to do manual labour without pay, I have a friend who is standing in a gallery all day not getting paid, I also have a fashion friend who styles for free and the list goes on an on.
I think it’s an important issue and the law in the UK is partly to blame. Interns are not subject to national minimum wage and regulations on pay for interns are not well…regulated. Which is why many creative companies get away with hiring people for free or with little pay at all.
I believe, if you cannot afford to pay your interns then don’t offer to hire them. The more that people accept free labour the less good it will do for the future of the creative industry. There’s a belief that “if I work for free, I may get a job at the end of this” whereas the belief should really be “if people value my work and value my craft, they will pay me and hire me”. Perhaps there is a pressure to get a job straight away and get into the industry by any means, but I don’t think it’s right to work for company that will exploit you.
I have rejected all places that wanted me to work for free, if you are a fellow creative please do the same.
Here’s a twitter page dedicated to creatives exposing people who wants them to work for free (which is highly entertaining): https://twitter.com/forexposure_txt
In The Wars
I was Inspired by watching Star Wars recently I wanted to create my own Star Wars render. I was not too sure if I wanted to make an animation, so I created a test render where I can see whither I was going to right direction. I personally felt a still image would be the best and would be visually better. It is still in progress, but I really like the result I was getting and from the first draft I know what I need to do next for example add a door and more sci-fi panels to make it look more impactful as I felt it is not as powerful as I have done with the lighting.
I wanted to take a break from my own version of the Star Wars Station and moved to the next project which I wanted to create an old alleyway where you walk through. I wanted to explore the idea of close space and what makes person safe. I looked at alleyways and all of them have some sort of light. I created my own alleyway in c4d with Redshift and I add LED sign where it brings an atmosphere to the whole animation. I used After effect to composite the animation which I can control the lights. I like the result and the feeling of the animation when watching it. I posted it on my Instagram and lots of people liked the animation which shows it was a successful.
I started to notice that I enjoy creating environment that are one-point perspective. So, I started to a new software called Unreal Engine where you can any environment you like. So, I wanted to create a sort 1-minute animation about person journey in the forest. The first step for me would be to learn the basic of the program and start with a style frame to get the version on paper and to see what I would need to change. Than creating the assets for example trees, rocks and re-learn creating texture in Unreal Engine. Than I would need to learn the lighting system and I want to adapt wheatear simulation for example rain and how the grass reacts with rain.
Another program I am currently learning and can help with the forest animation is Houdini FX which is a simulation base program which would be perfect for my animation. So, From using Houdini I wanted to understand the UX and how it work. What improve my technical skills is creating random things for example what helped me learn Houdini is creating fire. I did a test render and felt more comfortable with the software and could push myself more around this area.
You Didn't Fail That Interview
If you never had a job interview before, DPS will be a great year to practice
and make you feel more confident. I am sure many people including myself
were nervous for the first interview.
This year I had the opportunity to apply for internships and attend interviews.
Some of my applications were successful but not all of them. I can remember
the day I received my first “rejection” regarding a position I had applied. I was
very sad and I was thinking I wasn’t good enough for this role. Soon, I
changed my mind and I started applying for more internships than before.
Receiving emails rejecting me made me realize how much I wanted to learn
and work. I had different experiences with interviews and that was very
positive for me. I was able to meet new people with different backgrounds and
experiences and this was giving me food for thought. I was able to understand
other areas of my course studying and explore all the aspects of it.
One of my interview experiences was with a gaming company. They were well
known for designing gaming applications. This position was a challenge for
me because my past experience was related only with the fashion industry but
this was something completely different. However, I was very happy that my
application was successful. When I applied to this company I knew it was the
right time to try something different. I had a whole year to explore around, try
new areas, decide what I really like and get involved with in my future career. I
am proud to say I got the chance to try something different as you learn more
through new experiences and challenges. During the interview for this position
I thought I would be really stressed because it was something different than
the usual interviews I had participated before. However, this day I was very
calm and fully concentrated during the interview. This way I was able to show
all my skills and my personality as a whole and not only some parts of it.
From my experience on interviews I have realized that there is no need to be
nervous or stressed either before or during the interview. The interviewers
need to know more for yourself, your skills and your personality. They are
trying to find the right person that will fit with the team but the same time will
also be able to add value on it. The fact they have already asked you to have
a face to face interview it is a good sign on its own and it shows they have
found something in your application which is interesting and different from the
other who have applied for the same position.
In most of the interviews I have attended there is not only one person in the
room. For my interview the human resource manager and the creative director
interviewed me. They explained me about the duties and the responsibilities
of this position and they also answered all of the questions I had for this role.
After couple of weeks I received an email from the creative director where he
was explaining that the internship program had been delayed and he could
not offer me the position for the time being. Even if I did not get the job the
most important part from this experience was the fact that I received very
positive feedback from the creative director. He was impressed from my
professionalism and the quality of my portfolio even though I am in early
stages of my career. Reading his email made me realize I did not fail the
interview. Being able to receive a feedback like this can be described only as
a success. He saw my real personality. He understood that I am passionate
and that I have the willingness to learn and work hard to fulfil my goals and
why not succeed in my career.
The Converse ‘One Star Hotel’
The Converse ‘One Star’ was a trainer that Converse were really pushing to market during my time. It was a classic trainer, originally released in 1969 and now Converse wanted to re-release the classic. “The One Star is back for the third time. The classic Converse silhouette made a name for itself on the feet of the world’s best basketballers and 20 years later, transitioned to the soles of skaters worldwide. Now in 2017, the One Star returns to leave another mark on youth culture.” – Steve Duck
‘Youth Culture’ was a phrase that was used frequently around. It was a project that really integrated young creatives, bloggers, skaters, artists, designers and many more to Converse. These sort of people became a major feature in Converse’s approach. The names like Gully Guy Leo, Ryan Hawaii, Yung Lean, ASAP Nast and Tyler, The Creator all represented what Converse felt was youth culture, and changing the perception of creativity. All young, inspiring and pretty fucking cool. Being ‘One Star Rated’ was a phrase that was identified to the product, the Converse One Star. A shoe that was being pushed constantly, throughout my time there. The next step for Converse was to really push the One Star in the major key cities; one of them was London. A hub for creativity, inspiration, art, fashion, and not giving a fuck, were all elements to be ‘One Star Rated’. This then developed to the idea of really putting Converse on the map, and identifying as a major game player once again in trainer culture.
‘The One Star Hotel’ was a huge campaign located in East London. The concept was simple, a hotel dedicated to the Converse One Star trainer. The place was huge. There were various rooms that represented a specific campaign, creative or moment in the One Star history. Ranging from a room dedicated to the brand MadeMe, Cotton Candy Room, The Basement, Year of the Dog room, the list goes on. Each room has a unique element to it, dedicated to that collaboration, artist, person or whoever. The whole concept was incredible. Each room had so many Instagram-worthy moments, which made this idea really influential throughout all media. Open to the public during the day, then VIP parties in The Basement in the evening. It was an amazing event and a great opportunity to really see what the Converse team had been working on, come into fruition. It’s best to just to look at all the photos and videos for a better idea…
An Introduction to Converse
Since a very young age, I had always had a strong passion for trainers and everything related. Converse Chuck Taylors were an essential in my trainer rotation; probably for the last 15 years, and for also many other people. This was always a dream for me and to even have the opportunity to work at Converse was incredible. I started my internship in September and straight from the beginning it was an amazing experience. The Converse building was situated in Hilversum, The Netherlands, right by the Nike EHQ building. As Nike bought Converse a few years ago, we were always involved and heavily integrated with Nike. Whether it was through events, moments or projects, it allowed you to meet people from all over the world in so many different places.
The internship spanned 6 months in which I was heavily involved in day-to-day tasks of a designer in the team. When I started, the whole design and marketing team totalled to be around 8 people, including me. The following weeks the whole team multiplied and there were new faces everywhere. You could sense a change in brand direction for Converse, and this was an exciting time to be part of a new team.
The design and marketing team worked closely together on every project. Every task or plan would involve a variety of people from the marketing team and you would end up working with a new person on most days. This allowed me to really get involved in the team and start to understand the way a huge company like Converse works through every stage of a project. Everything was closely looked at, analysed, debated and executed with intent.
My role as a designer was to pretty much learn about the role of a junior designer and specific tasks and projects I would be working on. This varied from a range of different design tasks such as creating assets for the dot-com team, apparel design, banners, flyers, posters and installations to name a few.I was lucky enough to have a close relationship with the new junior designer and was able to shadow her sometimes. She was extremely talented and I was able to learn a lot from her. Ranging from technical skills, to approach, programs, methods and execution; she had so much talent and it was great to learn from such a skilled designer.
Converse x JW Anderson[/caption]
Archive Project at Farrow Design
After returning back to the UK from Converse, I needed to involve, experience and learn as much as I could. The opportunity to help Mark Farrow to archive all of his old work would be a great learning opportunity. Farrow Design worked and designed a vast array of projects so learning from both Mark and Gary would be an amazing chance to learn directly from the best. From walking into Farrow design, you could immediately sense the scale of design that they were involved in. They are one of the biggest studios around with clients ranging from The Pet Shop Boys, Peyton & Byrne, Creamfields, Spiritualized, Craig David and many more. It was like walking through an art gallery with so much to look at.
During the next 2 weeks, a team of us would sort through all of Mark's old projects, works, designs.. literally everything you can imagine. It was really insightful as it gave us the opportunity to learn a lot about design especially his method, process and approach to each of his projects. As well as a great learning experience, we were also given a variety of his old work including Manic Street Preachers Posters, Books, CD's, a rare Hacienda Poster from their final birthday event to name a few.
Deeping The Reality
The year, started off difficult, but after having my portfolio and CV critiqued by friends and potential industry people, I had more success in gaining responses from creative companies. I started by applying mainly at artist and fine art studios. Most were willing to offer internships but ended up being very short workshops. In the beginning term, I curated an exhibition with Omar Hernandez, in relation to the Archives 10th anniversary of Kubrick’s -Space Odyssey. It was very challenging, which I liked as I was continuously occupied and always had something to do, someone to pester - there was never a quiet moment. Normally, I am in the perspective of the contributing artist but now, having an all rounded approach to certain situations based on my now-changed perspective.
Moving on from this, I found a gallery assisting internship, which seemed to fall in line with what I had done previously. I didn’t particularly enjoy this as much as I thought I would, because it was very draining. I didn’t really learn a thing other than sending templates emails. Nevertheless, I am grateful to at least be working in part of the ‘curating industry’ if I can even call it that. I think I struggled more with the pretence and lack of communication that is held between the gallery organisations and the creative individual. Now, having gained the experience of the researching ploys that are used to find artists, it just seems harder to accept that organisations have respect or even actual interest for your work. This hasn’t discouraged me at all about working the creative world but has definitely struck awareness and a slight reality when manoeuvring around this field.
Freelancing With Depression
The nature of freelance work tends to encourage isolation. The work I did during a freelance contract relied –– as it tends to –– on intense and individual work practice. Long hours in my studio, non-collaborative work, and busy, fleetingly-communicative clients meant isolation became a big theme during the long months I was working on it. This isolation –– self-induced and necessitated further by work –– is definitive of my experience with depression.
A lot of the work I do and have been doing will lead to isolated environments and therefore I have to have coping mechanisms and safety nets in place. Recognising isolation as one of the main problems made me take a few opportunities to get back in touch with tutors for advice and mentors for guidance when I was able. I got in touch with friends who were in similar positions to me and found peers that I had lost from not going into class. I tried to stabilise and contain my isolation.
Working freelance (successfully) also means, by definition, being extremely self-motivated. Which is great and empowering and really, really difficult when you are feeling low. Self-motivation is, for me and for many people suffering with mental illness, the first thing to be impacted by a depressive spiral or low.
But self-motivation doesn't mean driving yourself to the point of punishment or past the point of sanity. This realisation took the poison out of small low days and stopped them from spiralling further. I allowed my brain to need them. Learning that having downtime –– walking my puppy, going to the park, lying around and doing nothing but wallowing –– is not the height of evil and as much as my brain tries to, I won't punish myself further for needing that time.
Working to break the dangerous cycles of my symptoms won't cure depression –– but it has helped me manage work and manage life in a healthier way. Trying to get help, letting people know, and being kinder to myself has blunted the edge of the issue.
You’re not defined by the work you don’t do on your worst day.
You won't feel like this forever.
Letting people know you're struggling will usually ease your guilt.
And you don’t have to justify to yourself or to anyone else why it’s painful –– sometimes / often / sparingly –– to do your dream job.
A Great Internship
One of the main reasons I decided to do DPS was so that I could learn about design and experience it in the professional world. I had this fabulous image in my head where I would go work for the biggest and best companies and design studios in the world. Now, that’s all very nice and I think it’s good to dream big, but that’s easier said than done. I slowly realised that I would need to adjust my expectations and that I actually had to get an internship. So, I started applying to everything that came my way. After a while I got an answer from a small company, called The Lagoon Group that designs puzzles and board games (of which I had never heard of), went to the interview and got the internship.
I worked in a small design team with two other designers; Theodore Szpindel and Holly Lewis. During my time there I got to work of different types of design and projects. I designed their 2018 Product Catalogue and got to work on various marketing pieces in digital and print, as well as some product packaging.
I had done a bit of work experience before, but this was the first time I worked in an office where I got to do design work, so I was quite nervous and wasn’t really sure what to expect.
However, Theo and Holly were better than any other mentors I could ask for. They were always happy to answer any questions I had and when I got stuck on a project they would give me advice.
I learned a lot about technical skills like software keyboard shortcuts. This might seem a bit boring, but it really helped me work much faster and more efficiently and made me realised that time is everything.
The company also dealt with licensed products, so they had to work a lot with clients as well. I learned how this is very much an important part of the job as well, because you have to work together to get to an understanding and an outcome that both parties are happy with, which is not always easy.
But, the most important part of it all was that I knew they cared. I felt like they wanted to teach me because in turn it would also help them if I learned more. It made me understand that what is needed for a good internship isn’t specifically about it being a famous company or design studio. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not saying big companies don’t offer good internships. I'm just saying that I don’t think the company itself is what you should focus on the most for an internship. You’ll get something out of every internship and the goal here is to get experience and learn (You can be more picky when you get a full-time job). The most important factor is the people you work with. They’re ones who watch over you, who you work with, who you learn from. I got to learn from some really great mentors, and that to me, is what makes a great internship.