WOW BLOG This half of the year has been an introspective theatrical play. I have discovered, rediscovered and I feel new in many ways - new experiences, new opportunities and new aspirations. My take on design in this technologically driven landscape has completely reformed with my introduction to magazine publishing and the technical / communication issues I have experienced as a creative hustler. The riches haven’t come as of yet but good experiences and positive manifestations have outweighed the rags.
Expanding into editorial work as an editorial assistant intern writing and researching at Dazed Magazine, I have gained opportunities working in a more speculative design role than before. Having a breather from commissions and freelance work and taken time to explore myself as an observer / broadcaster off discussions coming from the creative landscapes - has allowed me to reflect hugely on my role as a designer, my portfolio and my plan as I see commissions and news pieces enter the Dazed offices and enter new heights through its influence. Which is nothing short of motivating as I am beginning to truly understand the business.
About to enter the next stage of my placement entering a new team at AnOther Magazine (one of Dazed’s multiple platforms), I can state that my time with Dazed Beauty has been challenging (bleak at times…interning is not glamorous) and most importantly has revealed to me the weight and responsibilities a small team has to take on in order to take the spotlight of Rankin and Jefferson Hack’s publication. All of this has made me woke to what it is I need to do and the attitude I need to refine in order to get into these doors as a paid commission or in years to come evolve into a role as a creative director. And in honest hindsight, it no longer seems as daunting as it did before but a lot of work has still to be done.
While taking on an unpaid role I have also realised the time it is we take for granted. Full time and unpaid I have learned how to delegate my time so squeeze in commissions and balance a part time job. This has made me understand the sacrifices you have to make in these early years of a career and beyond that. At peace with this, I am now entirely committed to keep paving my way, work late hours for little money and do this without forgetting my value when paid opportunities are on the way. This mindset has become somewhat second nature.
Reflecting on this year and the intentions I wish to set for the rest of the year and 2020 - I want to take this energy and use it to focus on expanding my practice into moving image. Having drafted the treatment of my first mood film and reaching out to funding I feel confident in taking my next steps into my next (very ambitious) self initiated venture.
Illustration and Visual Media
The DPS year so far have been a real challenge for me. The first thing that I want to write about is how difficult it is to find a placement. I believe this has to do with many things like me not being prepared to showcase my work or having anxiety issues in general. The thing that I've realised while looking for placements is the demand of graphic designers is the biggest. I don't really know what I am as a creative yet as I still want to try out many techniques and methods of working and the fact that people look for creatives that already know who they are and what they're best at creates a barrier in my head which I know that doesn't make sense, but still limits my capability of even trying. The good thing that I got from all the pressure that I've probably put myself under is that I learned how to present myself better, even if I'm not completely sure of what I'm doing (also a huge thanks to the tutorials, I feel like I was completely lost before).
The beginning sounds horrible, but this has actually pushed me to look into ways of finding creative work that works best for my goals and what I want to achieve. I began looking into people that I can work for. I managed to get a few submissions and this was a big achievement for me who've never did anything outside of the university. I've also got into a few projects that Sarah introduced as and I don't feel as behind as before. I'm surprised of of how capable I'm to adapt and create work that doesn't necessarily match my course. I did things related to spatial design, design activism, printing, using new (for me at least) software and this makes me happy. The design industry is always shifting, improving and expanding and this means that there are space for everybody who are stubborn enough.
I've also learned that I can make a lot of things that I used to dream of happen, I just need to look for it. Since last year I began getting interested in AI and computational art. I even wrote my thesis proposal about generative art, but honestly I didn't have much hope in writing it as I thought this year will change me and I won't get any experience in that field (very negative, I know). Quite the opposite happened as I applied for a workshop with Anna Ridler about GAN held by Creative Computing Institute of UAL. AND I GOT ACCEPTED! This is the most exciting thing that I have time for because I'm doing DPS. Researching AI and GAN in general made me realise how modern and technology driven the industry is and also made me realise what skills I want and need to get to make my ideas come true.
I've always looked at design as a secret element behind everything. The ways that people express themselves keep on surprising me. Design is everywhere and the further humanity goes, the further it merges with our daily life in unexpected ways. Before DPS I had no trust in myself and what I am able to do. I had to push myself quite hard so that I wouldn't fail in general and that I wouldn't fail my own expectations. I'm sure that whatever you do doesn't have to match a certain description and even though there many people who stay in the comfort zone even in the design industry, I think the real joy and excitement comes when you do something that you've never even thought about trying. This just proves that challenges, failures and sometimes dissappointment all lead to a better you.
There are always opportunities to learn, better yourself if you look and try hard enough. Even if you don't think so ( I didn't at least). Here's some stuff that I've been working on
Charlotte Greenwood, Illustration and Visual Media
"Something that has surprised you about design".
Although I have collaborated on projects before, I have never worked as intensely alongside someone creatively as I am doing in Los Angeles at The School of Light. When me and Andrew Hall, my cameraless photography teacher, are working together in the darkroom, I often find that a comment he makes about something lingers in my head and develops into an idea or concept suddenly one day when my brain connects it to something else. So for me, the thing that has surprised me about design is how much of an impact collaboration has on your practice. My professional practice is teaching me that some of the best work a creative can produce comes from two or more people bouncing ideas off each other and inspiring one another. In the past, I think that I have not appreciated that as an artist, it can be extremely beneficial to share and discuss my ideas and concepts with other creatives as their knowledge and feedback can develop and enhance them and can lead me to produce more refined work. I have come to realise that I find it difficult to talk about my work with other people and so I have set myself the goal of improving on this during my DPS year. I think that I struggle with this because of the abstract nature of my artwork as when I have shown people my work in the past I have found that the response I often receive is "What is it?" or "It looks like...". But, I have come to realise that this is actually the response that I want from people - I want people to have a reaction to my art, I want them to explore it and question it, and I want them to interpret my artwork in their own way.
In my opinion, the work that I am currently creating on my placement is some of the most professional work that I have produced which I think is down to the fact that I am learning techniques from someone who has over 30 years of photography experience. I also think that the quality of my artwork is better because I am so interested and excited by what I am being taught and what I am making in the darkroom. I am so happy that I am enjoying my professional practice in LA as I worked hard over summer to save up a lot of money for it/to be out here and came a long way from home for this opportunity. The School of Light is unique and what I am doing there is very specific and isn't being taught anywhere else in the world which is why the offer from Hall to do a placement at the school was one that I couldn't refuse.
I think that Los Angeles is quite often at the top of people's list of places they want to visit but for me, it's never been up there. However, now that I am here, I don't want to leave and I am currently searching for a paid internship here that I can do after I have completed my placement at The School of Light or that I can come back and do in 2020.
I'm approaching my DPS year with perhaps a naive excitement and healthy skepticism. I am a graphic designer “a person who combines text and pictures in advertisements, magazines, or books” I've added This rather oversimplified definition not to discredit the importance of the job i've chosen, quite the opposite. Im very aware of the cultural, political, significance especially in the interconnected immediacy of our internet age. The reason I am so tentative in taking my first steps into industry isn't a lack of confidence or ability, its awareness of the responsibility I have as a designer and an uncertainty for my passion in a commercial context.
From my little experience of commercial work I have sometimes struggled to assume the role of ‘employee’ especially if I don't agree with the brief. I realise this is a huge contradiction to my desire to be a graphic designer but I think I need to discern what parts about this job I love and what elements I take issue with. The potentially highly restrictive transactional nature of the industry is so far removed from what i'm interested in. Sometimes I worry i'm signing up to a life of oppressive corporate briefs to aid in selling pointless stuff at the expense of the environment.
Im self aware enough to recognise my privilege, in fact to be even complaining about the morality of graphic design may seem ideological and naive. Some of my pessimism may be attributed to nerves but I think it's important to introspect and recognise that along with my excitement to make an impact there's aspects of this job that don’t align with my social, environmental or even creative sensibilities.
I believe my relative juniority in industry will limit the amount I can design socially/ politically but having an understanding of concepts can have a big impact on my mindset. Design futuring is a concept written in tony fry’s book “Design Futuring argues that responding to ethical, political, social and ecological concerns now requires a new type of practice that recognises design's importance in overcoming a world made unsustainable” it details how best as designers to navigate a complex, networked and technologically driven world’.This gives me hope that I can be constructive in what I choose to create.
My apparent cynicism towards the design industry isn't without a lot of excitement. I must communicate my fervour for craft, problem solving and aesthetics. My role is not yet clear but to be able to hone skills in typography, print and editorial design not only gives me a huge amount of gratification but also the power to make what I want, and more importantly to make a difference.
I have had an amazing start to my DPS year by joining Astrid Stavro's team at pentagram. There's a huge amount i've learnt about process, communication and teamwork from this experience that I don't feel I can do justice until i have finished. This initial placement although my only reference point has started to give me an idea of where my role might be in industry. Although I am skeptical of the role design/ advertising plays in our society, I am hopeful that the experiences I have this year I might begin to help me find a place within industry where I feel both ethically and creatively satisfied.
Graphic and Media Design
I started my internship in August at IBM, working in the Global Strategy and Market Development Team in IBM iX. For those who doesn't know what IBM iX does we work at the intersection of strategy, creativity and technology to help our clients digitally reinvent their businesses. My role focuses primarily on communications, marketing and internal knowledge management- producing written and digital content, designing the look and feel of our assets and collateral and ensuring the 17,000 employees of IBM iX around the world feel connected and part of the IBM iX community. Also supporting the global leader of IBM iX- along with the rest of my team.
Some things that I've done so far into this internship; a Barclays proposal book, weekly newsletters and a Roche account book (near 100 pages)- which was taken to Switzerland, building and taking care of the IBM iX internal site. It has been an eye opener of how big IBM operates globally and amazing to see all the great work that IBM has done and is doing.
Although this company is great, my team is great, the department I work in produce amazing work for clients such as; Audi, BP, Shell, Wimbledon e.t.c.. but I haven't been able to do what I want to learn- UI/UX design. I'm in the right department but not in the right role- if I'm going to be honest.. I'm half worried half not?! If that makes sense. I have been assured by my manager and others that there will be opportunities for me to do UI/UX design but it's been two and half months and I haven't been able to join any external projects which I can be from start to end. UI/UX is something that I've been wanting to do for a few years now- I want to learn how things operate in a project from point A to point B.
Talking to previous interns they have been able to do what they've been interested in and learnt so much from shadowing people, joining projects e.t.c- which makes me not worry so much and should just wait until the time is right. In this year I set myself to definitely learn more about UI/UX design in depth, but also to learn other things that I wouldn't normally be comfortable with which IBM has been able to do. Things like; film editing, publications, marketing, speaking to people I'm not familiar with- especially with people abroad!
It has been a great learning experience all about global IBM iX, but what I'm learning wasn't in my plan this year on DPS. I'm hopeful that I'll be able to join a project and shadow someone who is a UI/UX designer and contribute into user research, working with Sketch and Invision, wireframing, brain storming ideas e.t.c. It hasn't been easy doing something that I didn't initially plan on doing but it has taught me things I didn't know before and marketing isn't something that won't me useful for me in the future.
Maria Kyriacou - GMD
Design is in a constant state of metamorphosis. Thus, meaning that its ability to surprise is foreseeable.
The practice of delivering a service for free. In a world ever changing and progressing, those who are studying seems to be stuck in a grey area with regards to their rights when it comes to paid and unpaid internships. Although
With an ever-growing marketplace for designers and a constant growing need for creatives to change the world, this progression seems to feel more like an obligation.
The rite of passage with internships. The normality that surrounds not paying your employee a wage for 40+ hour working week is my first surprise of the industry. The legality of situation in itself is a grey area. An intern is entitled to the Nation Minimum Wage if they count as a worker. However, employers can avoid this by simply stating that it doesn’t apply as they are not considered a ‘worker’ as we would not be on payroll. If the promise of future work has been made then you do classify as a worker and should be being paid the minimum wage, however much like myself this is not the case. In addition to this, the law also states that student internships can be unpaid under the pretence that that employee is working for less than a year under a higher education course entitlement (e.g. DPS). So, the decision of whether or not to pay an intern comes down to the employer’s perception of who the primary beneficiary’ is in the agreement/contract. In many cases the argument will be made that the intern is the primary beneficiary as they are learning and gaining experience, however as a full time working intern myself I can say that the work I am undergoing is that of someone above my position and I feel that my position in the company has been taken advantage of. Although, benefitting my career and portfolio, I am still providing a service, which due to my position, is being done for free.
This is the dilemma. Is the work benefitting my journey enough so that so I will continue doing it at my own expense? A Marxian would say ‘labour is a commodity that is bought and sold on the market’ and I am inclined to agree with this ideology. When put into perspective we spend years and thousands of pounds to educate ourselves in our field and build up experience and knowledge of our chosen field. Starting our industry lives already in such dept form educating on self, the idea to then join the working world and be asked to do so for free can be extremely disheartening.
But on a more positive note. Experience can be seen as the new currency of the future. The experiences I have encountered since starting this year in profession studies has been crucial not only to my own development as a designer but as a person. These experiences from office politics, to interacting with clients, to the layout of my work have all improved. Thus, it can easily be argued that experience is my pay-check and I earning so much that will benefit my future that It could be said to more important than the actual financial implications of this journey.
Illustration and Visual Media
I tend to prioritise traditional painting and drawing mediums when creating my artworks. I amaze when observing other people’s digital creations, but my hands don’t just get on my tablet and Adobe creative tools when it comes to making my own stuff.
As I am enrolled in a design discipline based in graphic communication, I usually feel a lot of pressure about the use of digital mediums. That’s how most designs displayed in advertising medias and many powerful companies seems to have been created using. They really are powerful and refined with graphic perfection that only digital tools could make possible…Or perhaps with an excruciating amount of effort and time spent by human hands.
While I am putting effort time to time in bringing myself to sit in front of my laptop and open up Adobe creative tools, I have been gathering my physical portfolios and sending them off to different work places. Places I’ve been seeking most are advertising agencies, galleries and auction houses.
In my personal practice, with the broad and flexible concept of illustration, I get a freedom to create works of more fine artsy forms or more planned, design like images. People have different criteria and expectations when it comes to judging whether their work satisfies themselves or not. In my case, it comes clear when I realise that I am convinced by the outcome. Genuineness, sincerity of the image, I guess. Those kinds bring up natural appreciation within me, whether other people get it or not. Usually things that are too specific or personal don’t recall much common experience from others. It’s a criteria difficult to control, others opinions doesn’t bother me much here and there’s no point holding on to them (aside from general advices that help) and stressing on how to make them understand my viewpoint.
The case is different when it comes to professional work. I am seeking to adapt my style to the needs of a bigger community, to contribute to their operation. These past few months of seeking internships and work positions was a bit tricky. In the beginning, I put my focus in selecting works from my portfolio that I thought are likely to be chosen by employers. The chance of getting rejected worried me so much and I kept obsessing over perfecting my cover letter, resume and portfolio documents. But as time went, I have realised successful landing on a job is a result that is not achieved solely through my own effort; the employer takes a portion also. My part is just doing my best in what I must take action on. The remaining bit of ‘will they like my work, will I not get chosen’, is the employer’s bit to consider. They have perfect right to refuse after all, for whatever reason.
I started to feel more ease, getting off that stress. I began planning what I could do during the time I wait for employer’s responses, and I thought I’d spend these times to start creating digital portfolios. While I’ll still work hard to broaden my skillsets in the digital areas, I am confident about my biased creative practice of using traditional mediums. Even in the most digitalised work environments, I could contribute in the initial design processes. As I know that most creative process in creating a quality digital outcome, they always have stable foundation of physical drawings/designs and mock ups to build on the final digital form.
Most exciting potential I look forward to achieving with my creative practice, is that it could be used in therapeutic way. The prime requirements are paper and any mark making object (or could be even less of that) which grants easy access to anyone. It’s definitely more fit than digital tools for audience in special circumstances such as those in hospitals. The act of expressing themselves, feeling the colours, textures and the entire process with their own hands. Creating is powerful, it heals and redeems humanity.
So I’m hopeful and thrilled, ready to plunge into my first DPS experience.