BA Graphic & Media Design
It is important to remember that the world-wide web, a tool which is now essential for everyday life, was only invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. Due to the global connectivity given to us by internet we find ourselves living in an ever increasingly fast-paced, ocular-centric world, dominated by temporary trends. Subjects are being quickly forgotten and waiting to be swallowed up by the next ‘big thing’, especially driven in more recent times by the rise of screens and social media. So how are creatives tackling this and reverting to methods which carry a more permanent message in times of uncertainty?
Printmaking has existed in Europe since the 14th century, and has even been recorded in china as early as 105 AD (Beedenbender, 2003). It continues to carry the same purpose today as it always has, to portray a message through a combination text and/or image and to be shared with others. Alongside their usual practise a vast mix of artists and designers create work to express their opinions on matters such as politics or in support of social causes. Through this I will be exploring some of the more prominent examples of how a printed poster can convey these messages.
Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution Will Bring Us Victory /
Freedom is in Peril, Defend it With All Your Might / Keep Calm and Carry On.
Available at: https://literaryames.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/the-story-behind-keep-calm-and-carry-on/
When looking back on World War Two, the British people like to remember the camaraderie of wartime spirit and a ‘can do’ attitude. A lot of these messages were initially produced and spread across the nation by the Ministry of Information, through printed posters. The three posters above are some of the most infamous from produced in the wartime period, spread across the country to generate that war-time spirit and boost morale. However, the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ poster which has become such an iconic image in the 21st century wasn’t officially shared in World War Two, despite 2.5 million copies being printed, as it was to be kept until times of invasion or grave peril in the nation (BarterBooksLtd, 2012).
One of the most prominent causes of recent times has been that of Extinction Rebellion in their fight against global warming. Their occupation of London, including Waterloo Bridge and Oxford Circus was all over the media in April 2019, and more recently than this Extinction Rebellion occupied Trafalgar square in October 2019 for a two-week long peaceful protest. During this time, graphic artist Anthony Burrill conducted a workshop with participating activists and printed some large banners in his typical typographic style alongside a smaller scale print workshop which took place in Trafalgar Square during the peaceful protest.
No Safe Place — Anthony Burrill.
Available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B98IjhWoPN-/
Burrill also contributed work towards Rise Exhibition, an auction in aid of the recent wildfires in Australia. A collection of artists was each given charcoal created by the fires in Australia and asked to use it as a medium in their work, Burrill chose to create a screen-print which featured the phrase ‘No Safe Place’ in his quoined bold typographic style, stemming from his practise which predominantly lies in Letterpress printing.
Why Iraq? Why Now? Alan Kitching.
Available at: https://www.wemadethis.co.uk/blog/2016/05/alan-kitching-a-life-in-letterpress/
Tying in to Burrill’s typographic work is Alan Kitching, known for being one of the forefront global practitioners of Letterpress printing, creating a vast mix of typographic Letterpress work over a long career. In 2003 Kitching designed a dual-purpose poster and protest for The Guardian Newspaper, ‘Why Iraq? Why Now?’. Despite the poster being printed into a newspaper, it was designed to be cut out from the newspaper and used as a protest poster for the anti-Iraq war rally which took place on 15th February 2003 (We Made This, 2016).
For *U*K’s Sake Stop Brexit
Hersey, T. 2020. For *U*K’s Sake Stop Brexit [photograph of artwork by Alan Kitching]. London.
The above poster, again printed by Kitching, is another example of the more political side of his practise. Created to use whilst in attendance of the more recent anti-Brexit protests which took place in central London. Both posters, along with Anthony Burrill’s work, display a fine example of how traditional printing techniques can still be translated into posters to spread messages in the face of difficult times.
“What I do I, consider to be ‘Extreme typography’. Done at a risk. But the modular system of wood block type body sizes come to the rescue. Pure chance plays its part.” — Alan Kitching, 2020.
As of June 2018, Instagram has over one billion active monthly users (Chen, J. 2020), this combined with the social medias nature of being image based cements its reputation as an invaluable tool for promoting and sharing work amongst the creative industries. The ease of being able to quickly share work to such a vast global audience is something which would have been unimaginable before the invention of the internet.
Creatives Against Covid-19. Homepage showing examples of posters for sale.
Available at: https://www.creativesagainstcovid19.com/
Creatives Against Covid-19 (CAC19) is a new creative initiative, conceived amid the current global pandemic, which utilises Instagram perfectly. Originated by the minds at RichardsDee agency, CAC19 set an open brief to create an A3 poster relating to the theme word ‘soon’. When asked for a comment about the rationale behind the concept, CAC19 replied:
“When we initially created the concept it stemmed from what we believed to be the innate power of the printed poster. Through-out periods of turmoil or uncertainty, messages of hope or optimism have often been created through the medium of the poster.”
— Alana Storm O’Sullivan, 2020.
Designers jumped at the idea, with over one thousand posters submitted in a week, from thirty different countries around the globe. Each selected poster is up for sale for €40 through their website with all proceeds going toward supporting two charitable causes, ISPCC ChildLine and Women’s Aid (Creatives Against Covid-19, 2020). The global connectivity achieved through this project is somewhat phenomenal. Under one overarching brief a vast mix of disciplines have been brought together by creatives whilst raising money for charity. CAC19 is a beautiful example of collaboration and self-expression amongst creatives in times of uncertainty, alongside the promising combination of social media and its support of print.
“There's something incredibly special in knowing that in 10, 20 or 50 years down the road there will be posters across the world which not only raised money for those in need during the COVID-19 pandemic but also provided a beacon of hope in troubling times.”
— Alana Storm O’Sullivan, 2020.
Even in the digital age that we live in today, the printed poster has secured itself as a continually essential element in society, as important today as it always has been since its inception. The human need for a physical, tangible item is something that will surely continue for many years to come, especially in uncertain times when humanity turns to messages of hope and support.
BarterBooksLtd (2012) The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On. 28th February. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrHkKXFRbCI (Accessed: 05/05/2020).
Beedenbender, V. (2003) Beedenbender. Available at: http://washingtonprintmakers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/PrintmakingIntroduction.pdf (Accessed: 05 May 2020).
Chenn, J. (2020) Important Instagram stats you need to know for 2020 Available at: https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-stats/#ig-usage (Accessed: 05/05/2020).
Creatives Against Covid-19 (2020) About. Available at: https.//www.creativesagainstcovid19.com/pages/about (Accessed: 05/05/2020).
Hersey, T. 2020. For *U*K’s Sake Stop Brexit [photograph]. London.
Literary Ames (2014) The Story Behind ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ – its bookish roots. Available at: https://literaryames.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/the-story-behind-keep-calm-and-carry-on/(Accessed: 05/05/2020).
O’Sullivan, A S. (2020) E-mail to Theo Hersey, 6th May.
Risesocietyltd. (2020) 'On the auction site now: Anthony Burrill' [Instagram]. 20th March. Available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B98IjhWoPN-/ (Accessed: 05/05/2020).
Steven, R. (2019) Anthony Burrill lends his support to Extinction Rebellion. Available at: https.//www.creativereview.co.uk/anthony-burrill-lends-his-support-to-extinction-rebellion/ (Accessed: 05 May 2020).
We Made This (2016) Alan Kitching: A life in Letterpress. Available at: https://www.wemadethis.co.uk/blog/2016/05/alan-kitching-a-life-in-letterpress/ (Accessed: 05/05/2020).
Kitching, A. (2020) E-mail to Theo Hersey, 10/05/2020.
BA Graphic & Media Design
The world is currently in a state of uncertainty, perhaps not seen since the Second World War which ended seventy-five years ago. The change in people’s daily lifestyle has been immense. Working from home, where a commute which was once one hour and two changes on the tube has become a journey from bed to desk, perhaps via the kitchen for a morning coffee. During this lockdown people’s mental health is also being greatly challenged, and a lot of creatives that I know have struggled greatly with their sense of self-worth, especially in their discipline and are they good enough?
Considering my discipline during the lockdown has been something which has been more than challenging at times, it is obviously an amalgamation of different emotions and experiences which have created times of question and uncertainty towards my practise and ability. The more I thought about it I have considered that I thought about the amount of skills I must have as a graphic designer. When the world is functioning normally I work part-time in a café in Old Street, home to both big corporate tech companies and small creative studios. Over time I have had many encounters with customers, some friendly passers-by, others that are daily regulars whom I have gotten to know over a couple of years. Whenever it is mentioned that I am only part-time and I then go on to mention it is because I study graphic design, everyone has a different response.
Oh, you study graphic design? Theo Hersey, 2020.
I am aware that a lot of the people who gave these remarks do not work in the creative industry and most likely don’t know what a graphic design degree entails, much as I have no clue about their complex sounding office job. However, it did make me think what does a graphic designer do, and what do people expect of us?
During our Letterpress workshop induction in first year of university, I remember the technician explaining how fifty years ago that the degree in type-composition was five full days a week, and was seven years long. After your degree, you could then join in the bottom end of industry. Now the letterpress induction is done in a two-hour crash course style and from there you can learn more about type setting as you explore the workshop and methods. It made me realise just how different the requirements of individual designers are in the current day and age. Are graphic designers expected to be able to do everything?
I’ve invested all my DPS year up until April working in Letterpress. In doing so I have had the opportunity to develop a deep knowledge in one specific skill, as opposed to exploring various avenues. I’ve been fortunate enough to work for some of Europe’s foremost Letterpress practitioners this year and that has certainly been a high point of the year. Since returning from Berlin in March I have been aware of the negative side of only investing my time into one skill — especially such a rarely used one. This has prompted me to undertake an internship in something completely different, now working for two co-owned companies undertaking branding and marketing tasks.
What does a graphic designer need to be able to do? Theo Hersey, 2020.
I asked my peers what people have required from them when they have mentioned that they are a graphic designer, these are the things that sprung up. That is a lot of different things.
During the current lockdown, I was asked by Marion Bisserier, a friend and recently graduated GMD student, to participate in a zoom call to assist with her research into mental health and its link to the creative industry. The discussion was very interesting, and to hear a mix of different opinions from creatives at different points in their creative journeys. One key point which I picked up on and made me think was raised by Alexandra McCracken (2020) was “Once I graduated, I realised that you don’t need to be able to do absolutely everything.” Stemming from this imperative point, the discussion then went on to point out that It’s okay to not know how to do 3D animation or illustration, because someone else who is a trained in that field will collaborate with you providing the work needed.
This scenario reminded me of our preliminary DPS classes and when Reason magazine came in to host the editorial workshop with us all. I was sat with my housemate at the time, who is an illustrator and admits he isn’t very proficient in InDesign. Working with him to collectively curate our own twist on the editorial piece was an interesting collaborative experience. Viewing the classes efforts at the end of the session was also interesting, you could see how some practitioners had created vast differences in the style of the editorial and others had not made many clear alterations at all.
So yes, of course it is important to be able to do be able to execute a variety of different skills as a graphic designer, and the more you can do, the more versatile you are — which is particularly useful as a freelancer. However, it is also okay to have a more in-depth knowledge about fewer areas. For example, some designers specifically focus on type design or motion graphics. It seems to be a balancing act of how wide a variety of skills you want against how much depth and knowledge you have in these fields. Being a graphic designer, or any creative for that matter, it is important to understand collaboration and utilising the skills of others. It is okay that you can’t do everything, but remember to ask for help when you need it. We’re only young and will continue to develop our practise throughout our careers.
McCracken, A. (2020) ZOOM video call to Marion Bisserier, Africa Pombo, Ella Sutherland. 6th May.
Hersey, T. (2020) Oh, you study graphic design? [Image taken from PDF]
Hersey, T. (2020) What does a graphic designer need to be able to do? [Image taken from PDF]
Karol Tylke, Information and Interface Design
That’s what has surprised me about design. However unsurprising that might seem. Indeed, when I read back the title, it looks like the most obvious remark ever written. But it still surprised me. And here’s why.
During two years of uni, we have done a lot of projects. Most of them I’ve done either in pairs or small groups, some I’ve done alone. When they were a product of collaboration, there was always the issue of who does what. And it sometimes is a problem. In a course where everybody learns about UX, ideally everybody would do UX. And learn something about it. But there is graphic design to do, coding, and other things that could be required for a project to be successful. Sometimes, everybody in the group wants to do the same thing, and there is no good way around it.
Uni group projects are also interesting from the perspective of a single member. In some cases (like mine), a member would be inclined to do all the work, because they are interested in a couple of certain aspects of the project. And they either can’t decide what they want to do, or they get all snooty about other people’s work, which is less than ideal.
What I’m trying to say is, that division of labour can be a real hassle in uni projects. And while I should’ve realised this ages ago, now I say that everybody should really play to their strengths if they want a project to be successful, instead of trying to do everything themselves or, even worse, doing nothing. It’s important to match with someone who can do what we can’t, and who wants to reach a similar outcome. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t (because, for example, I want to work with my besties).
While working as a UI Intern at Ticketmaster, I realised how far from reality those uni briefs were. Don’t get me wrong, uni is great, and all the projects we do there are important. There might even be work settings in existence that resemble uni lifestyle. But those certainly are not huge corporations.
The first thing that ambushed me after starting my internship was how complex the product is. Everything I had been imagining after hearing “Ticketmaster” in the past was the ticket-selling platform. What I didn’t know about was different platforms directed towards different markets, various versions of the mobile app, enterprise products… you name it. The very website that was the essence of the brand for me is just a tiny portion of what that company is actually doing. And all of that needs people who design it, code it, manage it, manage those managing it, explain it to customers and deal with their complaints. Me, a UI intern, is just a tiny part of it, tiny cog in the complex corporate mechanism.
That’s why teamwork matters. Because in this environment, there is no arguing about your role; everyone has one, based on what they do best. Nobody can afford to be the guy that doesn’t show up until the final presentation. Nobody can afford to change the concept halfway through.
Am I okay with being a cog? Yes. While this metaphor that’s often used to describe corporate work is quite appropriate in its literal meaning, it also takes away the human factor of the equation. As long as I’m surrounded by other, highly qualified cogs, that I can learn a lot from, the watch that I am placed in has a ping pong table and free drinks every month, and most importantly, I care about that watch performing well, then I’m more than fine with being a cog. Because you can’t build something that complex alone, and you need people from various environments to make it work.
Before I started working in Ticketmaster I was very afraid that the work would turn out to be boring, monotonous or that I would get lost among all the people that make up the company. But after a couple of months I can safely say that it was a good decision, and I have both learned a lot and found great people, which was a pleasant surprise in itself.
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.
This pandemic has affected us all in one way or another. And within this unprecedented and frightening time we are experiencing due to the spread of the virus, it has been heartwarming to see people coming together, offering help where possible, and giving advice/guidance where necessary. There has been a tremendous amount of support and countless initiatives from established practitioners and studios, which is why it will be impossible to list them all here. Instead, I wish to concentrate on current changes in the industry and talk a bit about how these past two months in lockdown have pushed my career further than I could have ever anticipated.
Over the last couple of months, the creative industry has faced a great challenge of adapting to a new sense of normality and with this period likely to last a while, many of the studios have been experimenting with different tools and ideas to make working from home more efficient, less static and more interesting. With that being said, there has been some great shift towards finding digital alternatives and it has been both humbling and reassuring to see our community come together to work on innovative solutions in the hardest of times. I really enjoyed how Mark Pernice, the co-founder of design studio Out Of Office (OOO), said that this is an incredible time to have a very hard look on how we structure our businesses and hopefully this will have an impact on the way how we treat and care -or don’t care- for our workers. Which I think has been a subject of discussion amongst many freelancers, especially during tough times like these where many have lost their job(s). With one of my contracts finished and a placement in Berlin postponed indefinitely, I found myself without a job too. And although these tough times will pass, there needs to be restructuring and adaptations within the teams to avoid such situation in the future. We can all use this time to test remote working, making the most of digital tools and develop them, whilst travelling less and thus, saving the environment. It will be a great challenge to see how to reduce work-related travels and client meetings beyond the lockdown. With that being said, I think there will be some great new technologies developed- perhaps a virtual reality or easier ways for 3D rendering, which will push our current practice and beliefs further and hopefully shift our thinking and perception of a ‘normal’ design studio. It is a great challenge to overcome now, which will eventually lead to the restructuring of design teams and offer a more flexible working environment where freelancers would not have to face a similar situation again. Design studios will be better prepared and remote working would not be a novelty, but rather a new norm.
Secondly, I hope that the great effort of utilising design for social change will continue to grow beyond the pandemic and push businesses to re-evaluate their strategies. Big corporations should feel especially responsible for changing direction as their impact on the economy and environment is much greater than the one from smaller businesses. I firmly believe that if we keep being resilient and, once again, remind the world how important creativity is, many corporations will shift and reconsider strategies set into place before the pandemic, as they will no longer serve a purpose in a post-COVID-19 world. What is more, it is great to see creative agencies help businesses in need of creative counsel for free. Mark Pernice has said that these times have represented an already concrete belief for him: “If you put other people’s needs first, it’s a great coping mechanism when you’re feeling helpless.” In addition to agencies working independently, Ask For Ideas, a creative agency matchmaker, has launched a brand new scheme called Now Needs New, open to international brands in need of creative counsel that have met with new-found hurdles during the Coronavirus crisis. With the aim of giving unique ideas and collection of innovative strategies that will help push companies and our world forward, it will help businesses to weather what looks to be a daunting financial year.
Li Edelkoort, one of the world’s most influential trend forecasters, has recently said to Dezeen that despite all the help, lots of companies will, unfortunately, go out of business as their money will be wiped due to slowing down. The economy will have a blank page to re-think and re-evaluate current strategies in order to make meaningful changes in all aspects of the business. Current crisis will draw a clear distinction between strategies that are working and the ones that are not. It will be an opportunity for us to learn from the good practice established before the global disaster. According to Li Edelkoort, creativity and improvisation will become the highest asset for businesses and implementing design thinking into current, outdated business models will thus be inevitable.
Coming to the level of individuals, there are hundreds of creatives offering their time to young designers and students. Carly Ayres from Google Design, who offers ‘digital coffees’ as portfolio reviews for students, and Pip Jameson from The Dots, who is giving advice through the platform and in person, have stood out the most for me. It is now especially important to give out valuable knowledge to young designers as the pandemic is going to make the industry rethink the importance of good communicators and having experienced this ourselves, it is upon us to dictate the future of the creative industry. And to speak truthfully, I was in a shock when due to the virus, all my further DPS plans were postponed indefinitely. Looking back at it now, the situation has taught me incredible resilience and commitment to push through. Reaching out to well-known designers has expanded my network and given me invaluable industry insight. The United Nations issuing an open brief for designers to help fight coronavirus is an incredible initiative and a chance to challenge artists and designers and remember what it takes to be a good communicator. With the main aim to continue to spread the correct information and reach communities that can minimize the risk of the outbreak, it encourages participants to think about the way we communicate as well as how, what and why. It will ensure that moving forward, people are put before profits and that design is measured by its purpose and ability to communicate with the audience more than solely by its looks.
Despite the negative aspects of the pandemic, I have had more time on my hands and found myself strengthening my technical skills and expanding my practice in the realms of coding, through which I have had an amazing opportunity to re-evaluate the purpose of creative industry. I have slowed down and started thinking about the future of design by questioning my motifs and having the freedom to create for myself. I no longer define the value of design by great visual language only; if done right, design can help people overcome difficult situations and companies to evolve by abandoning outdated strategies. In order to reach the potential of graphic design, it should most definitely be paired up with other forms of visual communication and strategic thinking.
In a search for my next challenge, I have been looking into corporate companies to implement design thinking to. It has been wonderful to feel the support of my tutors and my previous mentors at Pentagram, who have pushed me to work harder every day, encouraged me to take on a new challenge and supported me during each application process. I have thus been able to secure a Junior Specialist position at a Swedish investment bank and I look forward to starting a new chapter that will bring me closer towards my dreams.
A week before lockdown in London, missing Mabel a lot
Illustration and Visual Media
It seems more common for artist, designers and illustrators to have some experience with 3D software and use it within the workplace. Especially for smaller studios, they need people who are multidisciplinary and can create 2D and 3D work.
The visuals are cleaner, it can be perceived as more professional by clients, and the options for lighting the models can greatly affect the tone and atmosphere for the brief. Not to mention you can reuse the models by creating different textures and angles. It seems to be the norm that a design agency, a digital agency should have projects completed in 3D and be able to take on those briefs by clients and companies. My experience so far is within the entertainment industry so it could be different in different areas of the design world, but I have found that being able to use 3D software is a big advantage when applying for work.
Concept art I made for a personal project where I used Maya to create the main objects, perspective and lighting. Then I painted over the screenshot in Photoshop.
It's also worth noting that 3D software can be used even if the final product isn't necessarily 3D. One skill that is I have noticed is very sought out is visualizing. If the majority of the team's skills are technical and don't have a way to visually present the ideas and projects, the outcome falls short. That is why they need someone to create images in whatever form suited for the project. This skill of visualizing can result in a 2D or 3D piece. However sometimes there is use for 3D softwares to create perfect squares, or building, or perspective and then use that as a foundation for a 2D image. Not to mention there are artists who create models and texture it in a way that makes it looks 2D no matter what angle you look at it.
A good website to explore other artists' works and trends of 3D models is https://sketchfab.com/.
At my last internship at a game company, the team was small so my role spread beyond creating concept art and illustrations to helping with the game environment in Unity. Although I wasn't the one creating the 3D assets, it was my job to place them and create the 3D environment players would be navigating in. I have had experience with 3D softwares like Maya so it was easier for me to transfer to Unity, but since I was placing the assets I had to think differently. Such as taking into consideration what path players will take, and creating interesting and unique rock formations or asset combination that make the environment memorable and the players remember better the locations. Furthermore, I had to think of the environment overall, which isn't so different when creating environment concept art, but I have to look at the environment in a lot more angles than I am used to. Since I had to look at the location overall, the ground, grass and sky texture were as important as the assets created by the 3D modelers. It all had to come together and be of a similar cartoon style and have a nice color palette. I was able to experiment with the ground and grass texture to find what was best suitable for the environment and game style. Nonetheless, I noticed for games, it is ever evolving and nothing is set in stone, new assets are always created and switched out, thus there is always room for improvement or modification to keep up with the changing pace of video games.
Screenshots of the environment I worked on during my internship.
Triple O Games All Rights Reserved
I have seen many design studios utilize this new age of 3D projects, and I was intended to start an internship at an animation and VFX studio, where I would have again been working in both 2D and 3D projects. Unfortunately, due to the virus I was never able to start. I now realize what a valuable asset it is to have experience and be able to work with 3D software in the entertainment industry, even for artists. So far this year, I have come to recognize that I prefer to work on environments rather than characters, and for a while I will focus more on environments, especially when considering my future career. That isn't to say I won't continue with character design, but I will prioritize environment design. Of course, I will try to incorporate even more 3D design into my practice, starting with a self-initiated project with my brother. We are in the process of developing a video game and creating somewhat of a minimal viable product. This way I can incorporate interests in concept art, environment and character design, and 3D modeling. It is a way to expand and test my skills and create something that will be interactable rather than just a design you can look at.
Most of the foundation of design is translated into 3D design, but there are new aspects to consider especially if you work mainly in 2D, but it is a great skill that the design world today relies on. Extending not only your creative thinking but possibilities of new ways to create and gain a wider audience.
Katie Scott - Illustration and Visual Media
In the final stages of the DPS year everyday begins and ends almost the same. For some it’s staring out of a confined window in a tiny flat, or spent waking up in a crowded family home that so many years were associated with childhood, the aroma of coffee brewing in a background of chaos and confusion.
Articulated in my last presentations, this year has been an existential development in my practise and approach to a plethora of ambitions and projects. As we all adjust and adapt to our idea of what the new normal may look like, we’ve all made sacrifices somewhat to the way we think and the way we do. This hasn’t necessarily been made easy or pleasant as studios of all kinds are unavailable and the lack of funding has prevailed the industry and students are left with nothing but a pile of debt as they graduate without a degree show and enter into a significantly depleted industry.
However, pausing the concept of restriction at this moment in time, we may all rather account for the things we do have access to and the things we have within our reach. Like in all creative movements there have been orchestras of rebellion in communities, cultures and social groups and this can be determined in this global crisis we are currently in. What I mean is that artists by nature are problem solvers, innovators, inventors - constantly coming up with solutions and pathways that construct ‘new’ normals.
The ways in which I have approached these last project proposals have taught me resilience and commitment to my work I had never experienced in my placement with Dazed at the beginning of the year or any of my formal trials and job interviews. This expansion has been created through this restriction, and I have been witnessing the industry and myself communicating to our new realities in a more ‘civilised’ and thoughtful manner. Learning to listen and respond to our environments more than before, egos and charisma no longer idolised over common sense and integrity towards achieving creative solutions.
I can be bold enough to claim this as over the last month I have been day in and out contacting individuals all around the World, discussing these lessons that have been consumed since the pandemic claimed our livelihoods and naive innocence many months ago. Listening, and really listening, talking to people who I have never spoken to before, or didn’t much before, has been a huge milestone - learning what I want my work to communicate and more importantly, who do I want my work to serve?
Authenticity to me now describes objects and experiences that are profound and effective to give back to people, our vulnerable planet and the ecosystems that exist under our failed capitalist regimes. I feel this has been important to acknowledge as beyond this next 6 months or year, this virus will continue to effect our lives as we are encouraged to live each day as it comes. In fear of what we still have left to loose or mourn what already has been lost. Therefore, as we lose this control we identified with pre COVID19 in coherence to our calculated sums of success and fortune, we must learn to make the most of the things we do have, at no extra cost, money or other.
Working on now a few developmental journals including coding, film making and photography, as we approach the concluding months of DPS I have used this time in lockdown to improve my core skills in all of these avenues which I am excited to share, while also building relationships in all of these sectors, perhaps more successfully than I had done before the pandemic. The visual documentary I am still working on and will be developing further into June has expanded on my communication with others and opened up my skills whilst collaborating. From this, I no longer consider myself as a one woman practitioner as I begin to address that my work is greatly inspired by others and how these connecting bridges really do turn a good project into a great one.
My more independent practise has also pushed forward my thesis subject discussing technological anthropology in the creative arts. Ending the extended five week intensive online coding course, I have been able to take my interests and knowledge into a profession that I was somewhat intimidated by before. I will continue this academic journey using code into new projects as I have discovered a new and accessible way to draw ideas that are made using this complex visual language available to everyone, and is also free. Community has been emphasised in this pathway I hadn’t anticipated, as the threads of community that push creative code are incredibly open and up to challenges presented by individuals online in contrast to other creative communities. This has been greatly encouraging as prior to this, the emphasis on competition and rivalry was more than off-putting. Of course this element exists and should be ‘embraced’ in most industries, however it is refreshing to be presented with a progressive outlook on professional relationships and approaching work with nothing but open-mindedness and good intention.
Practising photography, the subject I was most set on pursuing for the last two years has in a way been overshadowed by my discovery of a multi faceted practise. I have discovered that photography is an element of my practise however something that should be paired with other professions and skills as I know to seek joy, pleasure and discovery through other modes of visual communication. In a way this element I’ve discovered has allowed me to see the future perhaps more positively as I’m not restricted to one role or skill. This is perhaps the greatest thing I have discovered through DPS, it’s a great thing to constantly learn and reach new depths through exploration of the unknown and simply pursue your interests - don’t necessarily chase them if luck doesn’t come knocking.
Yoann Hui - Design Management & Culture
Lately, everyone is finding a new routine for the current 'normal' life because of COVID-19. Suddenly we have been asked to stay at home by the government for helping stop / reduce the spread of the virus. A lot of people transited to work from home if their job is available to do it at home. Also, a lot of people have to stop working in certain industries like a retailer, scientist or job couldn't be done at home. And during this period, we use to wish our families, friends, colleagues, and whom that we know to stay safe, stay healthy and stay sane. But why, what leads us to wish people stay sane?
Before the pandemic:
For those who could work from home - if we have been told that we can work from home every day. I think most of the people would feel it sounds like a bonus and excitement. We would more naturally link it to - save time and money from transport to working, able to sleep a bit longer, wear comfortable clothes, easy to access to our kitchen, flexible working schedule, etc. And especially thinking of don't have to dig into the overcrowded trains every day during the rush hours, able to working from home sound much better.
For those who couldn't work from home - if we have been told that we can have a break, and don't have to work for a while. I think it sounds like a dream for everyone (maybe most of the people). So currently isn't perfect for everyone who was wishing for the above?
But why? Why it's more and more articles, have been posted online to help people to stay calm and maintain a good or positive mental and physical well-being during the lockdown?
A sudden and unexpected situation happened, we have been forced to change, even though we are doing something we like in normal life are not that enjoyable than before. Because of the uncertainty situation made us feel losing control of our life and unsecured of the future. According to the report 'Tackling the impact of COVID-19 on mental health' by the research charity MQ: Transforming Mental Health and the UK Academy of Medical Sciences. They have invited over 2000 participants to take part in the survey for understanding how COVID-19 has impacted people's mental health. And through the research, they recorded levels of anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide and other mental health issues across the population. It clearly shows this pandemic is not just threatening our physical health, and it also sets a significant risk to our mental health.
Working for a marketing consulting company, we understand not only just people are facing the uncertainty future, and also business and brands. Because of this unusual situation, we have a few projects that the client would like to understand and unpack how and why consumers' behaviour changes affected by COVID-19 specifically, for now, and in the future. So recently, I have worked in a project that help client to understand how people react and change their behaviours in 3 different markets - China, Brazil and the UK. The aims for this project are to understand how people changed compared to previous life and now, what's the role of the brand's products are playing in consumer's daily life at the current situation, and what tends to be a long-term impact after the pandemic. And interestingly, through the research we have found people is more aware and interested in health and well-being not only physically but also mentally.
Recently, because of the increased number of COVID-19 related projects, our expect colleague - Dr Paul Marsden (Consumer Psychologist) gave us an internal sharing of what consumers want from brands in the current situation from a human science perspective, and how brands should respond from our company's empathy based perspective. He listed and explained 4 key contagions that consumer are experiencing and concerning during the pandemic, and what a brand can do to address those needs:
During the DPS year, I'm lucky enough that able to work with my current company - human-first marketing consultancy company. During this placement, I am not only able to learn an extensive range of research skills and project process knowledge, but also experienced and realised how incredible and powerful that psychology is. As a design management and culture student, we have been teaching of human-centred design to unlock the real needs of human. After my placement experience, I feel psychology is a fundamental understanding of human. It provides a solid foundation for the project, especially for human-centred design. I truly think that sometimes we can't fully unlock the pain point by doing research, and human science is like a line link up all the insights logically. And also, because we are doing a lot of research with human, using emotional intelligence while researching could helps us understand how our target audience feel. It's is like stepping into their shoes and seeing the world from their perspective. Recently years, more and more industries has recognised the power and importance of human-centred design, business and organisations started applying those methodologies into their business and operations. However, there is still some of the industries are bit behind. It triggered my curiosity to understand and explore which industry was (were) the 'early adopter' and how human-centred design impacts it, and which industry is (are) the laggard and why.
MQ: Transforming Mental Health, the Academy of Medical Sciences (2020) Tackling the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. Available at: https://acmedsci.ac.uk/file-download/11112363 (Accessed:12 May 2020).
Design for Art Direction
My first and only placement this year was with designer and creative director, Harris Elliott. It was a very interesting experience… I had not heard about him before the internship, I was referred by a friend of his, photographer Dean Chalkley whom I had an interview with first. Dean and Harris presented a radio show together and had worked together on a collaborative book and exhibition at Somerset House, Return of the Rudeboy. Even though I want heard of either artists, once I researched their work I thought they would be perfect to work with.
The first interview with Dean was very classic; meeting for a coffee in a Hackney cafe before he had to go off and do radio. It was a very encouraging and inspiring interview. Bar the praise and the fact that a professional, famous photographer was showing genuine interest in my work, we had really fun, good conversations about a range of things and it was fantastic to get industry advice from him, even if I wouldn’t be able to shadow/work for him. However, the meet was lovely and Dean promised to put me in contact with Harris, also letting me now that he was only at the end of an email if I had any more questions for him or if I wanted a chat. My first kinda “networking” interview thing went well.
Just as he had promised, a few days later, I was in an email chain with Dean and Harris and I could see that Dean really bigged me up to Harris. So there was slight pressure to live up to Harris’ expectations, fuelled by Dean’s praise. The interview with Harris took place in the cafe at The Photographers Gallery (cliche or perfect), exactly a week after my interview with Dean. The interview/conversation with Harris was very similar to that with Dean, but slightly more professional because of his intention to take me on as an intern, while with Dean it was more friendly introductions. Harris told me the work his studio was getting up to, I presented my portfolio and spoke about how my skills would be of value to him. During the interview, one or two people approached Harris as they knew him and it was all very energetic and entertaining? I could tell that although a hardworking and accomplished artist, he was also just a creative from London doing things London creatives do and this calmed my nerves a little. However, Harris is still a no-nonsense person so I had to whip myself into shape and get organised, because work was starting the very next day, at 9am…
Beginning work, there wasn’t much of an introductory, transitory period, I was straight in the deep end, going from factory to factory in east London, picking things up, dropping them off, very intern-type errands. My primary role however was to create design work for a project Harris was potentially going to be on. Using scans of rice bags, I created so many mockups, hoodies, t-shirts, socks, bucket hats, anything and everything! A lot of it was learned on the go too, I picked up a lot of extra skills I didn’t know I could do; I realised I was more skilled and competent than I thought, I just needed live briefs to put the skills to practice. With the studio being small, there was a lot of instant back and forth texting with Harris to send work, last minute errands, etc.
I’m not sure what preconceptions I had about the nature of the professional, creative industry, but from this internship, it seems a lot more ‘informal’ than I thought it would be, informal meaning not as stuffy and demanding as say the finance industry. Despite this, there were still anxieties I felt from the pressure of the fast moving world of work, feeling like the work I was making wasn’t good enough, but there wasn’t time to be feeling that way I just had to step up. Navigating how to be independent while still working for him was interesting as well, eg asking if I can leave the factory to go work elsewhere, working from the college, able to do my own thing in work hours. Though I was an intern he hired, I am still a creative individual myself with other responsibilities.
I was fortunate to have started working with Harris while he was commissioning work for an event in Lagos put on by Skepta’s manager. As someone born there, I had a lot of insight to offer for the project, which Harris really appreciated and was willing to learn about from me, as I learned so much from him about brand design processes. That working relationship felt good, he trusted my opinion and trusted me with more responsibilities. I was able to assist on an exciting, high-brand fashion shoot which informed me more about styling and fashion/culture; Harris gave me the coolest books to read for the shoot research but it was also valuable knowledge for me - today, that book he told me to read has inspired a lot of my project planning.
As a black photographer myself, I was more than happy to spend hours trawling over names and images. Not only was it work for Harris but it was beyond-valuable research for me too and my practice - especially because I never had a formal, research based education in photography and media. Now, not only was I getting that education, it was education that was tailored to my interests. Shout out to the DPS year. This visual research updated my creativity in a way. Suddenly I was better at making visually appealing things and this may have come from being exposed to talented creatives and also researching techniques, artists, etc. My Photoshop skills at this point are at an all time high and I was making work for other creatives sourced by Harris to then use and make something else for the project. I was in a creative feedback loop and it made me feel… professional.
I really, really enjoyed the placement. It was the only one I got the opportunity to do but it was the perfect one (even without pay). I gained connections, and skills in networking, a knowledge on shops and places for designs/companies we used e.g. fashion formula; I learned more about design processes - fashion design, graphic design, styling. I am reaaalllyy into styling now, working with Harris exposed me to this side of design I might have never have appreciated, I am extremely grateful for the experience.
Life is pretty surreal at the moment; I am allowed to go outside to exercise once a day, I have to queue for twenty minutes to get into a shop - and most of them are shut anyway, there is a toilet paper shortage, and hand sanitiser has become liquid gold. Yes, it sounds like the beginning of a strange dystopian novel, but this is in fact the life of someone living in lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Measures have been put in place by the government to limit the spread of the disease and because of this, we have all found ourselves in a new environment that we have had to find ways of adapting to. Along with making significant alterations to their lifestyles, creatives like myself have had to alter their practice in order to continue developing it in their homes.
As the art industry has been forced to reinvent itself online, the first thing that it has been necessary for me to do in order to adapt is give myself an online voice through social media platforms such as Instagram so that I can connect, communicate, and share my work with my creative network. This meant that at the beginning of the pandemic, I spent my time going through all of my work and photographing it, editing these photographs and formatting them for Instagram, and coming up with simple but explanatory captions for the posts of my work. Unexpectedly, from using this communication tool, I have gained more than a boosted social media presence. I have gained confidence in myself and my abilities as an artist as the feedback I have received from people and creatives in my network, practitioners with similar interests, and the general public, has been very positive.
When I realised that I would no longer be able to access a darkroom, the facilities, or the materials I needed to work with my preferred processes, I was demotivated as I knew that I would not be able to continue down the path that I was going down for a while. As a result of these circumstances, I have had to find alternative ways of creating and focus on furthering different areas of my practice. This is exemplified by my “Pandemic Portraits”, a series I captured using a digital camera that enabled me to refine the skills in portrait photography and photo editing and retouching that I acquired from the first of my professional practices. From approaching my practice with open-mindedness, I have learnt more digital photography techniques that I will be able to apply to my future practice as this year I have become interested in combining analogue and digital photographic processes.
As well as adapting my practice to a new creative environment by using different equipment, I have been able to adapt it by using this time to learn new skills that I feel will benefit my personal and professional practice, and improve those that I have. One way that I have done this is through the two work from home opportunities I found: assisting in the production of a short film and a freelance job editing photos for a pet portrait business. For the former, I had many roles such as documenting the filming with a Polaroid camera, acting in the film, and assisting with: prepping the set and determining the design of it, the film lighting and shot composition, and generating ideas for retakes of shots that did not come out as the director desired. For the latter, I have been responsible for using Photoshop to edit and retouch photographs of pets and turn them into digital watercolour paintings using ‘actions’. In addition to working from home throughout the pandemic, I have used this time to improve my Adobe software skills by watching Photoshop tutorials on YouTube and by undertaking LinkedIn Learning courses such as ‘InDesign 2020 Essential Training’.
The pandemic has left most of us with a lot of time on our hands. So far, I think that I have spent this time wisely as I have used it to explore my medium and do things that allow me to develop my practice. Since I am able to do this, I am finding that my days in lockdown are much more enjoyable than I thought they would be and they are going by much faster than I thought they would. This being said, I will be as thankful as everyone else will be when this is all over.