Curation is defined as a field of endeavour involved with assembling, managing and presenting some type of collection. Illustrious examples are found in great institutions such as The British Museum, the V&A and Tate. However, these same institutions, the staple of accumulation of knowledge, culture art and history are increasingly put under the microscope for the rationales behind their curated displays. These inquiries beg the question of ownership of historical artefacts, challenge the male gazed and exoticized nature of displays and narratives, and forces us to consider who the curators are and whom they curate for. The Wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosities, arose in mid-sixteenth-century Europe as repositories for all manner of wondrous and exotic objects. As an early attempt to retrieve, structure and transmit information they can be seen as the precursors to museums. Despite the vast differences found in methodology, there are key similarities between modern curation and the collections of a Wunderkammern, the most outstanding being the structural privilege prevalent. The gaze, be it male, able-bodied, white, upper class and so on define in a great measure of how the content impacts the audience. A talk given by Scott Burell from Create London about their joint study with the Barbican on the diversity of the Arts and culture industry disclosed an increasing disconnection between the content creators e.g: curators and museums and the demographic they are supposedly targeting. Broadly speaking it reduced itself to a lack of diversity and a demographic bubble within the members of the art sector.
Tackling the privilege system left by a colonial legacy is no small feat as it is intrinsically embedded in many layers of our society and most of us are not aware in which ways we passively participate in it. As much as museum and art organisations work towards broadening the scope of their vision as well as creating more diverse curator pools, it is down to every individual to do their bit towards this big conversation. This September I had the opportunity to do just that while debuting as a curator for a segment of the Everything Happens so Much show at LCC during LDF.
This summer I travelled Senegal and worked side by side with local artisans, who not only showed us the unique crafts and their heritage, but taught us a great deal about their ways of working. They shared with us philosophies such as Solutionism, Make, Do and Mend and generally making most of all available resources without compromising great outcomes. This 'come what may' attitude, this improvisation and thinking on their feet really struck us as one of the keys to their success as makers. The country is vibrant and full of potential, and It's long history of cultural hibridity enriches the art and craft produced in the cities, remote villages and streets and the famous 'artisanal villages'. It does however also have disproportionate unevenness of wealth, which directly impacts the availability of education and also the development opportunities for the average person. Arguably this is precisely due to Senegal's own colonial legacy, as the vast majority of the countries in the continent have. This made me and my colleagues feel uncomfortably aware of the vantage point of our perspectives as well as its blindspots. While privilege is usually a silent and invisible to the naked eye, in Senegal it was made evident, even more so when we visited Nguindir, a village where many of the children had never seen a group of white students. It was a beautiful occasion of true and innocent curiosity that had us surrounded by many arms, questions voiced in dialects, french and slurred english. Being put in a position where we where observed as an oddity, a curiosity from a far away place ignited a whole series of questions and debates about our role in the trip, as students, designers and ultimately as cultural tourists. How do we become more than spectators in a performance designed to inform and inspire us, curated to our desire to experience 'alternative' ways of working and living? How do we give back to them when our practice has no impact here whatsoever, because it is as most design we have experienced, western-centric?
When we returned we have had lots of debates, discussions and reflected deeply on how we could best represent and collate our experience and what they taught us through an exhibition. We are the third and most recent instalment and the first to collate the work into a show. This represented a huge responsibility because Route Artlantique itself has evolved and grown, and each individual has contributed different expectations and attitudes to the workshops. Eventually, It was my colleague Celine and I who took charge over the curation and production of the exhibition and got to make some very exciting yet difficult decisions. The greatest question of them all was how to avoid misrepresenting and doing justice to the people we met during our travels and their trades, avoiding the infamous exoticized gaze, yet displaying the objects and materials that impacted our visual and critical thinking in an accessible way. A key referent on our journey to tackle 'the Gaze' as a two-way conversation was a photographic project by fellow router, Joel Karammath. His portraits not only assessed the roles of the observed and the observer by using the traditional framing, but by facilitating them through a series of conversations in a mixture of english, french and body language it produced an intimate link between the two. This ultimately challenged the notion of the picture as the outcome but instead upholds the dialogue as the final and valuable product.
The final narrative running through the exhibition is one that drew from the spectators healthy curiosity and the artists conversation starting pieces.The topics tackled by the works made both during our stay in the country as well as those made after with the philosophies taught by the artisans span from pollution, post colonial legacy, reclaiming materials, to subverting western design and cultural hibridity in local craft. These are some of the many lines of conversations we had with the audience, who was diverse in age, race, class and ability. The key outcome of this experience for Celine and myself as curators and producers was the possibility to create a safe space for reflection and dialogue for such a wide audience. The incredibly positive and energetic reception from institutions and the general public, the tons of good reviews and even more importantly, superb criticism and advice has only broadened our understanding and our practice and our desire to ignite more dialogues. This experience has not made me tip the scales of privilege, but It has certainly changed me in more ways than I expected to change it. I believe that I know now how to keep doing my part as a practitioner for the 90%.
Illustration and Visual Media
Quest for Work Experience.
I wanted to be a game artist, but the skillset wasn’t there yet. “What to do? Anything and everything in between. Do an online CGI course! In the meantime, do some other artsy activity.”, - I thought to myself and set out on a quest to find a job placement.
The London Book Fair!
It was very good idea to volunteer, and DPS gives you a good excuse to be cheeky and inquisitive and to ask around, whether people need any illustrators in their publishing houses. I went and asked the people in the illustrator’s zone, how did they get there. They said that you just have to apply in time and pay a fee for a wall space and\or a table. Also it is useful to ask publishers from other countries if they need illustrators. The first time I actually needed business cards and regretted not having printed them in time. Have a portfolio on the ready and print some business cards with a link to it.
ComicCon is no longer purely for entertainment! I found out that many story writers are looking to hook up with artists in order to create comics. There are also comic zines you could submit your illustrations and sequential comics to. At ELCAF you can find out about big and small publishers not only from UK, but from all over the world. The most interesting are usually the small independent ones, but often they don’t have enough work to employ interns. Never hurts to ask though!
Even just going to talks, giving talks or staying in an AirBnB with a creative person can help expand your network of art connections. I once stayed in the house hosted by a professional illustrator, which gave me some idea of the workflow of a creative professional.
Other than that, I'm still sending email, still waiting, like many of us on DPS.
An exciting opportunity was provided by London National Park City founder Daniel Raven Ellison, as well as Sean Perkins from the creative agency North. We were given a live brief, which required us to design a tote bag and t-shirt for the first London National Park City event and to be used throughout to raise awareness on the movement. The meeting was arranged by Sarah Temple, where we had the opportunity to speak to Daniel and Sean about our ideas. Taking us on a journey, Daniel spoke about how London should be viewed as an "urban jungle", this really placed things into perspective and how crucial this movement would be for London.
The tote bag and t-shirt was to be designed with the use of the identity created by North for the National Park City. We presented our ideas within North's minimalist studio, where I showcased a variety of ideas through incorporating their idea of an asterisk being a recognisable symbol for the movement. My designs (view below) explored a variety of ideas, through the use of photography and simple illustrations in order to express the National Park City theme. I experimented with the idea of typical London wildlife where I incorporated a fox within the asterisk as a way of celebrating animals within London. Another variation included photography within the asterisk as a simple way of visually showcasing nature through the eye of an asterisk. My final design included a map of London across the entire shirt or tote bag, which gave an impression of a green camo (camouflage) style print design, this would help broadcast the movement to a number of audiences due to its trendy feel, and as a result it would increase the appeal and support towards the idea of London becoming a National Park City!
It was really exciting to be a part of such a green, sustainable and socially driven project. If ever given a chance, this project really inspired me to get involved with more meaningful or greener projects in the future. These will allow me to appreciate not only nature but also the city and community we live in. Not to mention being able to use my skills in order to contribute to the support of different causes or social movements such as the London National City is a very beneficial and satisfying experience.
Graphic and Media Design
DPS resident paint freak Matteo Salomoni fills us in on his internship with mural painters Paint Freaks.
As part of my Diploma in Professional Studies, I am completing an internship at Paint Freaks, a company specialized in the realization of murals on commission, with a strong emphasis on spray cans as a medium of choice.
Due to the nature of the company’s work, most of the art has to therefore be created on location within a given time period. My first experience with working in this situation took place within the first week of my internship, whereby I had to commute to Basingstoke to work in Flip Out, a trampoline park which is just opening. The job consisted in the application of black colour coats on the ceilings and walls of the site with spray guns and green for the central pillars. This experience taught me many things, from how to correctly operate and clean spray guns, healthy and safety precautions on site, as well as communication in group work to ensure everyone is fulfilling their responsibility to the fullest. I also had to complete a scissor and boom lift training for this specific job, which now allows me to operate these machines confidently, and will definitely be useful for any mural work at heights I might do in the future.
One of the elements I really enjoy about this internship is also the fact that some travel is required to reach sites, some of which not in the UK; this has given me the opportunity to see new places I’d never been to. My second job, for example, was in Copenhagen, at the X Jump Trampoline Park, and was perhaps one of the biggest jobs I have taken part in. It consisted in the projection and mapping of a pre-approved design onto the walls of the park, followed by the final stages of spraying. This experience as well was very useful because I learnt how to efficiently project designs to scale and mark them, which is one of the fundamental stages of mural work, as well as how the designs are re-created from the very beginning to the end.
I am now in the initial stages of designing my very own mural, which will be created on the shutters of Nana Susie’s Cafè in London. This would be one of the first experiences of this kind for me, and having learnt the basic notions to correctly project and mark, it should help me apply this in my own work. I believe this will be the most formative opportunity, as I am already learning how to correctly interact with the clients from the initial briefing stages, through the approval of the final design work.
In conclusion, I can say that this internship has proved to be a very fun, engaging and formative experience, and I am very excited for what is to come in the future. I am learning how the company itself operates as a business, briefing to a client, and many other elements of running a business which are just as important as the final artwork itself.
Julia Fontes Lessa is spending the first part of her DPS year in Berlin. Here she tells us about her experiences.
I always heard so much about Berlin, mostly about its party scene, but also about the thousands of creative opportunities. And it was not a lie. In one month I managed to find loads of stuff to do.
I’ve been working almost everyday with a freelance designer. I go to her studio apartment and we sit together and discuss my designs. She gives me freedom to do my own design while she does hers at the time. The first task she gave me was a Brazilian Forró festival poster. She showed me all of the requirements, the mood board she had done and asked me to create something from that. I had to do about 20 designs and she didn’t really like any of them. At first I was very frustrated, but when she sat with me and gave me detailed feedback I could see she wasn’t disappointed withe me or anything, she just genuinely wanted me to improve. The jobs after were way better. I think the harder part is getting her style right. In the end that is the biggest challenge of an internship, getting the style right.
I also didn’t stop there, I started doing a German course, and as always had in school, I doodled during class. That was enough for my course mates to see that I was a creative. A girl from the class introduced me to this conceptual caffe/clothing store that changed their window design every few months. I went there one day and they asked me to do their window! It was really fun. They wanted something water themed, because their new logo was a gold fish. Recently I’ve been drawing fishes and corals and all sort of sea inspired creatures, therefore it was perfect. I eded up doing some crazy corals and seaweed, making the shop a gigantic aquarium!
Even though designing is fun, no one will ever enjoy everything in their job. We have a couple of constant clients. One of them is a blogger that posts about recipes, furniture and flowers arrangements, that sort of thing. Every week I have to the blog posts of the week for her. There is also a beauty bloggers that works for Vogue Brazil. I also have to do her blog posts of her lifestyle. It not exactly a fun job, but doing it every week really helps me with my layout skills. Another constant client is these guys that organize techno parties. There are loads of parties happening at the moment, meaning a lot of posters to do. I mainly help her out with vectorizations and cutting of images. It is really helpful though, because I’ve been mastering Photoshop.
Recently I got a job from a music company and she does vinyl covers for them. So the latest project I’ve done was designing a vinyl cover for them. They are strongly connected to science and mythology. It’s all about the natural elements. So I had to create a design with the amethyst stone. My boss hasn’t given me a detailed feedback yet, but overall she liked it, which is a very different response from the first job I did.
Marion Bisserier reflects on her time working in Paris.
One month ago, I started my internship at Artworklove in Paris. The studio is lead by Marion Laurens and Linda Ouiddir. The studio specialises in print and cultural briefs, with clients such as Theatre de Lorient, photographer Mathias Depardon but also more corporate work such as Bouygues Immobilier on architectural projects or luxury brands such as Cartier or Givenchy.
As this was my first graphic design work experience, I had no idea what to expect nor how I was going to work. Now it has been a month and I am happy to be in the team. Since it is a small studio, I got to know everyone quickly and was involved in the projects from early on. On my first two weeks, I was mainly working on the design of the screen printed posters, invitations and flyers for the new shows of the Theatre de Lorient. The identity being 100% typographic, I really felt in my element. The most challenging part was to continuously modify and adapt the design to the client’s needs, especially when we had to incorporate a lot more text than we were given originally. Working on this project, I learned that being an efficient designer means anticipating modifications and planning adaptable designs instead of creating a single complex and rigid option.
On the last two weeks, the pace in the studio increased as we had a lot of deadlines approaching, including Mathias Depardon’s photography exhibition and an invitation for the inauguration of the Tribunal de Paris, a building designed by Renzo Piano. This meant that I had to manage more projects at the same time. In the beginning I struggled to switch from one project to another in a short time and didn’t always manage to be on top of each task. After a few days, I became more comfortable with the timings. Although the pace was more stressful, I enjoyed exploring the different environments of each project, going from branding to exhibition graphics, and improving my multitasking as well as time management skills.
I was especially happy with my contribution to Mathias Depardon’s exhibition graphics. Designing paragraphs and a map at a scale of a four meters high wall was a first for me. By working with Marion, I developed my attention to typographic details such as rivers, hyphenations and balance in the paragraphs. Every time we made a slight change in the weight or size of the font, Marion and I made a test print and pinned it to the wall to make sure it was right. It was interesting to be part of this remarkable photographer’s exhibition and work with the team behind him who curated this event.
Overall, I’ve spent an enriching first month working as an intern at Artworklove. Clearly being a good design student at university and being an efficient design intern in a professional environment are two different things. In addition to being a good practitioner, it is essential to embrace the fast pace, the amount of team work and the challenge of meeting the client’s needs. I’m looking forward to the next two months and to becoming more pro-active in the team of Artworklove.
Tom Medlicott racked up a serious number of internship applications before settling in with Brompton Bikes as part of his DPS year. Here he reflects on his experiences so far.
After 126 job applications to 44 cities in 19 countries, 52 rejections, 8 interviews, 5 offers and 1 unsuccessful meeting with a design hero of mine, I had already learned huge amounts about the design industry before even setting foot anywhere near an agency. This was as disheartening as 52 rejections sounds although a number of designers and agencies took time to substantiate their feedback. Amidst a sea of non-repliers and impersonal copy + paste responses this was something I could only look upon positively and the portfolio I started this process with is a very different piece of work to the one I use now.
The old saying of who you know, not what rang true as after 2 chance conversations with friends I had not seen in years I was in a job within 2 weeks. I initially picked up work as a freelancer at Brompton Bicycle, it was well paid but my preconceptions about the product weren’t good owing to what I viewed as its typical middle aged city financier client base. As I was still being pulled through application after application elsewhere something fairly ad hoc suited me well. On reflection though the opportunity to work in the design & marketing office attached to the factory has been a fascinating insight into how design progresses from industrial product design through manufacture and eventually marketing and advertising.
I have continued in a role somewhere between intern, freelancer and junior employee. I am now in 2/3 days a week and the 1hr10 commute to the office near Heathrow is a definite noticeable change. Brompton relies on freelance designers for the marketing as there is no in-house graphics team so to speak of. This meant I was undertaking serious (albeit small) commercial tasks working within a reasonably strict set of brand guidelines from the start. At first this was disconcerting but as I grew into the company over time I was more and more entrusted with creative freedoms and diverse tasks to perform - from posters in Dutch spotted around Amsterdam, to merchandise for the factory, to marketing assets for corporate events. The team are young and constructive in their feedback - my work is well received and to see it go out into places like London, Hong Kong, Holland and Germany is hugely gratifying.
In an ideal world I would be afforded the opportunity to see more of the design production process, sit in on brainstorming meetings, liaise with printers and experiment in wider mediums - however I am benefiting from working independently learning how to structure my time, prioritise jobs and even things I had not given much prior consideration to such as how to write and invoice. Though I have no set end date the pay is good enough that it allows me to set aside funds for the next stage of my industry year. I have been accepted into a small startup in Berlin from February and will be working with an in-house design team called RCKT. I am looking forward to a new set of challenges as well as the opportunity to live and work in Europe whilst that is still a option that is open to me.
DPS student Stephanie Fung on how to tackle interviews.
After applying to hundreds of companies, I’ve managed to meet lots of organisations in the creative industries. (Merchant Cantos, Substance, Apple, Peter Anderson Studio, Earth TV, Nike and the Mill and one freelance opportunity) Some I was really prepared for and other not so much, but I have come to learn that it’s always good to be over prepared for an interview – whether that’s having business cards at the ready or reading past the 2nd page on Google about the company.
The most challenging interview was with Nike. It was a digital interview where I had to record myself and answer the questions. You would think hiding behind a screen would be more comforting but I realised that I respond better when I have someone to talk to in person. I felt very awkward and had some pauses when all I could see was myself on a screen. The same thing happened with Substance, where I had a skype voice call interview and I couldn’t see the other person’s facial expression which felt a bit jarring.
One of my most positive experiences was probably with The Mill. (I was probably the most nervous about this since it’s one of my dream companies) The interviewers were down to earth and they gave me time to talk and ask questions. I researched and prepared all the questions I thought they would ask me the night before but in the end they only asked about 3-4 questions to see what type of person I am. Earth TV was also relaxed, perhaps sometimes we forget that creative directors and the interviewers are human and can be down to earth too.
What also helped was that they had a dog in their office, which I think all offices should have.
I've realised that most of the time, if you have an interview then the interviewer is already impressed by your work - so use the interview to show off your personality, skills and interest to join the company. Moreover I made sure that I ask many questions at the end of the interview since an interview is a 2 way conversation.
Here's some that may be helpful for your interview:
What does typical day look like for an intern?
Gives you an idea of what your role would be.
What do you expect in an intern?
Gives an idea of what level they expect of an intern.
What are your views of the company?
Gives an better idea of the company atmosphere and people are like.
Is this position paid and how much?
Don't be afraid to ask, you deserve to be paid for doing work.
Am I able to use your facilities to do my own projects outside working hours?
If you want to do extra projects alongside your internship, work may have programs or machines for you to use.
When will I hear back from you?
Sometimes people forget to ask.
Most importantly - don't forget to send a follow up email the day after you had your interview. It's polite and also sets you apart from people don't do it.
DPS student Annete Sreibere asks ‘how to..?’ in her reflection on love, passion, interviews and working for free.
“How to use graphic design to sell things, explain things, make things look better, make people laugh, make people cry, and (every once in a while) change the world” is a book by Michael Bierut and my latest reading material. “How to” showcases thirty-five of Bierut’s projects and describes the story, process and thoughts behind them.
Any of the chapters for me as a design students are extremely interesting. To see how these projects have come together and especially what are Bierut’s thoughts on different problems that designers face every day. One of the chapters/sections tells about Bierut’s work for Parallax Theatre - How to work for free. Beirut tells story about his school friend Victor D’Altorio. Victor wanted to follow a career as an actor and Michael started out as a designer. Michael did posters for all the plays that Victor was in or later would direct. He did all the posters for free. Beirut writes:
“First, the work was fun. Victor would explain what the play was about in two sentences, and would send me the text that had to go on the poster. The explanation was always vivid and inspiring, and the text was always complete and free of typographical errors.
Second, after receiving my design, Victor would permit himself a single question: ‘How can I thank you?”
Finally, he never promised me exposure to movie stars on opening night or high-paying jobs down the road. I think as an actor, he understood what so many clients don’t: that for a creative person the real award is to simply do the work. Getting a “Hey, Mike?” call from Victor meant I’d have one more chance to do my best.”
Reading this paragraph was like a little reminder of why I am here and why I study and that this is what I love to do. Just to point out, of course not everything you do should be for free. But I think free work gives you complete freedom to do whatever you can possibly think of. The financial responsibility that you are getting paid doesn’t exist there. And if it works out and your work ends up on the wall, even better.
If I were to write one of the chapters now, it would most likely be called “How to smash an interview”. It would be a story about me being so stressed out that I think I will stop breathing but then finding out that everyone is very nice and I didn’t have to worry so much. Interviews will always be difficult - what they want to see in my portfolio? Should I start with typography or should I start with photography? Should I talk a lot? Should I shut up? Am I dressed appropriately? Do I have enough in my portfolio or maybe is it too much? Am I happy and enthusiastic enough or am I too annoying already?! The thing is, it is difficult, but what I have been reminding myself is that I am a student and they know it. For now, I’m sticking with a decent amount of enthusiasm and well-presented and organized portfolio.
Tabriaz Waheed our DPS Cinema 4D wizard talks about his experiences broadening his motion graphics experience.
My main goal for my DPS was to explore different area of motion graphics. I was struggling to find a placement at the start. My first placement was at Penguin Books and my role was to help out with the book fair in Frankfurt by sticking spreads in dummy pages. It was good experience to see how publishing and the process work and the creative art director was very interested in my CGI and Cinema 4D work. It was great getting the creative art director’s feedback and my manager wanted to talk more about my CGI work and possibly give me freelance work for experience once I have develop my ability more.
After my internship was finished I went to OFFF London, where all the biggest motion graphics companies around the world showcase their work and processes. One of highlight of the event was Future Deluxe, a dream studio of mine, shared their show reel. I had my mind blown by visual storytelling and techniques. When meeting the team it was incredible experience; getting advice and hearing their input on how the digital world is changing.
Another highlight of the event was Territory Studio. They showed projects and mainly focused on blockbuster movies for example Marvel, Aliens and Ready Player One. They showed their process of creating most of their CGI work and used Ghost in the Shell as an example. I was super inspired to push my motion graphics skills to be the best.
I am currently working with Luke Halls Studio which was one of the dream studios ticked off from my list. I was extremely happy to learn and participate with different projects for example Louis Vuitton, MTV, X Factor and a big theatre project . My role at Luke Halls Studio is Junior Animator in Cinema 4D and After Effects. I am to assist with Senior Designer and help out.
Overall I am loving working at Luke Halls Studios learning new techniques, growing my network and learning new programs such as Maya, Houdini and Blender.