Monday, 25 April 2011

Business Card Ideas

I'm currently in the process of making some business cards to help in the future and for a leave behind at my exhibit. I've been thinking about ways to make them memorable, so they are not just something people put in their wallet/drawer and forgotten about. I wanted them to be an everyday material made into a small card, such as old books, LP's, comics, cards found at charity shops or flea markets. These are some of the things that first got me interested in design so it seems very relevant to my personality. I would keep the design of the stock the same but cut into a size of business card, then print my details on to one side. I came across these examples of random materials made into posters which are really impressive. By company EcoHeaven who used the idea of recycling to promote an event. It's a great idea of reusing unwanted materials, firstly I need to find a suitable stock that I can link to my style. Although maybe not a pizza box, it wouldn't be a great idea passing a greasy box to potential employers.. It would definitely be memorable, but not for the right reasons!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Streets, Interactive Film

I'm a fan of The Streets and recently came across their new interactive film. To promote their new album they created this video where you make the choices of the story and see it unfold before you. I've seen a few examples of this technique although none used as a music video, this is my favourite so far. It's a great way of getting people/fans involved with the group. Similar to The Sims game, getting your favourite singer to act out a series of tasks is a brilliant idea. I would have liked to see the video last a little longer, maybe with some more random storylines. Then again it would not have fit within The Streets style of urban, everyday people. It's a great concept, I'll look forward to see how more people use this..

Friday, 22 April 2011

Magpie Comms Feedback

I recently approached Magpie Commns who are based in Leeds to arrange a portfolio visit. I try to stay open to work outside of Manchester so not too limit myself. I first heard of them back when I lived in Leeds; they do bits of design for student events and promotion. I often find education design quite stale and boring, but Magpie has given a creative, modern breath of fresh air to the work. They do projects such as print, web, promotions and identity. Unfortunately they were pretty swamped, though Partner Becky suggested I send in a pdf of my portfolio for feedback. She was very quick to reply which was very kind.

The reply was really positive which taught me to send my work out more frequently. Not to wary of the feedback, because everyone has a difference of opinion and taste, something that isn't great to one person, another might love. Becky's advice to use editorial, logo and experiment more with photos confirmed areas I thought my portfolio was lacking. I am going to do some self-initiated projects related to these areas showing a bit about my personality which I think is important in a portfolio. I thanked Becky for the advice and will be sending an improved updated version in the future!

LOVE: residency/portfolio feedback

I have recently been involved in a 'residency' with agency LOVE. Organized by their designer Steve Owen, a past Stockport graphics student who approached the college. The agency had space in the studio and offered the opportunity for students to work with them whilst doing our own final major projects. I am in the final weeks of college and starting to look for work/placements. So their offer was the perfect opportunity, minus the stress of approaching an agency. It was the ideal way to ease into a studio environment, with the bonus of being with fellow students and friends. I have always loved and followed their work so the visit was a fantastic opportunity. The agency is in the heart of the trendy Northern quarter, so it had a real buzz of energy about it. The studio is very creative with clean white painted walls with murals of paintings scattered along the office, and shelves full of cool objects and knickknacks from past work and awards, it sums up their personality perfectly and was an inspiring place to be.

During our stay we were able to carry on with our final major projects whilst getting advice from the professionals. We were able to make use of the materials the studio had available, we were left to our own devices, allowing us to make ourselves at home. Love were very busy but would often get us take part in briefs they were doing to get a different opinion. Some briefs came from different people so it allowed us to chat with people in the studio who we might not normally meet. Although I can't go into detail what the work was about, the briefs were always enjoyable and a challenge. Since the projects could win a pitch, I put a lot of effort into ideas to help the team.

As we settled into the studio my first time doing the round of tea, I made the mistake of making the team dicafinated tea. I didn't know my way around the kitchen and felt like a prize A* fool! Funnily enough when I offered tea during the rest of my stay not many seemed to want a drink.. Looking back it's quite funny and a mistake I won't be making again!

During the stay Steve went through my portfolio for a critique which I really appreciated. He was very honest about my work which was apreciated because it enabled me to learn from. Starting off with the together trust work with the someone design Steve suggested I think about narrowing down the list, it was too long and might lose attention if it is not snappy enough. The 'thought you'd never miss this design,' he suggested I consider the message, mainly because it was difficult to link with the illustrations. The freelance vintage work, Steve suggested using the actual cards and posters as a tactile part of the portfolio, instead of having them flat on a page. The photography brief he preferred the original idea I pitched, rather than the design the clients chose. I have always felt the same and we discussed how it is important to go with your instinct in your portfolio. Even if something goes 'live', it is not always better so instead show something you feel passionate about. The final York Sculpture Park Steve suggested I rethink the message of the designs, just to tell a bit more about the park, making it more fun. I came away from my portfolio crit with some productive feedback which I could develop my work from. To sum it up my portfolio needs a lot of work, although it is on its way! Love is the sort of agency I would aim to work for, so getting some feedback on my work means that I can keep improving it to meet the standard employers are looking for. After going through my portfolio Steve directed me to Pattrick to help me refine the messages in some of my work. Patrick is the copywriter and has a background in advertising. He suggested I made the together trust messages different from one another, with each design the viewer had something else to expect. I had never looked at it through this angle, it was great to get a fresh perspective from Patrick who deals with this work daily. We talked about how my work has a lot of advertising, with my final project also focused on an advertisement campaign. Patrick suggested a way to strengthen my portfolio in these areas was to write my own brief for an advertisement to a bigger named client. This was something I hadn't really ever considered, large companies such as Nike already have perfect designs to their name. Though Patrick explained it shows that I am up to date and will allow me to put my stamp on the companies. Also it will help if there are brand in my portfolio that people have heard of!

I wasn't overly confident with the way my final project was going, so one day I went through the work with Steve. He explained he liked the idea of getting lost with National Trust, although had seen the lost posters done before. He kindly suggested that I wasn't selling myself enough and to try something else. We discussed going back and starting my project from a different angle. At the time going back felt like the end of the world! I learnt similar to a 'live' brief, clients will ask you to start again and now was the ideal time to experience this. This meant going back to the drawing board, tying together previous ideas to come up with something new. I was very grateful to get Steve's opinion on my idea, I met my deadline though without his advice I probably would have pushed a crap idea for a long time!

Overall the experience was excellent, though it went by too quickly! I met some great people who I have since stayed in contact with and I learnt a lot in the process. One of the best things I came away from the 'residency' was confidence, originally I was a little nervous approaching placements and my work, though I have learnt everyone has to start somewhere. LOVE are a fantastic group who were always welcoming, we were always included as a part of the group such as an egg painting competition or invites to a kareoke night! I am thankful for the time we had there and was sad to leave!

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Together Trust, Graphic Volunteer/Portfolio Crit

I recently applied for a vacancy for an Art Worker/Graphic Designer at charity together trust. I worked with them through college and thought it would be a good opportunity to work with them again. After sending my application shortly after I received an invite from design and print coordinator Helen Bee to come work with them for three days. I was more than happy to go in, it would be excellent experience and an eye opener to what goes on for in-house design services. I really enjoyed my time and it has a great atmosphere. It was interesting to observe Helens role, she's brilliant at what she does, taking on all the in-house designs such as flyers, posters, brochures, information booklets, updating the website and much more. During my time I designed a fundraising poster for an event which has since then been featured in a local magazine, which is always good to hear! Helen also taught me about artwork and how they create their work using this feature. The time flew by, but I have been invited to go back during summer to gain more experience. I believe it will help me adjust after graduating and working for a charity will be very rewarding. I have also volunteered for a role as an event photographer, taking images of fun days and other activities. Photography is another of my interests so again it's a great opportunity to gain more experience and meet new people.

I had a portfolio visit with Helen during my second year so she was kind to suggest going through my work again to see how things had changed. Also on the last day Helen suggested I take time out to create a design CV with letterhead and business cards. The whole of the experience was very helpful and Helen went to great lengths to help with my work in anyway and gave me advice on how to approach placements/potential jobs/how to present a CV and write a cover letter. I started to feel as though she helped me during the three days more than I'd helped them by being in the office!
We went through my portfolio, with the usual explain every brief, then explaining the idea and outcome. Once I'd finished we went through the portfolio again and Helen gave her feedback. She agreed opening my portfolio with the together trust brief was ideal, as it went live it makes a good impression. We talked about how it was a shame we never got hold of photographs of the work out in the 'real world'. Helen suggested I put the designs into situe to show examples of how it went out, such as a banner on the bus, webpage, banners in Cheadle centre. I didn't really want to do a Photoshop version but if it helps get a clearer idea of what they looked like, then I'll definitely give it a go. The photography brief Helen had previously seen the three original designs, now that I narrowed it down to the strip design and the final outcome. It was interesting to see how the idea developed, although like many others she preferred the original idea. Helen liked that I have tactile objects for people to get up close too, such as the outside the box invites and the end sting flicker book. Which is a nice way of breaking away from the pages and making the experience different from page to page. She liked the freelance stuff and agreed it would be nice to also see these as another tactile part of the portfolio, maybe as postcards so I could hand them out at the end. She was very impressed with the YSP work and explained it was a great way to end my portfolio, the idea is current which employers are looking for. I asked her was there anything she would take out or anything it needed. She agreed it needs some sort of editorial design or logo, then it would have covered all areas. Looking at past d&ad briefs or writing my own brief on editorial work and doing it during my spare time would help strengthen the portfolio. In the summer I will be doing work with together trust so Helen explained she will find a brochure design or leaflet for me to do, to put towards my portfolio. We discussed the variety in my portfolio, Helen explained it's good to see something completely different on each page. In agencies employers will throw varieties of briefs at your daily and need to see that you can adapt. This will hopefully work in my favour because my portfolio covers most areas. We talked about how people find jobs, whether it is down to the person or the portfolio. It's a bit of both, even if you have the best portfolio in the world but you don't gel with the interviewer then you won't get the job.

I learnt a lot within the short three days at together trust and got a real insight into the company. In-house design in interesting because similar to the smaller design agencies you are taking on all projects with the creative side and some not as creative, all printing projects, they do everything. Helen has a small team of two in-house designers so it came across rewarding knowing they do everything! I'm looking forward to working with them again come summer!

The Partners, Portfolio Visit

My next visit was at The Partners, who are the largest and most awarded company in the UK. I have been on a studio visit to the New York office and was 'wowed' by them and recently took part in a brief for The Partners creative director Greg Quinton. So needless to say I was a little nervous, but excited! I met with senior designer Miranda Bolter and designer Alex Woolley. The Partners do brand strategy for clients with a unique creative twist. Previous to the visit I had to send Miranda my portfolio before hearing whether I was able to come in, so I was delighted when I received confirmation. The office was hidden down an alley in a courtyard, inside it was stylish decor with number 1's decorated across the wall and many d&ad black pencils all lined up.

I started the meeting by explaining where I was from, what I was doing in London, what work I hope to be heading for. I went through my portfolio explaining each brief and the solution and they commented throughout on pieces they liked. Afterwards they went back through the work explaining what they gathered in great detail.

To start off, the together trust brief they explained it was great to see work that won a pitch going out into the real world. Although Alex was unsure who the message was aimed towards. He thought the black and white colour suggested that the child had died, which is definitely not what I aimed for. The design needs to show colour to represent life, instead of having a dull black and white. The photography brief they both really liked the original idea 'truth' with the photo segments showing each of the students work. They prefered this rather than the final 'outside the box' design. I explained how the design had changed due to the clients wishes and they agreed they experience a lot of changes from clients every day. Miranda and Alex suggested rather than having something in my portfolio that I wasn't happy with and only had because it went 'live'. Finish the brief with my original idea, showcasing each of the photographers work folding into a flyer. I was surprised they really liked the freelance illustrations, it was fun and fit into the vintage theme nicely and left them wanting to see more! Miranda suggested using the actual cards to appear in my portfolio instead of an image on a page. A tactile object where people could look closely at the design would strengthen the brief. Miranda was really complimentary about the work and said she would love to see it with a logo with business cards and merchandise. She also suggested that During the next vintage fair I should take photos of the designs on a stall, making it feel more real. They were also very positive about the photo narrative brief, they liked the images although wanted to see more everyday unoticed moments photographs. We then discussed other ways of pushing the idea, Alex suggested getting people involved somehow and making it into a campaign. The public could send in their photos of these unoticed scenes, although this was something to think about! The Manchester Literature Festival poster; they liked the design although explained there was no idea to the design. Alex suggested I redo the design to show an idea within the punctuation patterns. The pattern could be spelling out words to suggest literature, the idea is still very open. They were very impressed with the York Sculpture Park brief and said they could see it working as a real campaign, which meant a lot! Alex suggested shrinking the type so the images were the main focus instead of the names taking over the page. They also suggested putting it into situe to show how else it could be used. I explained that I had been told recently not to use web design in my portfolio unless it actually got used. They disagreed and said showing how the design would be used as web design will strengthen my portfolio, it is a part of design that you would be expected to do in the future.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the visit was observing Miranda and Alex bounce off ideas on one another about my work, some blew me away. I found myself amazed that they could find an answer to some of my briefs so easily when it would have taken me months! It was an interesting experience chatting about my work with them and really appreciated.
The main point we discussed during the visit was to continue pushing my work, normally once I get a brief I complete it then move on to the next. A great way to learn is to continue pushing the work, instead of taking on new briefs carry on with the old ones. No piece of work is ever perfect! It is important not to let a client hold you back with ideas, so I really need to start having some fun with my work! We also talked about my portfolio and the variety, it was reassuring to hear that this will work in my favour. I have captured each of the briefs in the right way knowing how to present each of the clients. Yet still have some work in there that captures my own personality, which they assured was good to see. I asked whether there was anything I could add to the portfolio to cover all areas, such as a logo, brochure design. They explained not to put work in purely to just have a logo/brochure piece in there. See where the brief takes you, it is important to have a reason before putting anything in your portfolio. We also discussed how to approach finding work/placements once graduating, Alex explained when he left university he wrote a list of his top places to work. So you have an idea of what you want to reach, aim higher and get as much experience as possible. Miranda explained that when she graduated she never thought she would end up doing packaging, although when it came round to it she surprised herself and loved it. Get any experience which is thrown your way and you will have a clearer idea of where you want to end up.

It was a fantastic visit; the time flew by although I ended up having an hour with Miranda and Alex, which I was very grateful. It was reassuring that designers as established as themselves were positive about my work and I came away with some excellent advice which I know will help me from here.

1977 Design, Portfolio Visit

For my next visit I arranged a portfolio crit with agency 1977 Design, who are an ideas based company specializing in arts and entertainment. They have been together since 1977, explaining the name, with 34 years’ experience they are brilliant at what they do. Situated in a stylish part of Islington I met with partner Paul Bailey. We started off by talking about 1977 background and my own, what experience I had and where I aiming to be. 1977 are a small agency of four, we talked about the company growing and similar to Magpie, Paul Bailey explained that the team found it much more rewarding taking on all of the work. They were an agency of no none designers and always had been. Paul showed me around the studio and it was interesting to see that all of the desks were facing one another. They do not want anyone hiding in a corner or facing a wall, they face each other so they are constantly interacting as a team. I thought this was a brilliant idea, there was nowhere to hide! I can imagine being faced to one another in a large agency maybe being more tense, but in a small group it had a very relaxed, friendly almost homely vibe!

I went through my portfolio explaining the brief and then talking through the idea and outcome. Paul commented on pieces of my work, such as things he found interesting or general questions about the brief. Afterwards we went through the portfolio again with Paul’s feedback. The first comment he had was on the information part of writing in the corner of my portfolio layout. Paul explained that I should lay it out as Brief = with a description of the project. Solution = in detail of my reaction and the idea, then Result = description of the final outcome. I usually keep the information minimal with only the brief description and solution, so I am able to explain the work thoroughly myself. Paul suggested that some people will read the information whether or not I explain it so it is important to have all the details on the page. He explained that having together trust as my opening page, followed by the photography brief was ideal as it starts a good impression because they were both winning pieces. He suggested that it would help to see the together trust live photo's as the final outcome. I explained I had problems getting hold of images, he agreed this often happens with clients. It is important to always ask for the photos beforehand and be a little demanding! Going through each project Paul was very positive about my work. I told him before to be as critical as possible, although he was very kind and reassuring. It was surprising Paul liked my Chanel end sting brief, normally this is something that people tend to be unsure of. He explained he could see my idea and I had represented Chanel in the right way. You can be very limited with a big name with Chanel, so the idea explains them perfectly. He explained that it was good to see tactile parts in my portfolio, such as the flicker book and the photography invite for people to interact with. He suggested taking out the Greg Quinton poster, he felt it was the weakest piece with no idea. I never know what to say when it comes to talking about this design, so I totally agreed. He also suggested narrowing down the photo narrative to four images over two pages instead of the three pages. This again seemed so obvious, whenever it comes to talking about the photo’s I always find three pages too much to go through. One of the most important things we discussed was the flow of my portfolio, he explained that the order of each piece of work was good but could be improved. He explained it is important to have different theme projects after one another. He moved all of my work around and explained the order. The chain goes Typographic - Illustrated -Photography - Illustrated - Graphic - Photography - Graphic - Photography. I had never put too much thought into the order so this was extremely helpful. He explained that the starting point and finish of your portfolio are the two briefs which will make an impression on the client. Always end with your strongest because this is the project which will be fresh in their memory when you leave. My YSP project was the ideal one to finish on as it is very current and is the strongest piece. I asked Paul whether there were any other changes he would make, he explained developing the Manchester Literature poster, showing how it would work is other mediums, such as brochures, leaflets or perhaps a webpage. One thing he suggested my portfolio needed was an ident/logo, this is an area my portfolio is lacking. I am in the middle of doing a freelance job to design a logo for a family optician. Paul agreed that once that is complete it would help strengthen my portfolio and again show it across various mediums, such as letterheads, emails, webpage, stationary and so on.

To round up we went through some tips Paul had on finding placements/jobs anything! When graduating, he suggested to carry on making portfolio visits to make contacts. Also it's always good to get different advice to keep on improving your work. He explained to send my portfolio to anywhere and everywhere, if people don't always get back to you ring them to chase up. I have often tried this technique but when I hear nothing back I think they mustn’t have liked it and do nothing. Paul said in most cases the designers download your portfolio but are too busy too even look at it, it is important to make the phone call because it shows you are dedicated and interested so they will have a lot more time for you. He also suggested getting experience wherever it comes along, even if I have an idea of where I want to end up. You may just surprise yourself, so it is important to try everything, it will also strengthen your Cv and you never know who you might meet along the way.

It was an excellent Visit and very helpful, I was grateful for Paul taking time out to rearrange my portfolio, which is something that will help me in the future. It was interesting to visit a smaller agency and again this began to appeal to me even more. Being a part of a 'family' and being valued seemed worthwhile, though this goes without saying I would not want to rule anything out. One extra thing I learnt from this visit was not to be afraid to ask about placements; originally I thought it was too cheeky so never asked. Paul said if I am in London come summer then to get in touch and they will see what they have available. Which would be an amazing opportunity, to gain experience working in the centre of design. This confirmed that it is far from cheeky, asking shows that you are interested and eager to learn.