I am currently privileged enough to be working in higher education teaching 16-19 year olds about Graphic Design. After a tough couple of years for myself I really have found something that I not only love doing, but actively can’t wait to get into work to do. Each and every personality I work with has their own little quirks and this makes the day run a little more smoothly and with a heightened sense of enjoyment.
These guys are experiencing some of the most fantastic opportunities that they can ever have, they aren’t cynical enough to find the flaws in the industry, they are supremely talented and more to the point have got me passionate about design once again. The fact that they have a raw approach to designing and are not limited by their imagination has made me realise just how vital the next generation of designers are to the world.
In the tough times that we live in financially at the moment, their task of being allowed to convey a creative message is incredibly hard, somewhat proportionate to the risks that the wider industry it unwilling to take.
How best for these designers to approach the wider design industry? The same way that they approach their briefs today; with unbridled imagination and creativity. In some ways I really wish that there were a local creative talent pool that could offer the students a chance in the industry, building their own consultancies and agencies - there are too many closed shop design agencies these days who rely on a couple of senior designers and a high turnover of junior designers.
It has led me to question my positioning as a designer, is there something I can do to help in this type of situation? What could be offered? Needless to say that this is an ongoing question that over the next year or two I will try to find the answer to.
I will endeavor to showcase some of the students work here to let you inside their creativity which hopefully will reward them in future with the careers that they deserve.
Each of them have made me passionate about design again, and I do not know if they realise what a positive impact this has had on all aspects of my life, and I hope that I can continue to impact on theirs.
Thanks for reading.
Credit to WarmGun
Seriously this? Really? Unless there is some sort of amazing revelation of how this may work on a wider branding exercise i’m sorry I just don’t feel it.
With Facebook being the favourite social networking site perhaps it’s Myspace’s way of generating column inches, but seriously does anyone even use that site any more???
Let me know what you think, and no it’s not April 1st, this is really happening.
At the moment my first year students are learning about the importance of grid systems and typography whilst designing a magazine front page and double page editorial. This got me thinking about when I learnt the importance of grid systems within my design work.
I undertook my degree at Glamorgan University, and before you say where? let me tell you that they now have an amazing design campus in the centre of Cardiff, and the guys that taught me design there have been some of the most influential people in my life, both personally and as a designer. But it wasn’t until the beginning of my second year of the degree that I learnt a very good lesson about the use of grids in design.
The project in question was for the hotel chain Malmaison, and it was to create an interactive experience for hotel guests to find out more about the hotel chain. As I never took a foundation course, I went straight from finishing my A Levels into university and in some ways this was a great display of trust in me from my lecturer Gareth, and the potential he saw in me as a designer. You see, I wasn’t the most outlandish designer, but I came from a background of engineering and technical drawing, and this gave a different slant to my designing. I didn’t fear doing something different, because at this moment I didn’t focus on what I couldn’t do and took each experience as a learning curve and my designing really did become different to those around me.
As such, the hangover from my technical drawing background meant that I understood the importance of spacial awareness in my designing, making sure that elements had a hierarchy and were visually balanced. However as I developed over my first year I started to become a bit looser with my designing, and the culmination of this was the start of the second year and the Malmaison project. I made it look artsy, using typography and images, and forgot about the fundamental importance of the conventions of design.
Cut a long story short, I got destroyed in the critique. I worked myself to the bone to create a lovely artistic solution, but forgot about all the basics.
This really made an impact on me as you can probably tell, and it was a lesson that I have learnt from and to this day will always focus on the basics of layout before focusing on making something look pretty.
It was a turning point in my fledgling design career at that point and to have someone that I respected as much as Gareth give me such a bollocking, I knew I needed to go back to my roots.
I can only put across how important it is to make design clear and legible before anything else. Without this principle, you lose the the fundamental purpose of what you’re designing, which is to communicate effectively, to everyone, not just to show off and be pretentious, design should never exclude.
Pokemon in 3D by Tibori Design.
Previously on Game and Graphics:
[ Super Mario Bros in 3D ]
This is so so cool! Takes me back to my childhood - but I wish they would remake it this way now after seeing it!
Right, as everyone usually throws blog recommendations out on a ‘follow Friday’ i’ve decided to be a bit different. So here it is, my first SUPERSTAR SATURDAY!
Starting today and every Saturday i’m going to be giving a shout out to some of the best followers in the world, now if you aren’t here this week, do not fret, I have plenty of blogs that I love so check back next week!
……you never know, this whole ‘Superstar Saturday’ might just catch on!
I made the collage for a project, simply out of envelopes and brown paper. Then I added some effects on photoshop with some images I had taken. :)
Nay is one of my students, she used this to make a BE-AUTIFUL solution to a clothing company design brief.
Cover for a leaflet promoting the graphics course that I had 5 minutes to produce before the open evening yesterday. Not the best…….
The easy answer is probably.
You see, I love design. Properly love it. When i’m out and about I analyse things I see, remember things that may influence stuff I do in future, and talk about it a hell of a lot. But I have this nagging doubt now that the things I used to like, which used to influence me, just don’t anymore.
For example, Kidrobot. Now don’t get me wrong I loved this stuff, you wouldn’t have found anyone more excited when they had a pop up shop in Selfridges in London, or when I found out they were actually opening a London store. However, I don’t want any of it anymore. I look at the Dunny ranges, and feel uninspired with them, i don’t care for them any more. Designers like Huck Gee, even though I would be (and have been in the past) destroyed for saying my reaction to his work is ‘meh’, I really feel that designers like this are living of their reputation, and are being far from creative anymore. What was once fun and different has been replaced with mundane repetition. I use Huck Gee as an example because this guy could spit on a piece of paper and some
fools collectors would pay exorbitant amounts for it. They are buying ‘Huck Gee’ rather than buying what they like.
Now I am not saying for one minute that I don’t think that Huck Gee isn’t a good designer, just one that has found his style, settled into a routine, churns out a few limited or one off pieces, sticks them on ebay, and makes a fortune. He then dishes out designs for the blind boxes, of which none have blown me away for a few years. I mean, if you could do that, make the money, then we all would - I just feel that this sends the wrong message out to up and coming designers.
I would never encourage my students to play it safe with design. Design is about taking risks, thats why we are designers. If I wanted to play it safe, or for them to play it safe I would tell them to go and work in Tesco. As a designer it is the opportunity to inspire those around you with your work and creativity that should drive you forwards. To not play it safe and to set trends and develop them rather than replicate and follow trends.
A designer I knew very well, when overlooked for a position within a consultancy that offered me a position actually said to me ‘Why did they offer YOU a job, I’m a much better designer than you?’. I have never forgot this, and it still pushes my creativity to this day. The simple answer is that I took risks. I didn’t care if someone told me my end product was crap, as long as I was happy that I had produced something that was my own, oh it may well have had influences from other designers, but the key was to have it inform and direct my own creativity, than than try to replicate what I wanted to produce in their style. This is what the other designer used to do. Take whatever was flavour of the month design-wise with them, and shoehorn it in whatever they were working on. Well of course their end product was supremely polished, because they knew what it should look like. Design should be about breaking new ground, opening up new experiences to the masses and encouraging others to explore their creativity. You should be exploring you own end product, and there is nothing more exciting, but fear-inducing as the halfway stage in a project where you don’t know whether its going to turn out ok or not.
Which leads me back to my original question, do I think I am a design snob?
Well for all intents and purposes, yes, possibly, probably. Do I care? Not really.
I wish that sometimes that some areas of the design industry would take the chip off their shoulder, the one that rubs so many ‘non-designers’ up the wrong way. Yes we can all laugh at the amateur use of comic sans, or clip art in someone’s design, but when all is said and done, they don’t need an ‘expert’ to patronise them. They know they aren’t designers, thats why they approach design agencies to assist them and their businesses, but on the token, this is why people are going it alone and not consulting design agencies. I know many people who have been patronised and belittled when dealing with ‘well-known’ consultancies, made to feel stupid, and forced into going along with the ‘style’ of the consultancy. This is where I feel ashamed to have been a part of this industry, people don’t trust designers, not like they used to. People are more informed these days and rightly can make an informed decision about the direction of their project. There is an air of arrogance that surrounds many designers, who find their own self importance much more of a concern than the needs of Mr Smith the local butcher who wants to revamp his business, but to maintain his heritage, snow ploughing him into things he may not have the fortitude to disagree with, considering they are the ‘professionals’.
Now I am not saying that I have not been guilty of this in the past, because I have been. You almost get pushed to be self confident to a fault in an agency, and because there is such an atmosphere of self competition, it can cause many issues to arise. I left the mainstream industry and I am totally glad that I did. I would not like to become the person I found myself becoming whilst working in the industry ever, and I would rather be snobby about design, and what I like and dislike within design than to think I knew better than everyone else. It is my opinion on design which matters to me, it isn’t my place to tell others what good and bad design is, we are created to be objective, and thats what everyone should be. Just because I don’t like comic sans, doesn’t mean you are wrong to like it…….
but you are.
I don’t know where I stand within design anymore, have I hit a point where the design cycle is passing me by and I am starting to get fed up of current trends? Maybe. All I know is that each and every day I find something new that I love, every day seeing something different, created by some of the most creative people in the world. Do I care that I won’t be fawning over Huck Gee’s new releases? Not at all, but then again, he probably doesn’t care what I think either.
I have to say that if I look into a crystal ball at the moment my future is as foggy as it has been outside for the past few days. Lots of things in the future hinge on external forces and situations, none of which are quite predictable at the moment. This led me to ponder, what options do I have?
Well, the most obvious is to continue teaching, but after teaching the subject I am currently, I doubt that returning to a school environment will enrich my life and ultimately feel like a step backwards, at a time when I have found a new lease on life. The pressures and demand that working in a high school place on someone is phenomenal and I just don’t know whether I could emotionally, physically and mentally cope with that kind of pressure any more. Which begs the question where would I go from there?
The fact that I have been out of the mainstream design industry for almost 4 years now seems like a huge hurdle in returning. I have the privilege of seeing up and coming designers first hand at the moment, and for any designer it truly is intimidating. The level of enthusiasm, skill and creativity they display and possess questions whether I could actually be successful in returning to the design industry, a relic of times past, not ‘fresh’ enough to succeed. Of course I have kept my fingers dipped in design, and I pretty much live and breathe it, but is it enough?
I always have maintained that there is something there for me, I feel that there is something I am meant to succeed in, but my fear is that it will pass me by without me even noticing. I have this emptiness that I know something big is meant to fill. I would quite happily continue with the job I am currently in forever, because it is the most fulfilling job I have ever had, I enjoy going in, I enjoy delivering subject matter I am actually interested in, and to see the young, hungry designers delivering the amazing results they do make everything worthwhile.
I have never had the passion to be famous, I think mentally I would struggle to deal with the demands of such notoriety, but I would like to feel respected in my field. I may never get the opportunity to feel that. It is the thought of this unfulfilment that saddens me, the thought that the only things that I have actually had any success in may not be enough and that my life drifts by, moments lost in a sea of disappointment and unfulfilment. This time next year I could have no job, no enjoyment and no direction, hell in 3 months time I could have all these things, or not as the case may be, and I admit, it scares me. It scares me a lot. I have to carry on though, keep going, because when I look back over the past two years, nothing could ever be that bad again, I could never return to the places I once took refuge, and worry those around me so much ever again. When people say you should never look back, only forward, these people must have never ever been through anything as such, because looking back is what drives you forward, praying never to let what once was such a darkness, turn out the light you carry now.
So, here’s to the future, whatever it may bring.
The award the packaging won was part of the Cardiff Design Festival, so go have a look what could have won, and marvel at the fact that the Gower Cottage Brownies packaging wasn’t even shortlisted.
This is an in-progress of one of my students ‘Information Graphics’ projects, which was still on my photoshop after we played around with some textures.
They are making a ‘How to Bake a Cake’ info booklet that will fold downwards like a concertina, using simplistic instructions and stylised illustrations it will be a fun and simple way of communicating this skill.
Should be fabulous!