Friday, 24 September 2010

Primary Sources Update: Emails (More)

More feedback from the emails I sent out this time from James Mckay. He seems really friendly and I managed to have a bit of banter with him in the emails I sent which was really nice, I think I'm going to at some point as him for some professional design advice about my portfolio. The work at Tank is very much what I would like to do, very strong identity based with a breadth of application and clientele.

Hi Carl,

Here's an answer for you. I'd just like to point out that I am not the studio owner here at Tank and that these are my personal views. Though of course I have been influenced by practice here at Tank.

On retaining individuality:
When answering any design brief it is important to do as much research as you can. You need to research companies in your client's field to see what's out there, and this will help you create something that will stand out. I also search for general visual inspiration so I can then create a moodboard – this really helps me with the visual direction of the work which follows. But I am constantly collecting (more like hoarding) visual inspiration whenever I see it – it's so important to keep your eyes open. I think it's important to expose yourself to the work of others to keep inspiring yourself – no-one can work in a world void of visual stimulus.

It's vital to a design project's success to engage with and fully understand your client and their brief. Each client has different needs and ambitions, and the purpose of a design project is to meet these highly specific needs. So therefore each piece of work you create must be unique in order to do your job properly!

It's also incredibly important to make decisions throughout the design process. You will need to present the thinking which led to the design solution you present to a client. A client might not like the fact that you used one colour here or another there, but if you have an overall scheme in mind it's easier to defend your work and hopefully persuade them to accept the visual decisions you have made.

On copyright:
I can put my hand on my heart and say that I do not breach copyright in my work. It's very important to check licensing agreements and/or contracts before using photography or illustration.

I left Scotland with a few projects in my portfolio which my previous employer didn't want out in the public domain, yet they were projects I wanted to show to potential employers here in Norway. I solved this by adding the projects to my website behind a login page and only logging into these pages in interviews, and of course not leaving the login details behind when I left. I spoke to my previous boss about it and agreed on this solution before going ahead with it.

As for other people copying my own work, perhaps I only see it as a form of flattery?! Web design is by it's very nature totally public – I get a kick out of seeing something I create live for the world to use. I'm confident in my integrity as a designer to create original works which answer a design brief.

On more design in the world:
The explosion and continuous sophistication of online content is something I find incredibly exciting. To work in the field of web/ digital design is an amazing place to be just now. Some days I feel overloaded with visual inspiration, but on the other hand I now have access to an incredible array of visual work spanning many disciplines through sites like Behance, ffffound and almost too many others to mention.

I absolutely think online exposure opens up new opportunities. Working as a freelancer ten years ago was a completely different story from today. Now you can find clients online through networks and recommendations on LinkedIn, video conference them for free with Skype, email files back and forth or share them online through Dropbox, manage your projects and log your time online with sites like Active Colab and Basecamp, and tap into any number of sites, blogs and twitter feeds for information or advice about just about anything.

I actually think that truly "unique" design or visual style is incredibly hard to achieve or discover. Illustrators like Genevieve Gauckler developed their style for years to bring fresh new visuals into the world, only for the style to run on one campaign and thereafter seem like old news. And that's very exhausting. I think that "unique" design shouldn't be the holy grail for your design work – rather effectiveness. For all the ego-boosting and back-slapping that goes on at design awards ceremonies, your real aim should be to help your clients be the best they can be, to build relationships with them that can help to sustain your workflow, and to build your reputation by doing good work. And by doing it on time

And thank you again James, sounds like you almost enjoyed writing on this subject.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Primary Sources Update: Emails

I decided I had to get a head start on collecting my primary research if I was to complete this dissertation without giving myself a headache. I emailed about just over half a dozen agencies asking for some creative banter on the subject of originality. I have two responses so far with one of them complete and one awaiting. I emailed Michael Lewis who is head of Art direction and founder of studio MikMik a Graphic design and illustration studio in Saltaire. Their work is very much print based with some gorgeous identity design inbetween.

[Above & Below]: Yo Yo Café Bar
Illustrations and menus.

[Above]: Kirkgate Centre identity and business stationary.
[Below]: Area: A little inspiration.

I've decided I'll try and get some more primary sources of research by asking more agencies, I've also decided I may be a good idea to email past students, as they may be a bit more forthcoming when it comes to students asking for research.

Hi Michael,

I’m a final year student at the Leeds College of Art collecting some research for my dissertation. If it’s not too much to ask I’d really appreciate if I could have your thoughts on these few questions. I’m looking at the concept of originality and whether it is possible to be truly original within Graphic Design in particular looking at digital design in illustration and design for web.

As a practicing studio, working on new briefs would obviously require research possibly leading to looking at other existing pieces of design, do you feel that in your practice you are still able to retain the individuality without relying on other designers and your own previous work to create something new?

Early on in my career I used to find myself, like most designers, turning to my current design book of choice or the latest periodical for inspiration. I think it has to be understood though that what we are looking for is not an idea to take away but a glimpse of something that may spark an idea. It could be a colour, a shape, a form, a technique, a style, etc. These days I tend to turn less and less to graphic design books. I look for inspiration elsewhere, in art, product design, architecture, fashion, nature, etc. Inspiration is everywhere you choose to look for it.

As a designer working on digital projects have you ever found that with your work entering the public domain that you put it at risk of being copied or at worse in breach of copyright?

There is always a risk of copyright infringement when work is put online. The Studio MIKMIK website has been directly copied 4 times (that I know of!) and on each occasion I have had to notify the other parties of my copyright to the design. In one case a company had paid a designer to create a website and the designer had simply copied the Studio MIKMIK site and replaced the content. Needless to say the company in question was not pleased when I brought this to their attention.

In the future with more and more design coming onto the world do you feel there is more competition to create new design that is unique or does it open up more opportunities?

I was at a lecture last night by Jonathan Sands, chairman of Elmwood. In his lecture he quoted Jerry Garcia (of The Grateful Dead), who said — “You do not merely want to be considered just the best of the best. You want to be considered the only ones who do what you do". This is very apt, there will always be competition in design, these days more than ever, and so the best way to stand out is to be unique.

Thank you for your help and time, all the best.

Carl Holderness

And thank you again Mike, this will be really useful.

Dissertation: New Proposal

I've decided that although my dissertation doesn't require that I start a blog or make use of one that I will use this space to make notes for my dissertation this should allow me to document my progress.
From working on an essay last year which looked at the subject of greenwashing in particluar looking at the food industry I did decide to continue this on. I looked at various books but found that I had pretty much exhausted the subject very early on and to be honest it was never going to keep my attention.
So I've decided to start again, I decided to look at originality in particular looking at design in identity and web design. Some writings which I had looked at previously have come in good use the Lucienne Roberts text Good: An Introduction to Ethics in Graphic Design, and Malcolm Bernard's Graphic Design as Communication.
I intend to look at ways in which Graphic Design is produced, in particular digital design and how through this process whether by using abstract language, imagery or a composition of both, the design process is a often a regurgitation of something before it. Digital design is now much more accessible, technologies for the production of design are now readily available at home, and with the internet taking design by storm it is now far easier to share and find design using the Web. I therefore intend to look at this issue relating to specific examples in digital graphic design in particular digital illustration and web design. To answer the question, is it possible to create something original that is not derived from the process of unravelling designer’s work before it?
With the subject now much more relevant to my own practice I feel this will help benefit me much more in my final year. I have also detailed a couple of new primary sourse including the Computer Arts: Graduate Showcase this week, although I have identitfied this as a primary source I may have trouble reaching London, I will however try to email the speaker Richard Tilley of Artillery design to see if he can give me any helpful bits of information.

Friday, 8 January 2010

1500 Word Essay Subject: Greenwashing

Greenwashing is a term used to describe advertising through false representations of being 'green'. In my area of graphic design I aim to look at consumer food retail graphic design in particular of packaging and branding where competition is most fierce and how their advertising and image is crutial to their turnover.
Is it effective? Subconcious? Are people aware? If so do they actively seek out consumer goods which reflect their ambitions to be part of something better than other products? Looking in particular at larger entities such as the Co-operative Group down to products such as Kenco's Refill packs, to which I aim to looks at its success and how greenwashing is applied. Recent documentaries such as Channel 4's Revenge of the Bin Men could be prevented with help from not just proper packaging but making consumers correctly aware.

[Below]: Recent advertisement for the Co-operative group showing their newest slogan 'good for everyone'.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Lecture 6: Globalisation, Sustainability & the Media

The three main focus points to understand of this lecture:
1. Globalisation
2. Geopolitics
3. Dream Philosophy

This Lecture seemed to have a deep political underbelly which I found hard to grasp. Globalisation can be seen in two ways, the Socialist point of view where societies work together in both an industrial and cultural way and Capitalist where restrictions on business are removed. But a large part of globalisation is influenced by western culture regardless. Culture globalisation of western ideas is especially controversial when it come to race, is it true that west is more dominant over east? We in the west seek to be more 'cultured' whereas the people in the east could seek to become more like the west due to their technological advancements. Western culture globalisation could be seen in race where skin lightening creams are used in asian culture to be more like white people, this would surely support ideas on the 'White Beauty Myth', which I recently looked at in a Channel 4 documentary. Culture globalisation especially in the way of technology is becoming an extension of our senses in the way how we human interact with the world around us today, everything is influenced by technology and in doing so has made us more aware of the world itself and our responsibilities. Through this economic rationalisation and cultural dominance of westernisation, our comodities are built without concern inspite of their 'good intent' and so we hear about these everyday, such as the cutting down of trees to make tissue paper or Ikea pencils. Hence the Global Village Thesis, information at your fingertips, the internet and information readily available at your fingertips, mass production and the world in a form of economic unity.
Eventually the lecture bagan to look at the theory of green washing a form of media ideology used to disguise the reality and appear more 'Green'. Mcdonald's is a fantastic example, their recent visual style turning subtley using greens now within their interior and exterior decor, to somehow appear more friendly to the environment, ultimately luring customers as an environmentally friendly option to their competitors.

The idea nowadays of using green on packaging especially in Graphic Design become less about what is real, most packaging is still harmful to the environment and ends up in landfill. to quote the richard in the lecture, "Most things are not designed for the needs of people but for the manufacturer of the needs of people." Simply using the term recycable somehow translates to people that something is good? Earth tones, sans serif type, unbleached paper, and emotional messaging are essential components of the deceptive marketing techniques employed by corporations that rebrand their products. "Be selfish while appearing progressive," the unknowing consumer. These ideals are western based and so through countries seeking to modernise through cultural imperialisation take on these western principles of being falsely 'Green'.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Lecture 5: Reality, Virtuality & Hyperreality

Out of all the lectures we have done this was the most hard to understand of them all, discussing the effect of the collapse of ideas of modern utopianism in the vietnam war, consumerism, colonialism,the cold war and the watergate scandal. In all honesty I did not understand.
The lecture looked at representation on the idea of a simulacra, an example would be paintings and religious depictions Jesus, which could be construed as an imitation of life looking at life beyond death, a sudo-reality. These depictions create icons which in graphic design terms could be used as a persuasion to make something appeal to a certain point of view, like in semiotics. The point being that inspite being unrealistic they are continuing depictions of iconography, wishful thinking. Another example of a simulacra is Disney depictions of life such as the castle, it is in fact a world of appearance where there is no visual reality, except of course for the real castle which is based on the fictional idea of the Disney castle. It is a version of reality which exists within a real world, yet its still remains fictional because it is not real. BigBrother could also be seen as a version of reality, the way we live our modern life can be viewed almost as if we were above in a different reality watching another.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Lecture 4: Communications Theory

For this particular lecture is focused on a variety of theories in critical thinking and some information seemed to prove useful on looking at methodologies of communication for the dissertation and the essay this year. It was interesting, the lecture was opened with the quote, "Who says what to whom in what channel with what effect." (Lassnfle's Maxim) summing up the lecture as a whole about picking out and understanding an image or form of communication.

The theories of communication that we looked at were:
1. Cybernetic Theory
2. Semiotics
3. Phenomological Tradition
4. Rhetorical
5. Sociopsychological
6. Sociocultural
7. Critical Communication Theory

Having looked at semiotics last year as an idea of studying hidden signs and such to convey images both consciously and sub-consciously I had a good understanding of this already, looking in the lecture at examples such as packaging of medicine and how the language and complex structures of wording make something seem more structured and sophisticated. Also looking at foreign food produce which when bought in britain seems to which the consumer believes is a more 'cultured' and sophisticated product, having looked at semiotics last year i feel i have a good grasp and appreciate the idea that signs and such may be hidden within advertising but as a consumer myself I find the idea that advertising contain hidden, sometimes sexual imagery, hard to believe.
One of the other subjects that I thought of as interesting which was new to myself was Cybernetics Theory. This design this theory although quite hard to explain looks at effective communication in design and how the process from design, to media outlet to audience is made. One of the key elements which was discussed was the concept of 'noise' which can interfere with the process and often confuse or create a different perception. Whether this be deliberate and link to the idea of greenwashing I thought this was quite interesting how the idea of noise and deliberate side-tracking could be used to disguise reality.

Phenomological Tradition and Rhetorical both deal with some degree of personification and are theorys which i found very interesting and somewhat agree with. Relating specifcally to the viewer and particular personal experiences i am very interested in design that is personal but in mass production which somehow forms a unique connection to the viewer which is made to entice. Rhetorical theory where use of propeganda is used to persuade people through point of view useing rhetorical imagery such as charities where a sympathy vote connection to the viewer is used. This connection can be used even though it may bear no connection to the actual viewer an example would be playing an advert about the RSPCA dog appeal even though the some of the audience doesn't even have a dog it automatically taps into audience by creating links from previous experience or memory maybe not even to do with a dog but even a pet cat.
Among other theorys the lecture was really interesting.

[Below]: Tapping into a sociocultural use of advertising, Yorkshire being the definition of a sociocultural context associating the product with a place which creates 'good' association of the brand based on the audiences personal experience. It is how the world shapes us and how the world is perceived to us.

[Useful External References]:
Semiotics - The language of Medicine - B.E Litowitz (1991), Semiotic Perspectives on Clinical Theory and Practice: Medicine, Neuropsychiatry, and Psychoanalysis (Approaches to Semiotics)
Cybernetic Theory - AdBusters -
Rhetorical - The Star - The Inescapable sales pitch