More News From the Front

I have been working on this single blog post for weeks now, on and off, and im finally going to post it, in time for a blog specifically about my time working on the match days of the autumn season.

The last few weeks have been interesting! a lot of it has been business as usual, with the gradual ramping up to the autumn series. Everyone at work is telling me its going to get really, really manic when the big international games start but so far I’m feeling cautiously confident and (so far) still on top of my list of things to do, but I’ll write about that as it happens over the next month.  For now, here are a few specific moments of note from the last couple weeks on placement

Trip to the National Centre of Excellence 

Very soon after writing my last blog, I visited the WRU’s National Centre of Excellence in Newport, where the national team does its training in preparation for international competitions. The reason for our visit was two fold; for one, there were plans to redecorate the training gym and atmosphere room there ready for the senior men’s team to train for the six nations games. This was kind of amazing to see. The visit involved going into the gym and atmosphere room itself with the senior designer and a sign printer, measuring it all up, and then liaising with the folks in charge of the NCE (some very very large, ex rugby player types). It was a very valuable experience because it taught me some of the more practical levels of the job; like the physicality of a design and how differences in design translate to cost and man hours to construct in person. I also witnessed how to deal with a real life client, and a client that was especially not interested in any grand designs at that. Unfortunately, after hearing about the amount of work and the price tag involved in the idea we had put together ready to pitch to them, the decision was made to just paint the walls black. Theres valuable lessons to be learned there about the realities of design and how factors such as money and physical can impact artistic direction.

The other reason for our visit was that there was a photoshoot of a few of the players using the indoor sports arena on site. I unfortunately was not allowed to take any photographs of this myself, but I did get to see first hand how professional photoshoots operate. There was actually two rugby photo shoots in operation at the same time; ours, and that of a partner sports wear producer, and as it turns out, one set of rugby players with one set of rugby wear. so there was a lot of swapping of resources, with lots of runners moving products back and forth. It was very interesting to learn about. There was also a lot of dominos pizza ordered and left on a table for everyone. Yum.

Continuing to write this blog now, I can reveal that I was at the shoot for the new kit that was as then unreleased. pretty cool, huh?

Staff Conference

I attended the company wide staff conference last week. Whilst it was a day away from practicing design, it was insightful in just learning more about the nature of office work, something I have actually been on a steep learning curve for so far.

The day consisted of a couple team building activities followed by a few talks. Admittedly I wasn’t particularly a huge fan of one of the team building activities; but only because it was singing, and only because it was singing the welsh national anthem (which I had somehow never heard before).  More importantly, I sat in for conference talks on how the macro operations of the company. Whilst this wasn’t all directly relevant to my design practice, it was useful for some insight into how such a large company like the WRU works on a macro scale.

Santa Tours


I was put in charge of my own project over the last couple months! Since around October I’ve been put in charge of creating all assets for the Santa Tours scheme ( a tour of the stadium accompanied with an experience for kids with Santa). This whole project required me to liaise with the marketing department as well as the person running the whole operation from the tours department as a single cog in a much larger machine. Ill do an overview of the whole project at its termination.

Coming next… my experiences working on match days this month. 



Month One

The first month of my internship at the Welsh Rugby Union has gone by in a flash.

In my first couple weeks I felt totally out of my depth; I always thought I was fairly technically proficient before I started, and what I already knew certainly helped, but just the speed that projects are turned around in the design dept; as a guideline my mentor advised me to aim for at least 5 projects output a day; I think in the first week i was getting through about one or two; partly because of my lack of experience doing things quickly, and partly because of my lack of knowledge on the house styles. I got speedy quick, though. Im not as quick as I should be quite yet, but I’m improving every day and pumping out projects with increased hustle whilst retaining some of the meticulousness you need (although don’t be holding me to that quite yet.)

So far I have undertaken a wide range of projects; lots of internal stuff like email save-the-dates and conference leaflets, as well as larger projects such as a 40 page media guide for the welsh premiership. More recently, Ive been somewhat taking the lead with a project to promote the tour department’s Christmas Santa’s Grotto; its mainly replacing elements in last year’s artwork and updating some of the copy but I am dealing with the tours dept. myself. Its a small thing; it just means I deal with amends and direction personally, and have the odd small meeting with the head of the tour dept; its helping me learn how to communicate best with a client in other words.

I’ve also learned a lot about working as part of a design team on a larger project when putting things together for some versus images involving cut- outs from members of the welsh national team vs other teams playing us in the autumn series. I’ve included an image from this series. I didn’t make the artwork itself on this; that was handled by another designer, but I imaged searched, cut out and composed players into the artwork, and assembled all of them into a InDesign master document, before handing that off to someone else to input stats. In uni, I hated working in teams for things; there was never a good distribution of tasks so things always ended up falling on a small group of people to get done, and there was never clear leadership, which always seems to translate to poor artistic direction in design. This isn’t a problem working in the more well oiled WRU design team; its a joy to take things in and hand them off again; things can actually get done quite quickly.

Either way its been a fantastic month, I have gone from feeling (and being) almost completely useless to the point of literally being a liability in the work place to someone who can actually get things done. Ive learned loads so far, and theres still so much time. I may even come out of this a competent graphic designer yet.

I did a quick search for things I’d personally done that have gone up on the internet (Theres not loads; I do a lot of internal things at the moment, and a lot of stuff that isn’t internal is yet to be released to the public yet anyway), its a couple odd jobs for the women’s leagues, as well as an example of one of the head to head artworks done earlier. All pulled from online sources so Im definitely not spilling the beans on anything!!


Summer, and going forward.

Towards the end of last year, I applied for a internship position at the Welsh Rugby Union, in their marketing team working at the Millennium stadium. I thought “hey; it sounds pretty cool; it would be nice to make some money that way, and it would likely make getting a job post graduation much easier.” But I think if I had known I would actually get it, I would have been too scared to apply! Thankfully, I didn’t know I would get it, so I did apply, and I did get it.

Consequently, this year I will be doing updates upon my time working for the WRU, lets say every couple weeks(?) on what I’m learning, how I messed up that last fortnight and how I’m finding it. I hope you will join me on what will hopefully be me going on a journey from incredibly nervous and out of my depth to a confident genuine design boy.


In other news: I snagged some freelance work to do over the last couple weeks. A friend of a friend wanted some branding work done for a small denim customisation business they had started up of which I gladly helped: introducing “That Baby Got Back” . I spent a couple weeks on this, and after seeing some of the customised denim that would be being sold I started.


After thinking about it for a while I felt that using motifs from “American Traditional” tattoos, which look a bit like this: Traditional_old_school_eagle_keeping_american_flag_and_banner_tattoo_design

In the end, what I came out with was this:

I like to think its exactly what was asked for. I am actually not particularly happy with the logo being on the back of the babies jacket the way it is; but the client was pretty adamant that that was exactly what they wanted. I did experiment with several different approaches, including bending the type over the back to conform it to the bend, and even putting the type in a ring around the whole thing, but no thats what my client wanted. Either way, it will be pretty cool to see my logo on some real clothes and all that! I was glad for this project, because going into it I didn’t expect to be able to do it; more illustration style design has never really been my thing and I was about to turn around and tell the client that I wasn’t the best person for the job but I worked through it and it turned out quite well!

I’ll write again in a week or so about my first impressions at the placement.

Field: In Summary

The internet of places field project gave me reason to return to my studies in regards to coding. Working with Arduinos was a good way to learn python- like coding, as it produced physical results that made learning and trouble shooting more simple than an error message would on a pure coding platform. It gave me a good basis to investigate several different coding languages afterwards; I am now starting to become proficient in python as well as HTML and CSS. My plan over summer is to dive into alternate website coding platforms, such as Ruby on rails and even more in- depth coding languages and processes such as SQL. This of course, feeds very neatly into my subject area. Whilst I am enjoying the print based work I tend to focus on in graphics, I am acutely aware the that future of the medium is completely digital. The more fluent I become in all kinds of coding, the better I am going to do in my future career in design. I plan to use skills to create a technically impressive website for my portfolio work over summer. I currently have a website designed in Adobe Portfolio, but elements of design are completely impossible using this program which I know now from my own learning of HTML and CSS are simple fixes by looking at the code itself. Over summer I will be making my own website as a project.

The significance of information project was challenging for me. I found it surprisingly hard to find ways to display numerical information in a meaningful and new way; I found it difficult to move away from “re- skinned” versions of traditional charts; Trying to display information in the most efficient way always just seemed to lead back to what ended being very much like types of charts I have seen. Researching pictorial information designers such as Sarah Illenberger, however, helped; they brought some intrigue back to the medium whilst using standard and functional graph constructs. My exploration of photography in this unit is something that strongly influenced my following persuasion project within subject. Before the field project I would not have considered using photography that I had captured myself in any of my work; specifically, because I had exactly zero confidence in my photography skills. I learned a lot during the significance of information project in regards to techniques for studio photography as well as how to use a camera properly. These skills directly allowed me to use photography for my subject work.

Overall, it was an advantageous year of field, specifically for helping me learn new technical skills I had not properly explored before. Field has allowed me to be more experimental and create in mediums outside of my comfort zone, without fear of it being too low quality thanks to my inexperience. This has therefore been beneficial for building my confidence as well as my ability to produce higher quality work in these mediums.

Digital Me: A House Style


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Here is the house style I have constructed for myself for my self- promotion pieces. I created a simple circle as a logo which is a subtle call back to my original self promo stuff from my college days but more authentic to me. I used orange rather than pink to try and convey an increased sense of maturity as a designer whilst preserving young enthusiasm in my brand. I changed my fonts from Jaapokii to just a touch of Helvetica coupled with Baskerville for a more refined look. I made the whole thing much more type- reliant rather than infographics, which is exactly why I used the forward slash as a header marker rather than any vector element I could have produced. All in all, I feel its quite successful and I am happy with it. I even used this material to apply to an internship at the Welsh Rugby Union.


Persuasion: A post- mortem of Dementia Friends

I don’t fully believe that my Dementia Friends project was as completely successful as I would have liked it to have been. I think I made some mistakes on a technical level which made the outcome, in regards to the video, slightly more crude than I would have liked. The problem was that I had never really done stop motion before, and because of that I made a few key mistakes that I didn’t foresee during production. Principally, I should have taken a lot more care with the lighting levels whilst capturing the images. the camera was automatically making changes to the white balance depending on how much of the black background was on the screen.  I will be attempting to make changes to this in Premier Pro, although I fear it will be a frame- by- frame job.

The client was kind enough to email us individual feedback for us to work on;

Billy Barnes – Enjoyed the video, very good clear message, you took on board what Pat our resident said how she felt about living with dementia. Could it be more colourful? I’m no graphic designer so I’ll leave this with you to decide.

I am glad that it was obvious I had taken on information from our discussions. As for colour, I understand the issue. the posters themselves being mainly dark grey. I think that its important that the background isn’t colourful itself as it allows the colours of the paper- people to pop. Perhaps I could improve it by increasing the vibrancy of the colours involved? Similarly, I may see if i can decrease the darkness of the background just a hair, as I had multiple printing issues with the shadow of the paper- chain not showing up against the background after print.

I also reviewed the feedback gained from my tutor:

Your presentation slides are well constructed with a consistent, thoughtful connection with the colours of the Dementia Friends flower. The embedded animations all worked without any hiccups. You worked well as a team in setting this up and in delivering it to your clients and general audience. You should have introduced yourselves at the beginning however.

You introduced the presentation clearly and with confidence. When presenting your own work you were suitably animated with good positive body language. You need to try to reduce the number of times you say “sort of like” when presenting in future however. Your idea is simple and clearly communicates working together. The images on the poster and Facebook post square work well but the social media banner does not have the nice shadow like the others. The shadow gives it depth and makes it more interesting. Some items need more information on them to make it clear what the viewer can do to become a friend.

The animation has a charm despite its unsophisticated production standards but needs to have a consistent, dense black background. Some shots reveal a textured, lighter background which interrupts the narrative – it should be the same background all through. Some of the transitions are a little crude and need refinement I feel. The hand across the image happens so quick it doesn’t communicate your intentions. The character in what looks like bandages also is a little confusing. The lines that appear when the character disappears is too playful and is not needed. The audio is also a little too playful and light for the subject matter. Perhaps it would be better without the backing track altogether but with the voice over being a bit louder. The voice over is well written and clearly delivered and communicates the narrative well. Despite all these comments I feel that with further refinement, this could be a very successful outcome.

In regards to the presentation: Im glad for the feedback on us not introducing ourselves; I didn’t even realise! I think I was so nervous it completely passed me by. I am encouraged by the fact I was perceived as being confident however, because I most certainly did not feel that way. I have learned however that its never a case of feeling confident as much as acting confident. I will likely always hate presentations and speaking in front of any number of people, but as long as I can literally do it well its no massive deal. If I don’t find myself with every presentation I do more confident, I most certainly find myself more functional and thats progress.

Attention is called to the changing background which I have already talked about here, and is something I’m going to try my best to fix. Ideally, I would capture the whole thing once more under improved conditions, perhaps with the camera set to have a fixed white balance to ensure the background stays dark. As to the “pop” lines when the central figure disappears, looking back I’m not sure exactly what I was going for. I feel like the whole thing in my head was inspired in part by the Change4Life campaign, and the lines were a direct result of that influence. Of course, this animation doesn’t have any of the same kind of cheerfulness as the Change4Life initiative so just seems out of place here. They will go.  Lots of the feedback seems to stem from the fact I was recording it at about 8 frames per second; the transitions would have likely seemed a lot less clumsy and something like the hand would have been in frame for longer should I have stuck with 12 or even 24 frames. I was trying to find a happy medium where the animation didn’t seem to janky whilst not ending up having to spend too many weeks getting it captured. What little experience I have with animation, doing a rotoscoped piece last year, I did myself a disservice by trying to animate in too many frames per second and ending up spending far, far too long on what ended up being a fairly low quality and incomplete one minute of footage.

I have a feeling the whole concept could be pared back to its core components to make a higher quality final outcome. A friend working on their persuasion piece recently showed me a gif they had created to improve on an animation they had originally submitted. It stripped the whole concept down to its core, and worked so so much better for it. I think thats the problem with my idea here; it was just a little bit too bloated. It could have been a much more simple solution if some extraneous elements were to be removed. Just like in the S4C brief, I learn once again that it is always best to Keep It Simple (Stupid). I think thats the biggest take away from this project: I need to learn to not add more than I need to, and focus on doing what is needed to a high, high quality. It would have also helped if I didn’t try to create a final outcome in a completely new medium I had never tried before first time around in a short time span, haha.



Branding: Reflecting on Dragon Glass

I’ve been reflecting on my Dragon Glass recently, and am going to be doing some improvements to the whole thing based on that. First things first, I’ll be reviewing my feedback from the conclusion of the project, a couple months back;

I like your research progression, especially as you begin to develop iterations of colour and pattern. Well thought out and documented. However, as you reference heraldry a lot in your documentation, it would have been great to see some evidence of research into heraldic forms and colours, as it’s a huge resource.

A good outcome. I think the dragon’s head loses its form a little on the embossed leather touchpoint, but that’s nitpicking.

I do question your perception of the target audience. You’ve focussed on a social demographic, rather than a commercial one. The people who need stained glass services are quite simply ‘the people who need stained glass’. Think about targeting the NEED, not the person. Case in point – I had a lot of stained glass work done while renovating my house, and I don’t fit your demographic one bit!

Spellcheck is there for a reason. Use it!

I particularly take on board the target audience comment here, I will be revisiting my development PDF for this and rewriting that part. Whether this will have a knock- on effect and alters the outcome at all will become evident after I’ve sorted it. I did write a very specific target market though, and I think I may have bordered on being tongue in cheek with it, perhaps even looking down onto my target audience a touch, which was silly. Ill be reworking that for sure.

As for the research, I will be revisiting heraldic forms and colours, and because of the embossed leather stuff, I will be attempting to rework the logo just a little bit.

I’m also going to be assembling the whole thing into a nicer display package for my final touch points, because this was something I think I rushed a bit and its not presented pristinely!