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

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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. 

 

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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!!

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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.

TBGB

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.