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.

DigitalMe: Meet the Previous Work.

A couple years ago on my previous course (HNC in Graphic Design) I attempted a similar project that involved setting up an online presence for myself and establishing a bit of my own brand. I like it about as much as anything I did about three years ago;- not much.

I went for a slightly aggressive pink house style, and its something I have very much grown out of now. I wrote in the original design notes for this project that I liked the audaciousness of making a logo out of my own face. I just cant agree with that now.  I think I was trying to adopt a more rambunctious persona because I think at the time I felt thats what employers would want, even though it is literally in no way applicable to me or my personality. Also the colour scheme reminds me of Kaspas, the night- time ice- cream place.

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As part of the college unit I did all of this work for, I had to get in contact with a local design agency and apply for a “mock interview”. I had an interview with Cheltenham based agency Third Floor Design. One piece of feedback I still remember from the interview, -and something thats going to have a massive effect on the designs I create for this- was that all the bright colour, and the intricacy of the logo, made me look less confident; that it might seem more like a desperate attempt to try and prove I have skills where I didn’t need to. This has had an effect on most of my work since then, I’ve realised that elements that sit on a page, or a website or whatever, need to have a function and cant just be there because they look pretty. Its getting the small things right that makes design good or bad.

Consequently, this time around I’ll be making my house style for the CV, Online portfolio et al. be paired back. I’d like the portfolio itself take a back- seat to the work I present within it, Id like the design of the CV to be un- obnoxious and un- intrusive and just function to allow ease of reading. I’m going to focus more energy on things like getting the rag edges right than I would on any kind of logo. Hopefully the end sum of all this is going to be an air of quiet confidence. Or so I hope. It certainly feels closer to how I want to sell myself than the bright pink monstrosity from before.

I did make a CV too, and it is way more relaxed than the other stuff I produced:

CVInteractive

I had done previous research into other graphic design CVs for this, and had come across loads of info-graphic style ones. Many of them were straight- up bad graphic design, and many of them were just kind of obnoxious in the approach they’d taken, cramming in as many vector style illustrations and zany touches as possible. I already knew that was terrible so, as you can see, my CV is a little more grounded. There are still decisions made here that I wouldn’t make now. For one, I would ditch the big pointless pie chart I stuck in the middle. Its doesn’t make any sense, I seemed to think I played guitar for about as much time as I slept in a day. Ridiculous. I also would alter the blocky software skills section  to be a little less chunky, and no longer rate myself 5/5 for photoshop and illustrator, despite my knowledge of the two programs having improved since then. More mundanely, I would probably not give experience a smaller column width because I think its quite a wordy section, particularly now that I have a little more to talk about. Lastly, I would probably not put on the glasses touch at the top. Thats just a bit cringey.

Anyway, Now I’ve trashed my old work, Im in a better place to build a stronger set of work atop its foundation.

DigitalMe: Dewi’s Social Media Workshop

We had a session with Dewi Gray, the Business Start-Up Manager​​ from the centre for Entrepreneurship at the university, to tell us about social media managing for self promotion. Whist I am dubious as to how much an online presence is necessary for getting work in a studio (as I plan to), following the session I do understand how a good online presence is good for generating work and self promotion.

One thing I took away from the session was a better idea of what to put on social media, and I realised better what makes for good content online. It seems so many companies just put straight- up advertisements for themselves on their social media. and no one likes ads; no one goes out and follows you on any platform just so you can advertise to them better. Social media advertising needs to be less direct than that. Content needs generating that people will seek out and watch. Tips, tricks, showcases of other good designers, anything. It also depends on your audience. Often graphic design blogs ect. generate content that other graphic designers would enjoy, which if you’re freelance is exactly who will never hire you.

The session also inspired me to create some kind of product to generate some interest in me as a designer with the added bonus of a passive income to keep me going. Id like the idea of creating some Tshirts which I could sell though redbubble or inkthreadable with a link to on my portfolio page or social media. Specifically what I would put on those shirts I’m not sure about. It’ll be a venture I document over summer and hopefully have up and running before September; Im considering using the International Style Network system we have access to for inspiration on design ideas that are currently trending and put out work based on that. It will be a massive and hopefully worthwile venture that I attempt for a summer project.

DigitalMe: Matt’s Online Portfolio Workshop

Matt put on a workshop to help us start to consider how we would put together an online portfolio website to best showcase our work.

Purpose of online portfolio

  • To get a job, work placement or internship.
  • Show enthusiasm for your craft.
  • To attract clients if you work freelance.
  • To show what you care about.
  • To communicate your ability as a graphic designer & a problem solver

Who should my site appeal to?

People who go freelance would aim their website at non- designer potential clients and would shape their language that way. Then theres people who aim their website towards customers, that is, people they want to sell a designed product towards (such as cards or tshirts or whatever) Then theres more what I want to do, which is create a website aimed at potential employers. There is always going to be a difference in tone between copy aimed at clients, customers or employers. As I would be talking to employers, I can use a more design- centric language, and focus more on my work than perhaps a customer- centric cutesy brand.

The biography should be:

  • Concise
  • Precise
  • No waffle
  • No buzzwords
  • Clear
  • Unambiguous

It should answer the questions Who am I? How did I get here? How may I help you? Can you Trust Me? and how to contact me.

Some websites we looked at had a blog post section, which can give the website a more lively and updated feel and gives another medium to showcase your personality and enthusiasm in. However, they are only worth putting on if its something you can update frequently, as a blog that hasn’t been touched in months looks absolutely terrible and it would be better if it wasn’t there at all.

What an online portfolio is not

  • A place for your life story.
  • A place to rant; don’t badmouth the injustices of the creative industry or bad interviews. It will make you unemployable.
  • An archive of everything you’ve ever done.
  • A place for experimental web design (Unless it’s a web design portfolio. And youre good.)
  • To be put up before it is ready (No under construction pages)
  • A place to make claims you cant back up.

 

Little Jess Jenks Design

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As part of the exercise we examined others’ portfolio websites. I got Little Jessi Jenks Design , pictured above. I analysed it through the following questions:

Who are they/ what do they offer? Information easy to locate?

all easy to get to from main page

Purpose of portfolio? target market?

targeted at potential clients.

does site feel alive?

a dead link to instagram, although all else doesn’t seem years old. no dates on anything though

Social media?

Dead link to instagram on front page

Conversation between designer and audience

testimonials, easy contact links. no text based social media for public conversation.

how easy is to to view content of portfolio

laid out simply and easy.

consistency in design and navigation of site

consistent feel, although navigation is different on home page to the rest. don’t know if this is a problem.

contact details easy to find

easy to find contact page. everything you need including a form, an email address and a phone number. not going to find out if this is up to date.

typos

not that I saw

passion for their work?

seems super into it. mentions passion in bio, and extensive writing on each her projects seems to illustrate she has a lot to say and feels pretty passionate about it.

personality? how achieved?

personality illustrated through her copy as well as the work she chooses to show.

Descriptions on work

Extensive. possibly a little too much on some of them.

evidence of claims

says into photography but none on page? but I suppose she’s not trying to become a photographer.

previous professional works and clients? testemonials?

a couple testemonials

SEO?

not amazing, but jessica jenkins is a common name. Little jessi jenks brings back only her website though.

amount of work 

a decent amount. Demonstrates a good range.

ideas you would use in your portfolio. 

Has a good range of work; I should probably attempt to put up the best and most contrasting examples of my work to show my range of ability. I love the big square images as links; its nice against the white background and makes for something a bit different to a lot of the other examples shown.

DigitalMe: Ian’s CV Workshop.

For the first week of the Digial:Me self-branding project, I had a session with Ian about what makes for a good CV.

Design

  • Has this been created by a designer?
  • How thoughtful is the design?
  • Bad design is a quick way to get rejected

Content

  • Spelling Errors
  • Qualifications & Experience
  • Language
  • Is it accessible? Does it use jargon you don’t understand?
  • Do you want to meet this person?

We created a dos and don’ts list based on a stack of old design CVs we were given to go though:

Good Practice

Layout, white space, Use of colour,  Restricted colour palette? Software skills, indicator of expertise, Well written, Personality & flavor, Keywords, Attention to detail, Nice paper? Keep It Simple Stupid, Consistency of Type, use & colour.

Bad practice

Dark, heavy backgrounds, Word processed, Whole page line length, Lack of a grid system, No Hierarchy Spelling Errors, Inconsistencies, Unsophisticated, Gratuitous graphic elements, Poor legibility, Unprofessional email address, Too many italic, unprofessional photos.

Here are a couple contrasting examples of CVs I appraised;

The first one was one I selected for being one of the worst possible examples of a graphic design CV. The yellow circles are gratuitous and unthoughtful, and the stroke around the edge of them decreases readability whilst confusedly drawing attention to the type within for no conceivable reason. The document itself appears to be put together on word, so the line length takes up the whole page and is far too long, as well as having no control over the rag. Its harder to read here but the copy itself is poorly written.

The second one was my favourite out of the small pack I went through. The information given is useful and paints the author in a good light. the pretty grid system works well to break up the text as well as lend an element of hierarchy vis-à-vis the leftmost column of keywords. there is overall a much greater quality of professionalism. The only things I didnt like so much about it was the strange, perhaps slightly needless shapes floating around at the top right of the page; it doesn’t serve a purpose in the same way other graphical elements on the page do. Also something I picked up on was the orphan left at the top on the right column, after some header text pertaining to it sitting by itself on the bottom left. This is an oversight that simply shouldnt happen in as important a document as a CV, and certainly something a trained graphic designer should notice.

The S4C Project.

For part of our branding work we were thrown a live brief from the Welsh TV channel S4C, to make a variety of ident pieces for their st davids day celebrations.

As a group we worked fairly well together; everyone had a voice and was able to contribute creatively. This made it a relaxing atmosphere and pleasant to work with them. Perhaps it had its downfalls, as we took possibly a bit too long to narrow it down to a single idea.

I drew the storyboard above after we ended up singling in on the idea of someone going for a run near welsh monuments and displaying elements of modern welsh culture during. After a meeting with tutor Ian, we decided we needed to involve more of a narrative in the film, so team member Jacob produced a whole new moodboard:

This one had the added narrative of a young gent running to see his daughters eeisteddfod celebration. There were also ideas of animations thrown on screen, although we eventually nixxed this after we were told it didnt serve any purpose, which I was inclined to agree with.

After more discussion we put together a larger moodboard with a few kinks in our idea more worked out which came to this;

 

Which we then after more discussion became this:

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and then finally, after feedback from a rehersal pitch with tutors, became this;

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Here, we had removed any animation ideas as it was superfluous, we changed up the opening shot to be of the daughter in town, so the idea of her waiting is there from the start, as well as popping back to her in the middle of the advert. We also accepted advice to make the journey “harder” by addind in our man jumping a fence. With this, completed visuals, a animatic made by Izzie (which we added music too to try and put the feeling that we wanted across) and a script we were ready for the actual pitch.

The actual pitch went quite well, we introduced our idea and after I altered our script slightly, the S4C guys seemed to understand our idea and what we were trying to get across. We communicated well; we all did our delegated parts of the talking well. I probably would have changed from a straight up script for myself to cue cards as I find these easier to read from and I probably wouldnt have sounded half as nervous. Either way, I think we did the best job we could and if they dont want our idea, itll be because they dont like the idea itself and not because we didnt sell it as well as we possibly could! I cant wait to hear back from them.

Dragon Glass

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This week we were given our job bags ;- I was given “Dragon Glass” a premium stained- glass glazing company aimed at rich upper-middle class people living in the country side. Ive been tasked with creating the “Brand Identity”, a workshop sign, business cards, A5 fliers, Tshirts and Craftsmen’s aprons. Straight away I had several questions for my new client; – who would the Tshirts be for; would they be something sold to customers or something staff would wear? What kind of workshop sign; would it be something accrylic to screw to a wall or could I play about with a swing sign? I have at this point messaged joel with these queries.

Looking at the job bag, the consumer profile indicated a market of people willing to pay more for quality, obviously more interested in upper market than value products. The moodboard I recieved along with this had a lot of traditional materials; wood, worked metal, stone,  and of course glass. It also had refernce to fire and old thatched workshops.

This all gave me the feel for a brand that wants to showcase its longevity; to broadcast that it was established in 1850 or something. I think it would have am emphasis on its traditional, hand crafted methods; as a luxuary artisan brand. So my research begins.