Over the duration of the past three months I have used the Design Practice module as a means to progress closer towards where I want to be as a designer. This is both in terms of understanding what my own practice is about and more importantly developing the skills that I need to have readily available in order to succeed within the industry. During the summer break I had acquired a range of industry feedback on my design portfolio and in response to what I had heard, I additionally wanted to use this module as a vehicle to make an advance towards producing pieces that would make my portfolio a well-rounded presentation of design.
Taking this into consideration, my main focus since beginning my third year of study has been to primarily improve on my skills within typographic and layout driven design for print. In order to achieve this I wrote skill-specific briefs that each had their own individual purpose to be completed throughout the module. Most notable was the Amazon Publication brief completed in response to portfolio feedback from Bivouac and solely written to engage with book design. Furthermore, I made a significant use of Mike Flower both within the Design for Print workshops and my own free time outside of taught sessions. He was particularly useful in the aforementioned brief where I needed to rapidly learn about setting up elements such as baseline grids, contents pages, page numbers and style sheets within text boxes. In fact the same could be said for Joe Gilmore who was also invaluable.
As a direct result of this, one welcomed surprise within this module was the extent to which I was able to work with live clients and subsequently engage in a professional dialogue with printers and to a lesser extent book-binders. Having only originally planned to use my 5x brand identity brief as a platform to work with live clients, I ended up working in this format for every single brief except British Lingustics.
Completing the Creative Networks flyer was a key milestone for me as I was in full control of supplying files suitable for the guys at Target Print. This was a printer with whom I liased with directly to get the job complete and I was very proud as anyone else would be to receive their first, albeit fairly straight-forward, professionally printed piece of design.
Whilst all of this was very beneficial in gaining industry experience and meeting short deadlines beyond my control (not to mention working to client budgets and getting print quotations i.e Amazon Publication), there were also downsides that had a knock-on effect in terms of my progress with the module as a whole. This was most evident in the Equine Engineering brief where work was continuously returned with suggestions for minor 'improvement' and a design direction was chosen that I personally felt was weaker than the supplied alternatives. It was all experienced gained despite being thoroughly frustrating. I think for the future I need to devise a more rigid strategy of how to best deal with clients who never seem to be fully satisfied. This way I could use time gained on more productive issues such as getting on with other briefs.
Overall, I would have to concede that this module for me has been quite a negative experience; most of it my own doing, some of it beyond my control that I was unable to compensate for. To begin with, my time management (unlike normal) has been particularly poor throughout and a fundamental flaw in regards to my progression. This was a disappointing contrast to last year most notable in the way that I continually allowed briefs to last longer than what they should have done just so I could produce design that I was happy to put into my portfolio. The solution to this would obviously be that I need to work quicker as a designer and generally make faster decisions whilst implementing short, sharp deadlines within deadlines. I feel that I am working as hard as I have ever done, if not harder and I don't really have that much to show for it... not at least in relation to what I know I am capable of.
It would also be true to say that organising a dissertation interview in Berlin over reading week proved to be a sigificant downfall. It ended up putting me behind schedule and resulted in a situation that I would never recover from, despite the fact that it felt like a good idea at the time and will undoubtedly help me complete my dissertation over the Christmas break.
On a lighter note, one aspect that I have enjoyed and found beneficial would be the application of my design across a wide range of media - both digital and print based. This is most evident within the brief completed for the A4 Only Exhibition where I was able to develop skills in appropriating artwork that I began to explore towards the final module of last year.
Finally, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to grips with the screenprinting process throughout the British Linguistics Brief and achieving successful results that I would consider putting into my portfolio as a reference to image based design that I know I am also capable of. I'm previous years, this process has never gone that smoothly for me so I would like to think that this has been one of the highlights of the module in conjunction with negotiating with industry based print.
Action Plan for Final Major Project:
1. Short deadlines within deadlines and don't slack off on them.
2. Be selective with live clients and devise a way to work with them.
3. Collaborate with reliable people.
4. Continue building on layout and publication skills.
5. Screenprint, but a little less due to time consumption.
If I implement all of this effectively I believe the Final Major Project will be a positive experience where I can actually enjoy what I am doing as opposed to feeling stressed out and fed up with (what is in my eyes) underachieving.