Thursday, March 29, 2007

The results are in!!!

I feel that I have managed to get quite a lot done this week and I feel quite confident that I am well on track as we are to begin our Easter break.

As I arrived on Wednesday morning I was soon told to check the board as the results for our “A5 Builder” assignment had been put up. Even though I was quite confident in my work for this assignment I was also wary of the fact that I have slipped up previously by making silly little mistakes. This was something which I was determined not to do this time and I was very happy with the fact that I had achieved a Merit grade. After experiencing many problems with my website for this assignment and having to start all over again with several weeks to go I am pleased that I have been able to achieve such a good grade.

After speaking to Steve in our group feedback session on Thursday he explained to us how he the assignments are graded. He told us that we get the good marks by completing the learning outcomes for each assignment and not by reading the plain English descriptions. This is something which I am definitely going to have to be more aware of for upcoming assignments and also the SketchBlog assignment which is being handed in soon.

I have been able to get quite a lot done this week and after giving a presentation to the group on Wednesday of our logo’s and receiving feedback I was quickly able to create my finished design. I felt that the opportunity to get feedback from everybody at once was very beneficial as you began to get different opinions and suggestions on how things could be improved. I feel that this is much more efficient than if I were to go round everybody individually with designs from my sketchbook as I think that you are able to display things much easier on screen.

I was also able to finish my screen design for the website along with the site structure diagram which now leaves me with gathering the content and building the site over the Easter break. Ideally I would like to return to college being able to focus my attention on the design for the CD that I have chosen.

I spent the majority of Thursday researching into several elements of the assignment and looking at some examples of other people’s style guides, I feel that this was a good experience as it allowed me to see the good and bad features of each individual guide which I can hopefully take into account for my guide. I then focused on trying to create the CSS for my new site as this is something which I struggled on last time. I did this by creating a test sheet and then creating a style sheet to apply to that sheet to see if everything was working correctly. I feel that this is a good way to do things as it eliminates any chance me getting it messed up half way through as I did last time. This is definitely something that I will try to do when I build future websites.

At the end of Thursday I didn’t even realise that the results for our “A6 Revert to Type” had been put up on the board until I saw several people standing around the sheet. I was extremely nervous about this assignment as I felt that I really did make quite a mess with the final timed assignment. Because of this I was both delighted and surprised that I had achieved a Merit! I am very pleased that after several referrals earlier in the course I am now beginning to get better grades which I must try to maintain. Bearing in mind that the work goes up another notch next year I know that it will take much more to achieve Merit and Distinction grades next year but it is something that I am definitely striving for!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Logos, logos, logos!!!

For the majority of this week we have been concentrating on working on our Ambient World logo. I was quite worried about this on Wednesday as I was not entirely happy with the quality of my designs. Despite putting some time aside in my self study to come up with around twenty rough designs I felt that this was nowhere near enough and I did not really feel that any of the designs would be appropriate for Ambient World. I felt that this was because I had focused on stereotypical musical elements such as musical notes and microphones, after having the experience of listening to the type of music that they sell it was quite clear that I needed to take a different approach to my designs altogether. I quite enjoyed coming up with the new designs as I felt that they were of a much higher quality compared to my earlier efforts and would be much more suited to this type of music. For the majority of my designs I tried to incorporate some kind of space/electronica theme and I would welcome any feedback you may have on my designs at the bottom of this entry.

After listening to my album Planetarium this week I was pleasantly surprised that it was not as bad as I thought it would be. It is definitely not something that I would go out and buy but I feel that is the whole point of this assignment. You cannot always expect to be working on something that you like so being able to create designs for something which is not familiar to you or not to your taste is something that we need to learn to do. I am however definitely enjoying this task and quite pleased with some of the ideas I have come up with so far.

One thing that Steve has stressed to us this week is the importance of keeping accurate weekly planning sheets and overall time plans for the whole assignment. After the experience of the first assignment where Steve planned what we should have done by what date I immediately felt at ease knowing where I should be at any stage in the assignment. When on the start of our second and third assignments we had to make our own mini-deadlines I knew that I had to put more time and effort into time management and I feel that it is now something which I am quite comfortable with and really helps when we have larger assignments such as A7 The Fax of Life. I feel that if I didn’t plan as much as I do I would definitely fall behind and not be able to manage the workload effectively as I would like. I think that management of time is probably one of the key skills to have if you were to go on and get a job in this industry so being able to do it well now can only be advantageous for the future.

As we are fast approaching the Easter break I hope to have a completed logo drawn up in Freehand by this time next week and also have full screen designs for my style guide website.

Logo ideas:

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The big one!!!

This week saw the arrival of the new assignment “A7 The Fax of Life”. I find it very hard to believe that this is our final major project of the year and time has certainly flown by!

It has been quite a relief to start a new assignment and forget about the stresses of last week. My first impressions of the assignment were that it seemed to be quite a lot larger to what we have been accustomed to, however, if you take into consideration the fact that both college days and all of our self study is going to be focused on this project it seems a lot more manageable. I do feel quite prepared for this assignment due to the fact that Steve has spent the majority of the week in college thoroughly going through things and clearing up all the issues. I feel that this has really benefited me and I have been able to compile a lot of notes and highlight the key points which will be good to refer to as the assignment progresses.

I have decided to do quite a bit of research into this assignment before I start any creative work as I want to be able to create better designs when I eventually come round to doing them. I have found the Storm Thorgerson site quite inspiring as he designs anything from CD covers to Logo’s which is extremely relevant to this assignment.

On Wednesday former student Marc Bowers also gave us a visit to let us know how he coped with the course and how he has found work since leaving. I feel that by occasionally having former students visit is a real confidence booster and it lets you see that all the hard work will eventually be worth it. This was something that Marc really wanted to put across in his presentation and he felt that he would have been able to achieve much better grades if he would have put a little more time and effort in. This is something that I will definitely try to be wary of as I want to be able to achieve the best grades possible. Marc has however found himself a good job which he is very happy with, as I have had the experience of having to go to work everyday to a job that I really didn’t like this is something that I will ultimately strive for.

One site that Marc said that he used was Graduate Link and he actually found out about his current job on this website. I was quite surprised to see that the majority of jobs were not really fussed whether you had a HND or a Degree and this would certainly make me think twice about doing a top up year as I had originally planned.

Friday, March 09, 2007

A6 Evaluation

When we were first given the A6 Revert to Type assignment my initial fears were geared totally towards the presentation that we had to give at the end of the project. I felt that this would have been the most difficult part of the assignment by far and did not feel that I would struggle too much with the rest of the assignment. However, I soon began to realise that this was not the case.

As I began to do the “as and when” tasks I soon realised just how difficult they actually were. I was quite excited about them at first because I knew that jobs in the industry require you to work at a very fast pace so this would be great experience for the future. The first timed task we did was to produce an article on musician Jonathan Gee using a given set of elements. I was quite happy with the design that I did for this and I felt that I benefited greatly by getting the whole design done with quite a lot of time to spare. This meant that I could spend time thoroughly checking the work and improving it. I could have spent more time on the planning process for this design but this may have left me with little time to spare meaning that I wouldn’t be able to check it as thoroughly as I would have liked. If I were to do this task again I would certainly try to get everything done with time to spare so that I could make the necessary amendments which would lead to a higher quality of work. This was something which I tried to do for every practical task in this unit but unfortunately this was not the case for all of them.

The next task we did was to design a paint tube for a range of oriental paints. Again this task involved working to a set brief which I immediately felt at ease with. I enjoyed this task as I felt that it was quite a challenging brief due to the small amount of space available to put the elements. I felt that this was a good experience because you cannot always expect to be given large amounts of space to create designs so being able to design on a small scale is a key skill to have.

We were then given the task of creating a job advertisement to a given brief and again this was something that I did not really struggle too much with. I felt that this task had a much more commercial feel to it compared to the tasks we had done previously and again I was pleased to see that I had left myself with plenty of time to check the work and make any amendments. I felt that this was possibly my most effective design out of the tasks that we had done and if I were to do the design again I would probably stick to the same design.

The next task we were given was to create a grid for a newsletter article and then design all of the content. As there was much more to do in this task compared to the previous tasks that we had done I knew that I had to try and work a lot faster. This has not really been a strong point of mine in the past as I tend to spend quite a lot of time dwelling on things and changing things. Due to this I tried not to dwell on things too much and just try to get it done as quickly as possible, I was not really entirely happy with this design as I felt that I might have rushed it a bit too much even though I only just managed to meet the deadline with minutes to spare. Due to this I decided not to submit this piece of work as I did not feel that it was designed as well as the others that I had done. If I were to do this design again I would definitely try to speed up the rough design process as I feel that I spent much more time than I need to on this.

The last timed task we did came as a real surprise as we had to design multiple fact sheets and supply all the material. This was the first time that we have had not been given the content for a task and this was something that I really struggled with given the amount of time that we had. I was quite confident that I knew the majority of the content so I decided to write as much down as I could and then save it as a text file ready to be imported into PageMaker when I needed it. I was quite disappointed with my performance in this task as I had planned to make 5 sheets at first and then when I realised just how much time I had left I amended this to 3 sheets. In the end though I only ended up with having just over 1 and a half sheets finished before I ran out of time. I feel that I ran out of time purely because of the way that I had designed the sheets. I had designed the sheet to have roughly 10 definitions on each page and bearing in mind that I had to create the illustrations for each definition I just did not have the amount of time to create them. I felt this was a good experience however as I realise just how important management of time is and I feel that if I were to do this task again I would only put around 5 definitions on a page which would save me a vast amount of time.

One part of the assignment that I am happy with was every aspect of the presentation that we had to do. This involved creating a visual presentation along with an accompanying handout. After spending quite a lot of time on the design of the handout I am very pleased with the end result. I felt that everything that I had learnt from doing the “as and when” tasks really helped me with this design as I had a clearer knowledge of all the different typographic techniques. I was also quite happy with my design of the visual aides as I felt that they contained a good balance of information and images. If I were to do these tasks again though I am sure that I would be able to improve on them due to the experience that I have gained throughout this assignment.

The actual delivery of the presentation at the end of the assignment was something that I was worried about the most. Due to this I wanted to try and know the presentation inside out and also give myself cue cards to remind me of any important pieces of information. I felt that this was a good technique to use as I felt that I did quite a good job with the presentation and my nerves soon disappeared. If I were to do this task again I would certainly use this method as I felt much more confident compared to presentations that I had done in the past.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Presentations and Purple Giraffe’s!!!

Even though we were only in college for one full day this week as well as practicing our presentations I feel it has been very productive.

On Wednesday we were visited by former student Jonny Haynes who came in to give us a talk on his experiences with the course and what he is doing now. I was very impressed with what he had to say and it was good to hear from somebody who has done this course and gone on to get a decent job out of it. As he works for Technophobia who are quite a large firm in Sheffield I was eager to see what he had been doing since working for them. As he began to show us what he had been up to since he started there it became apparent that the work he does is very different to that of The Design Mechanics who I visited recently. The main difference really is that Technophobia deal with much larger clients and work on projects for long periods whereas The Design Mechanics need to have a quick turnover in work to attain any profit. He also stated that it took him almost six months to gain employment after finishing the course so that proves just how difficult it may be to get a job in the industry when the course is over.

On Thursday we came in for a short period to practice our presentations. We were able to go through the presentation in front of Steve and the rest of our group and gather any feedback which would make the presentation any better. I was quite happy with how this went and I feel that because of the feedback I received I will be able to deliver a better presentation next week. One regret I have however is that I didn’t really rehearse enough before our practice session. If I were to do again I would definitely rehearse more so that I will feel much more confident about the whole thing. After John helped out by giving us a little exercise on presentations it became apparent that the key element to any presentation is just confidence. If you go into the presentation in a confident mood you are much more likely to do a better job.

With the deadlines coming up next week I am definitely going to dedicate a lot of my time to trying to know my presentation back to front!