Today I spent the morning on trip with some of my peers and Ian at Zenith Media’s, Print and Packaging plant in Pontypridd.
We were showed around the plant by Alun Phillips, the Business Development Manager there, who knew Zenith Media inside and out. We started the day with a short introductory presentation given by Alun and we were then taken and shown around the whole plant, before being spoilt to lunch. After taking lots of photographs and some films from our trip to Zenith Media, I put together a short montage of the clips.
One of my favourite parts of the trip was that there was just printed paper absolutely everywhere. Wherever you looked there were stacks and stacks of paper, some almost as high as the roof, in every direction. It was great to see the companies that they worked alongside: everybody from small independent book publishers, to big car companies – they even print the prospectus for Cardiff Metropolitan University and we even spotted a sneak peak stack of the prospectus’ for this year, ready for dispatch. The cover of the Cardiff Met prospectus was navy blue with a maze-like pattern printed in a pink holographic foil effect for extra detail and a quality feeling (image below).
It was great to see the huge variety of printing processes that they could carry out in one place all at Zenith Print and Packaging. They had several rotogravure printing machines which are commonly used for high-volume printing due to their ability to produce high quality results rapidly and are great for long runs. It was great to see the machines in work and producing prints – it was incredible to see how rapidly everything moved. There was machines of all different kinds in the plant – some of my particular favourites were the ones that added special effects to prints, such as spot UV coating which creates a shiny, varnish effect which looks brilliant on practically any print (image above). Alun’s enthusiasm for the printing industry was contagious. He proved to us that you can print onto any material at all of any thickness, from paper, to wood, to metal. At Zenith, he says that they often even print onto fabrics to create cotton banners, etc.
Overall, it was great to visit Zenith Print and Packaging – it has helped me realise that it is not only digital design that I cold go into in the future, I can also take the more hands on route of printing. It reminded me just how great of a degree that I am taking because their are so many potential pathways that I could take after graduating. Alun even added that if we were ever interested in carrying out some work experience with them in Zenith, that we were very welcome. I feel that we have all made a great contact with Zenith Media by visiting them.
Our final deadline for the Digital Me project is on Tuesday so I am just adding the final finishing touches to all of my submissions before then.
I am feeling confident with the way I am heading and I have not got a lot to do before handing in my finished work for the deadline on Tuesday. I have completed my Research and Development PDF for Persuasion and am currently finishing off the one for Penguin. I have already got a Research and Development PDF for branding that I created last year after completing the Brandworld project, so I have just got to add and change this one accordingly to my further development since then and my newer final outcomes.
For the finishing touches of my CV, online portfolio, PDF portfolio, I have edited some details to add to the overall final look of the finished pieces. After a tutorial with Neil, we spoke about how underlining titles, historically, was not considered needed after ‘bold‘ was invented. Although I have decided against using the bold version of Playfair Display as I think it ruins the beauty of the contrast between the thick and thin lines in the lettering of the typeface, I have removed the underlines of the titles and the overall look of the CV is much cleaner without them. I have done the same thing on my PDF portfolio by removing the underlines of the titles. Removing these underlines have actually added to the consistency of my overall project, because I noticed that the website does not have underlined titles. There is enough definition between the title and the body text because they are different typefaces – the title is serif and the body text is sans serif, the title is in orange and the body text is black, and there is also a big size difference between the two.
To match the removal of all my title underlines, I have edited my ‘I’m Amber‘ logo slightly as well. I have removed the underline below the text, but kept the line above as the image of me is sat, resting on it. I have adjusted the weight of the upper line to make up for it’s staying though.
Since last week, I have made small developments to all three of my main pieces: the CV, the online portfolio and the PDF portfolio.
In the PDF portfolio, I have added in the text and the images to each of the project pages, although one or two are still missing that I want to add in. I have made sure that they are the same images used in my online portfolio and that the brief and solution are the same too. I have added in navigation buttons on every project so that you can flick through the projects using arrow buttons and also return back to the home page. After a tutorial, I have increased the text size by 1 or 2 points because it was suggested that it was perhaps just a little too small. At the the end of my portfolio, I have added an extra page which is a ‘Contact’ page and also has an ‘About Me’ paragraph, similar to the CV.
For the CV, I have added in work experience and also written the ‘About Me’ section. Like the PDF portfolio, I have developed my CV so that it is now interactive too. It has icons which link to my social media profiles: Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. I decided to exclude Facebook because my account is a personal one and I think it is important to keep my CV purely professional and not mix up my personal life with work. I have also added a link to my online portfolio so that employers looking at my CV can get to my work with one easy click.
On my online portfolio, I have gone ahead and removed the ‘Home’ page as I decided that it was not needed – my online portfolio now opens simply with the text saying, “Hello and Welcome!…“. After originally arranging the images on each of the project pages one after each other in a straight line as individual images down the page. I have now arranged them in a more designed layout (image below: I have taken a screenshot from one of the project pages as an example). I have also spread ‘The Solution’ paragraph between these images because I felt that there was too much text to begin with at the top of each project.
My next steps are to move on to beginning the Research and Development PDFs for my Subject projects: Persuasion, Penguin and Branding.
The last main piece I have to make for Digital me is the PDF portfolio, so that has been my next step to take.
I wanted to make the PDF consistent with both the CV and the online portfolio, so I created it in a similar way. I ensured that all the smaller details matched, for example the underlining of titles and the chosen fonts.
Wanting the PDF to be interactive, I created a home page with thumbnails of the six projects that I had chosen to include in my portfolio. From this home page, the user can click a project thumbnail to be taken directly to that project. Also, on hovering over a thumbnail, the image changes (as I have added a rollover image the same but with a white layer over the top with an opacity of only 50%) and the name of the project appears. The image below is a screenshot taken of the PDF portfolio home page – the ‘A Blank Space’ thumbnail shows what the hover over looks like.
I have inserted in all the needed pages for each of the projects and given them titles accordingly. I have then created the links so that each of the thumbnails on the homepage takes the user to the correct project. I have created a rough layout for each of the pages and my next step is to start inserting my design work. I want to have a column of text down the left side, which will include the title of the project and then the brief and my solution, and then the images of the outcomes will be positioned on the right.
Now I’ve created a rough idea of what I want my CV to look like, I decided to start on the online portfolio.
After trialling out a few different platforms on which I could create my online portfolio on, including WordPress and Adobe Portfolio, I settled on using Wix after finding a theme that I really liked and finding it the most comfortable to use.
In my online portfolio, I have used a serif font which I prefer over the bold sans serif font of Bebas Neue that I used in my original CV design, so I have since changed the typefaces in my CV to match the online portfolio that I am creating. I have changed the I’m Amber ‘title’ to match. The typefaces now used on both my online portfolio and in my CV are Playfair Display for headlines and Avenir for the body text – personally, I feel that this use of the serif font actually suits me as a person and my personally much better than the original sans serif font did. I have kept the tone of the site informal, friendly and relatable.
I have kept the online portfolio simple and professional. There are only four key areas to my site, all linked in the header menu bar: Home, Portfolio, About and Contact. The website is one whole page which you can scroll through in one, separated by invisible anchor points which split up the four sections – each of the menu bar links simply automatically scroll the user down to that particular anchor. I am unsure as to whether the ‘Home’ section of the website is even needed as it does not really do much for the site as a whole and the ‘Portfolio’ itself may be telling enough as a home page.
On the contact page, viewers are invited to get in touch with me either by leaving a message on the website which I will then receive via email, or they can send me a direct email to my actual email address. My phone number is also available. I have reused the icons that I’ve created and used on my CV as buttons which link directly to my email and phone number.
There are still things to change on the site of course, for example I am still working through my past projects and updating them to add to my portfolio.
Over the last few days, I have been working on developing my brand style ready for my first tutorial today.
I began with attempting to self-brand myself using my name rather than an actual logo. Finding a photograph of myself that was able to actually interactive with the ‘title’, I’m Amber, made me realise that this was the style I liked best. Unfortunately the photograph is not high quality enough for me to be happy with and I want to capture a better one, but this has at least helped me decide on a favourite style. I should be able to use I’m Amber in both ways, with and without the image of myself sat on it.
After testing out a few different fonts and style, and picking a favourite, I began experimenting with colour and of course I had to use my favourite colour orange (Pantone 144 CP) that I use in so many of my projects. After all, it is my colour, “amber”.
I have put together an initial rough CV layout that I think works well alongside my personality and overall brand. My next step is to begin creating the online portfolio layout in consistency to the CV. As my CV is not fully completed yet, I will be able to make changes accordingly if needed – I think it is necessary to keep myself flexible in the beginning ideas generation and design stages of this Digital Me project.
Although I had more or less decided that I would not use my pre-existing logo (used on some social media), I wanted to put it into my CV just so that I could confirm or disconfirm in my tutorial if I was choosing the right way to go. Sure enough, my logo was pointed out as being probably unnecessary, so I am going to go ahead and remove it. Although the logo is not needed, they agreed that it was a great touch to have an image of myself interacting with the title, I’m Amber, as a personal touch. In my tutorial, it was picked up on by my peers that the use of the key colour orange worked really effectively as it doubled up well as being the colour “amber”, just like I am, Amber. The typefaces that I have chosen are Bebas Neue for the headlines and Champagne & Limousines for the body text.
One of the hardest parts of beginning the process of this Digital Me project is branding myself. It is certainly much harder to brand yourself than it is to brand a client.
There are lots of things to consider when branding yourself – trying to ask yourself, “Who am I?” is a lot harder than I first anticipated. The first obstacle I have come across is whether to have a logo or not? I had previously created myself a logo to use on my social media (e.g. Instagram), but was unsure as to whether I should carry this through to use in this project or leave it behind.
After speaking to the lecturers in university, they recommended not to use a logo and to sell yourself as a name instead. Why not a logo?
What does a logo mean? A logo represents years of commitment, hard work, reliability, trustworthiness – it is a promise of professional skills. As a student designer, I do not have these years of experience under my belt yet so I would not want to risk a negative response of my logo from, let’s say, a director of a well-established design company, who has built their own business over many years and has worked hard to develop relationships with people who are now their clients – they have established a clear identity, a well-trusted, competent brand, and this is all shown through their logo. It is important for me to consider how you might respond to a newly-graduated student’s logo in order to make me realise that perhaps not having a logo was the best way to go for self-branding.
What is a logo representing? How might I want to reveal myself through using graphic language to include my human-scale skills, personality, ancestry, culture, interests, motives, awareness of graphic design? And how might I contextualise this graphic representation sensitively, perhaps discreetly into your house-style? This could potentially be quite difficult to show through a logo at this stage, and I certainly do not want to create something that simply isn’t very good. “If [it] is… terrible, I’ll instantly be put-off. Better to keep it simple… If [it’s] a great idea, it needs to be really great.” Mark Smith, branding specialist. This leads me agree that a logo is not needed and that my own name would be the best way to brand myself for now.
Things to consider when branding myself:
- Simplicity and clarity – have a single focus and don’t make it confusing.
- House-style and consistency – apply a well-developed visual consistency throughout all pieces (PDF, online and CV).
- Photography – use high quality images only.
In preparation for our full dissertations which we will write in third year (next year), we were set the assignment of writing our dissertation proposals.
Our proposals were made up of an opening overview, a literature review in the middle, and a research plan to end the essay. It was definitely a tricky one to write, particularly the literature review as I had no idea what one even was up until this task. Before beginning the writing of the proposal, the first thing we had to choose a question or topic to write about. Although I had several ideas, I decided on the topic of subcultures after studying them in Constellation lectures in my first year of university with Cath Davies and knowing that I really enjoyed the subject and found it fascinating – after all, my topic had to be something I was interested by because I am going to be writing an entire book on it.
To help me settle on an exact topic or question which included the subject of subcultures, I filled in a planning form. Although there were five types of dissertation structures that I could choose from on the form, the main two which interested me were the 8000 to 10,000 word thesis, or the 6000 word creative enterprise research proposal (business plan) and presentation. I decided in the end on the first of these two as I realised I had no business of my own to write about. The planning form also included a section in which we could state any areas that we were interested in such as, key designers, artists, theorists, and case studies. I made note of the Punk subculture as a case study as I especially enjoyed looking into them last year with Cath and actually wrote my essay at the time on the group. I also listed graphic designer, Jamie Reid, who was most well-known for his work done in the Punk era, particular his pieces done for British Punk Rock band, the ‘Sex Pistols’ – my thorough favourite out of all his outrageous designs was the album cover he made for the Sex Pistols’ song, ‘God Save the Queen’ which was extremely controversial for its time. I made note of Dick Hebdige as an academic and theorist that I knew wrote about subcultures, particularly in his book, ‘Subcultures: The Meaning of Style’.
After having a meeting with my Constellation tutor, they helped me put my topic into a statement for me to use as a title. I had previously been trying to put it into the form of a question and was, now looking back, making an easy job much more complicated for myself. The statement I decided on was simply: “The relationship between graphic communication and media, and subcultures.” Having linked in my own area of study, graphic communication, into the title, means that I will be able to link my dissertation into my own course work in third year. After handing in our proposal forms, we were assigned individual personal dissertation tutors who were believed to be of most help according to our chosen title. It was of no surprise when I got assigned the subcultural expert herself, Cath Davies. I found that having a personal tutor was great as you knew exactly who you could email or talk to during a mini-breakdown or panic attack over your dissertation planning and having regular meetings with mine, meant that I was able to stay on track and know that I was working in the right direction.
The next step for me was to begin reading – reading absolutely everything! My course was lucky to have workshops set up by our course leaders, with the academic librarian for CSAD, Martha Lee. These workshops motivated me to go away and begin looking for potential useful books for my dissertation proposal. However, after a week or so, I found myself struggling to find books that were useful to me. After sitting around and avoiding the hold-up for another week or so (which was most definitely the wrong thing to do), a peer told me that they’d been to have an individual meeting with Martha who helped them to find plenty of useful books, so I decided to try it out for myself. Sure enough, Martha was great help to me too! She helped me find a few books that were subculture-based, but also showed me how I could narrow down my MetSearches to find more exact results, rather than finding books that maybe said the word ‘subculture’ in them once, on one page out of hundreds, and then didn’t mention the word again. I had my first mini-breakdown at this point (which had been expected to arrive soon-ish), due to thinking I needed to change my topic because there were barely any books which spoke about the relationship between graphics and subcultures, it was more about the textiles world (fashion). Fortunately, my personal tutor did a good job at convincing me otherwise and that it was in fact a good thing that there was not a lot written on the relationship, because I had managed to find a gap to fill in myself. Leaving Cardiff to go home for Easter, I had pages and pages of quotes collected from books and a stack of about ten further books to read at home.
I was struggling to get my head around what a literature review actually was, so instead of getting started on it, I found myself avoiding yet another hold-up (which I seem to be very good at doing) and instead just collecting more and more quotes, some of which I haven’t even used in my finished proposal. I found myself not wanting to start it just because I was scared that I might do it wrong. In the end, I convinced myself to just begin writing the overview at very least, and fortunately I got ‘on a roll’ and realised that it wasn’t that difficult after all. Looking back now, I am so glad that I started it when I did, because I have not had the stress of it being a mad rush last minute – I have just been doing little bit at a time, about 500 to 1000 words a day. Overall, I feel that perhaps the definition of a literature review could have been explained a bit more clearly to us, as I left university still not being 100% sure on how I was writing it. Questions I had included things like, “Am I allowed to put my own personal opinion in it?” and “What person am I writing it in – first person, third person, a mix of both?” It was difficult not being able to get it checked over, however my friends and I were able to peer review and compare each other’s proposals to understand if we were on the right track still.
Final thoughts – “Thank god it’s over… for now.”
Today we had our briefing on this term’s project called Digital Me, which is our final project of second year at university.
Over the last year, we have experienced and explored the role of the designer, the client and the audience through projects and challenges. This started the process of deciding how I myself fit in to the design world and has helped me realise that I can create my own path and imagine my own future.
This project is about learning how to use design technologies and media to communicate who you are to potential employers and collaborators. We will learn how to write, create and deliver a Curriculum Vitae (CV); how to select work for and create a Digital Portfolio; and how to develop an Online Presence. Our final outcomes at this end of this term should include: a PDF portfolio, an online portfolio, and a CV with a supporting email.
During this term’s project, we will also be reworking our past projects to improve and get them to a ‘portfolio standard’. We are here in university as designers to develop our professional skills. With these skills we will become equipped to work alongside other creative people and increase our employability. There are several important questions to consider and ask myself throughout this term:
- Who am I? – Who are the people that I will work with?
- What motivates me? – What motivates professional designers?
- Why do I want to work with other designers? – Why would other designers want to work with me?
Skills to think about:
- thoughtful ‘design-mindfulness’
- awareness of other people