Reflection of Dissertation Proposal

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.”

Digital Me – Briefing

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:

  • self-awareness
  • thoughtful ‘design-mindfulness’
  • awareness of other people
  • empathy
  • listening
  • relationship

Oriel Davies Gallery

Over the Easter break, I volunteered at the Oriel Davies Gallery in Newtown in order to gain some work experience.

The Oriel Davies Gallery

Originally founded in 1982 as Oriel 31 in the nearby town of Welshpool, the gallery expanded three years later to the Davies Memorial Gallery in Newtown which had been built in 1967 specifically to be a gallery and community centre. This gallery was built with the legacy left behind by the well-known Davies sisters, Gwendoline and Margaret Davies. During the sisters’ lifetimes, they lived in Gregynog Hall (not far from Newtown) and collected works of art, including art by: Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne and Pissarro. The two sisters are now recognised as Wales’ most influential collectors of Impressionist and 20th Century art. On their passing, their collection was entrusted to the National Museum Wales, in Cardiff. Between 2002 and 2004, the gallery closed for refurbishment and upgrading, and then reopened with the new name, Oriel Davies Gallery in recognition of the Davies sisters.

The Oriel Davies Gallery now has three spaces in which it shows a range of works throughout the year, from: major exhibitions of national collections; newer work by established artists; to more experimental work by emerging artists. Aside from the gallery rooms, there is also a café and a shop, as well as there being workshops, courses, talks and other events held regularly.


During my time at the gallery, I did gallery guiding and worked on the front of house desk. Aside from meeting and greeting people and showing them around the exhibition, I also had to keep on top of other things such as: making sales from the shop; maintaining the cleanliness of the children’s resource area and the shop; handing out visitor questionnaires, etc.

The Exhibition: Vanishing Point

The exhibition that I was gallery guiding for was called, Vanishing Point, and was a display of new work by Cardiff-based artist, Kelly Best. The exhibition was created by Best specifically for the Oriel Davies Gallery space, meaning it was created to fit and suit its habitat exactly, and it offers a response to the architectural and physical space of the Oriel Davies’ galleries. Her works feature interconnections between sculpture, painting and drawing, which work together to consider the site, space and surface.

Personally I loved her steel sculptures the most, some of which towered over and above you, and some of which you could actually interact with such as stepping over and through. Best works in a range of media, including steel, watercolour and coloured pencil but tends to always manipulate the piece’s perspective, scale and light. I found with many of her pieces of show, particularly the steel sculptures, that depending on where you stood in the room and from what angle you looked at the piece from, the appearance changed. Although her work is rather minimal, which lead to some people being put off and unsure of what to think, the processes that she must have taken to reach the outcome of each piece is what I find particularly interesting when thinking about.

Although her pieces seemed almost too ‘basic’ at first, I really admired how simplistic and graphic they were. Her ‘zig-zagged wall’, as I called it, was a wonderful piece that looked amazing at both a distance and up-close. I loved how no two A4 pieces were the same – every single one was unique – and when looking more closely at the piece, you could see how the watercolours blended together, probably where Best had not washed her brush before changing colour. This process has meant that there are specks of blue left in the red and specks of red left in the blue, and where the brush has began to dry before being dipped back in water, the paper shows through creating a seemingly effortless aesthetic. You can see her experimenting with this drying out brush technique in some of her other pieces too. Really, I loved how something so simple could be so beautiful.

The pieces below really summed up the name of her exhibition, Vanishing Point, particularly the red one in which it feels you can look deeper and deeper into the painting to find the piece’s ‘vanishing point’ to they eye. Each of these nine pieces were individually quite psychedelic – getting as close as possible to a piece so that the painting filled my whole view, created a great intensity and perspective.

Overall, it was great to have the work experience there at the gallery, and was also fantastic to meet people involved in and interested in the creative industry. I feel that it was definitely a really worthwhile experience for me and I look forward to hopefully going back and working there again, perhaps over the Summer.

Further Food Safety

Over the Easter break, I have set myself the task of pushing myself to create more pieces for the Tenovus supported ‘Food Wellbeing during Chemotherapy’ campaign that I worked on in my Persuasion project during last term.

Since producing and presenting the video that I created for my clients, I have decided that I want to create them other pieces, including posters, social media elements and a new improved booklet that is capable of replacing their current one. I plan on creating these as a side project to the other three videos that I will be working with them to create by the end of this year outside of my university work.

I have been working firstly on a basic poster which will advertise the video that I have created. I have also made a banner to go with it which can be displayed on social media sites such as Facebook in order to help promote the video and ensure that more people see it – after all, the aim of the campaign is to raise the awareness of food safety for chemotherapy patients, to as many people, particularly caregivers, as possible. I have put the banner that I created onto the Tenovus Facebook page as an example of how and where it could be used.

Screen Shot 2017-04-14 at 21.31.41

Although the poster and banner are efficient in promoting the video that I have created for the campaign, I feel that I could create a more appealing series of posters, perhaps displaying a range of infographics. I would want to use more colour to make them eye-catching, so will look into using the Tenovus colours from their brand guidelines which have been supplied to me by my clients.

Final Outcome and Presentation

Today we gave presentations of our final outcomes of the Persuasion projects in front of our clients and tutors.

Before giving our presentations, we had previously created and rehearsed our presentation which we intended to give today. However, earlier in the day today, before our presentations at 2pm, we had some difficulty putting our animations into the PowerPoint as several of the team’s videos were not completed until very last minute which meant we were not left with much time to import the animations into the presentation. Personally, although my animation was complete, the way in which I had rendered and then exported it meant that the file size was much too big to go on the presentation. After adjusting the quality of the animation, hoping to reduce the file size, I exported it again and although the file size was much more appropriate, the quality had been so much decreased that the on-screen text during the animation was pixelated and barely readable. In the end, due to being rushed for time and the presentation deadline fast approaching, I decided to instead simply show my original final film, which was too large to actually be inserted into the presentation, as a separate file directly from the desktop. Other members of the group ended up doing the same.

Even after these initial obstacles, during the presentations, everything went smoothly. Our group made sure to introduce ourselves to our audience before beginning and then spoke about our project title and the organisation that we were working for, and the mission statement and key aim of the communication that we set out to achieve. Next we went on to each taking it in turns to give a short introduction on our own animation and showing it.

The presentations concluded with inviting our clients to view more of our work, such as the storyboards and other development pieces, and to discuss our animations further. Although our client was unable to stay for long due to her own circumstances, we were able to briefly talk about each of our outcomes with her. She spoke about what she really liked in our pieces, claiming that she really likes ‘Steve’ in my own stop-motion animation, and we were also able gain any more constructive critique and where we could go from here. I am really pleased that they still wish to continue working with me in creating the other three videos for their 4-part video series on the topic.

If I were to do the presentations again, I feel that if we had made sure all of our group member’s animations were completed fully in advance – we could have used the extra time to actually insert them into the presentation, rather than have to navigate off of the presentation to get to, open and play our animations. This would have created a more overall professional looking presentation.

Personally, I also feel that I spent too long looking at and speaking to the screen projection, rather than looking out at my audience and speaking directly to them. To improve, I would engage more efficiently with my audience, and client in particular, by having eye contact and by being a little animated, such as using hand gestures to make myself more inviting and to involve the audience.

I felt that I became slightly nervy during the presentation, partly because of the minor panic of getting the animations onto the presentation beforehand, and although the clients and audience had not witnessed this, I think that I ended up rambling and stuttering more than I would have liked to – next time I will consider using cue cards to keep me on track so that I remember exactly what it is I want to say and when to say it.

The Final Touches

Over the last few days before our final presentation on Thursday, I have been carrying out the last final touches to my animation.

I have added multiple details to my animations and trialled out several different ways of doing them in order to get the best outcome.

One of the main things that I have added is  text. I added text to a number of areas throughout my animation, to help back up the most important parts of the voiceover. I have used a handwritten-style font called ‘Ammys Handwriting’ and then to make it seem even more realistically handwritten, I added a fractal layer in AfterEffects in order to make the text move and wriggle over so slightly. One of the things I had to be careful of when adding the text, was that I made sure the text was on-screen long enough to be read by any viewer – to get this correct, I tested it out on my peers.

It was suggested that I change the dots that appear on my stickman character, representing different food poisoning symptoms, to a colour rather than black and although I felt that a colour would not work, I trialled the idea of using a grey instead to see if this would look better. Although I am glad that I tested a different colour out, I have decided to stick with the original black dots as I feel that they work and look better. Because my animation is completely in purely black and white illustrations, the use of another colour does not fit with this and is inconsistent.

The final touches that I added to my animation after adding text and testing the colour adjustments, I finalised the credits that appear at the end of the animation and added the logos of Tenovus and SEWAHSP who support the Zero2Five food industry centre.

Digital Stitch

Today I found the time to go in and finally complete my design that I created a few weeks ago but didn’t have the time to actually stitch it out.

I love how this one has turned out, although I think the simplest design would work best for the branding. However, saying this it was still good fun and interesting to experiment with the range of motif fills that were available. I used various fills that were made up of triangles. I tried to think about where I was using each pattern, for example the filled in one which looks darker because it a block-colour, I used on the back leg which would be in shadow. I used the same block-colour fill to separate the horse’s mane, tail and hooves.

I am interested in using textile techniques where I can in my further projects. I am thinking perhaps I could digital stitch into paper if the opportunity arises and fits relevantly with what I am doing or creating.