Digital Me – the PDF Portfolio

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.

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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.

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Digital Me – the Online Portfolio

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.

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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.

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.”

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.

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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.

Overall Reflection on Field

Overall, the Field module this year for me has been really positive and I’ve really liked it. After not enjoying the module hugely in first year, I was pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it was this year. I feel that not only have I enjoyed it the projects that I took part in, I have also benefited from both of them.

Both projects, Publish and Significance of Information, have allowed me to push myself and develop my skillset. One of things I enjoyed most, was working as a small group on our Graphic Communication prospectus as it allowed us to create something bigger and better – without the opportunity of working as a team, I am sure that I would not have been able to achieve the outcome that we did if I had worked individually on the project. I was lucky that the other members of my group all had similar ideas of how we wanted the finished prospectus to look and what we wanted the content to be, which meant the we were able to create a consistent prospectus which we were all very happy with.

Although I worked on my own, rather than as a small group, during the Significance of Information project, I was still happy with my outcome. I was able to show my own personality and humour through my final video outcome, which was rewarding. I had a lot of fun with this project and although I treated it seriously and wanted to create a professional looking documentary-style film, I added a spoofy spin which was a really entertaining aspect of both the design and creating stages, and the final outcome. If the opportunity arises again for me to create another video, I would love to.

It was also great to work with students from different courses within Cardiff School of Art & Design as I was able to experience how different subject areas work and it encouraged me to visit other areas of the university to carry out work. For example, I was inspired by some of the work of the Textile students and decided to visit their studio and work area. This certainly affected the direction of my studies, as I went on to take part in a digital stitch workshop in the Textiles area and used it to further my research and development of my branding project in the Subject module.

Both of my Field projects allowed me to advance my skills in two completely different design areas – firstly editorial, and then video making. I am glad that I was able to pick and take part in two projects that were so contrasting, especially as I enjoyed both so thoroughly.

Reflection on Field – Publish!

For Publish, we had the opportunity to either work individually or in small groups of our own choice. Of course, I jumped at the chance to work in a team, especially as I could pick people to work with who I knew that I could rely on to all play their part and share the workload between us equally. I found being able to pick our own groups made a huge difference to being put into groups, especially after having a previously bad experience working in a group that I had not personally chosen. We knew that working in a group would allow us to take on a heavier workload, as there was obviously more of us to share the work between – this meant that we could really push ourselves to create a great project that we were all proud of.

We chose to create an editorial piece that could potentially benefit and be used in the real-world – we decided on creating something for the University and students, and more specifically for our own course of Graphic Communication. We started looking into the idea of creating a new prospectus – there is already an existing prospectus for the whole of Cardiff School of Art & Design and after noticing that some of the other courses within CSAD have a prospectus for their own individual subject, we were surprised that the Graphic Communication course did not currently have one. We had found the gap that we wanted to fill. Finding a gap in the market was a great way to decide what we wanted to create and I am able to take this way of working into my other projects – I can look at what is already out there and more importantly, find what is not already out there, so that I can fill that gap myself.

We wanted to play with form and layout, so decided on creating a multi-layered cover in which we played with size and positioning. It turned out to be much more challenging than we thought, but this was exactly what was so great about this project. Through being experimental and pushing ourselves to try and create something outside of our comfort zone, we have learnt something new and can now reuse this skill in any of our further work where it may be suitable. This is something that I feel I have been able to do a lot more this year, rather than being restrained by tight briefs, we have been allowed to be experimental and playful while challenging ourselves to become overall better designers. In order to get the prospectus’ cover correct and aligned properly, I created several paper mock-ups until we were happy with how it was looking. Making mock-ups was undeniably helpful with a project like this – it helped us to get a full hands-on visual of what the final outcome would look like in the end and to see where corrections and modifications had to be made. Doing this was much more telling than just looking at an InDesign file on a computer screen and I believe that if we hadn’t actually printed mock-up trial runs of the piece, we could have ended with a disaster when we came to print the finished piece at the end. Creating this cover was definitely a stand out learning experience within this project for me.

We made sure to be experimental throughout the prospectus. Every page, from the important course information and entry requirements, to the fun quotes, portfolio tips, and interview with David, was interesting and eye-catching. Overall, I was so pleased with the outcome of the editorial piece and it has really inspired me to get into doing editorial more as I really love doing it and I feel that this project has really helped me to develop what strengths I already had in the area.