My NMP is finally finished and what a relief! It has been a long journey of experimenting with styles and playing around with hundreds of ideas! For my NMP I worked with two of my friends to establish a collective called Mutton Boon. Whilst the ethos and ideas for Mutton Boon have changed about a hundred times, one thing that has been constant throughout was to create designs and products that take advantage of printmaking and the handcrafted.
I went down many different routes in this project so this blog post is a way to explain my process from start to finish and why I decided to change ideas so often.
At the start of the project we set out to create a collective that created a range of tee’s and prints. For the first few weeks we really struggled to find something to create that made us feel unique. We spent a lot of time exploring printmaking techniques but was producing designs that were quite common (like aztec patterns). Time was getting on and we needed to start creating visuals and outcomes. We decided the best approach was to put a constraint on our work. Sometimes having such an open brief can stop ideas from forming as you don’t know where to begin. This is where the minotaur comes in. We needed to make a more restricted brief so we picked a story we know very little about. What we ended up doing was a story about the Minotaur, a half man half bull that lives in a Labyrinth. All of us knew very little about this which allowed us to create designs based purely off the research we had found. I will admit it was challenging.
Our first attempt at producing a zine was… well far from amazing. We produced outcomes which we felt weren’t very strong. However, we were starting to form ideas that would actually influence our final outcomes. The week later we managed to produce a set of work which created starting points for our final outcomes.
I produced three different directions that I wanted to take the project in. The first was exploring the branding of an American Hockey team called “The Minotaurs”. The inspiration came from this because I felt the minotaur would create a fantastic mascot for a sports team and I really like the design of American sport team logos. The second direction was illustrated type. I had created the word “plagued” out of what could be interpreted as bubble gum (intentional) or as flesh with sinewy bits. I am obsessed with typography and wanted to explore a hand drawn type route. The final option was illustration. I had started to produce a playing card using a minimalistic geometric style that was all about clean, precise lines.
I decided to go down the route of the minotaur sports team. The first changes I wanted to make were to change the logo I had made and begin developing it. Alongside that I wanted to create the team’s hockey kits, design an official mascot and then produce a range of merchandise. After a few weeks of going down this route, I realised it wasn’t working for me. The idea didn’t really do much for me, it wasn’t clicking in my head so I scrapped that approach and went for the illustration route.
I liked the idea of playing cards. I think the illustration of the Kings, Queens etc are really nice and I wanted to have a go at making my own. This eventually led it’s way into tarot cards. Tarot cards were originally designed to be a game which then got this association with the occult and some people use them to tell the future. I was fascinated by them because of the way they are illustrated. Each illustration is full of symbolism which relate to the card’s meaning.
I began creating designs for tarot cards which linked to major parts and characters of the Minotaur story. I created illustrations full of symbolism to represent the personality traits and to tell the story. However, it got to a point where all I had were tarot cards, and I didn’t really just want a pack of cards for my final show. After a seminar, I decided to try and take this symbolism and apply it to clothing, and to see where I can take that.
I spent a while trying to create unique symbols to sum up the tarot cards. However, I found it a struggle to come up with a lot of unique icons and I also felt this was taking too much of a tarot approach and was moving away from the minotaur.
I then looked into hand drawn illustration. Whilst this isn’t really my style of working as such, I do enjoy drawing. I spent a few weeks exploring illustration styles and began drawing a range of outcomes from paper money to illustrated wallets. However, the choice of style really wasn’t clicking with me and it was only a matter of time before I went to the more familiar minimalist style.
I liked the idea of symbolism and the way you convey a theme, message or idea from a small image. I also liked the idea of creating unique symbols, as some of the symbols I had produced earlier were far from original. Eventually I came to the idea of creating a micro site/app that creates your own coat of arms, based on your personality. This coat of arms would be completely unique to you, and when applied to products would allow you to “Wear your own brand”. For this I created a range of different icons which all slot together to create the coat of arms. The more icons I created, the more combinations of icons.
Alongside this I created a product range which represents medieval armour, to tie it in with the coat of arms. Each coat of arms would have a unique pattern which could be applied to the clothing. The style I went for was a clean, precise style similar to that of the playing card I did earlier. Unfortunately I only got this idea a week before my hand in. So it meant I had to spend a week creating the outcomes for my idea which I felt did limit experimentation and meant I could only push it so far. However, at the same time I am really impressed with what I managed to produce in such a small amount of time, and I think with a bit of tweaking in time for the show, could potentially have a product range that I would be happy selling.
I just wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone over at Rockfield Media. For nearly two years I have been on placement there, doing a day a week in term time and working a few extra days when it has been Easter and Summer. I feel really grateful for the opportunity they have provided me.
Rockfield Media are a full service advertising agency that works primarily with the motor industry. They work with a whole variety of dealerships from Honda to Kia across the UK, producing advertising, in store promotions etc. They also work a lot with breweries such as Bank Top Tavern and Copper Dragon creating both the promotion of their products and designing the pump clips for the ales.
Being there for two years has allowed me to see how an agency works all year round. It is particular important in advertising as businesses work in quarters and some quarters are a lot busier than others. Being there for two years has also allowed me to do a huge variety of briefs, a lot of which I have had to teach myself something new to do it. Just an example of some of the briefs I have worked on whilst there:
Pump Clip Illustrations for about 6 different Ales for 3 Different Breweries
Online advertising banners for Honda, Volkswagen and Seat Dealerships
Visuals for a whole number of different clients including Maplin Electronics and JD Williams
I have learnt a whole range of new skills, one of which is visualising. This is a way to show potential outcomes by drawing and using graphic markers. This is great as it shows process and can often be more effective than showing a finished outcome on a mac when pitching to a client.
Whilst my placement has now finished I won’t be saying goodbye completely to Rockfield Media. I have recently been discussing freelancing opportunities with them, and hopefully in a few months time I will be freelancing for them doing their web work. This will be a great way to get some income whilst I start looking for a job and could potentially kickstart a freelance career if I decided to go that route.
Three years ago I had to do a presentation on a topic as part of my foundation course. I chose to do it on why minimalism in the art world really got on my nerves. At the time I couldn’t understand by a white canvas, or a box would be interesting or considered art. It didn’t have anything interesting to look at and I couldn’t justify why people would pay thousands for something so simple.
However, I have found that my style of work is very minimalistic and it made me think about minimalism again. In the graphic design world, I really like work that is stripped to it’s bare essentials. Instead of lots of fancy graphics, attention is paid to typography, colour choice, layout, paper stock etc. Whilst I love illustration and art work with great visuals, there is something more appealing about a well organised, clean piece of work. I think this comes down to the way I think and my personality. I take quite an ordered approach to my work, and like to think logically about certain things. I also like to have everything organised in my room and if I could I would probably put everything in a box, labelled by category and probably colour coded for good measure. I also recently saw a quote about what graphic design means which further backs up this point. Whilst I cant remember it word for word Im sure it went along the lines of “graphic design isn’t how good it looks, but how well it works” (could be nothing along those lines as I cant remember it completely). In the end, as graphic designers, we are solving problems as well as creating imagery. Sometimes to be most effective, we have to be simple to everyone can understand it.
Coming back to the fine art world, I can start to understand minimalism a lot more. A painted white canvas might not be the most visually stimulating outcome in the world. However, it could be the artist’s way of exploring material, brush strokes, technique etc. and I think it can be easy to forget that even fine art needs a concept or a reason behind it. I recently went to an exhibition at the Tate in London and one of the exhibitions was about Energy and Process. Included in these pieces were a mirror on a canvas and some minimalistic paintings. Had I gone as myself three years ago, I would have walked out angry not understanding. However, this time I went with an open mind and tried to understand what the artist was trying to say or do. I still couldn’t get my head around some of the pieces so I bought myself a book called “Minimalism” by David Batchelor which explains minimalism and tells you how you can understand and appreciate the artworks.
Just recently I have discovered the wonders of youtube playlists. It allows me to create music playlists and listen to music online legally (without having to pay for a subscription!). I have found though I get annoyed by the constant adverts for the crap music that plagues our charts these days. However, occasionally an advert will pop up that actually grabs my attention. Either one about a new song by an artist I have never heard of or just a normal advert. Just recently I found myself watching the advert about running on train tracks which I thought was really good.
It made me think about the way advertising is going. Billboards and TV adverts just become a blur these days as we are so numb to them. However, if your watching videos on youtube and you are forced to watch at least 5 seconds of it, sometimes you do find yourself taking more notice of an advert. I also think the way online advertising targets your interests from tracking what you watch (such as the way facebook does) makes it even more effective. I would still rather not have the adverts but from a graphic designer perspective, it is something I should bear in mind should I have to do online advertising.
Just recently I have been looking into frameworks for various aspects of coding. Frameworks take away the need to do all of the boring preliminary set up when coding a site, such as the same tags you need to include in all HTML files and resetting CSS styles. I have been using HTML5 Boilerplate for a while now, which has all of the files, site structure, CSS resets etc., done for you so that when you start the coding of a site you can jump straight into the building of it.
However, when at Shape, I realised the benefit of having your own framework. Whilst it is good to use the pre-built frameworks, having one you have created (or adapted from an existing one) allows you to customise it completely to your taste. For example, Shape have their own framework with all of the basic styles that they commonly use in websites. It also takes away the unnecessary code that you sometimes find in frameworks.
Frameworks save an incredible amount of time, particularly if it’s one you’ve created yourself. I therefore want to develop my own framework for my freelancing. It will include existing styles that I know I will use in a lot of my work, as well as have my own folder structure and file set up. This will allow me to jump straight into building the sites and save a lot of time.
When at Shape I was told about LESS and shown how to use it. LESS is a way to make coding CSS more efficient as it allows you to have variables and numerous features to streamline the code. I had heard about it but never really used it until at Shape. I now can’t imagine not using it as the time it saves is unbelievable. It takes away the need to repeat code which is absolutely brilliant.
Saving time is essential, particularly in the freelance world, as time saved is more time for other projects. It also means your not spending time doing the tedious tasks of writing the same code and can spend more time doing creative or other tasks.
I am new to Instagram as it has only just made it’s way to Android. However, straight away I have found it fun to use and very useful. The main thing I’ve found is it has made me photograph things more. I recently went down to London to a photography talk and to see some exhibitions in the Tate. I found myself photographing everything from the art to the architecture of the buildings around London (particularly this super tall building that looks like a shard of glass).
I think one of the appealing things is the effects applied to the photograph can make most photographs look good. It is a bit of a novelty but I like it. It is also a great tool to keep a log of things you’ve seen and keep track of inspiring things. It also makes you look a lot more at something if you have to photograph it as you have to think about composition etc (particularly when instagram crops it to a square).
A few months ago I was invited to Dribbble. Dribbble is a website which allows designers to post snapshots of their work in progress. The aim is that it encourages people to provide feedback on work and give criticism.
I have uploaded a few things to Dribbble and haven’t really found it useful in the sense of getting critique. However, I need to build up the number of followers first. I have found that a lot of feedback you see from users is things like “Looks good” which I don’t find useful enough. It would be better if people did give more criticism (although there is still a lot of people who give useful feedback).
I have found dribbble is more useful as a tool for research and inspiration, in particular seeing working methods of designers. I like seeing the process from start to finish and often people upload sketches and scamps. It’s great to see how they achieved the end result, particularly when looking at illustrated type.
I think dribbble is particularly useful if your a freelancer. If your working alone, it can be difficult to get feedback from other designers as your not surrounded by them. Dribbble provide the opportunity for this feedback from designers all over the world, which I think is great.
I have also found Dribbble has been a good way of getting people to visit my website. I always check how people have found my webite and Dribble is bringing people in. Can’t complain at extra site visitors. Whilst they wont be clients (as they are designers themselves) it is certainly useful if your site is aimed more at getting a job or placement from agencies.
Whilst on placement at Shape, I was shown ExpressionEngine, a powerful content management system that can pretty much do anything you want it to. A content management system allows you to update the website without needing to go into the code or having to modify the design. Once set up, you or your clients can fill out a form and then your site is updated easily.
I have had experience with content management systems before such as WordPress but found they are often complicated to get it to do certain things and integrating a design can be a massive pain in the arse. I found ExpressionEngine took away all of these problems. Integrating a website design was a lot simpler than WordPress, using a set of tags unique to expression engine which pulls in all of the content. It took a while to get my head around how the channels all work (what the system uses to store your site content) but once you figure it out it’s easy to set up. I managed to get a 6 page site integrated into Expression in about a day and a half which I was really happy with.
There is one slight downside to ExpressionEngine, which is it’s price tag. It can cost up to $300 and then there are plugins on top of that (such as ecommerce which can cost as well). However, it is well worth it for all of it’s features plus the time saved from the headaches of say Wordpress.
I have decided I am going to use ExpressionEngine for any freelance web work. It’s a lot easier for the client to use which should save me some time if the client needs help. It’s also going to save me time when it comes to implementing it into my designs as it’s template system is easy and powerful.
I have been lucky enough to have had a placement at Shape so I already have an idea what it is like to work there. Web and digital are the main areas I want to work in after leaving university and Shape are a company known for creating beautiful work particularly for web. Whilst they are a young and small agency, I feel that has it’s benefits, working closer with team members and it also means you have to be more adaptable in your role as you may have to take on other roles. Even though it is a small studio, they have some big clients and whilst I was there it was very busy with work always to be done.
What I particularly liked about working there was the variation from being a designer to coder. It is always nice to take a break from something and switching between design and code keeps things fresh.
The minimal, functional style of Shape is very similar to mine and this is what I like most. It means that if I was to work there, I wouldn’t have to adapt my style very much and I would already be comfortable in how to work.
This is an agency I have been in contact with since the DNA carnival event and luckily I have been offered a month long placement with them starting as soon as I hand in my final project.
Retrofuzz are a digital and web agency who work primarily in the music industry. Their client list is unbelievable, having done the websites for some of the biggest names in music such as Lady Gaga and Noel Gallagher. They have also worked with fashion brands such as Eastpak.
Because of the pace of the music industry, often the work they get has very short deadlines and this is something that appeals to me. I need the pressure to work and find it helps me to generate ideas better. I also feel it helps to keep things fresh as you change projects frequently.
I Love Dust
I am a huge fan of the work produced by I love dust, in particular their work with illustrated typography. I’ve found myself browsing their site numerous times for inspiration. They have worked with some huge clients such as Nike and each time the work they produce is mind blowing. Whilst I’m sure they get their bread and butter work, it seems they get a lot of interesting briefs that allow them to be completely creative. Plus they have one sexy office!
One particular piece I like is the Guide Halloween Cover they did for the Guardian. They have captured the old horror style well and the typography is just alive with personality. I have a soft spot for hand drawn typography so this piece appeals to me a lot. The neon green title “Guide” contrasts with the black and white image so it is constantly grabbing your attention. I also like the use of texture, it brings depth to the piece and adds a dirty, dark feel to it.
Whilst technically not a company I’d like to work for, if there’s one thing I aim to do in the future, it’s set up my own design studio. This is something I plan on doing in a good few years but something has always appealed to me about running my own business. I have had a bit of experience with freelancing having a number of clients in the past 6 months or so (and with more work coming in!). I will admit, I do like the organising side to it as well as the designing side.
Having my own agency would allow me to work in a way I want to and in my own style. I would initially start off as a freelancer, but try and increase the workload to turn it into a company with more than one person.
If I had to pick a job that wasn’t graphic designer related as such, I think it would be as a lego designer. Lego has been a huge part of my childhood (and I will admit I own Lego now!) and could be a key reason why I do graphic design. There are endless possibilities with lego and the thought of being able to design the sets of lego would be incredible.
I would want to try and create something aimed more at adults to try and get adults to buy it more. Just because it is a toy doesn’t mean adults cant play with it! I would also want to focus more on the creative bit to it, like the boxes of bricks, as the sets you can buy can be quite limiting.
I spent my Easter doing a full time placement at Shape in Atherton. Shape are primarily a web design agency but also do branding, print and other design. It was certainly a busy Easter with me doing in total about 8 projects in total. Some of which were:
Rest Beauty - I was asked to create 5 different types of logo for Rest Beauty, a new beauty salon opening up at media city.
Photography Icon - I had to create an icon that could be used to watermark a photographers images
Dentistry Stool Company - I had to firstly design a 6 page website. Then code it in HTML5, CSS and JQuery. Finally I had to implement it into expression engine, a content management system. I had never used expression engine before, so first had to learn how to use it’s tags and the system. Having seen how powerful and easy to use it is, I intend to use this in future freelance projects.
ECommerce Website - A huge brief to design an entire ecommerce website design including all of the account and checkout pages. I then began the code the HTML, CSS and JQuery of a few of the pages.
Shape Monthly Newsletter - I had to adapt their new site design into an email format. I then had to code it and implement it into MailChimp.
Overall the placement was fantastic. I found it really fun, challenging and the atmosphere was great. There was plenty to do but I am glad I was given the opportunity to do live briefs. I’ve come away from it with some strong portfolio pieces. I have also learnt a lot, particularly with ExpressionEngine and how to implement designs into MailChimp, which I can use in my own work.
The placement at Shape was particularly important for me as it was my first placement at an agency that are primarily web. I have always been into web and digital but had never had a placement at agencies that mainly focus on it. It was great to work with people who know a lot about it and it made me realise that there was still a lot for me to learn. It also confirmed that web is the direction I want to go in after university.
My blog has been seriously neglected for some time. There’s been a huge amount going on recently, mainly my final project (which is now finished!) and then placements and freelance work.
A lot has been happening in terms of freelance. The biggest has been arranging freelancing with the advertising firm I’ve spent the past two years on placement at. Once the final show is sorted I will be doing freelance work for them which I will do over the weekends whilst I am on placements. The freelance work will be primarily web such as web design, coding, emailers and web banners.
I have also had a few new people interested in working with me to develop a website. Two of which are independent clothing brands, one which makes their own garments, the other which creates artwork and designs for clothing. I am excited for both of these and I feel they both could be strong portfolio pieces.
There is also a new startup based around a unique idea for photography which will be a brilliant project to work on. I am not sure whether I am allowed to give details about this but it sounds like it has potential.
Another opportunity has popped up to create a website for a startup personal fitness trainer company. I am still in talks at the minute about the site but fingers crossed everything goes well with that!
I should also have the two music based websites finished in the next few weeks, the final project has unfortunately stopped me from working on these sites as much but that will be out of the way soon.
One of the main reasons I have been busy the past few months have been placements. Along with the placements I do a day a week at, I’ve also been at Shape, a web design studio in Atherton. I absolutely loved it there and got stuck into a lot of projects. I feel I’ve come away with some strong projects for my portfolio and have learnt a few new skills which will help me out massively with web design.
I will also be starting my placement at Retrofuzz this coming Monday. Retrofuzz are a web design agency in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. Their client list is unbelievably impressive working with the major record labels. I am really excited to start there and should hopefully come away with a few portfolio pieces.
After my placement at Retrofuzz, I will be doing a two week placement at Madhouse Associates in Manchester. Madhouse are a marketing agency who deal with big clients such as Toyota. It will be really interesting to see what it’s like working in a big agency as I’ve only had experience at small agencies so far!
Alongside all of that I will also be working on a separate project which I can not wait to start! I can’t say anything about this project yet but it’s going to be really exciting!
A few weeks ago I took part in an experiment that looked at the effects of technology on the way we think. The groups were split into two, one which had the aid of a computer, the other which didn’t. Both groups were set the same brief, which was to create the identity for a drink vending machine software company.
I was in the group that didn’t have access to a computer. It made things incredibly difficult as it was impossible to do research. I found it difficult to come up with lots of ideas and found myself repeating the same idea over and over again. However, I did feel it made me think more creatively and I felt that because I wasn’t looking at other people’s work, I was possibly creating something original.
It is great that I got to be involved in the research and I am looking forward to seeing what the results are.
A few months ago Salford University hosted the Salford Carnival at Islington Mill. This event was a chance for students to get their portfolios reviewed by industry as well as attend talks by professionals.
The day was a huge success and I really enjoyed it. It was very beneficial as it was great practice for talking through your portfolio and the advice given was invaluable. The first person I spoke to was Chris Gaffey. He gave me some fantastic advice particularly on my presentation techniques which, since then, I have used when showing my portfolio. He also gave me some feedback on my work and suggested ways I could improve my own logo.
The second portfolio surgery was from the chaps at Ubiquitous. I was particularly interested in speaking to these as I really liked their work. They told me that I should focus on some more of the design side of web as web design agencies tend to have dedicated coders and designers now. Since then I have managed to work on some projects that have been more about the design. Even though they suggested to focus on either design or coding, I still want to keep coding when I can as it does have it’s benefits.
The third person I spoke to was Tom from K2L Marketing. Tom was a recent graduate from Salford so it was great to get the perspective of industry and the real world from someone who had not long ago been at university. One of the things I was told is that the workload is far more intense and deadlines are a lot shorter!
Finally I spoke to Matt and Jen from Retrofuzz. They gave me some feedback on my work and we chatted about what they did. They told me how it was an advantage to know about coding as it makes you aware of the possibilities and the limitations of web design.
After the portfolio surgeries I stuck around to chat to people. I bumped into Andy and Jason from Shape, who at that time I hadn’t met properly. It was good to get to know them before I started the placement with them and I made sure I asked them lots of questions about industry. I was particularly interested in how they both went freelance straight after uni and eventually set up their own company.
The event was a great success and the advice I received was beneficial. To make things better, I received an email the day after from Retrofuzz asking me to pop in to show my work which in turn led to a placement!
A few weeks ago I went down to london to go see Light It! Shoot It! Retouch It! by Scott Kelby, a chap who runs online training for photography and photoshop. Photography isn’t one of my strong points so I felt it was a great way to learn some new skills.
Among the things taught were how to set up lighting in shoots, how to photo retouch and how to properly cut out hair (which was very impressive!). However, I felt it was the very end which was the best bit. Kelby talked about photo retouching and whether it was right. To sum up very briefly what he said, he believed that the changes made should be kept between the person and Photoshop as people don’t want to be told about their flaws. However, it can make people feel good about themselves when they see the retouched photographs.
The debate of photo retouching has been brought up many times and I do agree with Kelby that it should be something you do but keep to yourself (don’t tell them what changes you’ve made). I think there are limits to retouching (making someone look different to how they look for example) but smaller retouches are fine and can make the person photographed feel good about themselves.
Since the start of third year, I have began trying to start up freelancing with the intent of building up a client base and getting frequent work by the time I graduate.
I have been really surprised by how well it is going. In the space of a few months I have been working on web designs for two Manchester based music nights/labels, a website and advert for a small car garage in Rochdale and I have just took on a few new clients including a photographer who needs a logo and website and two fashion/design based companies who require a website.
Alongside that I have a couple of self initiated products that could really take off which should hopefully be done by the end of the year.
I’ve learnt a lot already from freelancing including how to deal with clients and also how to streamline my own design process. This allows me to work more efficiently and enables me to do this work alongside my university work and placements.
I will be posting more about some of these projects in the near future.
I am currently working with Wayne Marsden (an ex-salford student who now Freelances) on a new project for Swinton Lions. It involves creating branding and then designing and developing a website.
Wayne will be primarily working on the branding and web design whilst I will be also involved in the web design but also coding the site and implementing it into a content management system.
I am really looking forward to working on this as it will be a good opportunity to work with someone I haven’t worked with before. Also, Wayne has a lot more experience than me so I’m sure I’ll pick up some tips particularly with the working with clients side of things.
One of the design agencies I did a portfolio surgery with at the DNA Carnival was Retrofuzz. Retrofuzz is a web design agency who work a lot with the music industry working with clients such as Lady Gaga, Noel Gallagher and Nero. I was particularly interested in seeing them at the Carnival as firstly their client list is unbelievable, but also because my portfolio was primarily web based so I wanted to see web agencies.
I had some great feedback from Matt and Jen (two designers at Retrofuzz) who gave me some advice on my own portfolio whilst also answering many of my questions about working in industry and about Retrofuzz. The day after I received an email from Matt Kendall, one of the owners of Retrofuzz, asking me to pop into the studio for a brew and a chat as he was interested in seeing my work.
This was another opportunity to get some feedback on my work and to practise presenting my work to industry. Overall I got some good feedback, advice on my portfolio and information about industry and how it works. I was also offered a placement which begins the week after I hand in my final project which I am really excited to start.
I visited Retrofuzz again last week to see Matt to arrange the placement but also to show a few of the one day projects I have been working on (Visual Arts Cover, D&AD Rain Poster, Salford Type Foundry Website and Shape Placement Logos). I got some really good tips and advice for some of the projects I had shown, in particular the Rain brief. One idea suggested by Matt was to create a parallax website for the rain brief which I am currently in the process of designing and coding.
This Easter I will be doing a placement over at Shape, a design company who works primarily with web but also does print and photography. Web and digital are the main areas I want to work with after I graduate, so this placement is going to be fantastic to learn how a web agency works and learn lots of tips and techniques.
On the 15th of March, I popped into the studio for a taster day, to see the studio, get an idea of how they work and what my placement will be like over Easter. It was a very busy day, with 3 briefs set up for me to tackle in one day (to get a taste of the real world) but very enjoyable. The briefs involved designing 5 different possible logo ideas for a new beauty company in MediaCity, some icon options for a photographer to use for watermarking and a website design for a service Shape will be offering in the future.
A huge amount of work, but this worked in my favour as I need pressure to work. I found the most challenging brief was the logo one as it had been some time since I had designed a logo. However, I really enjoyed it as I had to try and create the best options for the client in a short space of time.
I particularly enjoyed the web design brief. I didn’t manage to finish the homepage design completely whilst I was there so I spent a few hours this week continuing the design and I am really happy with the outcome.
I haven’t posted any images of the work yet as I’m not sure whether it’s okay to.
Today (14/3/2012) I have been working on a few different interesting projects. The first was to finalise the acupuncture website I had been coding up. This involved checks to the HTML, CSS and ensuring it was accessible and search engine friendly.
I then spent the afternoon researching into e-commerce options for a potential new client who wants to sell jewellery online. After a few hours researching and trying out different e-commerce software packages I found only a few that I felt were appropriate both for my requirements and for the client’s. It had to be simple to use for the client so adding products and new information to the site was easy. It also had to be easy to customise so that when I design a layout for it, I can easily then code it up and implement it into the e-commerce software.
I found the following options best fit my requirements:
OpenCart - This is the free option I found. I managed to install and set up an online shop within minutes without requiring any technical knowledge. Creating a theme seemed like an easy enough process.
LemonStand - Firstly, I like this product because the website is so well designed (unlike a few of the e-commerce sites I had found). Whilst I haven’t tested this one, it looks like it has all the requirements I need. It does cost, however, yet with e-commerce sites it’s often better to pay for software if its appropriate for the site.
ExpressionEngine & Cartthrob(Plugin) - This is one I have read into but due to having to pay for this before downloading I haven’t been able to try. This was recommended to me by the chaps over at Shape who rated this software highly.
I will present these options to the client and explain the pros and cons of both.
It’s been just over a month since I’ve updated my blog. This is because there’s been a huge amount going on, which I’m about to post about. Therefore, I warn and apologise for the large number of posts about to flood your screens
Today we had to pitch our idea to a few students and our tutors. We had some really great feedback which we have already acted on. For the past few weeks we’ve been talking about what we’re going to do without actually doing anything, and due to how relaxed we are with things we’ve let the weeks go by without bringing these ideas to life.
We’ve now set ourselves a daily task which involves us spending an hour designing a print. We each find a random word (either ask someone for a word, random word generator etc) and then create a design from it. We have to do one a day (although further down the line we may end up doing more). That means by the time we have our next seminar next week, well have 21 posters in total to show. By the time this project is ready to hand in we’ll have around 200 designs.
Currently we’ve been afraid to fail and instead have not produced anything. With this new approach, it means we’ll have a huge amount of work of which some will be crap but some could be really nice!
We had some great feedback on our 26prints blog and have been told to use that more to find out what people like as well as a research tool.
Another slight change to the approach of MuttonBoon as the previous approach wasn’t working for us. The only difference now is we design what we want, in whatever way we want but work to our strengths and interests. Prior to this we wanted to make use of puns/wit etc but we all struggled with this. I tried to illustrate some ideas but I wasn’t happy with the outcomes.
What I will be focusing on this brief alongside the branding etc is producing typographic posters. I love typography and is one of my favourite areas of design. I want to explore more with typography and also be able to have a great selection of typographic pieces for my portfolio/the end of year show.
I will base my designs off a key word or theme and then hand draw the typeface and design before bringing it in digitally (if necessary). I will then print it using either a printmaking technique or with a special print finish.
I will do a new word/theme everyday and spend minimum 20 minutes on creating a rough layout and concept. Then at the end of the week I will pick the strongest ones to develop further. It’d be great if by the end of the uni year I have about 5-10 really nice designs to show and sell.
We are a small team of 3 people (known as Boons) that produce beautiful, hand printed/made artwork that we sell online through our website. The artwork is a reflection of our personal styles and interests but each piece must include a hand printed element to it or make use of special print finishes such as spot UV. Our work is exciting, original and shows off the beauty of print.
What makes MuttonBoon Different?
The idea of selling handprinted designs is far from original, but we feel that if something looks good enough people will buy it. By designing to our strengths, our artwork will be the very best we can create and it will be a reflection of the energy and enthusiasm put into it.
What will we sell?
Our starting products will be posters and printing onto books/sketchbooks. However, if we feel another product could work that involves a print element to it, we will explore it (such as paper toys etc). As the company progresses, we hope to expand our product range into t-shirts and other accessories.
Who is our demographic?
Our target market is creatives. More specifically creatives that love printmaking and print in general and have a genuine passion for design. They will appreciate the process involved in the printing and are willing to pay a little bit extra to get an original print which has either been done by hand or makes use of a special print finish.
The minimum deliverables we require are:
Branding - We need an identity that represents what we do and our personalities.
Website - This is how we will sell the majority of our products and will also act as the voice of the company through the blog. The online store must be easy to use, highlight the products and look good.
Promotion - We require both online and offline promotion. We need to promote our website both through online media such as social networking, mailers etc but also offline promotions to advertise the site, as well as direct mail for specific customers (such as design agencies and creatives)
Packaging - We need packaging that reflects our personality and looks so good people want to keep it. We will need a way of packaging posters as well as sketchbooks and other items of a similar size and shape.
A launch event - We aim to launch MuttonBoon in time for the Salford University Degree show. We need some form of exhibition/installation/pop up shop etc that promotes our company and allows people to buy our products.