Last week, we took down the show and said goodbye to the course at Brookes. We also got given our results – eek! After a day of nail biting and nervous chatter, we were handed envelopes containing our result. I am very happy to be able to say that I got a Distinction!! WOOOO! I am glad that all my hard work was recognised and that I passed and therefore met the conditions of my offer to study Graphic Design at Falmouth.
I’ve now been home a week and I really miss everyone who I got to know whilst in Oxford. I had the most wonderful year and I loved the whole of FMP. Foundation was so worth doing and I would definitely recommend it to anyone considering applying to an arts subject.
But I’ve been thinking, I really enjoyed writing this blog as part of my final major project and I would really like to continue it in some capacity over the summer – for myself more than anything else. I will try to write about design relevant things and maybe about student-y type things too. And then in September, I should be able to take it back up again as a reflective journal to go alongside my project work.
Last night was the private view of our final show. It was a really great evening and it was wonderful to see all the hard work over the last six weeks pay off and see so many proud faces.
I put my banana bread and cupcakes in place just before the show and it went down very well. I used this banana bread recipe and my lovely flatmate Hannah helped me to do the baking so some credit must go to her. I thought it turned out well and several people said it tasted good. I topped up the plate halfway through the show and on both occasions it was eaten very quickly. I just had to hope that people were actually looking at my work and not just eating cake and ignoring it- perhaps putting out cake was not such a good idea in that respect. Unfortunately, apart from the few my parents took, I didn’t take any photos of my display when it was complete. This was a huge mistake and I really regret not taking better photos of the display in it’s entirety because it will gradually deteriorate as the week goes on. I think the reason that I didn’t take any pictures was because I only put in the cakes and bread half an hour before the opening so it was all a bit of a rush and I just completely forgot. I also suddenly got really nervous for some reason so it slipped my mind. I think that if I had been more organised and had put everything in place a little earlier, I would have been able to be more relaxed and might have taken some photos before the cake was eaten. I will ask around and see if anyone else took any photos of my work and get them to send them to me.
The lowest point in the evening was when I went back to my display towards the end of the show and found that two of the four cup sleeves had gone missing, along with lots of the business cards. I can understand that people may have thought that the business cards were to be taken but the cup sleeves I am quite upset about, which seems petty I know but I don’t have any more of the the banana paper so I can’t print any more. I also wasn’t expecting people to eat the cupcakes, which perhaps was silly of me to assume because the banana bread had a sign by it saying ‘sample ~ try me’. This may have been confusing, and on reflection, I should have made it clearer what was and wasn’t to be eaten. The cupcakes had the logo on so they were part of the design work that I had done, unlike the banana bread which was just to enhance the display.
So to solve this, I went in today and put a sign by the display saying ‘please do not touch’ which I hope will make it clearer that nothing on the display is to be taken away.
The best and most surprising moment of the evening was winning the award for the Visual Communication student with best overall performance throughout the year. I was very flattered and proud. I have to say though, I have really enjoyed foundation and particularly my FMP so apart from the odd stressful day, it hasn’t felt much like work. I think that ultimately, this is the best I could have hoped for from Foundation. It really has been the best year and I will be so sad to leave next week.
My work is now almost completely ready and displayed on the plinth. I have a banana bread and cupcakes in the oven as I type which I will add to the display to add a bit of context. I might also put a plate of banana bread out for the private view to be eaten – everyone says this is a good idea!
I think I have decided not to display the brand identity guide because I didn’t leave an appropriate space for it and I don’t want to just add it to the end because I think that that would make the whole display too long and would draw attention away from the posters in the middle. I have spoken to Karl about it and he thinks that I should include it, so tomorrow morning I will do a final test and confirm that I don’t want it in. I am slightly concerned about the plinth being too busy and having too much on display but some people said that it is okay because it means there’s lot’s to look at. I might try to pare down what I have out in order for the overall display to look cleaner. I will see.
I have also decided to display a few of the business cards upside down because after talking to some of my peers about it, I have realised that it would be a shame for the rustic, hand stamped backs not to make an appearance since they were initially such a large part of the brand identity.
Tomorrow is the private view and in preparation for it, these are my action points:
Put banana bread, sample plate and cupcakes with icing in place in the display.
Paint over the blue smudge on the plinth- if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
Test out the placement of the brand identity guide.
Glue the stickers back onto the cups because they seem to be peeling off slightly.
Find some way of securing the notices about the paper onto the plinth because they keep falling off as someone walks past. I think that this is to do with the way I cut the support at the back. If I did it again, I would not make it so narrow so that it would have more to lean on. I still could adjust this if it is a major problem.
Review the display objectively and look out for issues. Get Karl or maybe one of the other tutors to check it.
Clean the floor; this would set off the exhibition really well and would make it look really professional.
Make sure the name label is correct and it level etc.
I am really looking forward to the private view and i’m excited to see all the work that everyone else has been producing for the last six weeks. I am proud of myself and I am happy with my final display but it will be such a relief to finally have everything complete and have the chance to see all the finished work.
Over the last week, I have been helping to prepare the exhibition spaces for the final show. This has involved constructing, filling and painting walls and plinths as well as cleaning the floors. I have enjoyed this process because it’s methodical and logical and provides a change from the creative nature of the past few weeks. I have also learned some new practical skills such as drilling and filling which has been fun and satisfying. It has taken a few days and lots of teamwork to get everything done but we have now completed all of the group work and can focus on preparing our own spaces. I have definitely learned the importance of teamwork this week.
For my display, I had previously done some sketches which were helpful because I had an idea of the general way that I wanted the work to look but I kept forgetting to refer to them today. I had planned on hanging the three framed posters above the plinth and the wall menu slightly to the right above the chalkboard. I wanted to put the vinyl sticker on the front of the plinth and then display all of the other bits on top.
Today, I put my plinth in place and planned out where I wanted everything on the wall. I used pieces of paper to test out the height and things. This worked well because I was able to move them around and easily make adjustments. It went okay but I should have planned out exactly where I wanted everything else first because I found that later on, I was wishing that I could move the posters up a bit. I also put everything up quite hastily and I had to move a few of the nails because the framed posters were not lined up correctly. In my haste I also forgot about the t-shirts and the brand identity guide that I had also intended to put up on the wall. So I have learned that it is definitely worth planning everything out completely and checking that everything is there before putting nails in.
The other thing I did today was put the vinyl sticker in place – IT WORKED! The only thing that I could have improved with it is that I could have made sure that it was going to go on completely straight. It is in fact slightly wonky but it would be impossible to change it now because the nature of the process is that you only get one chance to put it on. I used a squeegee from the screen printing room to aid the process of making sure that all of the air bubbles went and it was definitely the right tool to use for this. This video helped to explain the process and I’m really glad that I watched it first before I tried to do it myself.
Tomorrow I hope to put up everything that needs to be on the wall and put most of the display in place. I will check it with Karl and make any adjustments but hopefully I’m very nearly almost finished.
Action points (ask Karl/peers):
Where to put the brand identity guide- would be a shame to leave it out but I can’t see an appropriate space for it- maybe alongside the menu?
Should I have the tote bag?- I feel that the colours don’t go with the display but others feel that it should be included.
Work out how to display the business cards- In a pile? or fanned out? – I don’t like the backs much so maybe avoid showing them?
Yesterday, I cleared a space in our kitchen and put all of my pieces out so that I could take good photos of them. I tried to set the stuff up in a way that might be similar to how the exhibition display will be but I was limited with space, and I couldn’t hang my posters on the wall etc. This wasn’t a huge problem because I was able to get a good sense of how the pieces will look as a collection. I think that some of the photos were good (I will post some below), but several of them came out blurred and badly lit. I think this is because I forgot that I had the camera on manual focus and also I didn’t consider lighting at all. I also do not have much confidence with photography and I don’t know much about cameras. I can learn from this and next time I have to take high quality photos, I will make sure that I check the settings on the camera before I shoot and I will make sure there is good lighting as well as get some advice with composition etc.
One thing I have noticed from this shoot is that the pieces look particularly good displayed against a dark background. It would be nice to try to recreate this for the show. I feel like if the pieces were against white, they may not have the same impact. I don’t know if it is possible to display them in the final show against black, but I will ask Karl once I know whether I will be allowed a plinth or not and I will test black and white and see what my peers think.Looking at all the final pieces together in a display is very satisfying and I am really pleased with the way the whole project went. I was able to draw on skills i’d learned during the exploratory and pathway stages (eg. Adobe Illustrator) and I continued the style of working that I developed through pathway. For example, I found during pathway that I didn’t work well on sheets, I was much more comfortable working in a small sketchbook where I was less intimidated by blank space. I continued working like this and I have presented almost all of my research, besides the initial research sheets, in my sketchbooks, of which I produced 2 and a bit. I will write more in the self evaluation but for now I will just say that I think that I have been successful in producing a brand identity that combines a simple, organic, natural aesthetic with some colour and a contemporary style. I have also learned new skills as a result of the project, for example, screen printing. I can definitely take the things i’ve learned through FMP and apply them in future projects for my degree. Perhaps surprisingly, the project went fairly smoothly with few problems besides printer issues so it has been really fun to work on and it has been a really enjoyable process that has helped me to confirm that Graphic Design is definitely the discipline that I enjoy the most and that I should be pursuing.
I bought a relatively inexpensive chalkboard A board from Amazon and I wanted to use it somehow to promote the cafe or have a menu or specials or something on it. There is some research on this Pinterest board. Right at the start of the project, Karl said that I needed to avoid the ‘chalkboard aesthetic’ that lots of independent coffee shops have these days and I mildly disagreed, thinking that a chalkboard was a practical addition to a branding project for a cafe. I hope that by being careful to make sure that the board is cohesive with the other elements of the project, I have avoided upsetting Karl. I haven’t seen him since I did it so I have yet to get his feedback but I will as soon as I see him.
These are some photos documenting the process:Recreating the fonts, especially ‘Iron and Brine’ which is the main one, was really difficult and I spent a very long time drawing it all out by hand. Looking back, it might have been easier to make some kind of stencil or template that would have helped me to draw out the design faster and perhaps more neatly. I am really glad, though, that I spent so long taking care to be as accurate as possible because I think the final outcome looks good. My only issue is that I don’t know how to fix the chalk onto the board so it will be hard to transport it to the studio without smudging it (I have written more about this in my journal).
This is the process in my sketchbook:
When I was designing the board, I decided that it would be easier to go straight onto illustrator because it would be much quicker. If I was drawing out the different layout options by hand, it would have been hard to show the black background.
The tests below show the different options I tried for layout and copy.
For the final design, I tried to make it easy to read and provide some contrast in the fonts and their scale. Looking back at the different options again now, I think I definitely went for the right layout (bottom right).
For the final display, I wanted to make a vinyl sticker that could be stuck onto the front of a plinth or on the wall or a widow etc. I saw lots of examples of these wall/window decals when I was doing research into the types of things included in restaurant/cafe branding at the beginning of the project. Also, making this pinterest board made me want to try making one. I watched this video by Anne Le which was very helpful and I thought that although it sounded like a time consuming process, it was fairly straightforward.
The sticker took me a very long time to cut out and my hand and fingers were very very sore by the time I finished. I think that if I did it again, I would do it in several sittings rather than all in one go, because it was so painful. The cutting out went okay generally but my scalpel didn’t cut through in some areas so they are a bit more ragged but I don’t think it matters too much because the sticker will be viewed from a distance. To make this a more professional process, I could have used the laser cutter to cut out the letters. I thought that it might be difficult to programme the machine to only cut through the paper and the vinyl and not the backing sheet so I did it by hand to have more control. Also according the the video, professionals may use a wide masking tape to transfer the image to the wall but I don’t have any that wide so I will use contact paper instead. I will leave the sticker on it’s backing until it needs to be stuck to the wall during the show.
When I laid all of my pieces out I felt like there wasn’t much to them in that lots of them are quite simplistic and so I wanted to add some more details to some of the pieces. I decided to bring the branding together more by making some little signs that have the names of the cakes on and also some little notices with information about the specialty paper that i’m using and also maybe some with information about sustainability and Fairtrade. I thought that they could be placed on the tables in the cafe so that they could be read at the customer’s leisure rather than having them on the counter or the wall. This was a good decision because it allowed me to add more detail and make them smaller so that their could be more information.
I kept the design really simple and just followed the same guidelines that i’ve been using for some of the other bits. This made the process of designing and making the signs really fast and easy.
On that note, I am really glad that I made the brand identity guide right at the beginning (when I first designed the logo) because it has allowed me to keep it open in a tab and so that all I need to do when I design a new element is copy and paste elements from the guide. It has allowed me to stay focused and make sure that all of the parts of the project are cohesive. It has also meant that I had a criteria of sorts so I when I had designed something I could look back at the guide and decide if it was on brand. I think that this made that part of the project more professional in the sense that I all the parts had to meet the guidelines set out at the start. I have learned from this that when I next do a branding project, it is useful to have a document to act as a guide to maintain focus and cohesion throughout the project.
I ordered some black paper coffee cups and I have designed some cup sleeves to wrap around them. The process was fairly straightforward and I am pleased with the result. I took a Starbucks cup sleeve and deconstructed it so that I could see how it was made, because I wanted mine to look professional. I then made a few sample templates until I found one that fitted well around the cup and looked the right scale and created it on illustrator. This was useful because I then knew that the design would definitely fit when I printed it out and it would be less wasteful.