Friday, 13 February 2009

End of module Evaluation.

This module, especially the book of 100, has been by far the most stressful of the year and yet the most rewarding in the sense of what I’ve learnt. The 100 book on its own seemed to throw up problem after problem, and I feel I have come far, even in the past few months, in dealing with these kinds of issues. I think I have learnt to appreciate when I need to let an idea go, and how to work things to my advantage when a project doesn’t go the way I wanted or expected. My plan to use the laser cutter to produce the 100 pages of my book backfired in the last week, mainly due to my poor time management, but also because the facility became unavailable to me. Instead of realising that the idea was dead, I clung onto it for a good 3 or 4 days trying to figure out a way to bring it back to life, wasting precious time where I should have been developing a new concept. I think that has been the biggest lesson learnt in the past weeks, - learn to accept when it’s time to move on, it’s harder than it sounds when you have your heart set on something.

So, I moved on to tracing paper within the last few days, and though it’s not nearly as spectacular as my original idea, I feel I managed to get it up to an at least ‘markable’ standard before submission. Another pointer regarding this particular project was the amount of time I spent worrying over the cover. I spent countless hours down in woodwork trying to perfect this beautiful piece of wood into my dream book cover. Another example of me wanting to do something so much that it beings to cloud my vision, and I lose sight of the original objective, which in this case was research. Speaking of research, I felt it was particularly difficult to get my head round everything we had learnt before Christmas about researching and categorising. At the time it was easy to take in, but to actually put it into practise became such an issue for me. My organisational skills leave a lot to be desired anyway, but when faced with facts, figures and spreadsheets they actually cease to exist. Anyway, I tried to tailor the research I gathered to suit the way a prefer to work, which was nerve racking as I saw everyone around me making graphs and pie charts out of statistics they’d gathered. I figured I’d get nothing out of a process like that, so I left it well alone.

That’s the summary of how I feel having handed everything in, I just needed to get that out, and I think that’s probably the most important aspect of an evaluation, self reflection.

Question time...

What practical skills have you developed through this module and how effectively do you think you have applied them?

I’ve developed many practical skills over this module, the most beneficial of which have been within Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.

InDesign I hadn’t ever used before, so I’ve gone from being a total novice to being able to design and print a booklet on my own. That’s probably the most useful thing I’ve learnt. The Photoshop brief forced me to use the software again, which I haven’t touched in about 6 months, and I was incredibly rusty. It’s been really good to get back on it though after all this time, and I’ve gained back some of my lost confidence, as well as discovering some new techniques.

Another interesting practical skill was the book binding workshop, what a fantastic skill to have? I’ve always been interested in book binding, and to create a professional looking book like that was something special.

What approaches to / methods of problem solving have you developed and how have they informed your design development process?

The best way to solve any problem as far as I’m concerned is to talk about it. The group crits and the informal crits that occur within our group are the single biggest problem solver we have as designers. It’s so hard to overcome any issue on your own, without having someone to bounce off, and this is especially so within graphic design. So you can imagine how much talking I’ve been doing the last few weeks. Every step of the way, every problem I’ve encountered has been talked over and over with as many different people as I could find until I have a more rounded picture, only after this process will I make a decision.

The next step is work sheets. I’ve been working mainly on an A3 scale since we came back after Christmas, as I’m trying to wean myself off purely sketchbook work. So far so good, it’s nice to work on a bigger scale, as ideas flow better from one to the other when you aren’t flicking through pages!

Lastly, dare I say it, the good old reliable brainstorming session. Things I didn’t even realise I had in my head come out when I just start writing words on a piece of paper, sometimes that’s all you need to get you started.

What strengths can you identify in your work and how have/ will you capitalise on these?

Strengths. I think my biggest strength was my perfectionist attitude towards the things that I really wanted to look good, i.e. the book cover. This has to be something that I keep under control though, or it could run away with me again.

I think the part of the process that involved designing and creating a final resolution was also quite strong, some of my book design sheets were really quite strong, clear and concise.

What weaknesses can you identify in your work and how will you address these more fully?

Research is by far my biggest let down, which is ridiculous because this was a research brief. Quite honestly, I have really struggled to apply what I’ve learnt about research to the projects that followed. That’s not to say I don’t think I’ve learnt anything, I’ve just found it so hard to be strict with myself and use research I’ve gathered to inform my decisions. Instead I tend to let my ideas form in my head and over conversation, forgetting to make note of them. This is obviously something I will work on, and like my time management skills, something that will take a lot long than a few weeks to resolve.

Identify five things we could have done differently that would have benefited your progress

More varied crit sessions. I had Jo for all my crits, and not to say that they weren’t useful and informative, I just found myself wanting more than one person’s perspective. Maybe one crit with each tutor?

Also more varied critting formats would’ve been beneficial. The same format of sitting in a large group going round one by one got a bit sterile for me after the first few sessions. Big groups also means people have switched off towards the end, so the last few people, invariably me, get less out of a session.

Lastly, another issue with the crits, the length of them meant that often I came away feeling mentally drained, and it becomes hard to pick up work again afterwards. For me, a shorter, smaller grouped crit would be of much more use, and if need be, maybe have them more often. Instead of a really long, intense session one a week that leaves everyone feeling a bit dazed.

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