Explore – Work Placement – Final Blog – Reflective Conclusion

Were your expectations about the work placement
realised, and in what way?
• Has the work experience confirmed in you a desire to work
in the area you have chosen to study? Explain why.
• If the work experience has sent you in a different career
direction? If so, why might this be so.
• How do you anticipate the placement will impact on your
studies?
• On reflection, what would you do differently if you had
your time over again? So what is the lesson you take away
from this? Would you recommend work experience and what
recommendations would you make to students choosing
Field: work placement in the future?

I thoroughly enjoyed my time completing the work placement option of the field module. When choosing to go ahead with it, I was nervous and unsure of how it would go and wondered if I’d made the right decision. I emailed a few different studios and companies, and had only heard back with a decision from one of them (IG Design UK, which was only 1 week’s worth of the full month) by the deadline day. I was so stressed and had to resort to phoning the companies (and others) asking if they’d take me on. A few of them seemed horrified thatI’d rung them with many “um, we don’t take on students…” responses. This really knocked my confidence and made me so nervous to call the next company! But I had to do it – I really wanted to do it! Luckily enough, I rang Tidy Studio, and Tim was so friendly and said that he hadn’t received my original email (the only email I could find was a “hello@….com” email. But I did search and search for their personal emails! I also DM’d them on social media but no responses). I emailed my original email to the newer one provided by Tim over the phone, and he replied immediately saying yes! I was so relieved and was now pretty optimistic and looking forward to the whole experience. I also secured a placement in the meantime, through a family friend. So I went from having none to three in a short space of time, which was pretty overwhelming.

When I started my first week in IG Design UK, I quickly realised that “wow, this is the real world”… I started at 8 and finished at 4, which were peak traffic times for the area, meaning it took a good 30mins to travel each way. By the time I got home I had to cook etc and before I knew it it was the next day. I realised that I didn’t have much spare to continue personal projects or go to the gym or even go food shopping, and I definitely appreciated the weekends so much more than I used to! I think that this was something that I didn’t really “expect” from work experience. Obviously I knew the hours I was going to be working, but I was quite naive to how little time I actually had to pursue other activities before and after work.

Working in IG Design UK and Tidy Studio made me realise the differences between international businesses and small businesses. IG Design had 100s of employees which made it difficult to fit in, whereas Tidy Studio only had 2, which was a much more comfortable, chilled environment to be in. Working in a huge company like IG, meant that there were lots of deadlines and the work is essentially passed on through the conveyor belt onto the next person or team. It seemed pretty stressful for the employees, and people were constantly chasing each other up for jobs – it seemed a little overwhelming. In comparison, Tidy Studio had regular meetings with clients and every employee was kept up to date with deadlines and changes etc to the work.

In terms of the type of work I was doing, I definitely preferred working in Tidy Studio. Although I really enjoyed my time in IG, and learnt so much about using the Creative Cloud suite programs – I just couldn’t see myself doing it all day every day. It was a bit too technical and not creative enough for me.

Explore – Work Placement – Week 4

Tidy Studio, Ty Cefn, Cardiff.

This week, I was supposed to be doing my work experience in Fishtec, Brecon. I met with Heather last week, the lady who was looking after me for the placement, and she advised me that there were redundancies being announced this week, and that the atmosphere in the office was really negative. She suggested that if I didn’t have to do the placement, not to bother. I felt a bit upset and disappointed at this, and didn’t want to attend somewhere with a negative atmosphere as I felt it wouldn’t benefit me much at all. Because of this, I decided to ask Tim at Tidy Studio whether I would be able to complete my final week of work placement with Tidy, staying on an extra week. He said that he was happy to have me stay on an extra week and that it was no problem or hassle. I was really relieved by this as I obviously wanted to complete my month of work placement, but didn’t feel very optimistic about Fishtec. Overall I think it all worked out for the best.

Monday:

Today we started by having a catch up about ongoing projects and where we all were in terms of deadlines etc. By the third week, I felt I had really settled in at the studio, and felt a lot more comfortable chatting with Tim and Hugh.

My first task was to continue to produce some handmade style visuals for Llanfaes Dairy. I experimented with illustration using my iPad, mixing in a but of typography as well. The brief Tim gave me was to work in black and white, handmade style to display the home made artisan feel of the business, and to keep any typography clear and readable. I showed my outcomes to Tim and Hugh, and they both really liked the style I was working in and thought that it fitted the brief really well. I was really pleased that they liked my work. They were impressed by the quantity of work I was producing for the timeframe, and also liked the fact I was using my iPad using the Procreate app, not just the standard illustrator. They liked the fact I was creating original artwork and not just using stock images as it really suited the handmade, artisan aspect of the brief well. They told me to continue producing this sort of style work, and Tim advised me to play with typography inside objects relating to dairy and ice cream in particular. He explained that inverting black and white could be interesting and create different effects and balance of the overall visual.

Tuesday:

Today I printed off all of my illustration ideas for Llanfaes Dairy, and put them on the wall to ‘assess’. Tim explained that it was important to print off ideas, because artwork can look completely different printed compared to on screen. It can also spark different ideas, and sometimes helps you visualise the artwork in situ better than a screen can. I thought this information was extremely valuable and will be something I do more often, as I feel that I’m a sucker for keeping to a screen and not printing off my work enough. It’s a vital part of the process when designing, and I will definitely be doing this more often during my future projects – both uni and personal.

Tim and Hugh came to see my ideas on the wall and gave me some valuable feedback on my ideas. We discussed how the heavier weighted hand drawn type worked a lot better than the lighter weighted type, and also how a mix of inverted black/white aspects worked well within a single visual worked well in order to help balance out a piece of typography, creating a more strong path for the eye and hierarchy. I found this technique simple yet extremely effective, and will definitely apply this to my future work.

After discussing each idea, Tim and Hugh gave me their opinion on the strongest ideas, and then I went back to the computer to adapt them and make some small changes that were needed to make the visuals stronger and more eye catching.

In the afternoon, Tim and Hugh had a client meeting with Kate, who works for a food company that makes slimming world friendly snacks, specifically “Pink ‘n’ Whites” wafers. Because I wasn’t that familiar with this project, I didn’t get too involved with the meeting, just said hello and introduced myself. However, I listened to the meeting which was really useful, as I could concentrate on how Tim and Hugh dealt with their client and also how they managed her ideas. I feel that first hand experiences like these are essential for getting a feel for how companies work and how they deal with clients, as the communication with clients is almost as important as the actual design work for them, because understanding their ideas and needs is vital to design what they want to see. It was also interesting to see how they dealt with the clients’ ideas. Sometimes a client had ideas that would definitely never work and are horrendous to Tim and Hugh as Graphic Designers. At the end of the day, they are their clients who pay good money for their work, so they can’t just completely shut down their bad ideas immediately. Tim and Hugh use phrases like ‘we’ll definitely look into that…’ before explaining that they think it might not be the best idea because of whatever reason. Every client is different, some are more trusting of Tim and Hugh than others, and it’s simply a matter of reading the client and trying to make decisions for them based on their level of trust towards the team.

Wednesday:

Today Tim printed off some photos of the Llanfaes Dairy interior which he took last week. We placed these images on the wall alongside my updated visual ideas to try and visualise the ideas in situ, and which ideas would work better in which places.

Next, Tim and I sat down to try and work out the system used for the current board behind the counter at Llanfaes. We started to sketch out some ideas for the board, and decided that there was no longer a need for a menu or flow chart and that a typography based mural would be more suited to the area.

Next I started to mould the visuals to fit the areas of the interior a more specifically. Here are some ideas (which I sketched out using my iPad and edited using Adobe Illsutartor) for the board behind the counter:

Thursday:

Today I focused on producing more of typography based work for the interior of Llanfaes Dairy in order to fit the areas better. I produced a lot of this using my iPad. I really enjoyed using my iPad to produce artwork, because it feels a lot more hands on and it’s nice to use the Apple Pencil, with the added freedom of using lots of different digital “brushes” and being able to easily erase and start again as I pleased. I’m really glad I invested in my iPad last year as it has been extremely useful both in Uni and in personal projects. It was saved me so much time in that I don’t have to scan in original illustrations from paper, which probably took a lot longer to produce in the first place! Here’s an example of some of my typography I created using the Procreate app:

I would then export this artwork as a JPEG and import it to Adobe Illustrator, Image Trace the image, expand it, then edit to tidy up the edges of the letterforms and tweak the colours, etc.

Next, some clients (Chalkhouse Kitchens) came into the studio for a meeting. This time, again, I didn’t contribute much the meeting because there wasn’t really much point s I didn’y really know much about the background of the work for the company. However, I did introduce myself and had a chat with the clients, and was a bit more involved than I was with Kate (Pink ‘n’ Whites client) earlier in the week. I found it really helpful to listen and learn about what happens during client meetings. I feel that it will prepare me for the “real world of work” and graphic design industry more than Uni could ever replicate.

I found it useful to jot down ideas and visuals in a notebook as well as on my iPad. I thought a lot about what Tim said about “getting away from the screen”. I think that this is vital to the design process, so I took his advice and created a notebook page for this project:

Friday:

My final day! Today I focused on producing some more typographic murals for the interior of Llanfaes Dairy. I brought in some books I had at home which I thought would be useful inspiration for this project. This first book is called “Hand Style Lettering”. My mum got me this book as a gift and I love it so much. It has so many different beautiful lettering styles, and I am so passionate about decorative & playful typography, I thought this book was so useful for inspiration for this project.

The second book is called “Junk Type” by Bill Rose. This book is amazing and has such a large volume of typographic content. I love retro/vintage graphic design, and this book showcases so many lovely pieces and it serves as amazing inspiration for this project!

Here is a “work in progress” shot of a typographic piece I was working on for this project.

Next, I focused on creating some 3D mockups of the artwork in situ in Llanfaes Dairy. I did this using Photoshop and the images that Tim took when we visited last week. I found this task pretty challenging as I had never really created my own mockups from scratch before, I had only ever used pre-made mockups. After asking Hugh a few questions and watching a few Youtube tutorials, I finally came up with 6 mockups using some of my work. I am really pleased with how they turned out, and visualising the artwork in situ made it a lot easier than imagining the artwork! Here are the outcomes:

I really enjoyed working on the Llanfaes Dairy project – it was my favourite out of the three I worked on over the last three weeks (Picton Lofts logos, Chalkhouse brochures & Llanfaes Dairy interior visuals). I think this is because it had an element of freedom, but also had the restrictions of only using black and white, keeping to a handmade style, etc. I felt that Tim and Hugh were really happy with the way I was working by this project, and I felt that I found what I enjoyed the most throughout the week.

Tim said that he was really happy with the volume of work I was producing and also the standard of my work. He said that both my standard and volume were equal to previous 3rd year students he had taken on for work placement. I was really happy with this, as I’m still only in my 2nd year, so this was really reassuring to hear. He also invited me to return to the studio if Dean from Llanfaes Dairy liked my style of work, which I was so pleased about! I felt that I really contributed to the workflow and wasn’t just doing “fake” tasks – I was getting involved with live projects, and they are going to show their clients my work. I’m so happy about this!

Explore – Work Placement – Week 3

Tidy Studio, Ty Cefn, Cardiff.

Monday:

To start the day on a Monday, Tim and Hugh always have a catchup about ongoing and new projects. I joined them although didn’t have much input as I was only working on the one project. I found this technique really helpful and realised that it kept them on top of everything, because it’s easy to forget certain aspects and having someone else to talk to about things helps massively.

I started today by finishing my final logo for Picton Lofts by refining the artwork and tweaking the typeface. I feel like my logo has evolved massively throughout this week, and that my final concept is probably one of the simplest concepts I came up with. Both Tim and Hugh said that they liked the idea of the leaves being the “hole” in the P, and that it worked well by conveying the “eco” message subtly and that is was not too “in your face”. I was really happy with this feedback and also with the result of my logo!

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After this, I started to design layout sketches for a brochure for Chalkhouse, one of Tidy’s clients – a kitchen company in Cardiff. I started by looking at other brochures to get a feel for how kitchen brochures layout their editorial and how their body copy is set out, etc. These images are from the Tom Howley catalogue which Tim had in the studio:

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I noticed that the brochures were generally quite image heavy, which is expected when selling kitchens! I started to sketch some layouts:

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Next I started to build my InDesign document, but didn’t get time to place any imagery or text into it today.

Tuesday:

Today I managed to get to page 23 in the kitchen brochure. I liked working on this project, as the brand identity was already decided, so I had to follow a more strict colour scheme and had limited font choices. I liked working like this as I had never really worked on a brief so specific.

I was pretty happy with the design, and showed it to Tim who also liked it.

However, he noticed that I was placing things a bit too close to the margins, for example having text running across a spread. He said it looked good on the screen, but is risky when printing the document as slight changes in the printing could cause the spread to look wonky or mismatched. He also mentioned that he thought I needed to have a bit more negative space within the spreads and that the text was a little too big and bulky. The images were good but maybe too many were squished onto each page, he said they needed a bit more room to breathe. This feedback was really useful and I immediately saw that it would alter the design for the best.

Wednesday: 

Today I reduced the overall length of the brochure, as it was approaching 40 pages. Tim suggested that this was a bit too long, and maybe to pick and choose only the best images to showcase, rather than every images from the photo shoot. I reduced the pages down to about 22. I then started to play around with different image layouts and sizes, trying to showcase the most striking images. I also tweaked the headings in terms of typesetting. I played around with the layout, titles and body copy until I was happy with the overall brochure.

Thursday:

Today we went to Brecon for a meeting with Dean, a client of Tidy’s who runs an ice cream parlour called Llanfaes Dairy. Dean has recently taken over the business from his parents, and was in need of an updated brand identity. Tim and Hugh had met up with him a few times before Christmas to discuss which direction he’d like to take, but today was mainly a catch-up about how he was getting on and what he’d like to focus on next. They started by discussing the interior of the parlour, which is currently being renovated in order to suit the new brand identity. Their new brand identity focuses on a teal, black and white colour scheme, with an artisan, handmade feel. A handwritten/brush style font is used.

It was really interesting to see how Tim and Hugh dealt with the client meetings, especially out of studio meetings. It made me realise how much effort they put in to their clients’ work and how well they work with the clients.

This afternoon, I finished the Chalkhouse brochure document, and also create 3D mockups of a few spreads, the front cover and the back cover.

Friday:

Today I started by looking into Llanfaes Dairy’s visuals. Tim wanted me to do some hand-drawn style illustrations for some of the merchandise for Llanfaes. I really enjoyed this task, as I could use my iPad and be a bit more imaginative with my illustration.

Here’s what I came up with:

Explore – Work Placement – Reflection so far

  • What have you learnt over the last two weeks while out on placement in terms of skills, knowledge and about yourself?

Because I have been to two different companies over the last two weeks, I have learnt a lot of new information and skills, and also a lot of new people. IG Design taught me a lot about print processes and how complicated it actually is to set up artwork for large scale printing. It also taught me the importance of repro teams and how detailed the checks of artwork can be. I also learnt an enormous amount of new shortcuts in Illustrator and Photoshop, which has improved my working efficiency tremendously. I also learnt that I find it challenging to bond with lots of people in a short space of time, but I also found that I improved on this throughout the week.

Being in Tidy Studio has taught me that good design takes time, and also that discussing work with others is vital. I also learnt to value my time a bit more. Looking at some of Tidy’s pricing has made me realise that there is potential in a Graphic Design business (if you are as good as them!).

  • What has been most enjoyable or beneficial to you over this time and why do you think this is?

I think that the most beneficial thing about the experience so far is experiencing the real world of work, and the reality of clients not turning up, being awkward, not understanding graphic design, etc. I found that being in Uni is completely different to working, and I think that doing work experience is essential for a student, and I’m so glad that I chose to do it. I have this opinion as I feel that going to Uni is slightly “fake”, like you have no real commitments to customers, money or work. You have to turn up to work every day, whereas you can sort of pick and choose when you attend Uni.

  • What has been least enjoyable and again, why do you think this might be?

I think the least enjoyable aspect so far was the repetitiveness of IG Design. Although I loved my experience of working there, I didn’t feel that I could do it for the rest of me life. I am more of a creative than technical I think. But I’m glad I found this out, as I feel like that’s the whole point of work experience – you find out what you enjoy and don’t enjoy, to give you a better feel for what you want to do for the rest of your life.

  • Have you been able to develop any particular personal or job role skills over this time?

I feel like I have really improved in my confidence of meeting new people, especially during my time at IG Design. I met so many different people, and the repro team praised me for fitting in and joining in on their conversations. They said that this was a really hard thing to do, especially given that I was so much younger than them all. I was really proud of this, as I always feel a little self conscious and nervous in new situations like this.

  • Are there any areas in your performance where you could improve your input/skills and, if so, how?

I feel like I could definitely improve on asking the team at Tidy Studio what they think of my work more often, and learning to take constructive criticism in a positive way rather than a negative way. I think that this is something that I would get used to naturally after working in the environment for a while, though.

  • How do you feel about the experience so far, and have these feelings impacted on your work at any time?

I have loved every second of my work experience so far. I just think it’s so important to get a feel for the real world. I am currently working on a portfolio website for myself, so that I have a base for any freelance clients to look at. Being at Tidy Studio inspired me to do this, as they said that the more experience you have, the more likely people are to use you as their designer.

 

Explore – Work Placement – Week 2

Tidy Studio, Ty Cefn, Cardiff.

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Before Christmas, Tim invited me into the studio to meet him and Hugh, and so I knew where they were based, and just got a little background on the company and their work. This really helped as I knew what to expect on my first day.

Monday:

On Monday mornings, Tim and Hugh have a meeting about their current projects / clients. They have a grid which contains the client name, project name and description. They then discuss their jobs for the week ahead. They also fill in their calendars with any meetings or jobs away from the studio such as a photoshoot etc.

Next, Tim showed me how to use the server system and where everything is. They currently have a lot of work on, and one of the largest jobs they have on at the moment is for Juniper Homes. Juniper Homes are property developers based in Bristol. Tidy Studio does all of the branding for each property development that Juniper launches. They currently have a few as a work in progress, and some which they haven’t started yet. He showed me some of their previous and ongoing work for Juniper:

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After having looked through their previous work for Juniper, Tim assigned me to do some brand research and create some logo ideas for “Picton Lofts”, one of Juniper’s more recent developments which Tidy Studio hasn’t started on yet.

Picton Lofts will be an energy efficient development of apartments in Picton Street / Picton Lane, Bristol. Tim told me that the area is really “cool”, hipster and independent. I started by researching the area using Google Maps / Streetview, and reading local news articles and stories. See below for examples. I also created a Pinterest board for inspiration here.

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After getting a feel for the area and the people, I started to doodle some initial stage ideas for potential logos:

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I started by jotting down a few keywords which I though described the area well. I was using the graffiti and street art style as inspiration for these ideas. I took some of these ideas forward and vectorised them using Adobe Illustrator. Here are the results:

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Tim said that he liked the first logos, where the “PICTON” text is arched above the graffiti style, vibrant, colourful “lofts”. He also liked the other concepts, but said that maybe they didn’t convey the “energy efficient” side of the development enough. They think that this element needs to be highlighted, as it’s a very appropriate USP, especially given the area that they will be in.

I was happy with the amount of work I got done on my first day, and also how I settled in to being in the team. I found it a lot easier to fit in in Tidy Studio than I did with IG Design. I think this was mainly due to there only being two other members to get to know, whereas in IG Design there were tens of people to interact with every day. I think the fact that I met Tim & Huw before Christmas also helped tremendously.

Tuesday:

Today I wanted to focus on trying to bring through the “energy efficient” / “eco” element of the property through the logo. I started by researching other green/eco logos:

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I thought that going for an on trend/hip approach may work for this project. I really liked the outlined monstera leaf look with splashes of colour underneath it. I definitely want to take this idea forward.

Here are the designs I came up with:

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Although I initially liked the idea of the monstera plant leaf, I don’t think it screams “property” very well at all, so I decided to leave that idea at that for now. I then decided to create a mask effect by putting an image of leaves into the “PICTON” word. I think this works well, although possibly won’t work as well on a larger scale? Tim agreed with me here. I really liked the designs I created where some leaves are “growing” out of the ends of some letterforms in “PICTON”. I think this is subtle enough and doesn’t scream “ECO!!!!” too much, but also conveys the message of energy efficiency, growth and class.

When showing my designs to Tim & Hugh, they agreed that the monstera leaf didn’t work, although liked the logo in general, but didn’t think it quite fitted the brand in this case. They thought that the masked text idea had potential, but agreed that it might not work so well on different scales. They said that they liked the last design, but I don’t think it quite impressed them as much as it did me.

Wednesday:

Today I started to play around more with the letterforms, and tried to think of ways I could convey the messages “eco” and “property” in the same logo. I started by doodling some of my ideas:

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From this, I decided to bring some of the sketches to life in order to get a feel for whether or not they had any potential:

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I really liked the idea of how the stairs from the “F” represented “lofts” in a subtle but clever way. I created a few different versions of this artwork. I also experimented with using a simple illustration/icon of roof, but thought that this could give the impression of a building company or roofing company? I wasn’t 100% on the idea at all.

I showed my ideas to Tim, and he thought that the steps idea was cool, but didn’t think it was appropriate as more emphasis needed to be on the word “PICTON” rather than “lofts”. It was good to receive this feedback, as I knew what to do to improve and refine my designs.

Thursday:

Today I refined my work as much as I could in order to try and get to a point where I was happy with it.

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I played around with different ideas using a ladder, more steps and also a whole building using outlines. I showed Tim and Hugh, and they really liked the outlined designs. I was really happy that they liked them, as I had felt a bit disheartened by their feedback for my initial work. They both preferred the right hand design where it was just one building. They encouraged me to play around with patterns and more vibrant colours also.

Friday:

Today I created a concept document to display all of my brand concept ideas. Tidy Studio always create concept documents in presentation format to show clients on meetings, so I followed the same procedure and created my own version. Click the link below for the finished concept document:

Picton Lofts Concept Doc

I plan to refine my final logo idea further early next week until I am happy with it.

Tim said that I will also be working on brochure design and layout for Chalkhouse (a kitchen company) next week, which I am really looking forward to. Overall I’ve really enjoyed my first week at Tidy Studio. It gave me real reinforcement that amazing design companies that have lots of well paying clients can exist outside of London, and this really inspired me. It also inspired me that Tim created this business, and that the team only has two members and can still produce outstanding work. I’d love to open my own studio like this one day.

Explore – Work Placement – Week 1

IG Design Group UK, Penallta Industrial Estate, Ystrad Mynach

Monday:

My first day started with a health and safety briefing, then meeting the team that I will be working with. The head of department, Sian, introduced me to Rhian, who is in the repro team at IG Design Group UK. Repro is a process whereby all artwork files are checked over for correct versions of images, no blurriness, colour modes are correct, placement of artwork elements are correct, and finishes for the artwork are separated. Rhian gave me a short tour of the repro workspace, and then explained to me about the processes used within the company. There was a lot of new information to take in in a short space of time, which felt quite overwhelming at first. Rhian explained the differences between CMYK colour printing and spot colour printing. Spot colors or the Pantone Matching System refer to a color or ink that has been specifically mixed and calibrated to a colour matching system, for example Pantone. It is a similar process to picking out paint swatches, but using a Pantone catalogue. In contrast, CMYK print has four colours: cyan (C), magenta (M), yellow (Y) and back (K). The K means “key colour”, because in CMYK printing, the cyan, magenta, and yellow printing plates are aligned with the key plate, which is black. CMYK colours are applied to the paper through a four colour process whereby the paper absorbs the inks. To product white, no colour is printed, and all four colours combined produce a muddy black. A real black colour is produced when K is applied at 100%. Images sent to the printer are broken into thousands of CMYK dots that overlap and blend together to create a full colour image. She also mentioned how the company had switched from litho printing to flexo printing. This was due to environmental and economical reasons. Flexible printing is now pretty dated, it dominated in the 20th century, but now, flexo printing is much more popular. Litho printing production costs a lot more, and the presses needed to carry it out are very expensive. Processes to produce finishes such as metallic inks, foils, specialty coating and embossing, require extra handling or long setup times. In contrast, flexo printing has a much lower production cost, but much higher setup. It also uses more ink, but can use water based inks (in comparison to toxic inks with litho printing).

The company currently finds it very important to focus on eco-friendliness and sustainability within their design, because of the worldwide problems caused by excessive uses of plastics, glitter, etc. Obviously all of these potentially toxic materials were heavily used by companies like themselves, so it’s harder for them to find alternatives. Their customers, such as Tesco, Aldi, Wilko, Poundland, etc, are all large scale companies with huge publicity, they all have eco-friendly policies and want their products to be eco-friendly and recyclable, which has a knock on effect on IG Design, as they need to accommodate their customers needs, otherwise they could easily lose the customers. Some of their movements have included stepping away from flitter as much as possible, and increasing the use of recyclable materials wherever possible.

I was then given my first task, which was to create a gift set (card, bag, tag and wrap) for IG Design’s eco range. I decided to create my range on uncoated, recyclable paper, which meant that it had no finishes on at all (e.g. foiling, virko, etc). I started by creating the wrap. As wrapping paper has a continuous pattern over a long length of paper, they design the prints in tiles, which get repeated horizontally and vertically. A tile can be different sizes (but always square), depending on the design, and the sleeve it is going onto.

For my design, I decided to go for the “1/2 step” method. This means that on the second horizontal line, the tiles are offset by half a step (e.g. half of the size of the tile, in my case, half of 190mm, so 95mm). I was quite tricky to get my head around designing the tile so that all elements could be repeated, so the guide helped me lots. The positioning of each element of the design had to be extremely precise, otherwise the repeat pattern just wold not work.

To design the initial tile, I used Adobe Illustrator. This ensures that all design elements are in vector format, which eliminates the chance of pixelation or blurriness of the design at this stage. To create the design as accurately as possible, I used the move tool when moving any objects. I also learnt that when you copy an object, you can paste it directly on top of the one you copied by using ⌘F. This made it easier to create the design to the exact tolerances needed.

<<<photo of tile on Illustrator>>>

After this, I opened the tile in InDesign. This is where it gets “stepped and repeated”. I selected the tile, and then went to object>step and repeat, and inserted the amount of repeats I wanted, and the length of the step (95mm). For some parts this had to be -95mm, because some tiles are half a step behind the first one.

I then created the bag in Adobe Illustrator, where I used a cutter guide for a medium sized bag, which had been created by someone in the company as a template/outline to follow.

When talking to Rhian, I discovered that most of their products, like cards, gift tags, bags, etc are made by suppliers in the far east (China), in their in-house factory, only wrapping paper is produced on a large scale, and they have recently purchased a bag manufacturing machine. This really interested me, as it shows that the company probably started off creating wrapping paper, but to expand the business, started selling products manufactured in China.

Tuesday:

On Tuesday, there wasn’t a spare Mac for me to work on with the repro team, so I went to work with the design studio. Firstly, I created my card and gift tag to match the eco range that I was working on yesterday. I then printed the designs using their printing software, Firery XF Client. This software is connected to all different printers within the building, so it’s easy to choose which type of paper you’d like the design to be printed on. I chose uncoated, white.

After having printed the designs, I went to the mock-up space to mock-up my gift set. I started by mocking up the card. Firstly, I put a piece of card the same size as the flat size of my card (140mm x 280mm) through an adhesive filter, which creates an extremely sticky back on one side of the paper. I then stuck my card onto the sticky side of the paper, in order to create a more sturdy card. Next I used a scalpel to cut the card out, using the crop marks. I then used an embossing tool to score the fold in the card. I repeated this process with the gift tag.

To mock up the bag, it was a bit more complicated. Firstly I cut out the bag’s shape using a scalpel, following the crop marks. Next, I folded along the fold marks, and used double sided tape to join the bag together on the side and the bottom. The last part of creating the bag was choosing and applying the handle, I chose a natural twine, as this fitted the eco range nicely. Finally, I mocked up my wrapping paper. To do this, I taped along a cardboard core, and rolled the paper onto it, then taped it at the edge.

Wednesday:

On Wednesday, I was able to sit back with the repro team. I was given a task to come up with alternative packaging ideas for Aldi, as they are moving away from plastics like acetate and cellophane within their packaging from IG Design on things like multipack cards, gift ribbons, etc. I started by researching current alternatives already on the market. I came up with some ideas like using boxes, Kraft paper, biodegradable cellophane, etc. Rhian then gave me a choice of which product I’d like to create an alternative for. I chose a cellophane bag of 33 gift ribbons. I was then asked to create a cutter guide for my packaging idea. I had no idea what this was before coming to IG Design. A cutter guide is basically a drawing of the flat size/shape of the packaging, created in Adobe Illustrator, which a machine will use to cut out the shape, which will then be folded and glued to create the finished package. Pete, another part of the repro team, showed me how to create the cutter guide. It was a combination of using the pen tool, shape tool and the line tool. The company has a library of colours which indicate different things, for example, the cutter guide is always a specific orange colour, and all creases within the guide (which won’t be cut by the machine) are a specific green colour.

<<<cutter guide photo wip>>>

I spent all day creating guides, and I really enjoyed it, as I learnt lots of new shortcuts and tools in Adobe Illustrator which I didn’t know about previously. For example, I learnt that ⌘J joins two paths together, and that ⌘3 hides objects. It sounds so simple, but it actually helped me so much learning them all, and made me work much more efficiently!

Thursday: 

On Thursday morning, I finished off my cutter guides, and then Rhian showed me how they check over the greeting cards.

For each card design, they have a “job bag”.

Each job bag includes a “job specification card” which includes information about the card, such as its size, its flat size, its envelope size, its customer code, its cost, its RRP, its job number, its barcode, its finishes (e.g. foil, virko, emboss, etc). See below for an example of a job specification card:

The process of checking the greeting cards includes checking that any images used are full quality, as before artwork is approved, designers use free shuttershock images with watermarks over them, and until the artwork is approved, the company doesn’t purchase the artwork. Sometimes the step of purchasing the images gets missed out, so that’s why it’s important to check the images first. Next, they check the colour modes of all aspects of the design. For example, in some cheaper cards, the inside pages (page 2-3) are printed only in black (K), so it’s important to check that the elements are actually black only, and not made up of blue, pink and yellow (C,M & Y). Once everything is checked, they start to “build” the card.

The first step of building the card is finding the card number on the server, and opening the folder to find the main artwork file (illustrator or eps), maybe the raw artwork file (illustrator or photoshop), a page 4 template (back page) (illustrator). Next is creating a barcode. They use a barcode creator application, to which you input the barcode number (from the job spec card). There are lots of types of barcodes, and for this particular company (Aldi), they use EAN 13 type barcodes, with no numbers along the bottom, and the lines are flushed (so all the same length). The barcode is then put onto a template for the back page of the card (page 4). The number of the barcode is then inserted horizontally to the right of the barcode, and to the left of the barcode, the customer code is inserted along with the release date for the range (e.g. 73541 05/20). The next step for building page 4 of the card is altering the “message inside reads: ….”. This template would then be saved as a .eps file, as the company works with this file type for printing. Next, layers within the artwork file are broken up into separate files. For example, a card with a foil and emboss finish would be separated into an artwork file, a foil file, and an emboss file.

The next step of building the card is creating an Adobe InDesign document, the size of the file is the flat size of the card (found on the job spec card). All elements of the card are then brought into the file on separate layers and labelled accordingly, so that anyone who opens the file will be able to understand what is what. Everything must be brought is and positioned as accurately as possible to ensure the printing process is precise. The final step is printing the artwork files as a display of how the card should look. This means that each page and each finish of the card must be printed separately. The settings for this are A3 paper, print ink mode is “in-rip separations”, and depending on the finishes of the car, a different number of pages must be printed. For example, with a card with a foil finish and an emboss finish, 5 pages must be printed: a print with all layers shown (page 1 and 4), a print with no finishes shown (page 1 and 4), a print with JUST the emboss layer shown (page 1), a print with JUST the foil layer shown (page 1), and a page with page 2 and 3 on.

After having explained this to me, Rhian gave me some card jobs to do on my own. I asked for help lot of times, as I found remembering the whole process really challenging. I got through 4 cards that day, whereas the repro team normally get through around 15 cards per person per day.

Friday:

On Friday, I was given a tour of IG Design’s wrapping paper factory. It was incredible to see all of the modern machines producing such a large volume and variation of wrap. The company were already producing Christmas wrap for 2021! I couldn’t believe how far ahead they were. I was given a tour of the whole process, from the plain paper to sleeve printing, to foiling and holographic paper, I couldn’t believe how much work goes into creating the wrap. It was amazing to see!

After the tour, I continued with the card jobs. Today I got through 12 cards! I was really impressed with myself and how much I’d remembered and learnt about the process. I learnt more shortcuts in the Adobe software, which really sped up my work.

Overall I really enjoyed my time at IG Design UK, and although I was only there for a week, I felt that I settled in quite nicely with the employees, and when I was leaving they said that I could come back whenever I wanted, and they even said that if I ever wanted a job there, I was very welcome! I found this really appreciative and felt more confident in myself.

Field – Interior Styling: Reflection/Evaluation

I have really enjoyed this module of the course. I broadened my skillset massively in various different sectors. Firstly, I learnt that working in a large group can be stressful and difficult at times – there were 7 people in my group, which is a lot of opinions to come to an agreement with! I feel that I have really improved in terms of my confidence and my self-consciousness through this project, and that I can input my ideas without being scared of being judged or dismissed. The group worked extremely well together, any disagreements we had were dealt with in a professional, calm manner. It was wonderful to see how everyone worked in different ways, how they related things back to their practice, and how they dealt with problems.

Sian lead this project really clearly and informatively, and I felt that I constantly knew what was going to happen in every lecture – I felt organised. Throughout the first year, I felt that I never even left the graphics studio. It sounds stupid, but I’ve learnt more about the University space, printers, different resources we have that I never knew even existed! I just generally feel more comfortable in Uni after this project.

Before being allocated this project, I was fairly interested in interior design, had plenty of ‘dream house’ Pinterest boards. However, I didn’t know how much colour theory, rules and regulations there were to follow. It has really opened my eyes to the world of Interior Design. I also feel that I can relate this project back to Graphic Communication really well – more that I thought I would be able to beforehand. The opportunities that we’ve been given throughout this project are just amazing, and I feel so grateful for them! Having Keith Davies, a professional photographer to photograph our set, Anwen from Pea Style to help and guide us, Sian to run such an amazing course and  guide us also! Above all, during the course of this project, I have made 6 new amazing friends, which I’m so grateful for.

Field – Interior Styling: Editorial

I volunteered to create the editorial design piece (being the graphic designer of the group!). I used InDesign to create the A3 sized (2 x portrait A4 per spread) editorial piece, with 12 columns, a 4mm gutter, and 5mm margins.

Screen Shot 2019-12-12 at 13.40.36

The first page features a full spread close up of the pin board, with little quantities of body copy. The titles are the same colour pink as the smaller arch on the wall, paired with a 50% opacity white background in order to increase the clarity and readability of the text.

Screen Shot 2019-12-12 at 13.40.50

The second spread features two smaller close up images of the set, on a 20% opacity piece of artwork that I made that suits the Designing Emotion trend. We thought that this complemented the design, without deterring from the images themselves. Although it’s only 3 spreads, this also creates a nice form of pace for the editorial piece.

Screen Shot 2019-12-12 at 13.40.59

The final spread features a full size image of our final, edited shot. this flows nicely onto the left hand page slightly, which I like, as it helps to connect the spread harmoniously. The body copy here is a detailed explanation on how we built the set, sourced materials, etc.

Field – Interior Styling: Photoshoot & Editing

We were lucky enough to have had Keith Davies Photography come in to photograph our set, which was a really great experience. Sian and Anwen were also present throughout the shoot, was was really valuable to the team. We all got a realistic feel for how the Interior Design industry works in the real world.

The photoshoot itself lasted a good few hours, and I realised how naïve I was to how long it would take! We took hundreds of photographs, altering positions of props, changing props out for other props, altering lighting and shadows. Sometimes we would only move a prop a few millimetres, but it would make a huge difference!

Keith had a really professional setup, which made it really easy for us to see the images he’d taken instantly on his laptop screen. He also had an amazing camera setup with a tripod, REALLY expensive lenses, etc. It was such a great opportunity for our sets to be photographed using such high quality technology.

img_7572.jpg

The week after the shoot, Keith and Sian ran a post production workshop, where we got a feel for the editing work that goes into the photographs after the shoot. Myself and Kaja attended this (Kaja is a Photography student), as we felt that we were most suited for the job. We used Adobe Photoshop for this process, and I definitely expanded my Photoshop skillset during the short workshop.

There were a number of issues that needed resolving within the image:

  • The floor and ceiling are visible either side of the image
  • the boards are slightly outward facing, which makes the colours different
  • there is bluetac and other imperfections visible on the boards
  • the stool is wonky
  • the stool has uneven bulges and pleats
  • the desk brackets need to be removed

Main Image (before editing)
Main Image (before editing)

Firstly, we blended out the top and bottom of the main image, as the ceiling and floor were both visible either side of the shot. We did this by using the clone stamp tool, on the softest brush setting, at 95% opacity. We selected a sample area just underneath the visible ceiling, then dragged up to blend out the grey colour to the background pale pink. We we came to the middle, where the macramé hangs down, we had to be much more detailed and careful. This took a lot of time, but was worth it.

After this, we selected the right hand half of the image using the marquee tool, and then opened curves in order to play with the tones until they matched as well as we could get them to (in terms of the backgrounds). Then we added a mask to this layer, and took the brush tool in black to ‘rub out’ the areas that fell between the two sides of the set, that we didn’t want to be half-altered, like the cushions.

To eliminate the seam between the two halves, we used the spot healing brush, followed by the clone tool (at 20% opacity) to blend out any areas that didn’t look right.

Next, we zoomed in to around 200%-300%, and used the spot healing tool to tidy up any imperfections, like cuts, BlueTac, footprints, etc.

In order to get rid of the two left hand desk brackets, we used the clone tool. This was fairly straight forward. However, for the third bracket, there was more of a problem – there is a nasty shadow over it. For this, we started by using the clone tool, then extremely carefully using the spot healing tool (which is more clever and helps to blend shadows for you).

Next, we closed the wall/floor gap up a bit. Again, we used the clone tool, but using a very small brush size in order to increase accuracy.

For the mis-shaped stool, we used the liquify tool. This was risky, but the results were great! We used the tool with a large brush size, selected the area where it was mis-shaped and slowly dragged until it looked right, but without distorting it. We then used the dodge and burn tools for the uneven, shadowed pleats on the stool. Finally, we used the clone tool along the bottom edge of the stool to tidy it up.

Field – Interior Styling: Set Building

Firstly, we painted our boards white as an undercoat. We then started to build the set by putting up the boards, which would be the base for everything we do with the set. We then painted the boards our base pink colour, before sketching on the outlines for the curved shapes using a ruler, pencil and string. We then masked over these lines to create a sharp, crisp edge between the two colours. After this, we painted up to the masking lines using the pink and blue paint we bought from ReCreate. (We did this process on the floor board also!) Next, we peeled off the masking tape, and started to attach the tables using metal brackets. This was the end of the ‘building’ stage of the set setup. See the bottom of the post for the time lapse video of the whole process.

The next step was starting to place in the props to our set. We did a lot of playing around with positioning, lighting and scale, so we had a lot of options when it comes to the photoshoot stage. We particularly focused on the hanging plant and/or lights, as we were really unsure as of what to take forward in the photoshoot. We came to the conclusion of using the hanging macramé plant, but will also test out other options if we have time during the photoshoot.