CSAD Degree Show 2017

In the lead up to the deadline of the editorial project, ‘Changing Faces’, for the first year group, we all attended the spectacular showings of third year work from all disciplines within the Cardiff School of Art & Design. I could not describe how impressive some of the pieces of work were. The degree show presented just how much dedication and effort students can put into their work in order to seek a career, commissions from various people, or even into further education. The exhibition and students websites/blogs are their stepping stone to showing just how much they’re made of. All the disciplines presented such high quality of energy and enthusiasm through students’ choices of materials, tools, and process of production. Below are several pieces which caught my eye.

I have selected three pieces of work from the exhibition that most caught my eye and intrigued me.


The first piece of work I saw was a piece of ceramic work by Fflur Green who studied BA (Hons) Ceramics.

Pieces of vibrantly coloured coral made of ceramic material were carefully placed on the wall. She described that her work was to show the fragility of life and the importance of death. She wanted to celebrate this fragility through a different yet therepeutic perspective.

The bright colours which are associated with the coral reef were carefully considered to essentially bring life and strength to her work. The fragility is presented through the vulnerable material of ceramics as well as the fragility of life and the coral reef. She wanted to trigger an array of emotions for the viewer.

What I liked about this piece was how the work was presented. I liked the textures that were created with materials and tools in the production of the work, the colour used to show that it represented coral, and how she considered elements in life to bring this piece together. I can imagine using coral as an example of a fragile being could have been quite challenging.


The second piece of work that I’ve chosen to analyse was a photograph taken by Zara Jackson, as part of the BA (Hons) Photographic Practice course in Brigend.

This is a photograph of Sugar glass with a drop of food colouring. She didn’t describe how she took the photo or for what the photo represented. Jackson described that she likes to create work that makes people question, is unusual to the eye and is slightly different.

What caught my eye with this photograph was the vibrancy and contrast between clarity and blurriness. The composition of the photograph made me think it was made to look like a cliff or mountain. I like how it doesn’t completely look like a photograph because of the use of a macro lens, which is was drew me closer into the photograph and making me wonder what it was. I wouldn’t have known this was sugar glass with food colouring if the photographer hadn’t mentioned it in the caption below it in the exhibition.

The third piece I chose to look at was by BA (Hons) Illustration student Rebecca Woolmer. The collection of work was titles Narcissus.

Woolmer described that the collection was inspired by both ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and the myth of Narcissus. It explored the ‘fluctuating’ and ‘illusory’ nature human identity . She described how the boundaries between humans and technology have blurred which has made it more difficult to distinguish the difference between what is real and what is virtual. This has entailed the increasing obsession to achieve a construct of oneself that does not exist.

What caught my eye with this work was how the illustrations were presented in the book and on the wall. The incredible mixture of lines and colours was what intrigued me into looking closer into what the illustrator was trying to present to the viewer. I love the drawings and the concept that has been created.


Revisiting old projects

Word – Type Specimen

Initial feedback I received from a tutor on my type specimen included widening the gutters between the columns of text, making the ampersand larger, and putting the information on the page in a bolder font. From improving on several of these comments, I also worked on formative feedback I had received at the end of my first term. This included developing the rag, small and quick fixes with regards to the leading in the elements at the bottom of the page, but also developing these elements further in terms of the layout. On the right hand side is the improved version based on both feedback I received from the tutor. What I think I could have improved on in this project is possibly exploring further with what more I could have done with the elements at the bottom of the page. I also think I could have saved a lot more space with exploring these elements by limiting the amount of words I used in the information included in the specimen. Overall, I was very happy with how I paid great attention to showing respect for the typeface Caslon Pro.

Narrative – Designboom Super Seven

Above is the piece of ephemera for the project I submitted for formative assessment. I received my formative feedback at the end of the term. Through the peer feedback I received from a fellow student, he heavily criticised me on the lack of consistency in the final design. I thought the pages fitted together fairly well considering how difficult it was to work with the lengthy interviews.

The formative feedback I received from my tutor was much more constructive and carefully thought through. The only things he thought I could have improved on were type detailing by fixing widows and orphans in some places, addition of quotes, and exploration of possible layout designs for the front and back cover to make them look more visually exciting.

Based on this feedback I received I came up with this new design:

For this new design I wanted to aim for a much more contemporary, sharp and smart design. I wanted everything to look more symmetrical. For the front and back cover I thought by sticking to just numbers and letters instead of including shapes, this would make the cover much more open. I thought more carefully about how to lay out the information on the page. I decided to end up using Helvetica throughout the entire design because of its sharpness.

Changing Faces – Improvements

I submitted my final piece ready for formative assessment and a week later I received the feedback for my piece. The tutor pointed out improvements that could be made:

  • The final 2 spreads could have a stronger balanced path for the eye yet could be more dynamic
  • The style of illustration on the final spread feels very different to the remaining spreads
  • Watch out for type detailing and use of grid system on spread 1
  • The kerning in the standfirst on the first spread feels very wide throughout
  • Rag needs more development
  • Reduce the point size of the body copy

With so much I felt I needed to improve on from the constructive and detailed feedback, I decided to create a new document. First I decided that I needed to change the construction of the editorial piece. Instead of using the 6 pages available as three double page spreads, I decided to switch to using two double page spreads with a back and front cover. This would make it easier for me to create constructive double page spreads while still keeping the illustrative elements of the piece and the important role they play in portraying the concept in the article.

I decided the title page didn’t fit together with the remaining pages. Instead of using the rectangular boxes to highlight the text on the title page, I decided to use chalk to create a blog of colour so that it would stand out from the background. This fit well with the fact that I used chalk in the ‘TRUTH vs TRUMP’ typography.

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For the first double page spread with the ‘TRUTH vs TRUMP’ typography, I decided to switch the colour of the background to white. With the name ‘TRUMP’, I therefore used the cherry red in that piece of text along with a white copy of that to see the clear different between ‘TRUTH’ and ‘TRUMP’. I enlarged the word ‘TRUTH’ to make the page look more dynamic, as well as adding bark and dead blossom which I drew with a black ink pen to demonstrate the lead onto the next double page. I used a shorter quote to the one I had previously used in this spread so I could make room to enlarge ‘TRUTH’ and include the root and blossom at the bottom.

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For the next double page I changed the background colour to white, got rid of the illustration from the previous design, and drew a dead tree in the style of the illustration on the front cover of this design. With the addition of the dead blossom I had drawn, this added to the effect of the tree looking dead. I had the tree facing to the left so it directed the reader to the left page. This made a better path for the eye. I kept the same quote as well.

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For the back cover I decided not to incorporate any images or illustrations into it. I decided to have one column of text on the left hand side of the page. On the right hand side is the last quote from President Trump that was featured in the final paragraph of the article. To add decoration to the final page I add a small flick of chalk to go underneath the quote. This made the page look minimalistic but rebellious which made the page look more interesting.

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I packaged the document ready for printing on A2 sheets. Unfortunately I had to go and reprint my pages because I didn’t make the correct calculations of the measurements of the double pages on single A2 sheets. I save money I decided to bring the measurements of the pages down from 315 x 315mm to 290 x 290mm. This saved me half the price I would have had to pay for A1 sheets. By decreasing the size slightly, it meant I had to decrease the point size of the body copy from 11pt to 10pt. This meant having to edit the type detailing again. I kept the same size of the margins and gutters.

After getting the pages professionally printed we folded the pages with a bone folder, used a scalpel to cut the edges according to the crop marks shown on the page, and used spray adhesive glue to stick the pages back to back. This involved using a great deal of judging the accuracy of cutting and lining up pages.

What I thought I could improved on in my final piece was exploring the use of more dynamic layouts that I could have used. I also would have liked to experiment with screen print and letterpress to make even more interesting typography for the entire piece. Unfortunately I didn’t make time to make screen prints and interesting typographic work. I felt strongly that I had ignored typography in this project. I struggled very much with type detailing in this project, although I think this was mainly down to the vast amount of lengthy words the author had used in the article. It took up a surprising amount of time to fix the type detailing for working with this article in my design. I also found it difficult to produce a front cover for the very final design. At some points I considered getting rid of the original cherry tree illustration because of how difficult it was to make it look prominent on the title page as well as including the title. However, I am particularly proud of the amount of effort and of how successful the illustrations were in portraying the key concept presented by the author in the article.

Changing Faces – Final Piece

From the feedback I received from the class, I first started by fixing the type detailing which amounted to taking out a few sentences in the article to save space for other elements of the design. I felt it was quite difficult to improve on the rag of the body copy, given the vast amount of fairly long words and names that were in the article. I was uncertain about changing the scale of the cherry tree because I wanted to keep a certain amount of negative space in the overall design, as well as wanting the title to stand out. I also changed the colour setting of the cherry tree illustration in Photoshop from RGB to CMYK which is what setting it would be printed in.

With the title on the first page, I also received feedback that it wasn’t legible enough because the black was disguised by the dark colours in the cherry tree. I explored other ways of making the title stand out in front of the illustration to make it more legible. This included making use of physical materials like chalk and paint as I had done with the typography on the second double page spread.

However, I preferred the use of the digital text that was created in the InDesign document. To improve the legibility of digital text I copied the text, changed the colour to white and placed it behind the black text. As you can see with the design below on the right, I flipped the cherry tree horizontally to direct the viewer to reading into the text. This made a better path for the eye.

I decided that the text still wasn’t legible enough to read. By looking back at research I conducted in editorial designs I found online, I started to look at how the titles were placed on the page. Many of them didn’t have images behind them, however I thought about making the text look highlighted. I created rectangular shapes to fit with the width and height of the title to place behind the text. I decided to change the colour of the title to white to allow me to use black filled boxes behind.

Other feedback I received was expanding where the roots went. I considered spreading the roots so they travelled across the double page, but also into the second double page spread. I quickly drew some dark coloured roots to match with the bark on the trunk. To bring the concept of the cherry tree further, I filled the second single page with cherry red behind as well.

For the final double spread I only decided to minimise the amount of text I had on the page and to change the pull quote to lower case and decrease the point size.

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Changing Faces – Final Development

Based on feedback from the tutor, I created a new document under the same square dimensions as I had with the previous design; 315 x 315 mm.

I knew I wanted to keep the illustrations and typography I had created to portray the concept presented in the article from the previous design. Small improvements I first made were making the body copy smaller to 12pt and changing the typeface used from Euphemia UCAS to Adobe Caslon Pro. This allowed me more room to experiment with other layouts I had in mind. I kept with the same layout design for the first double page, only I made the cherry tree illustration smaller to allow more room for the title to stand out. I had to add the ‘Outer Glow’ effect to the title so it wasn’t as illegible with the illustration behind.

By taking the circular shape away from the illustration and adding roots below the tree, this made the space seem a lot more open and welcoming into inviting the reader to delve deeper into the concept I wanted to portray from the article.

The tutor had also pointed out that I could make use of the strong colour of the cherry tree to use in the background of one of the pages to make them seem collaborative. I experimented with various swatches to use from the colour theme tool to pick one that best suited the colours used in the illustration.

From the previous design I also wanted to experiment with typography for this page. I wanted to make the ‘TRUTH vs TRUMP’ concept spread across the two pages making it as large as possible. I experimented with various effects I could add to the layers, such as adding a shadow behind the text and using various layer effects on ‘TRUMP’.

I looked at making use of physical materials, such as acrylic paint and chalk. I ended up using chalk because of the effect it had on the paper and the design itself. It was gritty and rebellious which was an element I wanted to show in the overall design. I inverted image I took of the chalk so that the white would stand out from the cherry red background.

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For the final double page spread, I decided to use a similar layout as I had with the previous design. By using the same illustration, which I had edited in Adobe Illustrator to make into shapes and invert the colours, I then looked at picking out a quote from the fable of President Trump which the author had created in the article, which had pivotal importance in the concept I wanted to bring forward in the article to influence my illustrations. I wanted the quote to spread over the two pages to make the layout more interesting and allow room for the pull quote. I had also taken out a large amount of text, which amounted to just over the minimum word count required for the project. I kept the colour of the background black to portray the ‘dark, divisive and pessimistic’ reality of Trump that the author had discussed in the article. By changing the colour of the text to the same colour used in the background in the previous spread, this further portrayed the concept of the cherry tree fables.

I presented my development of the piece to the group and received constructive feedback from them. Simple improvements I could have made to the piece was developing the rag and type detailing of the body copy, making all the pull quotes lower case, changing the brightness, vibrancy and saturation of the cherry tree illustration on the first page to fit more with the red colours used on the next two spreads, and also increasing the scale of that cherry tree given the importance of the concept I wanted to reference to.


Changing Faces – Putting things together

My next step in the making of the editorial design for the ‘Changing Faces’ project was putting the content into an InDesign document. For now I will be working with the minimum dimensions specified in the brief, 315mm x 225mm. With these sizes it would make my layout designs in those dimensions more flexible, allowing me to experiment with other sizes. I first placed the illustration of the cherry blossom tree into InDesign on the first page of the document and worked towards working with a few sketches of layouts I had designed. This allowed me to look at what type settings and grid layouts I could use with the picture, and what would best suit the tone of the article. Below are the sketches of the layouts I designed.

For the headings I used the typeface ‘Bebas Neue’, which I found online. I liked using it because of its strength within the double page spread and informing the tone of the article. I used Helvetica in regular for the content of the article. By setting a theme for the first double page, the theme would need to remain throughout the other two double page spreads. In the final layout design you can see, I added a callout to the right page of a quote from President Trump, stating ‘I’m a very instinctual person, but my instinct turns out to be right.’ I liked this quote because of its short and bold tone, yet it reflected both his big ego and in what is some case to be true of him. I will now continue to experiment with using the sketches of layouts I have created and experimenting with the layouts I have taken inspiration from to create my own. This will help inform my ideas and help me come up with new designs as I delve further into making my designs work for the tone of the chosen article. I will also continue to experiment with my imagery and conceptual ideas to further investigate into possible layout designs, and experiment further with typography.

I printed out the final layout above and used it in a group tutorial so we could give feedback on each other’s work. I received many compliments on my illustration of the cherry tree, the use of negative space in the layout, and the use of colours of keywords in the quote on the right page. I received other useful feedback which included reducing the point size, exploring further with the dimensions of the page, looking at more layouts, and keeping the heading the main point of focus for the double page spread instead of keeping the attention of the callout.

I created a new document with the possibility of adding one or two more illustrations. Moving forward I looked back at my research of layout designs, focusing on what made them successful and what attracted my attention to them. The Creative Review was a key inspiration into the dimensions and the layout. I liked how negative space was used and how lines were put into the pages to separate columns, titles and pictures. Only did I realise when coming to designing interesting layouts for the square space, did I realise how difficult and constraining this was. By looking carefully into the design of the article pages in the Creative Review I began to grasp an idea. With the help of my illustrations and creative typography ideas, I managed to come up with a layout that was visually interesting as well as being able to show a clear path for the eye.

By experimenting further with typography I looked back into my research to find that some had featured handwritten or painted text. By using Adobe Illustrator I was able to create different brushes based on the tone of the article. I wanted to make the design look rebellious to show the concept portrayed by the author; that Trump wanted to replace the cherry tree which was symbolic of honesty. Another reason I wanted to include an element of handwritten text was that it showed a personal and unique trait and it looked interesting on the page.

I felt as if the title page was missing something in the background. To make the design look more personal I used Adobe Illustrator to paint the American flag in my own style. I used the brushes I had created to paint the typography for the title of the page. I placed the author’s name at the bottom of the page between two lines using the font DIN Condensed in Bold with a point size of 34. I placed the picture of the American flag into the document and applied a small drop shadow behind it so it would contrast from the flat text for the title. For the rest of the article I used the font ‘Euphemia UCAS’ for its simplicity. The pull quotes used DIN Condensed.

On the second page I applied colours I used for the stripes of the American flag on the title page into the pull quote telling the fable of the cherry tree based on Trump. I also added an illustration I modified from a drawing in Adobe Illustrator. I placed it in a circle so it differed from the rectangular shapes I used for the overall layout design. The illustration represented the quote on the third page which I pulled out from the text.

In the final two pages I wanted to keep it simple but I also wanted to include an artistic typographic element to one of the pages. Originally I had the word ‘TRUTH’ in the same font used in the pull quotes and the name ‘TRUMP’ in front of it. Instead I decided to use a bristle brush in Illustrator, linking it to the title page of the document. This made the three pages fit together nicely as a set, keeping the style relatively consistent throughout.

Another idea I took into consideration was inverting the colour of the background from white to black. With keeping the same dimensions as the white square shaped design, I adjusted the layout design and imagery slightly. I decided to include my first illustration of the red and pink coloured cherry tree. On the final double page, I also included the concept I wanted to take from the fable of President Trump that the author had written about.

On the second double page, however, I wanted to make the colour theme less patriotic to keeping similar colours used in the American flag. By using the ‘TRUTH’ and ‘TRUMP’ idea I had in the previous design, I instead decided to use the same text. By making use of effects on layers in Photoshop (initially), this made the ‘TRUMP’ on ‘TRUTH’ look more sophisticated. I applied the ‘Hard Light’ effect to the layer of the ‘TRUMP’ text, over the solid white ‘TRUTH’.



What I have learnt from Constellation

Throughout the past two terms I have been learning more about how I can best use my practice to good use, which included learning from a range of topics in the world of art and design. These topics included the philosophy of design, subcultures, objects and their meanings, deeper thinking into how I can best use my practice, what influence my practice has on the present and future world, and how and why to create deeper meaning within my practice and what I produce. From learning about putting theory to my practice, therefore putting my practice into context, I have earned a greater understanding which has influenced my work, and the way I think about graphic design, profoundly.

After an incredibly mind opening start in term one with the subject of ‘New Materialisms’, it had prepared me to think more deeply about my next subject, ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. This was about subcultures throughout the 20th and 21st century within the younger generations. A recurring theme within this subjects was referring to old styles and fashions to create new styles by combining different cultured objects and clothing. By using past styles, these new styles had created new and very different meanings and signification for these past styles. For example, the first week we had learnt about Jean-Paul Gaultier’s use of a corset and trousers as a costume for Madonna in her Blond Ambition world tour in 1990 for the song ‘Express Yourself’. The corset was a style that had become popular during the 18th and 19th century to make the waist look thinner and the bust bigger. With the feature of the trousers underneath the corset, it had created a juxtaposition with traditional views of the male and female gender; therefore creating a new gender along with a new meaning. This also expressed the title of the song. I had discussed this design further in a post I had written, talking more about the deeper meaning behind the design of the costume.

From learning about what deeper meanings and ideas have been created with a revolutionary design to the fashion world, and even in promoting the LGBT community, this had lead me on to think further about what I have produced in the past that has been based on old styles, where I have created new meanings from combinations of styles, and what effect this has had on my present and future work. Many designers work in certain styles that they have combined from old styles, proving to influence other designers’ and artists’ work.

In the second week we were presented with the subculture of Goth in the late 1970’s. The Goth culture was largely based around Gothic literary and cinematic tradition from the Victorian era, such as Dracula (1897) by Bram Stoker. I had a brief read at Gothic and Victorian literature at an article written by Joseph Bowen at The British Library. The article explained what it meant to say that a text is Gothic and what themes recur in Gothic novels, which were described as dark, mysterious, romantic, and macabre. Through looking at style that was featured in the Goth subculture of the late 70’s, we found that religious symbols and representations of teachings and moral were present in the majority of the styles.

Then we had learnt about the subcultures of hip hop, punk, and the Ted boys. I found recurring themes into what meanings can be created, and how and why these subcultures pick up their styles. I’ve learnt that these subcultures can:

  • change in associations with brands
  • change the functions of any object
  • use history and heritage to influence a style
  • appropriate anything into any style
  • turn subculture trends into ‘parent’ culture trends
  • constantly change style

The subculture I found most engaging, interesting and broader in context was the Punk subculture. The gender map had radically began to alter social acceptance. Women were feeling freer to express difference, whereas before the mid 1970’s this was seen as misfits. By drawing on subcultures they contravened the norms of mainstream femininity. It changed the way women operated, giving women power over their own rights which promoted the rebellious punk fashion. Before the mid 1970s, women were seen as objects, expected to be thin, being defined by their bodies. expected to look like supermodels, with the idyllic ‘barbie doll’ image. Punks created the rhetoric of desirability. It questioned self values and attitudes. Makeup, jewellery and clothing re-signified what it was to be a women, promoting feminism in society and standing for equality and what was right. If someone did something new, it questioned and mocked an original ideology.


By learning about these subcultures it had prepared us to learn about how our own individual styles in the present day have been influenced by these past styles and how we have combined these styles from subcultures to create our own identities. Ted Polhemus in 1997 described post-subculture as a ‘supermarket of style’. This had perfectly summed up what elements of design were made up of today as to why, where and when they were taken from.

Referring to how ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ has related to ‘New Materialisms’, I think my experiences with ‘A Model of the Body‘, ‘The Greatest Gift; sight‘, ‘The Mighty Tool‘, AND ‘Plastic Brains‘, all relate in some way to what I have learnt from this term about attitudes, styles, and ideologies of people from different subcultures. I felt I have learnt more from this term than my first term because of how I can put so many relative ideologies and theories to context with my own work instead of how I feel and what others might feel about different elements of all subject matters in the world.

Regarding my summative assessment, I intend to explore how photography has had an impact on the way people think in and of society. I will read key texts on photography linking it strongly to how I think about my practice and what influence subcultures have had on photography.