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.

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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.

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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.

A Compelling Start

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Photo of my own contemporary illuminated letterform.

As an introduction to the undergraduate course I am currently studying- Graphic Communications BA (Hons) at the Cardiff School of Art & Design, I was asked to design my own contemporary illuminated letterform using the initial of my first name.

The brief we were given on designing and producing our own illuminated letterform needed to answer three questions:

  • Who inspires you?
  • An interesting fact about yourself?
  • Why did you choose to study at Cardiff School of Art & Design?

My first thought after reading the questions was to look for ideas online through Pinterest and Behance. Most of the work I found online was digitally produced through Adobe Illustrator, however I decided I wanted to hand render my letterform by drawing and painting.

My first step in producing the outcome was to find a font to use for the initial of my first name. After browsing through fonts on Word and Photoshop I searched online through Dafont. I wanted to use a Serif font to make it stand out from the background.

An interesting fact

The first question I decided to answer was an interesting fact about myself. My first idea was to show my eclectic taste in music through representations of different genres, however this would have been difficult and I was uncertain as to what images to use and what compositional idea I could come up with. Another fact I had in mind was the fact that I play piano, and another was my skill and enjoyment in gift wrapping. As there are eighty-nine keys on an ordinary piano I thought about how I could represent the piano through imagery and composition on the page. I thought that I could morph the piano into a ribbon wrapping around the letter in the middle of the page. This would not only look contemporary but also act as a decorative feature making the letter seem of pivotal importance in aiding the ribbon to twirl around the stem of the letter ‘J’. I used black ink pens to fill in and outline the individual keys. At that point I decided to leave the letter ‘J’ white, compared to the background which I planned to fill with bright colours.

Why Cardiff School of Art & Design

My next answer was a mixture of the location and the opportunities I could encounter along the way through my time at university. To represent the nature of Art & Design at the school, I decided to express the culture of Cardiff as well. By using red, pink, yellow, green, blue, and turquoise watercolour paint, I used a straw to blow the colour of the water out towards the edge of the page from the right hand side of the letter. These spurts of water represented the opportunities and growth of the city, the school, and my knowledge growing through the years.

My inspiration

The toughest question to answer was my inspiration. I was endlessly deciding who to choose. Who was my biggest inspiration? Steve Jobs, Jonathan Ive, Emily Pankhurst, Mario Testino, Paula Scher. So many different designers and innovators came to my mind. My first thought was to put silhouettes of human figures in my outcome in the background to express the many people that have inspired me. However I needed to show my interest for at least one of my inspirations. I decided to choose David Bowie, initially because of his creativity with music, the many styles of music he had made and the characters he had created. As I was searching for possible photos to copy from, I looked predominantly at black and white photography because of my interest in history and the different contrasts between the greys in the photos.

Several photos I found of David Bowie were taken by American photographer Steve Schapiro. I streamed through his photography finding ever more photos that inspired me. His photos contained important historical events and people that changed America, as well as behind-the-scenes photos from films such as ‘The Godfather’. This encouraged me to experiment with my own photography using filters and tools in Photoshop.

Steve Schapiro official website – http://steveschapiro.com/

As I was interested in macro photography I decided to take my own photos of things I could find in my room such as a bra strap, an ammonite, an amethyst etc. I increased the contrast and brightness in certain photos and changed the levels and exposure in some, which made the photos ever more intriguing and abstract. Although this would not make up part of my outcome, I would develop further interest and understanding into black and white photography.

Schapiro’s work was stunning. An array of different style images with fantastic stories behind them. I searched further into photos of David Bowie taken by him and found the perfect photo to draw from. Although it was in colour I decided to draw the photo in black and white to represent Schapiro’s use of black and white photography. I used blue watercolour to paint into the background the silhouettes I had in mind. I constructed a brief idea of the composition I had in mind for the outcome in Photoshop before making final decisions on paper.

After painting in the background with blue, I immediately regretted painting it in. It was rushed and too eye-catching compared to the foreground. However, I was extremely pleased with how the rest of the outcome turned out.

Why I chose this course was because of the freedom I had with using different materials and tools. Although it is graphic communication it is not all about using computers to communicate a message. Making hand rendered products is just as important and can be as skilful and professional as using a computer. This was something I didn’t quite realise until I started the course, which compelled me to wonder and understand how the world could be changed by graphic design and communication.

JT