Sunday, 27 March 2011

Anish Kapoor

Always interested in seeing huge great sculptures in the middle of large gallery spaces, I headed down to the Anish Kapoor flashback at Manchester Art Gallery. I have never seen any of Kapoor's work in the flesh before, therefore it was a new visual experience for me.
There were a surprising number of works within quite a small space, perhaps too many. I could hear the familiar mumblings from fellow visitors questioning the integrity of contemporary art and how could what looked like a few piles of exotic spices be art? Others, especially children who were visiting the exhibition seemed fascinated by what they were seeing and rightly so, each piece definitely stirred up a level of puzzlement and caused me to stop and try to work out what it was I was actually looking. I especially enjoyed the piece named 'When I am Pregnant,' which was a huge white convex mound which seamlessly protruded from the gallery wall, from angle it was quite clearly visible, but looking directly at the wall, the bump was barely visible. I found this piece quite beautiful.
I often like to visit things, which are seemingly irrelevant to my practice because you never know how they might inspire you in the future.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

MDS Designinit Aftershow

After the Manchester Design Symposium, a bunch of fired up designers headed over the The Deaf Institute for a networking event organised by Designinit. The highlight of this was undoubtedly winding down with a group of fellow D&ADers on the terrace, and getting talking to Angela Gilroy, who happened to work at Dalton Maag, she kindly gave us their promotional catalogue and an ubuntu poster.
It was really interesting talking to Angie and we learnt that if we were to complete a placement at Dalton Mag it would be Angie we would be staying with, so it was her we needed to talk to. She simply said that a passionate email was sufficient and it wouldn't hurt for it to be typeset in Ubuntu.
Later Angie brought out Bruno Maag to talk to us which was encouraging as she must have found us interesting. Bruno was just ask lively off the stage as on and was easy to have a joke with. John Walters followed him out and we began talking to him also, which was really great. Bruno specified that the most likely place to get to know people was here, in the pub and I agree, people are much more relaxed in this situation and much more open to chat and socialise when out of their busy work environment.
As a result I follow up emailed Angie and although I am going to Australia in June and so wouldnt be able to commit to a two month placement she offered me the chance to come and visit Dalton Maag's new studio anytime. And who knows if we keep in touch with John Walters, he might be able to review our degree show in Eye?
this is an exact representation of what bruno looked like on the night

Manchester Design Symposium

There was a great buzz around the first Manchester Design Symposium and I felt really excited that so many creatives had congregated together for the event. It seemed that much of the hype had been generated via Twitter and subsequently any Design Symposium related tweets should be followed by the tag '#mds' Many of the people I interact with on Twitter were attending the event and I wondered if any of them would actually speak to me in 'real life,' away from the safety net of the computer screen, The likelihood of which I found unlikely and was eventually proved right. There were five key speakers at the event; Si Scott, John Walters (Eye Magazine), Bruno Maag (Dalton Maag), Jonathan Barnbrook (Barnbrook) and Tom Dorresteijn (Studio Dumbar) David Crow orchestrated the event, commenting and introducing each new speaker. The theme of the event was 'The Value Of Design' and each speaker had free reign as to how they may interpret this. of course any public speech is an opportunity for self promotion and for some this is exactly what happened, whereas others genuinely offered their slant on the value design had. There were certainly a diverse range of responses. First up was Si- Scott. I have heard a talk from Si-Scott before and I have to say that this talk was not much different really. I didn't think that Scott explained the 'The Value Of Design,' but merely talked us through his career path so far and how he has become successful using his own personal style. I think that Si Scott has an interesting style of work and the direction his more recent work is going in is good. He is a down to earth person and I think many audience members related to him, however I didn't think he offered any interesting opinions and his oration was a bit dull (might have to let him off though slightly, as he was under the influence of strong pain killers)

John Walters, however, offered his opinion about 'The Value Of Design,' from a non-designer perspective, which is exactly what Eye Magazine is base on. It was very engaging and refreshing to hear his opinion. Founded by Rick Poyner, Eye magazine has brought design writing from being, at best, a caption or short summary to an extensive dialogue and interesting discussion. Walters explained his view that Design has Value in five key ways; Editorial, Cultural, Functional, Financial and Educational Value. During the Question and Answer section at the end I asked Walters whether he thought the online accessibility of eye magazine affected the popularity of the print version of the magazine, Walters answered that eye has always had a strong online base, and that eye's online presence is as important as print, and part of what has made eye so popular, it just depends how people prefer to view things, and he had faith in eye as a beautiful printed item as well as an informative online resource. I certainly regard eye as one of my major online, cultural resources.

Probably one of the most entertaining of the speakers was Bruno Maag. Maag is like a firework and jumped straight into his talk with a sparky warning to anyone not paying for font licenses that he would personally hunt them down. Maag has a very craft-based respect for typography and he told us about the return to black and white gouache in drawing typefaces, and that any intern must close their mac and appreciate type non-digitally before they can create type digitally. I was really inspired my Maag and thought it would be enlightening to do a placement at Dalton Maag, a kind of karate kid technique in learning about typography. Maag quite literally talked about the value of design, in that the design of typefaces, which are effective and which work to sell product, can literally lead to cold hard cash, his unashamed discussion of making money was something, some conservative Brits, may have found unusual, but Maag has proved in his own work with huge clients such as Windows and Nokia, that you can make a lot of money from type. (I suppose you would have to be paid a lot to design a typeface that can be read in 3 billion different languages!) Maag has also created a free typeface also called Ubuntu, which has a vastly impressive number of variations, made available to everyone regardless of financial circumstance, location or language or as Maag says "before now typography has mainly been in the domain of the geeks"

Jonathan Barnbrook talked us through his experience as a more unconventional type designer, I couldn't help but think their may have been tensions between Barnbrook and Maag, all in good faith of course. Barnbrook is an extremely likeable and witty character and although I am unsure if he described a value of design as such, it was really interesting to see how he sourced inspiration for his typography and imparted anecdotes from his design experience.

Finally tom Dorresteijn spoke about his interpretation of 'The Value of Design.' For some reason everyone woke up slightly as Dorresteijn began his talk, maybe it was the change in accent. As a design strategist, Dorresteijn believes that the value of design is the 'design of value' in that if you can persuade a client that your design has value, then that is the key to success. In other words if the client is turned on' then they will appreciate the value of design and see how good design can result in business success.

I found that all in all the day was really inspiring and it was great to experience so many discussion about the topic of design, I felt that the day re-affirmed my belief that what I am doing really doe have value and is extremely valid as a vocation. Although I was disappointed at the absence of female representatives at the event. Afterwards the talks continued at The Deaf Institute, with a networking event organised by 'designinnit.' (to be continued)

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Mad To Live

Here is a coverless mock up of the publication I have been creating, based around The Beat Generation. The book contains extracts from Allen Ginsberg's Poem, Howl, William. S. Burroughs novel, Naked Lunch and Jack Kerouac's novel, On The Road. I wanted to create imagery, which provoked my interpretation of the mood and attitude around the Beats, without being obvious or cliched. This may stay as a 9" x 6" landscape book, perfect bound, but i am also going to explore larger formats, edited formats alterntive directions for the material...(to be continued)

Björn Soneson

I found this when browsing for inspirational book formats for my current project

Monday, 21 March 2011

Idle Progression

I have been collaborating over the past few weeks with Alice Smith and The Idler Magazine. We have been illustrating an essay by Sarah Boak called 'Idling for Women,' The essay addresses a lot of themes in regards to society's attitudes towards women. Some themes include: health, beauty, fashion, advertising, mass media, social expectations, politics, the essay offers women an idle alternative to the continuous stretching and pulling of feminine identity. More about this to come soon...
courtesy of Captain Geoffrey Spaulding

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Elle Interview

When the opportunity arose for a placement at ELLE magazine, I felt it was a chance I couldn't miss. Lewis Cham, an ex-student from the course, offered a four week, paid placement in London. After working with Flux I really enjoyed the process of seeing a magazine develop from start to finish and thought it would be a great experience to do the same with ELLE magazine.
I sent a digital PDF of my work along with my CV and got a callback from Lewis, asking to come to the ELLE office for an interview. The interview was such short notice that I had to overhaul my portfolio and re-photograph my work in 24 hours, ready to take it down to London.
Upon meeting Lewis I felt instantly relaxed as he was very laid back and took hold of my portfolio and began flicking through it. He really engaged with my work and gave me some great feedback. I did feel however that the position wasn't quite right for me, as I got the sense that a huge interest in fashion was a main criteria, and many of my references and inspirations came from outside of fashion, as I explained I felt this was a good way to avoid repeating things that had already been done.
I felt like preparing myself for the interview and meeting Lewis was a positive experience and I learnt a lot about how to present myself, I think it can only be a good thing to show your work to as many people as possible, who may never have seen it, in order to gain confidence in presenting work and refine my presentation technique. It was really encouraging to get good feedback and even though I was unsuccessful in getting the placement, I think that the position was perfect for Phoebe Sing, who did get it, and I'm sure the experience complimented her interests and portfolio immensely, Well done Phoebe!

Greg Quinton: A String Of Pearls

In association with D&AD North and Lost In The Forest, I, along with the rest of my course, was asked to individually design a poster to promote an upcoming D&AD lecture by Greg Quinton of The Partners, entitled, A String Of Pearls.
I expected the talk to be interesting as The Partners are considered to be one of the biggest design agencies in the world, so as well as being good designers, they must surely be able to promote themselves very well also. I found it surprising how down to earth Greg Quinton was, I did find this endearing but not so much engaging. I felt as though Quinton stumbled through the talk somewhat and despite whether this was positive in a 'We're just like you' kind of way, I had expected a more high-powered, well rehearsed talk. Each to their own, however and perhaps the reason why Quinton is so successful is because he is personable rather than egotistical.
As for the String of Pearls I found that many were slightly stating the obvious, I mean of course all were valid, but some i.e 'Word Damn Hard' and 'Love good Clients' were more like common sense rather than wisdom -worthy. Overall I think that a lot of the work Quinton showed was impressive, and certainly portrayed The Partners as versatile, so if nothing else I gained a well-rounded insight into an agency I previously knew of but knew little about.


I am currently involved in a project based around the Beat generation, I am specifically researching the works of William. S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. I have been creating imagery combining it with typography to eventually create a publication, which is a mixture between horror and paradise. I recently went to see the film Howl, which portrays the culture and obscenity trial surrounding one of Ginsbergs most famous poems of the same name. James Franco leads as Allen Ginsberg, and he is fantastic. Man of the moment Franco, really captures subtle mannerisms and idiosyncracies of Ginsberg and his recital of the poem is a really enjoyable and mesmerising aspect of the film. The portrayal of the obscenity trial was impressive and felt well directed. The poem Howl is split up into 4 parts including a footnote at the end, a series of animation sequences run alongside the poem. Although the animation was very well produced, I felt that in some ways it was far too literal in its portrayal of the poem and there seemed to be a few too many animation styles going on at once. It detracted from Franco's precise engaging recital of the poem in that the poem was portrayed almost word for word, far too many things going on and I didn't think it captured the essence of the poem. Franco was so convincing that the simple reading of the poem was enough, that doesn't mean to say that the animation was completely pointless, there were some very beautiful moments within the animation and perhaps if these were celebrated and given time to breathe and stand in their own right, this could have worked. I did still very much enjoy the film, and it definitely helped with my project to see the poem performed. Especially touching was the slideshow of real photographs alongside descriptions of what the beats went on to do; shown whilst Ginsberg himself spoke and then appeared at the end. Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman

Saturday, 5 March 2011

John Stezaker

Whitechapel Gallery, London
John Stezaker is one of the most renowned collage artists of our time and it was a treat to find that a retrospective of his work had been curated for the Whitechapel Gallery. I first came across Stezaker's work when I visited New York in 2007, whilst studying on my foundation year, at the time I was unaware of how influential Stezaker would come to be. I re-visited a sketchbook from New York whilst studying my degree and noticed a small thumbnail of an intriguing and jarring image, researching further I realised it was Stezaker and began to explore his work further.
Within my wider research for my dissertation I researched Stezaker and found some of his themes very interesting. Stezaker uses film stills an juxtaposes them with disparate or complimentary images, film, stills.
Stezaker explores gender roles in cinema and is often described as a male feminist. It is interesting to wonder whether his work is perceived differently because he is male, compared to if a female generated similar work.
He comments on the idea that women are objects of attention and subjects of the male gaze, a theme prominent within Hollywood cinema. Using collage Stezaker subverts, exaggerates and draws attention to our perception, using what we take for granted and offering the opportunity to re-think what we see by rearranging the way images are ordered and presented. This transformation of images allures the viewer, as collage does so often, into a new sense of reality, a continuous comment and questioning of perception.
I researched Stezaker for my dissertation, I found it interesting to observe a male response to some of the feminist issues I had been exploring. To see the huge retrospective of Stezaker's work was inspiring and overwhelming to see so much of his work in one place, the work has much more resonance in the space of a gallery rather than on screen or in a book, seen at the size which Stezaker intended. What was so impressive is that each of the collages were original works, not re-produced or printed out, the actual fragments were original, and there is something endearing about how two disparate, unedited elements can work together in a strange harmonious chaos.
The idea of male dominance/gender hierarchy and the male/female gaze is something I have explored in a film workshop, with Sam Meech using found footage for the North West Film Archive, and something I will continue to explore in future work.

Jesse Lenz

Jesse Lenz Is 'A 22 year old artist' and has an absolutely fantastic portfolio, with a huge range of clients and is the same age as me! Here are some examples of work.
Jesse Lenz Is 'A 22 year old artist' and has an absolutely fantastic portfolio, with a huge range of clients and is the same age as me! Here are some examples of work.

The Young Creatives

'The Young Creatives' is a blog, which showcases creative talent and shares inspiring and critical content to do with the creative industries. Check out my interview on the blog here

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

DR. ME Talk

After rumours of a Skype lecture, I was unsure what to expect from DR.ME and was surprised on entering the lecture theatre to find the Manchester duo present. Instead of talking over points in voices, which they self-confess, would send us to sleep, the usual rambling on about the self, certain points taking far too long, and missing out vital pieces of information. DR.ME, which is the collaborative creative name of Mark Edwards and Ryan Doyle, decided to shake things up a bit and use an automated voice to concisely explain their university and post-university journey.
I found the lecture insightful and certainly have never been to a lecture which uses this platform and true to form it did keep me engaged. I took from the lecture the idea that if you keep working, keep doing work you believe in, continue to network and most importantly enjoy yourself then opportunities will slowly but surely start coming your way. DR. ME have recently moved into their own studio, which is an incredible achievement considering they only left university 7 months ago.
After the lecture I spoke to Mark and Ryan and talked through my portfolio, I found what they had to say really helpful, their constructive criticism was good to hear as it is always good to get an outside opinion on your work. I also found it useful to discuss how they coped working abroad, as this is one of my aspirations after leaving university, so thanks guys for putting my mind at ease!
Link to my blog post on DR.ME does Urban Outfitters