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2016

It's the end of the year which has a terrible habit of landing on my birthday. I've wrote this post in advance and scheduled it so I don't have to type all this on my birthday ;)

2016 has been deemed by many 'the worst year ever'. I've seen people sharing memes saying how 2016 has been rubbish for them. Back in January I said it was going to be my hardest year yet given it was my final year of uni, but it was going to be amazing afterwards. And it proved right.

I initially began typing this post as a huge essay on what I'd done through the year, but that would be tedious; I'm not one for enjoying essays that much after all (dissertation, anyone?).

January
 Thought about writing my dissertation but never got round to it  February
Finally wrote my dissertation (2 days with only 4 hours sleep). Death had never been so appealingGot a letter from the Vice Chancellor saying I achieved the highest mean mark at Level 4 out of Graphics and Photography - Level 4…

PC v Mac for Graphic Design

Oh no, it's another PC v Mac debate. Well, for this one I'm going to be specific to graphic design.


Why do a lot of graphic designers use Macs?

1) 'Tradition'
If you look at the history of graphic design on computers, you will find that Macs in the 80s/90s were the only computer to allow digital typography. So, graphic designers in this era naturally bought Macs. Then stuck to it. It then seemed to stick that graphic designers should use Macs.
2) Misconceptions
'Adobe products run better on Macs'
"Adobe has gone on record via their Adobe Hardware Performance Whitepaper to point out that the performance of their software comes down to specs, not operating system. So there is no real evidence for the old saying “Adobe software runs better on Mac.” Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator etc were not designed to perform better due to OS preference."
3) Trying to fit in
I honestly believe a lot of graphic designers buy Macs to 'fit in' as a designer. To…

EU Focus Project

I finally received in person my EU Focus Project I worked on a while back, and I was over the moon to hear it went down extremely well at Brussels (and was very popular)!




So what are they? A series of booklets covering different aspects of manufacturing, with the key aim of outlining the main areas of the manufacturing industry which should receive funding in order for Europe to remain a world competitor in manufacturing. The booklet starts on the left side with the current state of the industry, and on the right the predicted future trends. In-between is ‘the journey’ to get from where we are now to where is predicted to be a future trend, and this can be unfolded out - like a roadmap.



So what's this got to do with Autodesk? Well, the company Autodesk recently took over, Delcam, was part of the Focus Project initiative.  
I was incredibly lucky that I was trusted with the entire design of this project - over 72 different icons were used in this that I designed and made, and…

I threw a hat

It's been a while since my last post, so I thought I'd do a brief-ish summary of what the crack is lately.

Firstly and foremost I graduated last week (November 22nd) and it was a fun if hectic day! I was only in Carlisle for a few hours so didn't get to hang around much, but I did get to throw my graduation cap which may or may not have ended up with grass stains, which may or may not be visible in the professional graduation photo...I also perhaps threw my hat by accident at a very important historic building but luckily no damage incurred. I was then spoilt by family with cards and presents, and a lovely meal out followed by a pub quiz (which we lost).



In other news a massive project I've been working on has been printed and is currently awaiting to be presented in Brussels to governments of the EU including ours (eek). Here's a little preview:


A super brief summary of what it is: outlining the key areas of research which need to be funded by the EU in order for …

"A degree in art/design is a mickey mouse degree"...

I think it's safe to assume that most if not all people who have taken or completed a degree in an art or design related field have been told, or read, or have heard things said that imply that a degree in art/design is a 'mickey mouse' degree. For those who aren't familiar with the term, a 'mickey mouse' degree is a degree which is deemed either worthless or irrelevant. This blog entry aims to inform and educate those who share these highly ignorant views. I will also be touching on the whole debate of "Do you have to do a degree in design to get a job?".

I've mentioned numerous times on my Twitter feed and have linked articles stating how art/design jobs are actually increasing, are growing in demand, and the growth is HUGE;

"The creative industries sector as a whole is growing at 8.9% a year – nearly double the rate of the UK economy as a whole – and is the second fastest-growing UK sector, behind construction." 
By the way, so you…

3 months in the 'real world'

It's coming up to 3 months now being in my job as a graphic designer, and pretty much 3 months since finishing my course. So what have I learnt?

In terms of real life responsibilities, very little has changed from university life. I rented private accommodation rather than student accommodation in my final year of study as my other half had graduated and wasn't therefore able to go in most student accommodation, and secondly it turns out it's a LOT cheaper...so paying rent every month as well as organising the utility bills etc is all the same as it was from university, except now I have to pay council tax of course. My car insurance and MOT etc are all still paid by me. All living costs that you can think of etc. HMRC also don't ever seem to know what the bloody hell they're doing, so I'm STILL being taxed too much. I've given up calling them to sort it out because well at least it's some extra money put away for my savings I will see sometime next Apr…

Trends

When it comes to trends or what's popular, whether that be music, clothes, or even cars, I don't usually like to follow them as I prefer something different. I'm slightly different when it comes to design, as I find exploring trends in design can be fun. And although some trends come and go, the skills that come with learning how to execute them don't. Currently hand-rendered typography is a huge thing, and I really like it. I'm finally getting round to practicing it myself when I'm not too tired after work! What I don't like though is its overuse, or its use in an irrelevant context or worse, a use in which it is conflicting. Furthermore, I've seen some people use it so much in all their work that you cannot distinguish one design solution in their portfolio from another - even if the design briefs were polar opposites in subject and target audience! I should probably point out I'm talking about when people use the exact same style of hand-rendered…

Doing what you feel like

I've found myself after university with all these plans of wanting to learn new software, do lots of new projects, and yet when I have the time to carry all this out, sometimes I don't feel like doing it. And I end up feeling frustrated. I decided recently to yes set out an overall plan of what I want to do over the next year or so, what I want to learn etc, but also to just do what I feel like doing. Sometimes I don't feel like doing more tutorials. Sometimes I don't feel like planning some graphic design projects. So I might read a book. Or doodle. And today, this is how it went:


It started with opening up Photoshop, I fancied doodling something. I wondered if I had the skill to be an illustrator, what would my style look like? 
I then enjoyed using the crayon-y style brush and ended up drawing a cactus! Which I then made into a print:

But I also liked the cactus by itself, and thought I'd put a silly quote underneath: I then did some more cacti, and another no…

ZBrush

You may or may not have seen on my other social media channels that I have been very recently self-teaching myself ZBrush - so what is ZBrush? A 3d modelling program, where it's akin to modelling with clay rather than feeling like you're dealing with polys. It's used in the entertainment industry, and is great for creating high-detailed models. Here's some examples of ZBrush models you may recognise:




There's many more examples to be found here: http://pixologic.com/zbrush/industry/films-vfx/


I've been trying to learn it recently because it's not only another skill to add to my skill-set, but it's also very fun to do! You can block out shapes very quickly, and within an hour or 2 you have a really well detailed model. It feels more natural to model in than say 3DS Max might. But each program has its strengths and the industry always uses whatever program is best suitable for the job (as I am an Autodesk employee I feel like I should point out at this poi…

Middle-of-a-move

It's been a while since my last post, mainly because I've been busy moving to Birmingham where my new job is at. Currently myself and Owein have been waiting for the keys for the new flat for over 2/3 weeks but finally we get them tomorrow! Once we are fully moved and settled properly, I promise to keep this blog more updated. I am so excited though to build IKEA furniture, and also I'm renting out a reasonable sized van to move our stuff and I'm going to tailgate everyone, shout profanities at women who dare to expose their ankles, and mount the occasional pavement and/or pedestrian. 

In other news I found out recently I will be graduating with First Class Honours in BA (Hons) Graphic Design which was exciting and great news to hear. Will I do a masters in the future? Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows...


So what now?

A question that bugs a lot of students once they finish university. For most it's to find a job; ideally doing something in the field that they want to do. But once you've done that, is that it? The answer is no. Absolutely not! Cheesy as it sounds, but when you've left university, you've only really just begun. So although I will be working 9-5 at my full time job come next week, my evenings and weekends will be spent not only relaxing, but also working on my portfolio. One thing that has worried me as being a possible issue, is neglecting to work on self-initiated projects. I really don't want this to happen.

So amidst the madness of packing/moving stuff, I will also be trying to divulge some sort of schedule and a list of projects I want to complete. I've already learnt from my time at university and work placements that working on more than one thing at the same time is the most efficient way to do it, so when creative block hits on one project you can move…

Hard work pays off!

Here is me looking happy as Larry (I never can smile well in photos) next to my exhibition stand on our 'etc.' exhibition preview night. The work behind me is a result of 4 years of very hard work. Although in year 0 of my course I took things relatively slowly, that soon changed. I worked out how much I was working every week, and in year 2/3 it was 100 hours or more. 10 hours was my part time job which was funding my living costs and course costs, the remaining 90 hours were spent working on my degree. So on average, I was spending 12 hours of everyday working tirelessly to try and do the best I could. I'd get into uni for around 9am most days, leave at 4.45pm to go to my part time job, then would drive back home for around 7.30pm where I'd stay up until 2am before retiring back to bed. I often did at least 1 all nighter every week, at times this could be as many as 2. If I was lucky I'd have a day or 2 of rest before doing the second all nighter. If I was reall…

4 years!

The end of my university education is just about here, and I'm sitting here reflecting on the entire journey. I started in 2012, on a foundation year called 'Year 0'. My knowledge of graphic design was extremely limited and frankly, embarrassing. Prior to my degree, I had only experience in fine art. In fact, prior to choosing graphic design as a degree I was originally going to be on a medicine course at Durham University - quite the change to graphic design, but the summer school I did there confirmed I truly wanted to follow my passion for art/design. Anyways, my portfolio when applying to universities was errr really not great. I had no graphic design experience what so ever, so had only fine art pieces to show and what I had done in my spare time (which consisted of poor photoshops of my classic car, a Muse t-shirt, a portrait... you get the picture). I wasn't even shown how to make a portfolio for university applications, and at the time, could not find a single …

OMG It's been, like, a month since my last post

And I'm sorry. I have been VERY busy. Within the past month I have completed a 3 week placement at Solution Group in Gateshead, only a few mile from whence I am from (Chester-le-Street, some old dude called St. Cuthbert was buried here at one point. And our Church was initially a Cathedral until they bloody built the one in Durham. So we were a city, surely?). Anyway, I enjoyed working in the real world, and I think the thing I learnt most was stuff that arguably is back to basics. Things like idea generation and time management; using time management to your advantage. In my foundation year at university we worked on a few projects at the same time. I found this irritating, and would often just leave everything to play COD4 on my Xbox in halls - until the deadline was too close to ignore. I clearly missed on an opportunity here to learn about the benefits of working with more than one project at the same time. Alas, I was young and wet behind the ears (hey, I still am!).

On my pl…

#9

This one probably won't need much explaining. Trump has some stupid/dangerous 'ideas'. He is certainly an interesting individual which has lead me to watch typical Channel 4 documentaries on the subject.

#8

Original text said 'because distorting type is cool'. I see a lot of people scanning in type and then shaking it slightly to distort it. I like it, but I see it so much it makes me not want to like it. I tried the digital way of doing it just to play around with distorting type, which consisted of me using the liquify tool in Photoshop. I ended up overdoing it but it changed into something quite abstract and changed some of the letterforms into something more pictorial in nature. Interesting it sort of relates to my dissertation topic.

#7

For number 7 of design a day, take a good ol' look at one of Bert's (many) rusty orifices. It's like a piece of abstract art that would sell for millions. Hmmm...

#6

Today's design a day dawns on what I'll be doing tomorrow - taking photographs of wor Bert for a uni project (if you really don't know me, Bert is my classic car currently hiding in storage). It's been 5 years next month since I bought him, and 3 years almost since I last drove him. If we can find the battery tomorrow, there *may* be a chance to try and start up his massive 0.7 litre 2 cylinder engine.

#5

Today is #5 of design a day - how would you ever guess? Although these may not look like a lot of time has been spent on them, there's considerations such as typeface choice and colour etc. Besides the point, I'm doing the design a day project with the intention to practice my design skills in the form of short exercises that I don't put much thought into. Going back to basics so to speak.

#4

It's actually pretty hard to come up with things to 'design' and do after coming back from placement every night. So tonight, I present a raspberry. Enjoy.

#3

For #3 of design a day, the eagle-eyed among you may pick up on some The Slaves lyric references here. Mainly a mash-up of 'Feed the Manta Ray' in regards to the random Manta Rays, and 'Cheer Up London' for the text.

#2

For today's design piece a quick play with colour; I was inspired after reading some books I've rented from the library, 2 which focused on colour in design. Speaking of colour, I am planning to do an editorial piece as a project that will be printed on yellow paper (hint: it's going to be a photographic editorial based on a certain little car...), which will make a change from printing on white paper!

A design a day!

Now it is the Easter holidays (although they certainly aren't 'holidays' for me!), I wanted to take the chance to do something a bit fun that would also help me improve my design skills. So, I'm challenging myself to do a design a day. There's no real strict rules, other than to aim to do one a day. I can spend either 5 minutes, or 5 hours. Some designs may have a purpose (i.e. answering a brief), some can be just random mash-ups of whatever.

So for today's very quick piece, a sort of title to mark the beginning of design a day:


A nice surprise!

I checked my notifications on my Twitter account, to see I had been featured on World Packaging Design Society's website, Twitter and Facebook (see the website here: http://www.worldpackagingdesign.com/blog/2016/2/14/lauren-mines-yours). I am trying to find out how they discovered my work at the moment, so I can only speculate as to whether it was my post on Instagram, Twitter, or perhaps just they came across it on my website. They have referenced my website at the end of the post on their website, so they have obviously visited it at some point!

I think this perfectly highlights to me the importance of getting your work out there. You never know who is going to see it. At present, World Packaging Design Society's Facebook post on my work has reached over 100 likes, which although to most isn't an impressive amount, to me it means a lot. It is also a huge confidence boost and motivator, so I appreciate this so much. 
I will be looking at refining some of my other pieces o…

The Final!

Well, what a learning experience! Animation (in 3D) is something I have never attempted before. I used no tutorials, 99% my own intuition, 1% my other half's (Owein Mason; a recent graduate in 3D Modelling) input to help remind me where 'this tool was' in 3ds Max. I had to cut down the original number of planned scenes but I felt Bert climbing the mountain perfectly represented what I wanted to say about myself. 
Unfortunately due to the huge amount of frames, I could only allocate a lower quality render otherwise it would have taken days to render this. Combine this with the fact I obviously have to decompress the file so it's a nice enough size for internet viewing, and the quality isn't amazing of course. However, I think this demonstrates to myself what I can achieve if I push myself, as well as of course showing my love of cars, and my traits of perseverance, hard work, and enjoying a challenge.
Here it is!: 



Quick sketches

Given the short time scale and ambition for the project, I had to quickly determine the look and storyboard of the animation, as outlined below:




Animation test of complete model

Now I've completed the modelling, texturing and lighting to how I want it, I decided to run a quick test of animating the wheels. They proved oddly tricky to animate (a pesky pivot point wasn't behaving), but after some crying I finally got the wheels to animate well:



Wireframe model and texturing

Current update of progress; I've modelled the car thoroughly now - here is when it is in its wireframe:


The modelling took a little longer this time round compared to the test, as I wanted to make sure I got the look spot on, and enhanced Bert's characteristics accurately. The texturing was a lot quicker, although the lighting was a little tricky to work around. Here is how the scene stands currently:

Close up!:


Now the scene is near enough set to go for animation.

Animation tests - warning, very crude...

Following up from the previous post, here is a crude test animation or 2:





This test provided valuable information, mainly the time scale of which this project could take. For instance, the above animation which lasts approximately 3 seconds took only 20 minutes to model, texture, light and animate. Once the item is modelled, you can remove this time for any remaining scenes. So sequential scenes after this one will take less time as Bert is already modelled. Lighting and textures are included in this too, with only minor adjustments being needed once the main scene is set.

How to represent me!

A task has been set to represent my personality and traits in some way shape or form - essentially, what's unique about me. 
After much thought I came to these conclusions how I sum myself up:
I like carsI really like my charismatic classic car 'Bert'Amongst those who know me, Bert is often associated with me and I'm often associated with BertI like technology and experimenting with it in my workI'm a hard workerI'm independentI like to take on challenges So I thought an apt representation of me, would be by using good ol' Bert. I'm setting myself a challenge which is to create a 3D animation of Bert in which to represent myself. The fondness for technology and experimenting with it in my work will be represented by the use of 3D/animation in itself, and my other traits can be represented in mini scenarios. For instance, hard working could be Bert driving along full steam 'sweating'. Taking on challenges could be Bert floating through floods (som…

Conquering a fear of colour...

Fear of colour is an exaggeration but there's no denying that my work up until now has largely been devoid of bright, cheerful colour combinations. Perhaps because the right relevant project where such colours I felt would be fitting had not come along...or more likely it's because I have some sort of fear of using colour. No more do I have that fear! Take a look:



So what is it? Gender neutral, environmentally friendly beauty packaging. The idea being these containers are all refillable, all made of recycled material, and of course can be recycled themselves! Designed for people who don't like to be constrained to the pre-existing beauty stereotypes (male beauty products look like power tools for crying out loud) and also are conscious of the environment. The reason for being named ‘Yours’ is the idea of the consumer being the one to choose their ‘beauty standards’. The message being ‘This product is yours’, ‘Your look is yours to decide’. The customer shouldn't feel f…