Tuesday, 13 May 2008

< Year1 / >

It doesn’t seem long ago at all that I was sat in a circle trying desperately to remember everyone’s name in fear that I was the one to drop the ball (so to speak) and now here I am evaluating the past year.

Many of us have been talking about how much we far we have progressed over this last year, but in reality, it has only actually been a little over 8 months; it typically takes longer for a child to be born! I have a real sense of achievement and feel quite humble.

The transition from full time employment in the big bad world to returning to formalities of education has certainly not been a frictionless process; and to be very honest there are still parts of me that find it difficult to adjust at times.

The level of support that I have personally received so far has been outstanding. Ranging from my tutors to class mates to my friends, family and most of all my fiancée Elizabeth, every step of the way for each time I have stumbled, there has always been someone there to get me back on my feet; Thank you to you all.

Throughout the course of the year, we have had a barrage of visitors to the class all from very different backgrounds and with very different futures. The first of which was from the Design Mechanics. The added benefit with this was that fact that two of the designers working for the company originated from this very course. Jemma and Oliver were model example of what can be achieved with a little hard work. Whilst the Design Mechanics generally regarded as being a ‘stepping stone’ for new designers; it can be perceived as a great first step. The visits were fuelled by the return of previous students; I cannot think of a better compliment to the course and its staff than its produce coming back to help those following in their footsteps.

I have already mentioned that the transition back into education wasn’t as smooth as I would have liked but to add insult to injury a little over 4 weeks into the first semester I was faced with a very serious personal problem resulting in me leaving my home and family to seek new accommodation. This had a serious affect on my concentration, motivation and emotions and undoubtedly my performance; this is much easier to see now looking back.

The recovery was not a quick process and to be honest, I see it as one of those life-changing events from which things are never the same; however, submission dates wait for no man so I had to try and get back to a sense of normality as soon as possible.

A2 – That’s the Plan!

The submission of our first formal assignment (A2) quickly came around; I was full of pride based confidence and bursting with enthusiasm that I had completed my first ever web plan. However, the joyous occasion was short lived as the project that I had given life to had not made the pass grade; needless to say I did not take the news well.

Fortunately, the support from the teaching staff, class mates and family was outstanding and quickly I found myself on my feet again. The referral work comprised mainly of many small alterations; finishing off if you like but cumulatively were quite a drain on my already strained timetable. The amount of time estimated to do this work was, in my opinion, seriously underestimated on my part.

As a recommendation from both the tutor and a class mate, I read a book by Steve Krug called “Don’t make me think!” is a fantastic book surrounding web usability that I would recommend to anyone. Accessibility and usability is becoming ever more important as the number of people now being diagnosed with dyslexia and other such learning difficulties is on the increase and as students with professional aspirations, we have to know how to accommodate and work with these conditions.

I think that one of the issues surrounding the adaptation from ‘real life’ to ‘student life’ was building new working relationships and establishing boundaries. During which stage there was a miss wire somewhere between what was being asked of us, as a class, and what we were doing, as a class. It became apparent that we were treated as a collective and that if the majority did not do what was required then the class had to endure the related punishments to which I did not feel was fair. Somewhat intentionally, I invoked a discussion regarding the subject to try to get a resolve; I am pleased to report that we do not appear to have any / many problems like this anymore.

A3 - Back to Basics

This assignment saw a great opportunity to show off what we had learned in A2. I have always been told that ‘the first is the worst’ and that certainly was the case here. The improvements and levels of confidence were certainly noticeable.

I felt much more comfortable with elements such as the competitive analysis and assets list. I could feel things clicking into place… the right place.

This web plan encompassed an element of writing and collation of imagery, which was extra to the requirements of A2 but it also gave it a feeling of reality. A5 – Builder was coming; I could feel it and couldn’t wait.

Having the referral work to do for A2 at the same time as creating the first submission for A3. I do feel however that this gave A3 a bit of a step up with regards its standards.

A4 – Image Rights

This unit was at the time the first practical based assignment of the year and it was a welcomed change from the theoretical based A3 & A4. The image restoration task proved to be the most enjoyable for me. I was able to pull on my previous experiences of image manipulation from my previous job.

The timed tasks, namely the creation of the web banners, gave me a clear insight into the amount of work that can be achieved in a short period of time when specifically encouraged; something that I have tried to replicate during self-study with limited success.

The image compression aspect of the assignment was particularly interesting to me. I previously had and understanding of the existence of the different file types but not about the instances in which they intended to be used; this certainly is one lecture that will always stay in the forefront of my mind.

A5 – Builder

The A5 was the build of the A3 assignment. The largest frustration that I endured during this unit was adhering to the quite basic screen design(s) that I had generated previously. I miss understood the fact that alterations were in fact permitted to the design so long as they were in keeping with the original flavour and development work was shown.

There had always been an air of haze surround web based form for me before doing this unit. Sites that I had created previously would have benefited dramatically from the facilities offered by formail for example.

Having been bitten by the CGI bug (no pun intended) I decided to test out my new found talent by creating and online feedback come usability questionnaire form. I feel that the form was a complete success and gave a very professional feel to the project.

A6 – Revert to Type

This typographic unit opened my eyes to a world which I had always taken for granted before. I had previously never bore any consideration as to where the typefaces originated from nor the complexities involved in their creation.

The famous typographer presentation didn’t go as well as I would have wanted it to. Almost predictably running long on my first presentation by about a minute and a half resulted in having to do the presentation again but this time in front of the whole class.

The resubmission of this presentation coincided with the discovery that I had referred the A5 – Builder unit. The grade (or lack of it) was on the wall, which was fine but there wasn’t an opportunity to ask for any feedback to put my mind at ease before the resubmission of the presentation.

Needless to say the resubmission, in spite of the preparation, went appallingly. I was embarrassed and ashamed at my performance and at the same time angry with myself for referring the A5 unit. It was not a pleasant time for me.

After a bit of a talk with the tutor and a third attempt at the presentation calm was restored to an otherwise uncomfortable period of time.

A7 – Whaling Whales

Finishing this assignment gave me a grate sense of pride. We were able to draw on all of the experiences and education of the college year and produce something that in my opinion looks really professional. The best piece of advice that I received for this project was to print the CD artwork on gloss paper - and what a difference it made!

I still feel as though there is scope for improvements as with any piece of work and given the opportunity again I feel that I would still come up with the same solution. I am over the moon with the result.

I did create a range of solutions almost to the point of completion which were also aesthetically pleasing however, they were unsuitable for the CMYK print process.

The unit has given me the confidence boost that I so desperately needed.

What would I do differently?

  • First on the list has to be to seriously reduce the amount of hours that I worked during the first year. There is no doubt in my mind that it had a drastically negative impact on my performance.

  • Second on the list has to be to seriously reduce the amount of hours that I worked during the first year – it really is that important!

  • Follow up lectures above and beyond; the lectures are only supposed to be an introduction to the subject.

  • Adhere to time planning and production schedule and always complete a week early for checking / improvements.

Thoughts about the next year?

I am really looking forward to next year, having read some of the journal and talking to now second years the units sound fantastic. I am particularly looking forward to the client work.


  • Ensure that time planning is follow regimentally from the outset.

  • Work through tutorials and practice, practice, practice with the software applications until their use become second nature.

  • Improve time planning.

  • Surround myself with inspiration and good design.

Word Count: 1,789


Thanks for reading

Shaun Bellis

Quote of the year Awarded to…

“The way to learn to do things is to do things. The way to learn a trade is to work at it. Success teaches how to succeed. Begin with the determination to succeed, and the work is half done already.” – Source Unknown.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Diggin' that Pack

Hi Everyone,

This is my DigiPak Outter. Feedback would be very much appreciated. Any questions please feel free to ask!

Thank you!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Summary...

The Good...

Looking back on last weeks entry, I am pleased to say that I have completed the alterations to the 'Corporate Identity' work and have made great headway with the CD artwork.

The at times fantastic weather we have experienced this week has provided me with the perfect opportunity to spend many hours practicing the sophisticated skill that is photography. Whilst I have never claimed to be a 'photographer', the results (admittedly in my opinion) were impressive and gave me plenty of manipulation opportunities.

This along with the intensive sketchbook work has put me right back where I needed to be. My motivation and determination is at an all time high and I have never been happier with my position on the course.

The idea's and ideals are bouncing around in the ink well that is my mind. I fell that the only thing holding me back is my ability to convey those feelings and idea's to paper / screen; skills and techniques that will improve vastly with practice.

The Bad...

The largest area for concern that I have is that my two days of creative freedom is soon to pass and I will have to go back to the drudgery that is retail employment. I feel that my largest hindrance on the course is the time consuming beast that is commonly known as work. In light of this I have put any measures in place to reduce the amount of hours I have to work each week so that I can concentrate my efforts on what matters, this course.

The Summary...

Thanks for reading

Shaun Bellis

Quote of the week

"It's not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference." - Paul Bryant