Yesterday I took the long, long … long (!) trip up to London. Why i hear you ask? because Top Drawer is on!
Top Drawer is a trade event where designers and makers come together to showcase their products, and for a student like me, its practically heaven. Especially the stationer section *drool*.
Up and down the isles of stationery I went, tackling it supermarket style, to make sure that no stand was left unvisited. Once I got past the whole ‘I’m surrounded by stationery! my life is complete’ stage of my visit, I then started looking for inspiration. Not only for inspiration but also layout and packaging.
For our International Greetings brief, I’m almost completely sure that I have to also explore ways of packing and display, and if not, this has seriously helped my ideas when it comes to my degree show displaying.
We all know I love typography, and while yes, I did flee straight to designer which used lots of lovey fonts, I also looked at patterns, colour-ways and co-ordinating designs, and how the designers displayed these, and promoted them within their stands.
I think overall, besides getting to send the afternoon surrounded by paper goods, Top Drawer has really helped my with thinking about professional standards; how to package and present, and also on the merits of displaying and how to properly advertise (with brooches and information cards) interestingly.
While I was there, I came to the stall of Sort Design, where they had a old letterpress machine up and running (to say I wanted to make off with it my bag wouldn’t be a lie) where people where able to print an already set up design, using this letterpress, which also doubled as their business card. Now if that not a great idea, I don’t know what is. But it’s safe to say, these great ideas will be sticking with me and hopefully influencing some of my ideas.
Overall I have found this ‘making connections’ module quite difficult. Having been given so much time to complete this collection, I had too much time and kept over thinking everything I was doing, until I was talking myself out of what I had designs.
Through this however, I have learnt that I work best on a short schedule. I prefer to undertake a lot of research and have quite little time to actually create the designs themselves. My initial responses are usually my strongest, I just have to learn to stick to my convictions and no change them because of over thinking.
Having discovered this, I used it to my advantage during the second half of this module.
At the beginning of ‘making connections’ my idea scope was to broad, my mood boards contained too much information leading to designs that were quite varied and not very cohesive. As a result I found the first term, I didn’t have a clear direction of where I wanted my collection to go, instead I was experimenting with different techniques, getting a feel for which would best suit the client I was working for.
After my field modules however, I found that I was inspired with new ideas and motivation, and as such was enjoying the creation of this collection much more. I was able to narrow down my influences, this then lead to my changing the direction of my collection, for the better.
Through field I found the inspiration I need to really enjoy what I was creating, and was able to find great inspiration in the work that I had been doing with Richard Weston. His work with minerals affected my work greatly. I was able to focus on the minerals themselves, taking my designs from their inner and outer surfaces.
I was also able to narrow down further what I was designing for, table wear — specifically napkins.
I much prefer the technique of printing to embroidery. I prefer the whole process of printing and I love the end results. However, if I plan to expand on my knowledge of textiles practises, I need to experiment with them all, not just my favourites.
Through this module I was able to experiment with both print and stitch, and have really like the results; using them separately and combining the two to create more layered effects — as to mirror minerals — and to create more in-depth and thought out designs.
My formative feedback helped me to further narrow the direction of my collection. With all the relevant imagery and research in place, I just needed to make my designs flow more cohesively as a collection. The feedback, helped me to see what aspects needed to be tweaked and from here I was able to create the collection that I have striving for. I was able to rework colours, background and scale to make sure that my collection worked smoothly, and also to make sure that my designs fitted exactly into my brief and my intentions laid out in my hypothetical commission brief — creating designs that fit with my theme and with the client that I have chosen to design for.
My experience within field this year have undoubtedly affected both me and my work. For both modules I decided to undertake work placement, which turned out to be the best part of the academic year for me.
For two months out of this year I was able to work with professionals, designing and collaborating on different projects. I was able to have quite significant input within both of my placements, which was thrilling, with the prospect that my designs could be featured with their own collections.
From these two experiences I have been able to learn new skills from these people that have affected my methods of creating/designing – I am now more proficient with Photoshop, which has played a great part in my workings. I have developed my hand drawings and paintings skills which an invaluable tool, helping me grow in my own abilities as well as helping me to grow in confidence.
Not only have I developed in my creative skills but I have also learnt about myself, my influences and the way in which I prefer to work.
My time with Richard Weston enabled me to learn more digital designs skills, and gain valuable knowledge on what it is like to design to specific client specification. It was very nerve-wracking and rewarding at the same time. I experienced what it was like to work on a real life brief, which included regular critiques — which has helped me to grow more confident in my abilities — along with learning how to conduct myself professionally.
It was also very challenging to work with someone whose taste different drastically from mine. I had to learn how to think more in terms of what they were looking for from my designs, instead of what I wanted to give in my designs.
My time at Sacha Pierre was very freeing. I was under a less strict brief and was left to find my own place within the designing of their collection. I was able to find my own inspiration from a wide range of ideas/themes that they were working with, letting me further develop my designing process. Again I had to learn how to conduct myself professionally, but in a different way from when I was working with Richard – I was part of the team in Sacha Pierre as opposed to working for a client.
With the freedom I was afforded within Sacha Pierre I gained confidence in my painting and designing skills — which I have been able to take forwards into different aspects of my work — and learnt what it is like to be in a real life working environment. I’ve also learnt that this is the kind of area, and atmosphere I want to work in.
During my first field term I looked into so many designers and completed so much research, trying to push myself to further my ideas; the only problem was that I wasn’t happy with the direction my collection was going in. However, I put this from my mind and tried to immerse myself in field, trying to get the best experience possible.
Working with Richard, I was able to see natural elements at such an intimate level; seeing inside stones and crystals and minerals, to find the wonders inside. They were beautiful, but I couldn’t figure out how I would be able to combine them with my collection. While at Richards, he received a book about the French sculptures Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne. It was while looking through this book that I decided, if I couldn’t fit this new, gorgeous inspiration into my current collection, then the collection needed to be changed. The natural influences that are so clearly evident in the work by Lalanne, were stunning. As soon as I saw them, I fell in love and wanted to create a collection that could be used alongside their cutlery set; this is how I came to be designing tableware. It wasn’t until my formative feedback that I swapped this into a wholly napkin collection.
My designs were now influenced by minerals, the structures, formation and colours; what could compliment cutlery inspired by nature more than nature inspired napkins? However, minerals are perfect as there are, so how would I be able to use these within my designs? I decided that my designs were going to be much more abstract that what I had been experimenting with already, the colours and shapes and layers would be evident, but the result would be a designs not trying to mimic a minerals, just utterly influenced by them.
My first field placement managed to change the influence and direction of my collection complete, to a point where I was enjoying the creation of the collection again. – My second placement, afforded me the skills to create these designs with much more ease. Using Photoshop became much easier, and I was confident in my drawing skills so I knew that I could draw up my own motifs when the inspiration struct. It was because of the freedom that I had while working in Sacha Pierre, that I was very free with my explorations of techniques during the creation of my final designs. I didn’t limit myself to any one process, instead chose to use multiple to try and show the many depth of the minerals I had found during my time with Richard. They way in which the team at Sacha Pierre laid out their ideas for their collection clearly, helped me to do the same without in my own collection, making the collection much more cohesive. My designs now complimented each other, and showed a range of skills and techniques that i wouldn’t have been able to experience if i hadn’t spent my time with Sacha Pierre.
Further from my tutorial on Tuesday, I’ve been working to the bone to get my collection completed and up to standard. From having manipulated my original croquis designs and mixed those with the marbling techniques I had tried out, I when on to further create the rest of my collection.
I did indeed experiment with machine embroidery on top of my hand-printed dendrite patterns and I really like the result. I feel that the now I have seen the embellished print, that there is much more elegance and interest with the added detailing, making it much more suitable for my client. From here I went onto to create two digital repeating structures that feature the dendrite patterns again, albeit in different layouts and colours; I also added some of my marbling technique which giving it more interest, can be seen better on a larger scale.
During this last week I haven’t really had time to overthink what needed to be done to complete my collection; I seemed to have acted on instinct, my ideas coming faster the less time I have to ponder them. Having been really happy with my dendrite motifs, I wanted to compliment the hand printed and machine embroidery version with some digital embroidery, which I got stitched out in two different colourways. I find that while creating my designs, what has been asked of me (different colourways, repeats and co-ords) seem to natural progress through the designs process.
Having completed ten out my twelve designs, I started to look at some of my fabric manipulation but I wasn’t happy with how they looked, or the feel of them and I couldn’t really see how I could alter them to have more of my spirit and be acceptable to my client; so I went back to the drawing board. Or rather back to my original inspiration; minerals. Using the book I was given during my first work placement with Richard Weston, I found an image of a quartz that was quite abstract but intrigued me. I could already picture in my mind the different processes I would use to create this design, so I ran with it. I found another image to compliment so that I had my last two designs, then set to work. The quartz images were quite textural, and as such I thought that adding in some of the marbling I had done would be a good way to show the difference of colours and texture with the quartz itself. I then appliquéd this onto backing fabric, used free machine embroidery for detailing, and added organzi material in-between to show how the minerals grown and how the different fissure and interest within the minerals com in different layers.
I have to say that I really love these last two designs, they are beautiful and abstract and taken right from the source of my inspiration; the mineral itself. The abstract nature of the quartz has now been mirrored in my designs.
I’m really happy with my collection. I feel that while not all of my designs necessarily match, they all have the same overarching theme of minerals. I feel that I have explored different designs avenues so as to find the best fit for myself and the client I am working for.
Week three has been and gone, its been kind of along week but still quite good, and quite productive. I’ve got the top nine designers in my sketchbook, awaiting titles and glue. my mood boards were created last week so this week I’ve been focusing on more research.
On Tuesday I had another individual tutorial, this time with Helen. I’m finding it really helpful t have a different teacher look over my work each week. I get to have the advice of different tutors with the professional opinions and helpful advice, and am able to take this on board. Helen was really helpful. she gave me really good suggestion into what I should start looking into such as the types of fabrics that I should be research which would then correspond with the fabrics that my chosen company uses. looking through the trend I have chosen and picking out key words that I may have over wise forgotten or missed; and she really helped me to focus my path more to know what research I should be doing and that I should start experimenting with ideas for designs and drawings. Overall I found Tuesday to be a really helpful day.
Wednesday I devoted to working. I finished what was left t don on my research of my top three designers I also started my Pecha Kucha presentation and also I started to gather images for a spate sketchbook, one that I am devoting to design ideas images and drawings. with my chosen theme company and trend in mind I started to think how I could relate the three. I started to look at different countries to see their approach because the trend I have chosen encompasses exotic culture finally settling on Thailand. I chose this country because of they’re use of exposed natural elements, they colours and how many of their key designs link into my trend. I then started looking at hotels within Thailand to see how they compare to the ones that are designed for by my chosen company, and then started to think about how I could bring some of the Thailand-ian culture to the work that I am creating for my hypothetical company.
Thursday was another day in the lab or workshop should I say. I was able to play around and create a few samples that I can add into my idea sketchbook, just so I can refer back to these little ideas and see hoe they worked didn’t work; if they went with my theme and company or if they need changing in any way. the rest of the day was dedicated to more Pecha Kucha making. this presentation better come across good all the effort I’ve been putting into it.
Overall my week has been pretty good. I’ve still got quite bit to do, the rest of my Pecha Kucha, my hypothetical Design brief and some more drawings and research etc. but I’m looking forward.
Another artist that I found while researching was Stef Mitchell who creates really beautiful monopolists using nature and flowers. I really love the look of his work, how the details and texture of each plant he’s used is perfectly printed onto paper. I was really taken with these works and wanted to try this out for myself.
I selected two different parts of plants from my garden and using black oil paint, rollered the ink onto the plants and sandwiched them between two sheets of cartridge paper with a heavy boom on top. From each inking of the flower I took two prints. The black ink reat makes the detail of each print stand out, each is a beautifully intricate print of nature.