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Professional Practice: Reflective Statement

I was looking forward to Professional Practice to learn more about being independent as a designer and professional, I remember thinking the idea of applying for a job would be completely unrealistic at the start of the year, I did not feel confident in my abilities or employability.

At the end of my course now, I am still not exactly sure what I want to do, which I think is okay, there has been a pandemic and due to illness, I was supposed to be finishing my degree next year, so I had not had the time to think about a solid plan. I saw myself with three options, a Masters degree, a job, or working on my own business, but really what I think I want to do is continue to explore these. I have been applying for remote working jobs and freelance work, I was recently accepted as an collaborating artist for Wuzci, an online card subscription company for which I will get commissions, and I plan to explore my own business by refining some products and digitally printing my fabrics to create them. I think I do have a lot of options, and if I get accepted for a full-time job, then my own business would be more part-time, and if I do not, then my business could be developed as more of a full-time thing.

In terms of a Masters, I do not want to rush back into this, just to make sure my health is okay, so I have researched into these close to home, Swansea seems to have a good course which could be an option in the future.

The press pack was developed with my pink and green colour scheme, which also follows through to my website, showing my professional web presence. My website acts as a portfolio of my patterns and work, even showing some of my sketchbook pages and development, and also has my CV and contact information. I have also made my Instagram and Pinterest into business accounts, which helps me to see insights and the reach on my posts. Pinterest has been particularly eye-opening, some of my individual patterns have over 15k views of them, right now an audience of 250k can see my patterns and be directed to my website, and hopefully in the future to a shop with those patterns on products.

I have been looking out for pattern contests to take part in, Spoonflower weekly contests was great for me as it helped me to refine my style and patterns, and with a system of voting with likes, I saw which patterns were more successful than others, which was very useful for my graduate collection as I had a number of weeks working on patterns before this anyway. I also took part in some Ohh Deer contests, a bottle design contest, some art contests, and I was looking into doing New Designers Awards, unfortunately the University was not registered, but I can still take my ideas that I had started to develop for that onto my own collections now.

My immediate future plans will be to start creating some small scale giftware products to make and sell myself, so really get re-acquainted with construction and my sewing machine. I also will continue to look for remote work, even a few hours a week that would help support my immediate life plans of moving in with my boyfriend.

I will continue to take part in any contests that I see, the Spoonflower ones that give a theme are great as they inspire me with things that I have not really thought of before.


Presspack Update

I wanted to include some progress on my presspack, I think I will add it on a word document too as I do not want to post my address and mobile number online. The main thing I have done is write up some content within the presspack and produce a mockup of what it would look like complete with a folder and everything.

This mockup shows how I would like to have my presspack, the little pocket below my little welcome paragraph would be great for some little business card sized prints or a memory stick with images on them. The presspack includes the creative CV, personal statement and postcard, with my business card in the front too.

These show the business card and the postcard, I kept to the colour scheme and I think it works well. The postcard acts as a template too which could quite easily be swapped out and patterns changed depending on what collection I wanted to promote at that point. The business card I did have a little trouble designing, but a tutorial towards the start of my journey with Suzanna helped me to understand to keep things simple, and I do think these are far more effective than my previous designs.

Wraptious Giftware Contest

I am constantly on the lookout for contests to do, I enjoy it as well as getting more of my work out there and seeing what patterns etc are successful. The Wraptious contest is designing for cushions and art prints, two products that I would actually love to create using my own designs, so this was a perfect chance to do just that, using five designs that I am quite proud of.

The designs are shown on the site by displaying them on mockups on the framed prints and cushions. I decided to include the hedgehog hero design, I think it is very effective with its bright colour and half dropped design. The red squirrel placement is cute and I think works well on a cushion and an art print, I also used a secondary from the red squirrel collection with the bright foliage, and then I looked at my contest designs, the ice lollies and British owl designs I think look great on products, I havent seen them on products due to just doing them for flat patterns so this was great to see.

The contest is judged on votes via facebook likes and shares, an update if anything happens.

Spoonflower Contest – Sports and Leisure

When I saw the name of this contest, I thought it was one that I might have to skip, as I do not like sports and I could not think of anything beyond different balls or rigid sporting equipment. Then I thought of swimming, which is kind of a sport and also leisurely as a lot of people do it for fun and exercise. The leisure part I think is important, it could be anything from walking a dog to doing yoga, leisure time covers a range of things.

I developed from swimming and thought of snorkelling under the water, where you could interact more with sealife and animals, so I decided to go with this, as it gave me a chance to think about a variety of underwater animals too.

I drew up some girls exploring underwater and used this to show the idea of someone doing the activity, I liked doing this as I do not do a huge amount of people and this gave me a chance to practice, by hiding the faces with their big goggles too, it was great. I surrounded them with sealife, and I think this gives it an interesting and busy look to it. I entered the large bottom one here into the contest.

I created a lot of coordinating designs to go along with this, which I will work on more and repeat to give a better idea of scale.

I created quite a large collection from this and I think I could probably still do more, I played with all the different motifs, experimenting with colourways and scale a lot throughout.

Proworks Bottle Contest

I saw this opportunity on Instagram originally and its been on my list a while, because there is a £500 licensing opportunity and the chance to see my designs on these bottles would be interesting. I thought a few of the tropical designs I was working on for the contest due yesterday would work, so I had a go at putting these onto a mockup.

I think the bright colour schemes work well and I am happy with how they turned out, I might look into doing a few more of these if I have a look through some other contests I have done previously.

Spoonflower Contest – Tropical Surrealism

A tropical challenge seemed interesting because its something I have not had a go at yet, like a twist on my natural woodland designs. I thought about the idea of surrealistic and how I could make forms of animals or other things out of leaves, but I thought more about the concept and I think to be visually appealing it had to be something different. So I thought about the more surreal part being the colouring in the leaves and making some bold decisions.

I chose a parrot to represent the tropical aspect as I think of it as a very ‘rainforest’ kind of creature with a very bright and interesting colour palette by itself, which the patterns reflect as I took those colours over to the leaves, foliage and feathers around it. I also prepared some tropical fruit motifs too but decided to leave them out of the first pattern I did, but I made some other co-ordinating patterns for this anyway.

I wanted the parrots to be the focus of the designs, so I think spreading them out like this worked well, and pulling the colours out of the parrots for the feathers and leaves make it look more flowing, although I think adding that purple kind of leaf into it was quite effective to give it a little bit of difference.

I wanted to try and make these co ordinating designs as bright as I could, really experimenting with the colours and patterns. I also enjoyed working on the linear designs using the feathers and the one with the palm leaves too. I think these all work quite nicely and I tried these last few without dots too and I do think they look a little plain but could work as a blender.

I mentioned that I had created some tropical fruit motifs too, I used these to create some pattern designs that I think lot a little different from the main collection but I think do look quite nice. I used pineapples, coconuts, starfruit and papayas I think, I actually did not know what a papaya or starfruit looked like before my research for this little challenge.

Ohh Deer Contest

I discovered this contest on Instagram after following the last one that Ohh Deer threw, this time they were looking for packaging designs for these boxes that they send out. It had to be a black and white design and I immediately went to leaf skeletons, I had finished drawing one and it was incredibly intricate, so I did a few more and then put this design as a mock up on the box.

I think this design worked well on the box, although I wish I had done some smaller leaves as if I was to minimise these too much they would distort too much, but overall I am quite happy with this design.

I also decided to try converting one of my graduate collection’s into a more monotone pattern which I think turned out quite nice on the box too.

I think this one is effective but I am not sure if it meets the design for being black and white as it does have shades in it. I think if I get more time before the end of the month I will try more of these, but so far I am happy with the design of these.

Spoonflower Contest – Day at the Lake

The Day at the Lake contest made me think of cabins, boats and fishing particularly, although a day at the lake for me would probably be walking, photography, spending time with friends, just because I do not know how to fish.

I decided on the theme of fish because I thought I could do quite bright and vibrant with the colour choices and interesting shapes with the actual fish.

Hero Design

The hero design came out quite bright with all the fish swimming in a couple of different directions. I like this, but I think the contrast of the colours make it look more child-like, nothing wrong with that but its not generally the market that I aim for, so I guess I should keep this in mind in the future when I am playing with the brighter colours.

I tried some designs that used a single colour for the fish in the foreground then a contrasting colour for the background. I actually think that some of the darker colours worked well with this but I found the purple and blue combination to be particularly harmonising.

I tried the designs using the blue and purple combination, then tried them with a range of blue, purple and yellow backgrounds for this. I think this is interesting and I actually ended up submitting the blue one for the contest. I think I always think I need to enter the hero design I do for the actual challenge but all these designs do still follow the theme so I think sometimes a slightly simpler design may be the one to go for.

Finally a few blenders here with the bubbles, I think these are quite cute and work well, although again I think the contrast of the yellow turns it into more a child-like design again.

Spoonflower Contest – Bright Reptiles

After I completed my patterns and was happy for this one to be submitted, I had a mad moment of questioning whether chameleons were reptiles, but luckily they are so the last few hours were not a total waste of time.

The shape of the chameleon is quite interesting, I actually went back to using an offset kind of messy outline for this one because it was hard to define its limbs and things without using these. I think this worked well though to define the edges. It is quite hard to tell but the body is shaded and coloured with a rough skin kind of texture effect which I think looked effective to help that brightness that I was going for and helping to shape the creature too.

I think I prefer the greeny-blue background to the pink one, but I definitely think the pink has value within the patterns.

I created some bright designs to go along with the main design which I think has worked well. The fern type images are quite effective with these outlines I think, they have a different look to them with the outline, more graphic. I added a kind of water drop effect to add a texture to the leaves too which I think makes them bolder.

Professional Practice Progress and Self-Check-In

I have been steadily working towards what I know I need to do for professional practice, just looking at what my cohort have already completed and talking to my friend and housemate, Elin. I spent some time a few days ago looking through the module handbook and trying to find as much resources as I can for professional practice, honestly to not much luck.

I made myself a little list of things I would include in my last presentation of action I have already taken and things that I want to do as I did find out that essentially professional practice is an action, what do I intend to do next after uni?

This is a difficult question for me in a number of ways, first of all, my health. I have not been able to consistently do what I need to every day, one day I could feel fine and manage to even drive a good distance, but other days I could be very anxious and not leave my workroom, but work and my patterns and art has been a good outlet for me. I could focus on them for hours and then suddenly the day is nearly over and I can go to bed and try again tomorrow. However, this means I could not see myself coping well with a job right now, the isolation also does not help and I feel anxious around people, so I have started going to shops and going out more to try and get back into society and try and solve some of these issues as I want to keep the option of a job open for myself. Because of my health also, I went part-time on the course for a short time which meant my next year would be spent finishing off the course, so my next steps towards my future were not as pressing as they are right now that I am finishing the course this year. And finally, Covid-19, the graduate job market has been affected, the housing market has been affected, so these were things that I wanted to work around in my plan, and have a plan essentially that I could put into action no matter what is happening or where I end up.

So the first thing I thought about was my press pack, I have been working on my business cards and I think they are ready to go after my tutorial a few weeks ago with Suzanna. I would like to show these to someone one more time for some feedback before I send them to print because that is very final. I think I then managed to insert the kind of formula that I wanted and made quite a cohesive collection including a postcard, personal statement, CV etc. I think I will expand this to include ‘Thank you for ordering’ cards, maybe think about an email signature and continue to expand my CV and skills to go onto it and my LinkedIn profile, which I have started actively posting some of my work on.

I think I will also talk about my portfolio website that I created, I think this is important as the handbook mentions ‘exampe of professional web presence’ so I think this represents this well, as well as my LinkedIn and business Instagram page, and also covers a digital portfolio of my work which I cannot wait to put my graduate collection on too.

I also want to cover workshops I have done, I need to keep a list of these as I have taken a few since lockdown, with the University, with the careers service and also workshops and classes on Skillshare and Careercake. I have also taken a few free workshops with the General Assembly and some small businesses I have seen on various design social media sites.

I have also actively been taking part in contests, particularly the Spoonflower contests, which I think most importantly has shown me how to make things more marketable and attractive to the general public. The contests are judged by likes and it is encouraging to see a general rise in my number of likes I get per week, with my jellyfish one doing well, then my Canadian Wildlife one doing well, and currently my Ice Cream Truck design getting about forty likes today which is really great to see. I also entered an OhhDeer pillow contest and will try to do their new contest now for the box design, hopefully I think have some time!

Next I think I need to cover what actually happens next? What can I actually do with the presspacks?

So I think my main options would be:

– Further study

– My own business

– A job or internship

I have looked into further study before and it seems like the only place I can actually do a Surface Pattern Design masters is in Swansea, which may be an option next year, I do not think I could dive straight back into education now, especially after finishing so late in the summer. I would get a couple of weeks free and then have to jump straight in again, and things are very different now with the virus, I would consider doing a remote degree because I have coped well with this situation now and become very independent as a designer. I think my next step in this aspect would be to talk to the careers service to discuss my options at Cardiff Met as Textiles does not have a page dedicated to a masters but I thought past students said about doing it, so this is something I would like to find out, I did want to do the Cardiff Met Award’s Entrepreneurship extension too.

In terms of starting my business, I have created a business plan now. I think with my business ideas there is a lot going on, and I think keeping the costs down right now is important, but I have been looking at grants and bursaries for this and will continue to research these.

I have also applied for a couple of remote working jobs in the design industry, this is something I would definitely have a go at, remote working as I have said seems to suit me and I am being through a lot of work at the moment. I do struggle a little with my work-life balance and work usually takes over, but with a paid job this is something I could work on a lot better. I have also reached out and contacted a couple of design companies that I liked the look of and offered them my website link as a portfolio to have a look at.

I think finally I will add a slide that illustrates some researc into craft fairs and exhibitions in the future, this could be especially useful if I decide to go in my own business direction as it would be a good way to market myself. I think I should also include the last slide about the effect of Covid-19 on my work and my life and plans. Ultimately I think Covid-19 has shown me what is important, one main thing I would like to do next in life is move in with my boyfriend, who I know would be very supportive of my business. I think the most important thing that has come out of Covid-19 is that it is okay to be uncertain, it has been a stressful, scary year and a little break to just explore my options and create things that I like is also an option that should not be overlooked.

I think actually getting this down in writing has shown me what needs to be done still and what progress I have made, I also want to make a note for myself that there needs to be a reflective statement written for Professional Practice as well.