Instagram Blogging Posts using Critical-Design

This is working towards objective 4.A and 1.

I would like to experiment with the idea of a Critical Design-led project using methods founded by Dunne and Raby (2007), which features a range of digital blogging posts using speculative design proposals and ideas in order to challenge the assumptions, ideals, trends, pre-empted conceptions about brands, products and objects within the Beauty and Fashion Industries, whilst provoking thought, sparking conversation and debate.

Furthermore, I would like to then develop these posts based on received feedback to further to achieve a realised outcome, which would be made up of a carefully selected and curated range of printed posters, which could either be sold or exhibited. The final outcome would aim to reflect the findings of my research question which explores the responsibilities of the Fashion and Beauty Industries, understanding how Social Media and Magazines influence and affect our sense of self-perception and body image” whilst utilising the collated research based on this critical-design led project.

To coincide with this blog and my journey on the MA Creative Practice course, I have decided to also open an Instagram account which will serve as a social media platform to share the work I am creating and developing, whilst engaging with an active consumer market in the hope of sparking thoughts and interest on the noted issues around the Fashion and Beauty Industries.

The Instagram account can be found here, and the account itself promotes this blog and encourages followers and viewers to stop, look, visit, read, question and think in a different way.

I have already posted several times this week on Instagram to get the ball rolling and to assess what works/doesn’t work for the target audience in regards to content, whilst exploring different digital processes and techniques. The posts which have ‘gone live’ this week can be seen below, and have so far received a positive reception from the Instagram community.

I plan on collating a list of ideas for posts which can be produced in advance, to then be uploaded everyday day or two in order to continually engage with the targeted communities and audience whilst building up a series of illustrations and typographic design work which can be used and further developed going forward. By planning posts in advance I can ensure that these then relate to research topics and projects at hand as previously noted, whilst ensuring any problems or issues are illeviated in advance. Furthermore my allocating set blocks of time to plan and create these posts on a regular basis I am hoping for this to be a smooth running, on-going process.

A variation of approaches in regards to aesthetic has been used in order to gain ideas of which has the best reception in regard to target audience (female, 16-24 years old), those whom are active on social within fashion and beauty communities, whilst using critical-design through use of typographic statements informing satirical vector and CAD based illustrations, relaying serious messages with parodical undertones.

I decided to start off by creating posts relevant to my proposal and the ‘Initial Thoughts’ blog post.

Further Context:

Social Media, has become notorious for ‘influencing’ what we wear through the boom of bloggers and vloggers as well as through the rise of brand engagement, digital magazine publishing and promotion as well as celebrity accounts. These “influencers” as they choose to be called, collectively ‘influence’ how we look, promote ‘ideals’ and almost tell us what and wear to buy our products from, however, many ‘consumers’ seem unaware of the affects these daily streams of content can have on us in regards to body image and self-perception issues, let alone our purses.

The posts which I have been creating and posting this week aim to reflect this in a tounge-in-chic manner, using bold graphics, feminine colours and copy which has been written to not only raise the point of influence and scale within these industries, but to show this visually. I hope to collate a range of posts which can then be experimented with through hands-on print processes such as screen-printing, in order to see what gives the most effective results, engagement and insight with the target audience, whilst delivering the message in the most appropriate visual manner.

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This first post is targeted at noting the rise of “fashion bloggers”, the readiness and easiness of this as a career path and the competitiveness which surrounds it. With the right platform, anyone can try to make it as a fashion blogger, or even beauty blogger making the industry overwhelmingly competitive. The more followers you have, the more brand kudos and sponsorship you shall receive, similarly to celebrities and ‘face time’ on campaigns, tv and magazines, etc. This competitiveness can spark self-perception issues and generate ideas around a rise of narcissists, allowing for a career which is very self-consuming and all about ‘the self’.

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This post is essentially a satirical, mocking and sarcastic response to the instantly recognisable drippy lip icon which Kylie Jenner uses to symbolise her ‘Lip Kits’. The concept of this was perceiving the packaging design and iconography as how we should use the product without prior knowledge of cosmetics, responding to a world and community where individuals are so guided and influenced by visuals, therefore assuming that everyone is aware of these products, brands and uses.

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This was created in response to how many Selfies were currently on Instagram at the time of creating this post, whilst addressing the question of how as individuals we have contributed to this overtime. Some selfies may also be Instagram without even being aware – friend or group selfies which one may not have tagged you in for example, or possibly old accounts you had forgotten about or thought you may of deleted. Either way, photos of you are live in circulation under the # system, and are reasonably accessible to most people around the world whether you know them or not. I wanted people to think about these sorts of questions and even possibly question whether that is okay or not ethically? Should our photographs be so public? Or do we by using social media, consent ourselves to be seen, judged and viewed by others? What harm does this do to us? Or do some see it as a positive?

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This post questions the current growing trend of ‘perfect brows’ in a dominant, loud and illustrative manner, highlighting the ‘growing importance’ of such facial feature with the beauty industry and social media communities. By using language relative to the target audience and trend alike, this post aims to engage with such audience and spark thoughts about how they think and feel about their own features.

Below shows the posts in situ on Instagram, whilst showing engagement from the Instagram community in regards to ‘likes’. ‘Insights’ becomes available for the most recent post only after 24 hours of being posted which shows how many people have seen the posts, and how many actually engage with it through ‘likes’ or comments. This is something I plan on noting for each overtime to assess what has the best reach. I also plan to do this as noted above to see which aesthetic and topic of choice appeals to the target most also in order to curate my further exploratory work to this demographic:

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It is apparent from the above 4 screenshots that ‘Kylie Jenner’ references and ‘Brow’ were best received, highlighting how trends and cultural icons have power over such users, therefore potentially affecting ones self-perception.

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Research Methods

I have collated a list of various forms of research I would like to carry out across the academic year in order to improve the quality of my research methodologies and findings, as weĺl as contributing to the understanding and visual realisations of my research question. In addition using a variety of primary and secondary research methods to collect data, I feel as though this will strenghten my conclusions and allow for indepth analysis and reflection across a range of resources.

In addition, due to the vast scale of topics which can be look at and analysed regarding my research question and the time available on the course to carry out such work, I feel as though I have had to target females specifically being ultimately the main end user and audience within the Beauty and Fashion industries. However, I would like to use some of these research methods to find out how men perceive women via magazines and social media, again changing perceptions within these industries so see how this affects their ideas of ‘ideal’ women. Do we have to look a certain way now to appeal to the opposite sex? What do men think about the rise of beauty trends and fads? What do they think of current ‘icons’ such as Kim Kardashian for example whom influence the looks and perceptions of women so much? Do males and females feel differently about these issues?

I would also like to find out what people think generally about the rise of beauty and fashion trends, the rise of bloggers, Vloggers and social media outlets, as well as the traditional magazine and how these visual outlets affect our body image and self-perception issues.

Noted forms of research may include:

  • Qualitative Data
  • Quantitative Data
  • Interviews
  • Questionnaires and/or Surveys
  • Focus Groups – male and/or female?
  • Visual Research
  • Critical Design-led Research 
  • Visual Questionnaires for ‘ranking’ of looks and reflection – could possibly be targeted at a male audience.
  • Debates and discussions following lectures and presentations, for example. 
  • Field research – International Research trip booked to Japan.
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Professional Context Presentation 1 – Initial Plan

Below shows my initial Professional Context presentation plan, showcasing the surrounding professional contexts of my practice and how this relates in turn to my research question and project plans.

I am hoping to gain feedback from my personal supervisor in relation to moving this on forward. I am also planning on noting topics of discussion and removing the text from the presentation slides – these notes have been made as reference for my tutor and myself, as well as for future development, planning and research.

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Recent Technological Advances and Developments within the Beauty Industry

This is working towards objective 1.

Whilst initially planning and outlining the contents and structure for my Professional Context presentation, I decided that I would talk about recent developments in technologies within the Beauty Industries, and how this relates to my practice, self-development and research question. This particular blog post will cover the topic of ‘makeup’ apps.

I find that in today’s conformist and consumerist society, we are becoming much more influenced by beauty brands due to new innovative and instantly accessible social channels lending themselves to various forms of visual marketing and advertising. Adverts and campaigns are not only seen in magazines and store windows anymore models, bloggers/bloggers, influencers and associative brands are taking over and using social media, application design and UX/UI to their advantage, creating an engaging and empowering platform for end-users to work and engage with. Whilst the noted technologies are still quite new, and are constantly being trailed, tested and improved, organisations are still rapidly competing and are continually researching, learning and developing new digital processes and techniques, in order to create the best and most up-to date apps, with the most advanced features. This allows for brands and their associative applications to gain the best number of sales and active users, therefore gaining brand influence, engagement, loyalty and power within a world of consumer culture.

Researching further into this, I found several ‘beautifying’ apps which can transform, change or manipulate your appearance in different ways, each of which target different audiences and needs, and therefore use different technologies and use different ‘features’. However, I am also interested in how these applications and new technologies can be damaging to our self-perception, and in return, how we are perceived. I found this particularly relevant in regards to the Beauty Plus app and how this is used heavily by a Japanese and Chinese audience, in an aim to Westernising their looks through lightening their skin, widening their eyes and elongating their legs for example. These are all topics of discussion and promotion which were also found in the July 2016 edition of Vogue Japan ‘Health and Beauty Special’ – please see scanned in images below for reference of this. I was also surprised to see International brands such as Clarins conforming to such trends and releasing its own skin-lightening product – again please see scanned in images below for reference.

I feel these applications really show the advances in technology within this industry and how it is being used by brands around the world to their advantage whether to promote a product, increase consumer loyalty or make-up a digital element of a larger campaign, but again allows for a negative in retrospect in regards to the way we can edit our appearance digitally so easily and instantaneously, creating flawless looks which may not be so easily achievable in real-life and again promoting celebrity culture and the standardisation of what beauty should be on a cross-cultural scale. The beauty boom in Asia has also been noted through the popularity of the Chinese edition of the L’Oreal Makeup Genuis app, as evidenced in the article noted below. China have proved through their various user-interaction based marketing mediums that engaging with the consumer is a proven winner for promoting new products whilst promoting and exposing new found uses of technologies within a relevant context.

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In a nut shell, the idea of these new technologies allows us to edit our pre-existing photographs or edit our appearance in real-time (depending on the chosen app) in order to look “flawless”. But regardless of technologies, the pressure to look like the ‘final look’ and take a “flawless” selfie, can really add to the pressure of looking a certain way and maintaining a certain ‘standard’ of image. What happens if we cannot maintain these ‘looks’? What if we cannot recreate that “flawless” look ourselves? How do these technologies add to the debates amongst body image and self-perception within a world which is becoming more narcissistic, controlling and standardised? How does Western culture influence body image and self-perception in other countries due to the accessibility of celebrity culture, bloggers/vloggers, social media and the idea of the standardisation of beauty?

Below shows four different examples of these new technologies in context of Celebrity Culture, Consumer Trends, Brand Engagement and User Interaction. Along with imagery are small articles or quotes further describing the technologies and formalities of each.

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L’Oreal Makeup Genuis App
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“There’s something scary about trying on makeup at the drugstore: what if you apply a new blush to your face, just to try it out, and then you walk out looking several shades too dark? That classifies as an actual beauty disaster, and is something none of us want to experience—and now, thanks to the makeup geniuses at L’Oreal, we don’t have to!

The beauty brand just launched an app that allows you to try on makeup without actually trying on makeup, right from the comfort of your home—or wherever you and your smart phone happen to be. The thing that separates the L’Oreal app from all the other makeover apps already on the market is that this is the first of its kind that actually allows you to apply lipstick, eye liner, eye shadow, and blush to yourself, as opposed to a mannequin-esque face that’s meant to resemble your own.

You scan your face using the front-facing camera on your iPhone—yes, the same way you take a #selfie—and the app’s technology reads everything from your face shape to your expressions. You then can begin applying L’Oreal makeup digitally to your own face in real time, watching the makeup you put on move as your face does.

The app took over 10 years to develop and uses the same technology that transformed Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which won Oscars for both makeup and visual effects. It essentially turns your phone into a mirror, allowing you to see what you really look like with certain shades of (for instance) bronzer, eyeliner, and lipstick.

The app will also launch in select drugstores on tablets, where you can play around with makeup and then buy it right after.”
Who What Wear (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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L’Oreal Makeup Genuis – China Edition
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“China has been a massive market for the app, bringing 4.7 million of its total 14 million downloads. That’s partly because of the size of the country’s internet population: 668 million people, with 594 million of those going online with mobile devices, according to official figures from the China Internet Network Information Center. And it’s also because it allows curious young women to try out heavier makeup, which is still uncommon in China.

“Girls in China can be shy to apply makeup if they are at the counter or if they are going out with friends — they don’t want to put on very dark lipstick, very dark eye shadow,” said Asmita Dubey, chief marketing officer for L’Oréal China.

“There’s no culture of makeup passed down from mom to daughter that has been there for years, so for a girl like that to get a virtual experience and try some new looks, that’s something she wants to do,” said Ms. Dubey, honored as one of Ad Age’s 2015 Women to Watch China for promoting innovations in mobile marketing for China’s No. 1 skin-care player and second-biggest advertiser.”

Further Digital Initiatives from L’Oreal:

Shake the smartphone: L’Oréal’s Maybelline brand sponsors a TV makeover show called “Cinderella.” It appears on traditional Chinese state television, CCTV, but it got a digital and mobile boost through a partnership with Tencent, the Chinese internet giant. During the show, people saw a message on the screen telling them to shake their smartphones. When they followed through, a page would pop up on their phones offering a tutorial video of the makeover looks people saw on the screen.

WeChat ads: Tencent’s ubiquitous mobile app WeChat had been mostly ad-free until this year, when sponsored messages started popping up on people’s newsfeeds. During the Cannes Film Festival in May, people who clicked on a picture of L’Oréal brand ambassador Fan Bing Bing opened a video with the Chinese megastar actress inviting them to virtually join her at Cannes. Many started following L’Oréal on WeChat, got updates on her looks at the festival and bought products via smartphone.
“Mobile social commerce apps is exactly where beauty is going,” Ms. Dubey said.

User-generated content: In China, online product reviews are a prevalent form of user-generated content – people devote a lot of energy to writing about products and taking pictures and videos of them. Tapping into that, L’Oréal’s Lancome has Rose Beauty, a social platform aggregating product reviews from users.

It offers tutorials, product info and samples so people can post their own videos of trying products out. “It becomes your product review platform, your community platform, your beauty platform,” Ms. Dubey said. And it links back to e-commerce, of course.
AdAge (Last accessed 2/12/16)

virtual-makeover-v2Rimmel Get The Look App
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“The first beauty app that lets you snap any look and try it on live! SNAP – Take a picture of a makeup look in a magazine or from a real person, TRY – Try her look virtually live in the app, SHARE – Share your look with friends, BUY – Buy any product from the app”
Rimmel (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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BeautyPlus – Makeup Camera App
Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“BeautyPlus has worked with well-known makeup artists, photographers and real people just like you to develop the perfect photo retouch app – a tool that is easy to use and gives flawless results.”
– BeautyPlus (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“We have over 900 million users around the world, Meitu is a leading leading beauty and lifestyle app developer as well as a global innovator in mobile video and photography, including proprietary facial recognition and virtual “try-on” technologies for makeup, hair and fashion.”
– Meitu (Last accessed 2/12/16)

BeautyPlus is created by, Meitu whom are currently “seeking strategic partnerships with brands and influencers in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries … At Meitu, we are obsessed with beauty, makeup and fashion. We are always looking for new ways to leverage our technology to help consumers discover new looks and shape their own styles. We are currently seeking strategic partnerships with brands and influencers in the fashion, beauty and entertainment industries. We can provide a unique, immersive and culturally relevant way for brands to connect with female consumers all around the world.”
– Meitu (Last accessed 2/12/16)

“Meitu’s photo and video apps have over 270 million monthly users1.”
– Meitu (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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Image Source (Last accessed 2/12/16)

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Asking Samantha Ravndahl about Self Perception and the Beauty Industry

This is working towards objective 3 and 1.

A few weeks ago now whilst planning elements of project ideas and research methodologies, I contacted two Beauty Vloggers/Influencers to see if they had availability in the future to take part in an interview, either by Skype or email based questionnaire. One, whom I won’t name I did not hear back from at all, whilst Samantha Ravndahl’s agent got back to me stating she was busy and wouldn’t be able to take part.

Samantha Ravndahl is a Canadian Makeup Artist turned Vlogger/Influencer, based in Vancouver, whom has 2.4m followers and has always been an ambassador for truth, honesty and diversity. Having worked with a vast range of International brands for several years now, I thought she would be ideal to speak to in regards to my research question being an active member of the influencing community, to see how she thinks the Beauty Industry affects people’s self-perception and body image, but also how by being in the public eye, maintaining a certain image has affected her self-perception and body image issues. Furthermore, this contrast would be a great source of research, showing first hand how those in the spotlight could potentially be affected themselves.

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Samantha Ravndahl Instagram

When I was told Samantha was busy, I was actually quite disheartened. I am not one to give up on a challenge and as a Vlogger who is actually extremely engaged with her following and social media communities, I thought I would be persistent and try again at a later date.

Below shows the email between myself and Samantha’s agent initially.

My email:
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The reply:

Please Note: I have noted included a screenshot of the reply due to respecting the confidentiality and privacy of the recipient.

“Hi Danielle.

On behalf of Samantha, thank you for reaching out.

This a brand partnership inquiry email; however, Samantha appreciates your support. Stay tuned to her channels!

Best.”

Several weeks later on Thursday 6th Oct 2016 , I logged onto the app Periscope, and at around 7pm UK time Samantha logged on and happened to be actively talking, taking and answering questions and sharing stories with active participants. I thought this would be a great opportunity to try and speak to her, and quickly asked if I would be able to ask a couple of questions for my MA research regarding the Beauty industry? Unexpectedly she said, “yeah, sure, lets do it now”.

Therefore, I have logged notes below of the conversation which was carried out in the form of bullet points and quotes. Unfortunately unless the host sets the video to remain on the app for a certain period of time post live viewing, it isn’t possible to re-watch the recording, so I have been unable to link it below or transcribe.

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Question:

How do you feel the Beauty Industry affects your sense of self-perception?

Samantha:

  • Positive at first due to becoming a makeup artist, and gaining a sense of support from a community.
  • Now, at present day admits to getting too caught up in her appearance and looks at herself more critically than if she was simply a makeup artist, opposed to an influencer too.
  • Can be damaging to a blogger or blogger due to the amount of pressure to look good, and to make life look good and glamorous/amazing also.
  • It has become about “who looks the best at doing makeup, who’s the most glamorous at 8am, who looks the best at the gym?” and has taken away the creativity of makeup artistry.
  • “Cheapens experiences” in the sense of constantly needing to look good and be “photo ready”, i.e. holidays/trips – gets more caught up in taking photos/vlogging for social media than enjoying herself and taking in the experience.
  • “As an influencer, you are paid to be beautiful and look a certain way”. Samantha proceeded to talk about an unnamed brand whom once bought her clothes for an event due to having a more ‘casual style’ than the other influencers attending.

Question:

What is the “photo ready” process?

Samantha:

  • “Knowing that you are glam at anytime because people want you to look your best” speaking in regards to the perceptions people now have of her and the expectations which go along with her job.

I found this short conversation really interesting and was very thankful for her time and honesty – hence why I knew Samantha would be an ideal participant to interview. The conversation raised many thoughts and further questions. Firstly, It highlighted the fact that even though you can be seen to have a perfect, glamorous lifestyle and get paid to do so, overtime it can be damaging to your body image and self-perception due to constant pressure. The constant demand of “looking a certain way”, competing with other influencers “to be the best” and maintaining a certain standard of image must be extremely hard especially when also actively encouraging others to follow, engage and purchase associative products, therefore sparking a consumerist and narcissistic cycle within the industry.

It is also apparent from this short conversation that Samantha’s perceptions of herself have also dramatically changed overtime, as brands have engaged with her and social media ‘followers’ have grown to know and love her for looking a certain way, gaining their own perceptions which now must be maintained and lived up to.

I also found it very interesting that Samantha talked about maintaining this lifestyle and how it can often “cheapen experiences”. By constantly feeling the need to wear uncomfortable clothing, stilettos and maintain a certain flawless look, it is possible to say that the need to look good can distract from the experience you are undertaking itself, whilst trying to find the perfect lighting for a selfie for example, or quite literally taking part in a photoshoot. What culture and history, for example are we missing out on as a society are we missing out on if we are forever taking photos of ourselves, rather than taking photos of our surroundings and those who we are with? Is our self-indulgence taking away pleasure in our experiences? Our we sourcing locations to take photographs for our social media accounts, or are we sourcing locations to take in what is there?

Following this conversation, I still feel there is much more to be explored, explained and questioned within the blogger, blogger and influencer area of fashion and cosmetic communications and marketing strategies being quite a new method of promotion. I would also like to further my research, by liasing with other experts and active members of the beauty and fashion industries to gain other first hand insights such as this which I can reflect back on, and use for initial starting points for further research, exploratory practical work and hopefully help me in turn answer and rationalise my research question.

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Using Archives as a Method of Research

Today Sharon delivered a lecture discussing the importance of archives as a source inspiration, information and narrative in her current practice, which she discussed through her newest project, ‘The Radical Decade” exhibition which is currently open to visitors at Leeds College of Art.

With this exhibition, it was explained how research stemmed organically from a material object and a box of ‘memories’ belonging to Gerald McCann, a Fashion Designer, which when curated by Caroline Riches translated into a narrative, tell a previously untold yet important story. I also found the story captivating in regards to the importance of collaboration and good will, and what can be achieved with passion and a dedicated team.

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As a class, we were asked to visit the exhibition and then discuss our thoughts afterwards. I found this very interesting as points were made either from the language, context, theories, connotations or visuals used, and various opinions and thoughts related to my practice.

Topics Discussed:

  • Post 1950s – Cultural and Social changes of Femininity and the role of Women.
  • Body Image change in relation to above and the move away from feminine physiques – this made me think about my previous use of Vogue archives in my practice and academic writing (see below).
  • The early commercialisation of Fashion – women may of lost a sense of identity through mass-produced clothing opposed to home-made patterns.

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I found the lecture and debate particularly interesting, and was surprised by how much I could take away as initial starting points for research on body image and self perception within this era itself. I was later able to reflect on this further thinking about how I have used archives in the past as a source of quantitative and visual information, and how I may again use them across this year to help investigate and answer my research question.

I haven’t used any archives as an initial starting point of research for a long time, as my professional practice is very commercial and heavily based upon current trends, however throughout my A Level studies and BA(Hons) studies, I used archives throughout projects as a source of information, inspiration and visual evidence to support theoretical contexts. The types of archives I delved into throughout my BA(Hons) studies were the large range of Vogue Magazine archives, which are stored in the LCA library, and my own archive of over 300 International Vogue magazines which I have been collecting for around 14 years. Using these archives as a visual form of research, allowed me to understand the different female ‘ideals’ which have influenced our self-perception and body image overtime, whilst understanding and contextualising bodily changes overtime due to societal, cultural, commercial and political changes, to name a few. This enabled me to create studio-based briefs based on this collated research, whilst furthering my knowledge for critical and academic writing.

Below shows two of projects from my BA(Hons) Graphic Design course, whereby the archive based research informed the project, content, design and execution, and therefore my practice. I hope to revisit the Vogue archives which I have n0ted again over the course of the year for visual and contextual research.

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“80s Fashion”
Designed in mind for fashion students and fashionista’s, it contains everything needed to know about the influential decade; history, social issues, cultural changes, trends and influential icons who shaped the fashion industry and ‘look’ at the time.
96 pages / Perfect Bound / Matte Cover / Gloss Inners

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“How has the commercialisation of women, affected the ‘ideal’ body shape?”
A physical companion to my University Dissertation. This book looks into the changes and evolution of the female body image over time, specifically how the ‘ideal’ has changed due to social, economic and cultural issues, including fashion, media and advertising.
These changes have been captured through illustrations, paintings, drawings and photography for centuries, forming a bank of commerical images of women.
This book looks at in particular 1900 – 2014, highlighting the ‘ideal’ of each year, elaborating with an analysis of the image, context, tone, background and physical change, producing a seamless timeline of how the female body has changed, showing the corruption of the media and image manipualtion.Furthermore, through the analysis, the analysis’ aim to prove a correlation between the media and the rise in eating disorders.
248 Pages, 116 Images.

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In addition, whilst undertaking my A Level studies in Fine Art, I became very interested in researching my family background, and began researching by looking through my Grandmother’s photo box. I have a very culturally diverse background, with all four of my grandparents immigrating to the UK post-war from Spain, Italy, Hungary and Poland, however my Spanish Grandmother, Carmen, was the only one to keep all of her photographs as evidence of her past life. This past life in Spain intrigued me, and led me on to specifically research the era, the town, the fashions, the culture, but most importantly her as a woman. More recently however, along with my father I have digitised over 3000 new photographs which were found upon her death, re-archiving photographs in a new way, whilst exploring, questioning and recording new narratives.

In regards to this specific archive, something which Sharon noted yesterday in her lecture really made me think about how personal some archives can be, and how we choose to display, store or curate those archives can often paint a narrative to the viewer in a different way.

This itself made me think about my current practice and how personal it is. I think in the past my practice has been very personal in regards to final, realised, visual outcomes, allowing me to contextualise and directly portray an emotive narrative. However, I feel that currently my practice has become even more personal and is heavily interlinked with my proposal and research question also. I believe my current practice is heavily influenced by my personal experiences with Anorexia Nervosa, working with Fashion Designers, Brands, Cosmetics and Designers whilst analysing and recognising the rise of self-perception, societal and consumerist issues which are currently flooding the market I work within. I suppose in a way, my mind is an archive, and by revisiting those thoughts, emotions and feelings, I can re-engage with my past in a reflective and proactive manner, channelling this into my current practice and research methodologies.

I have noted a list of additional archives below which I plan on researching further to see if any could be of use for my current practice and research question:

  • Discovery Collections
  • National Media Museum
  • Teeside Visual
  • Manchester Art Gallery
  • V&A Archive
  • TATE Gallery Archive
  • Online Archives
  • Vogue Magazine Archives
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Penguin Posse

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Penguin Posse is a creative group of writers, illustrators and designers who meet up two-monthly, in order to share their recent, work, inspirations and share ideas. It is organised by Zeppo and More Please Dennis, and takes place at Heart in Headingley, Leeds.

Tonight I spoke for 10 minutes at the most recent Penguin Posse event about my new journey on the MA Creative Practice course, and gave a brief insight into my proposal and the exploratory social media work I have just began undertaking, whilst discussing the ideas of feminism, narcissism, self-perception, consumerism, brand culture, sociology, psychology and identity which underpin and contextualise my research question.

I found that talking through and outlining my practice sparked relative interests in other interdisciplinary artists, writers and designers leading onto a published Leeds based poet Jaimes Lewis Moran, to deliver a passage titled, ‘Rachel’ regarding identity in today’s society, where culture almost fuels noise and confusion as to who we are as people, what we stand for and believe in. I also found that I resonated with Stéphanie Vendryes’ work, a Fine Artist whom talked about her new project whereby she is interested in the idea of how a photograph can reflect someone in a very different way in contrast to traditional portraiture, due to changing perceptions, technologies and lifestyles. I related with this instantly, and contextualised this reflecting on identity, the self and photography within my own practice, thinking about how again we project ourselves through our own photographs, or ‘selfies’ on social media, in contrast to the photographs which are seen in magazines and brand advertisements and campaigns, or again different to those seen 50 years ago in the same context. Upon further reflection, the idea and theory of narcissism also comes into play looking at both practices – portraits are becoming much more rare over time, due to changing lifestyles, consumerism and trends, but furthermore because we enjoy being able to edit, and selectively choose what we put out in the world for others to see, influencing how others perceive oneself, as often seen within the beauty and fashion industries.

I will continue to attend the Penguin Posse events, and hope to continue sharing ideas and pushing my own thoughts within my practice, whilst bettering my verbal presentation skills. I really found tonight beneficial and would recommend it to any creative practitioner wanting to share their work and engage with other interdisciplinary artists, designers and writers in a relaxed atmosphere.

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Semester Planning and Time Management

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In regards to planning my upcoming projects both practical, oral and written, it was important to me to plan ahead so I can see when I have submissions, key dates, inductions, planned events, freelance work and personal events in order to effectively use my time moving forward.

I initially began doing this on my desktop calendar (see above), using a colour coding system to plan my time, and then realised that this is probably not the best way of planning my time as I cannot clearly see in advance when submissions are in relation to when key events are to plan research, development and practical/written work accordingly, whilst leaving enough time to account for any changes and feedback to be taken into account. Therefore, I felt using a GANTT chart to plan the next 10 weeks, would allow me to see each module together as well as resolving the problems recognised and noted above (see below).
learning-objectivesI found the GANTT chart system quite daunting initially, however through grouping presentations, submissions and learning objectives on the left hand side, I have been able to now work through any issues and populate the next 10 weeks of the semester accurately. I found this rather systematic approach difficult to work with when planning one module in isolation, as I found when I collated all 3, some weeks had an unachievable amount of work and objectives to attain, and found a more beneficial approach to planning doing so by project.

This can be seen on the draft shown below:

gantt-chart-draft

From this GANTT chart, I then went on to planning in-depth weeks, which I found much harder to work out accurately as are more likely to change as projects develop, new ideas arise, or problems arise, therefore I have not digitised these as I feel it would be wasting too much time revising them. Therefore, I have decided to keep these separate for on-going evaluation, reflection and revision each week to see if the work load is achievable to a high-standard, and if not, I will be looking to use the GANTT chart as a guide to see when there is time to reallocate. I am hoping that after using these methods of planning for several weeks any major problems can be addressed effectively to avoid any further issues. By planning to LO’s as well as projects, this chart will enable me to see what objectives I have and haven’t fulfilled as time moves on.

I have included an example of how my weekly plans look and work below:

week-2

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Lecture: An Introduction to Practice Based Research

This is working towards objective 1, 2, 3, 5.

Today Karen delivered a lecture titled, “An Introduction to Research Methods” which was the first of five research-based lectures. There were several points that Karen made which really resonated with me which I have noted below for reference and future reflection.

  • The idea that, research can be something you look back on and don’t agree with, as well as do agree with. I had never really acknowledged this way of thinking about research. Definitions and research pre-empt the idea that research itself is collated data therefore formulating a fact, figure or statistic for example, so why would you disagree with it? This really stuck with me after todays lecture, and made me think about how within my own practice and whilst exploring my research question, I can question research and disagree if I feel I need to do so, as long as I can justify and evidence why.
  • It can be important to acknowledge the five senses whilst researching, as well as reading books and online journals for example – material can be ‘data’. How can tactile forms influence my research? How does material culture influence my methods of research within my practice? How can I begin my research using physical objects?
  • Research doesn’t just happen over night. Acknowledge the “when’s/why’s/how’s/which’s” in context to establish exploratory, experimental, discursive, questioning and effective iterative research.
  • Research can inform the editing and selection process. How will research affect my practice in regards to both processes, techniques, contextual, critical and theoretical understanding?
  • Research is about finding your way – “Savoir Faire” Dallow 2003, p50
  • Does my practice influence my research, or does my research influence my practice?
  • Research can also include talking to other people, gaining different inputs and opinions collating knowledge based discourse. This is something quite significant which I want to continually carry out throughout the year in order to gain different insights, opinions and thoughts on my research question from those who work within the Fashion and Beauty Industries, as well as those who are active consumers.
  • How do my research findings influence my practice and further my knowledge? This is something which I want to continually evaluate and reflect on throughout exploring my research question in order to gain more succinct and accurate final outcomes which can inform final resolutions and my practice going forward.
  • Research Methodologies: What do I do and why? How does this relate to theory? How will I explain what I am doing/planning on doing? Again this is something which I would like to continually reflect on and evaluate in order to further my knowledge and inform my practice through evidence researched.
  • Quantitative research is often inclusive of well-established facts, science, social sciences, statistical and often is aimed at testing existing theories.
  • Qualitative research is often exclusive of existing ideas, and tests emerging theories whilst being discursive of quantitative data.
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Initial Project Planning

The below is working towards objective 4.

In order to plan my projects effectively moving forward, I have decided to collate an initial project plan which covers several exploratory ideas which could be taken forward for further development, critique, reflection, evaluation and final realisation in order to fulfil my proposal and learning objectives.

Not only does this explain what I plan on doing, for whom, how and why, it also has allowed me to effectively plan my time and needs over the next 10 weeks around my other modules.

Coffee Table Book
Low-tech Prototype – Fanzine/Lookbook:

To experiment with the viability of the idea of producing a Coffee Table Book, throughout this module I would like to experiment with different image making processes and techniques, forming a fanzine or lookbook of relevant, theoretical, research-led and practice-led based content, echoing the types of content which may populate the final outcome.

The final outcome would aim to reflect the findings of my research question which explores the responsibilities of the Fashion and Beauty Industries, understanding how Social Media and Magazines influence and affect our sense of self-perception and body image.

I plan on targeting a female audience whom have interests which lie within the Fashion and Beauty industries, and furthermore buy into the associative products, campaigns, magazines and social media accounts. By doing so, I am aiming to provoke thoughts and stimulate conversation within this demographic through collated research and written material showcased as visual stimulus.

Whilst targeting an active consumer audience whom associate these Industries with their daily lives, I want to not only highlight the theoretical contexts which underpin this topic in relation to my research question, but to also make women aware of the affects these platforms can have on own self-perception through research and critical design-led content.

By aiming to produce low-tech prototypes of fanzines/lookbooks throughout this module which I can take forward to further develop and craft into a realised outcome, I plan on experimenting with various digital and hands-on processes to produce various forms of content, which I have outlined below:

Processes:

Screen-printing
Book-binding
Paper-engineering (fold-outs and pull-outs)
CAD Design
Illustration
Collage
Photography

Content:

Screen-prints
Critical Design
Digital Prints
Photography
Research-based Content
Facts, Figures and Statistics
Blog Posts/Articles
Typography
Social Media Posts/Magazine Articles

By collating elements of research and content from different research-led sources through experimental visual process and techniques, I am aiming to reflect upon my own ideas, work, applications and findings, in a critical, constructive and evaluative manner in order to take this work forward for on-going development and final realisation.

I have also outlined various topics of ‘discussion’ and theoretical contexts which I aim to address through the content of this publication, and may experiment with throughout this module whilst producing content for the prototype fanzine/lookbook.

Topics and Theoretical Contexts:

Feminism
Narcissism
Misogyny
Self Perception
Sociology and Psychology
Diversity
Mental Health
Celebrity Culture
Consumer Culture
Norms, Ideals and Expectations

I have outlined a timeframe in which I will carry out various forms of practical experiments and processes inline with the proposed project over the next 9 weeks. These have been planned inline with the workshop inductions at college, whilst working around the planning, research and needs of the other modules I am currently undertaking.

Posters and Blogging (Social Media) Posts
Low-tech Prototypes – Screen-printed Poster Series and Digital Posts:

I would like to experiment with the idea of a Critical Design-led project which features a range of digital blogging posts using speculative design proposals and ideas in order to challenge the assumptions, ideals, trends, pre-empted conceptions about brands, products and objects within the Beauty and Fashion Industries, whilst provoking thought, sparking conversation and debate.

Furthermore, I would like to then develop these posts further to achieve a realised outcome, which would be made up of a carefully selected and curated range of printed posters, which could either be sold or exhibited. The final outcome would aim to reflect the findings of my research question which explores the responsibilities of the Fashion and Beauty Industries, understanding how Social Media and Magazines influence and affect our sense of self-perception and body image.

To achieve this, throughout this module I plan on producing a range of experimental prints and posts which engage with a young female target audience, whom are active consumers and users in these noted Industries whether it be buying into fashion trends, makeup products, trend-led products or pop/celebrity-culture for example, and furthermore, are actively engaging with social media communities.

Through targeting an audience whom are currently and actively engaged with the Fashion and Beauty Industries and Social Media, I am aiming to raise awareness of the issues surrounding body image and self-perception, through looking at the actions, marketing strategies of new, or existing products and brands, Bloggers and/or Vloggers, Celebrities and Models, whilst echoing my findings and work within a theoretical context.

By carrying out digital design-led experiments in order to produce relevant blogging posts and low-tech prototypes of prints, I am hoping to log these on my Social Media platform (Instagram) to actively engage with the target audience, promote the work and raise awareness on the issues at hand in a light-hearted, satirical, yet thought-provoking manner, whilst producing a final range of posters curated from post insight, reception and engagement. Through engaging with an active target audience, I am hoping to use this itself as a piece of research informing further Critical Design-led work, in order to allow myself to continually develop through feedback, and through both reflective and critical evaluation.

In addition, whilst reflecting upon my own work, I will also look at and reflect upon the posts and sponsored posts of brands, users and bloggers for example, to see what is currently trending in order to create new content based on these assumptions, trends and ideals.

By aiming to produce low-tech prototypes of prints and blogging posts throughout this module which I can take forward to further develop and craft into a realised outcome, I plan on experimenting with various digital and hands-on processes to produce various forms of content, which I have outlined below:

Processes:

Screen-printing
Hot-foiling
CAD Design
Illustration

Content:

Screen-prints
Critical Design
Digital Prints
Illustration
CAD Design
Celebrity, Pop-Culture and Trend-led content
Challenging the ideas and concepts of brands
Taboo Topics
Questions (for user-engagement)
Critical Design and Research-led content
Facts, Figures and Statistics
Typography

By collating elements of research and content from different research-led sources through experimental visual process and techniques, I am aiming to reflect upon my own ideas, work, applications and findings, in a critical, constructive and evaluative manner in order to take this work forward for on-going development and final realisation.

I have also outlined various topics of ‘discussion’ and theoretical contexts which I aim to address through the content of both blogging posts and printed posters, and may experiment with throughout this module whilst producing visual and written content and/or analysis.

Topics and Theoretical Contexts:

Feminism
Narcissism
Misogyny
Self Perception
Sociology and Psychology
Celebrity Culture
Consumer Culture
Norms, Ideals and Expectations

I have outlined a timeframe in which I will carry out various forms of practical experiments and processes inline with the proposed project over the next 9 weeks. These have been planned inline with the workshop inductions at college, whilst working around the planning, research and needs of the other modules I am currently undertaking.
Life-size Barbie Doll Style Boxes
Low-tech Prototypes – Scaled-down Doll Boxes:

To experiment with the viability of the idea of producing a range of Life-size Barbie Doll Style Boxes, throughout this module I would like to produce a range of scaled-down versions in order to experiment with different crafting processes and techniques, which may fulfil the needs and specifications of the final outcome, whilst allowing for on-doing development to justify my decision making process when taking this further.

The final outcome would aim to reflect the unattainable toy-like figures and ideals which are seen as ‘ideal’ in today’s Fashion and Beauty industries in contrast with ‘real’ women, in a shocking, honest approach, branding each box as we are perceived by others as a result of built-up perceptive, theoretical, cultural, consumerist and societal issues. This project would showcase inevitably how the Fashion and Beauty Industries affect our sense of self, echoing my research question which explores how Social Media and Magazines influence and affect our sense of self-perception and body image.

I plan on targeting a wider audience with this brief, interesting and enticing those who are interested in art, design, fashion, beauty and the theoretical contexts behind this concept. By doing so, I want to not only raise awareness of these issues in relation to my research question but to really showcase this proposal and idea in a prominent, daring and effective way.

For the final outcome, I aim on having at least two life-size boxes situated within an exhibition or installation context, featuring real models situated within these boxes to encompass the idea of being categorised and pinned down to a certain category of beauty and importance, whilst showcasing the contrasts between ‘real women’ and ‘ideal women’ as previously noted. I would also like to experiment with the idea of using these exhibitive platforms as a foundation for an editorial photo shoot also to feed into other project ideas such as the Coffee Table book, or campaign materials for example.

By aiming to produce low-tech prototypes of scaled-down doll toy boxes throughout this module which I can take forward to further develop and craft into a realised outcome as noted above, I plan on experimenting with various digital and hands-on processes to produce various forms of content, which I have outlined below:

Processes:

Woodwork/Lasercutting
Card/Paper stocks (die-cutting and packaging nets)
Sketches
Branding Ideas
Digital CADs

Content (Thought Processes & Questions):

– How would each box be branded differently in relation to ‘real’ or ‘ideal’ women? (How would the fonts change? How would this affect colour and design?)
– Would this be based on how society perceives them? Or how we perceive ourselves?
– What theory would contextualise this?

By collating elements of research and content from different research-led sources through experimental visual process and techniques, I am aiming to reflect upon my own ideas, work, applications and findings, in a critical, constructive and evaluative manner in order to take this work forward for on-going development and final realisation on a larger scale.

I have also outlined various topics of ‘discussion’ and theoretical contexts which I aim to address through the branding and execution of the final outcome, and may experiment with throughout this module whilst producing visual experiments and written analysis.

Topics and Theoretical Contexts:

Feminism
Narcissism
Misogyny
Self Perception
Sociology and Psychology
Celebrity Culture
Consumer Culture
Diversity
Norms, Ideals and Expectations

I have outlined a timeframe in which I will carry out various forms of practical experiments and processes inline with the proposed project over the next 9 weeks. These have been planned inline with the workshop inductions at college, whilst working around the planning, research and needs of the other modules I am currently undertaking.

Well-being Campaigns
Low-tech Prototypes – Mockups (Print and Digital):

To experiment with the viability of producing a Well-being Campaign targeting and raising awareness of the effects of the Fashion and Beauty industries, I would like to produce a range of mocked up collateral which raises awareness of these issues in a specific context, in an understandable and relevant manner.

The final outcome would aim to reflect how the Fashion and Beauty Industries affect our sense of self, mental health, physical health and well-being, echoing my research question which explores how Social Media and Magazines influence and affect our sense of self-perception and body image.

I would choose to target an audience of females whom are active users of social media, readers of fashion magazines and trend/celebrity followers, whilst targeting those who have already been affected by such forms of visual media and need help, in an aim to showcase what physical and mental affects these Industries can have on susceptible people, i.e. Eating Disorders or Depression for example.

For the resolved outcome, I plan on launching a campaign across both print and digital forms of media, including social media posts, factual and statistical information, diversity and celebrity contexts, and theoretical contexts to highlight the importance of this issue.

By aiming to produce low-tech prototypes and mockups of campaign materials throughout this module which I can take forward to further develop and craft into a realised outcome, I plan on experimenting with various digital and hands-on processes to produce various forms of content, which I have outlined below:

Processes:

Screen-printing
Sketches
Branding Ideas
Digital Design
Wire Frames
Stickers/Vinyl Cutting
Book-binding

Content:

Informative Website
Social Media Accounts
Booklets
Leaflets
Badges/Stickers
Printed Totes
Posters
Postcards

I have also outlined various topics of ‘discussion’ and theoretical contexts which I aim to address through the content the Well-being Campaign, and may experiment with throughout this module whilst producing visual and written content and/or analysis.

Topics and Theoretical Contexts:

Feminism
Narcissism
Self Perception
Sociology and Psychology
Celebrity Culture
Norms, Ideals and Expectations
Mental Health
Eating Disoders
Obsessive Disorders
Selfie Culture
Getting Help

I have outlined a timeframe in which I will carry out various forms of practical experiments and processes inline with the proposed project over the next 9 weeks. These have been planned inline with the workshop inductions at college, whilst working around the planning, research and needs of the other modules I am currently undertaking.

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