MA Creative Practice: Objectives & Aims – Reflection/Progress

At the start of the semester I set myself several objectives to work towards in resolving my working research topic. I have discussed how I have been and will continue to work towards these throughout my report, however due to the word limit do not feel as though I managed to cover everything I have achieved to date or that I am currently working towards/planning for semester 2.

I have reflected on each objective which can be seen below.

Objectives and goals:

  1. To understand the ways in which Social Media and Magazines can affect self-perceptions and issues:

A) With body image (Females, 18-24)/With body image on a cross-cultural scale (Females, 18-24; Tokyo, Japan).

I am to speak with both Vogue UK and Vogue Japan, and aim to carry out questionnaire’s or interviews with at least 10 females from both the UK and Japan, in order to gain quantifiable data.

In relation to the above objective I feel as though I have researched heavily into self-perceptions and social media and perhaps need to spend more time researching magazines in as much depth, however as the fashion and beauty industries are becoming more digital, social media has been a more current point of research. I have began contacting course leaders of various, relevant fashion programmes at the following HE institutions in the UK after being unsuccessful in making contact with HE institutions in Tokyo – Leeds University, Leeds Beckett, CSM and Manchester Met in regards to objective 1.A. The aim of this is to obtain both British and Japanese contacts from fashion courses whom may be interested in completing a digital questionnaire in regards to my research topic in the hope of gaining an insight into cross-cultural influences. I plan on collating a series of data from at least 10 British and Japanese females between the ages of 18-24 in order to gather and analyse measurable and comparable research.

In addition, I have began speaking with both Vogue in the UK and in Japan in regards to obtaining quantifiable and comparable data in regards to obecjtive 1.B.

Going forwards, I plan on contacting bloggers both in the UK, USA and in Tokyo in regards to obtaining research working towards objective 1.A. and 1.B. I hope to also secure further meetings/interviews with bloggers and if possible hope to contact further magazines and brands, time permitting to gain further professional perspectives.

Should the need arise for a translator arise, I have made links through a contact at Tokyo Disney with a local translator who will be called upon.

I have also secured an interview with Brittany Rhodes, a competitive female body builder of 24 years, in order to gain a different perspective on my research topic.

In addition to objective 1.A. I am undertaking a research trip to both London (7th/8th Jan 2017) and Tokyo (16th-23rd Jan 2017) in order to gain comparable and measurable visual data and field-research. Methodologies will include looking at AD Campaigns of Western brands for example Chanel and Topshop, in order to see how these are promoted in the East for example, in order to see if the same models are used and what language is used. This will allow me to see if influences such as this can affect the perceptions of those in Japan being exposed to foreign visuals of cultural icons and western celebrities for example. A list of stores to be covered for research can be seen on my London itinerary, I will be working on my Tokyo itinerary in semester 2 once I have finished contacting people and finalised a weekly plan. In addition, I will being using my secondary research to inform my primary field-research, i.e. looking at recent technologies such as the Shiseido Makeup Mirror. I plan on visiting the Flagship store in order to speak with staff about such advances and their customers feedback, whilst also seeing if such technologies are available for the same brands in the UK. A full list of measurable methodologies can be found here; 

  • Visual Research
  • Comp Shopping
  • Verbal Research: Interviews/Focus Groups
  • Publication (Magazine) Research
  • Technological Advances
  1. To understand policies and guidelines within the Fashion and Beauty Industries currently encouraging positive body image.

I have researched into the policies of charities such as B-EAT, as discussed in depth in both my report, and in my first professional context presentation, however, industry links have secured a meeting with ASOS’ Corporate Responsibility and Design teams in order to gain a better understanding on their Model Welfare Policy, working towards both objective 2 and 5. In support of this, and to add context to my research, I have also secured interviews with two models working in industry to gain their insight on my research topic, whilst discussing whether or not such policies would be of benefit and feasible to the industry to further help with research working towards objective 2 and 3.

  1.  To work with and interview those both actively working in the Fashion and Beauty Industries, and those on a consumer/follower/user basis, to compare behaviours and perspectives in relation to body image and self-perceptions.

As noted above I have confirmed meetings with two models working in industry to gain a different perspective of research working towards objective 2 and 3. I have also began using industry links and relevant freelance clients in regard to interview working towards objective 3. As also noted above, I have began contacting HE institutions in the UK to reach both British and Japanese females between the ages of 18-24 to obtain quantifiable research working towards objective 3. This is in the aim of comparing data with those working in Industry, i.e. models and Vogue. I have also planned to speak with Toni Hollowell a practitioner whom works within the same subject area as my research question, and hope to gain insight into similar perspectives and practical works.

  1. To prototype a range of design work targeted at 18-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of Social Media and Magazines on self-perceptions and body image, for example:

A) Critical Design led Instagram posts

B) Social media wellbeing campaign

C) Promotional posters and packs

D) Zines and publications

All of the above 4.A – D. have been achieved throughout this semester, and going forwards would like to develop and refine my ideas, whilst finding more ways of gaining quantifiable and measurable data in regards to working towards answering my research topic. I have found 1.A. in particular most useful to my practice throughout this semester, allowing for Dunne and Raby’s critical-design theory approach to be used throughout allowing for work to be promoted, ideas to be shared and feedback to be gathered. The feedback received however was more a general positive reception for the design and concept, opposed to being as critical as needed for future development. This is something I would like to address holding crit groups, and testing the work with focus groups (females 18-24) for example. 

Objective 4.D. was achieved twice, once in combination with objective 4.C, and the other an additional project being a collaboration with Leeds-based practitioner Bobbi Rae. I found working with Bobbi to be refreshing, adding new ideas and perspectives to a pre-determined concept.

Going forwards, I have been in discussion with Brittany Rhodes, in regards to running community workshops and motivational talks regarding positive body image, and perhaps using this as an educational strategy to speak with HE institutions and local councils, encouraging a more proactive, charity/organisational approach to raising awareness opposed to being graphic design led. One of my main reasons for doing the MA is to find a way to help people through design and creative communications, and feel there is a way to do this within the community whilst being of relevance to my practice whilst working towards objective 4.

I also plan on collaborating with Leeds-based commercial photographer Scarlett Carson in the aim of producing an editorial campaign working towards objective 4. This was originally planned for semester 1, however due to time constraints has been put on hold.

  1. To derive a National or International Policy for use within the Fashion and Beauty Industries, based on collated research, interviews and experiences throughout this project.

Objective 5 is yet to be started, due to needing to finish collating research and completing objectives 1 -4 prior to doing so.

I feel throughout this semester I have made good progress on working towards these objectives, whilst also highlighting future directions for development and interviews allowing for current and primary research to be carried out in support of my findings so far. I have found that my objectives haven’t changed, however have become more interlinked due to practice and research being so heavily connected throughout this semester. As noted above, I would like to now go on to speaking with more people, in order to answering my research topic with more rigour. I would also like to work on more ways to gain feedback and quantifiable data from my target audience whilst in Tokyo. I would also like to begin making contact with the APPG for example, in order to find out whom I will need to talk to in regards to my policy proposal (objective 5) which I am working towards in order to gain feedback on this at a later date. I have found that throughout my research to date, I have been focused on my objectives and research question, however, have found that I have had to do a lot of background work to now be in a position to begin to research Japanese culture in more detail, now being aware of different theories and professional perspectives on the topic at hand. I feel that this will benefit me going forwards whilst undertaking primary research, whilst also working towards the above objectives.

These are the objectives that I will continue to work towards throughout this project.