Practice and Professional Development/Exploratory Project Reflections

This module has allowed for exploratory work to be undertaken in relation to my research topic and current practice. I have found this module really enjoyable, and have experimented with both new and existing processes in order to achieve prototypes for further development in semester 2, meeting objective 4, as shown below. In addition this module has allowed me to make critical designs judgements based on such exploratory work in order to meet the learning objectives.

  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

The above have been explored throughout this module. At the start of this module, in my project plan I had outlined an idea of working toward producing ‘life size Barbie doll boxes’, however due to having so much to do in relation to the professional context and research methods, whilst practical projects above developed further than had originally planned, this was not achieved. I feel my time management throughout all of the modules, however this one in particular has been key to grasping and found the first few weeks I had to find a way of doing so exploring gantt charts for example. Once I found a routine, I found that it was easier to manage my time in this sense, however have also had to turn down freelance work and quit a part time job to ensure that my work can be done to the highest standard, so setting priorities has been key throughout this module making critical judgements. I feel however, regardless of  the amount of work that I have needed to do, I feel as though the projects carried out 4A-D have been carried with thought, reflection and analysis, along with problem solving when encountering issues in workshops with materials for example, whilst also being critical of produced practical work allowing for development.

I have had feedback from colleagues, tutors and the target audience via critical-design led experiments with my Instagram project however in semester 2 would like to introduce more formal crits to further develop ideas and discuss potential room for development, whilst understanding different perspectives through creative debate. I found this extremely valuable working towards objective 4.D. whilst working with Local-practitioner Bobbi Rae, however, feel that this input would be of benefit across all projects which will be taken forward along with any new ideas which may begin to be developed.

In addition to the above, I have also began working on my personal branding, allowing me to obtain the necessary assets to use in semester 2 (January in particular) whilst visiting Tokyo and London on research trips, whilst being invaluable to have whilst carrying out interviews, networking and attending MA exhibition events for example.

I feel it has been of benefit that all 3 modules undertaken throughout this semester combined, with key theoretical approaches such as self-perception and critical-design being applied to my practice continually. I have also found being aware of, and working with interdisciplinary, creative practitioners has added further context and support to both the aesthetics, format and tone of my work, whilst acknowledging a wider field of creatives whom are working in different mediums to promote the same message. Therefore, it has become apparent over the course of the module that these have become heavily intertwined, and further this my practical work has also been inspired by that of research itself, exploring different research methods within my practice and practical work continuously also.

Developmental work has been shown for each project throughout my on-going, showing idea and design progression, whilst allowing for research points and inspirations to be pointed out accordingly. In addition, I have found that this platform has been good for evidencing problems raised also such as processes in workshops perhaps not going to plan, or taking longer than expected as discussed within specific related metal workshops. I have found by keeping track of thoughts, progress, development and problems it allows for critical evaluation, reflection and development to take place at that point in time opposed to being back dated in order to be time efficient whilst also up to date.

For the submission, I have included design boards covering each of the four above projects and my updated personal branding, which includes indepth contextual information supporting research and professional context in relation to my practice. This also showcases photography which has been taken in support of using these images on my professional website and digital portfolio going forwards, as well as being able to showcase the exploratory work to date in a more professional manner. Each project also includes an evaluation on areas of improvement allowing for critical, future development.

These boards can be found both on my blog and within a labelled folder within my submission portfolio, and have been noted below also for reference.

Personal Branding

A sophisticated re-fresh on previous branding whilst keeping reminiscent though aesthetic, colour palette and tone.

I feel the visual outcome is true to my identity and niche as a designer, whilst being recognisable in relation to my previous promotional materials. Going forwards, I would like to experiment further with more branded, useable products, such as a Portfolio Look Book, Notebooks and Tote Bags for example, in order to promote my brand in a contextualised manner relevant to the Fashion and Beauty Industries.

Critical Design Blogging (Instagram) Posts (Objective 4.A.)

A Critical Design-led project featuring a range of Satirical Instagram 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, in the hope of provoking thought, sparking conversation and debate, whilst raising awareness on how ‘brands’ and Instagram can affect directly ones self-perception.

Overall I feel that this experimental project worked successfully in it’s aim of engaging with the target audience in order to further develop a resolved visual outcome.

This has derrived the “What’s My Name Again?” project, allowing for direct feedback to shape future directions of both work and research, highlighting brands that are dominating the Industry causing negative effects on self-perceptions and comparative behaviours. I would like to keep using critical design as a practice-based-research approach to working after being successful and invaluable throughout this experiment.

To share these posts, a MA Instagram Account was created in order to collate practice based research and feedback.

Going forwards I plan on continuing to use this account to show other projects, whilst showing developmental work building my own following in relation to my research topic, in the hope of building a contact base I can reach out to for questionnaire’s in semester 2 in order to gain quantifiable data in order to work towards and achieve objectives set out in my proposal and Professional Context Report.

Social Media Wellbeing Campaign (Objective 4.B.)

A range of posters, campaign and social media mockups spreading awareness on the negative impacts of social media in relation to self-perception and body image.

The concept uses factual data and visuals focusing on social media to challenge what is real and not real in regards to photography, lifestyle and natural beauty posted by icons, bloggers and the general public alike, encouraging behavioural changes and competitiveness.

To ensure that the campaign is effective, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages will be set up ‘live’ in order to gain quantifiable data in regards to user interaction, whilst being able to test out the campaign concept accuratley. I would also like to set objectives in relation to this in regards to my research topic, and perhaps use this as a platform to engage with a community, to ask questions and prompt participants for questionnaire’s and surveys internationally.

I am happy with the concept, and have trialled all three designs on my MA Instagram account ( for feedback. All have been positively recieved in regard to format and aesthetic, but I would like to refine my idea more using my own photography of Barbie’s in contextual scenarios allowing for more control. I would like to expand introducing ideas such as Fitness Barbie, whilst touching more on mental health issues through factual data adding different perspectives.

Promotional Poster Packs / Zine (Objectives 4.C/D.)

A promotional pack to raise awareness of the affects that the Beauty Industry, cultural icons and brands can affects ones self-perception.

Designed in a satirical manner, using parody, theory and ideologies throughout enables a visual and contextual connection with the target audience. Promotional packs featuring print and product-led items have been prototyped to convey a concept of sharing between a group of friends or community in order to not only share a message, but to also provoke thought and conversation.

The project title “What’s My Name Again?” is derrived from the the theoretical perspective of social-identity and how one can lose ones true identity and sense of self through brands and social media for example, mocking the self-titled brand “Kylie Cosmetics”.

I am happy with the concept of this project however feel that the visuals and content could be refined in order to form a more uniform and cohesive set of print and product-led items that are not duplicated. I would also like to work on methods of both national and international distribution in order to put my concept to the test and gain consumer feedback and quanitfiable data and research into its effectiveness.

Zines/Publication (Objective 4.D.)

A collaboration with Leeds-based interdisciplinary practitioner, Bobbi Rae, designing and producing a satirical zine, entitled ‘how to be a blogger’ highlighting curent issues surrounding blogger culture in regards to self-perception and body image.

I am really pleased with the outcome of this collaboration, and feel combined ideas generation in regards to the ‘10 steps’ and illustrations really added a different dimension to my original concept for a zine, entitled, “how to be a beauty blogger”. By combining our practices and ideas, we were able to cover a broader sense of “blogger” encompassing the fashion industry also, whilst adding a different dimension in regards to aesthetics.

Moving forwards I would like to mass-produce these and distribute them in order to gain feedback and test the concept in a quantifable manner, whilst sharing a message.

Below shows the learning objectives for this particular module, and feel through my on-going blog (research journal), presentations and report to date that I have evident objectives 7A1, 7B1, 7C1, 7D1 competently in relation to my practice, professional context and research question.