Synopsis and Module Evaluation

SYNOPSIS

At the start of this final semester I outlined my objectives and proposal for Practice 2 (objectives noted below). The proposal stated that I would produce a a research-led magazine aimed at 18-24 year old females, which synthesises findings from academic research in both Semesters 1 and 2. The target audience would have an interest in fashion, beauty and the wider context of the industries. However whilst in the process of writing, designing, editing, art directing and carrying out on-going test-based research via Instagram (through insights/analytics generated by social media statistics), it was found that the target audience was broader with a demographic of both males, and females between the ages of 18-34.

Objectives:

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

A) With body image (Females, 18-24)

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

2. To understand policies and guidelines within the Fashion and Beauty Industries currently encouraging positive body image.

3. 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.

4. To prototype a range of design work targeted at 18-24 year old women, highlighting impacts of cross-cultural beauty/fashion trends on self-perceptions and body image.

I collated various forms of research from previously covered topics, i.e. interviews, questionnaires, research trips, theory and academic findings. For example, in order to produce a publication which explores the ‘real’ fashion and beauty industries in a cross-cultural context; highlighting positives, yet also the negative issues surrounding self-perception, self-esteem, narcissism and body image in relation to/as a result of social media and magazines. The first issue of magazine produced, titled The Industry, showcased Western issues, as well as focusing on issues seen in Japan, which were discussed in my dissertation to add a cross-cultural tone, whilst considering target audience and the interest of reading a range of topics/articles/interviews. The magazine has become a multi-purpose magazine and is a hybrid of an academic, yet relevant document and sourcebook for those working in or interested in the noted topics and industries at hand. It is also a collaborative/critical object which challenges, critiques, questions, informs and aims to educate and stimulate conversation, debate and thought alike. Furthermore, the magazine looks like a fashion magazine but has contradictory and cynical content, working in a similar way to artist Amalia Ulman. Ulman works with similar processes and critical ways of practice. I believe that the most critical part of this comparison and practice is that like Ulman I am working in the medium which I am also critiquing, critisicing and questionning, showcasing an ‘insider’ perspective through the choice of output (magazine) content, collaborators and angle of writing. An indeth an analysis of my work in relation to Ulman’s can be found here. The Industry magazine and ways of working can also be likened to the publication Ad Busters, whom grew a publication into a business through critiquing the industry of their work. This module again uses an Interpretivist methodology as seen in semester 2 (Saunders, 2012), which acknowledges different cultural viewpoints and realities as valuable knowledge.

Throughout the editing, writing and design process, the magazine became a naturally collaborative project in regard to content creation and exhibitions through working with a range of industry contacts, which has strengthened the outcome of the first issue. A list of contacts that have been made during Semester 2 and 3 allowing for the first issue of The Industry magazine to come to life and be exhibited and shared, can be found here. I hope to continue to work with these contacts, whilst also building on these, and forming new relationships with relevant industry professionals for issue 02. Detailed and in depth plans for the second issue can be found here. For the second issue, I plan on looking at Europe (England, Spain, Italy, France – the main beauty and fashion capitals of mainland Europe) in the hope of understanding how Brexit and the current political climate will affect the industries, brand growth, marketing, sales and education, for example, in the sector.

I also would like to look more into the ‘male’ side of the noted issues. However, since using the Instagram account and realising that there is a wider demographic of those interested (both age and gender), I have decided to research into this much more intently.

I also plan on producing a website (this was initially planned in my original proposal for this semester and module, however the magazine and associated work to fulfil this to a great standard took priority) which will allow for a digital platform for ‘The Industry’ to become a collaborative hub. By this I mean that the magazines will be showcased digitally, allowing for international readership, reach and exposure, whilst also opening up doors for people to contribute via a contributions email address, or call outs (website and social – for relevant content for the decided overarching concept/issue at hand) – articles, stories, news in their country/area, photographs, etc. This will form a ‘collective’ approach to the magazine. I plan on hopefully forming the magazines in the future from soley collaborative content, with myself becoming sole editor, opposed to fulfilling all of the roles needed to produce a magazine. This will allow for a quicker turnaround in magazines (perhaps 4 a year), whilst also allowing for the magazine to have a further range of perspectives from a wider range of contributors.

These collaborators have allowed for original content to be created for the magazine, whereby I have taken on various roles:

  • writer
  • designer
  • academic researcher
  • art director
  • photographer
  • editor
  • creative
  • session stylist

Throughout these various processes, 16 development stages of the magazine have taken place (in the form of JPEGS/PDFs showing development in regard to typography, layout, design and content which can be found throughout my blog) which cover the roles as noted above. For example, an article would of been thought of in regard to concept, then be written based on research, edited, designed into the magazine, art directed (particularly when my own photography has been done, i.e. ‘Insta-Glam’ article/feature with Charlotte Stacey) and then designed into the layout of the magazine, and further edited and perfected. Each article, or feature has been an individual process, taking into account typography, layout, colour scheme and photography choices etc, in an aim to strenghten the particular feature. A small selection of fonts have been used throughout which was an intentional, and informed design decision allowing for a serif font, ‘Perla’ be used to represent ‘high-end fashion and beauty’ relating to the likes of Vogue and Harpers Bazzar, whilst a sans serif font, ‘Apercu’ in various weights has been used to allow for an aesthetic and tone to be portrayed which allows a feeling of ‘openness for all’. Page counts were also taken into account, and at times, pages were taken out and re-edited, i.e. Good American allowing for a stronger article overall.

Another example of where the above processes were put in place and executed was the ‘Insta-Glam’ photoshoot and feature spread with Charlotte Stacey, which aimed to mimmick a beauty vlogger and trends, in order to show how staged final ‘look’ photos could be, whilst also showing a wealth of stages and products involved in a satirical, yet realistic and relatable manner. Again this is working in a similar way to Ulman. For this piece of original content, I sourced a model, art directed and set up the shoot, took the photos with professional photography equipment including backdrops and continuous lighting, worked with, selected and edited the images in post-production prior to working them into the magazine feature and final composition, as well as directing the ‘look’ I envisioned including makeup, hair and styling (roleplaying session stylists).

This module and project has allowed for problems in the industry surrounding self-perception, self-esteem, social media, narcissism and body image in relation to social media and magazines, for example, to be highlighted through the first issue of the magazine. Examples of cross-cultural and global topics include models and eating disorders, mental health and social media and the new found fad of live streaming girls in China. This allowed for carefully and sensitively written articles to be showcased in an aim to raise questions and provoke thought. Other topics such as positive brand influences have been written about to contrast this and showcase a more ethical and inspirational side to the industry and practices discussed. Examples of this include Good American and ASOS (interviewed in semester 2), for instance.

In regard to project management, time management strategies were implemented at every stage of the module, whilst working to my own deadlines due to applying for jobs, completing interview briefs, attending interviews and carrying out freelance work. Plans were set in place for the design work and writing (as seen here and here, for example). As I have been working full time for the majority of the module, I have had to work diligently and prioritise more so than in the previous semesters, however I feel this has made me work much more concisely which I feel has been a positive outcome and learning curve, however on occasion still exhausting. Using Instagram as previously discussed also allowed for additional content to be planned, created, amended and mapped out accordingly based on response and feedback.

My current job role is working as the Lead Graphic Designer for High Definition Beauty (formerly known as HD Brows), which I have written about on my blog previously here. It has been noted that my knowledge which has been developed through the course of my MA enabled me to secure a job working for an ethical company which fits in with my moral groundings and beliefs of diversity and equality within the industry. Everyday I utilise my design and conceptual thinking skills, whilst also working with events, the wider marketing and social media sphere of the industry. I will also take up writing in addition to my design role as I will be writing several posts for the company’s blog which fits in with my MA studies, findings, beliefs and how this sits within my role. In addition to my ‘professional’ day to day role, I am still freelancing building my own practice, and continually update my website and behance. platforms to promote myself, as well as using social media/Instagram.

This module has allowed for unexpected achievements, such as gaining a new job role (for an ethical beauty company), whilst also exhibiting alongside relevant, current and exciting practitioners such as Bay Backner. An exhibition was not in my original objectives. Therefore, collaborating with the likes of artist Bay Backner and fashion photographer Talia White, have allowed my creative practice to be showcased in a different way (blog posts: here and here). I also had not expected for the LCA library to take my magazine through acquisition, and the magazine is to be on the academic reading list for BA(Hons) Creative Advertising at the college, being used both as an academic tool and a creative object (design, art direction, copywriting). I had also not planned on meeting and engaging with so many industry professionals, (e.g. Beauty Director at Vogue Japan and Social Responsibility specialists and Designers at ASOS) as I have done, and that has made the course and the process of designing, writing, editing and creating The Industry magazine so much more fulfilling.

A list of articles, features and editorials (including photography and art direction) can be found here. In some instances, such as publishing the magazine online on ISSU, different versions of the magazine were created in order to work ethically and not recirculate images for commercial purposes. This has allowed me to learn even more so how to work with good, ethical practice, raising awareness, and has also taught me about problem solving. As discussed previously (see ISSU post as linked above), the magazine for such reasons cannot be sold, and this is something which I will problem solve and work through for the next issue, which will only add strength to my own skill set and the magazine itself.

The bibliography for issue 01 of The Industry magazine can be found here as well as being linked on the first page (bottom left, below ‘about’) in the magazine itself.

SUMMARY EVALUATION:

Overall I have found this module extremely enjoyable and a great learning experience, which has strengthened my professional practice, whilst strengthening my future goals/planning and ambitions for The Industry magazine. Furthermore I have met and exceeded my set objectives as outlined at the start of this module (and blog post).

I have created an independent magazine and creative/academic object, which is now in curated touring exhibitions around the country, as well as acquisitioned in the specialist arts library at LCA Blenheim Walk. The magazine critiques the beauty and fashion industries with a global perspective, whilst being an academic document for the use and reference of other students. The document is also an academic paper for my own future route to a PhD through a now on-going project, which will be a vehicle for my personal and professional planning for my creative and professional practice.

There are in hindsight things I would change or alter in regard to design decisions, i.e. being more creative in terms of collage or colour usage, and perhaps a wider range of fonts, however overall I am happy with the final outcome, and any amends I would like to make can be made in issue two. I feel that the magazine has evolved over the course of the module, allowing for more content to be implemented that was initially planned as more research has been carried out, i.e. ‘China Live Streaming’ article/video. I am happy to have collaborated with a range of designers, photographers and models, and feel that I have achieved my initial objectives and aims and surpassed these as discussed above. I would have also liked to curated my own ‘launch exhibition/party’ for the magazine, however instead I will be featured in several upcoming and on-going exhibitions in around the country (2017), in collaboration with Bay Backner, Catherine Worsley and potentially other artists. This will also promote my publication on a national scale, whilst future plans for a website/digital collaborative hub allow for further growth on an International scale, building on the likes of ISSU and Instagram.

I feel excited to continue The Industry magazine post hand-in, and have already started to reach out to industry professionals to begin the research process, i.e. Chiara Ferrigani (Italy). Anything which was not achieved, i.e. my own exhibition/website/digital hub will be built on for issue two, and if anything this has been a great learning experience, and has allowed for me to see which areas need more work, consideration and development going forwards to really make The Industry to be a well-known academic, critical, creative and collaborative magazine.

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