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 (instagram.com/muntyandanielle) 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.

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Packaged Acrylic Badges, Keyrings and Necklaces

This is working towards objective 4.C.

From my previous exploratory work, I had resolved the process of badge making trying out several different processes and techniques, using copper, brass and pewter. Due to my designs being so colourful, a vast range of perspex acrylics are available, and with the laser cutter being so easy, cheap and quick to use, I found that this added further benefits to this process. It also allowed for a large variety and an almost mass-production taking place, producing 10 of each in order to experiment with colour combinations and end-use (pin bagde/keyring/necklace). For submission purposes however, I will hand in one of each as single pins and both duo sets. This can be shown below.

In regards to packaging, I decided to use printed card backs, using the project name as previously used on Instagram posts, postcards and CAD designs, whilst being the anchor point of the zine also included in the promotional pack. This ensure that visuals and underpinning concepts are maintained at all time allowing for a cohesive pack to be formed and understood by the viewer.

A single pin is included with the pack to be kept and worn, whilst a duo pack is included to be shared or given as a gift, again ensuring the promotional pack and all of its contents are shareable in regards of physicality and message.

Keyrings and necklaces were originally made as with left over elements, making something for myself. However, I found that these would actually be a practical and easy way of reinforcing an icon or message, by being seen often and being a talking point to those who are aware of its satirical source and context. I decided not to include these in the packs but would be available as additional items.

I realised at this point, that I had not considered methods of distribution in order to gain measurable feedback on such message and material being shared, and only have reference to this from sharing development, visuals and the ‘message’ on my social media account. As valuable as this has been, as discussed before, I do not want this to be the only form of feedback or distribution of this pack, and going into semester 2 when refining and further developing ideas would like to consider this also in detail in order to set quantifiable goals in order to meet my objectives (1.A. and 4)

In addition to this, I would also like to include more of a variation of design work across the card backs, which would come from development of the “what’s my name again?” concept as a whole.

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Tote Bags

This is working towards objective 4.C.

As noted in a previous post in regards to the “what’s my name again?” promotional pack, tote bags were being experimented with using Dylon dye, and I explained why I was unhappy with the outcome in regards to uneven colour coverage and shrieked bags due to canvas being so absorbent. I noted I wanted to try dying bags again however using cotton based totes instead, or purchase pre-dyed bags. I have not however had time to do so this semester, and will do this when refining and developing concept and designs in semester 2. I also want to experiment more with the colours of vinyl being used, or perhaps screen print due to the lip colour being much lighter than desired however this is due to the limitations of the suppliers. I do however feel that this is why on the coloured bags the aesthetic is not quite as I would like. By screen printing this would alleviate such issues, however having so many alignment issues when screen printing posters at the beginning of the semester, I would like to speak with a technician in regards to the best approach prior to preparing designs and exposing screens etc. It may even be that the totes are best being digitally printed and hand sewn which could take form of a collaboration if I do not feel I could do this myself.

The below image shows dyed tote bags as discussed above, and will not be submitted in my portfolio for submission.

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Below shows colour vinyl experiments on natural canvas tote bags which have not been dyed. I think that the material does look too natural for the design and aesthetic desired, however I feel using a black canvas bag may alleviate some of these issues.

For submission I have complied a promotional pack to include in my portfolio and noted that I do feel the light pastel colour of the packs clashes with the tote bag canvas, and therefore a black tote bag would resolve this problem, whilst also highlighting the darker detailing and depth in the design work.

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Below shows the two tote bags which will be submitted for submission, one taking the form of a promotional pack, the other being stand alone. These two have been chosen being the closest to what I had envisioned in regards to design, composition and vinyl colour selection.

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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.

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Reflection on Dunne and Raby: Critical Design in Relation to my Creative Practice

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“What is Critical Design?
Critical Design uses speculative design proposals to challenge narrow assumptions, preconceptions and givens about the role products play in everyday life. It is more of an attitude than anything else, a position rather than a method. There are many people doing this who have never heard of the term critical design and who have their own way of describing what they do. Naming it Critical Design is simply a useful way of making this activity more visible and subject to discussion and debate.

What are its main relatives?
Activism
Cautionary Tales
Conceptual Design
Contestable Futures
Design Fiction
Interrogative Design
Radical Design
Satire
Social Fiction
Speculative Design”

The above is an extract taken from Dunne and Raby’s website, explaining what critical design is and it’s main associates. I came across this whilst searching for the above photo to place on my submission boards. I found it interesting that ‘satire’ was included in this list being the underlying tone of voice throughout my practical work to date, including the zines, instagram posts, wellbeing campaign and promotional packs, working towards objective 4A-D.

I feel that the critical-design approach has allowed for my initial idea of producing work to stimulate thought and conversation, much more focused being designed with this purpose in mind. This approach has allowed for feedback from my target audience (females, 18-24), working towards objective 1.

Through research, I also noted another practitioner whom works with critical-design approaches, Toni Hollowell noted throughout my research and report to date. Hollowell uses more of UI approach to the work/exhibition of reference, shown below. This is something which in Semester 2 I would like to explore. I did originally plan on working on a life-size Barbie doll project which would reflect real women and ideal women as branded dolls in an exhibit environment, however due to projects developing and collaborations taking place, as well as a wealth of research I have not had time throughout semester 1 to explore this. This is something I would like to work on going forwards.

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In this vein, I would still like to continue to work with critical-design as I feel it works well with my target audience as shown to date through feedback on my Instagram account – instagram.com/muntyandanielle

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I found that this feedback is mainly good for direction of aesthetics/topic of Instagram posts for example, due to most reaction to Kylie Cosmetics related posts, whilst being good for general feedback on concept and idea. However, I did find that even when questions were posed, more ‘likes’ were received than answers given, and found that this may not be the best approach to gaining quantifiable data working towards objective 1 solely, and will also need to carry out interviews, questionnaires and focus groups accordingly.

Sources:
http://www.dunneandraby.co.uk/content/bydandr/13/0  Last Accessed: 2nd December 2016
http://events.arts.ac.uk/event/2016/11/10/Beauty-HACKS/?_ga=1.159840061.1610888711.1468174710 Last Accessed: 25th November 2016
https://www.instagram.com/p/BNVsYiehmjb/?taken-by=muntyandanielle Last Accessed: 5th December 2016
https://www.instagram.com/p/BK1oQoiBUet/?taken-by=muntyandanielle Last Accessed: 5th December 2016
https://www.instagram.com/p/BKwYt0jhAqx/?taken-by=muntyandanielle Last Accessed: 5th December 2016

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Personal Branding

As part of the Professional Context module, I wanted to work on my personal branding as this has not been updated since March 2015, and feel I have developed, changed and transformed into a more sophisticated designer. However, with my re-brand, I wanted to ensure that my brand is still recognisable keeping a feminine an fun aesthetic, colour scheme and tone throughout, whilst using a combination of print and illustration.

Below shows my personal branding from 2015.

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In updating my branding, it was important for me to ensure that a “fun, retro, feminine and 90s tone” is portrayed being reminiscent of my brand, completed works and existing branding.

Below shows my new personal branding keeping in line with the points made above in regards to aesthetic and tone. Each has been created digitally, compiling hand created collage and digital illustration to give depth, tactileness and unique compositions.

Working heavily in the Fashion and Beauty Industries, it is important to me that this is reflected in my branding through a sophisticated aesthetic also.

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Below shows mockups of both my updated business cards and CV design, which has been designed as a booklet encompassing all aspects of my creative career, expertise, experience and contact/portfolio details.

The CV booklet has been designed at A5 in order to be able to post out to existing and potential clients.

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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.

I also produced physical mockups of both the CV and business card. Photography can be seen of these below, along with a mockup of my revised website, featuring a similar yet less structured grid system and a lighter pink logo, falling in line aesthetically with the print based collateral.

Going forwards, I want to get these mass produced to take with me on research trips in semester 2, whilst also being invaluable throughout the MA for self-promotion at exhibitions and networking events for example.

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Feedback has been received on Instagram in relation to my new personal branding, this is shown below:

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Source: Last Accessed 7/12/16

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Going forwards I would also like to experiment with coptic stitch binding incorporating the yellow shown in the print, adding a pop of colour. I would also like to produce variations with white, black and pink cottons. This will fall in line with any other promotional items, i.e. notebooks, as discussed previously above and will be worked on in semester 2.

Submission boards have been developed for this project, and features an in-depth analysis/evaluation of the personal branding project. This can be found on the most recent blog post, and in my portfolio submission.

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“How to be a Beauty Blogger”: Developed Idea and Collaboration with Bobbi ‘Rae’ Gastall

This project is working towards objective 4.D.

Concept, Composition and Layout Design

Danielle Muntyan

Illustrations and Copywriting

Bobbi Rae

Below shows the developed Zine in collaboration with Leeds-based interdisciplinary creative Bobbi Rae (Gastall). For the purposes of showing the development of this zine and the aesthetics, in relation to my original concept for a “how to be a beauty blogger zine” I have broken down the project into elements noted below.

The issue with my first zine prototype worked on individually was that the concept was there, but there wasn’t enough visual stimulation to back up the satirical copywriting. It was during a discussion and ideas generation debate surrounding this which derived the collaboration between Bobbi and I which I feel has only strengthened the concept and final resolution of the prototype, whilst supporting both of our practices contextually and theoretically.

Brief

To design and produce a zine highlighting issues within the blogger culture industry, regarding self-perception and body image.

Context & Target Audience

The first fashion blog was found online in 2003 (Gibson, 2012, P.135), and have dominated the internet ever since with 27% of females blogging about ‘fashion & beauty’ and 27% blogging about ‘lifestyle’ topics (Vuelio, 2016, P.5).

Aimed at 18-24 year old females who are active on social media, and perhaps already have a blogging hobby, whilst providing a satirical take on those who currently blog for a career.

Solution

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.

Technological Advances

Recent technological advances within the fashion and beauty industries have allowed for distorted self-perceptions and negative behaviours to be instilled in order to meet the expectations of the various forms of ‘ideal’, promoted by celebrities, cultural icons and bloggers alike.

Instagram has allowed for applications to be produced which can be used to edit photos prior to posting. For example, Beauty Plus is particularily popular in Japan as it features allow for ‘Westernisation’, allowing one to question whether this is a socio-cultural rebellian against standards, expectations and norms due to the influx of fashion and beauty led photographs and videos posted by Western bloggers and brands which dominate the East.

An example of this is shown with blogger Aimee Song, whereby YouTube has become an invaluable platform for bloggers in the industry to post review and tutorial-led videos engaging with an international audience. This particular YouTube video shown entitled, “how to take good Instagram photos” (2014) evidences ‘the importance’ of uploading a perfect photo creating a personal brand and positive social identity.

Theoretical Perspectives

Bloggers are now not only known online, but also in fashion magazines, being celebrated for their following and sponsorships with brands. Above shows a range of images contextualising bloggers within publishing, however these images also adhere to various theoretical perspectives underpinning this project.

Self-Perception theory notes that we shape our self-perceptions on third-party perspectives, allowing for our behaviours and actions to change in order to find approval (Bem, 1972) and acceptance within a social group or community (Tajfel and Turner, 1986) respective of the Social Identity theory. Furthermore, with “individuals [striving] to achieve or to maintain positive social identity” (Tajfel and Turner, 1986, P. 16), it can be said that these bloggers shown have curated lifestyles in order to portray a desired image giving a false perception to the reader or follower, for example.

Aesthetics and Tone

Throughout the zine upholds a light-hearted yet satirical tone of voice, reflected through the copywriting, illustrations and chosen topics. Minimal copy has been used allowing for the ‘10 steps’ to lead the reader through the publication.

A feminine colour palette and rounded sans serif font has been used throughout being reminiscent of the other practical works I have experimented with forming an aesthetically cohesive set of work recognisable to the target audience.

Keeping inline with the traditional format of zines, these have been printed on white 90gsm paper stock, and have been stapled in order to be mass produced and distributed at a low cost.

Evaluation

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.

Visuals can be found below:

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Bobbi and I also worked collaboratively on photographing this project, taking into account the knowledge obtained from the photography inductions throughout this semester. Photographs can be seen below:

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I am happy with the photography shown, however would of liked to of photographed each spread individually. Going forward, I want to also digitally mock this zine up to showcase the complete design for my professional website and online portfolio. This will avoid any inconsistencies within imagery shown, however may re visit this photography and do this in this manner opposed to mock ups however this depends on time available post-submission. This will also be kept in mind going forward in semester 2 and 3 to avoid having to photograph and digitally mock up also which will ensure for better time keeping and retrospective planning.

Sources:

Lizzyvdligt (2014). Image. Available: http://lizzyvdligt.com/wp-con- tent/uploads/2014/02/lizzyvogue11.jpg. Last accessed 2nd Decem- ber 2016.
Disney Roller Girl (2012). Image. Available: http://www.disneyroller- girl.net/wp-content/uploads/Tati-Cotliar-Raymond-Meier-Vogue-Feb- 2012-I-Am-A-Camera.jpg. Last accessed 2nd December 2016.
Fashion Squad (Unknown). Image. Available: http://www.fash- ionsquad.com/wp-content/vogue_girl_korea1.jpg. Last accessed 2nd December 2016.
BeautyPlus. (2016). Available at: Screenshot. https://screenshots.en.sftcdn.net/en/ scrn/69677000/69677468/beautyplus-55598b862a819-700×535.jpg. Last accessed 3rd December 2016.
Appraw. (2016). Available at: https://appraw.com/static/previews/downloads/d/l/l/p-beau- typlus-magical-camera-lLRpTsdhIa-3.jp.Last accessed 3rd December 2016.
Song, A. (2014). How To Take Good Instagram Photos. Available: https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=GSfrjvF86aE&t=73s. Last accessed 3rd December 2016.
Gibson, F (2012). Fashion and Celebrity Culture. London: Berg by Bloomsbury. 135.
Vuelio (2016). UK Bloggers Survey. P.5.

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VIDEO: “The Pressure to Be Perfect / Plastic Surgery SFX Tutorial” by Karolina Maria

This is working towards objective 1.


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I was sent this video in the past week twice by an old colleague, and another MA student Scarlett Carson in relation to my research question and current practice. Being on Facebook, I had not seen the video in it’s original context, however had noted that the video on Facebook alone had received more than 10M views, 49k likes/comments and over 79l shares. This told me alone how inspiring this video must be to of been shared and viewed so many times of to of received such an empowering reception.
The video shows a girl scrolling through her Instagram feed, viewing pictures of the likes of Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian, the focus of much of my research and practice throughout this semester, questioning her own appearance in regards to comparing herself to those icons noted on the screen. Following this makeup is applied, to change her appearance, and the same routine follows. This appearing to still not be enough, the procedure of cosmetic surgery is mocked through cosmetics in order to look like Kylie Jenner, finishing off with a wig and lip fillers. 
This video essentially embodies a huge segment of what I have been researching and have tried to showcase in the past semester through my practical work. My initial response to this video was, “wow, my research question in a minute” really resonating with me and highlighting to may key, relevant issues. The reason Kylie Jenner was chosen as a research point was a natural progression from the reception of my Instagram Post project, after realising how an icon has created an icon to represent herself when she cannot be represented herself, whilst gaining so much power and influence over the public, and societies norms, ideals and expectations that we forget who we are in an aim to be someone else due to distorted self-perceptions from the pressures of the media. This video summaries such in a short amount of time, and upon further research in order to embed this video on to this post, as it is not possible via Facebook, it was apparent that the video was created by a makeup artist/YouTuber whom has over 20k followers and often posts ‘beauty blogger-esk’ tutorials and reviews, posing the question as to why she created this video. Does she feel the pressure as a makeup artist as discussed in previous research when talking to other well known makeup artists turned Instagram icons, whom stated that the artistry dies and becomes a beauty competition due to ‘competition’. Does she feel the need as a makeup artist, blogger and Instagram user that she needs to change herself in order to fit in with those who are ‘most successful’, ‘most on-trend’ and ‘most popular’? This raises identity issues as noted by Bem (1972) where one may change groups to fit in, having an in-group and out-group perspective. Is makeup not enough? Do we need plastic surgery now to be beautiful and conform with ideals? Has working in this role affected her self-perception or is she still aware and in fact informing others, or has she been through this herself?
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Moving forward, I would really like to contact Karolina in regards to her video to see if she would be available for a short interview regarding how she feels the industry, social media and competitive nature of such work has affected her self-perception, and how she feels her occupation may affect others.

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Sourcing ‘Glitter’ Perspex Acrylic

This is working towards objective 4.C.

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After creating the above badges using an ivory 3mm acrylic, and a 3mm sparkle acrylic, I posted the photos on social media and they received a really positive reaction. I also posted photos of the red/cream and red/sparkle combos, and again the pink sparkle remained the favourite in colour. I feel personally that this is due to being quite girly, fun and appropriate with the context in association with a young, female target audience. Furthermore, pin badges have recently in the past few months become quite a big trend, and therefore feel this is another reason why on Instagram did well. I appreciate this feedback as it allows me to make judgments going forward. I had 3 messages via Instagram asking if a badge could be purchased. Making prototypes at first, and not ‘by trade’ being a product-maker, had not considered making such products for sale, however thought going forward perhaps may be worth while considering as a hobby or even as a part of this project – by building a range of products for the “what’s my name again?!” project, at some point I could set up an online campaign site with an associate promotional merchandise store page selling such products, or could enquire about craft fairs such as at Belgrave, LCA fairs, The Corn Exchange, Makers Markets and Easy fairs which I could potentially hold a stall at. I feel that by attending one of the events perhaps in the future and trailing this out, this could also be a very good form of feedback and first hand research engaging with the public and seeing their reactions/noting their discourse surrounding the concept at hand. This would also share the message which I am striving for and the ultimate reason as to why this project was started. By showcasing products such as this on social media and on online stores/campaign sites/website etc, I would be reaching a local, national and international audience, opposed to a local audience as noted above.

In response to the above, I wanted to research into how much coloured sparkle acrylics are to create different colour combinations and to introduce totally new designs also if I was to go forward and develop this element of the project further.

I had obtained the pink acrylic when I was studying for my BA(Hons) Graphic Design degree and never actually used it. I thought to make the most of it would trial it not expecting such good feedback. I was aware that it did cost around 4 times as much as standard 3mm acrylic but did not realise how hard it was to source, especially in smaller, affordable sizes.

‘Sheet Plastics’ online store as shown below stock a range of coloured sparkle acrylic but only in large sizes at 1850 x 1250 inch and costs £291.67 excluding VAT. This is too expensive to buy for further experiments and would only be viable if mass producing products to sell.

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From here, I tried the official Perspex company whom design and produce a vast range of acrylics. Via there website found that they have a Leeds distribution office. I called and enquired in regards to the specific pink glitter acrylic needed at A3 size at the largest, and was told that they don’t have any stock currently however again only supply in large sizes and mainly to trade, i.e. for kitchen splash backs. However, upon a long discussion about the pink acrylic, the lady spoken to was kind enough to offer to send me samples of a similar Pink Pearlescent acrylic which she recommended as an alternative, therefore I can produce a sample to photograph and submit without a huge cost implication.

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From this I found The Plastic Shop, again whom have a local distribution centre in Leeds to see if they sourced the acrylic needed at the right size. The same as above was noted, being that there isn’t any in stock but alternate samples could be arranged. Due to it not being most popular, it is assumed that it is not produced and distributed as widely as more standard, primary colours.

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Following this I happened to stumble on to Hindley’s which is a UK supplier of acrylics and design materials, i.e. wood, etc, and happened to find the exact product I am looking for at a more reasonable cost and size, 60cm x 40 cm at £28.01 with VAT. Even though it took almost a day of phone calls and endless websites, I am happy to of found a supplier which can deliver efficiently in the UK, and which has the right product in stock at a reasonable price.

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