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.

Introduction to Project Management 

I have always considered myself to be quite an organised person by nature. I have a diary, a calendar, emails organised by client, a notes list on my phone, laptop and desktop, a notebook or 5 and the ability to multi task. However, the seminar on Project Management on Friday made me think that even though my life per say is organised, I have to have a streamlined way of planning and managing my upcoming briefs around my ‘life’ due to the course being so self-driven.

I have a lot of thoughts, questions and ideas which I want to channel into my research and practice throughout this course both on a personal and professional level. In regards to briefs I am hoping to collate a solid plan of what I aim to achieve and how and then work a breakdown of needs, costs, external resources  (models and photographers for example) and any other challenges for example which may not usually arise if working for a client outside an academic environment, for example booking and interviewing people, models or brands for content.

By planning ahead I also hope so forsee any issues with time management, bookings and resources, as well as being able to allocate time for my freelance work, personal time and the development of my personal practice.

In regards to how I am going to plan my time, I plan on using a very detailed and broken down version of my calendar to allocate my time accordingly in advance as well as use GANTT charts for planning individual projects and research. I am hoping to start this planning in much more detail post briefing next week, however have currently starting logging dates of events, exhibitions, visits and MA sessions for example on my revised calendar. This will allow me to see where I have free periods of time in advance as well as allowing me to block off periods of time for research, development and supervisor sessions in relation to upcoming submissions or briefings for example. This is shown below for reference.

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Proposed Visits: Exhibitions and Lectures

As part of my proposal I stated that I wanted to visit a range of exhibitions and lectures if possible throughout the year. Before planning my academic year in detail, I wanted to collate, update and revise this list to ensure my plan is accurate and to continually assist with project management and time management, whilst also allowing for room to understand and plan what I want to achieve from each event, how I will do so and how I will then evidence this.

The following list is a proposed range of visits and is dependant upon the course timetable and my personal and professional practices at the time. This list is also subject to change throughout the year.

I will also be keeping an eye out for any other Fashion or Graphic Design led events, exhibitions and lectures across the year.

  • Penguin Posse (Two-Monthly Meet-Ups in Headingley, Leeds)

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. I plan on attending these meet-ups as I do currently throughout the year in order to share my recent exploratory work, research findings and contextual inspirations, whilst engaging with and talking to Interdisciplinary Artists about their fields, their practices and inspirations. I always find these events cultural and inspirational, showcasing work from a wealth of different creative backgrounds and practices, whilst sharing narratives, ideas and emotions. Each time I will endeavour to make new contacts, and engage with the work of other practitioners in order to find common-ground for discussion, debate and thought.

  • Vogue 100: A Century of Style at the Manchester Art Gallery (Open until 30th October 2016 – Planned to Visit on 14th October 2016)
  • Fashion and Freedom at Manchester Art Gallery (Open until 27th November 2016 – Planned to Visit on 14th October 2016)
  • The Fashion Conference Symposium at Manchester Art Gallery (Tickets booked for 14th October 2016)

I plan on attending the above three events on Friday 14th October 2016, with Hattie Spowage, a fellow MA student. By attending these events on the same day, it not only allows for efficient and effective time management and planning, but allows for myself and Hattie to engage in a dialogue whilst there reflecting on our practices and research questions. I am hoping to ask relevant questions during the Conference Q&A, whilst hopefully being able to converse with the speakers about my research question and proposal and how this sits in with their various specialisms in the industry, for example, Stylists, Photographers and Editors. Through gaining these different perspectives, I not only hope to gain new knowledge in a professional context, but I also hope to challenge my own thoughts and make my understanding of my research question even more relevant to current industry. By making notes and recording conversations whilst there, as well as collecting any programme guides or taking relevant photographs, I am wanting to record these for self-development, reflection and research purposes as well as for an on-going reference.

Through attending Fashion 100 and Vogue Now, I hope to document visually how body image and self-perception has changed overtime and how this has been reflected, directed and curated through the fashions and theoretical contexts of the times, especially in contrast to today. I would also like to use this research and collated information to inform my practice and contextual knowledge.

  • Undressed: History of Underwear at the V&A (Open until March 2017)

I really feel this exhibition will be very important in regards to researching how the female body has changed overtime in regards to figure and shape, as well as understanding theories of feminism, identity, self-perception, consumerism, sociology and psychology in context. By understanding how women were seen in the past in regards to figure, status, power, etc, I believe that I will be able to understand modern day contexts better and apply this knowledge to my practice.

I plan on making notes and taking a sketchbook/camera with me to document anything of interest, i.e. designers, quotes, dates, to help inform my research and on-going source of references.

  • Leeds Fashion Festival (21st-30th October 2016)

I am interested to attend the runway shows which will be happening at various times across this event, in order to see what range of models and body shapes are being ‘shown’ to the public, whilst hopefully being able to interview or speak directly to them about my research question.

I hope on evidencing this through photographs, whilst recording any conversations via note form for my research journal and to reflect upon when needed.

  • Manchester Fashion Ball (26th January 2017 – Tickets have been applied for)
  • Leeds Fashion Ball (18th May 2017 – Tickets have been applied for)

The above two events are networking events for professionals who actively work within the Fashion Industries. I have applied for tickets, and would really like to attend in order speak to working professionals in Industry about the issues surrounding my research topic, whilst being able to promote myself, my practice and make new contacts. As this would be a more formal event, I plan on networking through conversation and sharing business cards and contact details.

  • Beauty UK at the NEC (21st and 22nd May 2017)

Beauty UK is a trade show which showcases brand new products which have been produced nationally and internationally, whilst informing visitors on new emerging trends. I have also applied for tickets for this event. I believe this would be a very beneficial event to go to in order to research and see first hand, what new products are going to be launching, what the new trends are and how they will be both marketed and promoted. By looking at campaigns, product packaging, the language used, the target audiences and models used to advertise such products, I hope to create a picture of where the Beauty Industry will be heading in 2017 and 2018. By recording these visually, and speaking to the brand ambassadors and professionals working at the event, it will be really interesting to understand their perceptions of the industry as the ones who are selling, promoting, marketing and advertising these new ways of once again changing our natural appearance. I feel this would provide a great range of research which I can apply to my practice and on-going development whilst exploring my research question on a contextual level.

  • Magma & Laurence King – In-Store Launch/PR Nights, London (Various dates)
  • Glug (Talks and Exhibitions) – Leeds and London (Various dates)
  • Creative Networks events at LCA
  • BA(Hons) Graphic Design visiting Lecturers

The above four events take place at various times across the year, and are all lectures or networking events with interdisciplinary practitioners which may inform my practice and help answer my research question, depending on the topic of discussion at the time. They are events which I found helpful whilst studying on my BA(Hons) Graphic Design course, and feel that again would have benefits in regards to contextualising and theorising my practice, whilst meeting other practitioners with potentially similar interests, or those who disagree leaving room for debate and shared ideas.

I plan on recording these events via recording conversations, making notes and taking photographs in order to evidence what has been discussed and found, whilst also recording my thoughts, questions and ‘new-leads’ for research.

  • Vogue Festival – Condé Nast, London (May 2017 – Subject to Ticket Availability)

I am not sure if the public can access a bid for tickets to Vogue Festival, however I will be researching and enquiring into this in the New Year. By attending such a high-status event, I would hope to speak with Industry professionals, in order to gain first hand research in relation to my research question, whilst hopefully making new contacts within the Beauty and Fashion Industries. Furthermore, I would be able to ask questions during Q&A sessions which I feel would be invaluable primary research.

I would hope to record conversations and make notes throughout the event to evidence findings and topics of discussion.

Initial Thoughts: Publications and Social Media in relation to my Research Question

It is interesting to think that social media is now overtaking publications in regards to ‘influence’, by having not only the capacity to feed the same content, but to also allow for brands and ‘influencers’ to engage directly and in real-time with their audience across a global range of platforms on a daily basis. Social media not only allows the audience to ‘follow’, view, watch and ‘like’, but to engage with others by commenting, encouraging re-posting and brand engagement, gaining feedback and analytical insights per video or photo, for example. On the other hand, publications can only be valued in this sense by the weekly, bi-monthy or monthly sales figures. This, unfortunately was clarified and confirmed by Alexander Shullman in the recent Vogue Documentary series aired on the BBC, whilst in discussion regarding which cover image would pull in more buyers to purchase the monthly read of the shelf. However, this sense of direct engagement within social media not only gives brands and ‘influencers’ immediate power over their following, but also gives a sense of direct interaction from the audience, making the end-user feel engaged and like an active part of the online community. Publications have always featured models, celebrities and ‘IT girls’, whilst now in present day, social media platforms have given us the ability to share our own photos with the same communities which we so religiously follow and strive to apart of. Like those, featured in the magazines.

As previously noted, most Fashion and Beauty-led publications are released weekly, bi-monthly or monthly, whilst social media is instantaneous and more importantly, constant. How does this ever-lasting stream of so-called ‘ideals’, ‘perfection’, bloggers/vloggers and social media ‘famous’ affect our own ideas of our body image and self-perception? Does this form of media affect us and influence us in a different way to magazines? Is this due to content on social media in comparison to magazines? Do people still read magazines and see them as a form of influence, or are we more enticed by social media for quick access and ease?

These are some of the questions and thoughts I want to explore through my research in regards to body image and self-perception issues with the beauty and fashion worlds.

Ultimately, with publications the Editors and Writers are responsible for choosing the stories, models and articles which we are exposed to and deem as modern day ‘ideals’, but with social media, it is us the public in a way whom collectively chose whom is deemed this limelight, wealth of influential powers and the ability to ultimately say what is ‘in’. Furthermore, the occurrence of ‘hashtags’ has allowed brands and ‘influencers’ to release content in accordance, following trends, fads and the ever-so important world of ‘pop-culture’. So who, or what within the Fashion and Beauty industries is the most influential in regards to our body image and self-perception?

Below shows a list of current forms of visual media which cross-over both platforms and are becoming more associative of each other as the Industries slowly convert their content to digital mediums. Throughout my studies and research, I hope to look into these further on a more contextual and theoretical level, as well as on a visual basis:

  • Models and the Runway
  • Campaigns and Advertisements
  • Cultural Appropriation VS Cultural Appreciation
  • Trends, Celebrities and Pop-Culture
  • Bloggers and Vloggers
  • Selfie Culture
  • Fashion and Beauty Photography

Following this, I wanted to further explore this within the context of my research question, in order to effectively plan my time and resources going forward for both research and practical based projects.

I have executed this in the form of a mind-map in order to contextualise and understand the links between the two main forms of mass media I have decided to explore within the fashion and beauty industries, allowing me to both pose research topics and questions as to how these collectively affect our sense of body image and self-perception.

From the first mind-map shown below, I started off looking at magazines and social media within the context of my research question and proposal, however realised at this point that my question at the moment is quite vast and could be interpreted in different ways, whereas the areas I have stated for research and have initially been researching are not specifically mentioned in the question itself, more so in the rationale. Therefore, I have chosen to change the question from “How and why the Fashion and Beauty Industries affect our sense of body image and self-perception?” to, “How do Magazines and Social Media within the Fashion and Beauty Industries, affect our sense of body image and self-perception?” Not only does this clarify my research topic for my peer group and visitors to the blog, but also helps streamline my research and project planning further.

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A revised and more explosive, in-depth mind-map can also be seen below following changes noted as above. I am hoping to use this mind-map along with detailed plans for each of the three initial briefs to assess what research needs to be carried out and how I can do so effectively, objectives and aims for each module, as well as to assist with continual forward planning and initial reference points.

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MA Creative Practice: An Introduction

I’m Danielle Muntyan, an Internationally Published Graphic Designer and Consultant, working within the Beauty and Fashion Industries. After working on a wide range of Fashion and Beauty-led freelance and contractual projects, I feel that there is much more within this field to be explored both on a design-led and contextual basis.

This blog will follow my journey on the MA Creative Practice course, undertaking a study of the Fashion and Beauty industries, in an aim to understand how and why mass media affects our sense of body image and self-perception.

I will also consider the effects of various cultural and non-cultural influences such as, religion, politics, economy, societal norms and conventions of trends, beauty and body-image and how this also contributes to a magazine or ad campaign or instance. By undertaking briefs and research, I hope to build a body of research and work which can be implemented into a final outcome to show my concluding findings.

By undertaking self-directed studies at MA Level, I am aiming to further develop my knowledge, skill-sets and application of Fashion Communications and Graphic Design, both for my personal and professional practice.

–  daniellemuntyandesign.dunked.com

–  behance.net/daniellemuntyan