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End of teaching.

That’s it. The end of teaching time for the semester, for the year. This is bananas.

I got some really good feedback on my SDC project today – I was told that I was very high on the list of people to be entered into the competition, and that I’d produced the best set of presentation boards that Andy had ever seen from me. This was all really great to hear – I feel like the start of this year was really slow for me, and I really didn’t enjoy myself or my projects much, and the SDC project really opened me up and turned things around a bit. I got a bit of constructive criticism, and Andy said that the digitally printed and hand-finished sample I included on my presentation board was much better and more engaging that the plain hand printed one. I agree with him and explained that I’d had many grand plans for my digital prints, but was unable to carry through with them because the prints took for ever to come back. I’d really like to continue to work on my extra fabric samples, but our access to the workshop has been closed off so that the fourth years have enough space and time to work on their final pieces, so I think (depending on time) that I’ll do a bit more paper work and create an extra presentation board with some alternative designs and colour options just in paper.

We’ve had our last Design and the Market session, and now have to produce a 2000 word personal enterprise proposal. We’ve worked through NESTA’s creative enterprise toolkit and had some absolutely fantastic talks from some incredible speakers (Patricia van den Akker came to speak to us and I’ve never taken so many notes so quickly – 6 sides of A4, plus some sneaky phone photos of her slides so I can come back to them later!). My only problem is that throughout the workshops I haven’t really had a solid business idea – I want to design and make things for sure, but I haven’t had that spark of an idea that has ignited a passion in me. I really want to focus on personal branding, because I feel that where ever I end up going after uni (working for a design company, working freelance alongside having a “real” job, or going into business for myself) this would be very beneficial to me. I’ve mentioned in posts before about how I want to “discover who I am” and I feel that identifying my values and passions using the NESTA worksheets has really helped with that, and I’m sure that expanding this idea into my fourth year report will set me up really well. I just have no idea how to go about doing it. I feel a bit like I’ve floated through the workshops without a solid idea and now that I don’t want to write a business plan I’m a bit lost.


Red squiggley lines keeps telling me that “aposematic” isn’t a real word, but it absolutely is; I Googled it just to make sure.


  1. (of coloration or markings) Serving to warn or repel predators.
  2. (of an animal) Having such coloration or markings.

This is what I decided to name the collection of textile designs that I produced for the Society of Dyers and Colourists’s live project brief entitled “fashion for the future”. The brief was very open, but we had to work within two constraints: we had to work to a trend forecast from one of the big textile design journals, and we had to strongly consider sustainability or a sense of eco-friendliness in our designs.

The summer 2013 trend “alien paradise” in issue 96 of Textile View really jumped out at me (I’d originally chosen an Art Deco theme, but to be honest I really wasn’t finding it too interesting), saying “This chapter is inspired by the wonderful world of primeval forests and jungles, augmented and enchanted by new technologies. Leaf patterns and the shiny skins of rainforest frogs inspire fabrics and patterns.”

I originally visited Dundee’s botanic gardens to hang around in the hot house and photograph their tropical and carnivorous plants, but found that February isn’t really the ideal time of year for such things. I quickly moved on to looking at rainforest frogs, which I have absolutely fallen in love with. There are so many beautiful pattern and colour variations, and most of the frogs are absolutely tiny and adorable (and poisonous). This area of research obviously lends itself well to the sustainability factor of the brief, so I researched the Amazon rainforest and conservation charities.

I placed my designs into the context of interiors accessories (I do love a good cushion), more specifically kids’ bedroom accessories. I feel that the bright colours and graphic marks I have used would really sit well in a kid’s room, and the subject matter of the prints would help to get the young ‘uns interested in conservation, nature, animals, and travel. I also feel that the handmade element would really add value to my final pieces, and really creates an appreciation in the customer and a bond between them and the finished product, giving a very non-disposable feel to my work.

I hand-printed designs on habotai silk with acid dyes that I mixed myself. I ordered digitally printed silk with my own hand-drawn and Photoshop-coloured-in illustrations of frogs, and my grand plans were to hand print on top with my chosen colours and foil effects, but my prints took over a week to arrive and I received them about three hours before my printing workshop access was stopped, so that’s rather disappointing and I feel as though some of my prints are simply unfinished. However, I am pleased with what I produced in such a short time. I didn’t really know what context I was aiming for when I began printing and chose silk because I felt the delicate, airy, shiny feeling of the fabric was appropriate for my project, and silk really shows colour well; with my context now being kids’ interiors, I wish I had worked with a more durable cotton base fabric.

Here are a few pictures from my sketchbook; there are more (and larger versions) over on Flickr.

And here are my three final presentation boards (A2 in size):

You can’t really tell from the photo, but in between the frogs on the digitally printed fabric I’ve hand-printed lines of gold foil. Also the colours in the photos are a bit off (especially for the context board), but I think it gives a good idea of my project and final designs.

Fisheye all the flowers!

I have just bought myself a macro and fisheye lens adapter for my camera. I was very prepared for it to be absolutely rubbish, but I actually love it. I’m sure gear purists will scoff, I’m really pleased with my new toy. For the money, it gives a really good fisheye effect, and the macro attachment is fun too. I made a trip to the botanic gardens today to scout out their collection of tropical and interesting plants (“Where do you keep your flowers that eat things, please?”), and I was a little bit disappointed because the pitcher plants were all looking a bit sad and brown and… well, gross. I also couldn’t seem to find any Venus flytraps or sundews or anything, so began to think maybe they didn’t have any, but there were definitely flytraps on one of their garden guides, so perhaps I just missed them.

Here’s a pretty flower fisheye picture for now, dear blog. I will update again soon with more pictures from my garden visit and thoughts about my recent and upcoming uni work.


Isolated Heroes

Yesterday morning saw the culmination of a few weeks’ work in my Design in the Market module – a group presentation on a designer of our choice. As a group, consisting of myself, Jennifer, Lesley, and Rebecca, we eventually decided on Samantha McEwen, the girl behind fashion label Isolated Heroes. Part of our research for this presentation was to contact and interview our designer, and Sam invited us to do so at her studio space in Wasps Studios in Meadow Mills, Dundee. Sam was really welcoming and friendly throughout our interview, and we were left with pages of notes and lots to think about in putting together our presentation. For other classes most of us have had to create PowerPoint presentations before, so we decided this time to use Prezi for a bit of a change; luckily for presentation-phobic me, Jennifer and Rebecca put together a really solid presentation that flowed really well, and after a bit of rearranging and rewriting we were ready to present.

I’ve never been the most confident with regards to speaking to people, especially to groups of people in an actual lecture theatre, especially when my grades are reliant on it. Despite all this, I think our presentation went really well and I’m really happy about it.


From speaking to Sam and listening to other groups’ presentations, it’s obvious that all these successful designers and businesses began with a very solid idea, a passion for something very specific, and a real drive to do exactly what they wanted to do. This is reinforcing my thoughts from my previous post: that I have to work hard on developing my brand and finding my passion. Wish me luck!

Design in the Market

I have recently begun a new module at uni called Design & the Market, which aims to “introduce students to enterprise culture and terminology and to place the practice of design within a business context.” It all sounds very clever and like a bit of hard work, but so far our lectures have been pretty interesting. We’ve been told some really interesting things about how the world of work and design is progressing. It’s a scary thought, really, that in a year and a half I’ll be finished with uni and in the real, grown-up world. One of the things that has stuck with me from the first DitM lecture is the saying “make a job, don’t take a job”. It’s going to be down to us to create our own futures, our own careers; the top ten jobs that will be in demand in 2015 didn’t even exist in 2005!

I would really like to use this module to work on personal branding as this isn’t really something I’ve thought about. Last year I learned a bit about branding and identity, and we were shown some tools to help us to define ourselves and our target market, and I’m really looking forward to figuring out who I am.

What vs. Why

The beginning of my Advertising and Branding module has been quite enlightening – one of the things I’ve found most interesting so far is something that I think we all know, but don’t really think about too much – that things are advertised based on their benefits, and not what the item actually is, the “why” rather than the “what”. Most of us probably understand that owning a certain car won’t necessarily make you a cooler or more fun person, and eating a certain cereal won’t generally make you slim and cheerful, but if you take lots of advertising at face value that’s what you might begin to think.

For example, this advert for Alpen cereal isn’t really selling cereal. It’s selling the benefits of eating said cereal, the ideal of a healthy lifestyle. It’s saying “you could eat this cereal which means that you’ll be healthy and happy and desirable”. And good at stretching and looking pretty in meadows. These things appeal to the irrational side of people rather than the rational, whereas you could advertise the same cereal by talking about the taste, nutritional information, and ingredients (only 170Kcal per 45g serving, only 0.12g of salt per 45g serving, high in fibre,  made with wholegrain wheat and rolled oats, contains raisins and hazelnuts, etc.). Rationally, you’ll buy your cereal because it tastes nice, has decent ingredients, isn’t too bad for you; irrationally, you’ll buy it because eating it will make you healthy and fit and slim.

Here’s a photo of a magazine advert for some hair product, “texturizing salt spray” more specifically. Aside from the shot of the product bottle, the ad doesn’t really give us much information. “Make waves; get tousled” and “your style, un-styled” are quick and snappy tag lines, giving a cool, young, to-the-point feel to the advert. The model with fabulous hair is somewhat exposed and looking at us straight-on, giving the impression of confidence. “You mess with my head,” is a slogan that implies having such fabulous hair could somehow confuse people and “mess with their heads”, and it implies that you will be tempting and desirable. It’s saying “you could use this hair product which means that you’ll have textured hair and be desirable like this model. Rationally, you will buy this product to style your hair with; irrationally, you will buy it because you feel that when your hair is styled in a particular way it will make you more attractive and confident.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. We buy based on the benefits of a product; rational benefits like “I need a computer to do my work” and “it has specifications that meet my needs” and “the operating system is intuitive to use”, and irrational ones like “a silver, flashy one will make me look like I know what I’m doing” and “it’s a souped-up version of the one my friend has”. This is something worth thinking about next time I do any shopping – do I really want this exact item for x purpose, or am I buying it over the competition because I think it’ll somehow make me better?