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?

A patchwork pincushion.

In order to avoid doing any work on my uni summer project (and because I like sewing) I recently made a patchwork pincushion for a friend’s birthday. I got the idea and pattern from Very Berry Handmade, and my first attempt went terribly wrong when I tried make the cushion bigger than the pattern dictates but somehow grossly miscalculated things (probably to do with my terrible grasp of both numbers and logic, and for whatever reason sewing with a seam allowance two times too wide).

Anyway, I’m happy to say that attempt #2 went well (considering I’ve never really done patchwork before), and I was kind of sad to give it away. But I did. Selfless.

If you’re very interested, there are two more pictures on Flickr – one of the back, which is plain but embroidered with an “A”, and one of the ladder stitching I did to sew the cushion up at the end; it’s not perfect, but I’m happy with it! I hope she liked it.

I also “made” the pins as well. It’s the simplest thing in the world, and quite cute (I think) – I have a rather large collection of Swarovski crystal beads from back in my jewellery-makin’ days, and all I did was break out the superglue and glue the beads up against the pin head. It takes a while for the glue to dry, but if you’ve just made a pincushion it’s not as if you haven’t got anywhere to put them while it does!