FMP: Smear Tests.

Following my feedback from my past tutorial I was aware that I needed to redirect my aim of my amp. I think I have got so focused on producing an outcome that I have lost a sense of what I am trying to achieve with it, being so focused on redesigning a tampon box that I don’t know how this idea can be expanded.

During my tutorial David mentioned that it might be worth concentrating on one taboo, instead of trying to tackle them all at once. I took this on board and I aimed my research towards smear tests, an issue that is becoming even more important and I lacked to find existing around this topic.

More than 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in the UK, and nearly 900 die annually. All women aged 25 to 49 are invited for a screening test every 3 years, while those aged 50 to 64 are invited every 5 years.

The most shocking thing I found out when researching into smear tests was the reasonings why women feel ashamed to attend they appointments as the number of women attending screenings has dropped to the lowest level since records began in 1995, with nearly a third of women in the UK risking their lives by skipping their smear test, But as it’s one of the only cancers that can be prevented through early screenings – and smear tests can actually stop 75% of cases from developing – why are millions of women avoiding them?

“There are many reasons why women miss their screenings, from fear and embarrassment to a lack of available appointments. Survivors of sexual violence can also find it difficult to attend because of psychological issues. Of course, there are also people who simply forget about it or don’t see smears as a priority. We all have a part to play and we’re delighted to be partnering with Fabulous on this campaign. We want to make sure everyone is more vocal and positive about screenings because they do save lives.” – The Sun.

Jo cervical cancer trust created a survey who’s results show that one in three women don’t attend their screen because of embarrassment. It also highlights a lack of understanding about the importance of screening, with a quarter saying they didn’t think they needed to go because they were healthy and more than a third believing screening doesn’t reduce your cancer risk.

Understanding of cervical cancer and screening

  • 61% of women aged 25 to 35 were unaware they were in the highest-risk group for cervical cancer
  • 37% thought screening did not reduce your risk of disease
  • 24% thought they were not at risk because they were healthy
  • 17% thought smears were important but didn’t know why (35% of non-attenders)
  • 11% thought you didn’t need a smear if you’d had the HPV vaccine

Why women don’t attend

  • 35% of all women reported being embarrassed to attend because of their body shape (50% of non-attenders), 34% had concerns over the appearance of the vulva (48% of non-attenders) and 38% were concerned about whether they smelled “normal” (54% of non-attenders)
  • 31% said they wouldn’t go if they hadn’t shaved or waxed their bikini area
  • 35% wouldn’t go if they had to take time off work, 16% wouldn’t miss the gym to attend and 14% would rather miss a smear than a waxing appointment
  • 26% said it’s too hard to make an appointment 
  • 20% would rather not know if something was wrong (34% of non-attenders)
  • 30% of those who had never had a smear said they didn’t know where to get the test

This was shocking to read! This attitude of avoiding smear test is putting thousands of women in danger. The taboo seems to hang over the word smear test, as it seems to put people off and scare them away due to lack of knowledge of the process. As I continued with my research it was also very worrying to hear women feel like they can’t talk to nurses as they are embarrassed to mention the word vagina! ‘The charity is concerned that over two thirds (68%) of the 2,005 25-35 year olds questioned say they wouldn’t tell their nurse their smear test worries, with almost half admitting they regularly delay or don’t take up their invitation. Worries about making a fuss (27%), fear of being judged (18%) or thinking their concerns are too silly or small (16%) mean women may instead be avoiding a potentially life-saving test.’

A fear of pain is also common among the reason why women don’t attend smear test, when in actual fact many women state that a smear test s less painful that waxing! It takes 2 minutes and can save your life so it is so important that the word is spread to normalise this!

The whole test should take no longer than three minutes and your nurse just wants to do the best test possible, they are there to talk through any concerns you might have. During a smear test a nurse uses a really soft brush to take a sample of cells from your cervix which will be sent to a laboratory to checks for cell changes (abnormalities) on your cervix. It can be uncomfortable and feel weird but shouldn’t be painful. Some women do experience pain and this can be due to lots of different things including pre-existing medical conditions, so do tell your nurse if it does and they will be able to talk through ways to make it easier. Remember it’s your test, you are in control.

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust is the only charity which I could find that is really pushing the normalisation of smear test’s and attempting to stop women feeling ashamed. Their #smearforsmear campaign was the only campaign I could find around this topic, which was live only recently in 2019. I felt this campaign lacked a lot unfortunately, considering it was only put together last year it looked dated and sadly didn’t catch my attention. The idea of smearing your lipstick for smear test was lost on me and I wanted to take this as an opportunity to target my project on improving this.

Penguin: Development to Final Outcome.

After my group tutorial with Ian I was able to get feedback from my initial design on how I could push it further. Ian an my peers brought up some good points to how it could be improved, which I agreed with throughly after seeing it printed, the design didn’t have as much depth as I had first hoped. It was suggested that I work on the belt, working to create more depth and deep lines to create a stronger senses of shadows and highlights.

I started using water colours on top of the belt drawing with created a bigger depth of colour that before I wasn’t able to achieve with colouring pencils, bringing the image to life rather than disappearing into the background which I know notice as a fault in my first draft. It is noticeable from the images below how this was able to make the picture a lot richer than before, it also brought in a nice painterly element to the images which helps to reflect Willys love for painting throughout the story.

It was also important for the improvement of my design to work on the background. On my current design, the water droplets which I included to represent the repetition of the theme of rain that is mentioned, seemed to be confusing, my peers were confused to why they were relevant and they seemed to be floating against the solid blue background, making a confusing contrast In styles.

I thought back to my original penguin design last year which I was super proud of, which I created my own backgrounds using water colours to create gradients and texture. this is something that I thought worked really well and gave me an opportunity to play with media that I don’t normally use.

I began by playing with charcoal in an attempt to emulate the smokey skyline of ww2 London. Although this seemed to work well against a white background, when I began to bring elements such as the belt back into the design, the overall image became too messy and distracting. It also became an issue of merging the blurred outline into the painted background – as you can tell from the images below this just didn’t work!

As I thought more about the background of the current design, I also began to feel that it was too dull so experimented with the colour green, this is in references to the green field of the country side which willy spent his days happy, in contrast to the belt which is reference to the hardships the faces in London.

As I continued to play around with the background I still struggled for it work harmoniously together, as I went back to the drawing board to think about how I can push the design I toyed with my initial aim which was to reflect Willys innocence and child-like creativity that is paramount throughout the book. I decided to rethink and remove myself from the idea of a digital outcome and began to work with collage instead in hope that this child creativity would be shown. I explored painting backgrounds and layering the cut out of my belt painting on top. This created some shadows and textures that I was unable to achieve on photoshop.

I decided on a green background for the final design, the earthy tones of the belt helped to complimented the green background well. The end result looks hand made which is what I wanted to achieve and I think it works well for this particular design. Using my hand rendered type on top really pulled it together. I am happy to where it has got to at this point and believe it is ready for the penguin submission. If I had an opportunity to push this further I would work on the legibility of the text on the back of the design, however having faffed with it a lot so far, I think its best I leave it and return to it when I have a moment to spare as I need to prioritise some other projects moving forward.

AfterLife: Ben Steer.

Ben Steer from Fiasco Design came in to give a lecture in todays afterlife. I really enjoyed Bens talk as he was able to offer some good advice when it comes to applying for jobs, something in which hasn’t been mentioned in previous afterlife. This information I find so vital moving forward and it is very helpful to hear it from someone with lots f experience in the industry.

Ben stated of his talk that explaining that the year in which he graduated was also the year of the credit crash therefore he found it difficult to get a job, he wanted to make it clear to us that because of this it is so important to talk to people and make contacts during this time, these contacts can last a life time and really help you in the future even if it doesn’t seem so likely at the time. he expressed the importance to ‘just do it!’ push yourself to your fun, potential and make it happen, he said ‘opportunities are born from passion’ which is something that has stayed with me since the talk and I think is so important when producing work. When I have struggled to produce work I am proud of previously it stems from loosing my passion with what I am doing, it is important to make sure I don’t loose this passion, applying and striving for things I want to do in the future when looking at career prospects.

When creating work it is important to avoid trends, do what you think is interesting and different!Be curious, always ask questions and dig deeper which will help you learn by doing. Ben also said to remember that it is ‘a marathon not a sprint’ he reiterated the importance of enjoying our journeys as designers and the process of getting to our goals.

When applying for jobs Bens first word of advice was to ‘do your homework!’ and offered up some important top tips for emailing companies when applying for jobs:

  • The subject line is so important! – it is an immediate way to grab the attention of the reader and stop it from getting lost in a mountain of similar applications.
  • Know who you are talking too! – Make sure you are addressing people directly in the email, making it personal showing you have knowledge of the brand by being specific.
  • Branded CV – when attaching your CV make sure that it is branded! As a graphic designer it is imperative that you CV reflects this and that you have linked your website in your application.

Bens talk really helped my preparation in the application process of job hunting and for this I am so thankful that ben was able to come speak to us!

AfterLife: Smörgåsbord.

I loved the work from smorgasbord ever since I saw them present their work at the ‘It Will Glow’ event at the design festival late last year. Their work was at a standard in which I aspired to be at, my favourite being their branding for Wales, so was excited to hear what more they had to say about their journey to smorgasbord and how the company had got to the standard its at today. Callum Richards who was a graduate from two years ago was joined by Vicky Beech to give us the talk and advice on how to approach designing in the real world.

Callum talked about how he aimed to be a master of none instead of trying to focus and specialise on just one skill, to help make him more employable, becoming a jack of all trades. After university Callum talked about the difficulties to get a job straight away and how he used internships as a way to develop as a designer, he mentioned the importance of working in a city where you will be inspired to work everyday, design is everywhere and your surroundings will inspire you! I thought this was some of the best advice, however simple it may be the importance of feeling inspired is pivotal for careers and developing and growing as designers. Callum and Vicky also touched on the importance of building a strategy before designing and how it was important to aim to be good at what you do instead of aiming to become well known. By becoming good at what you love you will become well known on your won accord.

Although they presented their work at smorgasbord which has an overlap to their ‘It Will Glow’ presentation, I continued to be inspired by their work. It was also very motivating to see Callum, someone who has been in my shoes, progress so well over the years since university. Seeing him working on high profile design projects, has helped me realise that I need to push myself with my work to achieve good design.

Criticality: Making Final Changes.

I am so pleased with the feedback that I received from my criticality outcome! I was thankful to know that my concept true reality of social media likes was translated to the viewer without a explanation easily. As I was previously contemplating the background of the outcome, I was happy to hear that it was received well with comments that the social presence seen on the screen saver is missing from reality.

To push the design further it was suggested that i add notifications from other social media platforms to translate how these lies behind likes are not just limited to Instagram.

Above is my final design for my criticality project, to push it further I added in to Facebook notifications, which indicate that the social lies behind likes can translate though other social media platforms. I changed the Facebook notifications to ‘status’ and ‘post’ to make them fit more to the individual service, it also allows to viewer to see how likes art just limited to photos. The blue and pink icons helped to tie the warm and cool elements of the background to the foreground.

It was mentioned to complete my outcome that it would be wise to add a short paragraph of information that accompanies the image, to support the detail of the image:

Lies Behind Likes.

In the 21 century, the action ‘to like’ has evolved its meaning due to the introduction and expansion of social media. My outcome aims to explores the reality behind likes on social media platforms by showing a phone filled with notifications reflecting the real reasons why people ‘like’ things on these platforms. The screensaver on the phone helps to delve deeper into these issues, showing a false reality of an ideological life, whilst the background of empty lounge aims to shows the true reality of a false sense of social presence.

FMP: First Designs.

After researching and looking into lots of inspiration for my project, I thought it was best to move forward and start some designing. I found that by looking at a lot of variation of projects it almost cause a creative block on my side as I couldn’t seem to look past the ideas that I had seen.

My initial reaction for creating critical work as a response to creating a conversation around women sexual health was to make it bold, screaming and shouting periods in a contrast to period products that are already out there. Therefore I started by using bright red’s and orange as my initial theme. Although I could only think of showcasing the tampon on the box as my idea, with no direction to where I was going with this and really no sense of this brand that I wanted to create.

Everything I was producing I found was very predictable for the topic and what I was trying to achieve. Nothing I was creating was exciting me and I kept finding myself at a dead end, almost unsure with what I am trying to achieve. I wanted to try and change this I tried a different approach, trying to target womanly issues instead of just showing a tampon. I found inspiration from a picture of bloody pants and thought this could be a fun way of approaching this issue, slightly different to how you would’ve predicted.

However the outcome of this I was not happy with. It came across as childish and just a bit silly, almost making periods and tampons into a joke which is the opposite of what I want to try and achieve. I went back to the drawing board to start the concept again. This again was a struggle, I just felt my ideas were so minimal and everything I created didn’t inspire me to make any more work. As it was approaching our interim crit I was beginning to panic as I didn’t really have anything to show besides from ideas of things that I didn’t like. I wanted to get something together to show so I tried a different approach, creating an abstract design.

The concept behind these was creating an abstract vagina with hearts to show how this is something we should care about. Using bright reds and oranges.

My ideas behind this concept was to show the idea of the vagina with a plastic slide on cover of a tampon to representation and show how a tampon works. Something that everything is always ignored within conversation. however I went into the tutorial not being overly happy with the work I have produced. It seemed predictable for what I wanted to achieve as well as not really doing much for starting the conversation.

I presented this in my interim crit, going away with the advice to focus on one issue, wether it be smear tests or period products, attempting too almost celebrate the vagina and think of the extreme in which I could go to throughout this. This worried me however because although I want to normalise the conversations around this I didn’t want it to become a explicit and vulgar campaign full of vaginas, I wanted it to be something more clever and playful especially as things considered this will be a project that my parents will come and see! After my tutorial I went away feeling no more confident with what direction I was heading in with my work, following this I went on to have a one on one meeting with David where he suggested I play with metaphors, referencing looking back on my editorial from first year, looking at things super literal and playing with the cliche.

For my next step the next thing I can do is carry on with my research and just start producing work in hope that something comes to me. I am beginning to worry about where this is going to go… I have the ideas in my head I just can’t seem to get them on the page!!

FMP: Development.

I wanted to research more into taboos surrounding woman’s health, which there seemed to be a lot of information online. It became clear to me that smear test was an important one to tackle within my project, I was surprised to discover that screening rates were at their lowest level in two decades. With one in four women not taking up their invitation to her screened. with 21,000 women being diagnosed with one in five forms of gynaecological cancer each year in the UK, this message was clearly important to spread.

I also discovered the negative effect that lack of conversation around women sexual health can have on a woman, putting them in danger of health risks. Women often feel uncomfortable to talk about periods and vaginal problems as it has been made into a bad thing within society.

I decided that throughout my project it is important that I address the silence, making conversations about sexual health normal. I decided to make a mood board surrounding my current ideas. At this beginning point I want to focus on creating packaging to normalise the idea of tampons and sanitary towels. It was clear when looking at packaging that already existed that the idea of ‘discreet’ and ‘secret’ was something that was a running theme throughout. Along with this the packaging all seems to be very feminine trying to hide what it actually is, with the word ‘tampon’ ‘sanity towel’ ‘period’ mentioned In small writing, if at all.

‘secrecy is the key element to the modern period.’

‘in one study, people had a worse impression of a woman who dropped a tampon out of her bag.. and even avoided sitting near her’

In a tutorial with David, I expressed my idea and thankfully it was well reviewed! I now needed to follow this with further research to help me develop my concept.

I found a lot of inspiration for ways in which I could express this idea.

FMP: Taboos in Woman’s Sexual Health.

Taboos around woman’s sexual health have created barriers within society, they are something which are not talked about or discussed in society, almost promoted as something to be ashamed of, but why is this? Why has period become a bad word, something we avoid saying. Through my final project I want to attempt to normalise woman’s sexual health.

What are the taboos?

  • Periods
  • Smear test
  • yeast infection
  • thrush
  • BV
  • discharge
  • chlamydia
  • effects of the pill
  • menopause

I began to research into taboos around woman’s sexual health and was surprised to see the way this has endangered women and their medical health. When looking into information around smear tests I discovered that 21,000 women are being diagnosed with one of the five forms of gynaecological cancer each year in the UK, however it was surprising to hear that screening rates have dropped to their lowest level in two decades with one in four women not taking up their invitation. With smear tests preventing up to 75% of cervical cancer, this statistic is very concerning! Women don’t talk about periods and their sexual health because it is looked down on, because of this it makes it more dangerous as many women don’t realise when they are bleeding for the wrong reasons, many people are not told they will bleed every week, let alone how to deal with it hygienically. It was common to hear throughout the articles that I read that silence hinders attention, even in medical situations women feel ashamed and embarrassed to talk about their problems. This culture of silence means that many people don’t know what’s healthy and what’s not.

I began by looking into what I was aiming to do with the project moving it forward. I already have a lot of campaigns within my portfolio from over the past three years, therefore I wanna avoid this. Wanting to be ambitious I thinking my initial idea is to do some branding of tampon boxes etc as a critical response to this problem.

After having a tutorial with Theo he aided my research to look at already existing critical design to start conversations as well as existing packaging for tampons etc too see what they are doing wrong and that already exists.

FMP: Initial Ideas.

Thinking about what topic to base my final major project on is a stress to say the least. With such a major project, It is key to everyone that they produce a set of work in which they are proud of and happy to show to family and people in industry.

When talking about it with my peers in the lead up to the briefing, it seemed that a lot of people already had a concept in which they were eager to take forward, something in which they were super passionate about and that they have been thinking about since first year… this however was not my case at all! I had a quick brain storm and initially thought about colour as a concept. Colour has always been something that surrounds my work and within my paintings up to university level I would also use colour in creative ways to produce my outcomes. With this initial idea I started looking into colour perception such as colour blindness and researching into blindness as a whole topic as it was interesting to me how people who have never seen colour visualise it as a feeling.

I started to look at projects surrounding this idea and further research into the idea of colour perception and colour psychology in which I had touched on a bit within my dissertation. I knew I really wanted to be ambitious and push myself for my final piece of work at uni, taking advantage of opportunities I may not get again, therefore for my outcomes I want to try and do something interactive swell as branding or creating a typeface.

My initial thoughts were to brand colour blindness, create infographics, create an interactive campaign (although I wasn’t too keen on this as had already created so many campaigns during my time at university). I loosely decided on titling my topic ‘colour perceptions: an investigation into how colour is perceived’ , I submitted this as my initial idea without giving it much thought as I had to go to work so told myself I would revisit it tomorrow and finalise an idea for my project.

As I researched further into this idea of colour I felt as if it was limiting, focusing it around colour meant I had to use a lot of colour or none at all and would put a lot of stress onto this within the final outcome, following this I wasn’t quite sure what I would create from it, as I am not colour blind myself, I lacked first had experience that might be helpful for this topic. We also got sent through an email with some examples of the initial ideas of the students last year, and colour blindness was one of the topics someone used, this made me question wether to move forward with this idea. I went back to the drawing board and started mind mapping more ideas.

THE STRESS AND WATER WORKS BEGAN! Talking to friends and family about ideas for the FMP, it was apparent that it needed to be something that I was really passionate about and the sad reality was shown that I don’t seem that passionate about much and with no connection to blindness or colour blindness this idea of colour perception seemed to be heading no where. I just had no ideas and I felt I was wasting time going back and forth on ideas. After 2 breakdowns and no idea for my fmp, I had a discussion with my housemates around dinner when one of the girls mentioned how she had seem a girl walking around the library that day holding a bag of sanitary towels, putting them on her desk, getting one out and going to the toilet so blatantly, then keeping them on her desk as she proceeded to carry on with her work. My housemate went on to talk about how it was ‘weird’ that she wouldn’t put them away in her bag and saw this event as a bit of gossip to come home and tell us. This idea that it is unacceptable for woman sexual health to be seen or talked about is second nature to us as a society but why should it?

Finally I had an idea that I was passionate about: Tackling Taboos: Let’s talk about Woman’s sexual health!

AfterLife: Laura Sorvala.

Todays AfterLife was with Laura Sorvala, who graduated from Cardiff Met in 2005. She is an illustrator/ Graphic recorder who is freelance around Cardiff and London.

Graphic Recording is a new term to me, it is something that she described as drawing key ideas during events, such as scribing with drawing. Originating in the US, Laura talked about its benefit in starting collaborations to start better conversations, used as a good memory tool to retain the information that is discussed. Originally from Finland, she described graphic recording as just another visual language that she had become fluent with. this was very impressive to hear, she must have to draw at a rapid rate to keep up with the ideas talked about during events. She talked to us about the process of graphic recording, saying that drawing is only small part of what it involves, starting with: Listening, observing, synthesising (considering the main point), learning and then finally drawing. It is a way to help problem solve in a way in which I have never considered.

Laura went on to talk about her journey to becoming a freelancer, she talked about her time at uni, working on interactive design instead of working towards a portfolio. It is interesting to learn about the different ways in which the uni experience has been approached by different people, Laura took the uni opportunity to play with ideas she wanted, talking about how she didn’t plan for the future and wanted to work on things for the now. Leaving university with no portfolio was a risk for her but it eventually seemed to pay off when she got her internship at stills.

Laura also took time to talk about her many breakdowns she would have due to her job at stills, although this is upsetting to hear it is also reassuring that we all go through stuff and that this dark time in her life helped her look for new opportunities and made her realise what she really wanted to focus on and therefore became freelance. In her freelance work Laura works on producing work for social issues, wanting to make a difference in the world, thinking about the connotations of your work.

The main point that she wanted to put across is the importance of making connections! This was a good piece of information to keep at the top of my mind with whoever I meet, Laura mentioned that even if it is someone you met 5 years a go, there I still possibilities that they will contact you in later life, word of mouth is always important!