AfterLife: Kathrine Crean.

After last weeks afterlife I was super excited to listen to one this week, especially as it was from a graduate at Cardiff Met, so I was looking forward to hearing any advice she had to give and listening to her story of life after graduation as it was something I could relate to!

Kathrine is currently a junior designer at Wilderness, a social media marketing agency in London. She described her job as someone who changes the dress of pepper pig and making gifs for Game of Thrones, all of which sound right up my ally and excite me to hear about the range of different design jobs out there. She began her job at Wilderness as an intern and mentioned how finding the job after uni wasn’t a walk in the park like she expected. It took Katherine 6 months after graduation to find a job, hearing her talk about this and her struggles during this time was almost comforting in a weird way, it was helpful to know its okay to struggle and that it will all work out in the end! The journey of the job hunt has been playing on my mind a lot recently so I really valued Katherines tips for after graduation, she even shared with us good websites to find jobs, which was also super useful to know! Kathrine kept a spreadsheet of every job she applied for after graduation, although this could be painful at times to see the list to grow, it can be beneficial to have a record of all the contact information. She said to make time for job hunting, approach it as a job itself and don’t be scared of interviews as they are not as scary as you think!

Kathrine started her job at wilderness as an intern, I hadn’t considered internships previously as I feel they can often get taken advantage of within the design world, however it seemed to work in Katherine’s favour, building up her confidence again and leading to a job as a junior designer afterwards. This will be something I defo consider now when looking for a job and experience! She also talked about her experience of living in London, Moving there is defo something I have considered for my life after uni when I eventually have the money too! It was nice to hear Katherine’s positive opinion of living and working in London, as I had also questioned if I would be too much of a little fish in a big pond, it seems now that everyone feels the same, which is calming.

She described herself as a print designer, and had made a conscious effort to avoid any sort of animation at uni (sounds a lot like me!) However it is now a big part of her job, which she had been supported through at work. This was also reassuring for me to hear, that employees don’t expect you to know and be amazing at everything. As long as you show willing to learn, you will be fine!

Following the afterlife session, we were fortunate to talk to Kathrine about our ISTD projects as she was awarded a merit for her submission 2 years ago! She said she loved the concept for my work and that I needed to make it super provocative and explicit. I also took this time to ask her about her experience during ISTD, she mentioned that she pulled it all together at the last moment, which although may not be the best advice was super reassuring to hear as recently I have been scared that I’m running out of time.

Overall Kathrine was so lovely and I really valued everything she had to say, I would love to get her advice of future upcoming projects and hopefully get the chance to show her my final ISTD. Afterlife’s with past students are my favourite as I find what they have to say more relatable to my circumstance, giving me hope that I will succeed after uni.

Diss Design: Editorial Workshop

Today David and Ian held a workshop to help us think about layout for our upcoming dissertation design. I am exciting to start experimenting with this project and I am already exciting for the outcome that might come of it. As we have submitted our dissertation online it will be nice to have it printed, to have something to keep a hold of in years to come and hopefully (fingers crossed) be proud of what I have accomplished. However it is also daunting having to revisit what I have written and no doubt will pick up on spelling mistakes I may have made along the way.

We were given a document of a body copy of text with a table on it. We were also given a set of rues by David with how we could manipulate the text. The first set of rules were very limiting, we were only allowed to use one size, font, colour and weight. This was difficult as me and Amy struggled to be creative with such strict guidelines.

First Outcome

David explained to us the importance of creating a perfect body text with all the information included. Next we were instructed to introduce colour and size to push our outcomes further. This however didn’t necessarily make it easy to design, we continued to struggle with the layout of the text, neither of us felt very confident about our outcome.

Second Outcome

Finally our final outcome was able to be created with no restrictions. This excited us both a lot more as we had free range to get really creative. However this can sometimes be also limiting as there is so much free rain on the design and this can often hinder me rather than help.

It was very intretsing to see the development of our work as the set of rules were slowly taken away. It helped to show us the importance of this process in developing our work, especially when thinking about dissertation design and ISTD. It can be particularly important for these projects as they hold a mass of text which is daunting when thinking about how to deal with it.

Criticality: Setting up for formative hand in!

I knew i wanted to print my outcome big to get the most impact for my critical design, as it is a small, singlar outcome. I therefore got it printed in A2!

I think when places on the table for grading it worked really well and definatly gathered attention ans had a successful impact due to the size. The background and phone work even better when placed in an enviroment as it is easy to see the difinate contrast between the two, light and dark, busy and lonely.

I have found this project super intresting and thought provoking as it is something i have never explored before. It was fun to work with the concept placed purely on the idea instead of the outcome. This is something that scared me in my initial thoughts as I often find this is the weaker part of my design process and was encouraging to hear that my outcome had been successul in translating a strong idea, especially when second guessing myself alot on what was required.

Along with this it was incredibly intresting to see how everyone else had inturpreted the brief, some of which were very strong and inspiring to see. Overall this project has given me the chance to experiment with design in a different way using witt and avoiding problem solving in contrast to traditional methods.

Criticality: Development.

Back to the drawing board I go trying to think of a different way I could translate my concept in a more obvious way. I began to think of using instagram notifications as a way to show the truth behind the likes, making it more obvious and out right saying what the likes actually mean.

I filled a phone with 6 notifications from different people, labelling the real reason while each person liked the photo. Simple but effective, this outcomes works the best out of the three created as it is obvious and not disracting from the reasoning of the project.

I went forward with this idea and presented it to Theo in a tutorial. I was unsure wether the outcome was too basic or too obvious, needing more information or less information. I showed it to Theo without any explanation and he immediately said it worked very well. this was a relief as I was scared I had missed the mark with the design. My peers within the tutorial also seemed to like concept and the execution of my outcome, which I was really pleased with. Theo suggested that to bring this further I could add personality to the outcome. Currently my design is floating, with the default apples screen. It was suggested that I try adding a screensaver of some sort, maybe something that showed the fake ness of social media such as a typical girls night out picture. Suggestions were also made to juxtapose this with an empty background.

I started by trying to change the screensaver of my design. I really wanted it to feature a lot of people and something that would be seen as people having a good time. This was more difficult than you would expect! Every picture I used would be covered up by the notifications which made it difficult to see the image. This is something I struggled with. As you can see from the images above a lot of the pictures I used that featured a lot of people worked the least well due to the faces filling the middle of the screen. Because of this it was important the makes sure the picture was spread out so the image could be seen above and below the notifications. After going through a lot of my night out pictures that me and my friends took to hopefully get a good instagram (guilty) I finally decided on an image that I felt filled the page the best.

After this it was important to find a background which could translate the right tone of my outcome I began experimenting with the use of empty seats. Taking an image of empty lecture seats at university.

These were my outcomes using the empty seats. I wanted too show the emptiness to reality even if you are getting a lot of likes on a instagram image. I showed this to some of my peers which I shared my tutorial with and they said that the background it s bit too distracting and taking away from the main image itself. From then I went to play with different backgrounds.

I tried playing with locations around my house, one in the lounge and one in my bedroom to show a true reality of peoples lives. The bedroom I found too distracting as it was too messy and didn’t seem to give the right tone. The lounge I felt worked a lot better, not only was it empty, the dark light gave it a sombre feeling, which I felt helped to reflect the sad reality of life vs social media. An almost depressing background to a lively screen which shows fake popularity and friendships.

I carried on playing with backgrounds. continuing with this idea of a lounge I took more clean cut picture of a lounge of the internet, made it darker and increased the shadows then adding a blur to try and stop any attention from veering elsewhere on the page. I then played with something slightly different using an empty bare space an again blurring the image. My idea behind the empty bar space was to show how people try to be social on social media even when that isn’t the reality, showing a bar as empty almost to show how this person has no friends or fake friends, reflecting the truth of the notifications. I sent both of these to my peers and got contrasting opinions. It proved the hardest part of the task, trying to decide which would fit best with the outcome. Both I believed fitted well into the outcome for different reasons but I couldn’t decide which one fitted the best. i deliberated for hours going back and fourth on both the outcomes. It was decided by me that the top 4 outcomes werent right, although the dark lounge fitted well, the hand looked too obvious as a mock up and i thought this made the outcome look a bit silly. I started to veer towards thr lounge for the final outcome, this is because although the bar worked well it needed more explaining and it is important that the outcomes for this project speaks for itself. The background was also at risk of being too distracting, so the lounge outcome it is!

Criticality: Playing with the Concept.

I started of brain storming some initial ideas that came to my mind when I began thinking about criticality and what I wanted to portray. I initially started my ISTD project by researching into the lies behind likes on social media and the fake environment in which it generates, hindering self esteem. I thought it may be interesting to pick up where I left of with this research and portray it in my critical design. Perhaps looking into Tinder and the problems that it creates with cat fishing, fuck boys and fake images.

I began by thinking about the idea of the fake images that are portrayed on social media. I wanted to take my focus away from idea of photoshop and facetune on images and more on the reality of the event behind the photo. I have often found that within the instagram world, my peers will post picture of their nights out claiming it was the ‘best night ever’ when in reality that is fair from the truth. Through talking to my peers I discovered that my friend had tackle this issue before in her degree.

Above is an example that my friend created to show the reality behind the truth. When talking to her friends she discovered that it was common that people pretend a night out was fun even when it was terrible. We seem to always want to portray this image that we’re living our best lives when that is sometimes far from the reality. I think this successfully shows the reality of the fake news on instagram, simply but effective and is sadly super relatable to my generation.

After a discussion with Theo, we talked about how the word ‘Like’ and how it has been destabilised by social media. Like no longer means that you like something or someone, it now seems to have a vast verity of meanings, such as getting someones attention, as an act of pettiness, only liking cause your friend told you so or paying for a like. This was something I find quiet interesting and Theo seemed to agree and suggested I look into Jacques Derrida’s theory of deconstruction.

Derrida’s theory tailed about dismantling loyalty to any idea once examined closely as all ideas are riddled with falseness. A theory which successfully supports what I am trying to portray in my outcome.

Initial Designs

The design to the left is my first attempt at critical design, I wanted to show what people truly mean when they “like” something. Exploring the concept that a like on instagram is more complicated and has more meanings than just purely liking an image.

I began to tackle this issue by recreating an instagram like page where it has their true meanings of the like below the users name. Using titles such as ‘cereal liker’ ‘fancy you’ ‘paid for’ to show why someone would actual like the image.

Im not 100% sure if this correctly represents the message I wanna portray and whether this is a successful critical outcome? I am finding it difficult to think of other ways this would be shown.

I then played again with a different way in which I could convey this message. Moving my focus over to Facebook likes, I experimented with changing the like options that pop up on Facebook when you go to like a post. Changing them from the regular laughing, love, wow, sad and angry react to the reality of only the like itself.

However I’m unsure if this strictly makes sense as it it showing different ways you can like and not expressing a hidden meaning. I shared this idea with my peers and they agreed that on its own it didn’t represent my message well and as a idea based project this would come as a big issue. So I’ve gone back to the drawing board to think of more ways in which I can show my problem in a successful critical deisgn.

Criticality: Brief and Research.

Criticality came across as a daunting project during Theo’s briefing, leaving everyone a little confused with what exactly we were being tasked to do. It took me a little while to wrap my head around it but examples shown by Theo and conversations with my peers help to clarify exactly what was being asked.

The main point that I took away from the briefing was that the idea behind the concept was more important than the outcome. I found that they best way to describe criticality design was that it doesn’t solve the problem, it shows the problem. I found this most useful after looking at a previous outcome by a student:

Titled ‘Apocalypse’, we can see how a student has renamed all the Apps to show the true reality of the Apps. This outcome is humour but also provocative, it successfully highlights an issue but doesn’t solve it!

When researching into Criticality design, I found the Dunne and Raby website particularly helpful for inspiration. The describe critical design as:

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.

Its opposite is affirmative design: design that reinforces the status quo.

They go on to discuss how it is there to make us think. It aids to raise awareness, expose assumptions, provoke action and spark debate. It is also interesting to see how they talk about humour being an important part of critical design ‘satire is the goal’.

I began by looking at their previous products to help me understand critical design and get inspiration.

‘Is This Your Future’ 2004

This project by Dunne and Raby forces people to think about the future. Aimed at children 7 – 14, it is said to explore hypothetical products to explore the ethical, cultural and social impact of different energy futures. They achieve this by creating hypothetical senorioes of what the future of energy might look at such as bio-fuel created from human waste, domestic hydrogen production and child labour. Dunne and Raby explain how each senorio is baed on real technology, making people think what would happen if this became our main source of energy.

Humour is defiantly achieved here with a scary sense of reality. This project helped me see the type of outcomes which become critical design.


The WePlug is a piece of critical design that makes people think before turning on a light and using energy.

Every day the average person in the western world consumes about 75 kilowatt-hours a day. It takes about one pound of coal to produce one kilowatt-hour. This means every day the average person indirectly burns about 75 pounds of coal. Every time we turn on a light or leave the fridge door open we are throwing more coal into the furnace. We burn this coal because we don’t think about it. Turning on a light is just a flick of the switch, to charge your laptop — just plug it in.

The WePlug requires people to perform small task in order to use this energy to make it less of a comfortable task. In this clever project we see the use of pumping up the plug to get it to work and turning the crack to your desired time of energy. The designers here have made the user aware of the consequence of their actions in a playful and fun way, to target a scary reality.


Shameless is a piece of critical design that shows the shame and embarissment in product packaging and advertisement. In a similar outcome as the Apps above, it is shown what the true reality of these products are really saying.


This critical design products I would say is my favourite. The idea and design is simple but so effective and executed perfectly. I think it perfectly encapsulates showing the problem without solving it in a humours way.

Alcoholibrium is a glass that instead of enabling people to drink, actually makes them aware of the threats this desire pose on their lives.

Alcohol consumption can have many serious damage on our health and wellbeing. It effects the human condition mentally and physically and can in some cases put others in danger as well. As alcohol effects peoples stability, the glass in Alcholibrium is made to reflect this, to show people the consequences of drinking the liquid.

Alcoholibrium aims to raise the awareness of the user about the consequences of drinking too much alcohol. The glass invites an interaction from which users can recognize some of the effects of alcohol consumed in excess. As the glass is filled with alcohol it gradually begins to oscillate and lean and if filled to capacity it will eventually fall. This mimics the effect that high quantities of alcohol have on people, affecting their stability and judgment and transmitting the idea that a large amount of alcohol can be harmful. Secondly, it tries to limit the amount of alcohol drunk by extending consumption time. This will reduce the overall influence that alcohol has on the body and mind, also encouraging people to enjoy the taste of the drink for a longer time in a responsible way. 

Five Forks

This images uses critical to explore the idea of the difficulty of the cutting process, venturing from hard to impossible. The idea comes from the future vision of living in a low meat diet.

Although criticality started off as a daunting project, the more research I do into it, the more excited I am getting to create an outcome. I am excited to tackle a different something task, which I haven’t been faced with before, allowing the work to speak primarily on its own, which I think will help me massively in creating future work. Ideas are something which I struggle with on projects and with this being a solely ideas based project, I am a bit scared.

Afterlife: Martin Grugel.

Today was the first AfterLife of the new year and designer Martin Grugel from award winning communications consultancy, Golly Slater here in Cardiff has come to talk to us about his design journey. Martin wanted to talk us through his artistic journey that lead him to where he is today. Martin talked about his love for drawing and how this helped aid his way into the creative world, starting at college and following that central St Martins and his jobs that followed. This I found super interesting to see how he started from small jobs and worked his way up to where he is today.

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Martin began by telling us how uni allowed him to think differently and more lateral about art and design, it helped open up boundaries that he may of once had and allowed him to explore all sorts of different materials and outcomes which in effect really helped him to grow as a designer. This is something I also think has resinated with me throughout uni, allowing me to tackle problems in ways I wouldn’t have before, having the opportunity to open up my mind to new possibilities.

Unfortunately with no uni work to show, Martin continued by talking about his first job he got in Swansea after uni. He showed us a brief he got to design a luxury clothing band for Swansea football club and how he got to his outcome. I found it interesting to see how the research that he did around the brand identity helped him to create this final logo. It was clear that he really wanted the ethos of the football club to shine through which I feel he achieved very successfully. Hearing this really helped me to see the importance of research, I feel that in my previous years at uni this is why my work may have lacked, and the importance of research is becoming more clear to me than ever and it was nice to see this example in martins work.

Martin then talked about his transition to become freelance, he opened his ‘nosugarstudio’  and talked about creating work that was clean, intelligent and details, stuff in which he was very proud of. Martin did briefly touch upon the transition into freelance and discussed its hardships. Martin didn’t seem eager to go back to freelance, although he found it challenged himself and he talked about how it gave him flexibility however empathised how it was important to understand that sometimes sadly you don’t get paid for your jobs when working freelance, loosing money he said was sadly part of it.

After talking a bit more about himself and his journey he then showed us a project to brand a museum, that he was working on in Golly Slater. The military museum of medicines, was what they had to brand and their outcomes were so good! Martin talked about needed to create 2-3 logos for a company when they ask for one. The importance of researching around the topic was stressed again and was clear to see the intelligence behind this in his outcomes.

A key take away from his talk was “don’t be precious, take it all onboard!” – Martin talked about how a lot of times you will produce some work that your really proud off, however the client may not and you’ll have to start designing something different, it is important to take this on board and not be too precious with your work!! Martin also stressed the importance of creating for pleasure. He takes it upon himself to teach himself software such as aftereffects and cinema4D on the way home to create some fun and silly designs which he said helped him to continue his love for design and keep his creativity flowing.

It was clear to see that Martin got to the position he is in today by working hard from the bottom up. This gives me inspiration that hard work, graft and ambition can help you when I begin to try and work within the industry. He stressed the importance to make yourself heard when applying for jobs, sending mailers and turning up at the door, personally contacting specific people. Determination seems to have got him far and this is something that I found truly inspirational.

It was a pleasure listening to Martin, he was very inspirational and I cannot wait to see all the new work he produces!! Thanks for coming Martin!!!


Professional Practise initial thoughts.

AfterLife is something that I have looked forward to this coming term as I am excited to take inspiration from these talks that will hopefully help me guide what I what to go on to do after uni.

The future and what my plan is after uni has been something that has been circling my mind a lot recently. Going into the unknown is a daunting thing with no ‘next step’ of education which I have until this point followed. I am nervous to be going into the working world and have often questioned my capability and wether I will be good enough in the real world. I have found hearing others stories through AfterLife and talks with people I know, helpful to settle my nerves as it seems everyone felt the same way.

I am leaning towards wanting to work in a creative agency to gain some knowledge. At this moment in time I want to work within the branding and marketing sector, working for big corporations instead of freelancing. I enjoy being part of a team and giving design input which may be something to consider when going forward with my life. I am also excited with the prospect of working in other countries and cities, travelling around and seeing the world, something in which I have always wanted to do but haven’t yet had the chance to. By biggest fear is leaving university and not being able to get a job. I was recently having a conversation with my work colleague who graduated from Brighton studying illustration a year or two ago, this conversation opened my eyes to the hardships of working within a creative industry as she discussed her struggles to get work and the constant requirement for work experience on cv’s.

Penguin: Research and Initial Concept.

For the penguin book cover design this year I decided to create a cover for the childrens book ‘Goodnight Mister Tom.’

I had heard good things about this book before the penguin competition, so I thought I would take this opportunity to finally read the book and find out what it was all about.

After reading up on reviews it came to my surprised the dark topics that are touched upon within this book. As the selection for the children’s title I didn’t expect that abuse would be the main theme throughout. When reading the book and watching the movie I found it a very emotional and moving story line, however it worried me on how I could portray all this in a child friendly cover.

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I started to look at the already existing covers from the book to see what predictable cliches are out there so I could try and avoid them. Through looking at all the designs it was clear to notice Mister Tom and Willy were the centre of most of the covers so I knew this was something I needed to stay clear of, along with the predicatble ideas around ww2, such as suitcases and identification tags.

I know that I want my design to have a playful essence to it, something that will attract young people to pick it up and read it. I think I will initially start sketching images that can be used, to give it a less commercial and a more hand made approach, something that I think will come across as more child friendly.

When thinking about the events within the story, the symbol of the belt is something that has stood out to me that perfectly contrasts the personality’s of mr. Tom and Willys mum. The contrast of good and bad within the book; when Willys mum sends mr. tom the belt insinuating to whip him if he steps out of line, Mr. Tom throw the belt away believing an act like that is wrong. The belt is also the catalyst that makes Mr.Tom go and find willy back in London, after fearing something bad has happened to him.

Along with this I also had the idea of drawing the air raid shelter, a task which helped bond mr.tom and willy throughout the book.

I began by sketching down a couple ideas, the best I believe came as a somewhat success, with the concept spurring in my head to pull it across front and back. However the shelter I thought looked a bit silly, the drawing may make it a but difficult to see what it was and it might be something in which you’d children don’t understand.

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Sadly I have a lack of water colour paints at my uni house, which was originally how I wanted to colour the belt. Because of this I had to make do with that I had and used a mixture of coloured pencils and brown and copper eyeshadows (nessessity is the mother of invention 😉 ) to give life to my drawing. I think the collaboration of both mediums perfectly enhanced the sort of used and worn look of the belt that I wanted to portray. This belt had seen some nasty things and I almost wanted the viewer to be able to see this when looking at it.

Th fact that you can see the pencil marks as well is something that was key to my design to making it ‘child like’.

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Continuing this I played with the coloured pencils more as a back ground to the design. Sticking to the blue theme which seems to be commonly used throughout the previously designed book covers; it is able to represent the somber environment of London as well as the peaceful surroundings of the country.

Working with cross hatching fo the colour pencil was fun to play around with. visiting tools I haven’t touched since primary school successfully reflected this young target audience of the book.

To compliment the child-like theme, I wanted to include hand rendered type. Using a felt tip I spend ages writing and re writing the title, author and blurb or the book – although this was a long winded task, I feel like it defiantly helps to achieve the overall look I was aiming for with this design, although some text may need a bit more work!

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After a long play with different backgrounds I settled for a solid back ground colour and included raindrops as another key theme within the book.

I feel like the cover defiantly needs more work and I question to myself wether the belt is too predictable for the book itself. They constantly talk about avoiding cliches so I wonder wether including the belt is setting myself up for failure? The the hand designed feel of the cover however is successful and exactly what I wanted to represent within the cover.

I will proceed to play with this cover and maybe experiment with a few more different outcomes before submission.