Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Blog posting 3 - REFLECTION

This project has opened my eyes to a world of opportunities and has led me to realise that as a freelancer the possibilities can be endless if you are open to working with other people. Before this project I would never have thought of putting my prints onto ceramics, and I feel I have learnt more about 3D design in general, which has led me to think about how my practice fits into the wider commercial design world, and considering my work outside of the confines of fashion print.

I have also discovered that varying my working routine can benefit my final product, as although it is good to have a method that works I have realised that it is also important to work in a way that suits the project – for instance, I usually stick to research, drawing, then printmaking, but in this project I started doing printmaking earlier on in the process, and then went back and did more drawing and research, which led to a more considered final product. Having never worked on such a large scale before, it was a steep learning curve understanding how my seemingly tiny prints on a computer screen would look printed full size.

I really tried to fully immerse myself in the project, as I really wanted to design a strong response to the client brief. I feel I engaged very well with my theme mainly because I did plenty of research throughout the project, so I had plenty to work from. I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop activities, as it was a great reflection on the world of networking, and the fact I got plenty of feedback from potential collaborators shows I was able to sell my ideas well. I found the mixing and changing of the tutorial groups really beneficial, as you got the input of a wider range of people, and I felt I had plenty of comments to offer in the early project stages. Even though I didn’t collaborate with anyone on the end product, I felt I always had a strong team of people around me that were involved in every stage of the design process. I was quick to offer others my knowledge, such as helping Eden with Photoshop and discussing our InDesign woes, and comparing ideas with Julia, but I also benefitted from group collaboration, such as the drawing workshop.

I think overall I made good choices when it came to my final designs; I thought hard about print placement and considered where to place images so that they were the right way up when the scarf is worn, and understood that product research was key in helping me understand this. I also think the choice to combine photographs and drawings worked really well, particularly in my illustrated visualisations, as it immediately gave the viewer a feel for the theme. I was pleased with the fabric choice, but I feel I should have done more fabric testing to prevent the colours coming out wrong in my digital prints. I also should have taken into consideration the open weave of the cotton voile and therefore avoided finer line that is easily lost.

I think I could improve upon my attention to detail within my design work, which was sometimes lacking – having never designed on such a large scale before, I didn’t quite realise how much a small mistake would be magnified on the final product. I would also like to improve upon my InDesign skills, as I attempted to create a publication but in the timescale it was too much work to do at once, so I ended up having to drop it.

Creating a coherent collection that reflected my aim to create my own baroque patterns using ambiguous objects inspired by the National Trust, was as important to me as making a saleable end product. I have discovered that I really enjoy combining unexpected items and motifs into historically inspired patterns, and this is a theme I would like to continue in future work. My other key motivation in this project was to create a product that was market ready, as I wanted to prove to myself that being a freelance print designer could be a viable option when I leave university. Thinking about the branding for example, has made me think about the product as a whole and has made me realise that I could actually see myself having my own brand in the future. 

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Exhibition prep

Now that my collection has been finalised, this week has just been all about getting ready for the exhibition. I decided to pick just two to print, choosing one dark and one pale so as to reflect both sides of the collection. I did have to over come a few problems however, as I had to make my prints smaller as the new roll of cotton voile fabric that came in was smaller than usual. So my digital fabric prints are now around 140cm x 50cm, which is obviously is a scaled down version of what I had designed them to be but still displays how my prints would look as an end product.

After Sally suggested I continue the branding I started looking into in the last project, I decided to mock  up a box to help show how the scarves would be sold. Below is the lid I designed, based on elements of the scarves, and designed to show off the baroque element of the project. 


I knew that I needed to show my scarves as visualisations to show what they would look like as a final product, but it took me rather a while to decide what medium would be appropriate for the project. I didn't want to just put them on simple photographs, I really wanted the visualisations to be as interesting as the scarves themselves, without overpowering the prints. I was so pleased when I hit upon the idea of doing illustrations of women from Taton Park, using portrait paintings and sculptures from the National Trust archives as a basis for my stylised drawings. I think it is a perfect way to tie together the project, and would be a great way for each individual Trust shop to display these scarves, as they could use portraits based on the historic people from the site. I also think the combination of using Photoshop displace on a photo of fabric against the illustration worked well, as it ensures that the scarf is what stands out. 

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Final Designs

These are the final 8 designs for the scarf collection. I decided to choose 4 blue/green designs and 4 pink/purple designs to have a nice balance of contrast in the collection. I'm really pleased with the final outcome as I think it perfectly fits everything I was hoping to achieve - a baroque feel inspired by and using elements from the National Trust Archives and Taton Park, traditional enough to appeal to current customers, but with a modern twist that would bring in younger customers too. As the scarves are designed to be produced at a 180cm x 70cm size, it can be hard to see the detail in the images about, so below are some close ups of the prints to show some of the detailed motifs used. 

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Digital print experiments

So I began to have a play around with the baroque frame motifs I had made, and as pretty as they are, they felt a little flat and I simply just don't like them. As I don't use brushes very often I've been finding it tricky to make them do what I am visualising in my head, so I tried to play around with them a bit more, add a few more layers and a better mix of colours. 

Above is a selection of prints I made using the changes I previously mentioned, and I think this more varied approach has been very effective. I like how the prints use a lot of bright colours yet the combination and ratios they are not overpowering or lurid, which I think would appeal to current National Trust customers, yet also target a younger market. I want to push these designs further so that I have an interesting mix to choose my final collection from.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Blog posting 2 - INVESTIGATIONS

In the past I have generally stuck to drawing and painting as a starting point for motif making, as I know it is a system that works well for me; but I have found it very beneficial taking a different approach and being more experimental early on in the project as I have created some striking imagery to work into my prints. I have learnt that it is also good to vary my content, and I think that more bold and graphic motifs contrasted with my usual softer line drawings will create some interesting prints. I really enjoyed using collage in my last project, so it has been good to further push my skills with this technique. Doing the Patternmash brief has also really helped my work, as I started to think about the layout of prints much earlier than I usually would in a project; in the future it may help to start playing around with print layouts at the same time as drawing motifs so that I can create drawings for a particular purpose, rather than my usual pattern of drawing then print making.

Even though I did not collaborate with anyone to create my final product, the collaborative side of the project has had a big impact on my work. The fact that there were very few other print students who picked this option meant that I’ve pushed myself to interact with students from other areas. I have found it really beneficial seeking advice and opinions from the weave students as they have a very different approach to textiles (for instance, I would usually have not have considered making my own tassels for my scarves before they suggested it), and I feel I can offer them more design based advice, such as helping Eden with her Photoshop skills. On plenty of occasions I have met up with illustration student Julia to talk through our ideas, which has been so useful to get her opinion on my work as I have a very illustrative style, and she has made me realise that there are many options out there other than just fabric-based outcomes. This is also the case with talking to the 3D design students; it has been so interesting seeing their take on the project, and even though I haven’t ended up collaborating with a ceramics student, I felt that the collaborative drawing workshop we did really helped to kick start ideas in my project. I definitely think that I would like to collaborate with students from other disciplines again as it has made me look at my own practice with fresh eyes.

I have played around with materials and drawing styles in this project, using papercuts to create lace-like patterns that could be turned into brushes on Photoshop. After playing around with different techniques I decided I wanted to reflect this strong graphic feel in my drawings, so I used pen and gouache to make drawings that looked like they could be paper cuts. Although they would translate very well as screen prints, I want to use Photoshop for its ability to really layer up stencil images with drawings, textures and photographs. 

I loved the idea of collaborating on a ceramic piece with one of the 3D design students, but discussions with tutors made me realise that it would benefit my practice to work further with scarves, and in the time scale of this project it made more sense to work with techniques that I already know to create a really slick end product. I have designed square scarves in the past but they are usually placement prints designed to focus on the corners, whereas long scarves are worn totally differently, so I want the focus of the print to be on the ends. I understand the importance of knowing my market place, so I did further research to see what type of scarves the National Trust already sell, looked at high street stores for a price range comparison, and looked at higher end brands for pattern, scale and colour inspiration, all of which has given me a clearer idea of what I think will sell well print-wise. As one of the key points of a prints success is the colour, I have spent tome putting together a colour palette that I think reflects the project, with a mix or muted and brighter colours.

I definitely want to digitally print some of my scarves to show the viewer how my prints would look in a final context, so to do so in time I have made a day-by-day plan of what needs doing so that my fabric can be printed in time for the exhibition. This means that in the next few days I really need to concentrate on creating prints so that I can swiftly move onto finalising designs. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Colour swatch

Finally decided on a colour swatch for my prints. I'm pleased with the final selection as it gives me a variety of feminine warm colours, with a mix of soft pales with some brash brights for contrast. The above images were my initial inspiration, but I was worried that they might create to broad a colour stripe. I selected the warm, rich tones of brown, gold, red and soft green from the library interior, the cool pale blue and pink shades from the plaster-work in the ceiling, and the bright colours of foliage and flowers from the greenhouses, giving me rich green and hot pink. I didn't want to stick to just my photos from Taton, so I collected the images show with my stripe to try and reflect what I want to show through my prints.