Thursday, 19 November 2009

A9: In retrospect

When we were issued the A9 brief, I knew we didn’t have much time to complete this project in relation to the to the previous sites, and for that reason I wasted no time in getting started.

The actual designing of the website proved a little harder and longer than I expected. This was because I was not satisfied with my initial designs, and I ended up going around in circles for some time.

When it actually came to the build of the website, as with the previous site, I was quite
daunted at first, because this time there was the PHP and JavaScript to be incorporated. Using these scripts were all new to me, however most of it, was easier than I anticipated, and it was quite enjoyable see it work at the end.

Another rewarding part was been able to involve my own photography again. Photography is a medium I always like to incorporate given the opportunity. The challenge on this occasion however was taking an everyday mundane object and portraying it in an interesting way.

The end result of the design and photography was quite pleasing, and I think I did what I set out to achieve, however, I feel at some point I need to step out of my comfort zone, and instead of always opting for the clean, minimal design look, maybe go for some thing more experimental, rustic, or opposite to what I normally produce.
There will be opportunities to build more sites, so I will need to put this in to practice at some point. This will also show more variation in my folio.

In terms of the technical aspect, overall, I am quite pleased with the project outcome, and once again my knowledge, and skills has improved. I am looking forward to building more sites, however, from now on, each new site I take on, I intend to incorporate something new, whether it is PHP or Javascript, or something else.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Interview Questions

For an employer interviewing a potential employee for a Web designers Job Vacancy.

1. Tell me about your self?

I think this is a good question to start an interview with because it is not a common question, also it may catch the interviewee off guard. I feel it is important to find as much about the potential employee as you can, from this you can deduce whether they have the potential to fit in the place of work.

2. Why do you want to be a web designer?

I would ask this question to find out their personal motives, what drives them, if they are really passionate about the trade, dedicated, and whether the position is suitable for them.

3. What do you know about us, and why would you like to work for us?

By asking this you will find out if they have researched the company, if they have done their “home work” it shows they are keen, and serious about the job, which is a good attribute. Finding out their personal motives for applying, evaluating whether they could make a good contribution to the company, and if they are a good team player.

4. Give me at least five reasons why should I choose you for the job

This may be asking a little too much, but putting the interviewee on the spot with a question like this puts a bit of pressure on them, also it would be interesting to see how they react, and if they could answer with five acceptable reasons.

5. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why?

A popular question, however, I think it is an important question to be asked. This would give an insight to their knowledge, skills, honesty, confidence, and whether they are capable of doing the work required. If the person is uneconomical with the truth, this may show up later, if they are accepted.

6. Where do you look for inpsiration?

Another important question, finding out how the person operates, where they look for inspiration, and their knowledge of Art and Contempory Visual Communication. This will determine whether they have intregrity, and being able to work off their own ingenuity.

7. How do you react under pressure?

To know how the person works under pressure is important, because the design trade is a highly pressured industry,
and to work under stress is imperative for a graphic/web designer.

8. Where would you like to be in three years time?

By asking this question you will find out what the persons long term plans are, whether they want to work for you short term, or stay long term. This will give an idea if they are a suitable candidate for the postion.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Chosen Job Advertisement: Graphic/Web Designer

After browsing several jobs jobs in this field, and much careful thought, I decided to choose the job advertisement above. There are a few reasons for this choice:

Firstly, the job on offer covers print, web design and branding, which means one would have to quite versatile to work in this environment. To me, a role as a print and web designer would be more interesting than specialising in a particular area. The daily challenges would vary, there is more creative scope, and you wouldn’t be always stuck be doing the same thing. Ultimately I would like to work in both web and print, which is why I find this job appealing.

I also have print design, art-working experience, and some branding knowledge. The software
requirements for this job are not out of my depth either, I use most of the applications on a daily basis, and the others for example: Quark, which I have worked on in past, I could easily brush up on.

Another reason for my choice is that, at this stage of my study I wouldn’t feel confident enough to tackle the role of a developers job. I do have a basic understanding of XHTML, CSS, and intend to learn PHP, and Javascript, however, my knowledge in this field is not vast, and I think at this moment time it would be over ambitious to apply for such a role. When looking at my level of ability, I would feel more comfortable applying for the role of a print/web designer, working in an environment where I could expand my knowledge, and eventually build up to a front end developers level one day.

From what I have mentioned above it is apparent of what my strengths and weaknesses are.
So far I have been impressed with my learning curve, and my ability to take the bull by both horns on some occasions, but there is so much more to learn. The XHTML, and CSS seems to falling in to place now, I just need an understanding of PHP and JavaScript, and what else could prove useful. The current brief will help me in doing this, then it is just a case of keeping it up, and producing more websites.

My action plan is:

To build on my XHTML and CSS, to a level where I can hand code, without using Dreamweaver.
To learn PHP and JavaScript, or have a good understanding of both.
Learn WordPress.

Maybe several months down the line I will be saying something different. Hopefully by then
I wouldn’t be so daunted by a developers role.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Glad to be back

In all honesty, after the long summer break, I must say It is nice to have some order
and direction in my life again. The break has been a relaxing period, however for me, too long, andrelaxing. Over the summer period I managed get some design work which was print based, but not enough web work as I wanted.

We were issued with our first brief last Wednesday. I knew this was going to be a bit of a shock to the system, in terms of time management, organisation etc, for that reason I have wasted little time and I got stuck in straight away.

The first phase of the A9: Up Your Street has gone quite well in terms of,ideas generation, taking my own photos, research, etc. The deadline for phase one is on the 7th October, which gives us two weeks. After that the final phase (another two weeks) is developing the web site, which I must admit I am finding this quite daunting at the moment, because this time we have to incorporate new languages like Java script (for the gallery) and a PHP (for the contact form), both of which are new to me.

The sooner I get the site design finished the better, this means I can use time gained to learn what needs to be done for the Java script and PHP.

That apprehension I had last year before the A5 builder brief has come back to haunt me again.
Hopefully once again I hope I can prove my doubts wrong.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

A time to reflect

When I submitted the A1 Sketchblog and A7 Rasterised projects in on Tuesday I must say I had a mixture of feelings, and emotions. Part of me was happy and relieved to have completed the last assignments, and to have made it to the the end of the first year (which around Christmas I doubted), the other part still apprehensive about whether I had made a silly mistake on the assignment, or that I might get referred. The thought of that still lingers a the back of my mind, and will only go to rest when I have found my results. Hopefully the outcome will be positive, then I can wind down slightly and enjoy the summer period, however I don’t intend to wind down too long, as I have have work lined up all ready to keep me ticking over that period, which will hopefully put me in good stead for the second year.

It seems like yesterday when we had to write our first journal entry, and in all honesty I never anticipated the first year would go by so quick. In a way, this year has kind of been a wake up call, it has made me appreciate and manage my time better, and has stopped me wishing my life away.

I remember quite clearly when we were issued with the first brief A2 (Journey of 1000 miles), my anxiety at the time, bonding with new people, the fear of failure, getting use to the education system again, and having so many other things to take on board. Now looking back I seem to wonder what all the fuss was about. Every brief issued gave me some form of anxiety at the beginning, but yet as always everything always seemed to work out, (with much hard work of course). This is something else I have learned during the year, not to take things too seriously, which I often did, to a level where sometimes it affected the enjoyment of my study.

The A2 brief was a nice way of breaking us in to the course. It introduced me to new terminology, it gave me time to get use to college life again, and improve my writing skills, which were rusty indeed. I must admit at the time I just wanted to jump in the deep end and crack on with the design, and I was a little bit peeved with been issued with the A2 assignment at first. However I soon realised the importance of the it, and how it prepared us for the A3 (Sounds Like a Plan), and the fact that you cant run before you walk.

For me A3 project along with the A5 (Builder) were the hardest briefs of the year. The A3 was hard in terms of the volume of work we had to cover, research, write up, and prepare. The A5
was hard technically, as we were introduced to the XHTML, and CSS, which was totally new to me. It was while working on the A5 I think I changed for the better on the course, as I had serious doubts at one stage whether I could deliver the goods. Like I mentioned above, everything worked out.

The hardest aspect of the course for me was balancing my job with the college work.
Apart from helping me fund the course the long stressful shifts in the kitchen did not help my studies, especially at Christmas time, the busiest period of the year. When enrolling on the course I thought I could work 40 plus hours a week and still have time to study, that was not the case.

Another spanner in the works was an operation I had on my foot. Because of this I was unable to work for ten weeks, and as result I ran out of funds towards the end of the the course. Fortunately the college helped me out a great deal, and I was able to overcome my financial difficulties. In a way the operation was a blessing in disguise (apart from the pain), as I had to have time off to recover. This meant I was able to spend more time on my course work.

From that experience, I aim to to do is save up enough money over the summer period to cover next years fees and costs, this will ease the pressure of having to so many hours, which will enable me to focus, and commit more time to the course.

My targets for next year are build on what I have learnt so far, in terms of design and code.
I aim to further develop my knowledge of XHTML, and CSS, and hopefully delve in to some ecommerce. I would also like to learn Action Script as I have always been interested in learning Flash, or to be able to incorporate Flash elements in to a website.

In terms of next years grades, I don’t want to sound over ambitious, but I would like to aim for merit and above. At first I thought it would be near impossible to achieve that (especially, when I got referred on the A2 brief), as there is so much criteria to meet, but taking on board the experience I have gained so far I am fairly optimistic I can achieve some good grades nest year.

Overall I am happy with the way the first year has gone, and my progress. Up to press it has been an enjoyable experience, however, there is so much more to learn. I am really looking forward to the second year, when I can build on the skills I have developed, and better my self as a designer. I am also looking forward to the live project, where we will have the opportunity to go out build a website for a client, then eventually it will be time to find a job in what I have trained to do. I am sure that time will come soon.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

The End is Near

With the deadline of the A7 Rasterised brief in sight, things do seem to be going to plan.
Up to press the project has gone considerably well, and I have had more time than usual to dedicate my self to the brief.

The first part of the brief was quite awkward at first, as I didn’t want to go down the obvious route. After developing several concepts to logos, I found I still wasn’t happy with the logos I had created, because of that I decided to create more, until I came up with one I was satisfied with. I thought this would be fairly easy to start with, however this proved to be more difficult than I expected.

The actual process of designing the CD cover went better than I expected too. As the chosen album was quite minimal, and abstract, I wanted to reflect this theme in my design.
This also involved using my own photography, which I always try to do, however the weather wasn’t great when I was out taking the photographs, so I had to make do with what I had.

We have two weeks left yet before submission, and so far so good.
Ideally I want to finish the assignment quite early, this will give me time
to proof the work, and make sure I haven’t made any silly mistakes.
Hopefully the outcome will be positive.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Biting the Bullet

On Monday we received our feedback, and results from our latest completed project, the A5 Builder. This has probably been the most difficult brief so far for me, as it was my first experience of building a web site in XHTML, and CSS.

At first I found the introductions on these languages very hard to digest, which for a while made me doubt my performance on the course. After much research, practice, and tutorials, everything started to fall into place, eventually my web page began to look like my initial design.

I have been offered web design work in the past, but because of my lack of knowledge in this domain I have avoided this subject over the years, which is why I eventually enrolled on the this course. So when finally I was confronted with building my site this for me was more than just a college brief, it was like biting the bullet, or facing the music. In retrospect I think this was the reason I was so apprehensive at the beginning of the course.

Because of a recent foot operation, I have had much more time to devote myself to the course over the last several weeks. If I was working the same long hours as during the early stages of the course, I would have struggled with this brief, especially my time management.

Given my pessimistic nature, to start with, I thought this brief would be the making or breaking of me, but once again I proved my doubts wrong.

I am delighted with my performance, and my results. My aim now is to keep it up over the summer, which will hopefully put me in good stead for the second year.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Signal: Robotron, Album Review

With its minimalist, hypnotic rhythmic beats, energy pulses, clicks, and bristling static sounds, Signal-Robotron, was released in 2007 by Raster-Noton, this cutting edge album will most definitely be sought by keen minimal electronic music enthusiasts. It reminds me of a set played by the music producer and DJ Sven Vath back in 1999, when I was then a regular visitor to certain venues of industrial, and minimal Techno music, such as the Orbit in Morley, near Leeds. With Raster Noton’s electronic wizardry, this also evokes memories of another German group called Kraftwerk, who treaded into a similar domain around thirty years ago. My own personal interest in electronic music stems from being a child, listening to my mother, playing the music of Kraftwerk, and Gary Numan with his group Tubeway Army.

In 1996 Olaf Bender (aka Byetone), and Frank Bretschneider set up the German art-electronic
record label Rastermusik, which was based in Chemnitz, Germany, as a means of releasing their own music.

In 1999 they merged with Carsten Nicolai (aka Alva Noto) who had ran the Noton label, to form Raster Noton, and in the following year they released their debut album “Centrum”, which proved a success.

With the increase of music technology, and the expanding use of the internet, within a few years the Raster Noton label had made a name for itself, and because of this, worldwide connections were made.

Apart, the three artists have very busy careers producing their own music, despite this, they always find time to collaborate. “Robotron”, which was recorded over a five year period is their second album release since 1999.

It has been a very long time since I have heard anything like this, but with repeated playing on my part, I was quite amazed and pleased by this album. With the energetic sound of rhythmic clicks and deep bass pulses, this makes a surprisingly powerful compilation . The tracks blend seamlessly together, even though they are a collection of various live and studio music, recorded across the globe, from Berlin, and Chemnitz to Tokyo. The album starts with a short droning intro, developing into ultraminimal techno on “Ermafa”, but my favourite track is “Robotron”, as it features clean mid-frequency sign tones, which is common in Bretschneider’s work.

After listening to the album several times, and visiting their website, I can see myself going to experience one of their live performances, the next time they visit the UK.

For those music fans seeking melodies, or commercial dance floor hits they would probably not appreciate the simplicity of this album, as it relies mainly on a small set of percussive sounds, but for the electronic minimalist, abstract, and experimental fan, this unique creation is a must. The album design is equally artistic, incorporating a totally unconventional and minimal packaged sleeve.

Hopefully we will not have to wait too long for their next album release.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Diligence is a Virtue

Last Monday we received our results for the A3 brief. I was hoping for a pass, but I received a referral. In a way, I was relieved that the errors were only minor and would not take too long to amend, however, they were silly mistakes, and I was annoyed with once myself again for not noticing these during the project.

One of my main faults was not keeping a detailed account of my self study on my time sheets. I admit they were put on the back burner, especially over the Christmas period, and I did rush them off towards the end. This will not happen again, and I will fill them in properly from now on.

Another mistake was on the “Who is query”, in which I had put the wrong domain name in instead of the proposed name for the site I intend to build. I think at the time I was so concerned other elements had to be correct that I over looked this fault, which was staring at me in all the time.

My last fault was not having enough detailed measurements on my screen design. Again this was a something I have learned from, and I will make sure all my measurements are more detailed in the future.

We were all given a week to amend our work, and resubmission was this morning. Hopefully everything should be fine now, and I will be able to concentrate more on the latest A5 (builder) brief, which we started last week.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Time Flies

With the second semester approaching already, I can honestly say time does fly. Steve assured us a the beginning that the course would would be over before we knew it, but I never thought it would go by at this fast. It only seems like yesterday when we were dropping eggs in the induction period.

At the beginning of the course I mentioned to Steve that I would like to consider transferring
on to the the full-time HND course at some point, or maybe in the second year. He advised me at the time to play it by ear and see how the course progresses, and that we would discuss the option again at a later date. Maybe at the time I didn’t realise what I would be taking on board if I was to join the HND. I think I underestimated how hard the course was, and the workload involved. In retrospect, I know now that I would really struggle studying the full-time course and working a full-time job outside of college. The HNC is demanding enough, and several occasions this last semester I have been hard pushed at times to get the work done.

If I had the opportunity, or if I could afford to leave my job and study on the HND, I would do tomorrow, however, my current situation dictates that I will have to stay on the HNC. I am just a bit disappointed that I have missed out the typography brief, which looked so interesting, and that I will miss out on the interactive module, but that is how the course is.
I just need to make sure that I try and get as much out of the course as possible.

Last Monday it was a relief to hand in the A3 assignment. The proofing of the work took longer expected, and I didn’t leave myself as much tinker time as I wanted. Because of that, combined the with hours at work, I had very little sleep the last weekend before submission, and the fear of sleeping in on Monday meant I didn’t sleep much Sunday night either. To make things worse certain software on my computer wouldn’t work properly, at first I thought it was some type of virus, and in the end I had to re-install CS3. That again added to the stress levels. Why would my machine work fine all semester, then error just few days before submission? I have been less nervous in about job interviews than I was about submission last Monday.

So far in one semester I learned more about graphic design than I did in my first two years on my BA, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. of course at times it has stressful, but no one said it was going to be easy. If I knew now what I knew then I would of bothered enrolling on a BA, I would of studied a HND, or HNC instead, but in hindsight I guess we all would change things.

My aim for semester two is to have more time to dedicate to the course, to find a better paid job, with more consistent hours, that isn’t so tiring. Unlike my previous jobs I now work different shifts every week, and this does make my time time management harder to handle, as I don’t know what I am working one week to the next. Hopefully something more suitable will come up in the near future.

Sunday, 11 January 2009


Since my last post, life has been very busy. There was no time to celebrate Christmas this year, it got cancelled. For a while I was panic-stricken about the work load, as I do fear falling behind on the course. Balancing my work hours with my college work over the festive period has been both physically and mentally demanding, and I am quite relieved that it is over. Hopefully I will not be in the same position next Christmas.

With the A3 project deadline approaching, this last week has been stressful. Since last Monday there has been quite a lot of refining to do. As well as the Assets list to finish, and evaluation to complete, my web page needed re-designing, which took longer than I expected, however, I am much more satisfied with it now than the previous version.

The A3 brief has been harder than I anticipated. Certain aspects were quite hard to digest at first, for example, measurable goals, and delivery requirements, but after a while things began to fall in to place, and make sense. The competitive analysis was the most challenging part of the write up, having to break down and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of a website, with a limited amount of words to use. The main test of this project has been managing my time, as I mentioned earlier balancing my work hours with college seems to be an ongoing struggle.
Fortunately, the next several week wont be so busy, and I will have a lot more free time to dedicate my self to the course.