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The Good, the Bad & the Ugly: My Fourth Year So Far

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly: My Fourth Year So Far


The first part of Semester 1 is already over and I can’t believe it’s gone so fast. In just four weeks I’ve made a start on what will be the most important and probably most stressful projects in my university career, and in just 8 more weeks, I’ll be halfway through the year! It must be true when they say that ‘time flies when you’re having fun’, because, while it has definitely not been easy, I have been thoroughly enjoying the process that I’ve been through in these first four weeks to get me to where I am now. To give you a better idea of what I’m up to and keep you up to date with life as a fourth year design student, I thought I’d briefly outline what papers I’m taking, what’s required for them, and how it’s going for me so far!

Interpretive type

The first elective that I’m taking, and potentially my favourite paper at the moment is Visual Communication Design Special Topic E; A.K.A Interpretive Type. This paper is really similar to the information design paper that I took last year in that it has the same requirements and follows a similar brief so I was really keen to take this paper because I enjoyed the last one so much! For this paper, we are required to create a poster in the first four weeks, which I just completed, and then a larger publication in the remaining eight weeks. The briefs we were given are briefs from The International Society of Typographic Design (ISTD), which change each year, and this year we were able to choose from either ‘Death’ or ‘Adrian Frutiger’. This year I have chosen the ‘Death’ brief and am looking at The Black Death/Plague as my topic; happy I know!

Along with a few other people in my class, I was already awarded for my ISTD submission last year and received ISTD membership, so there is a little less pressure on the paper this time around, but I am still really keen to get a top grade and give it all I’ve got. Typography is one of my favourite aspects of design, so I guess that’s why I love this paper so much and am passionate about the work that I do for the assignments.

So far, I’ve created a poster which presents my topic and sets up the visual narrative, in order to be prepared for Assignment 2: the larger publication. I’m quite pleased with the outcome of my poster, although I would’ve chosen a different paper stock if I could do it again, and I’m interested to see how I can carry it on throughout the next assignment. I used hand-made printmaking techniques in my poster to convey the notions of dirt, sickness, disease and spreading, and I would like to explore the potential of this because I think it’s hard to portray these ideas through digital work, so I guess I’ll have to see how that goes, but I can’t wait to try!

Over the semester break, I have to decide on the copy for Assignment 2, and come up with some sort of visual system to align my work to. Lot’s of reading and Pinteresting ahead I think!


Contemporary Letterpress

The other elective that I am taking this semester is one that I love, but I’m actually not very good at! I’m taking Contemporary Letterpress because I took Printmaking in my first year and Letterpress in my second, and I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to take the 400 level paper! I think I get the printing genes from my family, because both my Dad and my Granddad have been printers in their careers, using all the old techniques and clearly passing their enthusiasm down to me, but unfortunately, the lack of control involved with printmaking just stresses me out. I’m not a wildly experimental person, and I like control, which is why working digitally is like heaven for me, because I know what is possible, what the outcome will be, and how I can fix something quickly if it’s not what I want. Printmaking and letterpress do not afford such luxuries unfortunately, as it is hard to know what the results will be, there are quite often some happy accidents that are difficult to replicate, and changing something is not a quick process. I can’t just click a button to change colour, I have to clean all the type, rollers and surfaces with turps, re-mix the ink, and re-ink the plate. It’s just a lot less instant than I’m used to. All this aside, the resulting aesthetic of printmaking is so beautiful to me. I love the textures and the hand-made nature. It’s so pleasing to see something that you made yourself turn into a piece of art!

The brief for this paper is based around 2016 trends and the one which I am focussing on is Zero Waste Kitchens because apparently that’s a ‘hip’ thing to do this year! I’m basically attempting to use recycled materials that usually would be thrown away, reuse them, and turn them into beautiful pieces of art which inform the viewer about the impact of waste in New Zealand. I’ve done quite a bit of experimentation with different materials and printing techniques, and I’ve got a pretty solid plan for my final prints, I just have to get the work done now! The assignment is due the first week back after the semester break so I have about 2 weeks to get it done! I also have to think about the format and content of my submission for Assignment 2, which is meant to be a progression of the ideas from Assignment 1 into something larger and potentially more 3-dimensional. I’d like to create a book, but doing this seems ‘wasteful’ in terms of paper, so I’m looking into the possibility of reusable packaging, or something to help combat household waste. We’ll see!


VCD Research & Development (Major Project)

Now to the elephant in the room: my major project. This beast is the big, bad wolf of the final year, and while it’s going well so far, I’m not 100% sure where I’m going!

To attempt to summarise, for my major project I’m looking into the possible impact of coworking spaces on the collaboration, education, and wellbeing of creative students. I currently work in a coworking space here in Wellington for my day job, and I think that a similar environment would work wonders for students as I see the issues that we face day to day with the current spaces available to us at University or at home, and the opportunities that a coworking space can provide. I’m not a Spatial Design student so all of the spatial information I have been reading is all really new to me, but I can definitely see a problem that needs a solution, and I’d love to be a part of solving it!

So far, I’ve done a lot of reading, some research into the way that students are working and collaborating currently, and talked through my ideas with some tutors. It seems like the ideas are there and are working well, I just need to consolidate them into one thesis statement. Some of the research that I did started taking me down a completely different path that I’m not incredibly interested in, so I’m going to finish up with that information when it feels done, and then move on because if I’m not passionate about it, I really don’t want to spend my whole year fascinating over it. It’s important to see where the research takes you, but I think this one’s a dead end.

I really want to provide a place where students can work productively and be inspired, encouraged and informed, in order for them to grow in their career and as people. I am encouraged by a SeanWes quote, ‘life’s peachy when you’re doing what you love and making things you enjoy’, and if I can help others do just that, it’s a dream come true for me, which is why I’m taking on this project!

Anyway, that’s a quick look into what’s been happening in my Honours year so far! I hope it gives you a little more insight - if not, please feel free to ask any questions and I’ll try to answer them as best as I can! You can also subscribe to my YouTube Channel to watch my weekly vlogs and get first hand look at what I’m up to and what life as a fourth year design student is like! For another perspective, you can head over to my friend Sophie’s blog to read about how Sofi Vs Honours is going for her! I’d also love to hear how your studies are going so far so we can experience it together! Loving it? Hating it? Let me know! To quote High School Musical, we're all in this together!

Much Love, Hollie! :D


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