First Year: Reflection

This past year has been the most terrifying, challenging and exciting year of my life so far. Arriving in Cardiff last September I felt clueless and nervous; the decision to study in Cardiff had been a last minute change in my plan, I knew nobody and having never studied Graphic Communication before, I had no idea what to expect. When I met my class and we began workshops, I remember feeling instantly inferior to these passionate creatives, all older than myself as the youngest. There were times when I felt lost, like I’d stumbled into the wrong room and was sat among people far advanced to myself. Having just finished first year, I must admit there are times when I still feel this. What I did know was I was amongst some of the most creative and vibrant people I had ever met, people with interests and passions just like my own.

Before University I was studying English Literature, Fine Art and Spanish at Sixth Form. I had almost decided I wanted to become a fashion designer, and when I was younger would spend hours designing outfits, however it became an easy answer to the question “what do you want to be when you’re older?” because the truth was I really didn’t know. I gained a interest in graphic communication after I took part in work experience at Jaguar Land Rover and Bernardo’s Children’s Charity, visiting and speaking to graphic designers at both. I fell completely in love with the design studio at Jaguar and could picture myself there, turning computerised graphics into life size clay car models, designing and constructing television and advertisement adverts and creating presentations for VIP sales evenings. For a long time I was desperate to meet Ian Callum and knew that I was after his job as Directer of Design at Jaguar!

From a young age I always knew I wanted to have a career in design and I was always known as ‘the arty one’. Recently, I found a series of magazines that my sister and I created in 2006 when we were eight and, while its fair to say my skills and tastes have progressed considerably since then, my interest and love for editorial design has always been apparent.

Every project in my first year of University was a new exciting challenge that I put everything into, even when I wasn’t sure if I was even doing it right! I am very proud of the 2:1 I achieved in first year and hope for the same success and more in second year. I am terrified all over again for second year and the new challenges it promises. I have many doubts in my abilities as I look around me and see so many advanced designers, but it is only myself who can push my abilities further and develop my skills in order to produce better work. I hope to research into my interests in and around the subject of Graphic Communication this summer and also to develop my skills on Photoshop and Illustrator, as often in first year it was the lack of these skills that I felt limited my work.


Editorial: Submission and Feedback

The following three spreads are those which I submitted for the deadline on Friday 13th May.

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I eagerly awaited feedback as, while I am proud of these spreads and do like them, I needed some more advice as I felt I had tried almost every variation of my spreads. I have a habit of going to centred text when I feel nothing else looks good, as in my opinion it always makes text look neat and readable.

I took the following from David’s feedback:

The background colour of the first spread was too dark with the black text. The body copy was very heavy and could do with being broken up with more call-outs. On the second spread, I needed to explore pace with text more, though the imagery was strong visually. The border of the third spread was too narrow and it was not easy to tell what the border was made up of if you didn’t already know. I could also conduct more exploration with the text. I also needed to add a subheading, possibly extend the body copy, enlarge my margins and make more use of my grid.

I spent a lot of time experimenting further with the advice given on my spreads. I applied changes and played around for a long time, and finally, the following three spreads are those which I have printed and will appear in the exhibition.

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On the first spread, I lightened the background, which I think looks much better. I also added a subheading at the bottom of the page, connected to the title using the asterisk. I added a second call-out and shorted the columns so that there was slightly less text on the page. I changed the second spread quite considerably and it was definitely the most difficult. My task was working around the hand image which I knew I wanted to include, as it had to sit at the bottom of the page because of the way I took the photographs and where they cut off. I would’ve placed the body copy at the bottom of the page if it weren’t for the image, however I am glad now that I didn’t as I feel this would have looked too similar to the first spread. I used the quote from the original spread and edited it slightly. I played around with placement of this quote a lot. I tried placing it behind the hands, as if they were holding or grasping it, but not enough of the text was visible for it to be legible. I tried with the text in different colours over the hands, across the top and bottom and staggered in a more abstract way across the page. I looked back over post modern typography workshops and research and experimented with some ideas, however I felt that ultimately these attempts didn’t fit well with the overall theme of my spread, and the theme and tone of the article itself. I like that this page is almost symmetrical, because the other two are so asymmetrical. The third spread is my favourite to look at as a whole spread. I think pulling a few windmills out and widening the border worked well and it gave more room for white space and abstract positioning. I think the right aligned quote works well next to the column of text. I liked the idea of picking out the speech between the men in the article in red as I feel it not only makes it easy to read as a conversation, but it adds to the tone and emotion in the conversation. I added call-out on the right hand side to break up the body text. I experimented with the conversation portion of the text, making each piece of text look how (I imagine) it was delivered, illustrating tone, volume and emotion. However this was difficult to create whilst still maintaining suitable line length, line spacing and kerning.

I am happy overall with my spreads and I have thoroughly enjoyed this project. I feel like I could work on this project forever and never think my spreads were perfect, so I’m glad there is a deadline to stop me going insane from type detailing!

Editorial: Applying Improvements

After the final critique, I began applying changes and improvements to my work. I was aware that what I had presented was not a final product, and though I liked what I had created, I felt more that it was on the way to being something good rather than already there.

The above spreads were what I presented. The first spread (L-R) the centred text was too simplistic, and I feared that the image was not high enough resolution to print well. It was very basic, and I wanted to attempt something more complicated with imagery. The second spread contained far too much text and did not contain a title and subtitle. However, I liked the white background with the black border and red quotes. I also liked the windmill image but, again, wanted to attempt something more complex with imagery. The third spread was, in my opinion and in the opinion of others that I spoke to, the closest to finished, however it was discussed and agreed that this spread should come first, naming the article ‘Sand is everywhere.’ If this spread was to open the article, it needed a subtitle, stand first and perhaps more call-outs, to split up the heavy body copy.

I began developing these changes and playing around with designs and ideas. I experimented with different coloured backgrounds and which images looked best on each colour. I tried to experiment further with image, using the pinwheel photograph repeated around the edge of spreads to create a more interesting border. I felt that this was too thin and it wasn’t easy to tell what the border was made up of, and so I also experimented withering some windmills overlapping the inner white rectangle, not confined by the border. I felt this idea worked well, as it created an interesting border, visible imagery and white space. I tried lots of different ideas on the black background. Through experimentation, I found that the windmills worked best on a white background, whilst the hand image definitely worked best on black.


Editorial: Development of Spreads

Below are scans of sketches I made whilst brainstorming ideas for the double page spreads in my editorial. I tried to keep in mind the important use of text and image, and consider the placement of both in relation to each other.


I looked on pinterest for inspiration and found some spreads that I was drawn to in particular and wanted to attempt to replicate some elements of in my work.

In all of these editorial pieces, I love the use of colour and border. I think the black/white and black/red contrast on some is incredibly strong. I think the use of a border would feel strong in my own work on this particular topic, as upon reading the article, a sense of restriction and containment is created, a fear of stepping out of line at risk of violence or murder. I think the border putting restriction on the page and where the text and image can go will give that impression, surrounding and containing what is inside the border on the page.

The above images were initial experimentation for the first spread, beginning the text and introducing the topic. I looked at the idea of playing on the phrase ‘caught redhanded’, using a photograph of my hands covered in sand. I had a lot of text to play with, and so decided that I did not want to use a full double page on just a title alone. I began fitting text onto the spread, using an 8 column grid. I decided to use point size 10 and fit text across three columns, as this made the line length the most suitable. Initially, I seemed to be fitting the text in wherever I could, using up all the possible space. After speaking with my peers and with David, it was suggested that I try to experiment more with white space, so to not make the page too crowded and overwhelmed with text. I had a lot of text to play with, but also three large spreads to fit it on, and so I could afford to be experimental and playful with white space and images. The sandcastle on the top left image was a stock photo found on the internet. It was a rough spread put together on indesign to see how the photo of a sandcastle would work in relation to the spread and the context of the text. I decided that if I thought the image worked well, I would replicate this kind of photograph and visit the beach to take my own so fill the gap of the stock image. When I took my own photos, I actually decided the stock image was by far my favourite, which was a shame. Nothing seemed to look as good as that image, the colour changes I applied to it, and the way in which it sat in relation to the article and the border. I also found it difficult to fully remove the surrounding sand from my photographs, leaving the areas that I wanted left in for my editorial. With slightly limiting photoshop skills, I found it frustrating that none of the images seemed to work as perfectly as the incredibly high resolution stock image. I began playing with the idea of following the lines of a sandcastle, but perhaps using imagery which was slightly more metaphoric and less obvious than sand. While at the beach, I also took photographs of a spinning windmill which was a deep red in colour and matched the ideas I had in my head perfectly. I much preferred these images, and began to play with these more.

I also began playing with the other spreads, in particular one which I knew I wanted to have a red background. After I had discarded much of the text and edited it down to approximately 1,500 words, I placed the remainder of the text on this page and placed a quote taken from the text in a large point size. I made a few quotes call-outs, and made the font colour for those white, in contrast to the black body copy. I was very happy with this spread from when I first created it, and it was the spread on which I had most positive feedback from my peers. From the beginning of the process to the hand in, I didn’t change this page too much, just spend a whole lot of time on type detailing.

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For a feedback session with David and some of my peers, I presented a set of three spreads.


Originally, the white background spread had gone first and the split page spread that appears first here was second. At the last minute, I changed these over so that the editorial had some sort of title, though I knew I was not completely happy with this, and would not have been happy to submit this as my final project. The sandcastle image was a photograph I took and edited myself, however I feared how it would print. Upon printing, it was clear however I was not completely satisfied and felt I could create something more complex and appealing to the eye. I also wasn’t completely happy with the centred quote on the right, however the similar line length meant that right or left aligned looked like a mistake. I felt happy with the other two spreads however when discussed, I realised flaws. The columns in the white spread were too complicated and too all over the place and there was far too much body copy text. I liked the image of the pinwheel, however I wanted to see how else I could incorporate it into the piece, perhaps in a more interesting way. I didn’t feel that two quotes were needed on the same page, and perhaps one quote and some use of white space would be more effective. It was suggested that I use the red background spread as my first page as the ‘Sand Is Everywhere’ quote made a nice title. I agree with this, though I had not thought of it before.

Editorial: Initial Ideas

After deciding on ‘The Deadly Global War for Sand’ as my chosen article for my editorial project, I went through the article again and noted down imagery and ideas that stuck out to me. The image of Paleram Chauham’s “orange door of a two story brick and plaster house” was a powerful in my mind, and after being inspired by editorial pieces I observed in my research, I was particularly interested in using coloured paper/backgrounds to print my project on. The strong colours mentioned in the text, with connotations of the heat of the weather and the organic, earthy colours of the sand, would be interesting to explore through the aesthetic of the piece.


I originally looked at creating a front page, 2 double spreads and then a back page. I began to explore ideas to develop for the front page. I was intrigued to investigate the possibility of cutting into the front page so that an image could be seen through the text, however after some thought and research into these types of editorial pieces, I decided against it, as the cutting of the text would directly affect the following spread, as the cut text would be backwards on this page.


I had lots of initial ideas for the front page, so I sketched some quickly for further exploration. I knew I wanted the title of the editorial on this page, and felt that the title given in the original article was suitable and effective. It is the perfect title to express what the article is about, whilst seeming unusual and ambiguous, as one would not expect there to be a war regarding such a common and harmless thing as sand. I looked at using an image of a sandcastle to contrast with the idea of a ‘deadly war’, on the cover. On the above picture, the third from the left on the top row shows an idea involving the cutting of a bold type so show an image underneath. The sketches on the bottom row show an idea where I considered applying an image or texture to the type, instead of a colour and instead of cutting out the type to show an image through. The top left idea involved photoshopping images of bullet holes onto a red background to give an idea of violence and war.

I became attempting to create some of these ideas on photoshop, to see how they would look.

After my first group meeting with David and my peers, we discussed my ideas so far and I showed the things I had created. We talked about trying something more subtle for the first page, playing on the idea of ambiguity and juxtaposition between the ‘deadly war’ and the sand. I then decided to explore the concept of creating 3 double page spreads instead of 2 doubles and 2 single pages instead.

Workshop: Editorial Image

The purpose of an image in an editorial piece is to attract attention, accompany the text, engage the reader, all while not giving the story of the article away. An effective technique used regularly in editorial pieces is a visual metaphor, adding meaning and context to the article but often only making full sense once the article has been read. An example of a visual metaphor is a hair dryer in different contexts. On a dressing table next to make up and a mirror, a hair dryer can represent beauty, femininity and glamour. Next to a bath full of water, a hair dryer can represent danger.

When creating imagery for my editorial project, it will be important to consider the following questions: What message is the image communicating? Is the image the appropriate style? How does the image communicate the message visually?

Our challenge was to create a suitable image for a given article in a small time frame. My group were given an article about the dangers of eating red meats; a particular focus on recent studies that claim to have confirmed that ‘bacon causes cancer’. It also claimed that bacon is now considered in the same category as asbestos, alcohol and tobacco. Catrin, Emmeline and I agreed that this statement seemed extreme and slightly humorously ridiculous, and so of course we chose to play on it. We wanted to completely over exaggerate the extent to which red meat is considered a danger to our health, blowing it completely out of proportion. We considered using a ‘Beware of the dog’ sign and replacing the word ‘dog’ with ‘bacon’. We considered illustrating worried mothers chatting over a cup of tea, one saying “I think my son is doing bacon”, playing on the idea of mothers being worried about a son/daughters drug or alcohol habits. We looked into an ‘over 18’ sign being photoshopped onto a pack of bacon, and caution tape partially covering an image of bacon. One of our favourite ideas that we felt would appeal massively to our own age group (millennials were mentioned as being the generation being willing to spend more money on organic food in order to eat healthier) was the idea of using a classic scene from a the film Monsters Inc., a popular film from our childhood. In the film, a monster is touched by a child’s sock and as a result sent into contamination and is treated accordingly. We wanted to photoshop a piece of bacon where the sock would be in the film scene, illustrating the over exaggerated modern attitude to bacon, mirroring the attitude towards the harmless child’s sock in the film.

At risk of not being totally understood, we decided to go with a more simple and much more effective visual metaphor. Catrin and Emmeline began photoshopping bacon and sausages into a cigarette box, showing the danger of red meats on our health in the same light as cigarettes.

Workshop: One-day Editorial Project

Today we had the challenge of a one-day editorial project in which we were given a phrase and had to produce a ‘zine’ for it. First we explored some existing ‘zines’ in order to understand the general process of manufacture, typical layouts and creative processes that go into the finished product. We found that a lot of photocopying is typically used in the making of a zine so that many copies can be produced for a small cost. For this reason, we are restricted to using only monochrome images and we will be printing onto coloured paper.

Our group’s phrase was “Brutalist Architecture”. Never having heard this phrase before, we investigated the term on the internet. We discovered that “Brutalist Architecture” buildings are created from a combination of concrete and brick, are generally large buildings of a range of shapes and often have a lot of windows which look very small in comparison to the building itself. We decided to focus on giving information about the origin of Brutalist style buildings, giving examples on each page displaying the rang in their appearance.

Overall, after a quite stressful day of coming up with, and then scrapping ideas and a lot of trial and error, we came up with 4 final double pages for our zine.

Everyone’s work looked fantastic on the wall and it was great to be able to see each group’s work on the wall and hear them talk about their creative decisions.