Monday, 31 October 2011

solipsistic vs soligistic

"everything's blue because it's blue"
Research in and through practice

. theory with a little "t" vs theory with a big "T"

. be scholarly and academic BUT DON'T BE AFRAID TO SHOW THE LOVE OF YOUR CRAFT

. world of theory has little relevance outside of academia (we have briefs to follow on the outside)

. think about being a moral vegetarian; how may this inform practice?

.would you inform using this? impose?

.consider gestalt knowledge

. should be testing practice against theory...

...but what if theory can be informed by practice?

. Cant there be more interrelation?

. determinist viewpoint: cause and effect (David Pi (sp?))

.(cars/crappy 'good enough'design. quick fixes/bad. BAD. BAD)



informed doin/reflection

the whole thing

in a nutshell

. The 'getting it' moment. The things it opens up, then applying it to the next task.

. like clicking your fingers


The suspension of temporality whilst engaged practically

Imagine a meaningless job forever. Now work harder.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Not thinking critically enough; engaging, relating in writing what I am doing

I have to make this cohesive.

Working on concepts for Bullet magazine.

Going well, helping me back into the illustration "mode"

Thursday, 27 October 2011

> Paul Sample

> Will Self

> Daniel Merlin Goodbrey
Neil (PM)

Reviewing Research Behind Practise

> Context

> Meta design? Not really what Neil was aiming for, but good point)

How it applies for me:

> Authorship/Audience.

> Joyce: suggestion of perhaps looking into sequential art for those who cannot read/illiterate.

> Mahsa: Commented on her friend's blindness.

"As a blind child I need to know what the reactions are. I mean I can totally understand what the form of a leaf or a book is but when my mum is crying I don’t know what she looks like. I need to touch the emotions of frowning eyebrows smiling or something else. Nobody allows me to touch his/her face when there are lots of reactions on their face that I have to know. Also I need to find out more how big are the tools which I am surrounded by. I cannot find out how big an elephant is because it is so scary to approach to it or I want to know what the skin of a tiger looks like because its skin is just distinguished by a harmony of the colors..."

This provokes all kinds of questions as to approach in practice. To follow up.

- Friend described blindness as feeling like silence

- Texture, feel, haptic feedback.

- smell


> Boring things project (end of term, but get going NOW)

> Reading Task: for 2 weeks' time

> Third task? forgotten, CHASE UP.

Discussion in Design Value

> What adds value?

- Ability to build (kits)

- Being able to add in personal items (Ollie's suggestion of photo bookmark)

- Narratives (Lilliput Lane)

- How much you charge

- Involvement/maintenance*

* Garden of Objects (Borgman (sp?))

Designing products which demand something of the user.
(didn't go far)

Tamagotchi the perfect example.

Further Notes:

> Cradle to Cradle as a Green design principle.

> The Design of Everyday Things (author?)

> "Gradual" design (Petrovski)

> Tuff Shoes

> Heineken Wobo (sp?) project

> Microsoft Seadragon scaling program.

> Filofax: the wow product. (get one)

> ersatz

Alice Fact: Rain keeps the smells of the city's cooking down, makes it smell nice.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Fulfilling morning working on sketches for side projects,
and listening to pertinent Webcomic Beacon Podcasts.

Tutorial with Sue (PM)

> Discussed that things hadn't gone great last week

> Again: don't panic! (or at least panic in a productive way)

> Went over talk with John from yesterday (see previous post): Sue feels that Larkin is the one that has "legs".

> More consideration of line: work with dip-pen more!

> consider the handmade aesthetic more: it really works for me


> David Hughes- Walking the Dog. Scroll format, needs decoding. Have a look.

> Oliver Jeffers- Ipad based graphic novel.

> Handmade aesthetic- apply it to everything: academic gumshoe, man!

Visited Frequency Festival Exhibition: Critical Mass by Threshold Studios.

> Randomized short films played on a constant loop, some dealing with lack of sound, some not.

> Interesting, may implement further.

Decided to allow myself some downtime for the afternoon/evening, relaxed doodling and catching up.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Tutorial with John (PM)

> John commented first on the difference between good stress/worrying, and freezing in place.

> John reassured me I don't do that, i get on and do. This is what I do, this will just streamline me.

> discussed 6 keywords: Try to narrow down to 3 by end of the prep phase (via the contextual review) This could be via research, reflection, or just pure gut reaction.

Self Authoring/ A different basis

> Basing it in another's writing may save some serious ballbreaking creatively to use someone else's words.

> It will give critical distance.

Narrowed down to 3 possible sources:

> Granddad's stories

> Franz Kafka

> Philip Larkin


For next tutorial:

1) My reading list so far.

2) Everything I have done so far.

3) Bring some possible: Kafka/Larkin/Gray's writing to look at.

4) What is my QUESTION? What do I want to find out from this process?


> Paul Craven

> Poetics of Space

> Paul Gravett

> Emily Carrol's work: viewer as editor

> Go on Eye magazine website: look at back-catalogue, let John know what I wanna borrow next week.


Chilled and drew with Alice, on the mend now.
Ideas for sources for narrative process.

> Pure, stream of consciousness narrative.

> Cooking. Recipes. Instruction.

> My Granddad's stories/memoirs

> William Burroughs

> Philip Larkin

> Franz Kafka (Metamorphosis)

Reviewed previous notes whilst catching up with journal. Feeling marginally more positive, and capable.
Went to buy Frequency Festival tickets, having finally gotten enough money together for them, only to find them sold out.

Behind with all work.

Will need this afternoon's tutorial with John to get my headspace clear, as I am feeling very negative about where I am right now.

I always feel like I'm just catching up with myself, and never really moving forwards.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Review of research behind practice with Neil.

Still recovering from yesterday's illness.

Neil (AM)

Research behind practice

[First 30 minutes missed]


> Research is done by people

> You have to understand people

> not so much individuals: overall view.

> don;t generalize without knowing your stuff.


> What people make


It goes both ways- they can influence one another. Objects influence humans, humans influence and create objects, eg;

> Irrational emotional attachment to objects

> poorly designed objects constrict human activity with their constraints. (Neil said my comment here was "Good but literal", look into what he means)

> objects impress back, inform.


encapsulates both above points...

...but is also the product of these points.

> Then we talked about cultural attitudes to farting. Wicked.


> Post War Austerity >> Thatcher >> Self centred, entrepreneurial culture we have now.

To research this stuff is a BIG TASK, There are ways to break it down for a design researcher:

(About here, Neil told us to stop writing)

Extra Notes:

> Fear or Freedom, To Have or to Be (Eric Fron)

> Papanek

> The different cognition of the inuit due to circular walls

> start somewhere very different from where you are studying

> Black/White/Red

> Love a Spider.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


All day.

Physically incapable of doing anything.

Angry and dejected.

A wonderful silver lining for every cloud.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Library search following work yeilded little result in search for key words.

Beginning to worry about timekeeping on this project, and ability to hold this together.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Both proposed meetings with possibly helpful sources fell through today.

Attempted to salvage this with catching up with reflective journal and reading.

Not enough thought and reflection being put into reflective diary
From this point on end of week reviews, to collate and distill thoughts on progress better

Good chat with Alice has helped clear out some issues with my mindset and confidence I hadn't cosidered. Fresh perspective.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Neil (PM)

A general feeling of mentors in mindset we should be further along in our projects

Recap on Monday 17th

> What ways am I pushing, learning new practical skills?

> Practical stuff may need 3rd party help: don't be a martyr

> Find entrepreneurial ways to get it done if you don;t have the technical skills down.

> ie: CODING. I don;t have the knowhow to do that, so mock it up as an animatic

> Start thinking now what technical skills wi be needed to succeed.

> The polish, the refinement: high level of presentation of research findings with depth.

> Engage critically, don't defer: How far can these sources be trusted?

> A certain number of hours are expected to be seen in the hand-in of each unit.

> Practical: lots of good stuff with plenty of documentation.

> a BIG record of all practice, with reflections (which helps when shit hits the fan)



> Keep all of the failed stuff, investigate and reflect on why it failed.

Neil's stuff is:

> The Learning Plan/Presentation of Learning Plan


> Focused

> Subject specific

> Design culture

> everything Else

Inspiration doesn;t just occur, you have to go and LOOK for it.

The lonely genius is redundant.

> Find good blogs for quick reads (see Neil's suggestions)

> If you are struggling with a book: Leave it. Move on. It's their fault. Screw academic jargon.

> Conversely: carry a dictionary.

> The solution to a design problem is not always internal to the design itself.

> Get busy researching

> Cultivate the curiosity (don;t forget the boring bits too)

> give 2 weeks of Neil's "try everything" approach a go.

> The curious sponge.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Tutorial with Sue

> Talked over the project idea, and 5 of the 6 key words me and John came up with yesterday.

> After some deliberation, realised the last one should be "Audience".


6 Key Words







will be reviewing practical work next week.

Had a wander around Chad Varah House, met some of the current second and third year illustrators, talked about where they felt they were, how the course was suiting them. Informative to get an outside view on illustration.

Visited Sam Scorer Gallery.

Finished commission work.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Visited 4 seasons exhibition.
Thought provoking and interesting use of multimedia sequential narrative.

John (PM)

Academic Reading

> Maintain a kind of distance

> Be a detective. ACADEMIC GUMSHOE

> Skim read

> Cut to the index/bibliography: Scan for your key words/subject area.

> Follow the trial of other writers along their bibliography

> Economy of time: streamline your reading.

How to Record Reading

> Notes

> Index Cards

Harvard System

Arranged by author

Brief notes

Marks out of 10 for relevance

Where you found it

> Look for themes

> Demonstrate depth and breadth

> Be busy full time: be varied



This first phase is painful.

Work with it, don't stop, deal with it.


1) Find Out
2) Do it
3) Write About it


> Drawing as Visual Communication

> Took the hard path into semiotics. Begin with Visible Signs/Left to Right by David Crow

> Creatives and the distrust of the now, the need to alter life (either small or meta scale)

> Draw the research/practise models


> Sequence

> Silence

> Narrative

> Authorship (designer as author)

> Context

> ???*

The Narrative:

What is it going to be?

> Self written?

> Using another's text?

Think about and have ideas for next week.


1) Take a journey

2) Boredom (30+ images)

Film Screening


Inspiring film about young demonstrators and modern day outlaws.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Neil (AM)

> Journals:

Design History

Design Studies

> Anheuristic: an open ended learning device.


> Take the direction and run with it.

> Other points can be kind of neglected.

> Definitely highlight the context though.

> This is an offered model. THINK.

> Models of presentation:

Know who the project is for (and not just the tutor)

Gives a clue how to cast it.

Tailor work towards a focused, personal goal.

Research FOR

can be broken down to:

> Generic Skills

> Reflective Practice

> Sources of Inspiration

Generic Skills: (practice specific elements plus...)

> writing
> sourcing
> organising
> researching
> bibliographical

Accumulation of knowledge.
It just makes you a better problem solver.

Especially the bits you're not interested in.

Cultivate Curiosity.

Walk a different route daily.

> Forget the naive artist.
> Understand. Know your area.


Things that go wrong. Think. Embrace. Learn.


> Ideas

> Floaty vs Method vs Demystified

> Comes back to being well informed.

> Better informed = fewer mistakes = more productive

Example: Harry Beck and the London Underground Diagram

> Based on his knowledge of electrical diagrams.

> Others did not have the tacit knowledge, or indeed general knowledge, to do it.


> Legality

> Legibility

> Cultural

(Can forget about them temporarily when ideas generating, then reign it back in.

Watched film "OBJECTIFIED"

> A lot of high and mighty designers in their ivory towers, talking about things we never see.

John (PM)

Recap on Neil

> Critical Distance

> Neil is trying to dispense with the BA "that's nice" mindset.

> Be Objective

Module talk:

> Testing a number of options right now

> Write blog for yourself

> Course gives a framework, we provide direction.

> Folio: Relevant/appropriate. Things that inspire you.


> DO

> Get going on the peer led discussions as part of the x10 Project.

Seminars/Presentations by 2nd Year part timers.

> Interesting to get talking and networking with one another, will be following up Justin and Mike for further talks.


Relaxed drawing of ideas for presentation of contextual review.

Happy with progress, will review with John tomorrow.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

> All Comics are fundamentally silent. There is no audio element.

Consider layout, approaches:

> Single image narratives. Entirely encapsulated.

> Storybook double page spreads.

> Tapestry/scroll.

> Web based, utilising the interactive link.


Thursday, 13 October 2011

Neil (PM)

Research Model Review.

> Remember we aren't being fed here, this is a suggestion: something to take forward (try tackling it visually)

> Our project briefs are currently too vague.

> We don't yet know the "why", let alone ready for the "so what"

> Because we don't know fully what we're talking about

> FORGET the model if it helps to do so, just get your teeth into it.

> This is still a trust exercise: we are being given pieces of the puzzle.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Unproductive day following a hellish night's sleep.

Worked extra shift at part time job (need the money)

Began work on revisions for recent commission (at least that's money too)

Began reading Tuesday's set section of Visualising Research.

Found completing tasks set by Neil (Tomorrow's World and Research Model in action)
easier having had the review with John.

Will go into more detail tomorrow when we review our thoughts with Neil.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Results of Discussion

> Move on and away from the cultural stigma and highlight of injustice angle: it's been done to death.


> The place of 3D Illustration in Comics- This is a means to an end, not worth a full MA research program, just material research and application of skills.

> Exploring the silent comic- The most potential for expansion.

> Web vs Print. As John said, it's a bit of an old chestnut. worth exploring through, rather than the sole focus.

> Comics as a medium for teaching- a worthwhile and contentious subject, but can be potentially explored as part of the overall study.


focus will fall on:



>Break down both SILENCE and SEQUENCE (Library search on both)

> Explore sequential media

> The silence of negative space

> Silence on film (and not just silent film, think Scorsese)

Further Notes

> devil's advocate: what about quirks of dialect, accent, loanwords? the diaspora of language's evolution that will be missed.


>Hands up who likes John!

To discuss today

Ideas for project direction and area of research:

> The place of 3D Illustration in Comics

As a sculptor as well as an illustrator, I would relish the chance to expand upon the skills in this area, and finally give context to the technically superior work I produce in three dimensions. Others have been successful in this respect (Dave McKeane), but I feel things could be pushed further.

> Exploring the silent comic

The image can relay things that the word would only confuse. The silent image can transcend language barriers.

Met a nice old lady who runs a book shop on Monk's Road (i got lost looking for the gallery last thursday), whe told me about the German concept of the "Fuhne" (sp?), a warm wind which, in German culture, is said to have a maddening effect. People still get let off crimes today because they were affected by the Fuhne. This got me thinking about untranslatable words in other languages, and how they could better be communicated in words than pictures across the language barrier.

> Web vs Print

This debate may seem outdated, but the reality is that it is as contentious as ever. There are a great deal of British comics artists who tread the line between: operating in a small press, zine culture, and as web-based entities.

Some have embraced the web fully, and utilized the ways in which comics can exploit and be moved forward by the internet, expanding upon the "infinite canvas" Scott McCloud described.

> Comics as a medium for teaching.

I have found substantial evidence supporting this as perhaps a direction that would benefit further study, and would be of greatest potential use to society of the four.

Finding one to pin down from these will be tricky, I need to have a good talk with John today and collate my thoughts well on the matter. this will also help inform the task set by Neil.
Found out about Oriel Davies Open competition. Should enter for sake of exposure and enterprise. Will consider entries used and return to this.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Today realised, after a talk with John about the overall scheme of the course (notes below), that how I am going about this journal is not currently conducive as a reflective journal.

I will therefore spend a little time this week rectifying this and typing up the scattered notes and though from my notebooks and sketchbooks over the past 3 weeks in chronological order, as I feel this will help also collate my thoughts on the postgraduate course thusfar.

Also, I feel that I have been neglecting my own practice in place of "creative procrastination" (something myself, John, Pip and Oliver talked about at length following the session). This has to stop. Now.

Tutorial Notes:

(AM) Neil

Design Research Primer

> Cross Disciplinary MA

> Requires a generalist approach, but it is individual specific.

> (Neil introduces model for research, see handout)

> Focus on your own practice at the core of this.

> the 4 elements discussed are each important as the other, and feed into one another, but one or more may be more pertinent to my own study.

> Rigor and polish are the things expected of me. This course is both practical and research based.

> This process, and the interactions of the four elements, may become the focus in and of itself.

Further notes:

> Reading list: Must make sure to follow up on at least the most relevant sounding of Neil's selected reading list.

>positivism: Term is cropping up a lot. As far as I understand, it means only taking what you see and experience in life as truth? Bring this up at next tutorial opportunity.

> The left handed breadknife debate.

> John recommended to us that we take the most useful elements discussed by himself/Neil (theory/practise) and find the best way to implement this into out methodology.

> TASK for 13/10/11 The model in action (see handout) I think it may be interesting to try my response to this in comics format.

(PM) John

Design Process: What is it?

> Unpick and look at your work in a post mortem fashion

> what process do you go through to make it?

> Steve Jobs' sound advice: Don't live someone else's life. This rings very true for me. Currently my work feels, personally, too derivative.

Steve Jobs: How to live before you die | Video on

> Make this happen.

Quick chat about the course structure

> The Journal: every day you push things forward: write it up. Reflect on it. You document the highs, lows, notes, tutorial sessions.

> The Design Process: How you get there. The clue's in the name:
It's a PROCESS not the END PRODUCT (remove the noun, look at the verb)

*Task set to come up with, in groups, how we typify the design process, with varied, yet linked results) Then collated all thoughts into a single diagram of Design Practice flow*


* a client will usually have a problem, but not enough knowledge to supply the brief itself. we will often write our our own brief.

** the brief is always worth writing as though in stone. It is your cotrol. The parameters of your project.

*** being clever and maintaining the use of a non-design vocabulary is useful here.

**** getting viewpoints, testing, experimenting: this improves your practise.

> The process is often, despite this, Non-sequential.

> There are stages, but some are more linear, some more cyclical, some parallel.


Go back to what you know. Work from there. The more I show, the better the final grade (not that it's all about that)

> DESIGN PROCESS and RESEARCH PROCESS will run parallel. Some weeks will be taught more intensively that the other, but it is up to me to choose how they inform my work.


> remember that this is not a PHD, the area of study doesn't have to be somewhere new to human understanding: just new to me.

> note that Sue will be more interested in hearing about progress in design process than anythig else: it's what she's there for.

> Demonstrate what I do at every opportunity.

Further Notes:

> We are all on this MA because not only do we solve problems, we have a problem in our wn practise we each want to solve. what is this problem for me?

> Concepts and evaluation are a cyclical process that go on continuously.

> commercially speaking: Ideas are not viable currency. Solutions are.

>rationalisation is where we become more scientific. The more you talk about the work, the more simple and elegant the solution will become. (do not use this as an excuse not to work)

>2nd Year Part Timer talk next Monday opportunity to scope out fellow exhibitors.

> TASK: Read through 2 sections of Visualising Research

> Talk with John, Pip and Oliver Discussed the structure of the MA, shared issues and problems with regulations of workflow and balancing both sides of the course. Much of what was discussed has already been typed up above, but it was useful for mental clarity and peace of mind (insofar as is possible, now the safety net is gone). Also discussed the dangers of creative procrastination. will make a concerted effort to combat this.

> Quick beer and conflab with Ollie and Pip at Varsity. Good to unwind and talk things over with the guys.

> Finished off Neil's "Tomorrow's World" task, not sure as to how well answered in an academic sense my responses are. Will write more on Thursday when we review it.

> Read through first section of Visualising research. Information has seeped in, but too tired to properly articulate. Writeup to follow tomorrow's tutorial.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Neil (PM)

>John will take us through Studio practise.

>Neil focuses on design thinking and research.

(expect a reading list on design culture)

Early thoughts: What is design?

*suggestions from group*

Creating something. Idea into reality

Innovative Renewal

Process of developing new products

Part of everyday life

Problem Solving

Conceptual Thought

Improving people's lives

Making imagination manifest

Design is everything (creation)

Human purposeful action = Design (?)

An interesting view, the extreme of this would be meta-design (design as social force)

Carl Marx's proposal of the architect and the bee. The difference is thought and innovation, not just instinct.

> Anachronism side discussion: the QWERTY keyboard- designed to slow down typewriters to stop them why do we even still use it? Is it fear?

Back to main discussion:

Aren;t these all too open?

Is design everything or nothing? (because it can't be both)

> Design is done with initial purpose. Art is offered.

> Considerations of wants and needs: what happens when society alters a want into a need?

>This is what happens when you design both the problem, and the solution. A product of consimer culture.





>In fashion, it fulfills the human need to be clothed.
>Communication: everything we use in our culture has been designed with a view to communicating something.
> Is design a form of intelligence?

Further notes:

>Trowsky's writings on serendipity
>Philosophy of Science by Carl Popper: look for mistakes and highlight them.
> No word for design outside of western though.
Myself and Oliver took some time familiarising ourselves with the bookbinding machines at the Greestone print room. Have made a useful contact in Emma, and pleased with the results of experiments with the technology. To be considered for application to project.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Had a much needed chat with John to clear my head about the course, feel better for having done so, not doing as badly as feared, in fact doing pretty well.

(AM) John

Important Journals


Varoom *


Eye *

Creative Review

It's Nice That (web based)

Crafts *

*Most academic

> Read widely: arbitrary connections can spark inspiration

> Inquisitive Mindset: like a 3 year old discovering a table, what are all the possibilities?

Course Breakdown:

Problem >-----------------> Solution
(The bit i need to pin down now!)


Term 1:

> Research and enterprise (research)

> Preparation for Major Project (portfolio)

(The discovery phase, testing/thinking, what can I do?)

(Overall aim is to have a written, solid proposal for the January hand in)

Term 2:

> Major Project

(exploiting efforts during, and acting on points above)

Term 3:

> Dissemination

(Exhibition and Dissertaion)

(Tie up loose ends, tell the world what you've done, does it have potential to go further? a lecture?)


> Hand in at TPH

> Pass mark is 50+

> 1 resit opportunity between the 3 initial modules.

> 1 resit opportunity for the final



> The course begins and ends with the bigger picture

> Take this opportunity to get things out there from a safe base

> Use the course. Use the uni.

> Will be clarified more as course develops

Other notes:

> Consider the need to tell stories: look to Guillermo Del Toro's influences.

> Hypocrisy is the root of teaching (John)

Review of Mood Boards/discourses task

Compared and contrasted design process, current discourses in pathway areas.

Interesting to see the cross-disciplinary issues raised.

> Recycling/Upcycling

> sustainability

> Simplification/Streamlining

> Sound/Added affordances

> 3D/ Immersion

> Print vs Screen

> Breaking Boundaries

> Craft/Making
> Rapid Prototyping

> Individual/Bespoke
> Signs vs. National Identity
> Pecking Orders (importance of considerations in order)
> Technology
> Ethical Responsibility

Other Notes:

> Designer, or designer maker?

> By identifying thems and discourses, and thosr that relate to you, you find out more about yourself.

> typography vs calligraphy (idiosyncrasy) (links to hand rendered text in illustration)

> reaction against craft

Resources/People To Check Out

> The Death of Print (David Carson)

> Otto Neurath: pictograms/isotype (graphic lingua franca) (note reactions against in culture)

> Margot Selby

> Panglish (Melvyn Bragg, Adventures in English)

> 100 Chairs, 100 Days

> Paul Ellerman: Narrative Signage