Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Back to the start...

Looking back through my journal posts, it's hard to believe that our first (academic) year on the course is over. We are now officially halfway through our learning adventure and it's scary to think that this time next year I will be sat here writing my final journal entry before heading off into the big bad world of full time employment as a web designer.

Upon reflection on my previous ramblings, it concerns me that there is an underlying issue that runs between the threads. My attendence, punctuality and time management outside of college have been talked about in virtually all of my journal entries.

Going forward (as I've seemingly stated all year) these are issues which I need to address. Only I can change me and eradicate the bad habits into which I've fallen. Proper utilisation of time management devices such as time sheets and production schedules should help but these are only the beginning. My attitide needs to change too. I need to get out the "it won't take me that long, I'll do it later" attitude and rediscover my intial enthusiasm for the course. Over the course of the year I've grown sick and tired of sleepless nights before deadlines and the constantly feeling stressed and underperforming.

There have been positives to being on the course. The lectures and assignments have been varied and interesting as have the field trips and guest speakers from the Design Mechanics and Jonny Haynes. The assignments we've completed this year were:

A1 - Sketchblog

I feel that I've underachieved with this assignement. The basic concept was straightforward enough - collect inspirational pieces each week either of your own choosing or to a given theme and annotate. This proved to be more of a challenge than you'd imagine, especially as I kept leaving it to the last minute to trawl the internet rather than actually going out and have things naturally jump out at me. Also evidenced as part of the assignment was the ideas generation and developement processes for each assignment. Again this is an area that I feel I can improve on. Simply by spending more time on the intial concepts and utilising various ideas generation techniques then I'm confident that my final designs will be more dynamic and visually interesting.

A2 - Journey of a thousand miles
Essentially this was our ease you in gently assignment. It definitely proved to be an excellent introduction to the different types of technologies and languages we would be using over the course of the year.

A3 - Sounds like a plan
I think I’d have enjoyed this assignment more if I hadn’t had the theme for the page dictated to me. This however is in keeping with the idea that the course is run in such a way that it reflects life in actual design studio / professional environment. My initial struggles getting to grips with Indesign resulted in a less than impressive, but solid site design.

A4 - Typecast
I’ll be honest my first impressions of an assignment about typography didn’t really excite me all that much. However once we got started and I started learning more and more I found it to be quite enjoyable. In fact it was the first assignment that I passed first time. The way it was structured helped an awful lot with each week having timed mini assignments to complete in class which helped keep me on track with the production side of things.

A5 - Builder
This was the assignment we’d all been waiting for - our first opportunity to create a webpage built with XHTML 1.0 strict and CSS 2.1. The initial lectures were quite daunting and I’m glad that my screen design from A3 was pretty simple in terms of layout. Having said that, I would’ve liked to have done so much more with the page, especially after I began to get to grips with the coding.

A6 - The big picture
Or an introduction to Photoshop as it should’ve been subtitled. Another very useful assignment though perhaps would’ve been more beneficial closer to the start of the course before the design work really kicked in.

A7 - Rasterised
Overall I’m disappointed with the way this assignment turned out. I feel I had a really good concept for the re-imagined CD artwork but looking back over the development process and the additional design work required for the assignment I can’t help but think it could’ve been so much better.

My work certainly wasn’t as Photoshop intensive as other members of the group – mainly due to the fact I’m not as clued up at using it as others. This is something that I have the ability to rectify over the summer as I intend to use the time constructively and begin to unleash the full potential of CS4 and my imagination.

This was definitely a culmination of everything that we’ve learned over the previous 9 months or so and I wish I’d put more effort into the initial design process to create more dynamic designs as I’m particularly unhappy with my Wire advert and logo designs as neither really jump out of the page.

At the end of the day though what’s done is done, I won’t dwell on past mistakes and if only’s. All I can do is make sure that I eradicate the negatives from this year and focus on the positives so that I hit the ground running in September. I’m looking forward to the additional challenges which will come with the final year. The self managed learning plan is an intriguing proposition and if I’m honest at this point in time I have no idea what I wish to learn about as part of it.

Going forward onto the second year, I think it’s important to set myself some goals to help keep me focused including:
  • 100% attendance – to help reduce the possibility of falling behind with my work
  • Improve my punctuality
  • Properly structure myself study time to maximize the output
  • Achieve at least a merit for all my assignments at the first time of asking

If I can achieve these small steps initially, I’m confident that I can go from strength to strength and achieve my full potential and so finish the course with a bang.

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