Work Placement Documentation and Evaluation

December 8, 2008

This is a college-related bit of a report of What I Did On My Holidays, which was work with:

Creative Spark
Suite 3a, 3rd Floor
22 Lever Street
Manchester
M1 1EA

Phone: 0161 235 8558

According to their website, Creative Spark work with advertising, exhibition displays, brochures, branding, corporate identity, illustration, animation, print, product and packaging design, web design and multimedia development. They are a relatively small company, only having 4 main employees, but have a wide range of skills.

http://www.creativespark.co.uk

I spent two weeks with Creative Spark in mid August, having got in contact with the MD, Neil Marra, via email through their website. He was very positive about the work he’d seen on my own website, especially my character-based work, and the first week was mostly playing about with stuff for the company specifically, not live briefs – they’re currently producing a book to promote themselves on the theme of Work and Play, and they wanted to include me in it so asked me to come up with some ideas for some illustrations to put in it, working both on paper and in Illustrator to design a series of monsters.

This gave me a whole new boost of confidence; it’s incredibly satisfying to find other people are excited by the type of illustration that you enjoy working with most but had never considered a “proper” style, as it were –  most of my work in this style with these types of characters have been idle doodles on the back of flyers and on scrap paper

Andy, the designer I worked with most found something on the YCN website called YCN Live, which is all about trying to get young creatives’ work into office space to be seen. Since I’d pretty much already done this by having my work on their bathroom walls, Andy submitted it, and thus I got featured on the YCN website.

The second week was working on live briefs; I redesigned some website illustrations for a film production called Chief, I produced some images to be turned into pop-up pages for a brochure, and I did a flyer for Neil’s band. I’m sure there was other stuff too. But basically I spent two weeks having loads of fun and making myself (and the team) giggle, which is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life.

The team was really positive, which was overwhelmingly flattering: Neil says they get quite a lot of people asking for work placements and most of them are all exactly the same, but they loved my style because it was really distinctive. They’re also going to get in touch about paid work in the future, which obviously I’m ecstatic about; getting paid to make myself giggle is even better. You can check out some photos they took while I was there at their blog too.

A lot of the things I have learnt – through talking to practitioners and dealing with clients both directly and through agencies – are quite practical, like keeping a track of the number of hours I spend on some work and how best to agree on issues such as deadlines and copyright. I’ve also come to think that working on a project for a client is a much more condensed and decisive version of a college project; for instance I recently worked on an e-flyer invitation and rather than working for several weeks on research and evaluation I spent just over an hour and a half on the entire thing, because they needed it the same day. However, I’m aware that this doesn’t mean that research and evaluation are defunct in a working environment – of course not – it is merely that there is less time to deliberate and the final piece is what is, when all is said and done, most important (though this wouldn’t come together without the rest of it).

I have also been looking at lots of different creative publications, such as:

http://www.ycnonline.com/

5oup: http://www.5oup.net/

Design Sponge: http://www.designspongeonline.com/

Drawn!: http://drawn.ca/

Boxbird: http://www.boxbird.co.uk

Computer Arts Magazine

I’ve had quite a positive response about my portfolio; as I mentioned above, Neil said that it was distinctive and stood me apart from other people who apply for work placements at the company. I think the most important thing I need to work on with it is to make it more focused and directed towards what I definitely want to work with. I’m working on refining it as part of my Professional Project, by redesigning my website and restructuring its gallery. I think my online portfolio has been a lot more beneficial to me than my print one (especially in gaining my work placement in the first place) though I shall maintain both as a precaution.

What’s most important to show in my portfolio is that although I work in a specific way, I am able to adapt my abilities without losing what makes it mine, like the packaging work I’ve been doing recently. Both my tutors and Creative Spark have said that being able to show I can adapt is important.

As for the future, although I’ve been working mostly freelance throughout my time at college I’m aware this is quite a precarious career plan, especially for a recent graduate who would quite like to continue living in her own home rather than with her parents (especially as they might be emigrating in the near future). I’m planning to live in York but would like to be flexible as to where I work, as I don’t mind traveling – for instance if Creative Spark wanted to get in touch with some work.

When looking at potential companies to work with what is most important to me is the style of work. I want to be impressed by both their ideas and how they carry them off, and as I have quite a specific style I think it’s important to make sure that my work would fit in with the way they work, for both me and for them. I don’t mind who the client is as long as my work lends itself to it.
Companies I’m investigating:

http://www.bivouac.co.uk

http://www.colourbox.co.uk

http://www.turnkey.eu.com

http://www.bluestonedesign.co.uk

http://www.commsdesign.co.uk

Now that I have more of a geographical focus (ie, I know where I want to be next year) I am going to look closer at the companies that I am interested in working with – especially any based in York – and investigate in what way it would be best to begin communicating with them. This might be sending them a email or letter, it might be calling them up, it might even be turning up on their doorstep, if it’s possible. I’m also going to keep in contact with Creative Spark, who have promised in turn to do their best to promote me as an individual illustrator whenever they use me for their briefs. I’m also going to keep in contact with Oxjam Manchester, because although my work for them is voluntary I enjoy doing it and it’s also a good way to get exposure for my work to lots and lots of different people.

Now I know how I want to work, I would like to continue to show to myself and any clients that I can adapt my style without losing what makes it mine, by working with more new and varied briefs. I would also like to continue to improve my screenprinting skills as I think my style lends itself to the technique well (or would if I was any good at it!).

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