inspiration in absolute bucket loads!!!

wow what a morning!!!  Lauren Currie probably just changed most of 2nd year Design Studies Students lives if not forever then at least for a little while. Inspirational just isn’t enough to describe what Lauren has done in such a short time.  But just who is she? Lauren was a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone in 2008 and after a summer of working in design she came back to do her Master  of Design at D of J but Lauren had her future mapped way before that, from 2nd year in fact, when like us today she heard all about service design.  Lauren introduced us to some of her projects today, Studio Unbound, Redjotter, Snook and myPolice.

Lauren talked about the importance of social networking and how incredible opportunities can happen if you put yourself out there and just have confidence in what you’re doing. Through twitter Lauren was flown first class to China to talk about Innovation in Scotland!   Blogging, Tweeting, flickr, vimeo and using Skype are amongst Laurens’ favourite online tools but she also stressed the importance of keeping our online presence professional this leads to an important point – to think of how we are perceived by others both online, in the studio with our peers and with our tutors. Lauren encouraged us to believe in ourselves as designers – if we believe, others will too.

For me its been quite a journey getting to where I am and when I came to Duncan of Jordanstone last May for an interview for direct entry to second year – just walking up the steps to the building was amazing, I can never explain to any one how much it means to me to be actually studying here, it really is a dream come true (someone once said to me that I sound like Im on X factor and the novelty will wear off but thats really how it feels) so for me everyday is like another opportunity to be grasped and I want to learn and push myself as much as I can, while I can.  My enthusiasm for my textile work knows no bounds I absolutely love coming into the studio and have loved the project briefs set  so far and get so excited over new challenges. Lauren has made me realise that if I start now I can also feel the same about anything I want to take on – just apply the same principles as I do in the studio.  So here goes, I always think Im not good enough in my writing but from now on this will change – ‘attitude’ is on her list of five inspirational words. If I believe in my writing and keep practicing by blogging small amounts as often as possible then it can only improve and my confidence will grow. Openess, belief, confidence and explore are Laurens’ other words and I think I will write these out and place them on my  studio desk – they will become my mantra!

Another really important point was to think of ourselves as a brand – Laurens’ Red Jotter avatar is her own red nails and people have approached her because of this so its important that I choose something memorable – I’ve always been known for my love of red lipstick! Wonder what Lauren would think of that?  Lauren mentioned that someones avatar was going to be a plate of cookies – then when applying for an internship  she could send cookies to get herself noticed! I remember hearing Johanna Basford speak and she sent mugs with one of her amazing designs printed on instead of a business card – she said that even if they use it for pencils it will stay on their desk and not put in a wallet and forgotten about – brilliant idea!

So the ‘to do list’ has started – use my connections more, I’m fortunate that I belong to exhibiting groups – so I need to focus and create things that others will want/need. Think of a brand, choose an eye catching avatar,  focus and create, get out and about and interact and remember that its never too late and although I’m 50 remember that life begins there!

Vanilla Ink

Kate Pickering gave a great talk to 2nd Year Design Students on Friday speaking honestly about her experience at  Duncan of Jordanstone, her time after graduating with an Honours degree in Jewellery and Metalwork and then her Master of Design experience, but Im not going to repeat her story I want to tell you about what she has planned for the future.

Vanilla Ink is Kates’ new project which came about after her Master of Design course, during this time Kate realised  that her degree could work for her in all design aspects not only  jewellery making.  She spoke honestly that her degree didn’t prepare her for the real world of business plans, working to others’ specifications, pricing her work and actually selling herself.  She realised there was an opening for others to be helped and so after taking a course at Starter for 6 through the cultural enterprise office she had a business plan to take forward for financial help and has now secured fully equipped work shop premises.

Available to graduates within two years of  their graduation, Vanilla ink will offer  business training and further development in specialised training from designers in the industry, speakers to tell their stories and offer advice.  A one to one mentoring service and each graduate will have their own workspace – something which is often difficult to set up at the beginning and through this space will have direct access to clients.  At the end of the year there will be an exhibition giving the designers a date to work to and also real life experience of setting up and organising.  Interested? Vanilla Ink is open to Jewellery graduates who have graduated within two years, there is an application process and this will give valuable experience in selling themselves.

To find our more about Kate and Vanilla Ink check out her website here.

back to study …..

… what a fun lecture we had on Friday, our first after a break which seemed to last an eternity.  Good taste or not good taste that was the question, well sort of, to begin with we talked about The Canon – for those who dont know, the Oxford Dictionary defines The Canon as;

  • a collection or list of sacred books accepted as genuine:the biblical canon
  • the works of a particular author or artist that are recognized as genuine:the Shakespeare canon
  • the list of works considered to be permanently established as being of the highest quality:Hopkins was firmly established in the canon of English poetry

but who decides which books, poems, albums or songs should make it into the top ten, twenty or one hundred ?  Jonathan asked us to think about who influences us and who we influence.  I know I’ve had influence on my three children in their early music choices and now they definitely influence me with music and I love listening to their new finds.  With interiors my twin girls Rachel and Louise most definitely love what I do,  their rooms in their uni flats are a younger version of my taste and its fun to see their take on it.   My influences have built up from a very early age, my love of textiles and pattern has been with me for as long as I can remember and vintage with a contemporary twist was probably the influence of both my gran, who loved china cups and teapots with crochet mats and cushions and my very first introduction to Habitat when I moved up to Edinburgh in the late 70’s!  What a mix.  So for me my taste has definitely been acquired as far as interiors go.

In an exercise it was interesting to see how Top 5’s could be put together – these were fun to do and in 2 minutes, small groups of us  compiled lists of our top 5 albums, films, composers and designers.  Ages within these groups were very mixed and this too had an influence on what we choose, sometimes the choices came from those who talked the loudest and could actually think of something in such a short time so the decisions were not so precise, fun but not accurate!

An important piece of information from Jonathan and James Donald, my tutor from Dundee Collage back in 2009, was to get to know people – network,  often our popularity as an artist will be determined by who we know and not what we know. Befriending the Curator of a proposed exhibition is also a great idea, as Im reliably imformed that they like to be known for finding the next new artist, of course if Saachi was to buy one of my pieces, would that be me made for life?  Now, with Design Studies, part of our course is encouraging us to blog, Tweet and facebook, so we should have a head start when 2013 arrives. 

Off to read Bourdieu tonight!

The truth of War

Some thoughts following the lecture on Friday where we were taken back in time to the First World War and shown the incredible art work produced by the artists of the time who travelled with the Army, Navy and RAF, appropriate at this time of year when we’ve just had Remembrance Sunday.

In 1993 The Times Newspaper and The Imperial War Museum commissioned Peter Howson to go to Bosnia to travel with the British forces who were part of the United Nations Protection Force. Howson struggled with his commission and found it hard to produce work for the exhibition which would follow, he suffered illness and never felt happy enough with what he’d produced, painting over it again and again and  at one point he had his art materials stolen and found he had to improvise with candle grease and boot polish. This helped him at the time as the work he produced from then on was more simple and made him realise that it was the everyday things he should paint not just the strong moments.

The work he went on to create for the IWM was subject to debate as the subject in the paintings was very controversial – Howson had captured what he saw but also what he’d heard about and the British press argued he should only paint what he saw, although they too were reporting on the awfulness of what was happening! However the paintings were all hung at the exhibition and carried a warning that the exhibition might not be suitable for children.  After the exhibition the IWM only kept one of the paintings, the one causing controversy is in the collection of David Bowie.

Imperial War Museum

Jackson, A., 1997. A Different Man: Peter Howson’s Art, from Bosnia and Beyond. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing.

The reason I talk about Howson was because he had a big influence on my son.  Stevie ‘lived’ in the art department whilst at school and the work Howson produced encouraged him to paint what he felt  and again Stevies’ paintings caused controversy within the school.  They had a dark side to them but they were all hung outside the school library for years.  Art should be allowed to show the dark side, as with press reporting not all in this world is good, art is just another way to tell a story. I feel if it makes us feel uncomfortable that says more about us than about the artist.


Technology in a shawl

After my thoughts on the hug in a wrap following the lecture by Hazel White, I’ve  been looking at other ways people use technology in their textiles I’ve  mentioned  Jo Hodge in a previous post. Jo is a textile designer and former graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone  with a Masters in Design and for her  Ph.D is working with wearable technology and smart materials.  For her Masters Jo created  clothing from recycled textiles and using her drawing skills and special dye created pattern which alters when exposed to heat or UV light.  Her work is available to view on flickr.

I’ve also found a shawl; The NapCap designed by Simone Wittmann as part of her final year project. It provides security, peace of mind  and comfort whilst travelling on public transport. Simone is a German Designer who specialises in Industrial Design, Design Management and Interaction Design

You can follow the design inspiration and development here.

A scarf which has uses in the medical field is the Beagle Scarf designed by Leo Chao. Leo worked with autistic children and their parents to develop this idea, it works on the sensory system to block or stimulate according to the childs needs.

read in more detail here

Another awesome link I found via Jo Hodge is ‘Where I Go’ by Yves – a ring which instead of a diamond holds a camera, it works by taking photographs according to your settings and saving them to a photo service site (through subscription). Viewing the video is a must.

This is opening a whole new world to me.