Friday, 8 March 2013

Creative Futures 2013 Conclusion

Overall, Creative Futures week 2013 has been very insightful and extremely helpful. With this being my last Creative Futures week, I really wanted to gain some valuable information about the industry I am about to embark into. I feel that the main focus of this week has been on promoting yourself and setting up yourself up as a business, which has been very helpful, as this is what I am currenty trying to do. I particularly enjoyed and found the most helpful, 'Being a Children's Illustrator' by Kirsteen Harris-Jones; 'Self-Employed: The Basics' by Andy Gardner; and "If I Had Only Known...' by Sian Saunders.
Although there didn't seem to be as many talks focused on illustration as such, every talk I attended had a piece of information, or a tip or piece of advice that I can transfer into my work.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Day 4
Thursday 7th March, 2013

Beyond the Creative to the Business End of Things - Gary Edwards

This talk was given by Gary Edwards. Gary owns the company Digital Issue, where they produce online publications. He began by giving a brief overview of his career, and where he is today. He quickly made it clear that reputation is a very important thing for him. He said it was very hard to build, but can be lost so quickly. Once you gain a reputation, you have to make sure that you maintain it. He gave three pointers on how to gain a reputation:

  • Research your market
  • Look after your clients
  • Know your competition
Although this talk was not what I was expecting, there was some interesting points brought up in it, and it was good to hear about the creative industry from another viewpoint.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Day 3
Wednesday 6th March, 2013

Setting up Your Own Business - Andy Gardner HMRC

This was probably the most helpful talk I attended this week. Andy Gardner from HM Revenue and Customs, gave a lively, extremely useful and funny talk. Walking in to this talk, I was expecting to come out with my head fried, and so confused, but I was surprised to find that this was not the case at all. Considering it was only an hour talk, Andy went into a lot of detail about: tax, paying and the classes of National Insurance, keeping and maintaining records, calculating net profit from turnover, allowable and non-allowable expenses, capital expenses and how to fill out tax return forms. Andy also provided us each with a thick booklet, explaining what he was saying in a lot more detail. He gave us some links to watch 'webimars' which are also there to help us a lot more for when we need them. I have always thought of tax as a extremely complicated thing that should only be approached by those who know what they're doing; to be honest, I still think this, but this talk has helped my understanding of taxes a lot more, and that they're not quite as scary as I first thought.

Designing for Mobile - Tim Makin

This was probably my least favourite, and least helpful talk out of this week. Tim graduated from Glyndwr in 2007. He now has his own company wink;nudge>. I didn't find this talk relevant to me, personally. There was some interesting points made in this talk, but a lot of it was for people who understand web design and the technical terms, whereas I don't. Something that I found quite interesting was the fact that web access on mobile phones will overtake desktop use in 2013. I found a couple of things helpful, for designing websites, as I am currently starting to create my own website, for example, there are two types of website, dedicated and responsive.

If Only I Had Known... - Sian Saunders

The most inspirational talk of the week!! Sian began the Daydream Designs company in 2006, just working from home. In 2008, the company started to grow and grow, and now there are 6 full-time members of the team, with some added extras. Daydream Designs is quite a unique agency, as they a very small agency, working from a converted garage at Sian and her husband's home, that really gets to know their clients like they're friends. They a offer a homely experience. Sian expressed many times throughout the talk, that they are always looking at how they can do something differently! A good example of this was the work that they have done for The Real Ale Trail, where as you scroll down the page, the beer glass gets emptier and emptier (shown below).

With Sian, as Ffion, a graphic designer who currently works there full time. She gave some good advice; to go into shops and look at what they are selling. See what you think you could do better, e.g. logos, packaging etc, and ask the owner if they are interested in you re-designing it, and sell it to them.
They put together 5 top tips, which they think are the most important things to do/remember:
  1. Stand out from the crowd! - designs with personality, because after all, we're hardwired to notice only what's different
  2. It's all about the customer! - listen to them!
  3. Live by design, not by default!
  4. Perspective - look at things differently, and continue to be curious!
  5. Go the extra mile! - this always makes a difference!
This talk was really inspiring, and you could really tell that Sian is extremely passionate about her work and her company. She really wants to make a mark, doing the thing's that she loves doing. It so refreshing to see someone get so passionate about their love for their job, not the commercial side, as Sian defines success as loving what you are doing, and waking up in the morning feeling excited about going to work. I came out of this talk, feeling inspired, thinking that I want to work for Sian and Daydream Designs, drinking tea, and creating quirky illustrations.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Day 2
Tuesday 5th March, 2013

Marketing Yourself - Denise Chilton

This was not your typical lecture. Denise presented a engaging talk, where student-participation was a must. The aim of this talk was to improve the way we see ourselves and our potential. Denise began by giving us an overview of her career, and how she got to where she is today. Leaving school at 16, she got a job in financial services. After having a midlife crisis ten years ago, Denise left her job in financial services, and brought a coffee cart and began selling coffees at events and shows. Two years into it, she won a small business award. She is now a qualified coach, who helps people get the lives they want. She showed us the importance of branding yourself as a company, giving us examples such as Coca-Cola, which had a largely negative view and Walkers crisps, which brought to mind the advertising campaign with Gary Lineker. There was numerous activities for us during this talk, the first of which, was us naming 5 adjectives that describe our first impression of her. Another quite interesting activity Denise got us to do was where we given a list of values, and we had to narrow it down to 5 values that are really important to us. She also got us to work in groups, and work out what our unique selling point is as an individual. Denise made it clear throughout the talk that the purpose of the talk and the activities was to make us feel uncomfortable; she certainly achieved this (for me anyway!).
You will never change the fact that people will have a impression about you as soon as they see you, but you can alter what they see and feel about you by the way you hold yourself and your body language. After all, 55% of what we read from a person during a conversation is from their body language, 38% is the tone we say things in and 7% is the actual words.

Children's Illustration - Kirsteen Harris-Jones

This was one of the best talks this week. Kirsteen is an ex-student from Glyndwr and is currently represented by Bright Agency. This talk was extremely useful and helpful. Kirsteen talked us through the process of working with a client, and producing a children's book. She described it as:
  1. You get given a brief, then you either accept or decline. If you accept, you then receive the contract
  2. When given the contract, always check the royalties. If you feel they're not as much as you would like, then speak to your agent, and they can negotiate for you
  3. Once you've signed the contract, you can start drawing!
  4. You come up with a series of cropped, clean pencil sketches. Do you're interpretation of the brief, and write why you have chosen to do this in the margin
  5. Scan them, and send it off. Wait for the response
  6. The pictures come back with scribbles on from the client, stating what parts they want changing and adjusting
  7. Once all your drawings have been approved, it's time to go onto final artwork, at this stage, the client may change their mind, or not like the final pieces. In this case, you must be professional and resolve any issues that they have
  8. The golden moment your first published book arrives!
Kirsteen also gave some really handy tips during this talk. These included: when working with a agent, you have to trust them completely! A lot of late nights are involved for most jobs, so you've got to be prepared for this. You have to be professional and see each job through to the end, and treat each job the same, no matter what you're getting paid for it. It's really important to keep on top of your paperwork!! Keep files for your sales orders, invoices and contracts from each job. Expect to wait anywhere between 3-5 months before being paid. The average price for a picture book is between £3,000-£4,000, and this is paid in segments. Be prepared to chase outstanding amounts yourself; using sticky notes is a good way to do this; keeping them on projects that haven't been paid yet, and the deadline. Kirsteen also told us about registering for PLR or ALACS (if an author). These give you an annual income from library borrowings of your books; I hadn't thought of this, and hadn't realised you could do this, so that was a useful piece of information. It is also important to develop a thick skin, quickly, and to make a presence; get yourself known to publishers, sending postcards out every 3 months, so they don't forget you, and to get on everything, social-networking wise.

This talk was so engaging, and there were lots of invaluable tips and pieces of information in there. It really opened my eyes even more to how the children's illustration industry works.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Day 1
Monday 4th March, 2013

Creative Futures 2013 - Opening Address

This talk started off my third and final Creative Futures week at Glyndwr. Dr. Stuart Cunningham (who walked in with a rock/wrestling style introduction playing) gave a brief introduction, welcoming us all to Creative Futures week, and explaining it's purpose; these being to help improve our employability, and our professional development. It is also there to help us gain a network with other working individuals. After a brief introduction, Sarah Mair Gates came on stage, and talked a bit about what the CCS (Creative and Cultural Skills) did, and how they help graduates get a job in the creative industry. This was a very brief talk, with a lot of statistics, just informing us of the work they do, and that they can help us get a job when we graduate (which is always a good thing!). The next speaker was unable to attend, so Dr. Stuart Cunningham talked through their powerpoint, which was about the work that the Creative Skillset Cymru do. Again, very statistic based, but there was some surprising statistics in there; e.g. there are 1.5 million people employed in the UK creative industries, and that the UK creative industries is worth £36billion per annum.

Keynote Speaker - Painting over the Cracks - Prof. Paul Haywood

This talk was given by Professor Paul Haywood, from Salford University. It mainly consisted of him explaining how he got to where he is today, and the projects he has been involved with. He was worked on a project that helped deal with the gun problem in Moss Side in Manchester. This saw the team melting down weapons that the police had confiscated, and turned them into ingots for use in industry; Another impressive project he was involved with was collecting colours from the landscapes around Littleborough and designing a colour palette that represents Littleborough; You could tell from the way Prof. Paul Haywood was talking about his work, that he was extremely passionate. Although I didn't gain much for my own knowledge and learning from this talk, it was really interesting to see a creative not working necessarily commercially, but more for helping the local community.

How Not to be a Designer - Robert Ball

This talk was a look at Robert Ball, and how he basically became a designer, by doing the things we aren't 'supposed' to do as a designer. It was split into three parts; a bit about Robert, a bit about his work, and a bit about us as designers. He talked us through his work when he first came out of uni working on the Robocop 3 video game, and up until now working with the London based advertising agency, The Partners. He showed us some of the work he had helped design for a new advertising campaign for The National Gallery. This work was really impressive, and very well thought out. They went on to do a marketing campaign, where they hung full size copies of the paintings on the streets of London.

I think that the most useful part of the talk, was where Robert got to the part where he was talking about us. Here he gave us some really helpful tips and pieces of advice. He advised us not to write a CV, as most employers will look at your portfolio over your CV. If you do have to write a CV, then only tell them things that you want them to know, and leave out interesting hobbies, unless they are really, really interesting. Enter as many competitions as possible, as it's great exposure for you; after all, it doesn't hurt to try. Another piece of advice he said was to look for inspiration somewhere other than the internet, because if you look in the same place, you’ll have the same portfolio as these. When putting a portfolio together online, keep it very simple, with as few clicks as possible. When putting a paper one together, keep it clean and tidy, and don't include any roughs and sketches, as most people wont want to see these. This was a diagram he put together on how not to put together a portfolio.

Design and Illustration in Illustrated Publishing - Yasia Williams-Ledden

Yasia is the Deputy Art Director of Octopus Publishing Group. She has been working here for 10 years, making her way up to the current position she is in.

Yasia gave us some great tips about design and designing book jackets, and just the publishing industry as a whole. She showed some of her previous work, and some of the work she is currently working on, all of which was very impressive, and really made me think about when I'm designing book jackets, and the impact I want it to achieve.

After Yasia gave her talk, she opened the floor to a Q&A session, with some good questions being asked, and each question was answered really well.

Yasia expressed at the beginning of the talk that she had a passion for typography, and how it can bring a illustration to life. It wasn't until I was thinking about this more, that I realised I completely agree with this. Choosing the right typeface is so important to making a illustration stand out. Although this talk wasn't as based on illustration as much as I would have liked, it really helped improve my knowledge and understanding of the publishing industry much more, and there was some great tips given in this talk.