Thursday, 14 April 2011

True North

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I had a visit set up for True North today, a contact I made through my placement in London. I was looking forward to it following my meeting at TBWA. I felt a lot happier with the way my portfolio sat and was curious to see what advice I could get to really push it. I saw Matt who has been with company for 9 years and he was great, really friendly and easy to get along with. We had a chat about my placement and the guy who put us both in contact, but also about 3rd year, which was good as a starting point. We quickly dived into my portfolio and what was really great from the start is how much detail he was looking at the project in, and really getting to grips with what the project's were about.

We started with the Ritz project, which I think he really understood that our main concept was to push the unique shape of the cracker and to have packaging that draws your attention and sets itself apart on the shelf. We talked through the project and the choices we had made regarding the logo/pack designs he said really positive things about the way we were thinking and how we had applied it saying that it was brave to design something so graphic for that type of product and it would definitely be eye catching on the shelf. He talked about having the three flavours all next to each other and keeping the christmas editions as separate elements on a new page. In terms of the Bitz, I talked about previous comments made about the size of the logo and we discussed ways that could be altered to make it have a slightly different look.

We talked through the helvetica brief and we talked about how it was important to be able to use typography in a creative way and he believed the layout showed great understanding of not only the typeface but also in the structure. He thought it was difficult to arrange type in the way I had done so with a range of different column sizes and vertical and horizontal blocks of text. I think the brief almost speaks for itself in terms of what it aims to achieve, but he mentioned it would be nice to see other examples of editorial work or maybe even some of the poster designs that we had done around the same time.

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We talked quite a bit about the V&A end sting, as he was really looking into the detail of every project, he actually made me feel really passionate about the idea again! The initial concept was to keep the elegance of the V&A logo and to bring it together in a way that mimicked the symmetry that designer Alan Fletcher had created. Matt really picked up on this and really highlighted the fact that it had been kept elegant and clean and said he could imagine this on a website or after an advert, easily. He appreciated the difficulty of trying to express something within a 5 second window but for the fact I could have gone in any direction, he thought I'd chosen something that really epitomised what the V&A Museum is all about. I then decided to talk to him about my thoughts on taking it out of my portfolio and the reasons that I didn't know whether it was needed/didn't have enough to say about it . He seemed to think it was a great little project that did show an understanding of design and working with a big identity but also keeping something neat and simplistic. At the same time he pointed out that I should only keep it in if I felt confident about it and the idea. I guess up until now I've lost a bit of passion about it but after talking to Matt or rather hearing him talk about it to me, It's definitely made me relook at it and actually realise that there is a good idea in there and it shows if anything else that I know how to apply design over not just print based artifacts.

We moved onto the 7x7book and talked through the process of working with other people and the importance of having a live brief to give you a real understanding of real deadlines and what's actually required. However he really felt that the book and poster didn't connect as well as they could do and he said he could tell the book wasn't printed to the same quality all the way through and as a result of that looked almost like it could look amazing - but doesn't. He thought it was a great way to show an experience but as design work, he had seen more in my portfolio that would suggest I didn't need to include it. There's definitely lots in that that I agree with. I still struggle with the quality of the book, even though plenty of designers have said they hardly realised the printing mistakes, it still makes me highlight the experience side of the project instead of the design side. I find myself almost ignoring the design elements of the book because I find it easier.

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Ted Baker was the next brief and again I was trailing my all new mood board to introduce the concept and idea. He was really into the concept and thought the packaging was really strong. He liked the quirky elements of the patterns and the tea theme and thought there was real legs in the in-store/window display arrangements. but felt I could definitely show more elements over more boards. With showing inside the tins to show how the shoes would sit and possibly some other forms of promotional items, like store bags, direct mail etc. This has really made me think of how to extend the project. All the elements are there it's just a case of bringing them together to show how I can apply the idea over different things. Matt really made a point of showing as much as possible of how an idea can work over different platforms and I think I could definitely show more of this for the project. He loved the idea behind the app and thought it was presented clear and well. He thought the app icon page was maybe a little unnecessary as one or two elegant designs would suffice and he wasn't sure whether the changeable interface was even possible.
He also gave me great advice how to improve the layout of the project, he thought the idea of an introductory page with visual stimuli was great but could be arranged in a better way toi really explain my train of thought. (Ted Baker + Tea = Tea Baker) Using this as a way of explaining how I got to that fusion, then really giving the project breathing space by then having the identity 'Tea Baker' on its own page then feeding that into the packaging, instore concepts and then the app. He believes this would make presenting the project a lot easier and it would create suspense and build momentum to the flow of the presentation. I couldn't agree more with that. I have always been conscious of how many pages you should have per project and he explained that sometimes a project needs space and why not, if it's something your proud of you should want to spread it out. He also thinks it would allow the audience to really consume the designs without me having to explain the concept, logo and designs all in one go. This I think would help with me talking less and letting the designer really soak up the project.

The last project was the london pasta festival, which was one of the pieces that was sent over to Matt previous to him getting in touch. Similarly to Craig Oldham, this was the brief that really caught his attention and made him want to see me. He said it was the simplicity in the idea and with a bit of tweaking it would be there as a really strong identity. He suggested getting rid of the logo designs on the side of the page and focussing on the concept - giving me some ideas on how to push that, branching out on the pasta festival idea. We spoke about how it would be good to then see how that would work over stationary, bags, side of a van etc. He said it would show my ability to take an identity and visualise it across different platforms. As my final major project has taken a different route I want to retain this idea and develop it because I think it is strong and has potential.

Matt then went back through each project and told me ways to improve the portfolio his suggestion was to break up my big projects to flow over as many pages as they needed. E.g. the Ritz project he suggested that the old logo and new logo should be on the first page then the 3 boxes on the second with the Christmas editions after on their own page with the brand extension last. This allows me to get my explanation out of the concept and idea then not have to over talk as they look at the packaging and how I have applied that concept. This feels like it would work really well for Ritz, Ted Baker and Pasta Festival (once it has been developed) He strongly suggested taking out the 7x7 book as it felt weak in comparison to the other projects. As I feel more confident about the V&A end sting I am definitely considering this, although I do like having tactile things in my portfolio - the book might not be the right answer. He gave me lots of really helpful ways of allowing the portfolio to flow and I felt I got some really genuine feedback from him, which is not always something that transpires out of portfolio visits. He said he was looking forward to how the portfolio has changed for the next time I see him so all hands on deck with making it as good as possible.

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