Category Archives: Professional Practice Portfolio

Publication Group

I was a part of the publication group. This was a group that decided not to do a London exhibition but to create a book instead. I wanted to be a part of this as I thought it was something different / a new set of skills to learn as I would be doing the Coventry degree show anyway. At first the group meetings went well, some people didn’t turn up so we decided as a group they should leave because we needed full commitment from the group. We all wanted to create a one off piece that could not be produced again, so that when the person received it they would consider it special and not want to throw it away. We discussed having the text embossed that we all agreed would be worth the extra cost. I looked some quotes for getting the books made, but Becky got some better quotes so we decided to go with those. Dean got Rick to design the book and the layout which was really good because I wasn’t sure about the layout and he had experience of creating books before. I gave him my text and images (not the final ones as they were still being created) which was good to see a mock layout / a visual idea of how it would look inside.

What I had noticed was I didn’t like the front cover and no one seemed to be putting any ideas forward so I took it upon myself to suggest different ideas with Rick which might work better. I didn’t want to be in charge of the front cover but I thought someone needed to step up to take charge of it. Rick was great because he trialled different ideas and colours etc.

 

Unfortunately the group were not very good at communicating about which designs they did and didn’t like which worried me that they might keep quiet and then say at the last minute that they weren’t happy with it. Ironically this is what happened and some members of the group dropped out over it. This financially strained us because it was last minute so we realised we could not carry on with the book. This upset me as I had tried to get them to communicate their opinions from the beginning, but instead they left it to the last minute, dropping out which forced us to cancel the publication. It felt like all the hard work put in for the book was for nothing.

Other things I had been doing for this publication was exploring the possibility of using brown paper that I could get with my discount from work to package the books giving them that special feel but Danielle said she could get the paper for free from her work which was even better as it was one less cost. When we looked into the wax stamp Dean came up with a good alternative gold sticker as he had discovered wax stamps were problematic with the postage machines, and the gold stickers were much cheaper so we decided to go with those. Even though this book didn’t get made I still learnt a lot about teamwork. Maybe we should have collected money as commitment sooner. And working with Rick taught us how to develop ideas and that the first idea isn’t always the one you use.

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Invites and Opening Night

I sent emails, used Twitter when tweeting about my project (adding the exposure 24 hash tag to raise interest) and gave invitations to people that I wanted to come to the degree show. I wanted everyone to come that had been involved in the project so I invited them, it was nice to see them on the night enjoying seeing how their work fitted into the finished project. I invited schools and staff that I had worked with previously on other projects for them to see this work. I also invited other photographers that I have made contacts with during the course. Although some people couldn’t come on the opening night it was nice that they had planned to come on other nights to enjoy the work.

I was nervous on the opening night; firstly because I didn’t know if the people I had invited would turn up, secondly because people might not understand or get my work and ask me questions about it. I didn’t think I would be as nervous as this, but after a while I began to find it easy to talk to people about my work. It was great to hear feedback about the work and other people’s ideas and experiences of dyslexia. It was also nice to see people interacting with presentation on the computer because I was worried that might get overlooked. I think the opening night had a great feel to it. I actually had to stay there for the whole night because it was my turn to staff and close it, but in the end I was glad I stayed until the end because I met more of other people’s guests who were also interested in my work. I’m glad that I was a part of the degree show. At times during the beginning planning stages I had wished I wasn’t a part of it, but actually I really enjoyed it.

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Installing the work

Once the whole gallery and my plinth was painted any my area was ready I could start to prepare for hanging my work. Because in my work I said that I wanted it pinned, I bought two boxes of gold pins and I knew that I didn’t need hammers etc. All I needed was the pins, string, a spirit level, a pencil, rubber and a ruler. When thinking about what level to position the work I started by sweeping the floor to make sure there was no dust, then I laid the images out on the floor for the total size. I wanted the middle row of images to be at eye level. Having measured this to be approximately 160cm from the ground I then made a series of marks with the pencil at that level and pinned a piece of string at either end which should give a straight line when pulled tight. I checked this with the spirit level before drawing in the line with a pencil as a guide to putting the images up. I then started by pinning my first portrait image up, measuring 2cm across from that to pin my adjacent landscape image up, measuring 4cm up from that one and again 2cm from the portrait one to position them evenly. I repeated that process for each image. It took all day to put all 73 images up which was very tiring, but I was very pleased with the outcome. It worked really well and I was happy with the positioning despite being the first person to start and the last person to end.

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Helping Curating the degree show

Since the end of the book group, I have taken on the role of curator for the degree show alongside Dean O’Brien. We visited the Lanchester  Gallery to measure up, note where doors, windows, power points and pillars were and introduced ourselves to Sadie Kerr (the Gallery’s curator) from this it was good to see the size of the gallery and to understand from Sadie the best way of using the space. Then I put myself forward to make a scale size model of the gallery. Paul emailed me a floor plan of the gallery that I would have to scale down. I decided to make the model out of foam board so that it would be light to move around, but when deciding what size to do it I didn’t want it to be too small to see the images, but didn’t want it too big to move around.

Scaling down working out:

Image of model:

Once I had made the model I communicated via Facebook on the photography group page how to size down their images and for them to bring them in. On the first week no one brought them in, then on the second week only a couple of people brought their images in. I had a lot of emails off people saying they couldn’t resize them or get to Coventry to hand them in. I stressed why it was important to get these in, but still not everyone seemed bothered. It was a shame really as I had gone to a lot of hard work making the model and it would have been nice to be able to see everyones images to work with. My worry was, when placing people in the gallery with no scaled images to work with we might not know what they require. These worries came true when allocating the spaces with Sadie. She was asking us what each persons work looked like and we didn’t know so were having to do some of the work blindly. But i do feel that we did a good job and when dean created a paper layout of the initial plan to put on facebook, no one had any objections and seemed happy. I knew that three of us needed power points; me, Nicola and Donna. At the beginning there was some discussions on who would have the room as at first me and Dean thought bot of them could exhibit in the room, but actually because the work was so different Sadie said it wouldn’t work. We left Sadie and Greg to discuss with the girls different solutions for this from their previous experience. In the end Nicola was happy with the decision to exhibit in the opposite corner of the gallery to me so that even though we were in the same room people would still be able to hear each through the headphones.

After speaking to Greg I arranged to come in to paint my plinth for the degree show. When I was there I found out that there was no-one else in the gallery getting ready for the degree show. This worried me as we only had three days until the opening night. I spoke to Dean to tell him there was a lot of preparation work to be done in the gallery, so him and Paul sent out an email to tell everyone they needed to come in the next day. On the day not everyone came, bit the people that did all pulled together to work as a team and get all the walls painted. It’s a shame that not everyone was there but we didn’t let this get in the way. We had to try not to get paint on the floor and if we did we had to clean it off but by the end of the day it looked really clean and tidy. I think it was a wise decision to paint all the walls again to give it a fresh look.

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Lesson Four

The final lesson for 354MC involved a workshop from Francis Brown about alternative enterprise. She began by getting us to map out what we ideally want to be doing for employment in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years time. I want to be working at John Lewis and Coventry University mentoring for the next year or so. Then I plan to have progressed to management at John Lewis by 5 years time, and to be working in schools with my dyslexia and photography project, building up a strong portfolio of this work. This would hopefully lead to an excellent portfolio of working with other professionals in 10 years time so that I am respected and known for my work with photography and dyslexia and can set up my own business delivering talks about looking at dyslexia differently. The point of this exercise was to identify just how many different things we might do in our ten years from graduation. Apparently some creative graduates do as many as forty different jobs in their ten years from graduation.

The next exercise was to consider what values we have at the moment, what job we are aiming for and what skills we need for it. My values were money, family, standing on my own two feet / not having to rely on anybody else, being creative, helping dyslexic children and making people view dyslexia differently. I ideally want to be recognised as ‘the face of dyslexia’ and to have my own business raising awareness of advantages of dyslexia. I already have experience of working with dyslexic students as well as first hand experience of what it is like to be dyslexic and up to date knowledge. I identified that I may need to gain contacts through networking, meeting people who can bring new skills to the business, keeping up to date with recent developments in dyslexia and perhaps learning business management. Francis advised me that there are lots of business management courses that I could enrol on and that the staff at the ICE building at the university could help me find the right one for me.

Then the final exercise was designed to get us to think outside the box about how our career path might take twists and turns and may change suddenly altogether. We were encouraged to think about what skills we could be overlooking. Francis gave the example of a fashion designer who was headhunted not for her designs but for her technical ability. I think my underlying skills are communication and organisation for managing people. Therefore to promote myself differently I could manage in any environment. I feel that as long as I am working in something I believe in, that I can apply myself to it. Thinking of other hobbies or interests that could be useful to my career I could maybe bring in my performing arts skills to deliver workshops to children. We were supposed to think about how we could alter our values at this point but Francis agreed that my values were pretty adaptable throughout. If I did have to change my career altogether I might go into teaching. I found it useful to think about how varied my career path might be and that I don’t have to just choose one path; I can chose to do two at the same time i.e. John Lewis to pay the bills and mentoring to gain new skills.

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Lesson three

As I was unable to attend the third session due to hanging my work for the degree show, I looked at the lesson information on moodle. There was a talk on creative enterprise in which it stated; “ The self-employed creative freelancer needs to be their own marketing, PR and finance department – as well as carry out the core creative business.” Highlighting that we must not forget to utilise our non-creative skills as well. Key points were to research and identify who your audience / customers are which we have done in previous assignments. Also to make good use of promotion and networking to market your work. Then price your work to cover expenses and make a living once you do have customers. There was also practical advice about doing your own accounts and tax when you are self-employed.

Jacqui then also spoke about creative enterprise and starting your own business. She spoke about managing realistic expectations of starting a business, starting small because it is easier to grow than to shrink and sometimes working an additional job to pay the bills. I do see my future career taking the form of my own business because I already see myself as a product with the dyslexia awareness I have been doing and plan to role out to schools and universities. So I will consider this advice when marketing my ideas to potential employers.

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Lesson Two

Our second lesson with Jacqui was about taking a step back and thinking about what we want to do with our degree. It was a useful exercise to consider how we made the important decision to come to Coventry to study photography. Important career decisions also take into account our personal values at that given time e.g. savings, family, wants and needs will all affect the career choices we make.

It was useful to learn from Jacqui just how many of the skills we have acquired during our degree are transferable to different jobs. Things like communicating, writing, pitching and working as a team are all things we do anyway in our course so have become better at them over the three years and can be useful in outside work. For example the negotiation skills we use to deal with uncooperative classmates would be the same as we would use to deal with a complaining customer in a shop.  She also said we should consider the assignments we have tackled as problems we have solved. Through these we have learnt to think laterally, make decisions, present visually, and reflect. Now that I have identified these skills I will be able to think of examples of using them to support my answers to interview questions.

We explored different ways of searching for jobs, including graduate websites and careers information sites. We also considered that there may be opportunities for working abroad, or in studio space working for ourselves.

Art & Design careers adviser Liz gave a presentation on how to develop a CV. A CV should be targeted at the specific job you are applying for from the job description / person specification. They should use positive language such as demonstrated, developed, enhanced or words that appear in the job specification. Bearing in mind employers may have as little as 20seconds to glance at a CV, it should be no more than two pages and be clearly laid out and aligned.

We covered the main sections a CV should have;

Personal details

Personal profile

Education & Qualifications

Professional experience

Relevant work experience

Additional activities

Skills

Achievements

References

I showed my CV so far to Jacqui who gave me a few points of improvement;

To condense down my GCSE’s by saying ‘8 GCSE’s’.

To take out the numbering in my sub-sections.

To move my personal statement to the beginning.

To put my equality and diversity award in additional activities.

I will make these changes to my CV.

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