Self-Directed Project Evaluation

Self-Directed Project Final Report

The topic I chose to focus on was mental health issues. Initially, my aim was to discuss mental health issues themselves and try to explain to people what those going through issues with their mental health were experiencing. However, I soon realised that this is impossible to do. Each person’s experience is completely different to the next and unless you, personally, have gone through it then it is extremely difficult to understand. Because of this I decided to focus more on people’s negative preconceptions of mental health and the taboo surrounding it. I hoped to encourage people to talk to each other about this topic and not feel as though it is a forbidden topic of discussion.

I chose to create a zine to create awareness of my topic. Zines are DIY magazines that often challenge the norm and contest society which is what I hoped to do with my project. For years, society has regarded mental health as a taboo topic that should only be discussed behind closed doors or with medical specialists. I aimed to counter this belief and get people talking.

I read various books to help me with both sides of my project; both the content about mental health and the zine. The book Hearing Voices, Seeing Things was extremely useful as it gave me an insight into how to approach the project and how to be sensitive to the topic. The book Fanzines was also invaluable when creating the layout and design for the zine. I also gathered information from various zines I have collected since beginning university. The zine LGBWHAT? was incredibly useful in forming an approach and style for the project.

One of the main changes I made to my approach was that in my initial brief I hoped to tackle the topic with a humorous manner. However, as I began to piece together content, I realised that I hoped to create something that had a more serious and empathetic tone to it. This came about as I started to implement elements of humour and noticed that if people were unaware of my experiences surrounding mental health, they may have thought that I was being insensitive.

The website for the charity called Mind was extremely helpful when gathering information of the more scientific side such as the examples of conditions and statistics and facts. As a charity, the way they write on their website is very professional yet comforting and I took a lot of inspiration from their approach when coming up with the content of my zine.

Sadly, due to unforeseen circumstances and family issues, I was unable to present my work at the initial opening of the exhibition. This is extremely disappointing for me as I was really excited about getting some feedback and seeing how people engage with my zine. I hope to distribute my zine around the exhibition at some point, and possibly also create some to leave in the various places around Leeds that promote the DIY scene. Although I was unable to get feedback from my peers, I did give my zine to a few of my friends and their friends. This was ideal as my target audience is people of around my own age. They all agreed that I had successfully been empathetic yet informative throughout the zine and said that they would have picked one up to read had they noticed it in another setting.

My aim was to create a talking point and I feel that I was successful in doing so. Everyone who read it then went on to discuss what their previous preconceptions were and what they got from the zine. This was really positive for me, especially to receive this feedback from people who I respect and know might not have already had a positive outlook on people with mental health issues.

Although I feel I created something interesting and effective, I would definitely do numerous things differently if I were to carry out the project again. Firstly, I would bring in other artists or contributors to collaborate with. I think that this would allow the zine to have a much more varied style and would allow for more people to voice their thoughts and opinions. I would also have liked to try a different format for the zine, although I was happy with the outcome, sometimes it is nice to be a bit more experimental instead of playing it safe.

I would also have liked to spend much more time on my project. Time management was difficult during the process as personal issues definitely conflicted with the project. It was also hard to focus when the topic I was covering was so close to home and was so relevant to my life during the time I was creating the zine. Obviously this could not be helped but circumstances change and I definitely know I could give so much more to the topic, had I not been so involved personally with it at the time. If I had been able to stick to the time plan that I made at the start of the project I feel that I would have had a more thorough development section but sadly this was not possible due to things out of my control.

 

Bibliography:

Duncombe, S (2008). Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture. Microcosm Publishing.

Piepmeier, A (2009). Girl Zines: Making Media, Doing Feminism. New York University Press.

Smith, B and Smith, R and Voorsanger, J (2006). Hearing Voices, Seeing Things. Serpentine Gallery.

Triggs, T (2010). Fanzines. Thames & Hudson.

 

http://www.mind.org.uk/ (Last accessed 16th May 2014).

Context of Practice 1 Evaluation

Context of Practice was a module that I was really looking forward to. The history of art and design is very important to me and is something that I have always been interested in. The lectures we got throughout the year were fascinating and introduced me to some artists that I previously knew nothing about. I would actually have liked to have more lectures like this as I enjoyed them so much.

I found the public art task difficult to get into at first. Even though I really enjoyed the workshops we had with David there was something about the actual work itself that I couldn’t get into. I think the issue may have been how the emphasis was on treating it as if it was a live brief even though it wasn’t. Although I managed to come up with a few fairly good starting points for ideas, I found it very difficult to develop any of them further. I know that this is a weakness of mine as I worry too much and don’t just try things out which I hope to combat next year. I will do this by exploring more of my ideas and not worrying about making mistakes.

Despite a few issues, once I decided upon my installation I enjoyed creating the visuals and writing the statements. Writing is a strong point of mine so I wasn’t very worried about that side however using computer software is definitely a weakness. However, I persevered and did the best I could with my limited image-manipulation skills. I am going to practice with the computer software over the summer to try and improve my knowledge and understanding of the programs.

I enjoyed writing the essay for this module. I got so many books from the library and did a lot of research to make sure I knew what I was talking about. However, this did not stop me from struggling to write a total of 3000 words. The word count is the largest I have ever aimed for when writing an essay and it did not come extremely easily. My expertise definitely lies in writing shorter essays. Even so, the research process and choosing a topic of my choice made the essay component interesting and kind of enjoyable.

The essay caused me to appreciate the way that art can be used so strongly to evoke emotion and change opinions. Visual Communication, as a course, holds this ethos so highly and researching art that aims to critique society just like we aim to do was inspiring.

Make Your Own Luck by Kate Moross

ImageI have always been really interested in Kate Moross’ work, mainly because illustration and graphic design are definitely not my strong point so I really appreciated the work she has done. Also, the projects she takes part in are the types that I would love to work on. She works with musicians, clothing labels and other designers to collaborate and create some really inspiring work. Not only is she an illustrator and graphic designer, she also carries out photography work along with clothing design and has numerous other strings to her bow. The book is so inspiring as much of the work she discusses is from when she was still studying for her degree, this just shows how much you can achieve if you put your mind to it.

The first thing I learnt from the book is that you don’t need to be employed full time or graduated from university to get paid to do work. You don’t even need to be asked to do work for people either. Moross spent much of her time in university creating logos and images for bands and friends without them even asking. This allowed for exposure to her work and led to more paid work. Doing things for free can sometimes pay off financially in the end!

Secondly, I learnt that even if you’ve never done something before or are unsure whether you can do something, it is still always best to try things out and have a go. Practice makes perfect and trying new things can sometimes lead to the best results.

Lastly, learn from your mistakes and use them to your advantage. Making sure that you stop and look closely at a mistake or error of judgement ensures that you know what you did wrong and understand what to do next time to improve your work. Also, sometimes incorporating mistakes that you make into your work can give a different outcome, not one that you expected, but something you may never thought to have try or do.

Public Art

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Contextual Statement:

Leeds as a city has so much to offer to its residents and the many visitors that pass through. Millennium Square sits in the heart of the busy town centre, surrounded by some of Leeds oldest and most famous buildings. The square was opened in 2000, as part of the flagship project to mark the millennium. In the 14 years since it opened, it has been host to Christmas markets, sports screenings, live performances and various concerts to name but a few events. It provides the city centre with an outdoor space to set up events, which is often quite invaluable for a bustling city such as Leeds.

The square is a thoroughfare used by thousands of people each day. Many people who pass through are people going to or from work, others are students attending the nearby colleges and universities, others are families visiting the museums and galleries. It is a hub of movement and also a meeting place for many of the city’s residents.  When examining the site and taking various photographs, I noticed a pattern in the movement of people. Most people walk directly across the square, neither stopping nor looking around at what is going on around them. Also, no matter what time of the day, the main route across the square seemed to be from the Northwest corner down to the Southeast, this is the direction that would lead people further into the town centre, towards the shops and the transport lines.

After looking at my findings, I came to the conclusion that I wanted to create something that would somehow make people stop and pay attention, and hopefully for them to realise how amazing Leeds is and how much it has to offer. After coming up with various ideas, I decided to create a ‘vending machine of surprises’. The concept is exactly the same as a normal vending machine but the customer would simply put a small donation into the machine and receive a voucher for some kind of Leeds related experience back. This would be in the form of a golden ticket which would have various gifts on them. These could be money off in local Leeds stores, vouchers for meals at Leeds based restaurants or a day out at a local attraction. This would benefit both the recipient of the voucher and also the local businesses it would help them to gain a wider customer base, boosting the local economy through the extra money spent by the customers.

I decided to place the golden ticket vending machine near to the busiest area of the square. This means that the more people would be likely to stop and use the machine, and so more likely to receive a gift card for their local area. The machine could be a permanent fixture in the square, with the occasional visit from a maintenance team member who would restock it and also take out all donations. The donations would then be put back into the Leeds community through charity donations. The option to pay whatever you want means that poorer members of the community are not excluded from participating.

 

 

Artist’s Statement:

As an artist, I am very interested in public art, community art and projects that thoroughly engage with people in any way. As well as engaging with the community, projects that enable and benefit the community inspire me more than anything. In my opinion art should not be an elitist part of culture; it should embody the local culture.

Creating an accessible-to-all vending machine will help poorer members of the community make the most of their city and will also give businesses a platform to advertise, gain more customers and create awareness of their services.  All of these elements allow for everyone who participates to benefit from the project which is amazing. Leeds can be proud of the installation as it shows just what they have to offer and allows anyone to get involved.

The installation will cause people to stop and think which is also what I believe art should cause people to do. I am increasingly concerned with the way society is so disengaged with what is going on around them. Hopefully, this will cause them to stop and engage with each other while using the machine and then it will give them the opportunity to have a valuable experience within their local community.

 

Zine Size and Format Research

ImageTo help me decide on the size of my zine, I looked at my collection of flyers, zines and other media that I have collected since moving to Leeds. Everything seemed to be either A5 or A6 in size, this is because smaller things are more likely to be picked up and slipped into a pocket or a bag and kept and re-read or passed on. I decided that I wanted to create an A6 zine as I think they are of a sufficient size to be picked up and carried yet if they have a strong cover are still just as likely to attract attention. I already have my cover and much of my content planned but the number of pages will be specified once I have finished the entire content. I aim to have it as a normal booklet with double page spreads.