I wanted to take a moment, in the calm before the storm, to thank our wonderful team of Part 3 students working hard to deliver our degree show on Thursday 17 June. This is our first year hosting our show online, and the students are learning new skills on the fly in an incredibly fast-moving field. The event is completely student-led, from the branding through to the final delivery. Reading has always had great strength in allowing students to experience a range of real world professional experiences as part of their studies, and for degree show team this is more true than ever. If you haven't already registered for the show, you can do so at thinkrethink.design, or directly via this link. The show is traditionally a time when new graduates, employers, parents, alumni, staff and younger students come together to celebrate not only the graduating class, but everything that the Department represents. Looking at the list of registered attendees, it seems we will keep that atmosphere going in the switch to online. I'm looking forward to seeing so many people from our community on the night. So well done to Alex Ganczarski, Caitlin Wilson, Rory Tellam, Edoardo Sarli, Matt Dawson and Darcie Richmond. Your work for your peers, and for the wider Reading Typography community is greatly appreciated. The design work looks wonderful, the attention to detail is fantastic, and your dedication to making an impact on the future careers of all your friends has been inspiring. Roll on Thursday!
Applications are invited for the Michael Twyman Research Fellowship in Ephemera Studies in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication at the University of Reading. The Fellowship is available from September 2021, or a mutually agreed date and for a period of up to 12 months (we estimate this would equate to 2 to 3 months full-time equivalent) and will attract a stipend of £5,000. Find out more, and how to apply: Research Fellowship in Ephemera Studies
Lena Gomez, of our current MA Communication Design Information Design Pathway cohort, has been involved in an exciting collaboration with Lantana Publishing this year. Lantana is an award-winning children's book publisher that focuses on diversity, social equality and environmental sustainability. Alice Curry, Lantana’s founder and CEO had been talking to Pathway Lead Jeanne-Louise Moys about a potential collaboration in 2019. Lantana was looking for a holistic communications strategy that would reflect how their vision and ethos are evolving and work effectively for their different audiences and stakeholders. When Lena joined our MA cohort in autumn 2019, her strengths and interests mapped well to Lantana’s communication needs so Alice presented us with a brief that Lena undertook for her professional practice assignment. [caption id="attachment_11634" align="alignright" width="150"] Lena Gomez, MA Communication Design[/caption] Lena said: “Diversity in children’s literature was a large aspect of my undergraduate thesis research, so working with Lantana was the perfect fit for me. I was excited to take on the challenge of creating a communications strategy for a client that is in the middle of implementing exciting new changes”. At the outset of the project, Lena visited Lantana and worked with them to understand their needs and priorities. She then conducted research to align her project with a broader understanding of current marketing and communication trends in the publishing industry and consider the specific customers, stakeholders and potential partners encompassed in the audience. Looking at user analytics on their existing website and social media and developing clear user personas to work with was an important part of her user-centred research. Lena also had to bear in mind how her design solutions needed to be easy and efficient to implement for an independent publisher and work with their existing systems. [caption id="attachment_11635" align="alignright" width="300"] Lena has also redesigned compliment slips for Lantana using her new logo design[/caption] Lena developed a range of initial approaches for Lantana. These included both visual design proposals and strategies for their implementation. Once a direction was agreed, Lena developed her ideas further producing a comprehensive strategy supported by a new logo design and style guide for the redesigned brand, compliment slips and corporate stationery, a series of infographics and proposals for the redesign of the website. Reflecting on the project, Lena said: “Working with the team at Lantana has been a rewarding experience. Through collaboration and exploration, I feel that we came up with feasible solutions that aligned well with the goals and values of the company. I’m also happy with the range of designs that I had the opportunity to work on, from logo design to infographic design and more.” Following submission of her project for University assessment, Lantana has contracted her to continue the redesign of the website. Alice said: “I feel the project has been beneficial for both of us, the relationship has been easy and professional, and I've really enjoyed working with her these past few weeks. Lena has brought some fresh, new ideas and insights to the project, giving our branding a fun, child-friendly yet professional new look, and we're delighted. ” This project is the first collaboration between Lantana and the Department of Typography & Communication. Jeanne-Louise said: “Working on live briefs is always incredibly valuable for our students. Lantana’s brief is particularly good as Lena needed to consider the needs of the publisher and their systems alongside the needs of their multifaceted audience. We look forward to future collaborations.”
Even in the current climate of the pandemic, work does not stop for our students. The Department hosts an annual Careers Day for second years, inviting real designers (and other creative professionals) from a range of disciplines to speak to us one-to-one. It was particularly successful this year, with 17 guests meeting with more than 40 students in intense 20 minute bursts. It gave us fresh perspectives on our careers, and a new experience of professional communication.
Discussion sessionsThe day started with reviewing work prepared in advance. We were asked to write reflective reports of our experience with our Real Jobs scheme, looking at the skills acquired from working for actual clients. We also took personality tests to help inform our thinking about what kind of professional environment might suit us. We then evaluated all of this to see how it resonated with our future career plans. Having read our reports, Rachel Warner offered us feedback, sampling snippets from the written pieces and inviting their authors to offer insight to the room. Outside of lockdown, this event would have been delivered in person, but instead this was replaced with our online classroom system. Even though this could have posed several issues, with students now in different time zones and the possibility of unstable connections for our forty-plus attendees, it ran swimmingly. Students were still able to chime in easily, as they normally would, and we felt as though we gained an equally valued experience as would have been in person. In a similar vein, students also prepared CVs and their own digital portfolios to bring to the session. Following another round of general feedback from James Lloyd, we split into small groups to have a more intimate and personal review of our work from each other. Being able to directly analyse the content and design choices of our peers in the same situation offers insight and direction for our own approach. We all appreciate that learning from colleagues is a valuable skill, especially in the design field. The day was long, but feedback suggested many of us would like to see more time dedicated to this portion of the day – a great expression of the value we place on teamwork when offering feedback in this kind of studio setting. [caption id="attachment_11583" align="alignnone" width="569"] Thanks to Oli at TDL-Creative for his favourite Designer CV Cliché.[/caption]
CheeseThis day offers more than just careers advice, though – we all learned a bit more about cheese too. Rachel offered a welcome break in the middle of the session by creating the ‘Cheese or Typeface?’ quiz as an online alternative for the usual typographical bake-off. Many students commented that this was their favourite part of the day, and of course a big congratulations to the winner, Peter, who doesn’t even like cheese! Typeface designed by our own Siu Yen Lo, a graduate from our department – all inspired by cheese. Find more of his work at www.flickr.com/photos/152469926@N08/albums/72157709875946066
Our incredible visitorsAnd finally, the part of the day many students initially feared; the interviews. Our guests, comprised mainly of alumni and friends of the Department, offered mock interviews, portfolio reviews and general careers chats. Most of them work within different area of design including UX, information design, editorial or branding. But we also had experts in marketing, and a member of the University's own Careers Centre, too. There was someone for everyone. This real-life experience is unrivalled. Although many of us were nervous at first, the guests showed us we had nothing to worry about. They were kind enough to offer their time, and gave valuable and personalised feedback on whatever we wanted to show or talk about. One student said ‘…it was great to have the opportunity to speak to design professionals from such a wide range of disciplines. I now feel more confident about preparing for interviews in the future.’ Another participant commented that is was a ‘…fantastic day, despite the stress and anxiety I had building up; it's notable to say that all the guests were so lovely and supportive and the day itself has been SO helpful in getting us all on track with our careers after uni.’ Furthermore, when asked for feedback on the day as a whole, the majority responded that this section was their favourite part of the day. Removing the fear of the unknown and offering insight into what to expect has instilled confidence into many of those who attended. We now feel better prepared to present ourselves as the best candidate for the role our first professional role – whatever that might be.
The takeawayThere was one recurring message from student feedback of the event that I'd like to leave you with, and it's an encouraging one for most upcoming designers and prospective students alike. Several of us left a comment along the lines of ‘…you don’t always need to stress about having a fixed plan after university; all the designers I spoke to said they kind of fell into jobs through contacts.’ Probably more like contacts, skill and hard work, but our field is all about who you know, and this day offered us access to a much design broader network than we've experienced before. This realisation was encouraging. Even if we don't yet have firm plans about our career direction, it felt like those who went before us are out there, ready to support us. We feel more prepared for what is coming next – the real deal – and we are excited to see what the future brings.
Thanks!Finally, a very special thanks to all the guests that gave up their time to do this. We can't thank you enough: Emmeline Hewstone uk.linkedin.com/in/emmelinehewstone Kirstie Smith uk.linkedin.com/in/smithkirstie Matt Standage uk.linkedin.com/in/mstandage Viktoria Vass hu.linkedin.com/in/viktoria-vass Andy Owen uk.linkedin.com/in/andrew-owen-58b3321 John Anderson uk.linkedin.com/in/janderson-uk Helen Noel uk.linkedin.com/in/helen-noel-721b1a11 Ziga Kropivsek uk.linkedin.com/in/zigakropivsek Greg Owen uk.linkedin.com/in/gregowendesign Amy Keast uk.linkedin.com/in/amykeast Tom Howse uk.linkedin.com/in/tom-howse-5a8a9349 Dave Stroud uk.linkedin.com/in/dave-stroud-1a163730 Francisca Monteiro uk.linkedin.com/in/francisca-monteiro-942919147 Tim Friers uk.linkedin.com/in/friers-tim-2564769 Nick Adler uk.linkedin.com/in/nick-alder-ab8105a Ben King uk.linkedin.com/in/ben-king-a4050b10a Anne Delauzun uk.linkedin.com/in/annedelauzun